Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Episode 51: Guest Tia Henriksen

In this episode we talk with Tia Henriksen, a current Vice Principal, but soon to be Principal in British Columbia starting on January 1st, 2015. We discuss inbox zero, making the transition to principal and what to change (not change) right away.  You can follow Tia on Twitter @TiaHenriksen or her blog at  

Resources for new principals mentioned:
The Question by Dan Sullivan

In need of a Christmas gift for a colleague? We'd suggest Connected Leadership: Just a Click Away by our own, Spike Cook! Or, maybe you'd be interested in other books in the: Connected Educator Series

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Episode 49: "Ketchup" and Mindset

We discuss a variety of topics on this "ketchup" episode...getting caught up on what we've been up to like: Thanksgiving traditions, focus on academic vocabulary, EdCamp New Jersey (#edcampnj), ParentCamp and growth/fixed mindset.

School example of Mindset information: Mindset Matters

Audio Link:
Video Link:
Subscribe on iTunes:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Episode 50: Thankful

In this episode we discuss what we do for Thanksgiving and the importance of showing gratitude for teachers.  How do you show your teachers that you appreciate them? We're committing to write 2 thank you cards to teachers a day until Christmas to express our gratitude.

An idea shared on Twitter:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Episode 47: Conquering Email with Curt Rees

In this episode we are joined by Curt Rees, Elementary Principal and Recess Kickball legend in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Curt’s school is recognized by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a model school for their implementation of Response to Intervention.  Curt is also a current doctoral student at UKSTL. You can find Curt online at @CurtRees and Curt is also mentioned in chapter 4 of Spike’s book, Connected Leadership.

Some of Curt's Email Wisdom:
Don’t sit down and browse email. Sit down and “crank” through them when you’re ready to work on them. Don’t touch an email more than once. Decide on your action for it once you read it. If it takes more than 2 minutes to respond, he sends it to his to-do app (OmniFocus) to schedule when to work on it. Don’t let a read email sit in your inbox, schedule it and get it out of your inbox!
Curt recommends not having work email on your phone and was so convincing that Jessica “ripped the bandaid” off and took work email off of her phone while listening to Curt explain why.  Can you do it?

Curt’s Top 5 Tips:
  1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (or anything by David Allen)
  1. Have a system: this is beyond just email, to keep track of what you’re going to do and when
  1. Don’t let email dictate how you’re going to spend your time. Our jobs are busy enough!  Make yourself available in other ways.
  2. Don’t let your email inbox be your to-do list!
  3. Don’t clutter up anyone else’s email inbox. Recognize when you need to go and talk instead of sending an email.

Other resources/thoughts on email...
Jessica’s blog post: The Email Monster

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Episode #46 What do you have to do?

In this episode, Jessica and Spike explore the ever present "to do list."

The show starts out with the realization that the modern day Principal probably needs ADD or ADHD to survive (or it is just induced by the many interruptions to our day!). Jessica then shares her tools she uses for organizing the "to do list."

Jessica's Tools:
Remember the Milk
Google Calendar

Spike shared how he is very traditional in dealing with his "to do list." He uses note pads, post it notes, and Microsoft Office to create his school calendar and monitor his email.

Both Jessica and Spike felt the 20 minutes went just too fast. They agreed to do a follow-up show dedicated to email. Until tonight, Spike didn't think a show on email could work. Now he is not only convinced, but ready to tackle the subject.

Jessica also shared about her experience at the National Distinguished Principals Program and joining in the press conference for the release of the Early Learning Competencies for principals.


Audio Soundcloud Download
Video Soundcloud Download

Sunday, October 26, 2014

#PrincipalPLN episode #45 Observations and Walkthroughs

In this episode, Theresa and Spike discuss the importance of non-evaluative walkthroughs. Theresa mentioned how her school has used TeachBoost and how it helped her work collaboratively with her teachers.

Spike talked about how is district has been using the McREL Power walkthroughs for the past 4 years. He agreed with Theresa that the most important aspects, despite the tool, is how administrators are encouraged to visit classes and interact with teachers and students.

Want more information on the key points? Check out these resources

Enjoy the podcast 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Episode 43: Running Your School from Your Mobile Device

In this episode we invite Adam Welcome, a Principal of the Year from Lafayette, CA. You can find Adam on Twitter @awelcome or his blog at  Adam shares with us some great tips to stay connected, stay healthy, and stay out of your office to be in classrooms and share the great things your students are doing!

