Sharing Part 2 of a 3 part series of Podcast Interviews #suptchat #unlearn

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”

― Alvin Toffler

Link to Perspectives in Education Website/Archives

S01 Episode 6 Part 2: Mike Lubelfeld and Nick Poylak: Superintendents, #suptchat hosts, and authors.

Episode 6 Part 2: Superintendents, #suptchat hosts, and authors.

Our guests for our 3 part mini series of episode 6 are Mike Lubelfeld and Nick Polyak.

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109). He is the co-moderator of #suptchat – the superintendent educational chat on Twitter.

Nick Polyak, Ed.D. is the proud superintendent of the award-winning Leyden Community High School District 212. He is the co-moderator of #suptchat – the superintendent educational chat on Twitter.

Both are co-authors of a book called The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s School Today

In this episode we discuss:

  • The definition of an Unlearning Leader

  • Modeling – have to practice what you preach!

  • Ways to connect school to your community

  • College ready, career ready, and life ready

  • SUPT

    • Stop

    • Understand

    • Plan

    • Think

Please share and comment!  Would love to get feedback and suggestions.  If you are interested in sharing your story, please reach out to us!

Sharing Part 1 of a 3 part series of Podcast Interviews #suptchat #unlearn

S01 Episode 6 Part 1: Mike Lubelfeld and Nick Poylak: Superintendents, #suptchat hosts, and authors.

Episode 6 Part 1: Superintendents, #suptchat hosts, and ed authors.

Our guests for our 3 part mini series of episode 6 are Mike Lubelfeld and Nick Polyak.

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109). He is the co-moderator of #suptchat – the superintendent educational chat on Twitter.

Nick Polyak, Ed.D. is the proud superintendent of the award-winning Leyden Community High School District 212. He is the co-moderator of #suptchat – the superintendent educational chat on Twitter.

Both are co-authors of a book called The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s School Today

In this episode we discuss:

  • Social Media
  • Creation of #suptchat
  • Getting started with social media
  • Tips/tricks for those already utilizing social media

Please share and comment!  Would love to get feedback and suggestions.  If you are interested in sharing your story, please reach out to us!

Why Blog? 2017 the year of “WHY” #Engage109

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
– Marcus Aurelius


From time to time people ask why I strongly and frequently advocate for the leader’s use of social media so often. Others inquire as to why I share so much about my district and professional views publicly on Twitter, via this blog, and in other communication media. Still others ask how does this use of social media tools improve learning for students and staff.

For the first blog post of 2017 I decided to concentrate on the “why” – the why I blog; this year I plan to write about the why I lead, the why I advocate for all children, the why I do what I do and I believe what I do.

I believe this will be an amazing year!

To start with the “why” I blog, I review the Welcome Section of this blog:


Welcome to the blog for the superintendent of the Deerfield Public Schools.

Communication is an evolving process reflective of the needs of the community, and as such, this blog and the district’s methods of communication – pushing and pulling – speaking and listening – are likely going to change and evolve as a result of needs and actions of the district and the superintendent’s office. I welcome and encourage your comments and input!I am grateful to be a part of the educational system and the community! I am grateful to work with an outstanding group of educators, community members, parents, students, etc. I am grateful to learn and grow and support the learning and growth of others as the chief educational leader in the community!

Continuing on the subject of why I blog I consider other social media tools that support my growth as a leader. First I look to blogging and next I look to #suptchat, the international monthly Twitter chat I co-facilitate with Nick Polyak. From #suptchat I learn many leadership tips and ideas and I gain access to resources from a large PLN (personal learning network).

In addition, from other social media sources and through personal professional relationships, I continue to learn so much from contemporary leaders, like Chris Kennedy in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Joe Sanfelippo in Fall Creek, WI (#gocrickets), Jeff Zoul right here in Deerfield, and so many other leaders and educators featured in and through AASA, NASSP, NAESP, and many other professional communications.

In addition, the social media connections and relationships are enhanced and humanized through conferences and workshops and from books and literature. I find great value in reading currently published and recently published books from members of my PLN (Sanfelippo, Zoul, Gustafson, Creasman, Burgess, and so many more!)

One of the ways I learn evidence based ways to support leaders in my organization is through reflection, review, study, connection, and learning from others through various connection modes. One of the ways I share reflection is through blogging!

From they share a definition of what is a blog:

So What Is a Blog?

Let’s begin with some definitions. A bit dry, we realize, but this is a necessary evil. First we’ll define the word this whole site is based around – blog.

