Virtual PD Course Based on The Innovators Mindset

After the smashing success of the first #IMMOOC, George Couros and Katie Martin are back with an all-new course on educational innovation. The course starts on February 27th and is based on ideas from George’s amazing book, The Innovator’s Mindset. This book has taken the educational world by storm and is currently the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in Education Administration.

This is a HIGHLY interactive experience that will incorporate multiple channels of participation from YouTube Live videos, a Twitter chat component, a Facebook group, and blogging. Simply put, this course could be just what you need to take your educational innovation game to the next level. I HIGHLY recommend participating and encouraging others in your system to join along with you.

Take a look at the guests below to get a sense of how incredible this experience will be.

Actual Date Topic Guests Twitter Chat
February 27, 8pm EST Introduction AJ Juliani and John Spencer March 1, 9pm EST
March 5, 8pm EST Part 1: Innovation in Education Sarah Thomas  March 8, 9pm EST
March 12, 8pm EST Part 2:  Laying the Groundwork Amber Teamann and Matt Arend March 15, 9pm EST
March 20, 8pm EST Part 3: Unleashing Talent Jennifer Casa-Todd March 22, 9pm EST
March 26, 8pm EST Part 4: Concluding Thoughts To be announced March 29, 9pm EST

If you miss the original YouTube Live session, you will be able to watch the recorded version or listen to the podcast.

If you are interested in joining, please do the following:

  1. Buy a copy of “The Innovator’s Mindset“.
  2. Sign up for the course .
  3. Get your blog ready to go! (I suggest either edublogs.org or wordpress.com)
  4. Share that you are joining to the #IMMOOC hashtag on Twitter and share this link for others to sign up.
  5. Join the Facebook group.

How could this get better? You can win prizes!!! Participate in the #IMMOOC Selfie Giveaway and possibly win 3 books of your choice from our Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line. Currently 22 choices!!

Imagine a fully developed and collaborative professional development experience created by two of the top educational thought-leaders in the world and designed to move your system from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation…and then imagine that it was COMPLETELY FREE! This is an absolute no-brainer. Join #IMMOOC and get as many people from your system as you can to jump in with you. This could change the whole conversation and transform your school and district. See you inside #IMMOOC!


PS: Join here now!  http://immooc.org/sign-up-for-the-innovatorsmindsetmooc/



How Cancer Helped Me Bond With My Students

A guest post from Justin Birckbichler

I’m honored to share this amazing post from awesome educator and valued friend from my professional learning network, Justin Birckbichler. Justin is a 4th grade teacher from Fredericksburg, VA. After being diagnosed with testicular cancer, he made the incredible decision to document his journey and use his blog and social media to raise awareness and hopefully save lives. Follow his story here: A Ballsy Sense of Tumor

Learn how Justin turned this challenge into a powerful opportunity to build high levels of
rapport with his students even in his absence.

Here’s Justin:

In November, I was told I had an aggressive form of testicular cancer. The good news – it’s not a death sentence. I have over a 90% chance of survival, and I’ll find out if I am cancer free in early March. However, this silver lining came at a price: nine weeks of chemotherapy.

Some cancer patients get chemotherapy once every few weeks and are able to work throughout their treatments. Since my cancer was so aggressive, I would need chemotherapy nearly every day, which meant that continuing to work during treatment would be impossible.

Once the shock of hearing my diagnosis subsided, my thoughts turned to my fourth-grade students and how this upheaval in my life would affect them. I decided to be honest with them. After returning to school post-surgery, I told them that I had cancer and would be out of school from November to February. Obviously, the students were upset that their teacher had cancer, but I shared that my prognosis was good. Their compassion and genuine worry for my health showed that we had created a community of caring students, which has always been more important to me than any academic goals.

I also told them that we would stay in close contact while I was gone. On Google Classroom, I set up an assignment for students to create individual Docs to write back and forth to me. I left it open ended; students would write about whatever they wanted. I didn’t want to frame their thoughts for them. This was to be a way for me to continue to bond with them while also developing their writing skills. Giving prompts felt like it would just be another task for them to do, rather than a genuine experience.

This freedom resulted in a wide array of writing to read every day, instead of reading 25 canned responses. I got to see each individual student’s ideas. Some days, students would ask me how I was doing. I did my best to answer them honestly. If I had a good day, I told them. On bad days, I shared what was making me feel unwell if they asked.

Other days, students would tell me about what was going on in school or at home in their lives. I heard about Super Bowl parties, sports and extracurricular accomplishments, what they were reading, problems at home, and what subjects they were struggling with. Even though I was sitting in a chemo chair dozens of miles away, I felt like I was right there with them.

I can honestly say I learned more about my students during my time away from the classroom than I had before leaving. I always like to think I know my students well, but I got to know each of them on a deeper level. As much as we would love to sit and talk to each of our students, we often can’t in a typical classroom setting because of time constraints, large class sizes, and content that needs to be taught. Despite all of the negative aspects of my diagnosis, cancer did give me and my students something positive: time to focus individually on each kid every single day.

Choosing to have my students write to me each day also let me hear voices that I wouldn’t normally hear throughout a regular classroom day. My introverted students wrote far more than they would ever verbally speak. Some students may only say a few sentences all day in class, but now I was getting paragraphs of information from them. When communicating with their parents, I found that these quieter students loved the time to write to me. It helped them to express themselves in a way that they might not have otherwise had the ability, confidence or desire to do.

