Archive for category Connected Educators

Reflections of the 2014 NAESP Conference

Yes, I am late, real late to submit my reflections of this past summer’s NAESP conference in Nashville, Tennessee, but life catches up to you so better late than never.

This has been my 4th time attending the NAESP National Conference.  The first one was in Baltimore, MD in 2004 and that is when I sat in this presenters session about What Great Principals Do Differently by a guy named Todd Whitaker.  I was blown away.  He was on to something and every principal in that room was like, wow.  In 2010 I was in Houston, Texas in and out for the Houston conference and made sure to sit through Todd’s presentation again.  Still a wow factor for me.  Remember though, this is before social media became a big part to help me rejuvenate my career

It was in the spring of 2013 that I saw a tweet come through from Joe Mazza to call out for some help to bring a Social Media Lounge to the NAESP Baltimore Conference.  My friend Tony Sinanis and I jumped on it and said yes, we would come down and help.  Boy, did we work that conference!  We held basic Twitter sessions, showed what GHO can do, and really, show principals and leaders how to break down the walls and what connective leadership looks like.  It was an awesome experience and I learned a tremendous amount and connected with even more like minded principals.  Little did I know going into this that I would be sitting with one of my idols, Todd Whitaker and his lovely wife Beth and creating a national PLN of educators and principals!

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Joe Maxxa, Todd Whitaker, Kris Mitzner, Tony Sinanis, Beth Whitaker, Vicki Day

So, came this past year.  I was hemming and hawing, wondering if I should go or not to the Nashville conference.  What came across my desk was the NAESP mentor program flyer.  I have always been curious about this program and decided that this would be something worthwhile for me to pursue.  (You can see my post here about the certification program.)  So, once again, I made the trek to join principals and leaders around the nation.

Once again, Joe Mazza put out a call to principals to help with the social media lounge.  This time, we had more folks connected and more lead learners to present in the SM lounge.  We worked via Google docs to stay connected, form a schedule for the three days as well as connect.  We even had a new tool to use, Voxer, so we could hear our voices.  You can access the NAESP Social Media Lounge schedule here.  It has wonderful links for all to peruse!

I was the first to get to Nashville because I was being trained for the mentor program.  The Gaylord Opryland is an enormous conference center linked to the Grand Ole Opry so there was much to do as well as being in Nashville, the music capital of the world.  There was a huge youth ministry conference three days before the NAESP event, so lots of teenagers were running around the complex.  Since the complex can hold many conferences, the placards started to change to NAESP.  In front of the exhibit hall, our SM Lounge was listed:

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Then friends started to come in!  I found my #EdcampUNY and mentor Peter DeWitt who came in  He was presenting on Flipped Leadership the first morning of the conference.  Peter had a packet house and shared wonderful strategies to help leaders be better communicators for both staff, students and communities.

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Then we had our opening NAESP keynote with Robert Flughum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten..  Jenny Nauman and I were the first to present in the SM lounge on Twitter 101, but we wanted to see the keynote.  Here we are not too far from the front in our selfie during the keynote!

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Jenny was a principal from our 2013 SM Lounge that we mentored and showed how being connected opens a whole new world.  Being an SM alumnus, I reached out to her so we could co-present and help others get on to Twitter.  It may have been the most crowded session in the lounge because of the timing.  No other sessions were happening, plus we all recruited people so we could teach them how to get on to Twitter and use it as a tool for professional development.

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We had Tony Sinanis and others help folks open up accounts in Twitter to help them get connected to the world!!

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We had Melinda Miller and Kathy Melton do a session about using Facebook to Celebrate and Connect in your school.2014-07-10 14.32.46

One of our own SM Lounge buddies, Dan Butler, presented at the conference, so we all ran upstairs to support Dan!

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Flat Vicki and Flat Christina did show up at the NAESP conference.

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Oh wait, the real Vicki meets some folks who followed Flat Vicki at ISTE!

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The day went by fast and we called it a night to get up and do it all over again.  Here our leaders Joe Mazza helps folks get connected and shows the power of a PLN.

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We take a break and run upstairs to support another buddy, Tony Sinanis, as he presents on Branding!

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Hey, that’s Joe Sanfelippo joining us in Nashville!  #GOCRICKETS!

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We also had some fun!

Melinda had a great use of her phone to get ready to kiss a frog and turn it into a prince!

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I really try to get these mannequins to start tweeting, but it really just did work.  Come on you two, get tweeting would ya?

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Is that Tony Sinanis all the way up there at the Opry?

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Oh wait, that’s Melinda behind the band taking pictures of Tony at the Grand Ol Opry.

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Erin Simpson, stop photobombing my selfies!

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Oh, and Melinda, Tony and I help record an Apprenet introduction for the #PTCamp book study Beyond the Bake Sale.

