Hard work pays off.

Today Pennsylvania released its updated information for the School Performance Profile, scoring secondary schools across the state. The top performing school was the Downingtown STEM Academy, my school!

I wouldn’t trade my job for any teaching job. Period. That does not mean my job is easy. On the contrary, I am blessed to work hard for hard-working students, devoted teachers, and a very supportive community of invested stakeholders. No day is easy; every day is spectacular. I’ve shared these thoughts before, but now we have state-wide recognition for our work. [A Dream Job: Teaching at the Downingtown STEM Academy; Project-Based Learning at the Downingtown STEM Academy; and An Age of Mass Connectivity.]

Today’s announcement only validates that hard work pays off; our motto “Effort Creates Intelligence,” pays off. Students have been working hard for the past three years, so have teachers. Our school has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School every year we have been open. Students are continually recognized in regional and national competitions in academics and extracurriculars. Our students are being asked to speak at national conferences on the state of education. Our students are continually presented opportunities beyond comparison. Our students are engaged and want to come to school. All these factors make the school I work in the best school in the state; quantitatively and qualitatively.

Thank you to the administrative team and community for saying yes to such a bold endeavor. Thank you, students, for showing up every day willing to take a risk and work harder than you would have to elsewhere. Thank you to my colleagues for constantly inspiring students and fellow teachers to achieve at our highest potential.



The biggest lesson I have learned in the past year is saying yes. In January I read Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, in which he includes many tips on how to sell ideas and build communities of support for your ideas. One such tip is, when in conversation, do not say “no.” Rather, if you are not in complete agreement with an idea, say “yes, and…” Then, support this idea with ways you believe it could be better. This tip isn’t new, but Pink’s inclusion of it in his book on selling ideas inspired me to think about how often I say yes in my life. I yearn for people to think of me as open-minded, innovative, creative, and easy to work with, but I found I like to say no. I like to be in control. Saying yes opens you to new ideas, which in turn makes you vulnerable to the unknown. If you only operate within what you know, you will never experience growth, innovation, and creativity. You will be stuck in the system surrounding you, whether that be your job, your relationships, or your faith. Practice saying yes.

My journey saying yes led me to a risk, a new surrounding, an education “unconference” called EdCamp. This particular EdCamp was held in Philadelphia. At this conference, I ran into hundreds of educators, who all occupied a similar spectrum- yearning to change education but unsure how. Many of these educators wanted change but were not yet comfortable with the vulnerability that comes with change and saying yes. The first event I attended at this conference was with Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers), whose passion-fueled belief in education pulled at my heart.

For those outside the daily education arena, let me paint a brief picture what current public education looks like in Pennsylvania and likely in many states around the United States. My vantage point on the topic of education expands from my work as a scholar, my practice as a classroom teacher and leader, and my new view as a parent of a first grader. I know my view is not all-encompassing, but I know where I stand provides a unique perspective of American public education.

By in large, American public education standardizes students into mediocrity. This isn’t the fault of teachers, the system, or the leaders alone, and this is not true in every instance. By in large, public education takes the passion, drive, and curiosity of students as young children and standardizes it into numbers, standardized test scores. This isn’t an emotional appeal to abandon the tests, though… I know I would lose that battle. This is an appeal to strive for more. By only aiming for the standard level of mediocrity demanded by the current testing culture, many students lose the passion, drive, and curiosity that embodies learning. I believe by striving for more, American students will so demolish the tests that the tests will become irrelevant, silly, and a bump in their educational journey.

The message promoted by Angela Maiers is that all students are geniuses, at every level, and passion-based education should encourage and grow this genius, rather than standardize it. She challenges students to Choose2Matter. When I heard her message, many educators in this progressive un-conference began asking some silly questions: What is your business plan? How does this relate to the standards? How will I get buy-in for the project? With each question, I became emboldened. How silly, right? A business plan to bring passion back to the classroom? Leveling passion-based learning to a standard? Administration buy-in? I was shocked. So, I raised my hand (yes, I can’t avoid it), and I said yes. I was willing to dare big. I knew it was a risk. I knew it would make me vulnerable. I was not sure which direction it would take me. But, I also knew how dismal standards-based education can be. How passion-less the school day is for many students. This educational system is so bureaucratic, at times, it is amazing learning can take place. It will take risks to shock the system. It will take rebels and disruptors. If we are not willing to say yes, we remain glued to the system we are in. I cannot remain glued to a system that encourages mediocrity and standardizes greatness. We need a change.

