Wow, what a ride. These past few weeks have stretched my thinking, challenged my preconceptions, and forced reflection. I’ve said before reflection is a struggle for me. I’m the type of person who honestly listens to feedback, applies that which fits and tosses the rest. In other words I move on quickly without much reflection. Which is one reason why I blog. It forces me to slow down and reflect on events. With that being said, this blog will focus on a reflection of these past few months. It’s been quite a ride.

New job- I started a new job as the Digital Coach at Samuel E. Kalama Intermediate School. Basic description is to act as a resource and help teachers leverage the use of technology in their lessons. That’s 70% of the job, the other 30% I teach a Robotics and a Technology elective. 

Student teaching- During the months of September-November I completed the student teaching requirement for teaching licensure. Obviously this put strain on my ability to be an effective Digital Coach. I tried to compensate for my lack of school accessibility by showing the teacher/mentors who allowed me to student teach in their rooms, various ways I use technology in my lessons. 

Full-time MEdT student. Of course as a Masters in Education candidate there are still papers to write, lessons to plan, and presentations to prepare and ultimately present. It is here that I will focus my reflection. One course I took this semester was EDCS 480. This was a technology class that I felt would compliment my new job quite well, and it did. I can not begging to say how incredible it was to be able to learn something on a Monday night in class and apply it immediately on Tuesday morning. This class spoke the same language as those whom I am accountable to as a Digital Coach. I received so many ideas and so much direction from this course that this blog could turn into a book, but alas, I will break it down to the three big takeaways that truly shifted a paradigm for me. I call it the Triangle Trifecta for Collaboration.

At its base, the triangle trifecta is all about relationships. That’s were it begins. Nothing substantial can happen until this base in in place. Rapport, trust, respect, willingness to expose weakness, being open to accept new idea and assistance. None of these things can happen without first building a relationship. Think about it this way, when you are shopping for a new tv and the salesperson asks you if you need help you probably respond, “no thanks, just looking” Why do we do this. We aren’t just looking we are trying to make a buying decission and this salesperson can help, but I don’t know them yet. A certain amount of fear is present. Fear of being pressured, ripped off, spending too much, admitting I need help, showing my lack of knowledge and many more. When the sales person can increase my desire for the product so it exceeds my fear I will make the purchase. This is no different in our quest to collaborate. When we are approached by a colleague, especially someone new to the school, who asks to collaborate we develop a certain amount of fear. This fear will persists until a realationship is built. Don’t skip this step if you want to make real change.

Once the relationship is in place we start to connect. Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, websites, teachers from other schools or just down the hall have answers to our questions and many are willing to share. Use the tools available. Get outside of your own head, room, box and connect with the world around you. What I discovered these past few months is that most teachers love to teach. Be it students in a classroom or other teachers on the web. Teachers love to share their ideas, perspectives, victories. However, many of us are a bit fearful of asking for insight. I have never struggled with this. I know how much I don’t know and am constantly wanting to learn more. Try to have this mentality, reach out, connect and ask. You will be surprised.

Once we are connected and the realationship is in place a safe environment is created. This environment is ripe for innovative thinking. For taking risks, and blazing new paths. At the University of Hawaii students in the education program are refereed to as change agents. It is expected that graduating teachers from the UH be the spark, the agent for change and that means innovation. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Here’s the amazing thing, we know what works. There are schools around the world that have figured it out. As change agents it is up to us to learn from these schools and make the appropriate changes in our own schools, with our own studetns. 21st century jobs require 21st century learning. 

