100,000 Silicon Valley Steps & Counting

I’ve been back on the east coast for 3 days, and I’m still sore from all the walking our #pennsv16 team did. After averaging just over 5,000 steps a day in the past month, visits with over 30 companies and schools across the Silicon Valley area netted me 113,000 steps (48 miles!) and has me in the top 10 of all my Fitbit community friends for the first time in about a year — we’ll see how long that lasts… which reminds me, if you’re a Fitbit user or have an Apple Watch or related device that can track steps, you should join the growing #fitbitEDU group aimed to motivate each other toward their 10k and other individual step goals here.

#pennsv16 fitbit stats for Joe Mazza. (Source: fitbit.com)

Needless to say, all of us met EXERCISE, the first of the Brain Rules — 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Medina, 2015).

Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.

Our brains were built for walking up to 12 miles a day! To improve thinking skills, get moving. Exercise gets blood flowing to our brains bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons left over. Exercise also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting. Aerobic exercise just twice a week cuts in half our risk of dementia.

The full list of Brain Rules in emoji form (for your Slack users) can be found below:

Pictured above: 12 Brain Rules via Slack Emojis (Source: #ID64, c64KID Instructional Design Course, 2016)

A final thought on the health of today’s educational leaders before moving on…

What if we mirrored the investment we make (publicly and privately) in our daily physical health approaches (exercise, sports, gym, walking, parking far from the mall, etc) with our mental health approaches (Adult ADHD, depression, vitamins, water intake, sleep, etc)?

Read more on the birth of #semicolonEDU, a growing mental health support network for today’s educators started in 2015 during the Project Semicolon initiative. Follow @semicolonEDU on Twitter to join the network.

What did the #pennsv16 “LOOK FOR” in Silicon Valley?

Aside from upping our own personal fitness routines, the ten of us went with a few study topics to hone in on from an ed leadership lens. Below are the LOOK-FORS shared across our group prior to arrival in San Francisco on 3/20/16:

I want to learn about networks internally and externally, and the research behind connected collaboration.
Our small rural district has a strong commitment to innovation and technology. Our hope is to continue to grow a comprehensive K-12 tech system, harnessing our schools, local resources, and quality of life to improve education and innovation in the area. Our very small rural school districts merged and with this we are presented with an opportunity to continue to develop our innovative and transformative educational systems.
I’d like to meet students at innovative schools to learn what’s working and not working.
Over the past couple years I have taken a strong interest in start up companies- and how they are using social media to build relationships with users and evolve their brand.
As an entrepreneurial non-profit director, I’m interested in edtech, network apps, teacher work apps — around instructional planning. I’m also interested in remote organizations and start-ups going from lean start up to scaling, and any business development strategies involved.
I’d like to gather more information about the use of instructional technology efficiently and effectively, as well as expanding educational technology use that include free or cost effective opportunities.
I’m interested in learning how other schools/teachers/leaders implement learning tools/technologies from a brain-based lens.
I am very interested in learning about the startup culture in these areas and their primary focus within making changes within education and how they partner with other schools. I feel that a large population of startups would like to work closer with schools and educators, however, they are not familiar with the market.
In my experiences taking student groups around the world, my focus as an educational leader has been to always dedicate myself to creating authentic experiences for students that capture the culture of the communities and organizations that are visited. With opportunity to create much more than a sightseeing trip, student travel can offer life changing experiences for students giving rich views and meaningful perspectives into the lives of others.
My focus is an opportunity to analyze, collaborate, design, and implement a new school model. It’s an opportunity to use design thinking with some of the brightest minds in education to reinvent school for all children across the country.
I am a sponge that wants to absorb everything. We are also implementing a 1-to-1 program at my school next year AND plan to open an Innovation Center in a few years. We are also looking for ways to foster entrepreneurship with our students.
I’ll be looking for brain-based learning examples, problem-based learning, instructional design, innovative professional development models to bring back to my school.
I’d like to explore creating cultures of learning, connecting with other MCDPEL students and alumni, and companies with an authentic interest in supporting personalized professional development.
I’m excited to spend a week in Silicon Valley studying innovation through a leadership lens, and explore future career fields for today’s learners.

Now we’re back in our collective “real world” educational settings talking about what we saw and experienced with our own students, teachers, admin colleagues and community members. Over the next couple weeks, our group will continue reflecting on our learning across almost a million collective #pennsv16 Fitbit steps. These daily posts will lead up to presentation back to our doctoral program scheduled for April 16, 2016. (Close to Philadelphia? You can RSVP to attend our first #pennsv16 presentation over a Network dinner here).

Read Leading With the Brain, from Day 1 of the trip here.

Missed the trip? We’ve archived the 1,500+ tweets (via Storify) below.

<div class=”storify”><iframe src=”//storify.com/MCiLAB/pennsv16-tweets/embed?border=false” width=”100%” height=”750" frameborder=”no” allowtransparency=”true”></iframe><script src=”//storify.com/MCiLAB/pennsv16-tweets.js?border=false”></script><noscript>[<a href=”//storify.com/MCiLAB/pennsv16-tweets” target=”_blank”>View the story “#pennsv16 Tweets” on Storify</a>]</noscript></div>

Dr. Joe Mazza currently serves on the faculty at The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He is an advisor to both the National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) in Washington, DC, and works nationally across the Penn Center for Ed Leadership (PCEL). Joe is an active supporter and spokesperson of #semicolonEDU, a growing group of educators and students working to remove all stigma from the words mental health.