Social Proof: Bystanders Uncertainty

How often have you walked past by something and asked yourself, ‘I should have done something about that’? There is


These 5 Things Won’t Make You a Better Teacher, This One Will

An Every Classroom Matters Episode with Josh Stumpenhorst

Wish your school would remember what teachers are supposed to be? Sick of the buzzword bandwagon? This is THE episode to share about how we need to reinvent teaching today. Josh Stumpenhorst will get you motivated to teach. We can get kids excited about learning! You can be a better teacher. Here’s how.

Important Takeaways for Listeners

  • What does a modern teacher look like?
  • Josh exposes the shows why “teaching the way we were taught” kills learning.
  • Why buzzwords get us off track.
  • The one question about technology we must answer. If we can’t, get rid of it.
  • How some teachers have been shamed into using technology (and slowing down learning).
  • What we should say instead of “21st Century Skills” and “Digital Citizenship.”
  • Kids are different today. Josh gives 2 forgotten motivators.

If you want to get motivated about teaching and get past the buzzwords, this is it. Scroll down for an awesome sketch note from listener Lyndsay Buehler.

Educator Resources

Interview Links


See Staples Back to School Deals

What Teachers Say

Listener Clara Maxcy says

Excellent post. This is exactly how I feel about what I want to do in my classroom this year. I want to encourage student conversations; let students develop and take ownership of how they learn. It is truly about knowing my students, who they are, what they need (and don’t need – I’ll have to remember that sometimes I just need to get out of the way!) and the best ways to facilitate learning. Thanks, Josh!

Then, I got this amazing sketch note from listener Lyndsay Buehler(You’ll want to read her blog post with reflections about sketchnoting!)

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.


You’re invited! Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook.


The post These 5 Things Won’t Make You a Better Teacher, This One Will appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Confessions of a Digital Leader: Thinking About Privacy and Passwords

The other day we were looking at several different blogging platforms to be utilized with our students and teachers. The goto idea seems to be to find what is free and teacher-controllable. The problem with free is that it is often void of the ability to export data and this is such a critical feature to have…especially when we consider that each person should have ownership of their own.

These are conversations that we will have with every platform that we roll out with our students and teachers. It is unacceptable for students to not have access to their own work, even after they leave our district. It’s equally as unacceptable for teachers to turn over ownership for the sake of free and it happens more often than we are often aware. It’s interesting to be in a position to make these decisions but even more interesting to have these conversations with others as they learn that data and privacy matters greatly.

Passwords!! (The most forgotten thing during the school year)

In my previous district, I used to despise the password reset process. After talking with several specialist from all over the country, the despise of password management is a huge commonality. A few thoughts uttered from around the web (with anonymity of course)…

  • “If we don’t reset their passwords, how will teachers get into what they need?”
  • “I want to limit password resets to less than ____ because I’m tired of teachers forgetting them”
  • “I have teachers that forget their passwords over and over again…all year”
  • “We have them make all passwords the same so that they won’t forget”
  • “I spend hours and hours doing nothing but resetting passwords”

Long sigh…

I have two digital learning specialist in my department and their main focus will be on helping teachers to integrate technology into their lessons. We literally do not have hours and hours a day to reset passwords which means that we must have a way for teachers to handle this small task themselves. Yes, I know that as small as the task is…It will still be incredibly difficult for many…at least, for now. We have to empower them to click the “forgot password” button. WE just have to.

When it comes to passwords, it seems that schools tend to take the “operationally easy” route in creating, distributing and syncing. (Think…all kids sharing a password) As someone who has had her online presence “hacked”…I cringe at not teaching password safety, protection and retrieval. Which age is this appropriate?

Of course, I won’t get into how we do it for obvious reasons but I will say that regardless of how we initially begin the account creation process, our teachers do have the power to retrieve their own without waiting on someone to manage a list.

Ironically, we didn’t really know that…until today which means that as of now, we will be free of the “Google Form” generated password retrieval/reset list.

On another note, I am so guilty of forgetting my passwords and completely rely on the ability to quickly retrieve it…without being shamed for it. Think about that for a minute.


Confessions of a Digital Leader: Planning Personalized PD

As someone who is new to the role of planning an entire school district’s professional development plan, let me first start by saying that this is not as simple of a task as it sounds. It is a huge responsibility…one that cannot be orchestrated on a whim. Think of it like being a kid with the key to the candy store…only it’s not about you eating the candy but about everyone else. It’s not a free for all, but then again it can be.

A few months ago, I was handed feedback from within our district. For the most part, our teachers WANTED sustaining professional learning with choice…lots of choice. Experience reminds me that there also must be guidelines…and not because one person may learn more than they should but because whether we choose to admit it or not, there are those who will attempt less than they should. The real trick here is to make those guidelines based on empowerment and not compliance. That’s where the magic happens, right?

As a former classroom teacher, I take this part of my role with exceptional care as this is the ONE thing that can build or destroy a culture of growth. I’ve been a teacher forced to choose from an extremely select menu of “PD”…one without room to choose my own adventure. It was horrible.