Rancho-Kalama Trans-Pacific Collaboration Begins


I got a little ahead of myself in the last blog post. I tend to do that when I’m excited about something. In my last post I discussed plans to start a collaboration program with Rancho Minerva, a middle school 2500 mile away. In order to report on the program I have adopted the PDSA (plan, do, study, act) model. This model is a well received practice when starting an action research project, especially one that focuses on educating adolescents in the 21st century. See below for a quick explanation of each step as well as visual representation of the process

Plan: To develop your knowledge and expertise of your choice topic or question, you will curate at least 6 different resources that help you further your knowledge based on a particular topic.  The resources that you cultivate should help you with your determine the direction of your action research project.  You can use scholarly articles, videos, websites and tools to support your project.   For each resource selected you need to identify the source, describe what it is, explain how it helped develop your thinking about your topic and how it will impact your teaching.
Do: What are you going to do differently to impact students in your classroom? Summarize the process of your actions.
Study: Collect and Analyze Evidence: Analyze the data you collected and determine the outcome(s).
Act: Reflection and Next Steps: Based on your actions, explain the outcome of your action research project and next steps.


So, I should have began at the beginning, by saying that the planning process for this project began without me. While I was in Japan this summer, my principal attended a summit that I was supposed to go to as well. While there he met with the principal for Rancho Minerva Middle School in San Diego. A couple months prior, (May 2016) a group of leaders from Rancho Minerva and VIDA (Vista Innovation & Design Academy) came to our School on Maui to discuss some of the programs they have put in place at their schools and to workshop or experience them. Fast forward to the summer summit where both principals continued to toy with the idea of how we could work together or collaborate more. This led to the Rancho Kalama Summit (October 2016) of which I wrote about in a previous blog entry Global, Cross-Curricular Collaboration.

Now on to the “Doing”-One of the first steps for us to accomplish prior to launching was to create a short video to show to our respective teaching staffs. This video is an introduction of what the program is, why we are doing it, and what we hope to accomplish. watch video

As seen in the video, some of the teachers who attended the October summit had there students begin collaborating. Students, one from each school, were paired up and began learning about each other. This was great because it gave us a look at some of the lessons and takeaways on a smaller scale. Like how to set up a google shared classroom between two schools 2500 mile away. How excited are the kids about the project? Do they feel empowered to make it their own? With this info we can move forward to the study phase and analyze the information gathered to understand the impact and compare our analysis to the “PLAN” then launch school wide.The full launch of the program will happen in the weeks leading up to winter break.

Global, Cross-Curricular Collaboration 

Innovative learning requires us as teachers to adopt innovative teaching practices. We need to get out of the box, message our brains, and come up with new tactics that engage and more importantly empower our students. Last week I spent 5 days at Rancho Minerva Middle School in San Diego along with 8 other teachers from my school and our principal. We met to create a bridge between our school on Maui and theirs. We spent time learning from teachers on the Rancho staff, visited classrooms, and met with students. Our time there was filled with learning and innovative thinking. I met teachers who not only love to teach but truly love their students. During our first session Dr. Ben Gaines stated that “Relationships are key. We need our students to want to come to school, to know that this is a place where they are loved and welcome no matter what.” Walking around the campus it was very apparent that Most have embraced this idea. As a group we decided that we would like to start a collaborative project. We began to brainstorm and what came out of that session is a project that not only approaches education from a different angle, but has the potential to change lives.

   The Idea– The UN has set Eight Millennium Development Goals. The first of which is to Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger. We placed this as the basis of our collaborative project. We see this as an project that will cross all curriculum and is real to both of our schools. We are a 59% free and reduced lunch school and Rancho Minerva is at 98%. Although we are in the infant stages of this project the collaboration has already begun. Both schools are creating an introduction video, our students introducing themselves, their cultures, passions, dreams, and challenges to each other. A shared collaborative google classroom has been set up with folders for each subject. First mission is for each student to take a picture of one typical meal from their home. From here we see science classes looking at the science behind agriculture to include robotics, GMO, waste, etc. English language arts can create personal narratives, conduct interviews, create marketing campaigns and document the journey and evidence. Math can look into the statistics, averages, trends, and improvements. PE/Health could talk about eating healthy, lifestyle fitness. You get the idea, really any and all subject areas can and will be involved. Its difficult to say exactly where this project can go as the kids will take it directions we haven’t imagined. One thing I do know is the journey will be worth it.

