Plan C – Why I’m An Educator #SAVMP

Back in July, I shared a post about the School Administrators Virtual Mentor Program, a wonderful idea that my friend George Couros came up with to pair new administrators with experienced administrators during the 2013-2014 school year. If you are interested in learning more check out the SAVMP Blog here. You can also share in the learning on Twitter by following the hashtag #SAVMP. 

Our assignment for week one is to answer one of the following questions: Why Do I Lead? or Why I’m an educator? As you can see from the title of the post, I chose the second option. I look forward to sharing my learning here as the year continues…Now, back to my assignment.

photo via
Somewhere on my journey to be a Major League Baseball player, I was detoured by the fact that my fastball topped out at about 70 miles per hour and my ability to hit a pitch any faster than that occurred at a success rate of well under 30%. So I quickly adjusted my plan to play professional sports and instead decided to focus on writing about them.  I was much more fortunate in Plan B, landing a full-time sports writing position at a local newspaper a few years out of college. At first, it was a lot of fun covering sporting events and getting paid for it.  It was even more exciting when I got to cover the Bruins beat and a few Celtics games.
However, after about a year of experiencing the routine of a full-time sports writer, I came to the conclusion that something was missing. I was not feeling the sense of connectedness and excitement that I had felt when I was able to be part of a team. After a great deal of thought, I quit what I thought was my dream job and decided to go back to school to become a teacher. 
When I think about my path to “Plan C” it is clear that this was my destined path all along. First of all, I was raised by a teacher (my mom Nancy pictured below with 3 of her six grandkids).  My mom raised my brother and I as a single parent after the death of my father in my middle school years and some of my fondest memories were tagging along with her to her school and classroom.

In addition, my biggest male influences through my junior high and high school years were a few of my male teachers and coaches. I can honestly say that I was blessed to have so many caring adults that helped me far beyond my academic pursuits.  The truth of the matter is that school has always felt like home to me due to the nurturing environment created at the high school I attended. Ironically, many of these same teachers were big influences when I returned to my alma mater to work as an English teacher (and later an Assistant Principal).   
As I enter my 17th year year as an administrator, it is unbelievably satisfying to have a career that I love so deeply. It is a privilege to be able to work in a profession where you have the ability to support the development of young people! I can only imagine where I would be today if I hadn’t been in schools where so many educators felt the same way! 

School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program #SAVMP

I was thrilled when my friend George Couros came up with the idea to pair veteran school administrators with new school administrators for virtual mentoring during the the 2013-2014 school year. It is a great opportunity for all administrators (old and new) to learn together with a focus on clear standards that will help support both the growth of school leaders and the improvement of their schools. 

Please share this great opportunity with the school leaders you know! 

School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program #SAVMP

Looking to help develop administrators to lead innovative school environments that meet the needs of students today, we have decided to start the “School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program” (#SVAMP). This program is to pair a new administrator with one that has more experience. This is not meant to be the typical “mentor-mentee” relationship, but the hope is that through active sharing, each administrator will be help to learn from each other, and others can learn from all of the shared experiences.

Program Design
This program is meant to last for the 2013-2014 school year (typically August to June) although it is open to administrators from all over the world. Each person that is a “mentor” will be paired with three (maximum) “mentees” that they will be able to connect through virtual means (email, twitter, videochat, etc.) to help them develop their leadership. There will also be an online sessions (once a month) that will help to share ideas for learning and leading with guest speakers. All of these talks will be archived and shared if they do not fit into your regular schedule. This is more than likely to be done through the use of Google Hangout.
All of the standards that we will be focusing on will be based on the Alberta Principal Quality Standard. They are as follows:
1. Fostering Effective Relationships
2. Embodying Visionary Leadership
3. Leading a Learning Community
4. Providing Instructional Leadership
5. Developing and Facilitating Leadership
6. Managing School Operations and Resources
7. Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context

Although these “standards” were created within the province of Alberta, Canada, they are not unique to other areas of the world. The focus will be to continuously look at these standards and how they look in schools currently. The hope, through open group forums and mentoring, is to look at all facets of leadership that take place within schools.

This should NOT replace mentorship within your own organization, but is to give you an outsider perspective to leadership that you may not be receiving. It would be beneficial as a new leader to have mentorship within your own school/district.
Program Requirements
Each “mentee” will be required to keep an open blog to share their learning openly with the world, while also helping to create a digital portfolio of their work. Each “mentor” that takes part in the program should already have a blog to model what we are expecting from the people that they are mentoring. It will also be required that participants have a Twitter account that they will use to actively engage and share their learning with others in the program through the #SAVMP Twitter hashtag.
Since the program is free, the expectation to share through a blog and Twitter is crucial. Mentors should have a minimum of three years in administration. This is not limited to Principals, but we encourage Assistant Principals (Vice, Associate, etc.) to apply as well.
Application Process
To apply for this program, you will need to simply fill out the form below and indicate whether you want to be a “mentor” or “mentee”. Although there is a lot of interest to do both, you will have to choose one role.
Once applications are received, we will be looking to pair people with one another that are in the same continent. The hope is to get an outsider perspective on education and learn from a variety of people and viewpoints. We are hoping to accept all of those that apply, but it is crucial that we keep the “mentor-mentee” ratio no higher than 1:3.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Location will also be considered to try to pair up applicants to someone in a relatively close time zone. There are no set limits to the program for numbers, only to honour the 1:3 ratio.

Program Focus

To clarify, this is not focused on the development of leaders to use social media, but to help leaders openly learn and share with others so that we can all improve practice and do what is best for kids. This is also focused on helping to build relationships with a few people that you are able to bounce questions and ideas off of that you have known over time. It is imperative that we promote the use of social media to create strong relationships to enhance leadership.

If you have any questions specifically about the program, please do not hesitate to contact