Some of his favorite apps shared include:
Google Drive

Check out his school's hashtag: #teamkid

And a call for help from our connected administrators: We are collecting data on how administrators are connecting, and what are the drawbacks to being connected. The results from this survey will be used in an upcoming book on Isolation in Leadership. Please go help us by completing this survey. Thank you!

Download the audio here:

Remember to subscribe to #PrincipalPLN on iTunes!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Season 2 Episode 6: Staying Healthy to Outlast the Marathon of the School Year

We are the best at taking care of others, the worst at taking care of ourselves. In this episode we share tips to take care of yourself first so you can be the best principal you can be to last the whole school year long!

Spike's book is out! Check it out: Connected Leadership: It's Just a Click Away

Saturday, September 6, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Season 2 Episode 5: Safety Principles for Principals

Episode #5: Safety Principles for Principals
What’s been happening?

On to our topic…
-“Safety 10” -Talk about it for 10 minutes at each staff meeting after they’ve all been in their classrooms.
-Have a way to notify parents instantly (auto-message system). ex: SchoolReach, BlackBoard Connect, Remind
-Monthly Mentor Checklist - applies to entire year, but have mentors discuss safety protocols with new teachers before the start of the year.

Monday, September 1, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Season 2 Episode 4: Twas the Night Before the First Day of School

In this episode we catch up on what we've each been working on, what we wish we would have done earlier so we aren't stressed now (the story of principals' lives!) and what is most important the first week of school.

Need some ideas on books to read in classrooms the first week of school? PrincipalJ shares ideas HERE.

Stay tuned for future podcasts on...
Staying Healthy to Outlast this School Year Marathon
Guest Hal Elrod, Author of The Miracle Morning
Series of podcasts on tips for being efficient

Sunday, August 24, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Season 2 Episode 3 - The First Staff Meeting (Part 2)

Great resources for planning your first staff meeting of the year:

First Staff Meeting Ideas:
Notes to prepare for my first staff meeting (includes what I learned from What Great Principals Do Differently by Todd Whitaker)

Youtube Clips are always good to include: (go to presentation videos) (blog post with a few and links to other posts with videos)
Kid Snippets Too Sick for School (search youtube for other funny “Kid Snippets”)
Penguins (for teamwork)
When I Become a Teacher (use with new teachers)
The Principal Meltdown

The audio is available for download here:

Friday, August 22, 2014

#PrincipalPLN Season 2 Episode 2 - First Staff Meeting of the Year (Part 1)

The most important meeting of the year is your first staff meeting. Don’t make it be a sit and git...staff meetings should inspire teachers for the work they have to do, give them ideas to implement in their classroom and be a chance for ongoing professional learning.

Ice breaker suggestions:

You can also use the spider web ice breaker to show strengths and how the school is better as a whole than individually.  Have each staff member share a strength or a special talent instead of what is suggested in the site.

Audio is available for download here:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

PrincipalPLN #1: Don't Miss the Bus!

Welcome back (to our previous PrincipalCast followers) as we kick of episode 1 of the new PrincipalPLN podcast!  As we start season 2 we will be moving forward with shorter episodes (around 20 minutes), using the hashtag #principalpln for the conversation on Twitter and having ongoing conversations on Voxer. You can sign up HERE to join the PrincipalPLN group!

In episode 1, we catch up on our summer and talk about all those things principals need to make sure are ready before the start of the school year.  Are you ready?

Some other things we talked about:
Jessica's presentation on digital walkthroughs
Jessica's presentation with Amber Teamann on Principal 2.0
Corwin's Connected Educators Series 

You can check out the podcast on youtube:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What is the PrincipalPLN?

Follow us @principalPLN
The PrincipalPLN is a weekly podcast hosted by Theresa Stager, Jessica Johnson and Spike Cook. We are committed to creating podcasts that are informative, innovative and fun!

The concept of the podcast was developed by Theresa Stager, who at the time, was a first-year principal seeking ways to learn from others. Theresa reached out to Jessica Johnson, and they invited Spike Cook to join. The crew began podcasting in September of 2013. During the first year they had 35 episodes that are available on Itunes.

Each week we interview teachers, principals, superintendents, authors and presenters to learn  how to become more effective educators! We are dedicated to being the lead learners in all that we do.

As we prepare for our second year, we decided to challenge ourselves and learn more about the art of podcasting, so that is why we are branching out on our own. We will continue to provide high quality, engaging podcasts that will benefit all types of educators.

Stay tuned for more details as we organize our schedule! Follow us on Twitter