Angela came to my school two weeks after I met her in Philadelphia. Planning this trip alone was a struggle. At every point of opposition, when I felt like quitting, I realized I was no better than the educators in the lecture hall in Philadelphia that put up roadblocks immediately. I persisted. When Angela made it to my school, I had no clue how it was going to go. I had a very loose plan, and I allowed flexibility for students to change what was happening. It went SPECTACULARLY!

Not surprisingly, when you give students a voice in what they do, the students will blow beyond your expectations. Within three hours of Angela’s arrival, students were live-streaming their genius to the world via UStream. By the end of the second day, many students had begun the process of building their idea, their passion, into a non-profit organization. These two days occurred in the last week of school, when many educators shut their doors, clean their rooms, and largely ignore the students. Ironically, these are some of the same educators who argue there is not enough time in the year for what they want to do. I’ve learned early in my life to run through finish lines, not walk.

Students continued work over the summer, including video conferencing with Angela and others about their ideas. Students shared their genius for other teachers in professional development. Students shared their genius internationally with the United Way during Angela’s hour-long contribution in The 21 campaign. Students continued working, over the summer, on a passion-based idea started because two educators said yes.

Saying yes has another effect. The journey that being with “yes” never ends. By remaining open to new possibilities, you no longer solely control your destiny. As such, not one path but many remain open to you. If I had my way, my path would be straight, directly pointing at my goal. Saying yes brings you to many more intersections, cross-streets, alleys, paths, and uncharted routes than you could ever imagine. These new avenues of growth never dead-end if you keep saying yes. That itself is hard to maintain. If you only know you are moving forward but aren’t really sure where you will end up, as a traveller, you must constantly orient yourself to your surroundings. You build community wherever you go. Some in this community travel with you on this journey, while others keep watch over where you have been. Saying yes is a journey that does not end.

Angela Maiers was chosen to speak at the ninth annual Business Innovation Factory conference in Providence, Rhode Island in September 2013. She told me the conference was willing to pay for students to present with her. Astounding! Unbelievable! By pushing beyond the standard of mediocrity in education, my students would get to share their genius with some of the most innovative business leaders! Angela left the details up to me: how would we get there, how would I get through the school approvals, how I would get parent support. Again, it would been very easy to say no. The students would have to miss school; we might have to drive seven hours in a minivan; we would only be presenting for a few minutes. I, hesitantly, kept saying yes. When I had trouble doing it all on my own, I turned to my support system of educators and family; they keep watch over my well-traveled paths so I remain grounded. I asked parents for help; this new community was going to travel with me a bit on a new, exciting journey.

In Rhode Island, the students met Angela again and we immediately went to work. We had a mission. The students wanted to promote their business idea, Bikes with Benefits (@BikesWB). They also wanted to work with Angela to promote passion-based, genius-inspired learning. At the cocktail hour following the first day of the conference, Angela mapped a plan for the students then told them to go share their genius. Left to me, I would have been more cautious. I did not think they were ready for such an adventure, largely on their own. But, I said yes. What happened next was amazing. The students, in pairs, began networking with business innovators!!! They found a familiar face, Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar), who Skyped with us in June. They were honored to meet him in person, and he was thrilled they remembered him. Onward they went. The evening crescendoed when the students bumped into an executive from Trex bikes. They brought their group together and pitched their business idea, on their own, with no direction from Angela or myself. THEY NAILED IT! Angela and I, standing a few feet away, couldn’t help but cry for joy when witnessing the limitless potential of student genius and the boldness of these six girls.

Having made a name for themselves Wednesday evening, they got to be on stage with Angela on Thursday morning. I must say, we were all more than a little nervous. Some of the students tried to weasel out of their spotlight. We all encouraged them. What happened next was amazing. THEY NAILED IT!! They got a standing ovation. A spectator shouted in affirmation through the applause that these girls will lead our future. In the second day of this conference, only two speakers got standing ovations. Not even the final presentation from the co-founder of FastCompany raised the crowd from their seats. Students, led by their passion, relinquished from the bounds of standardization and mediocrity, inspired some of the nation’s brightest business innovators.

