Here We Go!

Here we go

Here we go! The time is here and it is now. Ready or not @CherokeeSPS is going 1-to-1 Chromebooks on Wednesday!

This is an exciting time for our community, students, families, and staff. It is also a time of many unknowns.

However, I know our staff is fully ready for the challenge as we have been fully engaged in learning for the last 11 – 12 weeks to prepare for this shift in how we facilitate learning.

In all honesty our journey started several years ago.  I’ve been the principal @CherokeeSPS for 7 years and I’ve been waiting for this day for a little more than four years.

After joining the Twitterverse I began to read and see the world of education through a different lens. It was through the connections, twitter chats, and hashtags I began to read more and more about how education was much different outside the bubble I had always known as a student in grades K-16 in Tennessee, graduate school student and middle school teacher in Florida, and teacher, student, and administrator here in Missouri.

In the beginning I admit I was overwhelmed, excited, and very anxious to move fast! However, I also knew change doesn’t happen over night. I began to share resources, articles, provide learning opportunities for our staff on the power of Twitter to connect.

I reached out to our district asking for hotspots and we got one for our cafeteria. It was to be used for guests. I encouraged staff to allow students to use it with their personal devices. I also encouraged staff to allow students to use devices in class. We also began to purchase more mobile devices. We had 3 labs, but that wasn’t enough for 800+ students. So each year I saved funds and would purchase more laptops and carts. I encourage staff to write grants and we received a few more devices. Still it wasn’t enough, but we were doing the best with what technology we had access to. I also asked for student and staff to have Google Apps & Drive. We got it and some used it. Our district then secured Canvas as a learning management system. Some of our staff latched on and began to use it as well.

Change was happening, but again it was very slow. . .

All the while I didn’t mandate any of this, but I still received pushback because it was too much or resistance was stating ‘why do we need to change? What we do is working.’

Then we got a new superintendent. I knew of him from Twitter. I had been following his work and his track record was to come in and make change and make it fast. I began preparing our staff for this. I warned them we would be changing and then last May our school was notified we would be a Year 1 IGNiTE school and going 1-to-1 Chromebooks sometime during the 15-16 school year.

In a way I feel validated. I saw 4+ years ago what the future of education could look like with technology amplifying learning, allowing educators and students to connect beyond the ‘4 walls,’ and how learning, connecting, and growing could be different and hopefully better for all involved.

Now, here we go! Wednesday is here and we are prepared. We are also anxious about the unknown.

All I know is education and learning is about to change for the better for our community, students, families, and staff and I am stoked we are right in the middle of it!

Here We Go!

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It’s Over. Now What?

We had an amazing day of learning at #EdcampSGF with almost 300 educators from across the state of Missouri, and a few others from Arkansas and Kansas. The energy, conversations, learning, and connecting filled the space throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Like most professional learning opportunites I often struggle with this thought “It’s over. Now What?” However, this time we were challenged with the following questions from Dr. John Jungmann @JohnJungmann (Springfield Public Schools, Missouri superintendent) ‘How did you move today?’ and ‘How will you move Monday?’

We then discussed the answers with a partner. After thinking about these two questions I still ask myself the ‘Now What?’ question. This is where I challenge myself to keep the learning going through social spaces. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Voxer, or another medium we must continue the conversations, learning, and growing for the sake of our students and ourselves.

So, #EdcampSGF attendee’s. . . What moved you and How are you going to move Monday? And Tuesday, Wednesday, next week, next quarter, next semester, next year, and on and on?

EdcampSGF is over and we are now challenged to keep the Now What? going through our learning and connections we have made. Not just yesterday at Edcamp, but moving forward with any learning whether in person or via a social medium.

We no longer have boundaries to our learning.

So, how will you move today?

It’s over. Now What?

Every Learner. Every Day. Engaging, Relevant, and Personal. Our students deserve it!

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Carry On

I just had the opportunity to hear Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) speak on Digital Leadership last week. Having followed Eric on Twitter for just over four years it was great to finally get the opportunity to hear him speak in person and spend a few minutes chatting with him throughout the day.

There were many highlights from the day: The challenge to connect, share our stories with the world, blog to share our highs and lows and tell our classroom/school/district story, and the exposure and opportunity to explore several new apps Eric shared with us to help us work smarter and not harder.

However, the biggest takeaway for me was what Eric said as he was leaving – Now we must make change happen. Take the learning from the day and continue to grow, learn, connect, and share with one another. The good and the bad.

I know I have been guilty of attending professional learning and sitting all day participating and nodding my head in agreement with the speaker and then doing nothing beyond the day’s event.

No longer can we sit back and continue this type of professional learning. It is imperative we act now.

