In the Fan Club

Here’s Episode 20 of “The Principal Liner Notes Podcast.”

It is entitled “In the Fan Club.” I explore how the recent release of the “Yesterday” movie connects to my pride in being a Beatles Fan. I also explore connections from the film to our noble profession as educators.

https://anchor.fm/sean-gaillard/episodes/In-the-Fan-Club-e4fp3t/a-ahua79

 

Embrace the Crossroads

Here’s the latest episode of “The Principal Liner Notes Podcast.” It’s entitled “Embrace the Crossroads.” I explore how a pivotal moment in the “Mad Men” television series coupled with a song by Buddy Holly connects to the infinite possibilities at the end of a school year.

Here’s the link for the podcast: Click HERE.

Please feel free to share the podcast with friends and colleagues. Thanks for listening!

Traveling Wilbury Dreams with The #EdWriteNow Band

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There’s a wonderfully poignant moment in the “Handle With Care” Video by The Traveling Wilburys. Here is an amalgam of rock heroes huddled around an old-fashioned microphone suspended microphone harmonizing. In the video clip, smiles are abounding between the musicians as they knowingly take satisfaction that they are to onto something that is simply cool and transcendent. It’s a beautiful spot for a band that is hiding in a seemingly anonymous humility. It is pretty easy to pick out George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in this line-up of musical goodness. These are music icons stepping away from myth and pretense joy-filled that they have found a collaboration that soars.

Five friends playing music and taking joy in each other’s company. That is in essence the definition of a supergroup. Friends coming together bound by some mutual purpose or common bond for the pure love of music. The Traveling Wilburys fall under the category of supergroup.

When I got the noble nod from Jeff Zoul to join the second configuration of the Education Write Now Writing Retreat, I was purely overjoyed. In fact, I did hear the strains of “Handle With Care” in the distance. I would have the opportunity to collaborate with a supergroup. This was a supergroup composed of friends and colleagues from my PLN. We were joined our passion for Education and our task to write a book in two days was nothing short of Nirvana for me. Jeff and the band he was putting together for Education Write Now, Volume II was made up of educators that I greatly admired. One could even say that I was a longtime unabashed fan of all involved. Jeff’s books served as virtual sherpas for me in my first days as a principal. His invitation was akin to George Harrison asking me to join The Traveling Wilburys. What made this gig even sweeter was that all proceeds were to go towards a teen suicide awareness and prevention group known as the Will to Live Foundation.

Our purpose with Education Write Now, Volume II was to write in a common key pertaining to an issue that we felt other educators would benefit from in our noble profession. All roads led back to the core of our passion in the profession: Relationships. We had two days and 5,000 words each to make this book happen.

Gathered in Chicago, ideas flowed freely. There was humility and support as fingers danced on laptop keyboards. Respectful space was given as individuals roamed within the internal space of individual thoughts. Supportive feedback was shared. Critical questions of clarity stirred.

As I gazed around my surroundings, I realized I was in a supergroup like The Traveling Wilburys. There was Randy Zigenfuss quietly nodding at one of my references to the bombastic 1950s bandleader, Stan Kenton. Winston Sakurai was across the table from me immersed in deep thought. Rosa Perez-Isaiah and Sanee Bell are trading drafts. Danny Bauer is putting the finishing touches on his chapter and doing pre-production work for his podcast. Lauren Davis of Routledge Publishing is providing encouraging editorial support  Elisabeth Bostwick is typing at such a speed that the keyboard cannot keep up with her amazing insights. Jeff Zoul is wordsmithing away in concentration. Laura Gilchrist is sharing an encouraging smile as Onica Mayers reminds us all of our collective purpose with the rallying cry: “Relationships matter, people!”

My chapter is entitled “Connecting with the Center: Bringing Passion to the SchoolHouse.” I take a childhood memory involving hearing “Rhapsody in Blue” for the first time during a class field trip and how it almost got me thrown out of a concert hall a the age of 10. My solo involves how it’s vital for passion to be immersed in the schoolhouse as a vehicle to build authentic relationships. Music is my passion and connecting to my journey as an educator has provided a power entry point in building relationships with the students, teachers and families I serve.

Here’s a quick snippet from my chapter contribution:

Passion is the denominator for so many ways to compel positive change and sustaining relationships. Classrooms and schoolhouses are transformed when this passion is in the foreground of the vision and mission.

