Random Thoughts

The Next Chapter

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Earlier this week I handed in my resignation letter to my Head of School, Dr. Gerrtiz. It’s funny the two responses I’ve been getting.

Those who know me well and understand the international teaching world knew this was probably coming soon. I mean I’ve been here for four years…in Jeff’s world that is an eternity. In fact these four years are the longest I’ve held a job at the same institution ever….as in….ever in my life.

I want to get lost by Xabier.M


Those who don’t know me very well or the way international teaching works are wondering why I would resign from a job that I’m perfectly happy at during a time when educators are being let go left and right in the States. I have to say that’s a good question….a really good question.

The answer is I’m ready for something new….something different…..as I wrote about four years ago after resigning from Shanghai American School and eventually ending up at ISB.

But this time I think my something different won’t includie working full time in a school. Not ruling out any options at this point but there are so many things I want to do that don’t include working full time in a school. There are so many teachers, so many students around the world that need support in the changes that are happening in education because of technology that I’m finding my passion leading me in that direction more and more.

The COETAIL program that was started at ISB and has now spread through the Asia region continues to grow. Currently there are about 125 educators enrolled in the program in 5 different cohorts. With e-mails coming in almost daily now of people asking how they can join, I want to be able to support these teachers and their students. If you take the rough estimate class size of 20 (class sizes are typically smaller at International Schools) then we’re effecting the education of some 2,500 students. That excites me and I want to dedicate more time to the program and to the teachers in it.

Google Apps in schools continues to take off as well around the world. I believe at this moment in time it’s the best set of tools out there for educational institutions and organizations as a whole. I want to help them learn the full potential of these collaborative tools.

There are all the workshops and presentations I’ve been giving over the past couple of years that have fueled my passion and my thoughts. I simply enjoy learning with others.

I’ve been doing all of this while also working full time at ISB. Living a crazy life that has left little time for family and friends. I’m out of balance at the moment working harder than I’m playing….and that’s not good.

There is also all the stuff I haven’t been able to do that I really would like the time to work on.

I want to start podcasting again….I miss the conversations.

I want to write more. Reach needs updating and there’s two other books in my brain that need to find their way out in some form or another.

I want to spend more time with you….the readers of this blog and my network at large. The last two years my contributions to the greater educational conversation aren’t what they should be and I need to give more back to the network that has given to me so freely and openly.

In the end….I have no idea where I’ll end up, what I’ll be doing. Which is both completely scary and completely exciting.

I do know one thing for certain though. No matter what happens, what’s next for me in life, I know my social-network will play a large part in defining that for me. That’s how I ended up here at ISB (Thank you Dennis, Kim and Justin) in the first place.

So I turn myself over to you social-network. The human connections that make this world the amazing place it is in helping me define what’s next for me.

More to come as the next chapter unfolds.

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Jeff,

    I know the feeling only to well. Sometimes leaving when you are top of a job is a lot better than having to make a quick getaway. My only concern would be financing or I’d join you!

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks John,

      Oh financing is a concern…..but I’ve never made any decision based on money. If that was the case I’d never of left Saudi Arabia. The way I see it the worse thing that can happen is I end up on a buddies couch for awhile. As long as my wife’s OK with that (and the crazy part is she is) I figure I’ve got nothing to loose.

  2. Jeff Concordia may have a tech coordinator opening if you want to come back to Shanghai!

    Good luck in wherever you end up though. You are good at charting a course of your own.

    Have you thought of becoming a full time Learning 2.012 coordinator for next year’s event? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Michael,

      Full time Learning 2.012 coordinator….hhhmmm…..nope…..been there done that. I like my new role as advisor without the stress. ๐Ÿ™‚ You guys did a fantastic job of pulling it off this year. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the experiences people had. Honored to be a part of it.

      As for Shanghai….we love that city….but that filter is heck of an innovative killer. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • As for Shanghaiโ€ฆ.we love that cityโ€ฆ.but that filter is heck of an innovative killer.

        As for CHINA … you’re right, after two years in GZ I’m feeling stiffled in the creative juice area.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Good idea and one that is on the table at this point.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Buddy,

      You’re a big reason why I came to ISB in the first place and I’ll never forget that or how nice you were to take the Dean of Students job so I could slide into your position in the high school. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Gahhhhh…awful news, and I agree with Brian, ISB can’t lose BOTH of you! Please stay in Bangkok cos I really want your beautiful wife to stay in ISB ๐Ÿ™

    But as I told her today, I always wish both of you well. All the best wherever you decide to lay your hat.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Lilian!

