Carrots, sticks, and Wii – rewards still have their place.

@DanielPink – please don’t hate me.  Pink’s book, Drive, talks about motivation factors and how the carrot and stick are so 20th century.  I love this idea so much, I bought copies for every teacher in in my District.  Then, I come across the the scenario that no administrator wants to face: the student who does not want to come to school.

The student has had a myriad of issues that surely isn’t ideal by any means – family issues, frequent moving, and overall lack of stability.  All hands are on deck, and everything is fine once the student gets into the door.  It’s getting the student IN the door.  How can we?  What’s carrot on the stick?  An oldie but goodie in this Superintendent’s eyes: the Wii.

Child playing Wii

I made a deal.  Come to school and we’ll bowl on Wii.  Getting to that point was easy this time.  We both have a passion / addiction for video games.  We talked about every game known to man; the student thought I was pulling his leg about me liking video games, and then when I started naming characters, plots, and leveling up, the student was shocked.  The student also then let guard down and the conversation commenced.

We played for a good hour today; the student was relaxed and proceeded to class.  Hopefully on Monday we get to do it again.

So, yes, the Superintendent was sitting around playing video games today. I am proud to say I did; this carrot worked out just fine.


Positive Branding = Positive School {insert #GO(your school) here}


If you’re on Twitter, you see it EVERYWHERE.


Me after taking the ALS ice bucket challenge… and using one of Joe’s (@joesanfelippoFC)  towels to tidy up!


Courtesy of Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis)




More than ever, branding your school and linking it to something positive is paramount for your school’s image.  Social media has been the lightening bolt that makes a school go from a 1 to 10 (or sometimes sadly a 10 to 1) in a matter of hours.  Administrators love controlling the message, and why not be one step ahead and create the positive school climate online and not be playing defense when something bad comes up?

While I typically turn to Twitter & Instagram and tweet cool stuff whenever I can (always with some kind of image), I also take the time to create an iMovie trailer every couple of weeks.  Simple to use and professional results… it’s the best $6.00 you can spend in the App Store.

If you haven’t yet, School Leaders and Teachers need to start using social media and web tools in ways that positively promote your school climate and image. It’s essential today that you learn and collaborate with one another in new ways. Areas that are considered crucial to thrive in today’s school image / social media society include:

  • Creating a brand name, symbol or design to positively correlates to your school(s)
  • Sharing great events using iMovie, blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, SMORE, Google +, and other sites
  • Empowering all stakeholders, including students (#STUVOICE)
  • Teaching digital citizenship to all grade levels

Branding online also requires the buy in of the potential of technology to fuel lifelong learning.

Wait, now school leaders have to be marketers and positive storytellers too?


… and yes, there are books for that too.

You can find Brad Currie’s book (one of the founders of #satchat) here and you can fin Joe’s / Tony’s book here.

As Brad (@bradmcurrie) says, “Tell your story, or someone else will.”  I have a feeling that you want to be your school’s storyteller, and not someone else.  Take the time and invest in these books.  They will help your building(s) move onward.

Let’s eat Grandpa!

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Like to gamble?  I have a safe bet for you.  Chances are if you’re reading this on Labor Day you’re NOT a New Jersey educator… or you’re and educator from NJ who can’t fall asleep.


Labor Day is far from a day of relaxation for most. It’s a day filled with anxiety, last minute errands, and what-if’s — ranging from what to wear to see everyone again to what will the suits drone about this year.  From experience as a teacher Assistant Principal, Supervisor, and now Superintendent, we ALL think the same things.

We all also try to set goals for the upcoming school year.  One goal I am going to really try working on – my proofreading.I have always made the argument that I can’t proofread my own work because I wrote it.  And the mistakes piled up as a teacher.  To the point where one f my coworkers said “Jay, you really need to proofread your stuff.” Fast forward to today… she still proofreads my stuff.

When I became an Assistant Principal, I told myself that my secretary would do my proofreading.  Two weeks later, I got an email from my boss basically saying “Jay: proofread your emails… OR… people will start talking about you.”

I had typos on forms, emails, and even parent letters as a Supervisor.  I was ashamed.

As if all of those things should have warranted a wake-up call; it didn’t.  What did?  My posting as the Superintendent in a school yearbook.  I found over five errors. While I insisted that I submitted a revised draft, it still was printed. Not cool.

So, yes, this year, my back to school goal is to proofread much more.  I really don’t want to eat Grandpa, but I could go for some synonym rolls…

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