Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Blog Or Not To Blog: A Non Writers First Attempt

Here goes my first attempt at a Blog. As I told a co-worker the other day, “I’m a non-writer, why in the world would I start a blog?” To which she replied via Twitter, “@shawn_holloway RT @ShellTerrell: Why a Blog? via @nmhs_principal.” This tweet sent me on a journey to Eric Sheninger’s Blog: Why a Blog? Eric’s Blog can be viewed at It is scary how similar our paths to new learning have been. I could steal all of his words and only have to change the dates. It seems as though I am one year behind Eric in this crazy process of joining Twitter and connecting to a PLN in a very informal way.

My professional life has changed dramatically in the last six months to a year because of the great educators on Twitter. I find myself learning, thinking, questioning, soul searching, and reflecting everyday based on tweets that I have read. My PLN has gone from a handful to literally hundreds. There are too many to list, but these educators can be viewed at I would also like to thank Peter Holly, Mark Draper, Warren Weber, Pam Jobgen, and Val Jergens for their help with our struggling learners. Lastly, I would like to thank John C. Carver for being my buddy. Little did I know when John sat down next to me at an administrator’s conference the impact he would have on my professional career.

The intention behind my blog is two fold. The first is to share stories, information, and successes at Manson Northwest Webster. MNW is truly a great place to be, and this upcoming school year we will be starting our journey into the world of 1:1 laptops. I believe this new learning tool has the ability to change the way our students learn and the way our teachers look at learning, both as a learner and a teacher. Our goal is to create student centered classrooms that have authentic learning experiences on a daily basis. This blog will be a place to share these successes with the MNW community as well as educators around the world. The second reason is to share resources gathered, thoughts, and opinions from a young soon to be middle aged Jr/Sr High School Administrator.

I would like to share just a glimpse into what others have said about MNW as a way to brag about the solid foundation we have as we move forward into our 1:1 journey. The following is from a document, “Walking The Talk”. Peter Holly and Mark Draper from the Iowa High School Project wrote the following about Manson Northwest Webster.

This was a very positive experience for the visiting team. While initial impressions were all favorable with everyone involved with the school being friendly and welcoming, what was most impressive was that the visitors heard exactly the same messages from administrators, teachers and students. This is truly the school that “walks the talk”. Although the school has earned a well-deserved reputation (being recognized by the Iowa High School Project for its collaborative work with Van Meter and being sought after by the Smart and Good High School Project to be one of its field research schools), MNW is still one of the best-kept secrets amongst Iowa’s high schools. Everyone encountered during the visit confirmed that the school is a comfortable, close-knit, and friendly place where everyone knows each other and is supportive of each other, students and teachers alike. Students who had arrived from other districts (either because of relocation or open enrollment) emphasized that, in comparison to their old schools and districts, MNW is smaller and much, much friendlier and supportive.

The culture in MNW is one of high expectations. This culture, however, is neither overt nor explicit. It’s just part of the woodwork. Indeed, when asked directly how it works, respondents were hard-pressed to come up with answers. It is so much part of the place, and how it goes about its business, that those involved have ceased to see it.