Writing daily letters wasn’t the only we used writing to stay in touch and build relationships. We also did a “Choose Your Own Adventure: Active Engagement Edition” writing activity for a week. Students chose which paths to take in a story and justified their answers, and I provided the what happened next in the story for them. It was a nice change of pace and allowed me to see the inner workings of their decision-making skills, as well as their creativity.

Beyond using writing to stay in touch, we also did a Google Hangout on one of my “good days” in January. It was the first time the students had seen me since leaving and the first time they saw me after my hair had fallen out. I got a chance to speak with each student individually. I must have looked significantly different, because many of them acted shy, like it was the first time meeting them. After breaking the ice with some “no hair” jokes, the students were all smiles and more at ease. I hadn’t seen them for months, and it was great to see their little faces again.

I head back to work at the end of this month, exactly three months from when I left my students. I am excited to get back to them, but I will honestly miss having a large amount of time to bond with them on an individual basis each day. Writing to each of my 29 students takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes a day, and I simply don’t have time to do that every day during a normal school day. I know that, as we finish out the year together, our relationships will continue to grow, thanks in part to the groundwork we laid while I was out of the classroom. Seems contradictory, but being gone helped bring us closer together.

Part of handling a cancer diagnosis is finding small victories. Instead of being down about missing so many moments with my students, I consider this absence from the classroom as a time to get to know my students, which is a huge win. Each day, it gave me something to look forward to and something to fight for. I know I will be a better teacher who is more attuned to their needs and interests because of this time. I know these are the memories they will remember about their fourth grade year, memories much more valuable than any lesson I could ever teach them.

Justin Birckbichler

Wow! Thanks to Justin for sharing his journey here. I have been inspired by how he has navigated these tough challenges and obstacles this year. And…honored that he asked me to give him head shaving tips, too! He now uses a race car razor just like me! Feel free to share thoughts on this post with Justin in the comments below.

Surviving the Dunk Tank

Sometimes Pollyanna Gets Punched in the Face

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but…here it comes:

Sometimes they really ARE out to get you!

Yep. Nobody wants to talk about it but crooked politics, discrimination, revenge, and ego-driven adversaries are awaiting you in the dark underbelly of the educational leadership world. Sinister sharks swim in the seas of our school systems. The waters are chummed with rumors, saboteurs, misinformation, slander, and deceit and sooner or later you may find yourself thrown overboard and, when that happens, you better know how to swim.

Maybe your school board president is mad that his daughter didn’t get the kindergarten job. Maybe your boss feels threatened by your innovative ideas and popularity. Perhaps it is a jealous co-worker who wanted the promotion you received. Or, it could be a disgruntled parent group upset you didn’t cater to their every whim like the last leader. Then again, it could be the boosters who want your head on a platter because you removed the winning football coach because he was an incompetent teacher and humiliated kids. Maybe you’re the outsider coming in to shake up a stagnant system and you’ve ruffled some feathers. Maybe it is just outright racism or sexism…or some religious zealot doesn’t care for your sexual orientation.

It could just be that sometimes people do bad stuff for their own reasons that you’ll never know.

But the bottom line is that this sh&$ happens.

Every day.

We call it The Dunk Tank.

The problem is that NOBODY wants to talk about it. And if nobody talks about it, you can’t be prepared to avoid it in the first place or develop the skill set to survive if it happens to you.

Who would have the guts to write a book on these types of controversial topics? And, even if you found authors willing to risk their reputations and careers to write it, what publisher would touch it with a 10-foot pole?

I think you know where this is going…

Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown is our edgiest book ever…this one is going to ruffle feathers. But sometimes you have to make a ruckus to reach the right readers. The authors, Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda, are Dunk Tank survivors themselves. They know of what they write! It is filled with mesmerizing accounts from REAL leaders who have swam in these waters. Many of them are still in their systems so we had to go to extraordinary lengths to obscure identities and we are forever thankful to these courageous educators who risked sharing their journeys. The stories are truly compelling.

Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t a book that wallows in the negativity. This is a survival guide. This is a manifesto and a call to arms for those who love being an educational leader and want to fight the good fight.

The types of tactics adversaries may use against you are clearly explained along with giving you an insightful look at the emotional motivators in play. Most importantly, you’ll receive a crash course in proactive strategies that limit your chances of entering the dunk tank as well battle-tested ideas for how to prevail if it happens to you.

It includes chapters such as 10 Ideological Practices of Dunk Tank Survivors and 8 Tasks to Optimize Triumph Over Tragedy. This is about coming out on the other side emotionally and spiritually healthy no matter what they throw at you.

You don’t have to be afraid of the Dunk Tank. You have to be ready. As Zig Ziglar said, “F-E-A-R has
two meanings: Forget Everything and Run, or Face Everything and Rise.” We want you to rise.

We’re so committed to seeing that this book gets into the hands of those who need it, that we have gone the extra mile to publish a COMPLETELY FREE companion e-book specially designed by Rick and Rebecca to guide you through the reflective process. It’s called, Entering the School Leader’s Think Tank, and it is IDEAL for book study groups and/or educational leadership courses that want to use Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank as a text. Sign up for the email list and download it here.

Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #SLDunkTank

I’m just going to guess that even if you’re convinced you don’t need this book (you may want to read their chapter on “proactive paranoia,” by the way!), you know somebody who desperately needs it right now. It might save their career…or at least their sanity.

As always, thanks so much for your support and for everything you do to make school amazing for kids.



Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.