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And again, I meet my idols, Todd Whitaker and Beth Whitaker!

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So, I am blessed to have been in the company of great educators during this week.  If you haven’t attended a conference such as NAESP or NASSP, what are you waiting for?  Start coming, see us face to face, and connect with us.  It is how we become better leaders for our kids!

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The NAESP 2014 Social Media Lounge Ambassadors

Joe Mazza, Tony Sinanis, Vicki Day, Eric Bernstein,  Sandra Trach, Jenny Nauman, Dan Butler, Erin Simpson, Kathy Melton, Melinda Miller

Join us in 2015 in Long Beach, CA!

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Lead Learner – What Does That Mean?



I call myself a Lead Learner. Yes, I am officially a PreK-5 principal, but what I do is lead learning.  But what does that mean?

In a recent email from an anonymous colleague, I introduced myself as the lead learner of East Side Elementary School rather than the principal.  In the response at the end of the email, this individual asked, “Would you clarify the role of the lead learner.”  Well of course.  So here was my response:

I am pleased that you asked for more clarification regarding a lead learner.  My official role is as principal of the East Side Elementary School, but I consider myself a lead learner. 
There are three keys to maximizing impact a principal can do, as Michael Fullan states, the role of the principal is a:
1.  Agent of Change
2. Systems Player
3. Leading Learning or Lead Learner
As the lead learner, I model and shape the conditions for all to learn.  I learn alongside my teachers.
For instance, we moved to a Responsive Classroom philosophy that has dramatically improved our culture and I was trained alongside my teachers so I, as the lead learner, can have sustainability in the program.  We are being trained in PBL.  I will be at that three day training so I can sustain the outcomes and learning for the staff and students.
It is a new way of thinking about the role of the principal.  There are a bunch of us that are calling ourselves lead learners.  It’s also about building professional capital.  Our staff and teachers can be lead learners too.  My recommendation, get Michael Fullan’s book The Principal.  It’s a must for ALL principals.  I hope that gives you a snapshot of  what a lead learner is. We need too move from administrator to Lead Learner.  Even better Connected Lead Learner’s.

I haven’t heard back as of yet, but wanted to meet and talk about it further about my journey as a lead learner.  As stated, this is a shift in philosophy and a new way in looking at school leadership.  Michael Fullan has a great visual noted here:

Move from principal to lead learner.  Build the professional capital of your staff.  Give them the autonomy and the power to make decisions that are best for kiddos.  Bring in your parents and systems not only within the the school, but throughout the district as well as the community and region.  And let go of, “But that is the way we always did it.”  That is not change leadership.  This is not easy and believe you me, I have a lot to do, but in the end, it is best for kids.  Isn’t that what it’s about?


Using VOXER as a Professional Development Tool – Really!

I thought I had reached the pinnacle of using social media with embracing Twitter, Google+, Google Hangouts, LinkedIn, Facebook,  Instagram, you name it as professional development tools and to create a robust PLN.  Folks in my PLN from the southern island part kept saying to me, “Vicki, get the Voxer app.  It is cool.”  I got it.  I “voxed” back and forth with a few folks.  To me, it wasn’t much different than the “WhatsApp”.  You talk and it relays a message to the person who has the app on their phone or who has it in your contact list.

Well, I was blown away this past weekend.  I was driving down to New Jersey, stressed, going from one pressure cooker to another.  My buddies and sisterhood, Christina Luce and Lisa Meade were coaching me while I vented first through twitter, then moving to Facebook messenger to make the conversation more private, then to Voxer and then to a scheduled Google Hangout because I had to have a sisterly chat!  (There’s something about 24/7 PLN!  What a pick-me-up after a stressful day!)

Christina put out a tweet about joining a Voxer book chat on Eric Sheninger’s awesome book, Digital Leadership.  I was already enrolled in the #SatChat book chat on Edmodo, but wanted to give the Voxer this a whirl.

Boy, has it been a whirlwind and an AWESOME tool.  Allison Petersen set the group up and we have just been chatting, posting, talking, about the book, change process, and everything under the sun.  This past Sunday was the kicker.  I heard the “bleep bleep” of my phone going off.  It was like a wake-up call, calling me out of my slumber and saying, “Come to VOXER and join the conversation, Vicki!”  (Yes, you can silence your phone, but why?)  Anyway, Brad Curie started it, and then the conversation just flowed.  I am not sure if it was because it was the weekend, or if some of us were on the beach, relaxing, (Not me, mind you) but how fun to get a message and not be limited to 140 characters.  You can talk and it will record and send it to the folks in the chat!

I was at my nephew’s baseball game – bleep-bleep-bleep.  Someone posted a picture of text and then used the text feature for their thoughts.  Bleep-Bleep- Bleep:  Someone recorded a short thought about change leadership.  ( I posted a picture of route 81 North because I was driving and jealous of folks on the beach or folks out of school.  (We have to go to the end of June in New York.)  I did put the phone away, because I was getting strange looks from folks around me at the baseball game.

