Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At Twitter the TwitterSphere is all about 'Space'

Arriving at Twitter around 11:30am. 1355 Market Street, SF, at what was once a showcase facility for home furnishing and design.

I was invited to Twitter by Caroline Quick. Caroline provides the vision and the plans for the future expansion and development of space for Twitter world wide. When Caroline was hired (approximately 4 years ago) Twitter had 108, Twitter employs over 3000. With that expansion has come the need for space. More important, however, than just square footage is the atmosphere created within the additional space. This is where Caroline's influence is felt by all. 

I was fortunate because Caroline served as our host and tour guide providing me the opportunity learn how Twitter views  its space and environment. 

Caroline gives a whole new meaning to what we might refer to as the 'TwitterSphere.'

Why did I get to visit Twitter? I guess its Divine Providence and good old fashion luck. Lance and his wife Bielka, parents at the Madeleine, made this tour happen. They are neighbors to Caroline and speak highly of the Madeleine and our use of Twitter as a school. I am affectionately referred to by some in my school community as the 'Twitter-Pal,' the principal who tweets. Actually, many of us at the Madeleine tweet--lots of good stuff happening and everyone loves to hear a 'bird sing.'   

I would say that good fortune and the impact of social media offered me the opportunity to visit Twitter. 

The visit was more than just touring a building. I had the opportunity to learn a lot about 21st Century space. I knew, as I was entering into the Twitterer's 'nest,' I would be seeing and feeling first hand what 21st Century environments can be. My challenge and hope during the visit was to try to imagine how I could translate this reality of 21st Century space into a vision for the Madeleine that will become the reality for existing classrooms. 

Twitter's 21st Century environment showcased 5 key elements essential to their core values and mission. Every environment fosters 1) collaboration, 2) innovative thinking, 3) transparency, 4) initiative and 5) optimism. 

That's what I want for School of the Madeleine in Berkeley.
Twitter is all about its 'TwitterSphere' - all about its space.

But not just square footage--no, its about open space. Open Space that is convertible and flexible. Twitter is about open space that is comfortable while not being distracting or diminishing creative froms of interaction. The 'TwitterSphere' is open space that is playful and reflective. The open space not only allows for movement and conversation, but encourages creative collaboration. Twitter's open space is filled with glass and natural light-design elements that permeate its space giving one a sense of transparency and optimism. Twitter's open space is nurturing because it provides nourishment in the same way it provides tools for creativity: they are accessible when needed by the flock.

I left Twitter with a better idea of how a 21st Century Classroom might look and with a burning question.

Why can't classrooms resemble the work places that foster the very 21st Century Skills we are trying to instill in our students? 

My vision is that the classrooms at the Madeleine will, as a result of our 21st Century Classroom Project, reflect this 21st Century atmosphere . Together with our students, teachers and parents the Madeleine will transform our current 20th century classrooms into open environments of learning that will foster collaboration, innovative thinking, transparency, initiative and optimism for all of us.  

Thanks Caroline for the visit to Twitter and for sharing your expertise and vision. Your passion was inspiring and I hope to host you at the Madeleine very soon. Thanks also to Lance & Bielka for making this day a reality. Your commitment to the Madeleine and your support for my leadership means more to me than words can describe. I am humbled and grateful that you have chosen the Madeleine for your two daughters.

Parting note: I wouldn't be true to the spirit of Twitter if I didn't take a selfie while there. The painted portrait behind me is the famous selfie taken at the Oscars this past year. What better tribute to Twitter then to send a 'selfie' of me with the most popular 'selfie' of all time. The second selfie is Caroline, Lance and me at the Twitter Logo located in a meeting room with a 'living wall.' 

The living wall is configured of all potted plants pointed horizontal. Yes, this provided me with another great idea for our classrooms. 

If you ever get the chance to enter the "TwitterSphere" do it! You will find that a 140 characters just can't Tweet it justice.

Ken Willers, Principal

Reception Area

Your own coffee cup

One of the Conference rooms 
Conference Room 
Dining Room/Food Service

Dining/Meeting Area

Outdoor work space

RoofTop Green and Garden

Smaller Kitchen for Employees

Famous Selfie Portrait for people like me: Selfie w/Selfie

Lounge area for creative conversation

Caroline talks about the log cabins


Living Wall and Red Wood Twitter Logo

Saying Goodbye with a selfie

Thursday, May 22, 2014

‘Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess’ AKA 'The Humble Leader'

‘Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess’

“Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. 

Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

...So, God made a Teacher...

May 5 - 9, 2014

A special PRAYER for Teacher Appreciation Days…

This is a reading from the Book of Genesis, although this part of the Book of Genesis did not actually make it into the Bible…

When the children came before him, God looked down at their beautiful faces and said:  “I need someone to help their parents shape them.”  So God made a teacher!

God said:  “I need somebody to put in countless hours of planning and preparation outside of their workday, in the early mornings and late into the evenings, and then spend the day teaching these beautiful children to read, write, compute, work as a team, draw, play music, experiment, garden, play, grow in love, and believe in themselves!!!”  So God made a teacher!

 “I need somebody with a huge heart,” said God.  “Someone to bring a child into the classroom and show them love while educating them and teaching them they are worth the whole world.  Someone who takes each precious individual, and treats that student like his or her own child.  Someone who works with every child, no matter the learning ability, and shapes his education to fit his needs.  Someone who helps every part of that child grow, day in and day out, and then carefully passes her on the next grade, the next teacher.”  So, God made a teacher.

God then said, “I need someone who can fight for what he or she believes in.  Someone who can turn a hardened shoulder towards people and governments who don’t believe their work is good enough, someone who can fight for education of children instead of education of standardized tests.  Someone who can listen to the complaints that too much money is spent on education, and then smile even while spending their hard earned money on supplies and special things to ensure that every child has what they need to learn.”  So, God made a teacher!!

God had to have someone willing to give up some of their family time to planning and grading.  Someone who would give up their lunch to a child who had none or give up their lunch break to a child who needed extra attention…God said:  “I need someone who doesn’t need to be rich in money, but wants to be rich in love!!  I need someone who is willing to continue their education and who would even give up evenings and weekends and summers to further their education to show that they are life long learners, not only to set a good example for their children, but to serve them so that they can choose who and what they want to be in life.”  So God made a teacher!!

It had to be somebody who was kind and patient, and not easily deterred.  Someone willing to cultivate, then teach.  Someone willing to plan, grade, learn, and then teach some more!!!!!  Someone who is smart and curious and creative, firm and consistent, dedicated and loyal, funny and even silly at times, always loving and steadfast…So God made a teacher.  And God saw that the teacher was good, very very good!!