Connected Principals Posts

The short answer to the title of the post is “no”, you can’t be both “Child-Driven”and “Data-Driven”. Here is the long answer. When you have two focuses on what you are driven by, there will be times where one situation comes into conflict with the other. For example, when we “teach to the test” and not “to the child”, … [Read more…]

Read More Child-Driven and Data-Driven; Can you be both?

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



I recently had a conversation with someone who was preparing some remarks for an event where he was receiving an award. I was asking him about his speech, and he said he was aiming to inform, inspire, and entertain. I thought that was spot on. He laughed and said he heard that somewhere, and just thought it was really true about a good speech.



It made me think of school and learning. Teachers really must try to do those things also. In my first year in the classroom, I taught 7th grade social studies, but the next year I moved to the high school to teach English. When I was interviewing for the high school position, the principal asked me how my approach would be different working with older students. 



I said I didn’t think I would have to entertain them as much. The principal objected. She said you need to be just as creative and engaging with the older students. It was really good advice.



Some teachers really hate the idea of entertaining. Not everyone feels like they are cut out for that. And some don’t feel like they should have to do that. 



But I think all three are important, including an element of entertainment. It’s probably more true today than ever. In fact, edutainment is actually a thing. Look at TED talks. They are extremely popular because they inform, inspire, and entertain. The most popular ones do this extraordinarily well.



Sometimes, I think we get in a pattern of only informing or delivering instruction but don’t focus on how we are going to inspire or entertain. All three of these are needed to really make learning irresistible. 



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



We need to inspire to infuse learning with a sense of meaning and purpose.



We need to entertain to ignite the wonder, awe, and whimsy of learning.



I challenge you to think about your classroom. How are you seeking to not only inform, but to also inspire and entertain? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear your thoughts to take the conversation deeper.

Read More Does Your Classroom Inform, Inspire, and Entertain?

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



I recently had a conversation with someone who was preparing some remarks for an event where he was receiving an award. I was asking him about his speech, and he said he was aiming to inform, inspire, and entertain. I thought that was spot on. He laughed and said he heard that somewhere, and just thought it was really true about a good speech.



It made me think of school and learning. Teachers really must try to do those things also. In my first year in the classroom, I taught 7th grade social studies, but the next year I moved to the high school to teach English. When I was interviewing for the high school position, the principal asked me how my approach would be different working with older students. 



I said I didn’t think I would have to entertain them as much. The principal objected. She said you need to be just as creative and engaging with the older students. It was really good advice.



Some teachers really hate the idea of entertaining. Not everyone feels like they are cut out for that. And some don’t feel like they should have to do that. 



But I think all three are important, including an element of entertainment. It’s probably more true today than ever. In fact, edutainment is actually a thing. Look at TED talks. They are extremely popular because they inform, inspire, and entertain. The most popular ones do this extraordinarily well.



Sometimes, I think we get in a pattern of only informing or delivering instruction but don’t focus on how we are going to inspire or entertain. All three of these are needed to really make learning irresistible. 



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



We need to inspire to infuse learning with a sense of meaning and purpose.



We need to entertain to ignite the wonder, awe, and whimsy of learning.



I challenge you to think about your classroom. How are you seeking to not only inform, but to also inspire and entertain? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear your thoughts to take the conversation deeper.

Read More Does Your Classroom Inform, Inspire, and Entertain?

This past weekend, NASA broadcasted the final transmission of the spacecraft, Cassini, as it plunged into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn that it had orbited and monitored for the past 13 years. Cassini’s mission actually began in 1997. It took six years for it to reach Saturn, an its exploratory orbiting mission began. The […]

Read More PMP:082 How Can You Accomplish a Mission?

I try very hard to push myself to get into better shape, and I will have to admit, the struggle is real.  Getting older, slowing metabolism and a lack of…

Read More Small Change, Big Difference

I try very hard to push myself to get into better shape, and I will have to admit, the struggle is real.  Getting older, slowing metabolism and a lack of routine in my life from being on the road has thrown me off a healthy regimen. Not excuses, but the reality I face and that … [Read more…]

Read More Small Change, Big Difference





Sometimes I hear people complain about kids nowadays. I can tell you it doesn’t really set too well with me. Sure, there are examples of kids making poor choices. There are kids who are lazy. Some are selfish. We know they are into their devices. But hey, so are we. And there are some challenges they have now we probably didn’t have when we were growing up.



But I can tell you I’m going to defend our kids. I’m going to challenge them, but I’m also going to defend them. I’m going to remind everyone of the amazing things our students are doing. I’m going to share the incredible work of the ones who are leading up and lifting up every day. They are making our school a better place. They are making our world a better place.



And even when they make mistakes or show up with all the baggage any of us can bring, I’m not going to stop believing in them. They are the future. Most kids want to do the right thing. But like all of us, they are still learning and finding their way. And some of them haven’t had the best examples. 



