Archive for the ‘Transformational Change’ Category

Dear Mr Manning…


Shout-outs to Rita Pierson via TedTalk

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 8.48.55 AMOver the past month, the video craze of “The Harlem Shake” by Bauuer has essentially done just that, shaken-up cyberspace via thousands of youtube videos being filmed in schools, offices, firetrucks, shopping malls, dentist offices and more.  If you can think of something crazy it pretty much happened –  from The University of Georgia Men’s Swim Team filming an underwater version, to Lebron James and The Miami Heat filming a locker room scene.

Students from all over the world participated; from middle school classrooms, to high school students in recreation centers, to multiple college-aged students in various settings – the participation level is at an all-time high.

Some powerful themes jumped out to me based on such a strong sweeping trend of this Harlem Shake craze:

1. Students love MUSIC.  The song “Harlem Shake” by Bauuer is energetic and brings people together for a comedic purpose.  Get your playlist together. Use music in your lesson plans, classroom culture, school settings and recreation centers as much as possible. Music is one of few universal languages and should be an integral part of the educational experience.

2. Students enjoy SURPRISES. Thirty-seconds into the song when the beat drops, everyone begins to dance crazily with a surprise prop or off-the-wall costume. This should be a reminder that students enjoy when principals, coaches, counselors and teachers switch things up, change the pace, and ultimately – deliver the unexpected.

3. All students want to PARTICIPATE – The sheer volume of students around the globe that wanted to make these videos and participate is ridiculous.  Use this to your advantage; let students work in teams to film, edit, produce and showcase their creativity for a different purpose – they will not let you down! Some students enjoy being the center of the video, while others are comfortable being in the back doing their own dance – but they all want to be included.

4. You Must Use SOCIAL MEDIA. Many students had already watched hundreds of these videos and recorded their own versions before many adults even realized what the video was.  We need to understand and respect the speed at which trends take life in the culture of our youth. In addition, we need to embrace the power of social media in our classrooms and schools to properly teach students how to share, research and interact globally.

5. Students simply want to have FUN. It’s easy for us as educators to get lost on the whirlwind of legislation reform, policies, standardized testing and new evaluation systems. I will be the first to admit that all of these changes often impact my attitude and interactions with others. We must remember that students are still kids and they deserve to have fun. And as adults, we need to make sure we never lose our own youthful spirits.

Here’s 5  simple ways to apply this article to your own setting:

  • Ask a student walking by in the hallway what’s playing in their ipod  and watch the expression on their face.  See where the conversation takes you…
  • Film a Harlem Shake video with your colleagues….perhaps at a staff meeting.
  • Think of a surprise for an individual, group or classroom of students that you can deliver to change things up. It can be small-scale or something huge.
  • Take 2 minutes to ask a few students how much fun they have recently been having at school or in classrooms and listen to their responses.
  • Finally, find a student that you know is not involved with anything at school – and simply invite them to participate in an activity, club or group.   The simple fact that you personally took the time to ask a student to get involved will change your relationship with that child.

Onward and Upward,

William T. Sprankles III

Princeton City School, 6-12 Principal


An Open Letter to All in Viking Nation:

I was reflecting on my drive home today about my school day, which ended with a staff meeting concerning the passing of a PHS student, and then our athletic signing.  I have to admit, learning the previous evening of another loss had me thinking from the standpoint of “not again.”  That was my thought as a couple of graduates texted me asking what were the details.  I could not provide any, but after seeing some postings on facebook, I had the sinking feeling of “here we go again.”  Then I caught myself and realized that each situation is different, for each family and each time we go through this.  I am not sure if there is a manual or an exact science to address grieving students, but I feel like each time is a first for me because it is always different.  But I feel I learn from each situation.

