How NOT to get a job


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As a Superintendent, I get emails. Scads upon scads of emails. Of those emails, I often get applicants who mass email their resume & credentials in hopes that a few of the +/- 600 Superintendents will peruse the email.

Being that the applicant was a social studies teacher, and I too was once and recall the frustrations of job hunting, I answered back with a piece of advice. I told the applicant that he should really take the time to personalize his emails and materials. I wasn’t replying to be a jerk; I replied because I know that social studies teachers REALLY have to stand out in the job market today.

He replied. The response:

Dear Jay,


I am saddened to learn that my email has aggravated you.  One of the responsibilities of a superintendent, as I understand the position, is making hiring decisions for your district.  You are aware that there are 603 school districts in the state of New Jersey.  Some districts want applicants to post their resumes on AppliTrack, a task both tedious and time-consuming.  Every district posts job openings on their own district website.  Some advertise in the local newspaper.  Others post openings on websites. All districts advertise internally, which serves district employees, their friends and their families.  

 </My time is as precious to me as your time is to you.  I do not have the luxury nor the patience to craft a personal greeting to each of 603 recipients.  Furthermore, if I wanted your advice, I would you ask for it.




I was shocked. I didn’t know if this is frustration, stupidity, anger, or him trying to stand out showing that he’s got guts; maybe it was a combination.

I wrote him back, reiterating that I was just trying to help, and to really focus on the details.

It’s always about the details. Taking the time to write a name and a thing or two about a district shows me that you actually are interested and you’re not just blanketing.

I tried to explain that if he thought applitrak was ‘time consuming’ – what did he think the actual job would be?!?

Even when I have a pool of applicants, I now set up a google form with ten additional questions on there. If you want a job, you’re going to do the form. It’s that simple. If you don’t, well thank you for not doing the form; you saved us both ‘precious time’.

The moral of the story? Two things: 1) don’t send emails like that… 2) put the time and effort in on an application. It will pay off; most likely when you least expect it.

School Choice: Not for Students with Disabilities

Diane Ravitch's blog

Charter schools and voucher schools –unless they are one of the few created specifically for students with disabilities–are noted for excluding them.

A Gulen charter in Minneapolis took over a public school and immediately kicked out 40 autistic students.

In this article, the parents of students with special needs in Wisconsin explain how their children are cheated by voucher schools and lose the rights guaranteed to them by law.

They write:

“Because of the activism of parents before us, our children attend school with their neighborhood peers. Across the country, students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate public education, with legally enforceable protections, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

“Unfortunately, the rights and protections of the IDEA do not apply in private voucher schools such as LifeSkills Academy, and special needs vouchers would not change that. Private voucher schools are not required to…

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Let them mourn.

The following piece is from Erika Johnson, a school psychologist in Connecticut.   I thought this was a fantastic post, and this is something you always need to have on hand should something happen.
Sadly, at some point, a school will have to deal with death.  It could be a student, a faculty member, family members of all of those, or sometimes even both at the same time.
 Each person and school reacts differently.  If it is more frequent, you should be staying consistent with the school response, unless the family has specifically requested that activities not be had to draw attention to the situation.
If that’s not the case…. let the building heal!
It amazes me and frightens me when “leadership” turns a blind eye and does not really understand what’s going on when something of this magnitude happens. When you see cold and callous responses coming from administration, it’s evident that the administration has no true connection to the school.
 Bottom line: you’re the person who is assigned to lead the building; quit hiding behind your office, get out of your ring of wanna-be administrators and kool-aid drinkers, and LEAD again. Quit being the talk of the town and the butt of all jokes. Wake up, and let those who need to grieve (appropriately) do so. I’m not advocating a school shut down and hours of dedication services be had. However, I am saying that not allowing anything to happen, when teachers are hurting and students are asking lots of questions, is downright stupid.
Schools aren’t just about academics; we are a people business. Tend to their needs.

Supporting Students in Grief

It is with a heavy heart that I compiled a list of resources for working with students dealing with loss. My school community has experienced two losses in a very short amount of time. As we prepared for the return of two students following the loss of a parent, I was asked to compile resources to share with the staff and others who needed guidance. Additionally, we have a few students who we consider at-risk as they have experienced a significant loss recently and would need additional support.

Thankfully, I had the resources of the National Association of School Psychologists at my fingertips. It is an incredible resource and worth every penny spent on a membership. They have handouts, position statements, and information available on a wide range of topics at the click of the mouse.
I hope that some of these resources are helpful in the case that you also have to support students during a time of loss and grief.
Until next thyme,

As Long As I Got My Suit & Tie

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I’ll get right to the point – I’ve always been a fashion bug when it came to dressing up.

I’m a fan of the suit.  And not just any old suit from a chain store.  I like a good wool suit.  I’ve even had a few custom made.  I like my shirts custom made, with monogramming and cufflinks.  I feel undressed without a pocket-square. I have 174 pairs of cufflinks.  I can’t even begin to count the number of ties of have. Socks?  All color and funky. And yes, I have eight pairs of glasses, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Shoes? Yea, I got them too.

Given my role as a Superintendent now, I’ve toned down my couture. Back when I was teaching… I don’t think I knew was ‘reserved’ meant.  Purple corduroys, yellow sport jackets, and all sorts of crazy stuff.  Why?  I taught 8th graders – and they needed stimulation.  On days where I knew the topic was rather dull, I wore even louder attire.  I needed to keep them engaged.

So, once again, the essential question:  where am I going with this?

Through observations, walking through buildings, and seeing many in the office, it appears that teachers have been dressing down… and Im not talking about casual Fridays.

By no means I am advocating you drop a whole paycheck on attire.  I am, however advocating that you help fulfill your role model duties and dress to the job. Gentlemen:  Match a good shirt and tie. Try out a pair of cufflinks.  Be daring and buy (and wear) a funky pair of socks.  Go bold.  People will notice… in a good way.  And the last time I checked, good attention never hurt anyone.

Are Education Conferences Relevant?

Tom nails it, again.

My Island View

I am very fortunate to be able to attend a number of Education Conferences each year. This offers me a perspective of education conferences that is not afforded to a majority of educators. When one considers the total number of American educators compared to the total attendance at these conferences and then factor out the people who repeatedly attend each year, it is easy to see that most educators do not get to these national conferences. That is a shortcoming I believe that hurts the profession. There is much to be learned and shared at these conferences that can make a difference to an educator.

Of course many of these conferences are so vast that it is difficult to report on the whole conference when one can only experience a small part of it. It brings to mind the five blind men trying to describe what an elephant looked like…

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My presentations from Techspo 14


As promised in presentations from the 2014 NJASA Techspo Conference can be found below:

BYOD: The Good, The Bad, and The Connected (presented with Sandra Paul – @SPaul6414)

Breaking Down Barriers (presented with Tim Charleston – @MrCSays)

EdCamps: Changing the Education Game

Sandra, Tim, and I all had follow-up discussions afterwards – each conversation was a great session and we were happy that so many of you attended.  Please reach out if you need any additional information.