All Good Things Must Come to an End…

All good things must come to an end…why? Who said so? Why can’t good things linger on forever, or be transformed into other great things. If the Law of Energy Conservation states that energy can’t be destroyed only transformed into other forms of energy, then shouldn’t that be the case with the energy that was created while attending the IMMOOC? ( It’s true we will no longer be meeting weekly to listen in or watch George, Katie and guest discuss innovative thinking, but the energy has been transformed. The IMMOCC and Georges book are out there now. We are “in the know”. They are a source for us to continue to share. To build new discussions. To form our own groups within the walls of our schools and beyond. During these past few weeks I have shared the link to the IMMOOC with several people. Most are in education, but I have also shared it with folks in business as well. It is my intent to reach out to these folks and create our own discussions. Read a section watch the appropriate IMMOOC and discuss. To me, in my mind, this discussion could, and should be tought to every marketing major, in every company sales or customer service training. The wisdom and power of it’s message isn’t some new way of powerfuly thinking differently. Instead, George reminds of all the simple things we take for granted. Of the ideals we once held so close to our being. The principles on which we built our character, but somehow forgot to polish and have now regrettably fallen victim to life’s tarnish. That’s how I feel about this IMMOOC and book, the “Great Tarnish Remover.” The best way to keep tarnish off is through constant use. Moss doesn’t form on a rolling stone. We, the educators and administrators who have attended this IMMOOC and read

have been transformed by its energy, we are different, changed, never to be the same. If, like me, what you heard here resonates with the kind of educator you want to be, in the type of school culture were innovative thinking is happening on all levels and students are empowered not just engaged. Where our clients are thought of as teachers not just students, then you must transfer this knowledge, this energy into action. The one with the knowledge has the responsibility to share the light. It’s always been that way, so take up the cause. Pick up the torch and lead. Even if you face resistance, your students will be better for it. And isn’t that all that really matters.
Dr. Katie Martin

Many Mahalos to Author and Innovator George Couros and Change Agent Dr. Katie Martin. You have empowered my learning, unleashed my talent, and led me to a culture of creativity.

No One Cares How Much You Know, Until They Know How Much You Care.

Teddy Roosevelt told us (at least we attribute this to him) that no one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. Wheater he said it or not it is a great quote and a valuable lesson for anyone who is attempting to be an agent of change. Being and innovative thinker is one thing, getting people to listen to your ideas is another, and inspiring them to try is yet another. In his book, The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, author George Couros states that “The three most important words in education are: relationships, realationships and relationships. Without them we have nothing.” When I was a corporate coach I use to teach that 90% of a persons success can be directly contributed to the relationships that they build. The remaining 10% is…relationships. I can really relate to what George is saying and whole heartedly agree. Think about it, think about the times in your life that you were on the top of your game, when you felt the most connected. I bet those times your relationships were the strongest. I attend a weekly IMMOOC ( hosted by George Couros in which he and Dr. Katie Martin discuss sections of his book. Each week they invite guest speakers an tackle some of the ideas that are most relevant. Last weeks guest was Kaleb Rashad, Director (Principal) at High Tech High, a project based learning school. Kaleb is new to his role as director and shared his insight what it takes to be innovative as a new or recently hired leader. His advice rang very clear with me as I am not only new to my role, but new to this career. 

Kaleb Rashad @kalebrashad

I am the Digital Coach at a school on Maui. It is my job to help teachers leverage technology, primarily iPads, in their classrooms. This is a challenge as not all teachers are open to the idea of using technology. Some are nervous about the technology and what to do if it fails to operate. Some are worried about the kids using the technology for things other than education, like games, or watching something inappropriate. It is my job to help teachers work through these and other apprehensions. In order to accomplish this I first need to create realationships build on a foundation of trust. This is a little tough especially since I do not have experience as a school teacher. As I have stated in past blogs, my entire career has been in business. Coming to education later in life has offered me many amazing advantages, but there is a challenge ot two as well. Since I don’t have a portfolio of impressive wins in education, I focus on building relationships. I need to show them how how much I care, which is what I should be doing anyway.  Isn’t this the same in our classrooms? Don’t our kids need to see how much we care? How invested we are in them and their potential? If we show them that our believe in them is unwavering will they believe in themselves as well? Yes, is the answer to all of the above. Once you decide to have an innovative mindset, you automatically start to think about how to create new relationships and how to strengthen the ones you have. Like any relationship this work begins with you, or self. 