I’ve also been one leading PD full of teachers who were there “just to get those hours in”. In many cases, those sessions still worked out because teachers walked away with something and wanted to learn more, even though they were there purely out of compliance. There were also those that could have been given magical golden nuggets during those sessions and it would not have made a difference at all. Compliance does that.

While I am charged with leading instructional technology too, our plan must offer much more than tech sessions as our classrooms are much more than technology. My job is to create a plan that in essence supports the learning of “the whole teacher”. This thinking is critical.

I started with talking to a few of my personal friends and mentors in the world of professional growth. All of them immediately offered me the skin from their bodies, with no hesitation. I gladly obliged.

Dear teachers of twitter, it is not as simple as saying “get on twitter and learn everything”. It may inspire that action, but a great plan must be more than that. We have to be mindful of this when communicating this message.

I bookmarked some great pieces…

Ben Wilkoff‘s two Edsurge articles (Thanks for the phone call btw Ben!)

Building the Basics of Personalized Learning (Part 1)

Building the Basics of Personalized Learning (Part 2)


The Future Ready District: Professional Learning Through Online Communities of Practice

Capture, Curate Share: Building a Personalized PD Culture

How Districts Get Personal: Retooling Professional Development

PD Is Not a 4-Letter Word: My Ignite From #ISTE14

Also…Everything that I have ever learned from Diana Laufenberg and Chris Lehmann. (Personal anecdotes void of links)

The Questions…

Qualitative and Quantitative thoughts…

  1. What are our district needs?
  2. Where do our teachers need to be?
  3. Where do our teachers want to be?
  4. What do our students need?
  5. How will we evaluate effectiveness?
  6. Percentage of compliance?
  7. Percentage of empowerment?
  8. Percentage of passion? (Shouldn’t this just be 100%?)

At the end of the day, our plan must be fueled by one fundamental thing…Learning. The key is in remembering who owns it.


Stay tuned!

Confessions of a Digital Leader: Migrating Back to A Digital Life

By all accounts, my school district is new to implementing Google Apps for Education. It’ll be a slow and interesting implementation but one that is so necessary, especially in a climate where printed documents are important to so many areas operationally.

It felt good to blow the minds of an entire room of district leaders by placing documents online in a Google Site versus handing them all a folder/binder. It felt even more amazing to quickly create a form to capture data for our Campus principals and have them in awe that such information could be captured so fast.

I honestly cannot wait for the first time that we will collaborate in documents simultaneously outside of email and watch mouths drop to the floor because they always do in those moments. It’s such a surreal feeling and brings me smiles thinking about it.

I’ll be even more excited to turn all of my google ninja skills over to our entire staff and students because that’s who should own these skills, anyway…right?

While these are all google-centric skills, I also cannot wait to show teachers how they can utilize Office 365, Microsoft Sway and Mix to create digital stories and blended lessons or OneNote for our Surface Pro 3 users to create the world in real time. I cannot wait to get a HoloLens for our Minecrafters. Don’t even get me started on getting Minecraft on our campuses. I CANNOT WAIT!

We are not a Google district. We aren’t even a Microsoft district. We have BYOD, which is problematic at times if we are truly honest. Although I will be purchasing devices to strategically put technology into the hands of our students, I can’t commit to ever being called a Chromebook, Android tablet or Ipad district as I don’t see standardized devices as an option either.

We won’t do trainings that are only specific to a tool. We’ll have to start with that, realistically. However, our goal will be to always work towards our mission and purpose. Our teachers want personalization and choice. If we ever want students to have the same, we must do this for our teachers. It’s incredibly thrilling to be creating this option through a plan largely borrowed from my incredible PLN.

What drives our work?

What do we want students to do? How do our students want to learn? What about teachers? Which device supports what students want and need to do?

At the end of the day, we will not be defined by the tools that we use but by how our students learn and what they accomplish along the way.

Exciting times ahead for my school district!

Rafranz Davis

Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning, Lufkin ISD

Back to School Savings with #Teacher Appreciation Event at #Staples

Sponsored by Staples

Back to school already? Yes it is! I go back to school August 10, so I’ll so be hitting Staples for their Teacher Appreciation event August 2-9.

Back to school ideas of things I purchased from Staples.

Hopefully, you’ve all already joined the Staples Teacher Rewards Program. If so, you’ll get 40% back in Teacher Rewards for school supplies, teaching, art supplies, cleaning supplies and more when you buy in your Staples store. Go to to download the coupon. (Not including technology, Staples Less List & Extreme Deal offers.)

Print your coupon. Go to Staples!

If you or a friend hasn’t joined yet, no worries! Sign up now and you can still get the coupon.

Some Items You Must Check Out

As part of the Staples Back to School Council, here are some of the items that you simply must check out when you head over to Staples.

Here are some other blog posts and resources I’ve put together for teachers as part of the Staples Back to School Program:

Check out all of the Staples Back to School Line at:  I’m so excited! Are you?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) 

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