10 Reasons I haven’t blogged in 475 days… and why all of these excuses are true, yet terrible.

The last time I posted on this blog was 475 days ago (August 29, 2014). Why did I stop? Why haven’t I kept going? I have no idea, but in order for me to move forward, I need to list them, own them, and move on. Here are 10 reasons I came up with.


1. I’ve been posting once a week on The ‘Stang (our school’s blog), so I don’t need to post on my blog.

Each Friday I email our faculty and staff, and while it is true that my Friday Thoughts are posted to the school’s blog each week, it’s certainly not a valid reason for me to not post on my personal blog. In fact, I should use the same discipline and dedication (I haven’t missed a week yet!) to post on my blog.


2. I am no longer teaching in the classroom.

As a classroom teacher, I experimented often with educational technology. I read about it, researched constantly and looked for ways to improve how I taught. As a principal, I haven’t stopped learning and looking for ways to improve and that should be a reason for me to have kept writing and sharing ideas.


3. I’m new at being a principal and I don’t know how much I have to offer/share.

This is a bad excuse. If nothing else, I certainly have a lot of “not-to-do” ideas to share. I doubt I’ll ever have this principal gig figured out, so why should I wait until then to start writing? In fact, wouldn’t it make more sense for me to write to share ideas and get feedback from people much smarter?


4. Life got busy.

While this is true, how terrible of an excuse is this?! Of course life got busy. I’ve never met anyone whose life got less busy. Using this excuse is evidence of my lack of discipline and commitment.


5. I ran out of things to write about.

Including faculty, staff, and students, I interact with over 500 people every day– so there’s always something I could write about. Our teachers and students do amazing things every single day, so content should never be an issue. I still read like crazy, I still listen to podcasts daily, and I still learn something new every day. There’s always content.

6. I wonder if anyone even reads what I write.

It’s evident that someone will read my blog because you’re reading it. So that excuse is dead in the water.


7. I was going to write later.

Ah, the good ol’ procrastination excuse– later. I’ve been using this one since I can remember. The thing with later is that it’s open-ended. When does later happen? I started writing my Friday Thoughts email in November of 2013. Every Friday since then (well, every Friday during the school year), I’ve written a post and published it. It’s my own personal goal to not miss a week, and I’ve hit that goal every single time. My goal for those posts isn’t to write them later– it’s to write and share them each Friday. (And to be honest, I have no idea how many of our faculty or staff or blog visitors even read the posts which goes back to excuse #6.


8. I worry that if I write about an experience from school, I might offend someone or share more information than I should.

If this were the case, no one would ever blog anywhere about anything. This is a weak excuse I’ve made up to justify not writing. It’s time I call it what it is.


9. WordPress wouldn’t update.

Nope, this excuse won’t work either. My issues aren’t with WordPress or with my Mac or even with Evernote. I have all the resources necessary to write– I’ve simply chosen not to.


10. I couldn’t come up with the perfect post to help me “get back in the game.”

This actually may be my best and worst excuse. Even as write now, there’s a sense of embarrassment of the reaction when this shows up in a subscriber’s inbox. I picture the thoughts now.

Whoa, what’s this? An email from Jordan Collier? Who is that? I don’t remember signing up for that blog. Oh wait, I kind of remember now. Wow, that like 2 years ago. I wonder why something is just now showing up…

As if the “perfect post” will fix that. Nope. This isn’t the perfect post and I don’t even know what “get back in the game” really means. I just know I’m posting something after 475 days off. And I’m glad I didn’t wait until day 476.

Those are my excuses. If you’re in the same boat I’ve been in, what are some of your excuses? Feel free to add those to the comments below.

Six Ways to Be a Lifelong Learner


I cringe when I hear an adults joke about not having read a book since high school. I especially cringe if the person who says that has any regular interaction with young people. It’s not so much the lack of reading that bothers me most; it’s more the pride that often accompanies the comment.

Parents, educators, youth ministers, and anyone else who works with kids should be the very model of what it means to be a lifelong learner. We should set the standard for both personal and professional growth and those around us— especially young people— should want to follow our example.

But sometimes we get busy or complacent or apathetic. We allow life to happen to us, and before we know it, we find ourselves in a rut, not growing.