      That beautiful wife of mine is so supportive that really I’m not worthy.

  4. Another step forward… Although we don’t stay in as close of contact as we should anymore, I follow your steps pretty closely and I know you as a man who is willing to step out on the edge to follow your dreams. And that is the best place that you can be in life.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Clarence,

      I do miss our late night Skype sessions of just catching up and chatting for hours. And our paths haven’t seems to cross as much as they use to. We’ll have to fix that.

      Thanks for all the support through the years, whether it be via blog posts, chats, or a drink you’ve been a part of this journey from the very beginning.

  5. Terry kaminski Reply

    I hope the next chapter in your life involves moving back to the US so that teachers in North America can benefit from your knowledge and skills. We need people like you to help with the transformation of education as we know it today.

    Good luck!

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Terry,

      We’re not sure where we’ll end up at yet. But the US is always an option….but then so is the rest of the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Gosh, it has been four years already?! Seems like you just moved! I was following you long before the move and I will certainly continue to read your thoughts wherever the next move takes you. I have always appreciated your ideas about the broad theories of education and technology, while still tempered with the realities of being in the classroom day in and day out.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Rich,

      It’s always good to hear from long time readers of The Stick. One of my biggest worries is what I’ll write about now as most of my writing has to do with interacting with students and teachers on a daily basis. We’ll see how that changes if my future is on longer in that role.

      Appreciate the support!

  7. Good luck on your new adventure. I just met you briefly, but immediately saw the passion you have for changing the education system and the way we reach students with technology. You’ll be successful at whatever you do because you’re true to yourself and your passions.


    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thans Megan,

      It means a lot to me when people I have just met use the word “passion” I love what I do, I believe in my message, and I believe in kids. Hopefully that’s enough to take me where I want to go…where ever that is.

  8. Congratulations Jeff! There is no doubt in my mind that you will continue to teach us all and move on to do amazing things and write great books that I look forward to reading. Perhaps being motivational speaker on collaboration and Web 2.0 in such school districts as say TRSD in New Hampshire to start an amazing technology fun filled year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Sherry,

      It was great to Skype with you the other day. Keep up the good fight.

  9. Congrats Jeff. With gigs and freelancing predicted as the mainstay jobs of this new century (Godin), your decision feels very contemporary. Best of luck.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Christina,

      We’ll see if I’ve made the right choice. I hope Godin’s right. I did follow his advice when publishing my book in giving it away…and haven’t regretted it one bit. Let’s hope he’s right on this too.

  10. I often wondered how you managed to do all you do with a full time job. (Thank you for sharing your human side!) Revisiting your priorities is so healthy.

    I’m certain your ISB community will miss you but it’s only fair (for the rest of us) that you are aiming to reach a larger audience.

    Good luck with your new adventure.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Josee.

      It’s funny when I turned in my resignation letter my Head of School said “I hate to see you go, but I kept you two more years then I thought I would.” and I stayed two more years than I thought I would. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. How fantastic Jeff, congratulations! I think that you do and will continue to do a great job for us educators and in turn, students. Best of luck and keep us posted about possible Google Educators courses down in our part of the world. I’m a convinced google girl.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply


      I’ll keep you posted on anything that might develop in this part of the world.

  12. Jeff,

    Although I have only known you personally for a short time, having sit down with you in Shanghai, I knew right away that you were a leader. The impact you will have on education, educators, and ultimately our kids, will be huge and positive.

    I have no idea what you will be doing, but I know whatever it is, it will make schools better. You are a leader.

    Congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks George!

      We’ll see what happens and where I’m suppose to end up next. I really appreciate your vote of confidence. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Congrats…I enjoy and benefit from everything you’ve shared with us here, so, selfishly, I’m looking forward to your new role where you can spend more time doing just that!

  14. Brent Fullerton Reply

    As Satchel Page put it: I ain’t ever had a job, I just always played baseball.

    Exciting times indeed, Jeff. Way to go! Love it, love it. I love it when people go for it.