During lunch, business leaders and students from other schools kept my students very busy. My students, with Angela, have helped pave the groundwork for this movement in another school. One of my students said she was heartbroken that other schools couldn’t have the opportunity they were having. Bikes with Benefits, the group these students have formed, were ready to ride and ready to rescue. But, what if it wasn’t about the bike? What if this journey is just the beginning of a long path of innovation, creativity, and passion-based leadership from a group of high school juniors? This is what happens when you reach beyond standardization and mediocrity.

On the return journey home from Rhode Island, I cannot predict where we will go next. I cannot predict the story of these girls. I do not know where Angela and I will wander to next, or even if our path will continue on together. I do not how the many connections I made will support our travels. I do know I many new paths lay before us. Many new travelers have joined with us. As a community we move forward. Inspired by their awesome example, I cannot ever return to simple standardization and mediocrity. Say yes. You will not know where it will lead. You can always return from where you came, but I am certain you won’t look back.

Sit and (For)Get: Advice for Better Professional Development

As the new school year approaches, educational leaders get anxious, just like teachers and students. The start of a new year brings new challenges, among which includes teaching teachers– professional development. I hope to share some advice to make this year’s professional development more engaging. Teachers have a phrase for professional development-”Sit and Get”. I content it should be “Sit and Forget.”

The first faculty meeting of the year is your first “lesson” of your yearly professional development. This meeting should be as important to administrators as the first day of school is for teachers. As such, I have compiled some advice for new and veteran administrators alike. I am a classroom teacher, but I do lead monthly professional development as my building’s educational technology leader. My advice below stems from my experience as both a teacher and building leader.

1. Don’t forget your roots- You are a teacher at heart. As an administrator, you are a master teacher. Do not abandon tried-and-true teaching practices because you are teaching adults. After a full day of teaching, or with the stress of the upcoming year, teachers have so much on their minds. Use your good teaching strategies to make professional development enjoyable, meaningful, and useful. Everything that comes next really is a subset of this first point.

2. Start with the end in mind- With no disrespect to Grant Wiggins or Jay McTighe and their Understanding by Design movement, planning your teaching with the end in mind is really a simple concept. Think about how you plan a vacation. You know where you are going, and you make decisions about how to get there. Now, think about how faculty meetings are planned. Piecemeal? Start with the whole year in mind. What do you want the teachers to really learn? Set a yearly goal, share it, then plan backwards to get there. Design formative and summative activities to measure your progress. Make this plan apparent to your staff at the first faculty meeting.

3. Be prepared to fail- Planning a year’s worth of professional development means something will go wrong. Your plan will get amended for an urgent matter in your school. This is okay. Be willing to demonstrate to your staff how to handle failure. If you don’t model risk-taking and failure, how can you expect your teachers to know how to take these risks? While we are on failure…

4. Try new teaching styles (and technologies)- Many administrators want their teachers to flip their classroom content. Flip parts of the first day’s faculty meeting. Please follow some sound advice for flipping content, but experiment with it. Conduct some of your meeting in a blended learning style. Allow your teachers to BYOD and then USE THEM! Set up a Twitter conversation to run while you present. IF you want a less public “backchannel” try TodaysMeet. Again, be prepared for failure, but if you don’t model successful and failed attempts at these new(er) teaching tools, do not expect your staff to use them.

5. Abandon PowerPoint- Even if you manage to make a good PowerPoint, it’s not as good as you think. PowerPoint requires passive responses from your audience, at best. At worst, PowerPoint has negative connotations as boring and ineffective, especially when the presenter is on slide 5 of 54! Peter Bregman called it the number one killer meetings. Fortunately he also gives advice for making your meetings more interactive.