They need someone to lift them up and believe in them. I can tell you with certainty, you’ll have far more influence on kids by believing in them than by doubting them. If you want to make a difference, stop doubting kids. They’re not going to rise above your low expectations. They need you to believe in them.



Today, we held our semi-annual academic banquet to celebrate the success of some of our students. I know some people on Twitter have written about not having award ceremonies and that type of thing because it can reinforce a fixed mindset and not acknowledge the growth of other learners who are achieving but may never get recognized. I get it. We need to notice the good work all students are doing.



But at the same time, I’m not going to apologize for recognizing kids who have achieved at a high level. They even had to miss part of the Kansas City Chiefs (Go Chiefs!) game to join us for lunch and a short program. It’s a great opportunity to interact with parents and say thank you.



I asked a few students on short notice to talk about the Bolivar Way (see the visual below). It’s become our mantra. It guides most everything we do.



I was blown away by the comments our students had about the importance of questions and curiosity.



About making excellence a personal mission and doing your best.



About lifting up others and being a great friend and teammate.



About leading and showing others the way. And to never give up even when it’s tough. 



I was amazed by the comments and was totally pumped about this year and what’s happening in our school. Our students are “making us better.” I’m so proud of them.




So if you want to complain about kids these days, I’m probably not the person who is going to commiserate with you. But what I would like to talk about is how things are different today than when we were kids. Things seem increasingly complex and uncertain. Change is accelerating. The ability to adapt and learn is more important than ever.



So instead of talking about how kids these days need to change, let’s talk about how schools need to change to meet the needs of today’s kids. 



We owe it to them to teach the enduring principles that will help them succeed. And we need to teach them the skills that are going to be uniquely necessary for this generation. 



Let’s challenge the status quo at every turn and build on the positives. Let’s create schools that are relevant and passionate. Fill your school with laughter, hope, friendship, purpose, curiosity, creativity, and togetherness.



What kind of culture does your school have? Are you complaining about kids these days? Or, are you investing in kids these days? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. And keep being great!

Read More Are Today’s Kids Different?





Sometimes I hear people complain about kids nowadays. I can tell you it doesn’t really set too well with me. Sure, there are examples of kids making poor choices. There are kids who are lazy. Some are selfish. We know they are into their devices. But hey, so are we. And there are some challenges they have now we probably didn’t have when we were growing up.



But I can tell you I’m going to defend our kids. I’m going to challenge them, but I’m also going to defend them. I’m going to remind everyone of the amazing things our students are doing. I’m going to share the incredible work of the ones who are leading up and lifting up every day. They are making our school a better place. They are making our world a better place.



And even when they make mistakes or show up with all the baggage any of us can bring, I’m not going to stop believing in them. They are the future. Most kids want to do the right thing. But like all of us, they are still learning and finding their way. And some of them haven’t had the best examples. 



They need someone to lift them up and believe in them. I can tell you with certainty, you’ll have far more influence on kids by believing in them than by doubting them. If you want to make a difference, stop doubting kids. They’re not going to rise above your low expectations. They need you to believe in them.



Today, we held our semi-annual academic banquet to celebrate the success of some of our students. I know some people on Twitter have written about not having award ceremonies and that type of thing because it can reinforce a fixed mindset and not acknowledge the growth of other learners who are achieving but may never get recognized. I get it. We need to notice the good work all students are doing.



But at the same time, I’m not going to apologize for recognizing kids who have achieved at a high level. They even had to miss part of the Kansas City Chiefs (Go Chiefs!) game to join us for lunch and a short program. It’s a great opportunity to interact with parents and say thank you.



I asked a few students on short notice to talk about the Bolivar Way (see the visual below). It’s become our mantra. It guides most everything we do.



I was blown away by the comments our students had about the importance of questions and curiosity.



About making excellence a personal mission and doing your best.



About lifting up others and being a great friend and teammate.



About leading and showing others the way. And to never give up even when it’s tough. 



I was amazed by the comments and was totally pumped about this year and what’s happening in our school. Our students are “making us better.” I’m so proud of them.




So if you want to complain about kids these days, I’m probably not the person who is going to commiserate with you. But what I would like to talk about is how things are different today than when we were kids. Things seem increasingly complex and uncertain. Change is accelerating. The ability to adapt and learn is more important than ever.



So instead of talking about how kids these days need to change, let’s talk about how schools need to change to meet the needs of today’s kids. 



We owe it to them to teach the enduring principles that will help them succeed. And we need to teach them the skills that are going to be uniquely necessary for this generation. 



Let’s challenge the status quo at every turn and build on the positives. Let’s create schools that are relevant and passionate. Fill your school with laughter, hope, friendship, purpose, curiosity, creativity, and togetherness.



What kind of culture does your school have? Are you complaining about kids these days? Or, are you investing in kids these days? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. And keep being great!

Read More Are Today’s Kids Different?