I did not know Keondre, but I do have his sister in class.  I did not get to see her today, so I will hope she attends class tomorrow but will understand if she prefers other areas/people for comfort.  Watching our 10th graders in my classes today just shows the resiliency of their class and all students in the Princeton district. Yes, my class kind of conducted “class as usual”,  but it was not usual. Young men and women were quiet, small tears running down their cheeks, heads down just staring into space involved in their own thoughts somewhere, but not one………and I mean not one, stopped doing their classwork.  It was amazing to watch and see this go on.  Answering questions, quietly working on their notes or problems.  It was totally humbling to me to watch this.  Today, despite the circumstances, the students pushed through.  Completely amazing.

At times I am asked why I teach, and I reply that it started early in my life for wanting “to teach and coach”.  I am also asked about how can I do it day after day after day?  I just say, “I dunno.  I just do my thing.”  I know throughout our high school and in every building of our district, all of the teachers “just do their thing.”  We may never know how deeply we really touch our student’s lives, but on a day when………young men and women were quiet, small tears running down their cheeks, heads down just staring into space involved in their own thoughts somewhere, but they did not stop working……..each one of us may see a small glimpse of the difference we make on them.  Or the difference they make on us.

Rest In Peace Keondre Patterson,

Hail to a Fallen Viking – 24/7 Princeton Pride.

Bob Fritz

PHS Math Teacher

CC Coach

When you hear the phrase “Casting the First Stone,” what comes to mind? Perhaps a pastor, or minister, preaching to not be the first person to cast a stone. Or, maybe a parent lecturing to their child? No matter where you hear it from, it’s usually has a negative connotation, but why?

“Casting the First Stone” can be redefined into something that is not only positive, but also has the capacity to change the world. Casting the first stone is what separates the men from the boys, the strong from the weak, and the people that are referred to as the chosen few.

Casting the first stone is a mentality and attitude that develops leaders.  Leadership is a common term; perhaps an overly used word. But what does it really mean?  Leading is defined as taking the directing or principal part. On the other hand, anyone has the capacity to call them-self a leader and arrogantly step forward and demand control. However, that’s not truly being a leader. A leader goes beyond the vague definitions given from a dictionary.

A Leader is someone who:

  • Steps up to a task with humility
  • Chooses to defy adversity and not allow it to define them
  • Embraces diversity instead of letting prejudice cloud their judgment and actions
  • Choses the high road in life versus the road that seems most popular at the time
  • Takes on the burden of the weak and down trotted, not someone who defends the strong and ruthless

Within the culture of schools and education, a Leader:

  • Doesn’t have to be a person in a position of authority
  • Stands up for the kid getting bullied
  • Is the student that works harder than anyone else in school because they realize education is the only thing that will save them from the imperfect circumstances they were given in life
  • Is a teacher that demands excellence from all of their students because they see the potential in each of them and will invest the same amount of energy into everyone not based on race, gender, or ability level
  • Chooses to say yes to the life less popular and not to a life of partying, drugs, and alcohol
  • Could be a security guard that takes three seconds to pull a student aside and stop them from making a reckless and careless mistake

Those details and character traits are what separates leaders from the pack – as many are called but few are chosen. We all have the ability to be leaders and we cannot make the decision to be less than that.

We must cast the first stone and be better than we are now. Whether it is one person standing up to their group of friends or a teacher that comes to school an hour earlier to help a student who is struggling – cast the first stone.

Don’t be afraid to cast the first stone. Even the smallest stone thrown in a river still creates a ripple effect that will reach every inch of the water. The changes we start here could spark a revolution and shape this world into the change we wish to see. It all starts with you pushing yourself to be the leader you know you were meant to be.

Make the change and Cast the First Stone.

By Imani Roberson

Princeton High School – c/o 2014

Student Leader, Advocate and Viking – 24/7

Below are 10 very thought-provoking articles, blogs, video clips and other resources for Educators and anyone leading Organizational Change.  The list is diverse in its purpose and topics. Furthermore, the links provide a strategic set of tools for your #Leadership

I came across these wonderful finds due to the folks I follow on Twitter.  Enjoy, and follow me on twitter @PHSViking to broaden your Personal / Professional Learning Network.

