Connected Principals Posts

Educators (and people) are creatures of habit. Sometimes we do things because we have done those things in the past. No other reason. Example… I have watched so many teachers sit through dull, bullet-point slide presentations, wanting to be anywhere else but in that room. Then, many of those same educators work with their students to … [Read more…]

Read More 4 Ways to “Jolt” Yourself Toward Meaningful Change

It’s been almost four years since the news swept across our community that we had lost a senior student as the result of a car crash. Natalie had just graduated high school early and was on her way to classes […]

Read More The Sight of An Empty Chair

It’s been almost four years since the news swept across our community that we had lost a senior student as the result of a car crash. Natalie had just graduated high school early and was on her way to classes […]

Read More The Sight of An Empty Chair

Just a few days ago I was presenting to principals in Wichita, Kansas. I was a little nervous because I had been having trouble with my voice from some bronchitis in my lungs. The doctor had given me some meds to combat the congestion, and my voice was returning. At the same time, I was […]

Read More PMP:094 Communication & Teamwork

As many educators across North America are about to go on Winter break, I know that the holidays do not necessarily mean “no stress,” but for some, could be a different kind of stress. The week before the break can be exhausting and John Spencer, recently wrote, “Ten Creative Alternatives to Showing Movies Before the … [Read more…]

Read More 3 Ideas For Taking Care of Yourself Before the Break





Recently, I enjoyed a conversation with my friend Art Lieberman (@artFling). He is a middle school teacher in Texas and author of several books including The Art of Focus and The Art of Motivation



I’m sharing a recording of this conversation for you to enjoy. It’s a blogcast. It’s kind of a mix of a blogpost and a podcast. 



Art and I talked about how he became an author and why passion projects can be helpful for teachers. You can listen to the entire conversation embedded below, and I also included highlights and key takeaways in my notes below.



Notes



Twitter allowed Art and I to connect and eventually collaborate on a project. He helped edit my new book Future Driven.



Art credits his increase in productivity to changes in his diet and exercise habits. When he made these changes, he had more energy to devote to things outside the school day, like passion projects.



One of the changes was adding green smoothies to his diet. He explains how he makes them and why they make such a difference. They are much better than taking vitamins.



Art wanted to do more writing and so he started blogging.



Blogging is a great way to share, connect, and grow.



As he wrote more blog posts, Art realized with the amount of writing he had produced, he could’ve written a book.



Blogging helped Art practice his writing so he was ready to take on a bigger passion project, writing a book.



Passion projects can sometimes also be extra sources of income, but sometimes they are just for the love of the experience.



Being creative is good for us. Everyone has the ability to create. Everyone has gifts. When you use these gifts more fully, it actually helps you have more energy. It helps you be more productive.



Your passion project may be related to education, or it may not relate directly. However, a passion project can make you a better educator too. It’s one way educators can model lifelong learning.



And finally, don’t wait to start that passion project you want to do. There will never be enough time. You have to make time to do what’s important to you.

Be sure to check out Art’s podcasts here: One Teaching Tip.

Are you working on a passion project or thinking about starting one? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would like to hear from you.

Read More Pursuing Your Passion Projects: A Conversation with Art Lieberman





Recently, I enjoyed a conversation with my friend Art Lieberman (@artFling). He is a middle school teacher in Texas and author of several books including The Art of Focus and The Art of Motivation



I’m sharing a recording of this conversation for you to enjoy. It’s a blogcast. It’s kind of a mix of a blogpost and a podcast. 



Art and I talked about how he became an author and why passion projects can be helpful for teachers. You can listen to the entire conversation embedded below, and I also included highlights and key takeaways in my notes below.



Notes



Twitter allowed Art and I to connect and eventually collaborate on a project. He helped edit my new book Future Driven.



Art credits his increase in productivity to changes in his diet and exercise habits. When he made these changes, he had more energy to devote to things outside the school day, like passion projects.



One of the changes was adding green smoothies to his diet. He explains how he makes them and why they make such a difference. They are much better than taking vitamins.



Art wanted to do more writing and so he started blogging.



Blogging is a great way to share, connect, and grow.



As he wrote more blog posts, Art realized with the amount of writing he had produced, he could’ve written a book.



Blogging helped Art practice his writing so he was ready to take on a bigger passion project, writing a book.



Passion projects can sometimes also be extra sources of income, but sometimes they are just for the love of the experience.



Being creative is good for us. Everyone has the ability to create. Everyone has gifts. When you use these gifts more fully, it actually helps you have more energy. It helps you be more productive.



Your passion project may be related to education, or it may not relate directly. However, a passion project can make you a better educator too. It’s one way educators can model lifelong learning.



And finally, don’t wait to start that passion project you want to do. There will never be enough time. You have to make time to do what’s important to you.

Be sure to check out Art’s podcasts here: One Teaching Tip.