A blog is a frequently updated online personal journal or diary. It is a place to express yourself to the world. A place to share your thoughts and your passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be. For our purposes we’ll say that a blog is your own website that you are going to update on an ongoing basis. Blog is a short form for the word weblog and the two words are used interchangeably.

With this first 2017 blog post I’m also sharing my thoughts on what constitutes effective blogging from an article published this month in the January 2017 edition of the AASA Magazine.

Social Media
What Constitutes Effective Blogging?
By Michael Lubelfeld/School Administrator, January 2017

A superintendent plays many roles and wears many hats — chief educational officer, chief spokesperson and chief communicator to name a few essential and high-profile roles.

Social media as a communication medium has proven to be an effective tool for school leaders. In particular, blogging is an effective mode of communication, and something I have been doing since 2010 when I first became a superintendent in suburban Chicago.

Like other forms of social media, blogging allows for a blending or integration of professional and personal messaging. The district website and official e-mail systems are 100 percent work-related and represent the official statements and positions of the school district. A blog allows for the representation of the district while enabling the superintendent to be a person, a professional with human emotions and interests who can share using her or his own voice.

Posting Periodically
An effective superintendent blog is updated at least monthly. Blog posts should have links, photos and videos relating to the topic being discussed while showcasing learning and leading. Photos and videos showing the schools and communities tend to have a greater viewing impact than generic, nonrelated imagery.

The blog itself should be visually attractive and easy to locate and read with an ease for sharing comments. I follow several blogs because I find the communication timely, relevant and valuable, and I aim to improve my own craft as a blogger by learning from others. The blog should have compelling and well-written content that is fitting for the local audience as well as the profession. It should be a blend and balance of personal reflection and values while serving as a communication arm of the district.

Since the start of the school year, I’ve used my blog to comment critically on the failure of our state to adequately finance public schooling and to reach back to my 8th-grade teaching days to share a homemade vehicle for improving teacher-parent communication in the pre-electronic mail era.

I reflected in another recent post on a life-changing experience participating in a Lifetouch Memory Mission to the Dominican Republic. Several of my narratives attracted comments of followers.

Two superintendent blogs I follow and recommend are the Culture of Yes (https://­ by Chris Kennedy, superintendent in West Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Superintendent’s Corner ( by Renee Foose, superintendent of the Howard County, Md., schools.

In the Culture of Yes, the reader will find timely and appealing posts relating to education, leadership and highlights of the West Vancouver district. I enjoy the 500- to 1,000-word posts that are easy to read, force me to think and allow me to apply concepts to my own practices as a leader. Foose’s blog is visually unique in that the posts appear as
blocks on a page with images. This distinctive look allows the reader to consider the intended message before reading the posts. Foose generally writes shorter posts than Kennedy and hers typically offer photos or other media capturing students and community.

A Public Journal
I blog out of a desire to share, from a balcony perspective when appropriate, and from the “dance floor” when apropos for describing what is happening in the 3,000-student system I lead. I believe it is useful for the superintendent to share publicly his or her in-depth educational philosophies. Reflection is a valuable skill for all, and blogging serves as a public journal for public reflection.

My social media use enables me to share deeper connections. Because social media drops barriers and boundaries, I am able to learn and grow and communicate with leaders all over the world. In addition, the stories of my schools are shared widely thanks to the ease with which one can connect using social media. My blog shows how professional learning of the superintendent relates to best practices in school leadership, instruction and innovation. The blog is another tool for communication in the modern school leader’s bag of tricks.

Michael Lubelfeld is superintendent of Deerfield Public Schools in Deerfield, Ill. E-mail: Twitter: @mikelubelfeld. He blogs at


Social Media and the Connected Superintendent

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”
– John Sculley, Business Executive

I originally published this for Discovery Education’s Educator Community Blog:

Leadership, growth, progress, relationships and success are built upon a foundation of Trust and clear Communication

Times have changed. Ten years ago, in 2005, superintendents used the U.S. Postal Service to support communication and leadership. They used paper memos and inter-office envelopes and even voicemail. Communication today is instant and immediate. Today’s superintendent is connected 24/7 and is able to communicate with blogs, audio, video, text messaging, e-mail, and any number of social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Remind, Snapchat, etc. The past ten years have shown significant changes in terms of consumption of information and “fingertip” access. Yes, times have changed. Communication has changed, but the importance of communication in support of leadership and innovation remains the same. Today’s superintendent knows how to leverage the power of technology to harness effective and impactful communication. Are you a superintendent of today, or yesterday?