Before we can love someone else, we need to love ourselves. I’ve heard and given this advice many times in my life, but what does it mean? Maybe the answer is different for each of us. Maybe we all understand self at different levels. For me self is made up of 6 components: Mental-self, Physical-self, Spiritual-self and how those relate and connect to family, responsibilities and emotions.  As leaders we sometimes try to take the path of least resistance. We look for the “one size fits all” answer. This does not lead to an easier path. By trying to skip the required work it takes to create and build relationships, this approach takes us down a path full of misunderstandings, hurt feelings and missed opportunities. If we follow the “golden rule” and treat everyone the way we want to be treated, we miss out on innumerable possibilities. It is the innovative mind that would suggest not to follow the golden rule but to embrace the “platinum rule”, which states that we treat other the way they want to be treated.  Take the time to find out who they are, what their dreams and desires are, what they hope to accomplish and what they are scared will happen. Become their friend, confidant, mentor, trusted advisor. Make a difference by being the one who embraces the difference. Part 2 of the Innovators Mindset is a great reminder and lesson to be read over and over again.

Facilitator Vs. Teacher and The Techologies We Use

What do you do? All of us answer this questtion with the short answer “Im a (you fill in the blank).” For me, that answer has changed many times over my career; I’m a rescue swimmer, I’m a Sergeant, I’m a manger, corporate coach, education consultant, sales manager, adertivising manager, business owner, and now teacher. I remember reading something long ago by someone I can’t remember, or maybe I saw it once, but whatever it was, the speaker asked the question, why do we always answer this question (What do you do?) with I’m? Like your carreer is at the center of your being. His idea was that we are not our jobs, we are fathers, sons, sisters, friends. If we feel the need to answer the question about what we do with the title of our job then perhaps simply answer, I work for…, or I work as a corporate coach for…I agreed with this idea until two years ago. It was at that time when I became a substitute teacher in Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t identify with all of my other jobs, I loved and learned so much from all of them. The experiences I gained by fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of those positions are what made me who I am today, but I love to answer the question about what I do with the answer, I teach. 
    The role of the teacher in quickly changing. Check out Denise Browns article on Chron (

                        “Traditionally, teachers are the ones with knowledge and expertise in a particular field. They impart that knowledge through a variety of means to their students. Facilitators build on the knowledge base of the group of students to find the answers to questions.” 

I think today’s teachers need to be both. As a corporate coach we never called ourselves teachers we were facilitators. The word facilitator come form the root facile or to make easy. As a corporate coach I had to make sure that the time I was asking my students to invest with me was well worth it. I choose the word invest purposefully. Every minute a sales rep spends in my training is a minute they are sacrificing the opportunity to make sales. They are losing money. When looked at this way they are investing their current sales opportunities in hope that my class will help them increase their chances of making sales in the future. This is a huge responsibility. One i took great pride in. I need to get to know them, I need to understand their stories. I must learn their strengths and areas of opportunity. I must build a rapport, a bridge of trust so that I can uncover what they need so I can facilitate improvements. Now I ask you, how is this any different in our classrooms. Better question, why is it different? Why do we tell kids what it is they need to know without finding out their stories, needs, struggles, successes, wants and desires. I have three days in a sales training to build a relationship of trust so the student will share their strengths and opportunities, share with them my perspective, work with them, help them come up with a plan, role play and send them on their way, with a follow up in a month to see how things are going. In school we get our kids for an entire year (9 months), ask yourself, have I done the work? Did I treat each students time as a precious opportunity to help them grow and by doing so grow myself? Did I respect their time and appreciate the fact them they came to my room today. Or, in Ggeorge Couros’ words did I “forget that if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.” (The Innovators Mindset: ( These are the things that keep me up at night. They are also the ideas that make me proud to say “I’m a Teacher.”