Are you working on a passion project or thinking about starting one? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would like to hear from you.

Read More Pursuing Your Passion Projects: A Conversation with Art Lieberman





I completely agree with the tweet below from Jennifer Hogan. High schools can learn from elementary schools. And every level of education should stoke the fire and cultivate curiosity in learning. It’s important for every classroom to inspire kids to want to learn more.




High schools can learn a lot from elementary schools, who do a great job of creating a sense of wonder & cultivating curiosity in kids! Let’s keep stoking the fire! 🔥 #ALedchat #satchat pic.twitter.com/1mbGo4W2OR

— Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) December 9, 2017

I truly believe that regardless of what level we teach, we should also strive to learn from each other. When we share our knowledge and experience across content areas or with other grade levels, it just makes us all stronger.



The tweet also reminded me of another way high schools might learn from elementary schools.



I’m always amazed when I have the opportunity to visit elementary classrooms. I observe keenly and enjoy seeing different strategies and methods that lead to more learning in that context. I often see things that would be beneficial in the typical high school classroom, too. 



All the way down to primary school classrooms, I have observed students taking responsibility, working collaboratively, and self-managing in various structures. The teacher is often working with a small group of students while other learning activities are happening all around the classroom.



I’ve heard teachers at the high school level make statements that seem to reject this type of learning. 



“Freshmen can’t handle working in groups.”



“Projects don’t work for my students.”



“I would like to do more collaborative things, but I have 30 kids in my class. It’s just not possible.”



“If I’m working with a small group of students, how will I know what the others are doing?”



All of these statements have an element of truth. It can be challenging to do these things, at any grade level. But the statements are also extremely self-limiting. These statements become self-imposed limits, probably based on an experience that wasn’t positive, “I tried that. It didn’t work for me. Case closed.”



Is it possible for projects, collaboration, and small group instruction to be effective at the high school level? Of course! I’ve seen high school classes thriving with these methods. And it makes no sense developmentally that even much younger students can handle self-directed methods while older students cannot.



So why do teachers tend to revert to more teacher-centric approaches in high school? It’s likely because of the efficiency, control, and structure that is provided through direct instruction. It’s partly because it’s what’s comfortable, and perhaps all they’ve ever known. 



By the way, direct instruction is not bad. It can be an effective and necessary method, but it shouldn’t be the only way students learn.



There should also be opportunities for more self-directed, student empowered methods also. We must provide students opportunities to develop agency, ownership, and social learning abilities.



So what does it take to have success with this type of learning?



Structure.



It’s the same thing that makes teachers want to use direct instruction. Every teacher knows that a productive learning environment is going to have structure. And it feels easier to do in a direct-instruction, teacher-centered classroom. And maybe it is easier to do. But that doesn’t make it better.



In the classes that succeed with more collaborative, student-centered approaches, teachers must clearly communicate the structure that will be used. There must be boundaries. The expectations must be communicated consistently and revisited regularly.



Whether it’s an elementary classroom or high school classroom, it takes structure to make any learning strategy successful. We are not talking about anarchy in the classroom here.



However, it will take willpower and determination on the part of the teacher to push through some of the struggles that may happen as students learn the structure. But as the teacher works with students to clarify expectations and provides opportunities for practice and reflection, students will learn to have more independence and exhibit a higher level of responsibility.



It’s not that the students can’t do it. Don’t impose your limits on a classroom of kids. Don’t diminish their capabilities. You are choosing not to pursue success when you embrace disempowering thoughts. You won’t have success with any method if you don’t believe in it and your kids’ ability to succeed with it.



It’s just that you must teach them to do it. You must provide accountability as needed. You must coach them. You have to reflect with them. You have to provide consequences when needed. You have to bring so much passion to the space that students know you’re not going to settle for less than their best.



With your guidance and creativity, you can help your students do amazing things, regardless of the grade level you’re teaching.



Is there a misconception that student-empowerment means not having structure in the classroom? I wonder about that. Share your thoughts below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Another Thing High Schools Might Learn From Elementary Schools





I completely agree with the tweet below from Jennifer Hogan. High schools can learn from elementary schools. And every level of education should stoke the fire and cultivate curiosity in learning. It’s important for every classroom to inspire kids to want to learn more.




High schools can learn a lot from elementary schools, who do a great job of creating a sense of wonder & cultivating curiosity in kids! Let’s keep stoking the fire! 🔥 #ALedchat #satchat pic.twitter.com/1mbGo4W2OR

— Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) December 9, 2017

I truly believe that regardless of what level we teach, we should also strive to learn from each other. When we share our knowledge and experience across content areas or with other grade levels, it just makes us all stronger.



The tweet also reminded me of another way high schools might learn from elementary schools.



I’m always amazed when I have the opportunity to visit elementary classrooms. I observe keenly and enjoy seeing different strategies and methods that lead to more learning in that context. I often see things that would be beneficial in the typical high school classroom, too. 