To help anyone who feels stagnate or, as Alain de Botton puts it in the quote above, “not embarrassed of who they were a year ago,” here are six suggestions for personal improvement.

  • Read daily. There’s a difference in loving to read and loving to have read. Regular reading is a discipline and for many, it does not come naturally. However, loving to have read provides a feeling of personal accomplishment. I once heard Tim Sanders say that the average American businessman reads .7 professional books every five years. However, Dave Ramsey likes to say that the average millionaire reads one profession-related nonfiction book every month. If you want to be successful, then do what successful people do. Make it a habit to read daily, and like any discipline, it will become easier.
  • Seek out experts. Attend conferences and develop relationships through social media or even email. You’d be amazed how far an offer to buy lunch for someone you consider to be an expert will take you. I had that experience this past spring when I emailed Eric Sheninger, author of Digital Leadership, and asked him if he’d like to get lunch while he was in Little Rock keynoting a conference. We were able to meet the day prior to the conference, and I learned so much and developed a friendship simply by sending an email and extending an invitation.
  • Make connections. Just because something is labeled for one audience does not mean another audience can’t adapt the same principles to a different setting. Being an educator and being an entrepreneur have many similarities, so books on leadership and business are great resources to consider and their ideas have easy carry-over to the classroom.
  • Turn off the TV. According to this Neilson report, the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. Don’t do that. If you feel you have to watch something, substitute TV shows with TED videos or YouTube videos of experts in your field.
  • Find the time. In his book Show Your Work!author/artist Austin Kleon says that when he is asked how he finds the time to get so much done, he responds by saying, “I look for it.” If you want to grow, find the time. Schedule it. Make it a priority. Turn off the TV. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts instead of listening to music. You’ll find the time you need if you look for it.
  • Invest in yourself. Career expert Dan Miller suggests budgeting 3% of your annual income for purchasing books and attending conferences. Conference registration expenses can be expensive, but budgeting a set amount each month will allow for bigger expenses.

Lifelong learning is a lifelong adventure— enjoy the ride. Remember to share your experiences with those around you— especially the young people who see you as a role model. And if you haven’t read a book since high school, let’s work on that.

If someone told you he or she hasn’t read a book since high school, what book would you suggest that person begin with? Leave your recommendation in the comments below.

A Reflection on my First Day of Observation Meetings

In my last post, I described how I plan to use mini-observations and scheduled observation meetings this year as I learn to be an instructional leader. Today was my first day of observation meetings… and I loved it!

As I was talking to my five-year-old son tonight, he commented that he would be scared if he had to visit his principal, and he wondered if the teachers at my school were scared if they had to visit me. That’s a really weird thought for me. I hope everyone at my school feels comfortable visiting with me, but my son may be right. I wish that weren’t the case.

  • I’m hoping regular meetings will ease those fears.
  • I’m hoping I develop strong relationships that will ease any fears.
  • I’m hoping that everyone in our building sees my goal– to be the best we can be every day.

So today we began the meeting process, and I met with five teachers for 30+ minutes each. (Five conferences in one day to discuss goals, growth, and teaching! I can’t remember having five of those conversations with a principal during my first 10 years of teaching!) In my opinion, the meetings couldn’t have gone better. Our meetings followed this structure:

  • Teachers shared positive things from the year so far.
  • Teachers shared any concerns or needs they have.
  • We discussed the mini-observation process and showed my observation documentation system and how it works.
  • We discussed the observation notes I’ve already gathered through mini-observations.
  • We reviewed the three school-wide instructional goals for the year (writing effective objectives, student engagement, and appropriate and effective student technology use).
  • We identified 3-5 individual PD goals I can help each teacher reach. Essentially, these are some of the key things I’ll look for during a mini-observation in addition to the school-wide goals.
  • Finally, we went over the teacher evaluation rubric. Teachers assessed themselves with the rubric prior to coming to the meeting. We will re-evaluate in December and in May.

This won’t be a typical observation meeting, but it was a great first one. I feel like we got a lot accomplished and we’re heading in the right direction. In our second observation meeting, we’ll be able to have deeper discussions about effective lesson planning and analyzing assessments.

I have seven observation meetings scheduled for Thursday. I can’t wait!

But I will admit that I was pretty tired by the end of the day; however, this is the work.