During in-services and meetings I have shared videos on YouTube in the “Did You Know” series where they show statistics about the number of emails, members of Facebook, technology impacts of the modern world, etc. The messages from these videos also support and explain and define this generation’s ubiquitous relationship with technology. As I write in 2015 it is difficult to imagine that it has only been five years since people first began using iPads. Now it is impossible to go anywhere and not see people using iPads. How has our world changed so much that a device no one knew about six years ago, introduced five years ago, is now in the hands of more than 200 million people?

The iPad is a perfect representation of our culture’s demand for constant connectivity and yet despite these profound and deeply rooted changes in society, in some school systems the top leadership still does not understand or value current methods of communication. Their relative ignorance about social connectivity can become quite detrimental to a school system in search of change, innovation, and leadership. Students today will be competing for jobs that do not yet exist. Students today will be connecting in ways that generations of senior leadership do not yet understand. It is incumbent upon senior level leadership to connect, to open up, to model, to essentially lead in a culture of connected communication.

The Connected Educator

The “connected educator” is a hot topic today. These are the educators and educational leaders who are learning and growing through multiple digital learning networks. These personal and professional learning networks allow people at various levels to share links, blogs, journals, research, tips, tricks, etc. These networks allow for virtual relationships to develop between and among professionals at many levels. These networks are the wave of the present and future — not the past. These networks are revolutionizing professional development and conferences. Now terms like “un conference” or “ed camp” are becoming the norm. Now “experts” — meaning professionals at every level — are facilitating sessions and sharing creativity.

Here is what connected educators doing that others are not:

  • Organizing the entire community around specific and focused goal areas.
  • Building relationships online and in person.
  • Seeking feedback, sharing feedback and incorporating feedback into actions.
  • Staying focused on the big picture, medium picture, and details.
  • Reaching beyond the “walls” of the District and community to learn, grow, and share.
  • Responding to inquiries (press, parent, student, union) in timely and respectful manner.
  • Using technology as an accelerator for teaching, learning, and leading.
  • Measuring culture and deliberately working to improve organizational culture.
  • Keeping students, staff, and community at the forefront of all decision-making.

Sharing and Connecting – Twitter as a Tool for Growing Capacity

 The District’s journey with technology had begun in earnest in 2005 but the managed IT services were outsourced 100% and most of the advice about filtering and site blocking was coming from non educators. As a result, the District was not allowing teachers to harness the power of technology as an accelerator for connecting until my team and I came on board. One of my first executive actions was the unblocking of Twitter and the encouragement to use it and other social media channels for professional growth and increased teaching capacity.

Twitter is perhaps the most powerful and meaningful social communication tool in the market today. It provides networking, learning and growth and supports the value of communication, collaboration, and networking. This free tool connects leaders and learners instantly with text, imagery, and video. Best of all, Twitter chats offer free professional learning in a venue where status and title are of little importance compared to the value of a great idea.

On a personal level, social media tools have allowed me to solve a real challenge and opportunity in the school district where I serve. Our teachers are provided with a limited amount of planning time coupled with some professional collaboration time, but most of that time ends up being used as adult focused learning time. Discussion about teaching and learning and planning for teaching and learning take place in earnest but tangible examples of what learning looks like and what the results of innovation looks like were not taking place in those meetings. Then came Twitter. Opened and un-blocked on July 1, 2013 (the day I started), Twitter was used to solve this problem of disconnection. Through the use of our District hashtag #Engage109, teachers are now able to show with pictures, videos, links, text, what it is that learning looks like and what innovation means in real life and in real time. Social media has allowed for “wall dropping” – the walls between us no longer inhibit connections! Social media is taking connectivity to levels never before imagined.

Twitter allows for cross-country collaboration as well. For example, a superintendent colleague of mine in Pennsylvania sent me a Tweet and asked if I knew of a 1st grade teacher willing to connect with a 1st grade teacher in his district. So I sent out a Tweet using #Engage109 and, lo and behold, we found a match! It is amazing that, leadershipimagethrough Twitter, superintendents in different states are able to connect educators in ways never before possible. Through actions and deliberate methods, we are creating a culture of connectivity! Whether it is through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Voxer, blogging, Remind, email, video messaging, or text messaging, communication best practices demand our attention as leaders so that we can tell our stories, engage our communities, inspire our students and staff, and empower each other to learn and grow each day.


Reflections and Suggestions

These past few years have been explosive in terms of instructional, educational, and operational advances in technology tools. Here are some ideas and suggestions to get started using social media to communicate!

Stop and reflect on the central ideas of this post and think about how you will implement one or more of the suggestions. Ask yourself:

  • Are you using any technology to connect?
  • Have you experimented with Twitter?
  • Do you write an article in your local newspaper?