    You have made a huge impact in my teaching career. The EARCOS COETAIL program is awesome. I love the blogging, the learning, sharing and most of all my students are reaping the many benefits. They love coming to my class. Their writing is improving and their wikis are becoming more sophisticated.

    As for jobs, I have three thoughts:

    1) I am need of an extra rock climbing guide for my small, moonlight business Adventure Recreation Club (www.adventurerecreationclub.wikispaces). It doesn’t pay that much but gosh climbing is fun.

    2) Consultant extraordinare for ISS–travel and support all ISS owned and managed schools in getting them Web 2.0ified. Let’s talk.

    3) Conduct seminars so folks can complete the SUNY Masters in Tech with you at the helm.

  15. I found you through a technology link, and then discovered you are at ISB (or getting ready to leave ISB), a school I was just looking into. I’d love to be able to send you an e-mail with a couple questions.

  16. Matt Grieve Reply

    Hi Jeff,

    I was glad to hear what you had to say about ‘a time for a change’. This year I’m planning to leave my school in Vietnam. Not because I don’t like the school, itโ€™s just time for a change.

    I don’t know what will happen at the job fairs but I am excited about the possibilities that are ahead. Fear of the unknown is a great motivator.

    Thanks for helping me focus on where I should be going with Technology!


  17. Congratulations Jeff!

    Mark and I knew it was only a matter of time…
    We’re very excited for you both, and look forward to watching your awesomeness continue to grow! Yay!

  18. Iโ€™m glad youโ€™re doing this Mr. Utecht you are a very smart man you have many great ideas such as you posting the six trends for the next twenty years I will keep a look out for all six of those things one I hope happens is accessing because there are very few good free sites to access movies and music. I appreciate you helping kids like myself I also hope you stick with the thing you love doing and helping people. You have taught my Tech Ed teacher Mrs. Hegstrom things and she teaches me I loved the post on Google docs.

  19. Ann Marie Adamkowski Reply


    Congratulations – I know you will keep doing amazing things! ISB, I am sure, will obviously miss your incredible talents!

  20. matthew andraktos Reply

    Mr. Utecht I think it is nice how you are giving up your job to fulfill your dreams of writing, podcasting, which you said you missed a lot, but why would you give up a job that you loved for something new? The ISB sounds like a lot of fun, but wouldnโ€™t being around students be more fun. It seems like a lot of people like it too use ISB, 2,500 students, Wow! So which job do you think would be a better fit for you, the ISB, or Shanghai? After reading this it does sound like a crazy life like you said. So you must really like social networking with your readers, and posting blogs, I canโ€™t wait until I get to start posting my own blogs for you to read. Its seems like a lot of fun being you, I hope it all goes and ends well for you. Hope you have a fun and crazy life, with your readers and friends and family, Bye.

  21. Steve Jobs and the 7 Rules of Success … posted just for you … especially #1, 3 and 7.

    1. Do what you love.

    2. Put a dent in the universe.

    3. Make connections.

    4. Say no to 1,000 things.

    5. Create insanely different experiences.

    6. Master the message.

    7. Sell dreams, not products.

  22. Gwen Martin Reply

    I shall keep an ear out to hear where you land and what you will be doing. I doub that work and play will ever be balanced, as you are so passionate about sharing your work with all of us. When I sit down to plan a unit (occasionally with teachers), I always ask myself, “What would Jeff suggest here?” Good luck in the future. Give my best to Daneah. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      So glad to hear from you and hope all is well. Will pass along the well wishes to Daneah as well. We’ll see where all this goes…and you’re correct. The line between work and play are so blurred I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins. Is that a good thing…..not sure. ๐Ÿ™‚


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  26. Hi Jeff,

    I’m in your online cohort for COETAIL. I just wanted to say that it’s good to know that you’re not Superman!

    Knowing that you’re full-time at ISB, running all these cohorts, and STILL trying to have some sort of social life and relationship with your wife;), I really wondered where you were getting the time and energy!

    What’s great is that you are bravely taking your life by charge and following your passion (not to say you’re not passionate about working at ISB, but I think you know what I mean). Not many people in the world do that.

    I feel honored to be in this cohort and learning from you. I look forward to what lies ahead!

    Emily Roth

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Emily,

      I hope you enjoy the COETAIL program as much as I enjoy teaching and learning from it.

      We’ll see where the future leads.

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