“Inspiration” for the #SDUHSDchat October 13, 2015, 8:00-8:30PM

UntitledI’m excited to be moderating my district’s Twitter chat next week. I’ve had co-hosting duties with some amazing educators from the San Dieguito Union High School District for more than a year now, and #SDUHSDchat is an event I look forward to.

With wit and occasional wisdom, educators from across my district (as well as a few others who know it’s a safe place to make a point, learn a bit, or crack wise) gather to share ideas and inspiration, and to know that we’re not alone in our classrooms or offices; we’re part of a dynamic community whose purpose is to educate kids.

With an eye toward highlighting those connections, my topic on the 13th is “Inspiration! Where do you draw online  inspiration (and information)?

I’ve got four questions for the half hour chat, and if you’re reading this I’d encourage you to take a look and see if you’d be willing to join the conversation. The questions:

  • Q1 You’re here on Twitter right now. Who are two educators you follow and why?
  • Q2 What is the most valuable content you find online? Where do you regularly find it?
  • Q3 Is there a blogger or a particular post that you would recommend to a colleague? What? Why?
  • Q4 How often are you interactive on social media? Is it as valuable to “lurk” or is it important to engage?”

It’s not cheating to start ahead of time. Writing out answers and saving them (with the hashtag SDUHSDchat) is totally okay! I love it when I can get a head start, knowing that my main answers are set and I can put more energy into the responses I can offer to what other folks have to say.

The risk is low; the reward is high.

I’m not sure what will happen on the 13th. Part of the fun of a Twitter chat is the unexpected. But I do hope that when it’s all said and done, we’ll all walk away with the names of a few folks to seek out online, a blog to follow, a couple of Twitter handles that might provide some inspiration. Heck, I’m optimistic that we might even leave inspired to add our own voices to the greater conversation.

See you on Tuesday at eight o’clock!


The next #SDUHSDchat takes place on October 13, 2015 from 8:00-8:30 PM. Come on by and sit a spell. 


Any conference that begins with a twelve year old human beat box is off to a good start. Follow that with a lecture on language research and a poetry slam, and I’m all in, as I was at this year’s CABE Conference in San Diego.

CABE stands for California Association for Bilingual Educators, and this year’s 40th anniversary conference was a big one.

As with any educational conference, my hope is that I’ll leave with some ideas I can put into practice when I get back to campus, a few connections with educators I didn’t know (or know so well), and a mind challenged to think about the world in a different way.

This year CABE did all three.

What struck me immediately when I arrived was that I was surrounded by passionate educators who themselves loved to learn. My district certainly sent a dynamic team, whose engagement was an example of the dedication we’d all like to see our students bring to school.

Over the course of two days, I got to learn about the benefits of biliteracy, and hear research that made me feel even more excited about Diegueño’s Dual Language Immersion program and the good work we do with English Learners.

I got to really connect with colleagues both from my own school and other middle and high schools, and we got to share what we were excited about from the sessions we each attended.

These educators, as well as the CABE presenters, provided specific ideas I can bring back to Diegueño, as well as a renewed focus on equity in action.

I won’t make this post a list of the interesting speakers or meaningful ideas I saw at CABE, but I do want to call out the presentation that resonated with me most. With the wit and ease of a veteran professor, Kenneth Wesson spoke about the applications of neuroscience in the classroom in a talk titled “Using STEM and S²TREAM to Grow the Best Brains Possible.”

It was a hands on presentation that saw us using mirrors to trick our brains, magnets and paper clips, and even a lava lamp. Wesson suggested that “the young brain actively seeks relevant connections made through rich memorable learning experiences,” and his talk provided just that. When the session scheduled for an hour and fifteen minutes went long, none of us complained.

I’m not a huge fan of most conferences; give me an EdCamp and a cup of coffee and I’m in heaven, but this year CABE gave me an experience I’m happy I had, on a topic that matters much at Diegueño and in public education. Add to that the fact that from the human beat box who was part of the middle school choir that opened the conference to the stirring poem by Dylan Garrity, the conference tipped its proverbial hat to the arts, and it had me at bmmmp-bmmmp-bmmmp!

How Lincoln Learned to Tweet

photo (4)One of my favorite stories about learning in Daniel Wolff’s book How Lincoln Learned to Read comes in the section on Henry Ford. A ten year old Ford, working with a handful of other boys his age, built a turbine engine out of a ten gallon can and some other odds and ends. Wolff quotes Ford, who wrote: “the boiler finally blew up and scalded three of us, and I carry a scar on my cheeks today.” And then Wolff brings home the example with four beautiful words: “That’s how he learned.”

I’m not advocating uncontained explosions as the best science education, but I do see the benefits of spectacular failures like Ford’s, if they’re coupled with an attitude of exploration and true growth mindset. Ford’s story, like so many in Wolff’s collection of descriptions of a dozen American’s educations, shows the importance of determination, curiosity, and the ability to see failure as part of learning.

With that spirit in mind, I’m looking forward to trying something different for this month’s Diegueño Book Club. It might be marvelous, it could be odd, or there’s a chance of it ending up like Henry Ford’s turbine …a learning experience.

