What is a Tweet-Up?

I just got back from a ‘tweet-up’ tonight at the Pike Pub & Brewery. It was an interesting concept of gathering folks who use twitter to share and learn from each other. Many thanks to Greg Bamford for organizing this event tonight. I still consider myself a neophyte when it comes to twitter, but in the year that I started, I’ve met incredible people, had new opportunities, and learned a lot.


When I say that I’ve met people – I mean physically. And tonight was another opportunity to turn my virtual learning network into a more personal one. Using twitter, you often see a small thumbnail of someone’s face, but meeting them in person is so much better.

The only downside is that they live in Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, and other states.

Where is the school with educators that are this engaged in leading the change efforts? I couldn’t help but think, wouldn’t it be great to have a school with all these educators working in the same place? I’m not ready to start my own school, but I’m ready to dream.

And if you think twitter is for the young, you are completely wrong. Twitter is for all ages and is simply a mindset. Sign up and try it for 21 days. I promise you, you will learn something.

What to Do in Seattle While Attending NAISAC12?

The National Independent School Annual Conference kicks off tomorrow at the Washington State Convention Center here in Seattle. Having been fortunate enough to attend a few conferences in other cities, I know that sight seeing isn’t really on the agenda as each day is completely filled. By the time each day is over, most sights are closed or one is usually exhausted from the conference itself. Nonetheless, I’m going to try and give a few tips for those visiting our splendid city this week. Here are my top 5 things to do this week while you’re here.

5. Have dinner with colleagues in the Westlake/South Lake Union District. The theme for the conference is innovation, and you couldn’t be in a better city for it. Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and Costco are just a few of the innovative companies around here. Amazon has embraced the concept of an urban campus, and what used to be a rarely visited part of town is developing into quite a great spot – and that doesn’t include the 3 million square feet Amazon plans to build in the near future. It’s a short cab ride from downtown or you can ride the South Lake Union Trolley (only tourists do, so go ahead). Here are a few places.

4. Visit the Seattle Art Museum on Thursday night for free.

Every first Thursday of the month, Seattle has an art walk. I wouldn’t normally recommend walking at night in the Pioneer Square area, but all the galleries are open to the public until 8pm and its very safe on First Thursdays. You can check out this website for maps and galleries. In addition to the galleries, the Seattle Art Museum is free on the first Thursday of the month. It doesn’t include the current Gaugin exhibit, but there’s plenty of great art throughout the rest of the museum.

3. Visit the Seattle Public Library

Open til 8pm on Wednesday and Thursday, the central branch of the Seattle Public Library is quite an innovation in design and architecture. You might want to watch this TED talk first before your visit.

2. Come share what you’ve learned at edcampIS on Saturday, March 3.

Unwind after the big conference, and instead of listening to big keynotes, listen to other educators and share with each other what you’ve learned. Currently we have over 80 registrants from 16 states, DC, and Canada. To learn more visit edcampis. Also learn more about unconferences by reading an interview of one of the co-organizers, Liz Davis.

1. Go to the Pike Place Market BEFORE the conference. 

That is when the market is most alive with all the deliveries of fish, produce, and other colorful sights. Make sure to bring a camera!

I’m afraid if you haven’t been to Seattle before, it will live up to its reputation of being damp and cold. Just to prove that isn’t the case, I took a picture at school yesterday while the sun was shining. Even in the rain, I love this city, and I hope all visitors have a great conference.

The Mutant Elephant in the Room

I just finished watching “X-Men: First Class,” and it was probably one of my favorite prequels. As with good back stories, audiences are often given a vehicle to empathize with villains. In the X-Men franchise, Marvel Comics has used the idea of mutants to show, as metaphor, the difficulties associated with diversity.

Dealing with diversity is tough in independent schools, and Pat Bassett, president of NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) shares his current examination of the landscape of diversity in independent schools at the NAIS website. He gives strategies for change and “names the elephants in the room.” You can download the slide deck at the website.

First of all, the mixed emotions that are felt related to diversity are many. A few examples include, optimism and exasperation. The strongest emotions call into play Daniel Pink’s 3 forces in his book on motivation, Drive: Mastery, Purpose, and Autonomy.

According to Robert Keegan’s book Immunity to Change, Bassett mentions the following:

First, the well-intentioned goal of being a change agent is undermined by failing to align resources and incentives. The invisible competing factor is that keeping peace is more important than effecting change. And, the big, untested assumptions behind that are that no one wants to much to change too fast.

His second well-intentioned goal is to lead the change agenda.

With the case being made for the rider instead of the elephant undermining this goal. The invisible competing factor here is that the change won’t work, and that we are seen as failures. And, we assume that failure will be punished instead of trying to be rewarded.

Then Bassett goes on to name some elephants in the room regarding diversity in independent schools, including the following:

Diversity and inclusion is what we do least well at schools.

To hold self to same standard aw others in terms of becoming educated about diversity.

Diversity is messy, time-consuming, disquieting, destabilizing, and unpopular

We assume too much

Heads are unsure about taking risks.

When people of color fail (students, faculty, administrators, etc.) who really failed?

Bassett then pulls quotes from Howard Stevenson, UPenn:

  • Avoiding the conversation around race is malpractice.
  • Without engaging in the conversation, fear drives the narrative.
There’s plenty more in Bassett’s slide, but I’ll let you navigate your way there through the link above. In short, we have a lot of work to do, and we can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. Unlike the X-Men, where the fear of the unknown creates an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality, diversity is about creating a culture where everyone is part of the us.  We still have a long way to go.
I can’t believe that I’ve reached post number 300. I thought I’d change the look of the blog just a little and leave you with the movie trailer to celebrate.