We must also remember that passion is as two-way street in the schoolhouse. Students and Teachers must be able to feel free to share their respective passions for learning, interests, pursuits and hobbies. In other words, we typically align this with students expressing their passion. There are many vehicles for students do this in creative projects that run the gamut from Makerspace, Project-Based Learning, Passion Projects, Google 10% Time. Teachers are often looked to be the sage on the stage or the facilitator compelling students to share and express their passions and gifts. The paradigm has to shift to a norm where teachers can take risks and share their passions, too. When I was a classroom teacher, everyone knew I loved music and films. The classroom walls were filled with posters of The Beatles, John Coltrane and The Who. I encouraged students to share their music posters as well. Any time I could talk Music with students was an opportunity to build a relationship. Incidentally, it’s important for school leaders to follow suit. Modeling our excitement over a passion in hobby or some aspect of educational practice, school leaders can help ignite a culture of positivity and creativity fueled by sincere passion.

Sharing our passions unabashedly in the classroom or schoolhouse is meant to build that community of possibility for our students. Placing more passion in the day-to-day operations of the schoolhouse will only uplift students. Students need any opportunity given to express their gifts, ideas and passions. It is part of our calling as educators to make that happen.

Stay tuned for another anticipatory post and the conclusion of the blog series Danny Bauer! Be sure to follow #EdWriteNow as we head towards the December release of Education Write Now, Volume 2: Top Strategies for Improving Relationships and Culture. You can pre-order the book HERE.

Turning On: Sgt. Pepper Visits New Amsterdam Hospital and Joins Two Principals Together

“Are we really doing this?”

“Yes, of course, we are!”

That gleeful exchange of words in a conversation I had with Principal Mariah Rackley brought me back to a famous moment in Beatles Songwriting Lore.

Fade back to a time over fifty years, when the Lennon-McCartney partnership is at its zenith. John Lennon and Paul McCartney are scribbling down ideas for a song that would eventually close their 1967 album opus, “Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Both men are filled with synergy of their collaboration. They have taken two seemingly disparate songs and combined them to form a mini-rock opera of sorts.

One bandmate tosses out the idea of embedding a certain lyric within the framework of the song: “I’d love to turn you on.” The other bandmate takes notice and places a pause on their writing momentum. The lyric echoes the zeitgeist of the late 1960s: Hippies, Day-Glo, and Psychedelia. It’s a mild, inside joke between Lennon and McCartney, but both know exactly what they are implying:

“You know what we’re saying?”

“Let’s do it!”

Both scribble down the lyric and “A Day in the Life” is ready to make history as the unforgettable, apocalyptic denouement for the “Sgt. Pepper” album.

Belief in the collaboration. I explore this in The Pepper Effectmy book from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., in which I attempt to illustrate the lessons The Beatles give us in the creation of their “Sgt. Pepper” Masterpiece. Encouraging a mildly suggestive line to illustrate the signs of the times takes belief in the collaboration. That belief in turn requires that trust and encouragement are implanted in the marrow of the collaboration. Lennon and McCartney proved that in their collaboration for “A Day in the Life” and have left us with a creative legacy for us to look to as educators to build our own masterpiece in the schoolhouse.

That same synergy happens daily within the marrow of a Schoolhouse, Professional Learning Network or an #EdCamp. More educators are sharing and connecting via various social media networks and at in-person events such as a #CoffeeEDU or #EdCamp. I have been very fortunate to connect with many inspiring faces to take things beyond a tweet or swag table.

These connections are very meaningful to me as I search for my own type of #EduBeatles since I am the sole Middle School Principal in my school district. Even though I am surrounded by an inspiring band of dedicated teachers whom I cherish and support, I do yearn for a colleague who is stepping to the same beat as a Middle School Principal.

Enter Mariah Rackley, principal of Cedar Crest Middle School, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Principal Rackley is going through the same bit as the sole middle school principal in her district. She values culture, collaboration and simply doing what is best for kids. Her posts have always intrigued me and filled me with admiration.

Recently, a Twitter Post regarding a trailer for an upcoming NBC Medical Drama entitled “New Amsterdam” from Mariah caused me to take pause. She shared this trailer with her faculty as kickoff for her school year. I was compelled by this event and I wanted to discover more as I tweeted back an affirmative response to Mariah. A conversation starts in Twitter DM between us. Then, a scheduled phone call occurs to explore ways to build a collaborative network between our respective schools. We are in uncharted territory with a rough sketch for our direction. Echoing a moment shared by Jennifer Williams, author and friend, in her “Foreward” for The Pepper Effect: “We are on to something here.”

Somehow we will take the seemingly disparate pieces of our two schools marked by a distance of 450 miles apart and we will create a new connection for the respective faculty teams we serve. An upcoming medical drama will serve as our weird and random link.

Echoing John and Paul huddled around the lyrics for “A Day in the Life,” we preluded our phone call conclusion with next steps statements like,  “Yes, we are indeed onto something. We are going to do this.”

Possibilities abound in conversations turned on for the belief in one’s collaborators.

A brand-new, unaired television program is going to link two schools together catalyzed by two principals whom have never met in person.

Well, why not?