6. Chunk your time- Think 10 to 15 minute chunks. Carmine Gallo, for Forbes Magazine, advised readers on why a ten minute presentation is important. However you design your first faculty meeting, use different teaching approaches, technology, and staff input sessions to diversify your teaching. Over a three-hour meeting, this will mean plenty of changing. You can re-use strategies (i.e., have more than one flipped session), but try not to put them back to back.

7. Include your audience- Rather than handing down directives from above, perhaps you offer problems the school is facing, and through dialogue sessions discuss how or why certain solutions will work. Since you are a master teacher, you know you can still direct the audience to “your” answer, but if you help the idea organically grow from their input you will have greater buy-in. Interestingly, if you work this way, teachers will also understand the importance of a new change. Another way to include input could be to have staff create short recorded videos (1-2 minutes) on a rule or procedure important to the school. These videos, then, could be used to inform the students when they return. How powerful would it be to have the teachers convey the new rules rather than the principal running a long meeting with the students? There are dozens more ways to get your staff involved. Rely on your strengths and find what works best for you.

8. Make learning personal- As much as #1 was the key to the entire list, tip #8 offers a full-circle closure. Your staff will only retain the training if it is personal to them. Your veteran teachers and first-year teachers probably should not be in the same meeting the entire time. Perhaps diversify your message by grade-level or subject. You should really consider a needs-assessment for your staff before you begin. Does everyone need to hear everything you deliver? If not, you are wasting their time and squandering opportunities you can push them further.

If you approach your professional development this year as a year-long learning process and not piecemeal, you will find your teachers get more from your meetings!

Your First Days of School

I’m no Harry Wong, but after teaching for nine years, I have some very important suggestions for the first day(s) of school for both new teachers and the veterans among us.

I’ve been accused of being a reductionist in my views of education; I make complex issues too simple for some. I don’t think my reductionist view is nearly as bad as some of my critics point out, but I thought I should start with admitting their view. I take such a simple view toward education because I think most educators overthink education, making complex issues even more difficult to resolve. We, after all, are simply helping youth along a path of discovery. It’s pretty simple.

Let us begin with two scenarios.

Scenario #1- The First Faculty Meeting

One of your first teacher days back in the coming weeks will be for your first faculty meeting. I’ve taken part in these meetings for nine years, with many different principals and variations. Here’s what happens often. The administrator introduces new staff (usually with an ice-breaker of sorts), shares what is new, reviews the important rules for the school, and reviews expectations for teachers and students. I have experienced these meetings take upwards of three hours. I’m a pretty good listener, but in that time, there is information I will forget and have to revisit. My colleagues and I, knowing these meetings are long, are not excited for them. Yes, we understand the meetings are important, but they are long and difficult to get through.

Scenario #2- A Two-Hour Business Dinner

Teachers do not get to many business dinners, but let’s follow this thought example through. If you are invited to dinner with a new boss, you likely arrive at that meeting a bit apprehensive with many questions in your mind. What can I expect from this boss? Will my past practices be good enough or will I need to change? Will the boss like me? Will we get along? With these questions, and likely many others, what would happen if your new boss spent three-quarters of the time, 1.5 hours of your dinner, lecturing you on his expectations for you? What is your impression of your boss then?

Returning to reality, your first day of school with students is right around the corner. If the first day of school is like scenario #1, what good is it for students? Students who are required to mostly sit through seven hours of ice-breakers, new changes, rules, and expectations will likely forget most of them. This follows the same logic of why teachers should not lecture all day. If you don’t like full-day of lecture-based professional development, DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR STUDENTS! Especially on the first day of school.

In scenario #2, the boss loses a great opportunity to make an awesome first impression. If you get talked to in this scenario, you are likely to think of your boss as autocratic. You might feel like your opinion is worthless. You might even feel like your boss expects you to act unprofessionally; otherwise why would he lecture you on his expectations and rules? You don’t break rules. This isn’t necessary.

You only have one chance to make a first impression on your students. Please think carefully about the impression you want to make.

I do not profess that these suggestions work for everyone, but below are some suggestions I have found very successful. I encourage you to think critically about them and whether they will work for you.