All the way down to primary school classrooms, I have observed students taking responsibility, working collaboratively, and self-managing in various structures. The teacher is often working with a small group of students while other learning activities are happening all around the classroom.



I’ve heard teachers at the high school level make statements that seem to reject this type of learning. 



“Freshmen can’t handle working in groups.”



“Projects don’t work for my students.”



“I would like to do more collaborative things, but I have 30 kids in my class. It’s just not possible.”



“If I’m working with a small group of students, how will I know what the others are doing?”



All of these statements have an element of truth. It can be challenging to do these things, at any grade level. But the statements are also extremely self-limiting. These statements become self-imposed limits, probably based on an experience that wasn’t positive, “I tried that. It didn’t work for me. Case closed.”



Is it possible for projects, collaboration, and small group instruction to be effective at the high school level? Of course! I’ve seen high school classes thriving with these methods. And it makes no sense developmentally that even much younger students can handle self-directed methods while older students cannot.



So why do teachers tend to revert to more teacher-centric approaches in high school? It’s likely because of the efficiency, control, and structure that is provided through direct instruction. It’s partly because it’s what’s comfortable, and perhaps all they’ve ever known. 



By the way, direct instruction is not bad. It can be an effective and necessary method, but it shouldn’t be the only way students learn.



There should also be opportunities for more self-directed, student empowered methods also. We must provide students opportunities to develop agency, ownership, and social learning abilities.



So what does it take to have success with this type of learning?



Structure.



It’s the same thing that makes teachers want to use direct instruction. Every teacher knows that a productive learning environment is going to have structure. And it feels easier to do in a direct-instruction, teacher-centered classroom. And maybe it is easier to do. But that doesn’t make it better.



In the classes that succeed with more collaborative, student-centered approaches, teachers must clearly communicate the structure that will be used. There must be boundaries. The expectations must be communicated consistently and revisited regularly.



Whether it’s an elementary classroom or high school classroom, it takes structure to make any learning strategy successful. We are not talking about anarchy in the classroom here.



However, it will take willpower and determination on the part of the teacher to push through some of the struggles that may happen as students learn the structure. But as the teacher works with students to clarify expectations and provides opportunities for practice and reflection, students will learn to have more independence and exhibit a higher level of responsibility.



It’s not that the students can’t do it. Don’t impose your limits on a classroom of kids. Don’t diminish their capabilities. You are choosing not to pursue success when you embrace disempowering thoughts. You won’t have success with any method if you don’t believe in it and your kids’ ability to succeed with it.



It’s just that you must teach them to do it. You must provide accountability as needed. You must coach them. You have to reflect with them. You have to provide consequences when needed. You have to bring so much passion to the space that students know you’re not going to settle for less than their best.



With your guidance and creativity, you can help your students do amazing things, regardless of the grade level you’re teaching.



Is there a misconception that student-empowerment means not having structure in the classroom? I wonder about that. Share your thoughts below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Another Thing High Schools Might Learn From Elementary Schools

In the same week, I heard the following obstacles shared by two different organizations that were significantly different in the number of students they served: School District 1 – We…

Read More Moving From Obstacle to Advantage

In the same week, I heard the following obstacles shared by two different organizations that were significantly different in the number of students they served: School District 1 – We are so small that we don’t have the resources that we need to do the things that we want. School District 2 – We are … [Read more…]

Read More Moving From Obstacle to Advantage

I read a comment regarding how many educators often look at business for ideas on education and how we shouldn’t because they are two separate entities. Although the second part is correct, I believe that looking at what happens in the business world is beneficial to educators if they are open to learning from the … [Read more…]

Read More Learning Everywhere, Anywhere, and From Anyone

Every day we are presented opportunities to say thank you. From a door being opened to the gift of a chipper coworker who lifts our spirits…this is a season of opportunities to be thankful and to say thank you. There is also scientific evidence that expressing genuine gratitude on a daily basis can improve physical […]

The post Why is appreciation so hard? Don’t let the Grinch get a’hold of you! appeared first on Love, Learn, Lead.

Read More Why is appreciation so hard? Don’t let the Grinch get a’hold of you!





I’m interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.



After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.



It’s not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don’t need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.



Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.



Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It’s all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.



1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.



Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.



2. Show acceptance even when you can’t show approval of the behavior.



Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don’t make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 



3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.


Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother’s best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, “You can do this! This is important. I believe in you.”


4. Value people over performance.


Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 



5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 


When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don’t react. Don’t try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.



If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.



Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students





I’m interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.



After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.



It’s not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don’t need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.



Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.



Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It’s all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.



1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.



Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.



2. Show acceptance even when you can’t show approval of the behavior.



Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don’t make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 



3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.


Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother’s best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, “You can do this! This is important. I believe in you.”


4. Value people over performance.


Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 



5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 


When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don’t react. Don’t try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.



If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.



Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students