The Power of Effective Feedback

Written By Peter Dewitt via Education Week – @PeterMDeWitt

The Flipped Faculty Meeting

Written By Peter Dewitt via Education Week – @PeterMDeWitt

Video: Recorded Open House Presentation by Mrs. Johnson

Shared by @teachingwhtsoul via @PrincipalJ

Favorite / Thought Provoking Quote:

Shared by @AnnTran_

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” ― Stephen King

Handling Co-Worker Complaints and Backstabbing

Written By @LeadershipFreak via WordPress

Favorite / Thought Provoking Quote:

Shared by Lead Change Group ‏via @leadchangegroup

“When you’re a professional, you come back, no matter what happened the day before.” – Billy Martin

The Best Apps for Teaching Math and Science

Shared by @NMHS_Principal via The Wall Street Journal Technology Report


The Principal Melt-Down Video

Shared by @WiscPrincipal

Free Reproducibles from Marzano for Coaching & Evaluating

Shared by @MarzanoResearch

50 Educational Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

Shared by @KleinErin via @edudemic


Last month I had a major failure.  I published a blog of “10 Great Stars to Follow in the Twitterverse.”  Within one hour, I was flooded with angry questions and comments of “Where are the Women?”

After all, the blog consisted of 10 white males (all amazing leaders though).  And after processing and reflecting, I couldn’t believe myself.   As a Principal and Educator that preaches Culturally Responsive Practices of perhaps the most diverse high school in the State of Ohio, my Twitter list failed to have Digital Diversity.

So, I began reflecting on the cultural shift to Social Media.  DIGITAL DIVERSITY is a MUST.

A series of reflective questions immediately flooded my conscience:

  • Do I follow enough women, men, people of color and those from different classes in our society?
  • Do I follow people on Twitter that ONLY validate and support my ideas? Or, do I intentionally follow people that challenge, contradict and bring alternative perspectives to my digital feed?
  • Do I follow the ‘little guy’ from the small business or tiny school district, or only seek out digital leaders with thousands?
  • Do I fear following people with opposing or different viewpoints and ideas?

Lesson Learned:

While many of us cannot change or control the diversity that surrounds us on a daily basis, we can use the internet to circumvent the obstacles of geography, class, color, religion and more.

No longer can we as educators claim we “did not know,” — as it is our responsibility to explore and embrace a digital world that is more diverse than we could ever imagine and wish for.

Whether your digital network, or the people you surround yourself with daily, you must have diversity in your life. Challenge yourself to learn and grow from others not in your regular social circle.  Hear their perspectives and try to see what they see.

Be Reflective and Seek out Digital Diversity – IT is a MUST.

William T. Sprankles III

District Principal, 6-12

Princeton City Schools

For those of you new to Twitter – or if you are wishing to get more Value and Diversity from the Leaders you follow – begin by seeking out these 10 Stars in the Twitterverse.

In no particular order, the below 1o educators are great leaders to follow on Twitter for the following reasons:

  • They are always active, but never overwhelming on your twitter feed.
  • They will challenge you to Think and Reflect – and push you to grow professionally
  • They will provide resources and guidance
  • They focus on Technology and Best Educational Practices
  • They are all Unique, Practical and provide Authentic Leadership

For your convenience – all 10 profiles below are hyper-linked directly to their Twitter Accounts.


Written by:

William T. Sprankles III – @PHSViking

Princeton City Schools, 6-12 Principal



Bonus Star in the Twitterverse: John C Maxwell – Leader of Leaders…


By William T. Sprankles III

Princeton, 6-12 Principal

Every industry or culture has a critical time when the organization, the people, the process or the product must be redefined in order to be successful.  And now is the time for Educators to Redefine What We Must BE…

Be A Chemist and Synthesize:  The educational paradigm is evolving more broadly and rapidly than ever before – with new legislation, reform measures, contract negotiations, budget cuts, changes to No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, linkage, value added, common core and new assessments – the list goes on and on.  Educators must have the ability and professional commitment to research and keep ourselves informed. More importantly, we must have the skills to “sift” through so much information and combine the right elements into a single entity in our classrooms – understanding how our kids are directly impacted!  Essentially, we all have to be Chemists in such a day and age of change and evolution.