Understand how your story and your experiences shape the lens with which you view the world and your leadership. Communication is best when it starts with listening. Listen to understand and you’ll connect powerfully. Understand how technology is about people not devices. Understand that connecting as an educator is all about the connecting.

Plan to use technology to connect.

Commit to using Twitter or to writing a blog or to writing an article in the local newspaper. Plan to connect and you will. Deliberately plan to listen without distractions.

Think of three take-aways from this blog post you will present at your next leadership team meeting, write them down – have you acted on them yet?

Chat. Pick an edchat, like #suptchat or a state edchat and participate for an hour — if you do this regularly, make it a point to respond to questions. If you have not yet done this, now is the time to experience a digital form of professional development.

Suptchat Image

Leveraging Strategy to impact learning and growth from 5 Levers of Change (ASCD 2014)

“A group of teachers may use a new strategy and express concerns that the approach is ineffective because after initial attempts, students didn’t learn as well as when the previous strategy was used. However, when developing proficiency in a new skill or strategy, even experts are prone to errors (Ericsson et al., 1993).”
Tony Frontier, Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School

A leader who I have had the privilege of interacting with in person is Dr. Anthony Frontier. Tony is a leader, a teacher, an author, and an inspiration! One of books he co-authored (with another superstar in education Dr. Jim frontierbookRickabaugh) is called Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School (January 2014 – ASCD). In this blog post I share some information that Tony shared with a leadership institute in which I was a part in an effort to highlight some thoughts and plans and priorities regarding DPS109 plans vis a vis the 5 levers. The specific lever in which we are directly focused is “strategy”.

From Frontier/Rickabaugh: (the five levers are structure, sample, standard, strategy and self.


The practices teachers use to help students deepen their understanding of content and improve student’s ability to use important skills.

·    Instructional strategies for whole class instruction

·    Instructional strategies for individualized instruction

·    Efforts to empower students as agents in curriculum, instruction, and assessment

·   How will we teach?

·   How will we know they’ve learned?

·   How will we build on student strengths?

·   How will we provide appropriate challenge for learners?

·   How will we provide appropriate support for learners?

The goal of meaningful change that transforms is referred to as transformational change, or second order change:

Transformational Change
Planning questions that challenge the underlying assumptions about the relationship among school structure, student & adult beliefs about learning that yields a more effective learning experience for students.

This is in contrast to surface change or transactional change

Transactional Change

Planning questions that seek changes in current practices, but do not change underlying assumptions about teaching and learning; typically require different logistical approaches, but do not require new or different ways of thinking about leveraging student learning.

Our leadership challenge is to move our system and the people in our system to TRANSFORMATIONAL changes in support of student growth and learning. Some questions Frontier/Rickabaugh suggest in an effort to reach more significant levels of change in the area or lever of strategy are:

  • What strategies can educators use to best leverage student learning?
  • What strategies can students utilize to best leverage their own learning?

The authors suggest the following strategies to leverage “strategy” as a “lever” of change:

Leveraging Strategies

Five Levers to Improve Learning, Tony Frontier & Jim Rickabaugh 2014 ASCD

Do less of… Do more of…
Assuming that because kids were told something, they understand. Utilize strategies that allow students to construct meaning around important content and build fluency around important skills.
Treating students as though they are blank slates. Utilize strategies that honor the fact that new knowledge is constructed on existing knowledge.
Assuming that all kids are as interested in, and as motivated to learn, the content and skills that you teach. Strive to see learning from the perspective of each student; what is likely to be engaging? What is likely to be relevant?
Using rubrics as a tool to justify grades. Use rubrics as an instructional tool to help students learn how to describe, understand, and assess quality work.
Rigid application of models or checklists that ignore the complexities of both the art and science of teaching. Strive for superintendents, principals, and teachers to understand the complexity and opportunity presented by comprehensive instructional frameworks as a starting point for addressing each student’s learning needs.
Assume that all instructional strategies are equally effective in improving student learning. Acknowledge that different instructional strategies can substantially increase student achievement when deployed effectively and in the right context.
Utilize the same few instructional strategies Utilize a repertoire of instructional strategies that are specifically aligned to the intended outcomes for student learning.
Utilizing collaborative time with teams of teachers to talk about structure and sample. Utilize collaborative time to talk about intentional use of standards and share instructional strategies.

As we lead on and continue to Engage, Inspire, Empower all students and staff and our community, we seek guidance from experts and leaders in change management like Frontier and Rickabaugh and we use communication tools like blogs, meetings, workshops, to reinforce our messages in our continual quest for excellence!