My Leadership Journey: The Secret of Cutting Through Rock with Water

My recent journey to interview 50 leaders in a year has taught me the power of persistence. One of my mentors has been extremely helpful in getting me in contact with some great leaders. Many of these individuals have busy schedules and other priories, which makes scheduling interviews very difficult.

Most of the leaders whom I have interviewed have graciously invested their time in my journey. One leader in particular was very difficult to reach. Every time that I contacted this leader, they would tell me to call back later because they were too busy. I contacted this individual three different times. Finally my persistence paid off with an interview.

Although this individual was very difficult to work with, they taught me a valuable lesson. Leaders who are persistent are very effective. Why? They practice follow through, efficiency, practice accountability, and are very goal-oriented.

Persistence requires strength and courage because it often means facing fear and resistance. Persistence develops character, strength, and confidence in people who do not quit when others do. Some of the greatest feats known to man have occurred through the blood, sweat, and tears of persistent individuals.

An excellent visual for the power of persistence is found in the following quote:

Can you imagine if water did not contain the element of persistence? The Grand Canyon would never exist.

What about you? What rocks do you need to cut through? Whether calling customer service for support or trying to improve your abilities, I encourage you to be persistent.  Your persistence will cut through the rocks of negativity, stagnation, and limitation.

BibMe Makes Bibliographies Easy

If you or your students write papers, then you know that creating citations and references are extremely important. I have always loved Citation Machine, but I just found a new tool that I really like. It is called Bib Me.

Although it has been around for some time, I recently found it. I like it for several reasons. First, it has a very simplistic interface, which makes creating a bibliography extremely useful.

For example, you can just copy and paste the URL, title, or ISBN of your resource and EasyBib can generate a bibliography. If you have more sources to add, you can keep adding to it and then download!

Secondly, the source has a variety of tools to help with the writing process. For example, Bib Me has citation guides to help with citing a specific type of resource. Bib Me also has a plagiarism checker and tutorials.

Finally, it is free! You don't have to jump through hoops to use it, such as watching videos or only being able to generate a limited number of citations.

If you are currently enrolled in school or have students who are constantly writing!

Take a Dive with Google Underwater Street View

Exploring the deep underwater confines of the world's oceans used to be a place reserved for the elite few; however, Google Underwater Street View opens up a new world of possibilities for students and teachers alike.

Simply visit to go on a virtual dive of some of the most famous underwater places and life forms on earth. Google Underwater Street View provides you with the opportunity to explore reefs, life forms, wreckage sites, and see the impact of climate change.

Choose Your Weapon: 5 Strategies for Unleashing The Power of Perspective in Leadership

My career started as a teacher, which came natural to me. I was highly encouraged to pursue leadership positions within the organization because I was viewed as a "natural leader" by my administrators and peers.

Several years later, I confidently applied for a leadership position. Instead, I was greeted by comments about my lack of experience and worth as an educator. It was frustrating to be discouraged by some of the very people who were supposed to encourage, mentor, and help me. In hind sight, I now realize that this was an opportunity to see my true passion - educational technology.

I made the transition into a formal educational technology position about four years ago and have survived through a parade of four different bosses. Each time the director position became available, I was passed up for a variety of reasons. It has been difficult to stay positive and motivated after so many different disappointments; however, this leadership journey of interviewing 50 leaders in a year, would have never started without disappointment.

 Perspective (Not Image) is Everything! 

Andre Agassi made the Cannon Camera slogan "Image is Everything" famous in the 1980's and 1990's. Unfortunately, many leaders forget about the power of perspective. Our perspective influences our words, actions, and interactions with others. How we view our world (and ourselves) determines how we impact others - either positively or negatively.

This point was reinforced by a recent experience I had. I sat in the office of one of the most effective leaders I have ever met, struggling with another professional disappointment. He empathized with my frustrations and even offered advice, but he also reminded me of the importance of perspective.

He told me that I had two options:

  • Feel sorry for myself and "take my ball and go home"
  • View this as an opportunity and "grab the ball and play." 
How I reacted and perceived the situation was up to me, but it could have personal and professional consequences. I could view it as an opportunity to grow or nosedive into a sea of depression. It was my choice. 

Choose Your Weapon  

It's okay to be sidetracked and disappointed by rejection, discouragement, and failure. You are human! Leaders have to learn how to quickly process negative situations, which often begins with changing your perspective. My father once said to me, "when everyone isn't measuring up, it's time to adjust your yardstick." In other words, he was saying that it is important to recalibrate your expectations and perspective. Your perspective - to see or fail to see opportunities - can determine your leadership ceiling. 