1. Get personal- Your students want to meet you. You want to get to know them. Make a strong first impression on the first day of school, the first moment you get to meet the students. Stand in the hallway all day. I like greeting students at the door, handshakes, hellos, simple conversations. I like to welcome students into our classroom. I’m not a fan of ice-breaker activities, but whatever it takes for you to develop a personal relationship with students, please do it. I put together a “Who is Dr. Staub” video slideshow for students [this year’s isn’t done yet...]. It establishes immediately that I am a person, not just a teacher. I encourage them to share their personal stories with me over the coming days.

2. Limit the rules- I teach high school (11th grade to be specific), so I know this applies differently to me. The more rules you have, the more it sets the tone that you expect the students to break the rules. Think about which rules are critical. I go over NO RULES the first day. In fact, I don’t list rules in a syllabus, hang them on my wall, or expect parents and students to sign. In fact, I have very few rules beyond: RESPECT EACH OTHER. I used to have laundry-lists to go over with students and get signed, and I found I would rather simply expect students to do good. When students break my expectation of respect, I simply talk to them. If the behavior continues, then I increase my behavior modification plans. It’s not about rules; it’s a personal approach to understanding students. Isn’t that what we want?

3. Don’t assign seats- Why do you need to? Here are the main arguments: (a) It helps me get to know the students. If you focus on a personal approach the first few weeks, greeting students at the door every day, you’ll learn names much quicker. (b) It helps control the classroom. Again, this presumes students will act up. If you let them pick their own seats and they act up, change their seats. Don’t presume they will act poorly. (c) It is required for my sub plans. I haven’t had seating charts for two years. Students are creatures of habit- we all are. Within two weeks, students will sit in the same seats anyway. Make a seating chart from their habits. You will likely not be absent by then anyway. If you are, think about what a substitute does. They READ aloud all names for role anyway. How helpful is a seating chart? If your students understand the responsibility of choosing their own seats, the students will act better for the substitute then they will for you. (d) If I make a seating chart, then I can move their seats. I need to mix the class from time to time. Don’t forget, you are the teacher. If you don’t have a seating chart, you can still require students to sit in specific areas. This is actually easier to do when students have a choice most of the time. While I am talking about seats, AVOID SITTING STUDENTS IN ROWS. We live in a connected world. Why isolate students from the genius around them?

4. Teach something- get the students involved- Give the students a positive reason for coming to school. Get into something worthwhile. Heck, make your first day your A+, best lesson of the year. Remember, this is about first impressions. Go BIG. Set the bar high for yourself. Demand the same expectations from your students in everything they do. Wow them!

5. Connect- Let students know how and when you are available, at school and electronically. Invite them to connect with you how you are comfortable. I have a school-specific Twitter and Gmail account. I allow students to chat and tweet me, professionally, at any time. Students who know you are available will come to you more often, even if this is just the hours you are available at school. Send an email home to parents sharing the same information. The more connected your classroom is, the better year you will have.

6. Refine your message- You will say something the first day of school. Practice it, and make sure it aligns with your vision and big goals for your classroom this year. This is why I do not go over rules. I feel rules set the bar too low. Rules tell students what NOT to do. Rather, here are some of the messages I want to work into my message to the class in the first week of school.

“I don’t care about your grade- NOT AT ALL. I care about how much you learn.”

“I expect to fail a lot this year, attempting new practices I am not comfortable with. I expect you to fail too. You cannot push yourself to new horizons by remaining with what is comfortable. If you fail, keep trying. You are only a failure when you give up trying to get better.”

“Effort creates intelligence. If you don’t give 100%, do not expect to get 100% return. It doesn’t work that way.”

“Your learning is personal, but you need others to help you reach your success. We learn best when we learn together.”

So, there it is. Please think carefully about what you do in the first days of school. Do not set the standards and bar too low. Do not talk at your students. Be engaging. Be personal. Smile. Laugh. Challenge their perceptions on what is known. Set the bar high. Repeat this model every day, and you will have the best year of your career.

A Visit to Dachau

For two weeks this summer, I chaperoned a WWII-themed European tour with 28 students from my high school. Our tour was a jam-packed, non-stop journey across western Europe, but one stop in particular made me collect my thoughts immediately. Below, largely unedited from the text I wrote on the bus after the visit, are my reflections from visiting the Nazi concentration camp, Dachau.