Kids today learn differently then even just a few years ago. The internet has been around for a while. I was an Education Consultant for Sprint in the early 2000’s. That’s only 16 years ago. Not long. I just threw out a pair of Addidas Samba sneakers I bought in 2001, so really 2000 was not long ago. During my time at sprint I saw technology advance at a rate that was staggering. As the trainer it was my responsibility to help our sales accociates understand the technology rich features of every handset we carried so they, in turn could educate the customer. I launched Web Mail, Tect messaging, camera attachment, yes before the camera phone there was a Samsung camera that attached to phones. I launched music phones, color screens, phones that added a keyboard. Smart phones we called them. The market was a little slow to adopt the smart phone. At the time phones were getting smaller and smaller and smart phones were large and bulky. Of course all this changed when Apple got in the game and created the iPhone. We went nuts. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw someone talking on a “flip phone.” I say all of this to bring up a point. It wasn’t until the internet was in our hands at speeds comparable and sometimes even faster then our computer at home, that I began to realize that the current education model is out dated. Students today can find the answer to anything in minutes just by asking Siri what she thinks. I was teaching percentages to a class last week and the student asked me why he needed to know how to figure out percentages when he can just ask Siri. Honestly, the nerve of this kid. Challenging me in front of my class. Doesn’t he know I am the teacher. Just joking. I asked the class, is it important to know this stuff, other than to pass a test, do you really need to remember how to figure out percentages?  The typical kids raised their hands and said yes, and no. So I asked “how many say no, no shame, be honest”, and about half the class raised their hands. “Ok”, I said, “so can I assume the rest of you think it is important to learn how to do percentages?” Head nods. “Ok, lets pair off. One person who feels its important and one who does not. Each of you can state your case to the other but here are the rules. One of you will go first and the other person isn’t allowed to talk about their opinion until the person speaking is absolutely convinced that you understand their side of the argument. Once that is done, the second person will have the opportunity to speak and the first person can not add anything until the second person is convinced. In other words we are seeking first to understand before being understood. Ready go”. I’d like to tell you the result was amazing and that these kids should be running the government, but alas I can not. It was messy and unorganized. It was loud and sometime obnoxious, but there were moments when one student truly listened to the other and although they might not have agreed they found some understanding of the other’s perspective. Not a bad day in the classroom. 

I teach at an Intermediate school where each kid has the opportunity to have an iPad through the generosity of Verizon’s Digital Promise initiative. I work with digital promise to help teachers leverage this tool in their classrooms. Many see the iPads as a distraction or as another thing that weights down their pile of things to do and  learn (similar to the sales rep not wanting to come to class because of potential lost sales) no teacher wants that. I see the iPad not as a tool to implement (which always means more work) but to leverage their already awesome lessons. The iPad, or any other technology are tools. When we here the word technology we always think electronics, or something mechanical, but in reality technology is anything man made that helps solve a problem. So, a pencil is technology. So is Algebra (a man made process that helps solve a problem) We use technology everyday to leverage our time and effort. Our students are using Siri to find out what 42% of 840 is. We should to. 