We’re going to try to blend a book club and Twitter chat.



Like Ford, an intrepid ToSA, Kevin, and I are looking to build something we can sort of imagine, but haven’t seen before.

We see the benefits of bringing teachers and parents together to talk about education and ideas, as we have already earlier in the school year at Diegueño. We also see how cool it can be for educators to connect through our district’s #SDUHSDchat. Both encourage conversation, both ask meaningful questions about ideas, and both have the potential to make us more reflective about how we work with kids, and participate in this amazing enterprise, education.

So what will it look like on March 10th at 5PM (PST)? Well, we’ve got some ideas…

Diegueño’s library has great technology, including dual screens we might use to project #SDUHSDchat as the folks in the room talked about Wolff’s book. Kevin is thinking to capture some of the comments our the in person discussion and use them to compliment the chat online while I stay focused on the people with copies of the book out in front of them.

With the chat projected, those who are interested in plucking ideas and comments from the feed could use the greater mind of #SDUHSDchat to enhance the discussion we’re having around the table. If the smartest person in the room is the room, and the room has no walls…

We’re working on some questions that we might ask online that compliment the topics we’ll be talking about around the table in the library. For those who haven’t read the book, or all of the book, we want to make sure to provide enough to welcome ideas more general to education.

One of best parts of our last Diegueño Book Club was the wide variety of opinions and great diversity of perspectives. Wolff’s book encourages personal connections to the stories, and invites conversation about current education. In so many ways, those two ends are shared by #SDUHSDchat, and that convinces me to imagine that this pairing might even work.

photo (5)Maybe.

So whether we’re looking at the next New Coke or the next Godfather II, we’re approaching #DiegueñoBookChat with open minds, creative hearts, and growth mindsets. And if things go like Henry Ford’s explosive boiler, well, that’s one way we learn.



The next Diegueño Book Club, discussing How Lincoln Learned to Read by Daniel Wolff, will be on March 10th from 5:00-6:30 in the Diegueño Media Center.  If you can’t make it to campus, check it out at #SDUHSDchat on Twitter!


After the Pizza is Gone

photo 1 (28)Last week more than a dozen smart and funny educators gathered here at Diegueño for pizza and conversation. In an effort to promote our district’s weekly Twitter chat (#SDUHSDchat), we invited in anyone who wanted to learn more about Twitter, how to participate in a chat, and how to build their personal learning network (PLN). It was a ball.

We chose a conference room for the gathering, rather than a larger space like the library, and by the time we got started the room was bursting at the seams. With laughter drifting out into the rest of the admin building, some gifted teachers led the room through a series of silly questions, helping folks understand hashtags and Twitter conversations, not by reading about them or by being shown, but by doing.

The teachers and administrators who came were able to experience a chat with the support of other pizza stuffed, smiling colleagues. When someone made a good point, the room responded; when someone made a good joke, the room laughed. Wit filled the conference room as if it were Jillys and Sinatra was holding court with the rest of the Rat Pack.

photo 3 (21)By the time people left, I hope they understood some of the great things about a Twitter chat. They’d seen teachers and administrators who were not on site join the chat from other schools, and had a blueprint for how to participate. The question lurking in the back of my mind, however, was: “Would they come back?”

Would those smart and interesting folks who engaged with each other over pizza be game to log on from home after the pizza was gone and join the next #SDUHSDchat?

I’ll be honest, I have a vested interest: I’m moderating.

And so with high hopes of an evening of great professional connections, I asked myself what I could do to make it easy to participate on Tuesday 1/20.

A brief reminder of some of those Twitter basics seems like a good start, and a website that was given to me that did just that is: Mom, This is How Twitter Works.

Choosing an accessible topic was important, so I started with a question that every educator I know can answer with a smile: “Who was your favorite teacher?”

Knowing the questions ahead of time is another nice support, so here they are, at least in DRAFT form:

photo 4 (15)—> Q1: Who was your favorite teacher and what did she/he do that made her/him stand out for you?

—> Q2: What are some of the things you currently do that you learned from a favorite teacher?

—> Q3: What are some ways you (and your approach) are different from your favorite teacher?

—> Q4: Do you have a colleague who has inspired you? What did she/he do to motivate you to do something new or different?

So if you’re reading this and feel like participating, I’d love to see you at #SDUHSDchat on Tuesday, January 20th, from 8:00-8:30 PM (PST). It’s a low risk, high reward, and fun way to connect with other educators, even if you’re not eating pizza.

#SDUHSDchat is on 1/20/15, from 8:00-8:30 pm (PST). This week’s topic: “Inspiration, imitation, and amazing teachers!”


photo (7)One night I think it was just me and two nice teachers from Escondido. They were kind to me, answering questions, bantering a bit. It felt, by the end, like I’d made some friends.

Not every experiment in social media is an immediate success. #SDUHSDchat, my district’s foray into Twitter chat, is still a work in progress.

Like the others who have banded together to get #SDUHSDchat up and tweeting (a ToSA, a fellow site administrator, and a pair of strong teachers), I see in this weekly multi-school conversation great potential to strengthen the ties that bind our district together, to share innovative ideas about teaching and learning, and to support and inspire each other in our profoundly important work.

