Please Share My Passion For Education!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Are You Part of This? If So, Help!

"Sometimes you have to preach to the choir in order to keep them singing"

Please see this article through to the "Call of Action"
We need to unite!!!

Education has not changed for over 100 years, but I believe we are in the midst of an EDUCATION REVOLUTION.  Joining Twitter, Google +, and other social media websites has been such a great experience for me over the past year.  I have become part of a LARGE and PASSIONATE PLN that seems dedicated to help make education:
  • More relevant
  • More 21st Century
  • More engaging
  • More about building integrity, character, and people instead of just "college & career ready" robots
  • More about learning, then points earning
  • More about the process than the end result
  • More about innovation and creativity
  • More about technology 
  • More about learning how to learn
  • Etc............

Sometimes I get so caught up in reading material from my PLN and sharing ideas with members of my PLN, that I forget that MAJOR change has not really happened yet!  This scares me because although education has "almost changed" many times, it has remained the same for way too long.  We need education reform!  All the pieces of the puzzle seem to be there.  The concepts are completely logical, but there is still resistance.  I am constantly trying to determine why there is resistance to change.  Is it because of laziness, fear of change, politics, too many uninformed educators, or simply a large number of people that disagree that this transformation is necessary.  

No matter what the reason is, we need to work together as a PLN.  Is it worth preaching to the choir about these issues?  Absolutely!  Sometimes, as the quote above states, you need to preach to the choir to keep them singing.  More importantly, though, we need to share our stories, perspectives, and logical wording in order to be better equipped to have these difficult discussions with other teachers, administrators, parents, community members, etc...

ALSO, I really think that we need to unite and build a stronger case.  I am serious.  We are creating some wonderful momentum on social media, but we need this to enter the mainstream more.

I am a passionate lifelong learner and lately I have been studying SEO, or search engine optimization.  I am fascinated with all things technology and I am obsessed with trying to figure out more and more about Google.  A couple of the most important concepts in technology and business today are:

  1. SEO - Search Engine Optimization
  2. Keywords

To make a very long story short, Google (Yahoo, Bing, etc...) have web crawler programs that search the complete internet and try to create a list of the best possible resources that they can for whatever people might type into a search engine.  They want to ensure that when you type something such as "education reform" into a search engine, that you get high quality results.  Having your website, your ideas, your page come up on the first page of searches is CRITICAL!  If it isn't on the first page, it most likely will not be seen.  This is where KEYWORDS come into play.  Are you using the proper keywords?  Are you including the correct words in your articles, article titles, and in your tags?  This all leads to Search Engine Optimization which takes all of this one step further.  In SEO, there are a couple things that the search engines are really looking for:

1.  Do you write consistent high quality content
2.  Do you use proper keywords that will help you be found 
3.  How credible and connected are you?  (more on this in the CALL TO ACTION)


I really believe that we need to start helping one another more.  Besides having more conversations with other educators, parents, community members, and administrators as well as transforming our own classrooms, we need to start promoting one another.  We are not competing against each other, in fact we are on the same team.  We need to find a way to have our articles about logical school improvement, reform, and change come up when anyone does Google searches for words such as:

1.  Education
2.  Education Reform
3.  School
4.  Learning
5.  21st Century Skills

How can you do this?  One of the most important factors in helping your SEO is by having people link your material to their websites.  The more links that you have pointing to your website, the more credible it is.  When we write posts, send tweets, create websites, etc... we should work together to share the plethora of goodness that our PLN contributes.  The result will be an increased SEO plan for our entire PLN, which will mean more exposure and visibility to more people. 

We have the momentum rolling within the social media forums, but it is time to branch out and gain more momentum so that we can push for change.  Students deserve it.

One thing you cannot do is "scam" the search engines.  They are way too brilliant for this.  If you accept an offer to pay someone to post your link on the "100 websites" they own, you will eventually be caught and punished by having your page rankings and visibility disappear.  I am not talking about any scamming.  I am talking about good old fashioned "spreading the love".  I think this will have two big advantages:

1.  We will increase our entire PLN's SEO and visibility on the internet.
2.  We will introduce people to wonderful resources they did not know existed.

I am going to conclude by leading by example.  I am 100% serious when I say the following statements, so I do not know why I do not say things like this more.  It feels good, and helps the cause.  Here I go:

***  If you do not already read everything that Jon Harper writes (vice-principal from Maryland), I highly suggest that you do.  He is a magnificent writer, with passionate and inspiring stories that make it obvious he cares more about kids than he does about test scores.  His blog is located at:  Do yourself a favor and follow him.

***  Do you follow Starr Sackstein?  If you want knowledge, work ethic, and inspiration.  Check out here blog.  I have learned more from her than I did from earning my Masters' Degree.

***  I am assuming you know about Jerry Blumengarten's (cybraryman) plethora of goodness located at:  This is his list of educational resources and websites.  It is perhaps the most valuable site on the internet for educators.  If you do not visit it frequently, begin doing so!

