MESPA Monday Memo
November 7, 2016

Twitter Chat This Week!
(A Special Combined  MESPA/MSSAA Chat)
Wednesday November 9
8:00-9:00 pm
From the Executive Director:
Alan November Challenges Principals To Be Connected

At last week’s Fall Conference, Alan November of November Learning was a thought-provoking keynote speaker who challenged principals to think differently about technology, while providing countless examples of work going on around the country and world.  He posed the question, “How can you possibly be world class, if you are not connected to the world?  

Alan suggested schools don’t need technology committees (“Would you have a paper and pencil committee?”).  Rather, he said, “Have a reason upfront that is overwhelming and compelling THEN buy the technology.”  

Alan’s most important message to an audience of elementary principals?   We have drastically underestimated what elementary kids can do.”     

Citing the work of John Hattie, Alan suggested the most important skill we can teach our students in self-assessment.  Alan reminded us that, under the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, we have a legal obligation to educate minors about appropriate online behavior. See the Children's Internet Protection Act.    

Alan asked principals if they knew how to be precise in using Google. Google is the number one access point for our students when they do their homework. It is imperative that we teach them to use it precisely.   And he pointed out that we need to use and understand the social media tools being used to elect our President.  Here are some things kids should know about Google:  Google Search Operators and Google Domains .

Alan suggested that principals need to understand the change process.  He strongly recommended that every principal read the book The Human Side of School Change by Rob Evans (a Massachusetts psychologist and frequent speaker at MESPA over the years).   You can’t have change without creating anxiety, but too much anxiety can paralyze change. Rob will be keynoting at the Building Learning Communities conference next summer, speaking to the topic of managing anxiety with adults.

Among the examples of technology that Alan cited:

  • Ms. Cassidy’s Class on Twitter:   This teacher does amazing work with first graders who follow six other first grade classes around the world. Each week, a different small group of students is responsible for reporting on these classes.  Check out her her blog as well. Alan suggests, “Every 1st grade classroom should be connected to 6 classrooms around the world.” 
  • CS50 is one of the most popular and difficult classes at Harvard. How do you reconcile that?  It’s about the excitement and ownership of the learning that takes place. Watch this Podcast with professor David Malan.
  • Wolfram Alpha:  A computational knowledge engine where students can learn such things as algorithms for all kinds of mathematics. Alan asks, “Are you going to block this or are you going to teach every kid how to use it?
  • featuring student-made videos from all over the world to demonstrate how to solve different types of math problems. 
  • Screencasting software such as Jing.
  • Using Minecraft in the classroom.  Alan said, “Every elementary school should have a Minecraft club.”   Check out this example of a student-made project:  San Diego Minecraft Project  Here is a world library of Minecraft villages already created:
  • Prism is a tool for collaborative interpretation of texts.  The tools allows you to enter any text and choose 3 categories for highlighting.  Students read and highlight according to the categories.  The teacher (and class) can view which words or passages are most selected (the text size changes).   It can also be a great tool to use with a common reading in a faculty meeting.
  Again, Alan’s most important point:  We have drastically underestimated what elementary kids can do.”     

Editor’s Note:  I highly recommend bringing a team of your most tech savvy teacher to next summer’s Building Learning Communities Conference.  Held here in Boston, it draws participants from all over the world.  You and teachers will come away inspired.

Rick Rogers
From The MESPA Blog :
Highlights from the Fall Conference!
“The Connected Leader”
Did you miss out on MESPA’s Fall Conference? If so click here for the Storify of the Twitter feed and here for the community notes that were taken throughout the day. Or go to:  
Regional Principals’ Support Groups
November Update
Two Groups Underway in Barre & Wakefield
(and still accepting new members)  

New Reduced Schedule for 4 Other Groups
(Andover, Belchertown, Groton and Holliston)
Try one out for 4 sessions!  Groups may elect to continue next year.
For more information on group locations and meeting times and to register,

Our Updated Workshop Schedule
Updated calendar and on-line registration can be found at:
Teachers can register at the membership rate if you are a member.  Discounts for teams of 3 or more from same school.
We have recently rescheduled several of our on-line workshops which were scheduled too early in the fall. New dates are in December-March.

Job Postings
Newton Public Schools is first of out the gate with 3 openings for principals next year.  For future openings, please check our Job Postings link at the top of our home page.
Request for Information on Libraries
Our district is considering substituting one Elementary Library/Media Specialist for two Library/Media Assistants.  We would like to get some information from districts that have or have had Library/Media Assistants in the past.  We would like to know:  
  • How many Library/Media Assistants you have had, e.g. full time equivalent at each school
  • Job descriptions and salary/hourly rate
  • Benefits and drawbacks of having Library/Media Assistants in
Any and all information would be much appreciated.  Please email your responses to:

Tom Daniels
Principal - Stanley Elementary School
Swampscott, MA