If people come.

And so, with an eye toward broadening participation, and knowing that nothing draws educators like free food, this Tuesday (1/13) #SDUHSDchat will break through the fourth wall and we’ll do our best to lure some dynamic (and hungry) teachers to join us for a #PizzaChat!

Our plan is to meet here at Diegueño, bring in enough pepperoni and cheese to feed the masses, and help teachers and other district educators feel comfortable with (and maybe even inspired to try) Twitter in good company, in an afternoon version of our scheduled #SDUHSDchat. I like that our chat is half an hour long, not a huge commitment, but enough to provide some connections and ideas to take into the week ahead.

For folks not familiar with a Twitter chat, we’ll explain how using the #SDUHSDchat hashtag can connect them with comments from a host of educators, some from our district and some beyond. We’ll reassure them that they can lurk, and encourage them to try dipping their proverbial toe in the water, and celebrate their participation. We’ll show any who don’t yet have a Twitter account how to set one up, and learn from those who are already tweeting how to build our Personal Learning Networks (PLNs).

chatrevisedI’ve heard Twitter described as a place where people become colleagues without ever working at the same place. I like this, and I’ve found it to be true. And for those who haven’t tried Twitter, I’m optimistic that by starting face to face we might be able to lessen any anxiety about an unfamiliar tool.

I see the possibility of more teachers taking advantage of each others’ knowledge and insight online after they’ve had the low stakes high carb introduction of our #PizzaChat. I have high hopes for the discussion, both online and over grease stained paper plates, on Tuesday.

…and I hope that those two teachers from Escondido will stop by the Twitter part of the chat too. Heck, if they drive out to Diegueño, I’ll give them some pizza.


For any SDUHSD teachers who might be interested, you should be getting an RSVP form emailed to you soon. If you don’t, check with your site administrator, so we can know you’re coming. This should be a fun afternoon, beginning at 3:30 on 1/13, at Diegueño Middle School.


On Tuesday evening I’ll host my first SDUHSDchat of the school year. For those folks who don’t know what a Twitter Chat is, think of a group of educators all sitting around a table discussing a topic, dividing about half an hour into answering four questions. Now imagine that the table is so large that everyone can gather around it, that everyone who wants to speak gets a chance, and people who’d rather just listen can do so without feeling awkward.

Twitter isn’t a social media that everyone uses, though I’d wager the majority of those reading this post have at least a passing familiarity. For educators it’s been a boon to professional development and connections. In my district we’ve joined the growing number of teachers and administrators who host a weekly online meeting place where we can exchange ideas with each other (and with anyone interested in joining the conversation).

Led by a Teacher on Special Assignment, a math teacher, an English teacher, and a middle school principal (that’s me), SDUHSDchat is a low risk way for teachers and those interested in teaching to come together for thoughtful (and sometimes witty) talk about the world of education today.

Heck, as a parent I think I’d be curious what teachers and other educators in my student’s school and district had to say about things.

And it’s easy.

It doesn’t even take a Twitter account to follow along on the string of short posts in the “chat,” just click on twitter.com/#SDUHSDchat at 8:00pm on Tuesday (9/23) and watch what people have to say. If you want to join in the conversation (and it’s really worth doing, even if it’s just to add a short thought or two) then you need a Twitter account, which is free, easy, and fun. Just go to: twitter.com.

For anyone with any anxiety about Twitter, a friend showed me this article that helped me wrap my head around what tweeting is all about. You may want to take a look at: Mom, This is How Twitter Works. It’s funny and informative at the same time. Who could ask for more?

Well, you say, I could ask for more… I don’t want to be caught flat footed when all this “chatting” starts up. You could tell me the topic! You could even give me a peek at the questions, so I can get ready and feel comfortable before I try this thing out.

Done and done.

This week’s SDUHSDchat is about “Motivating Students / Classroom Management.” I put that slash in between the two terms on purpose, thinking some would see it as an “and” and others as an “or.” Some would start thinking about how the two are related; I think they are. Some would say you can’t have one without the other. All cool starting points!

Now, the questions… I’m still polishing these up a bit (it’s not yet Tuesday night), but what I have right now (spaced 5-7 minutes apart) is…


  • What is the relationship between motivating students and classroom management?
  • What has worked best to motivate your students this school year?
  • What classroom management challenges have been the greatest this year, and how have you addressed them?
  • What are the most important elements in a classroom with good classroom management and motivated students?


I might adjust the questions a little before we go live on Tuesday. I’d really like to weave in something on Growth Mindsets (while still being sensitive that not everyone is super familiar with Carol Dweck’s work). But this gives you a head start.

So what do you think? Feel adventurous? Want to dip your toe in the water? I’d love to hear what you have to say, and think you might find it fun too. We’re all part of this grand adventure that is education for the same reason: the kids, and SDUHSDchat is just another way we can help support each other. Think of us all as friends having a conversation around a table, a table with enough seats for everyone.

SDUHSDchat at 8:00pm on Tuesday 9/23/14 (and most Tuesdays during the school year).