***  Do you follow@casas_jimmy ( on Twitter, who is +Jimmy Casas  on Google+ +Jimmy Casas on Google +?  If not, you should.  He is a phenomenal principal and a MAJOR source of inspiration and motivation.  I promise that if you follow Jimmy, you will be become a better person.  Also, check out his blog at:

*** Do you watch the Bedley Brothers education podcast?  You should.  They are two of the nicest people I have met and have a terrific, thought-provoking education video podcast with great guests.  A link to their past podcasts are is  Otherwise, follow them on Twitter @BedleyBros ( to find out about upcoming shows.

***  Have you read "Teach Like A Pirate" by Dave Burgess (@burgess_dave)?  I am assuming that everyone has, but if by chance you are one of the last 100 educators to read it, check him out on  Sometimes he dresses strangely, but he is an awesome source of passion, creativity, and rapport-building.

Order this book now if you have not already:

Do you know about stars like:
Joy Kirr:
Crystal Labbe: Miss Humblebee Academy -
Walter Duncan: or

I could literally include over 100 more sensational people in my PLN that have influence me and made me a better educator and a better person.  I will include more throughout my posts, tweets, etc...  It only helps our message grow, which leads to change, which leads to better education.

I WANT TO HELP!  Please let me know when you have great material I can help promote.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do.  It has become a moral imperative for me to help assist change in education!

Oliver Schinkten

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Disney Effect -Jon Harper

The following is a guest post by my favorite blogger on the internet, Jon Harper (@jonharper70bd on Twitter).  Jon is a vice-principal in Maryland.  If you do not already follow Jon's blog on a regular basis, please consider it, as you will not be disappointed.  Jon's stories and reflections provide many thought-provoking questions and a ton of inspiration!  

Jon's Blog is located at:
Bailey & Derek's Daddy - My Thoughts on Education and Leadership:

The Disney Effect

I've come to the realization that Disney may, in some ways, be hurting our kids.
How dare you?
That's blasphemy!
Before you have me arrested, let me explain.
Many of our children, mine included, spend a lot of time watching The Disney Channel and movies produced by Disney. And they are amazing! They are funny. They are engaging. They teach us life lessons. But what they don't do is mirror real life.
And I think that can be dangerous. Especially when kids have been on the Disney drip for many years.
Herein I think lies the problem. Like almost all good television shows or movies, Disney always starts off with a problem. Then there is some struggle-time, and finally the problem is solved. Now, Disney has its characters go through some difficult times. Simba losing his father in Lion King, Marlin searching for his son in Finding Nemo and most recently Anna and her sister Elsa disconnecting for a period of time.
But it always works out!
While I realize that this is meant to inspire kids and teach them to never give up, I believe it may in fact be having the opposite effect.
What are kids to think when they strive for something, like all Disney characters, but yet fall short? They are failures? They can’t reach their dreams? That only Disney has the power to make dreams come true?
Disney Junior’s signature song is in fact;

I worry that our kids are growing up scared to take chances. Scared to make mistakes.
As Oliver Schinkten wrote in his piece 3 Quote Reflections-Topic: Failure:

“If you never fail, you have failed.”

I am not suggesting that Disney all of the sudden start making deep, dark and depressing television shows and movies. And I don’t want our kids to grow up thinking, like in video games; everything in life can be solved by always hitting the reset button. To be quite honest, I don’t really know what to suggest.
Is it possible to have a balance of the two? Can some shows and some movies have main characters that don’t always win, that are not always successful? Would anyone watch them? Or would kids return to the happy endings to get their next “hit” of success?

We have created kids that are so scared to make a mistake that they don’t even reach anymore. Or if they do reach it is not with any attempt to succeed. They reach with T-Rex arms so that when they fail it was as if they had no chance to begin with.

Furthermore, this upcoming generation has shown in surveys that they feel it is their duty to do "social good" and contribute meaningfully to society. But are they confident enough and do they feel empowered enough to take the next step?  This is where we must step in. We must let them know that they might not always get what they reach for. And that’s okay because eventually they will, and it will empower others to do the same.

As much as we want kids to think of others first and perform selfless acts of generosity, we must realize that this will not occur until they are able to believe in themselves. Right now many kids do not believe in themselves because they continue to use television and movies as their measuring sticks. They realize that they will never measure up to these standards. So they stop even trying. It is our job to remind them that what they are watching is fiction. It is our job to let them know that it is okay to fail and that when they do we will be right there to give them a hand up.
If we can begin to help students feel better about themselves they will in turn be able to dream big. Our kids will stop singing Disney’s, “When You Wish Upon A Star” and will start belting Coldplay’s, “Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars.And when they do they will include others in their dreams.

When this happens, and it will, we will have a front row seat to possibly the most compassionate students the world has ever seen!  

-Jon Harper