School Principals in Action: Getting Creative on Voxer

By Eric Ewald, Elementary School Principal

Adam Welcome: “Hey bro, are you on Voxer?!”

Me: “No…but I probably should be, huh?”

Adam Welcome: “My man, yes, like yesterday! Trust me! I’ll plug you in 🙂
Sign up ASAP and send me a msg, will totally open up your PLN! awelcome”

That was the Twitter conversation that Adam Welcome and I had this past summer.

I proceeded to download Voxer, create an account, and began enhancing my connections with principals and educators across the country. These connections, which generally started on Twitter, are extended on Voxer on a much more personal level.

As I drive my daily 30-minute commute to and from work, I get the chance to get caught-up on my Voxes. Voxer allows me to reflect on my practices as a principal. It gives me the energy and motivation to push myself to be better and do more each day. It excites me to go to work and make a difference each day, and it rejuvenates me on the way home after what may have been a more difficult day. After hearing other principals share first hand on Voxer the celebrations and successes that they are having in their schools, Voxer has convinced me that I can do better that I can do more…

Voxer has been great! I owe a huge thanks to Adam for introducing me to Voxer, and I owe a huge thanks to Voxer for the continued passion that it has provided me towards my profession. It has made a positive impact on my practice as a school principal.

As a result of the Principals in Action Voxer group, I’ve become more creative in my role as an elementary school principal. Here’s what’s come out of some of our conversations:

  • Birthday selfies – Justifiably, kids love celebrating their birthdays. In an effort to enhance and personalize the birthday celebrations for our students at school, I’m attempting to find them on their birthdays, and take ‘A Happy Birthday Selfie with Mr. Ewald’ that I share with Mom and/or Dad. The feedback that I have started to receive from these has been amazing.
  • Home visits – I’ve never done these before, now I have a couple on the horizon in an effort to improve the relationships that we have with some of the students that we struggle to connect with at school.
  • School hashtag – I’ve been on Twitter for several years now. Each year my Twitter presence has grown. I’ve always wanted to have a school hashtag. Now we have one! #StarryShines
  • School podcasts – I haven’t done these yet, either. But I want to do them. After listening to other principals talk about their experience with school podcasts on Voxer, I, too, want to conduct podcasts by our students that would allow them to share some highlights from within our own school from a student’s perspective.
  • Some blog posts – The Principals in Action hashtag and Voxer group started as a challenge for each principal to complete over the course of a week. One challenge had to do with going into classes and reading to students; I blogged about this – Everything Circles Back Around. Another challenge had to do with blogging about all of the things that a principal does during the course of a random/typical day; linked is my blog on this topic – A Typical Day.
  • Twitter challenge – Like I mentioned, my Twitter presence has grown bit by bit the past couple of year. I’d like to think that my presence on Twitter has encouraged others to use Twitter as a learning tool. After a Twitter challenge (a task or tasks intended to increase someone’s Twitter presence) was shared in our Principals in Action Voxer group, I simulated something similar in my own school in an attempt to get more staff using Twitter as a communication/learning tool. The initial results of this seem to be very positive.

I plan to continue to use Voxer as a way to discuss issues with those in a similar position, motivate myself as well as others, and to share and replicate ideas. However, in an effort to become more efficient, I plan on starting to use Voxer to provide teachers with feedback after visiting their classrooms.

Traditionally, educators and principals have operated in the isolation of their school and classroom. But Voxer brings educators together, on our individual terms and time.

voxer-blog-ewald
Eric Ewald is an elementary education major from the University of Iowa. He began his teaching career as a sixth grade teacher. Currently, he is in his fourth year as an elementary school principal. In 2015, he became the principal at Starry Elementary School in the Marion Independent School District (located in eastern Iowa). You can read more about Eric’s reflections on his blog at ericewald.blogspot.com; you can find him on Twitter at @ericewald_iowa and on Voxer as eewald83.

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