Saturday afternoon (20 July 2013) our tour took us from Munich to Dachau. Dachau was the first concentration camp opened by the Nazis in 1933, and it held many of the political prisoners of the Nazi Party. Eventually it took in the “undesirables”; Jews, Sinti, Roma, homosexuals, etc. Dachau became a model camp and was visited by leadership in the SS because of its organization and administration.

The Dachau camp is right on the edge of town, a shock to me. While Dachau did have gas chambers, they were never used. However, the dead were burned in a crematorium, a stench that must have hovered over the town for ten years of more. How did the townspeople not know? Why did they not act?


I was well prepared for our camp visit; little what I saw shocked me. We walked the same path of prisoners into the camp and through main gate, which read “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work will set you free.” We watched a 20 minute video on concentration camps, particularly Dachau. Then I walked through the main house reading displays and around the back to the barracks, where a prison was established. The main grounds, where morning roll was called, was enormous, giving me an idea how immense Dachau was, and it was a smaller of the camps. I then walked through a reconstructed housing barrack and over to the reconstructed outer gate. Standing in these areas, I tried to think how helpless I would have felt in the camp. Nowhere to go; nothing that was your own; inhumanity everywhere.

Walking to the back of the camp, I visited the religious memorials, in their simplicity, and I prayed for those victims, families, and the unknown who were subjected to such inhumanity. I pray all who visit Dachau bear witness to man’s inhumanity and push to eliminate it at all cost.

Another shocking part of the visit was the crematorium, not because of what it was but because of where it was. The crematorium was behind trees in the back corner of the camp, probably to hide the horror. I wonder if it was there to try to keep the truth from the prisoners and any who might visit the camp. In the crematorium, the hardest room to visit was the multiple rooms for holding dead bodies to be burned. The bodies would have been stacked like firewood awaiting the furnace. While Dachau was not an extermination camp the original crematorium was ill-equipped for handling the demand of dead bodies. A second building was built to assist. Let that sink in for a moment. Dachau was not a death camp. Dachau was not the largest of Nazi concentration camps. Death was so rampant, however, that one crematorium was not enough to keep up with the demand. Rooms were added to store dead bodies waiting cremation. Dachau was small, in comparison to other camps. Its inhumanity was overpowering, and I cannot fathom inhumanity on a larger scale.

I took a long, slow walk up the road in the center of the camp, between the sets of prisoners’ barracks. Along this road were poplar trees planted by the prisoners; many of the original trees remain. This road was the only bit of humanity in the camp, and the prisoners spent their very limited free time here. Slowly walking, I tried to connect with the souls that stood among those trees. On the hot day that we visited, I paused in the shade of the populars and listened to the sound of the wind in their branches. Was it possible to escape the horrors of Dachau, even for a fleeting moment, among the trees? On the main grounds, I paused to feel the pressing heat and wondered how the weak bore the weather extremes while in the most dire health. As I exited the camp, I reaffirmed my resolve to never forget or downplay the Holocaust.

It is tough to stare directly in the face of such inhumanity. It hurts to see what one man has done to another–daggers through your heart. If you close your eyes, squint, or only take a quick glance, you miss the horror. The world cannot bear another bout of inhumanity. Unless we stare directly at past inhumanity, we risk missing the warning signs as humans start toward future horror. This must never occur.

You Matter and United Way’s The21 Campaign

At 6AM EDT Friday morning, I got the chance to prove to the world Angela Maiers’s belief, “You are a genius, and the world needs your contribution.”

On Friday, June 21, the United Way (@unitedway) ran a 21 hour event called The 21. Together with Google, “The 21 is a twenty-one hour broadcast of live programming in support of worldwide education… This first of its kind event will feature celebrities from the sports world, entertainment, leaders in the education field, and also everyday heroes who are making a difference in their communities through education… Think of it as a telethon reinvented for the digital age, except our goal isn’t to get money, it’s to recruit 21,000 people to pledge to become volunteer readers, tutors or mentors.”

Angela Maiers, co-founder of the Choose2Matter campaign, invited myself, three of my students, and five other professionals, to speak to the United Way and the global community about the Choose2Matter campaign. Angela came to the Downingtown STEM Academy in June and challenged my students to use their genius to change the world. Since that visit, she has been working tirelessly to spread the message of how successful Downingtown STEM Academy students were, and why this is important for public education.