Show me, Don’t Tell Me

“Give yourselves an 86.” These were the words uttered by my 7th grade science teacher every morning, 2 minutes after giving us our daily science quiz. He was incapable of waiting for us to complete. Of course we all thought he was nuts. Every morning Ceaser Strugelia, we all called him Stroog, would stand outside of his class room door and read the headlines from the morning paper. In between proclaiming that the Metz had won or that Reagan had ended the arms embargo against Guatemala, he would choose a random girl walking by and plead with her to stay safe and not get pregnant. He was different. He was eccentric. He cared little about rules and even less about grades, “give yourselves and 86”, all he cared was that he had an opportunity to teach and we, his students, wanted to learn. I remembering his class vividly, and I had him 1st period. You have to understand something, I rarely was home before 11 PM even as a 12 year old kid. I was always on stage and rehearsals always went late. The only thing that would set Stroog off was sleeping in his class, which was hard to do. I mean how much sleep would you get with your science teacher standing on a table singing “An acid plus a base gives you salt and water, we call this neutralization”in his loudest vaudevillian  voice. But fall asleep in did one morning after only 5 hours of sleep. I had already given myself an 86, and was just nodding off, luckily I opened my eyes just in time to see a piece of chalk hurling toward my face. With cat like dexterity I ducked as the chalk flew just over my head hitting the wall behind me shattering into a hundred pieces. I looked at Stroog, like what the hell man, he stared back at me and uttered one word…”brittleness”. He taught us the periodic table of elements in a way that would most likely get a teacher fired; there were elements that needed to give off and electron which he referred to as “the studs”. Elements that need an electron were the “prostitutes”. Elements that could become stable by either giving off an electron or taking one (metalloids) were dubbed “queeroids”. All stable elements were fondly know as the “monks and nuns”. Yes he was crazy, eccentric, and maybe even a bit crude, but he taught me science 24 years ago and I love him for it. By the way, my final report card grade… you guessed it, 86.

“I don’t care what you researched, I’m telling you animals do NOT have feelings”. I heard these words the very same year, in the very same school, from a very different teacher. My 7th grade English teacher stated to all of her students that animals were incapable of emotion. What, this makes no sense. I have 4 dogs and they all go nuts when I come home from school. “That’s just a survival instinct”. “They lick you because they like the taste of salt.” She had an answer for all of my examples. So it was time to do some research. I went to the library and did a ton of research, remember microfiche? Did it make you as motion sick as it made me? I didn’t care, she needed to be proven wrong. I found several examples but my cu de grace was an article about a dog that had died as he lay on his masters grave, refusing food, he simply starved to death.  “If animals only have survival instincts, why would this dog refuse food and starve to death”? Fair question, good thought, you may have something there, even an I don’t know would have sufficed, but nope. What she said was “I don’t care what you researched, I’m telling you animals do not have feelings”.

Both of these teachers have long since retired, and believe it or not the english teacher and I became friends, but the experience I had as her student was the worst of my life. Teachers like to say they care about their students, but only when to show it does it truly resonate. Fact is, students can tell.


My First Post- A lesson in learning

How I learn I suppose that a site that discusses learnings from someone who has made a career of learning, facilitating and educating should begin with a few thoughts about the way I learn best. I think at sometime in our lives we have all had that special teacher. The one that we click with. I believe the reason he or she connects with us so well is because she is teaching us in our style of learning. Think about that for a minute, she is teaching in the your style of learning. I think the best teachers work hard to discover how each of their students learn best and create lesson plans that utilize as many styles as possible. Think of it this, we have all heard of “The Golden Rule”; do onto other as you would have done onto you. Good advice. I think you can live a pretty good life treating people the way you want to be treated, but I think it falls short of excellence because I think it’s a bit selfish. Let me explain. At one time in my life I was a corporate coach. I helped sales executives at a Fortune 500 wireless company improve  sales skills and develop leadership traits. During these trainings I would tell them about “The Platinum Rule” do on to others as they would be done on to. In other words treat people the way they want to be treated. See, this takes the effort of getting to know and understand the person and the way they want to be treated, then the effort to treat them that way. Nothing selfish here, exactly the opposite. Translate this idea to education; teach other the way they want to be taught. So I’ll share with you the way I like to learn in hopes that when you have something to teach, you will take the time and effort to teach me the way I want to be taught, and I’ll do the same.

I love to learn, but I really I love to learn from people who speak passionately about the topic they are sharing. I guess that makes me an auditory learner and that is mostly accurate, however there has to be fire in your voice. Belief in your words. I need to know that you care. I need to see the expressions on your face, the gestures of your hands, and the language of your body. All of which makes it a bit ironic that I am writing all this in a blog that you can not hear, absent the body language and facial expressions.

As a technology educator It is my hope that as I continue to learn and grow as a teacher I will discover new ways to approach learning so that as I discover the ways in which each of my students like to be taught I will have the tools to teach them.