Connected Principals Posts

Great teams understand the importance of depending on one another. With the many roles of a school leader, one of the biggest challenges is moving from independence to interdependence. In other words, how do you shift from a school culture with teachers isolated from one another to a place of shared ideas and teamwork – […]

Read More PMP:139 Building Stronger Collaboration – Interview with Diana Lebsack

How many of you have googled instructions to repair or replace something in your home, garden, or vehicle? How many of you have googled an ailment to see what remedies are suggested? My guess is: All of you! Teacher Google (and Teacher YouTube): Doctor Google: There are computers using artificial intelligence that can read and […]

Read More Teacher Google, Doctor Google

I have run a few marathons in my life in what seems like an eternity ago. They are as much a challenge to the mind as they are the body as any negative thought that you might have will creep into your head on a long run. After completing a marathon, someone said to me, … [Read more…]

Read More Are you focusing on the race or the training?

Recently, Education Week shared a post, A Look at How Principals Really Drive School Improvement, with a summary of a study conducted by by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. Researchers studied over 600 elementary and secondary schools over a seven-year period “comparing student test results with surveys from teachers and students about […]

Read More PMP:138 Middle Level Kindness Challenge – Interview with Daniel O’Donnell

I recently shared this image on Twitter: This was written in my book “The Innovator’s Mindset,” and since then, my thoughts have evolved on the question.  I will get to…

Read More Discipline or compliance?

I recently shared this image on Twitter: This was written in my book “The Innovator’s Mindset,” and since then, my thoughts have evolved on the question.  I will get to that in a minute. Here is one of the challenges I received on the question: I believe all 3 are key to success. Without compliance, … [Read more…]

Read More Discipline or compliance?

I wish that I could remember the source of this idea but I don’t, and I would like to start by acknowledging that I did not think of this myself: [Update – Source: ‘The world’s worst boss’ by Seth Godin] Who is the worst boss in the world? It is YOU to YOURSELF! If anyone […]

Read More Default Setting or Mindful and Intentional?

A couple of things that I have been thinking lately: When we say, “We want our students to change the world” or “solve tomorrow’s problems,” I wonder if we are acting like the generation of teachers before didn’t?  A lot of the great things that are being created by people today is because of teachers … [Read more…]

Read More Honoring the Past While Moving Toward the Future

Is it more professional to teach in a traditional manner, the way you remember your teachers teaching you? 



Or, is it more professional to teach in innovative ways that might be more relevant to today’s world with today’s students? 



Is being professional dressing a certain way, fulfilling your obligations consistently, or having a certain type of professional demeanor?



Maybe some of those things matter for professionalism. But what matters most?



What exactly does it mean to be professional?



It seems to me that being a professional is doing things in the best possible way to meet professional goals. If the ultimate goal is the best possible learning for students, then being professional isn’t about doing it like it’s always been done, or doing it the way you prefer, or doing it by some personal code that might communicate professionalism for the sake of professionalism.



What’s most relevant for being a professional educator is taking actions and designing learning in a way that works best for the learners you are currently teaching, this group of kids, the ones you are working with right now.



Being a professional is understanding the needs of the students. It’s seeing things from the perspective of the learner, and then seeking to meet their needs to create the strongest learning environment possible. It’s being curious about how your students are experiencing learning. And it’s having enough empathy to understand and adjust.



What’s your professional identity?



It’s only natural to teach in the way that’s most comfortable for you. I think most people have a teaching identity that says, “I’m the type of person who teaches such and such way.” I’ve even heard teachers make comments like, “That just doesn’t work for me.” 



They have a certain idea of their teaching identity. And then they build a story for why their students need the type of teacher they value, the type of teacher that fits their identity.



I’m the strict teacher. These kids need discipline.



I’m the lecturing teacher. These kids need to learn to take notes for college.



I’m the cool teacher. These kids need me to be their friend.



I’m the old school teacher. These kids need to value the things my generation valued.



I’m the dominion teacher. These kids need to fall into line and comply with authority.



But what if your teaching identity isn’t really what your students need? Are you willing to reinvent yourself to do what’s best for today’s learners? All of them?



Being professional means doing beneficial things that aren’t necessarily your natural inclination.



To me, that’s being a professional. It’s creating a classroom environment that will engage and ensure maximum learning even if that’s not what’s most comfortable for me. I’m going to step out of my comfort zone to make this better for my students.



The most professional educators (teachers, administrators, and other roles too) I know are the ones who are willing to do just about anything to make learning better for students. They are willing to adjust their practices to meet the needs of the students. 



In fact, they are actively seeking ways to adjust their practices to meet the legitimate learning needs of their students.



Well, I’m not here to entertain. I’m not doing a dog and pony show.



Is making learning come alive a dog and pony show? Is cultivating curiosity being an entertainer? 



The kids need to learn grit. They need to learn to do the work, even if they think it’s boring. They need to learn perseverance.



Grit and perseverance are connected to things we find meaningful, relevant, and purposeful. Do students find your class meaningful, relevant, and purposeful?



I bet you apply effort to things you find meaningful. In fact, every action you’re motivated to take is because you attach some meaning to it. You might even hate doing it. But you attach some meaning to it. Or you wouldn’t do it.



What about your students? What are you doing to make learning more meaningful for your students? If they aren’t motivated, it’s because they don’t see the meaning in what you’re asking them to do. At least they don’t see enough meaning in it, yet, because when they do, they will engage.



What adjustments are you making?



A professional educator is seeking to make learning irresistible. 



A professional educator is seeking to meet the legitimate learning needs of the students.



A professional educator is willing to set aside personal preferences for peak practices.



A professional educator is enthusiastic, excited, and energetic about learners and learning.



A professional educator isn’t satisfied with going through the motions or arriving at good enough. There is a desire for continuous improvement that starts with the person in the mirror. What are the actions, attitudes, and approaches I need to take to succeed with these students?



What do you think about this riff on professionalism? Does it resonate with you? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to reading your comments.

Read More What’s More Professional?