The most powerful thing I am experiencing is the connections, relationships, and the powerful conversations we are sharing over a free tool, and I even got to “meet” new folks who are passionate about education.  It’s also the beauty of having a PLN 24/7, from my “New York sisterhood” to the new PLN folks that I have met on Voxer.

If you are new to Voxer, Joe Mazza has a wonderful post about how to use Voxer to create your own podcast here.   Get on to Voxer! I guarantee it will rock your world!

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The Importance of Being a Connected Educator

The Importance of Being a Connected Educator


The Commodore 64

Back in the early 1990’s, I was working on my master thesis for graduate school in music.  During this time, the personal computer was really taking shape and was still pricey for the times.  I remember our first PC.  I was working on my thesis and begged my husband to purchase one for the house.  He kept saying to me, “All you want to do is chat on AOL.”  That was not quite the reason why as you know, to write a thesis, like a dissertation, it was much easier to use Microsoft Word and use the program’s ability to create footnotes at the bottom of the page.  (I cannot fathom how folks did it before computers!)

At the time, the only service we could get was dial-up.  You heard that distinct dial tone and the crunching of sounds, trying to hook up through a web service such as AOL, Earthlink or Prodigy.  Your monthly fee would enable dial-up service, email, news, and a search engine to surf the world wide web.  I remember having the ability to chat using the AOL protocol, but never really used it as not many folks had personal computers.

Enter the 21st century.  Now, we use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Blogs to connect.  But why is this so important for us as educators and administrators to use these tools?  You say to yourself, “But I don’t want people to find out what I am doing and have my information on the web. Or, Twitter?  Really, as a professional development tool?”  You bet, and the best part, it’s all FREE!!

The platforms that I identified, I use to increase what we call, a PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network).  This means connecting to like minded folks who are passionate about education and discussing what is best for students.  For me personally, using Twitter as a professional development tool has rejuvenated my career and connected me to some “Rock Stars” in my PLN.  There are times I am chatting with my New York friends about good practice and other times chatting with Rockstar educators such as Todd Whitaker, Peter DeWitt and even Arne Duncan.  The best part that I cannot stress enough is that it is free.  It also gets me off of “the lonely island of administration.”  If I have a problem that I don’t have an answer too, it’s very easy to “dial-up” my PLN and in less than an hour, I get a response to my question.  Need a little mentorship, tweet out to your PLN and instantly, they come to your rescue because they are connected.  Want to meet your PLN?  Go to some conferences like the SAANYS, NASSP, NAESP, NYSCATE and ISTE conference and participate in a Tweet-up.  Better yet, go to an Edcamp, free learning, face-to-face and live tweeting.

To  open an account with Twitter is easy.  You go to the website and join and the program will pull you through the steps and voila, you have a username.  Use a unique username, something that identifies who you are.  My twitter handle is  @VictoriaL_Day, makes sense because that is my name and it identifies that it is me.  I also uploaded a picture as well as explaining who I am in the biography slot.  Once you have opened an account, follow someone, like me.  See who they are following and who follows them.

Twitter is not like Facebook.  You only have 140 characters to write what you are thinking or answer a question or provide a link to an article or a blog.  You do have to remember that this is Social Media (SM) but a rule of thumb is this, anything you post whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or a blog or a comment on a blog is a digital footprint.  Just think of it this way, do I want my parents of students, staff and my family reading this, then you will be safe.  Also, be kind – it is okay to agree to disagree in chats, but we are here to learn.

The thing we Twitter aficionados say to do for beginner tweeps is once you join, start lurking.  Start lurking  on various chats and tweeps that you follow.  Join a chat using a hashtag.  The hashtag is the hash symbol # with the word or term used after the symbol.  It groups all tweets into one stream or group that you can follow.  For instance, I co-moderate, with Tony Sinanis, Bill Brennan, Blanca Duarte, Carol Varsalona and Starr Stackstein,  #NYEDChat every other Monday at 8:30p.m. EST.  You can easily join our chat’s on Monday evenings, lurk and see our conversation.  Another powerful chat to follow is #satchat every Saturday at 7:30a.m. The moderation team of Scott Rocco, Billy Krakower and Brad Curie started a revolution about two years ago and it has taken off so fast that they had to open chats on the west coast (#satchatwc) and expanded to Oceania (#satchatoc).  I remember it was just a few of us starting the global conversation, and then it took off like wildfire. It is so hard to keep up with the chat because people are tweeting is so fast.

So, I challenge you to open yourself and get connected, whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  Start lurking.  Follow us on our chats and watch how your PLN will start to grow.  Once you start, I promise, you will be hooked.  It will rejuvenate your career!


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