PLN Blogging Challenge

This challenge was passed on to me by Matt Degner @mwdegner, a Junior High Principal whom I converse with on #IAedchat and have had the opportunity to meet face-to-face on a couple of occasions in the past year.  It was also passed along by Barry Saide @barrykid1 who is an elementary teacher in New Jersey and ASCD Edge blogger.  I have answered the questions of both of these men below.  Enjoy.

Here are the Rules:
  1. Acknowledge the nomination blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated (you cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you).
11 Random Facts About Me:
  1. Eight years ago, I won a series of Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments and was given an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas to compete in a national tournament with the chance to win $50,000.  This event was aired on ESPN.  One of my friends signed me up for the initial competition without me knowing about it while I was watching the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.  I flew to Vegas with my wife, stayed at Mandalay Bay, and competed in this national tournament with a dozen of my friends by my side.  I did not fare well in the tournament, as I was eliminated in the first round by a man from New Jersey.  I was interviewed by ESPN on three different occasions; however, I did not make it onto their broadcast.  It was one of the craziest, funniest stories that I have to offer.
  2. I am fan of almost all sports; football and baseball being my favorites.  I love college football and the NFL.  The Bears are my favorite NFL team and the White Sox are my favorite MLB team.  The NCAA basketball tournament is by far my favorite sporting event of the year, particularly the first round.  I love completing brackets and the anticipation in the first round is always so exciting, especially when a 12-15 seed takes down a "big dog."  I have coached baseball and football throughout my entire educational career; however, last summer was my first year not coaching baseball.  I continue to coach football at Western Dubuque High School in addition to my duties as a building principal.
  3. Seven years ago, my wife and I took a trip to Boston and watched the Red Sox compete against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park.  Fenway is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. CC Sebathia pitched for the Indians and was defeated by the Red Sox while Casey Blake (Iowa native) hit a homerun for Cleveland.  During batting practice I caught a home run ball hit by Grady Sizemore with my bare hand, received an ovation from the crowd that was there, and was interviewed by a local newspaper about this.  I was amazed that this ball was completely white and did not have a mark on it.  
  4. I enjoy watching movies when I have the chance; my all-time favorites include: Beautiful Girls, Almost Famous, Bull Durham, The Groomsmen, Major League, The Town, The Natural, and Good Will Hunting.
  5. I believe I have seen every episode of Saved by the Bell at least two times each (I could be wrong here).  Definitely my favorite TV show from childhood, and in college, my best friend and I considered creating our own trivia board game after continually challenging each other's worthless knowledge of Zack, Kelly, Slater, Screech, Jessie, Lisa, and of course, Mr. Belding.  
  6. I am a fan of pretty much all foods.  I will eat anything with the exception of ranch, sour cream, mayonnaise (unless in potato salad).  My favorite foods are pastas and grilling meals in the summer.
  7. On our wedding day, my wife and I got our pictures taken before the ceremony at my parent's house in the country.  I drove us to the ceremony and it was a process getting my wife into the front seat of my jeep with her dress.  This made me forget that I set our boxes with wedding rings on the top of my vehicle.  Someone must have been looking out for me on that day because we were able to travel more than two miles at about 40 miles an hour when I came to the realization that the boxes were not inside the vehicle, but on the roof.  I am so lucky that they were still there on the roof where I left them; unbelievable.
  8. I love the University of Northern Iowa and all of the educational opportunities that they have provided to me.  I received my Bachelor's in Elementary Education, my Master's in Educational Leadership, and will be starting their Superintendency program in a week.  I'm very proud to be a Panther.
  9. I am very particular about the type of pen that I write with; in fact, I only write with blue Pilot G-2 07s, and have several at both of my offices.  I understand that I have a little bit of a problem and have owned it.
  10. In October I ran a half-marathon in Des Moines which was a pretty big accomplishment for me.  I am not a runner.  Three years ago I was not comfortable with my weight and let myself go far too long.  I pledged to get healthier by eating better and incorporating exercise into my daily routine.  I started running a little bit: 2-3 miles at a time (5 miles as a maximum).  I have been able to shed quite a few pounds over the past three years and feel pretty good on a daily basis which has been great.  In June, I decided that I would attempt a half marathon and followed a plan on the Run Keeper iPhone app for 16 weeks.  I was very pleased with my finishing time and was able to run the last 6.5 miles faster than the first 6.5.  The lesson I learned during this 16 weeks was to trust the process and the results will take care of themselves.  I wrote an earlier post in September about the "process."