Be a War Strategist and Embrace Technology:  If most schools and classrooms don’t change, there is going to be an educational revolution led by students.  It is going to be over technology, weapons are going to be social media platforms and the battlefield is going to be in classrooms; choose carefully which side you will be on. If the only thing you do with technology is check your email and present some basic concepts on a Smartboard or PowerPoint – not only are you behind the ball, you are harming your students.  If you continue to struggle with classroom management because students are Texting, Instagraming and Tweeting – then begin rethinking your degree of engagement and pedagogy. One goal of the 21st Century is to prepare students as digital citizens – and if the only place they are getting exposure and guidance is outside of the classroom by external forces – then we have failed our mission.  If you don’t know about popular social media sites – then be a learning facilitator and ask your students for their input and creativity. Create a Twitter account for your classes, Use Instagram to celebrate top performing assignments, Develop a Pinterest Board for Project Based Learning – and push yourself to Get Connected!


Be a Comedian and Use Humor: Whether you are the one making others laugh, or doing the laughing – you must be able to find humor in your mission as an educator.  One, it is healthy for the organizational culture of your school and individual classroom.  Two, it is healthy for your personal soul.  Being an educator is not a job or a career – it is a lifestyle, and very easy to get overwhelmed, stressed and burned out.  Often, the best remedy is maintaining a certain degree of humor.  Three – and most importantly, remember that kids have the most innate abilities to pick up on “vibes” from adults – and they immediately sense and know when we are angry and stressed, or focused and encouraged. Learn to Laugh.

Be an Architect and Understand Space and Design: Collaboration is such a key focus of the 21st Century, that if you are still teaching by standing in the front of the classroom with your students sitting in straight rows as the primary structure for delivering methodology – you are far behind the ball as a modern educator.  Sure, not everyone has flexible tables on wheels that breakdown and reshape like transformers – but how easy is it to assemble desks in clusters of three or four, perhaps a semi-circle or even a horseshoe. You can even take a field trip within your building or campus and use the shape of any physical space as a learning environment. Ultimately, collaboration should not be a special activity in your classroom culture that students get to do once every two weeks – it should be the norm. Challenge yourself to rethink how you are using furniture and space to strategically engage your students.

Be a Philosopher and Live In The Question:  Is it primarily due to mandates in testing that the craft of teaching has evolved into a culture of only asking questions where there is one specific answer?  As educators, have we lost the creativity and art of our profession? Are we are prohibiting innovation and limiting critical thinking in our schools and classrooms by not pushing students to live in the question?  Are we really empowering our students to challenge WHAT and WHY they are learning? During the first week of school we set the tone – and most educators present students with a syllabi, we tell them about our classes and our curriculum, and have students share something about themselves. If we changed this basic approach, would it send a different message and establish a redefined culture? What if we pushed each student to ask questions about themselves? What if students were encouraged to challenge the curriculum? What if during the first week of classes – we didn’t tell students anything?

By William T. Sprankles III

Princeton, 6-12 Principal

Special Shout-outs to the key leaders in my life that have pushed me to have a Breakthrough – and have challenged, encouraged and provided leadership – and ultimately, pushed the pendulum.

Check out the CEO of Knovation (formerly netTrekker), Randy Wilhelm – using the analogy of “s’mores” to discuss Igniting the Hope of Knowing… at the TedX speaker series hosted at Xavier University.

Randy is not only one of our country’s greatest advocates for student achievement and innovation, but he also “walks the walk.” Specifically, he models mentoring by having ove 30+ employees from his company travel to Princeton High School on a weekly basis to mentor students.