The embedded video is segment grabbed from United Way’s YouTube Video, and slightly edited by me. Make sure you check out my students’ contribution (after a small technology glitch) around 50 minutes.

United Way #the21 from Justin Staub on Vimeo.

Angela Maiers’s town hall forum on the importance of her #YouMatter campaign in the global fight to improve education worldwide.

Below are a few of the key inspirational points I pulled from the video:

“[You Matter] is an “end run” around the school system.” -Mark Moran

“You are a genius, and the world NEEDS your contribution.” -Angela Maiers

“[You Matter] is not about you, it’s about us.” -Shawn Murphy

“Putting people of all ages under pressure to stretch is awesome.” -Ted Coiné

“[Some people] don’t respect children because they are young, and they don’t know anything. We have to fill their brains with knowledge. You know what? Memorizing stuff is not what school should be for. It should be for sparking their creativity.” -Ted Coiné

“If you’re telling me you want to change, get uncomfortable. It will feel different. Trust me, you will enjoy it.” -Tim McDonald

“WE is smarter than ME.” -Angela Maiers

“Those who don’t adapt will have someone else adapt them.” -Mark Moran

Special thanks to the following participants in the video:

An Age of Mass Connectivity

One year ago today, I ventured into the unknown social media world to develop my professional presence and expand my career potential. To date in one year, I’ve tweeted 6,889 times to 1,194 followers. In one year, I’ve posted 65 blog posts, visited 5,652 times by individuals in 76 different countries. We truly are in an Age of Mass Connectivity.

In the 20th year anniversary of Wired, contributors were asked to catalogue the previous twenty years in computer and technology. For his contribution, Kevin Kelly (@kevin2kelly) asked those working in startups in the Bay Area about their dreams. What follows are some of their thoughts:

“The next big thing will be a new way of deciding what we innovate.” –Michael Glass, Scribd

“We are in a creative revolution of how people work.” –David Albrecht, Crittercism

“This is the age of mass connectivity.” –Santosh Jayaram, Daemonic Labs

“We are widening our collective eye.”

What does this mean for educators, though?

As a friend of mine said,

Education needs to join the Age of Mass Connectivity. In the past year, spurred by Will Richardson’s (@willrich45visit to my school where he urged me to start blogging, I did just that. I also started chatting on Twitter more. I engage in weekly Twitter education chats. Social Studies chat on Monday nights from 7-8PM EDT (#sschat), Educational Technology Chat (#edtechchat) on Monday nights from 8-9PM EDT, Education Chat (#edchat) on Tuesdays from 7-8PM, Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) from 8-9PM EDT, and Saturday Chat for educators (#satchat) on Saturdays from 7:30-8:30AM EDT. I obviously cannot do them all, every week, but I engage as much as I can. This connectedness bore fruits in the past school year.

Because of my social media presence, I connected with New York Times bestselling author, Kenneth C. Davis (@kennethcdavis). He Skyped with my students twice in October, he was so impressed that he came to my school in March.

During the same time, I connected with Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.

After a series of connections, Dr. Goldstein, who leads the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, came to my school to announce the winning team sending their experiment to the International Space Station in November.

Today, my students were in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, receiving official citations for their accomplishment.

Then, because of my willingness connect, I attended EdCamp Philadelphia and met Angela Maiers (@angelamaiers). Then Angela came to my school and encouraged my students to change the world. I don’t doubt they will.

Educators need to connect. In just one year, I’ve managed to do more for my students than I did in the first nine years. Connections help break down walls, walls that in the 21st century are only good at keeping the bugs out. We live and teach in an Age of Mass Connectivity. Reach out and explore. As Dr. Jeff Goldstein says, it’s only with leaving your comfortable place (your home) that you will gain a new perspective of where you are. If you do not press into the “unknown” of a connected classroom, you will never know what possibilities lie on the horizon. Make it your goal this summer to connect. Share this post with someone who is reluctant. Share your experiences. Find out what happens when you stretch to new horizons.