I have been using the above to really help my focus in workshops with not only parents but educators, to get them on the same page. You often here many educators say that parents want the same experience for their children that they had in school, but I disagree. I really believe that parents want kids … [Read more…]

Read More Two Things That All Parents Want for Their Children

This visual is from a great post by Katie Martin titled, “Creating a Learning Orientation Versus a Performance Orientation“: Two things here that are quite powerful.  In my 2010 post, “What Makes a Master Teacher“, I talk about the difference between “Learning Goals” and “Performance Goals”, and list that criteria for a “master teacher”: 6. … [Read more…]

Read More Questions of Compliance or Empowerment?

This past week I hosted a webinar for principals as a part of a book study over Principal Matters: The Motivation, Action, Courage and Teamwork Needed for School Leaders. In 2012, after being named Oklahoma’s Assistant Principal of the Year, I was asked to share ideas with new or aspiring leaders in graduate classes, workshops […]

Read More PMP:081 Leadership, Courage and Caution Lights for Principals





As I think about what I really want for our students, it always comes back to learning and leading. I want our students to be stronger learners and stronger leaders. I want them to develop habits and mindsets that cause them to continue to grow as learners and leaders even when they leave school.



In my new book Future Driven, I shared what Google senior vice president of people operations, Lazlo Bock, had to say about leading and learning at Google:




For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.

And the second is leadership—in particular, emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.



So does content matter? Sure it does. However, the content will change over time, but the ability to learn and the desire to lead will endure even as shifts occur in the world around us. As educators, we only have so much time to work with these studentsthe current groupbut if we can inspire them as learners and leaders, that will carry forward with them. Our impact can endure and continue to pay dividends beyond our time with them.



But we need to help our students have the most authentic learning experience possible. Students need opportunities to practice leading and learning. They need to do things that make a difference beyond just getting a grade or completing an assignment.



You cannot develop as a leader by only reading about it in a book. You can learn leadership principles, but you will only build your capacity as a leader by applying what you learn. You could memorize all sorts of leadership ideas and be a terrible and completely incompetent leader. Growing as a leader happens with the opportunity to practice leadership skills and to get feedback and reflect.



Similarly, you cannot develop fully as a learner if you are only accepting new information. You can memorize stuff. You might get right answers. But that’s not enough. Students need opportunities to apply learning, to make choices as a learner, and to refine their personal learning interests. 



The traditional model of school has not served students well in developing adaptable learners or leaders, in my view. Sure, there have been some opportunities to develop in these areas, but we need to consistently provide opportunities for students to develop their capacity as learners and leaders.



What about in your classroom? I certainly hope students are learning content. But are they also having opportunities to develop more deeply as learners and leaders? Are they learning HOW to learning? Are they learning HOW to lead? Leave me a comment. I want to hear from you. You can also share out on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Creating Stronger Learners, Stronger Leaders





As I think about what I really want for our students, it always comes back to learning and leading. I want our students to be stronger learners and stronger leaders. I want them to develop habits and mindsets that cause them to continue to grow as learners and leaders even when they leave school.



In my new book Future Driven, I shared what Google senior vice president of people operations, Lazlo Bock, had to say about leading and learning at Google:




For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.

And the second is leadership—in particular, emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.



So does content matter? Sure it does. However, the content will change over time, but the ability to learn and the desire to lead will endure even as shifts occur in the world around us. As educators, we only have so much time to work with these studentsthe current groupbut if we can inspire them as learners and leaders, that will carry forward with them. Our impact can endure and continue to pay dividends beyond our time with them.



But we need to help our students have the most authentic learning experience possible. Students need opportunities to practice leading and learning. They need to do things that make a difference beyond just getting a grade or completing an assignment.



You cannot develop as a leader by only reading about it in a book. You can learn leadership principles, but you will only build your capacity as a leader by applying what you learn. You could memorize all sorts of leadership ideas and be a terrible and completely incompetent leader. Growing as a leader happens with the opportunity to practice leadership skills and to get feedback and reflect.



Similarly, you cannot develop fully as a learner if you are only accepting new information. You can memorize stuff. You might get right answers. But that’s not enough. Students need opportunities to apply learning, to make choices as a learner, and to refine their personal learning interests. 



The traditional model of school has not served students well in developing adaptable learners or leaders, in my view. Sure, there have been some opportunities to develop in these areas, but we need to consistently provide opportunities for students to develop their capacity as learners and leaders.



What about in your classroom? I certainly hope students are learning content. But are they also having opportunities to develop more deeply as learners and leaders? Are they learning HOW to learning? Are they learning HOW to lead? Leave me a comment. I want to hear from you. You can also share out on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Creating Stronger Learners, Stronger Leaders

As I have voraciously read books on “change”, and have had many conversations on the topic,  these are three big takeaways that I always try to focus on. Show and model change in yourself.  It is easy to tell people to move forward, but it is hard, and more important work, to say, “let’s grow … [Read more…]

Read More 3 Crucial Elements of Being a Change Agent

Before you tweet this quote (because many people will), I just want you to take a hard look at it: “Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally…

Read More “One” Is Not Enough