  11. My favorite electronic device is the iPad with the iPhone being a close second.  Without these two tools I would be lost because I rely so heavily on them.    
My Answers to @mwdegner:
  1. My stress reliever is exercise.  I need to do this more often, as it allows me to feel good, think, and put things into perspective.
  2. The Twitter chat that I like best is #IAedchat, and I rarely miss this on Sunday evenings at 8:00 central.  Jimmy Casas @casas_jimmy, Matt Degner @mwdegner, and Aaron Becker @Aaron_Becker32 do such a great job facilitating the conversation, and their topics are always spot-on.  Another good one that I participate in is #ArkEdchat with @DaisyDyerDuerr and @sabrapro.
  3. The best conference that I have been to was NAESP last summer in Baltimore.  I had the opportunity to meet my educational hero, @toddwhitaker and was able to connect with @Joe_Mazza, @TonySinanis, Eric Sheniger @NMHS_Principal, and many others that are so very impressive.  
  4. The best experiences that I have had as an educator are when I can tell that a difference has been made in the life of someone else.  Whether it is a student, parent, community or staff member, we are here to make their lives a little bit better.
  5. The worst experiences have been when the system has failed a student.
  6. My favorite athletic teams: see random fact #2 above.
  7. I have never considered a career other than education; I truly have no idea what else I would do if I was not working in this field.  I truly feel I am where I need to be.
  8. One thing that really touched my heart was when a former football and baseball player asked me to accompany him to the Governor's Scholar Program in Des Moines as his favorite teacher.  I did not teach Tyson in the classroom, but I did have the opportunity to coach this fine young man in baseball and football for 4 years at Western Dubuque High School.  Kids like Tyson are why I pursued education early on.
  9. If it is one book that I recommend to others, it would have to be What Great Principals Do Differently by Todd Whitaker.  Absolutely practical and has had such a powerful impact on my work.  I am currently reading Switch by Dan and Chip Heath (just finished Decisive by these two guys over the weekend). 
  10. For the person that has not bought into social media: I would tell them that I have learned more in the last year on Twitter and other social media spaces than I have in all of my prior professional development opportunities combined.  Twitter has allowed me to connect with absolute superstars in the field of education.
  11. The Cubs will win the World Series in 2064; I will be 84 years old.
My Answers to @barrykid1:
  1. Yesterday
  2. Good food to eat anytime other than pizza or Chinese: cereal
  3. Quote: The greatest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every single day, the hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every single day.  Todd Whitaker
  4. My parents taught me how to work hard and deal with adverse situations.
  5. When I hear Halloween, I think of my two sons and the fun times we have in their costumes.
  6. I am motivated to make differences in the lives of others.
  7. The "Good Ole' Boy Network" is shady and extremely political.
  8. One thing I said that I wish I could take back: I once asked a staff member, "What were you thinking?" in a less than positive tone.  It was the wrong time for this and inappropriate.
  9. When driving next to an 18 wheeler truck, I think please don't swerve to my lane.
  10. Funniest thing I have heard a kid say: "Mr. Butler, your eyes are playing tricks on you." Long story, but a good one.
  11. A moment I would freeze in time would be my wedding day to appreciate all of the love and support that my wife and I have from those around us.
Bloggers:  
  1. @casas_jimmy (Jimmy Casas)
  2. @NHHS_Principal (Eric Sheninger)
  3. @TonySinanis (Tony Sinanis)
  4. @gcouros (George Courous)
  5. @barrykid1 (Barry Saide)
  6. @benjamingilpin (Ben Gilpin)
  7. @Joe_Mazza (Joe Mazza)
  8. @mwdegner (Matt Degner)
  9. @joykelly05 (Joy Kelly)
  10. @8amber8 (Amber Teamann)
  11. @SandraTrach (Sandra Trach)
My 11 Questions:
  1. If you could travel to another country to see a different educational system, where would you go?
  2. What is the most important "non-academic" skill that we can teach students?
  3. Who do you cheer for on Sundays?
  4. Do you have a bucket list?  If so, what item is the highest priority on that list?
  5. What motivates you to be better?
  6. What is your favorite book about teaching/leadership?  What are you currently reading?
  7. What educational app do you rely on most heavily?
  8. What has been your most memorable professional development opportunity?
  9. You have a year to focus on one key issue in education.  What is your key issue where you will direct your focus?
  10. You have to opportunity to eat whatever you would like for a meal, what will you have?
  11. What changes will we see in the next 10 years of education?

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