After interviewing many wise leaders, I have learned several strategies for changing your perspective: 
  • The 24 Hour Rule - give yourself 24 hours to be as angry, hurt, and disappointed as you want. After that, you need to let it go. 
  • Avoid the Pity Party! It is hard not to feel sorry for yourself and even try to recruit others. As a leader, you have to take the high road and learn what is appropriate and not appropriate to say. You have to avoid clouding your perspective with pity. 
  • Optimism - Many of the most effective leaders that I have interviewed have had an optimistic view of life. It is important to see the opportunities in difficult situations. How can you inspire others with a negative attitude and perspective? Optimism grows confidence and others, fueling their ability to achieve what they felt was impossible. 
  • You Never Know Who's Watching! How we react to difficult situations not only tests our character, but it can also serve as predictors of future behavior and decisions. In other words, how you handle a minor discouragement can predict how you might react in a more stressful situation. Everyone has an audience. We never know how our reaction may inspire future opportunities. Treat each trial as if you were at a rehearsal for your next career move.
  • Remember Leadership is a Process! Leadership is a process. Every leader that I have spoken with has emphasized the importance of experience. There is a reason why you must be 35 years old to be elected as US President. You must gain life experience before you can lead one of the greatest countries in the world. How do you gain experience? By using every moment as an opportunity. 

Most importantly, you must remember that you have value and purpose, regardless of the situation that you are in. There are no wasted experiences. You must trust the plan and allow life to shape you into the leader that you are meant to be. Remember hat your perspective influences your words, actions, and interactions with others. How we view our world (and ourselves) determines how we impact others - either positively or negatively. It is your choice. 

3 New Google Form Features!

Google Forms just recently launched several new features to make it even more amazing! Here are three of my favorite new features in Google Forms:

1. Preferences

Google Forms now has a Preferences feature to make changes to all future Forms, such as collecting email addresses, making all questions required, and even the default point value for quizzes!

2. Multiple Checkbox Grid

The Multiple Checkbox Grid is the perfect type of question if you need to get multiple answers, such as the best time or date to attend a meeting. There is an additional feature to require a response in each row.

3. File Upload 

File Upload has been a feature for G Suite Schools for several months; however, Google recently launched File Upload across domains. I'll let Google explain this one: 

"To guarantee you get the information you need, we’ll now allow users outside of your domain to upload files as responses to your questions—provided both of your organizations allow cross-domain sharing in Google Drive. Based on usage patterns, total uploads to new forms will be capped at 1GB, with an option to increase that limit to 1TB. Uploads to existing forms will be capped at 1TB." - Google Updates (July 11, 2017)

The File Upload option allows you to restrict the file type to be uploaded, such as documents, spreadsheets, audio files, images, etc. You can also choose the minimum number of uploaded documents and the maximum upload size.

Solidify Learning with The Interactive Periodic Table of Elements

If you are a seasoned teacher, then you have heard the infamous question "when am I ever going to use this?"

In my opinion, students should be asking this question. It is often our job to provide students with authentic and real-life examples. The Interactive Periodic Table by Keith Enevoldsen is an excellent example of a tool that is both engaging and authentic.

Just click on each element to see interactive components, such as a visual, real-life examples, facts, and terminology associated with the element. This interactive tool is a great way to represent content differently. Click this link to check out the Interactive Periodic Table. 

Use Spiral to Assess Students on a Whole New Level

It always amazes me how classroom technologies are changing the instructional process. There are a variety of tools available to teachers to help students understand and interact with content, provide timely feedback, and engage students differently. If you are a fan of NearPod, then you will love a similar tool called Spiral.

Spiral is a powerful formative assessment tool, which is very similar to programs like NearPod and Socrative. Teachers can create a free account on Spiral's website. You can link your social media or Google account to Spiral. Students need to visit, join your class through a code, and provide their name.

Once you login to Spiral, you will be able to access your dashboard with a variety of options:

  • Quickfire - the perfect way to ask a question on the fly. For example, if you asked a verbal question, you can have your students respond in an open-ended way. You can mark the response correct or have students improve their response! 

  • Discuss - allows you to present a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation in an interactive way.  Students can see a slide and answer pre-generated questions about the contents. This is a great way to see how students are understanding the information. 
  • Team Up - is a unique collaborative feature. Spiral pairs up students to work together to create a presentation using Spiral. Students can then present information to the class from the site. 
  • Clip - allows you to create a new level of interaction with video clips that you use in your class. Students can respond to multiple choice or open-ended questions at various points in the video clip. 

What I Like!

There are a variety of features that I like about Spiral: 
  • I like the fact that you can have students improve or resubmit their response. This is something that has been lacking in other formative assessment tools. 
  • You can manually mark responses as right. This is a great way for checking for understanding. 
  • Teachers can see how long it took a student to respond to the question.
  • Spiral even groups similar answers together to make it easier to organize student responses. 
  • The Discuss interface makes seeing content and responding to questions seamless. 
  • You can make videos interactive! Students can answer questions and make comments throughout the video clip. 

The SCARF Model and Reflections on Leadership and Teaching

  When I was a young high school teacher, I had a student named Scott in one of my classes. He and I usually got along, but there was always...