Now, more than ever, we must carry on for the good of our students. If we sit back and wait for change to occur we will miss out on another opportunity to empower our students. We also cannot continue to be satisfied with the status quo.

We, as adults, have the ability to guide our own learning which in turn will help influence our students learning. We have the power to share the story of our classrooms, schools, and districts. We have the ability to set the stage and empower our students to take ownership of and own their learning. We can change the conversation and we can guide our students to carry on as well.

What am I waiting for? What are we waiting for? Carry on!

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Why Twitter?

I have the pleasure to share how to use Twitter with several of my principal colleagues this week as we prepare to welcome our students and staffs back to school.

I’ve been using Twitter for four years now and it has provided me some opportunities and it has helped connect me to many great people. So, any time I have the opportunity to share my story and Why Twitter? I jump at the opportunity. Heck I’m even writing my dissertation on using Twitter for professional learning.

So, now I am reaching out to my PLN to help share Why Twitter? with my colleagues. Who better to share the why than those of you I have connected with over the last four years.

If you would please Retweet (RT) this post and share a few words in the comments below I would greatly appreciate it!

As always thanks for your time and for helping me share the power of the PLN and Twitter.

Bill @MrPowersCMS


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It Is Time To Tell Our Story

This isn’t a new topic or subject of discussion. Nothing I share here is earth shattering, innovative, or going to turn the education world on its head. But it is something I need to continue to work on – telling our story.

Today’s #SatChat discussion was led by Peter DeWitt (@PeterMDewitt) and he challenged us at the end of the chat with the following tweet:

Teacher voice is powerful, strong, and sometimes silenced by all the bad news in the education world. However, we all have the power and ability to spread the good news. Just take a look at the number of educators using Twitter today. Scroll through the #SatChat conversation from today and see the great voices across the globe. There are books, blog posts, twitter chats, teachers, principals, and the like reminding us and showing us through their everyday examples of how to tell our stories. Yet, I continually fail to do justice for our students, teachers, school, district, and community.

So, this quote from George Couros of “What If. . .” will be one of my goals for this upcoming school year:

I challenge myself first to share the greatness happening within our school. My hope is each of you @CherokeeSPS #CMSchat #CMSproud, @officialSPS #SPSlearns #SPSleads, and educators around the globe will join us.


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Being Here Is Not Enough

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Springfield (MO) 2015 NAACP Freedom Fund Awards Banquet as a guest of our school district. This year’s theme was “Being Here is Not Enough” and I couldn’t agree more.

We can continue to talk about the problems in our schools, communities, states, country, and world or we can take an active role and do something about it.

We can continue to complain about why we can’t do this or that or we can do something about it.

We can continue to say it can’t be done or we can do it.

We can continue to work in isolation or we can come together to work smarter and not harder to accomplish our goals.

We can continue to find fault with others or we can remember the real reason we became educators – to educate students, to be role models, to be mentors and help guide young people to be thinkers and creators.

We can continue to do things the way we’ve always done them or we can take chances and risks and do things differently. If we fail we try, try, try again.

Whether it involves people of our generation, our grandparents generation, or generations that follow us we can’t continue to just show up and expect everything to get better.

Being Here is Not Enough – it is time to act, to do, to be, and to lead for the betterment of our schools, communities, states, country, and world.

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They Hate the Test

Simple title to a big issue.

Yesterday we held our spring pep assembly to honor excellence in academic and athletic accomplishments from the first quarter of 2015. It was your typical assembly with cheers for our students of the month, presentations of plaques from basketball, volleyball, winter guard, and then recognizing our current sports of girls soccer and track & field as well as our 2015 – 2016 cheer squad. We wrapped up the assembly with a fun game involving students from each grade level and cheer leaders.

What came next caught me off guard, but as I reflect not so much.

Prior to dismissing students back to class for end of the day I reminded them we were beginning our MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) testing on Monday and we would have students from our site testing through April 22.

Then came the resounding Boos!!

I stood there and allowed it to happen. The boos continued for what seemed like several minutes, but in reality was probably 20 seconds.

Why would our students boo? These are the same students which 70-75% score at the proficient or advanced level.

As I reflected on why so many of our almost 800 students would boo I have a few ideas:

1) our students know while taking a summative test our state uses to ‘measure’ us all learning stops. Our students are missing out on learning. The fun, engaging, deep learning they enjoy throughout the year.

2) our students know this summative test doesn’t truly measure them, their teachers, or our school.

3) our students get that a true measurement of what they know doesn’t happen from one snapshot or moment in time, but it is throughout the course of the year. It is about where they started and where they end and everything they accomplished in between. Not what they show on one day on one test.

Our students get it!

When will the talking heads and politicos get it?

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