Tag: learning



I’m guessing many students feel like school is a place where someone is always wanting something FROM them. 



Turn in your homework.



Stop talking.



Get busy. 



Walk in a straight line.



Follow instructions.



Pay attention.



Don’t forget.



All of the demands can really weigh heavily after a while. For some, I’m guessing school starts to feel like a huge burden. They don’t see the relevance. They feel like teachers are constantly wanting more FROM them, and they may not feel adequate to meet the expectations.



But maybe students don’t understand the why behind all the expectations and requests. Maybe they don’t realize that the best teachers, most teachers in fact, don’t really want something FROM students. They want good things FOR their students.



The expectations and demands are intended to help students succeed now and in the future. The demands aren’t because teachers want to make things easier for themselves or want to make things harder for their students. Teachers are successful when students are successful.



So I think we should spend more time and effort showing students what it is we want FOR them. And maybe we should spend a little less time talking about what we want FROM them.

Of course, expectations are part of life. And if students are going to be successful, there will be accountability. But they should always be reminded that the accountability we provide is because we care. It’s because we want good things FOR them.



Teachers who get the best FROM their students are the same teachers who show their students how much they care FOR them. 

Try reminding your students you want these things FOR them…



FOR them to be leaders.



FOR them to develop strong character.



FOR them to believe in themselves.



FOR them to never stop growing.



FOR them to be more excited about learning when they leave us than when they started.



FOR them to demonstrate empathy and concern for others.



FOR them to learn from their mistakes.



FOR them to make the world a better place.



FOR them to learn more about who they are.



FOR them to build on their unique strengths.



FOR them to have hope.



FOR them to develop a great attitude.



FOR them to be adaptable to change.



FOR them to reach their potential.



FOR them to realize their dreams.



FOR them to feel like they belong.



FOR them to have healthy relationships.



FOR them to never give up.



FOR them to be curious, creative, and compassionate.



Question: How can we help students see school as a place that wants good things FOR them and not just FROM them? I want to hear from you. Leave a message below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Do You Want Things FROM Your Students Or FOR Your Students?



I’m guessing many students feel like school is a place where someone is always wanting something FROM them. 



Turn in your homework.



Stop talking.



Get busy. 



Walk in a straight line.



Follow instructions.



Pay attention.



Don’t forget.



All of the demands can really weigh heavily after a while. For some, I’m guessing school starts to feel like a huge burden. They don’t see the relevance. They feel like teachers are constantly wanting more FROM them, and they may not feel adequate to meet the expectations.



But maybe students don’t understand the why behind all the expectations and requests. Maybe they don’t realize that the best teachers, most teachers in fact, don’t really want something FROM students. They want good things FOR their students.



The expectations and demands are intended to help students succeed now and in the future. The demands aren’t because teachers want to make things easier for themselves or want to make things harder for their students. Teachers are successful when students are successful.



So I think we should spend more time and effort showing students what it is we want FOR them. And maybe we should spend a little less time talking about what we want FROM them.

Of course, expectations are part of life. And if students are going to be successful, there will be accountability. But they should always be reminded that the accountability we provide is because we care. It’s because we want good things FOR them.



Teachers who get the best FROM their students are the same teachers who show their students how much they care FOR them. 

Try reminding your students you want these things FOR them…



FOR them to be leaders.



FOR them to develop strong character.



FOR them to believe in themselves.



FOR them to never stop growing.



FOR them to be more excited about learning when they leave us than when they started.



FOR them to demonstrate empathy and concern for others.



FOR them to learn from their mistakes.



FOR them to make the world a better place.



FOR them to learn more about who they are.



FOR them to build on their unique strengths.



FOR them to have hope.



FOR them to develop a great attitude.



FOR them to be adaptable to change.



FOR them to reach their potential.



FOR them to realize their dreams.



FOR them to feel like they belong.



FOR them to have healthy relationships.



FOR them to never give up.



FOR them to be curious, creative, and compassionate.



Question: How can we help students see school as a place that wants good things FOR them and not just FROM them? I want to hear from you. Leave a message below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Do You Want Things FROM Your Students Or FOR Your Students?

Your team just upset the #3 seed, and for the first time ever, your school will advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. And then you’re asked this question by a 13-year-old reporter from Sports Illustrated Kids.

SI Kids reporter: “When you coach or teach your team defense, what’s more important, technique or attitude?”

South Carolina Coach Frank Martin: “First of all, a lot of respect to you. That’s a heck of a question. I’ve been doing this a long time, and that’s the first time anyone’s ever asked me that, that’s a heck of a question. Attitude comes first. We gotta have guys that are gonna believe in our mission, that are going to believe in what we do. Once they believe, then we can teach them the technique.”

Kudos to Frank Martin for how he fielded this question from the kid reporter. It was a great moment. The coach showed the kid all the respect and sincerity he deserved in that moment.

But it was, after all, a great question.

Our school has enjoyed its own March Madness story this year. Our boys basketball team made it all the way to the state championship game. It was an incredible run with some unbelievable comeback victories along the way. We didn’t win the championship game, but our players played like winners.

Our coach has a mantra he uses to outline the core values of his program. E-A-T.

E – Effort

There is no substitute for consistently trying hard and giving your best effort.

A- Attitude

Your positive attitude is a gift to yourself and others. Your attitude will determine your impact in life.

T- Team

Be a great teammate. Care about others ahead of yourself. Be unselfish.

The messages from Frank Martin and from Robby Hoegh (our coach) are essentially the same. Attitude is more important than technique. You might not have the greatest talent level or the best technique (…yet), but you can always show up with great effort, enthusiasm, and energy.

It’s hiring season for schools all across the country. What is most important to you about who joins your team? Do they need to have the most sophisticated teaching strategies, the best understanding of subject content, and the most proven track record? Those things aren’t bad. In fact, they are all important.

But what’s most important is that you bring people on your team who are winners. You want people with winning attitudes. You want people who are on a mission to make a difference. Who are good teammates. Who bring positive energy every day. Who will continue learning and growing. And who want the best possible learning experience for EVERY kid.

If those qualities are in place, it’s impossible to NOT grow in your technique, knowledge, and effectiveness.

Developing these aspects of your CHARACTER is more important than your PRACTICE. Who you are is more important than what you do, because what you DO will always flow from WHO you are.

Question: How can we generate more focus on Effort, Attitude, and Team in our school cultures? What is your school doing to promote these qualities? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What’s Most Valuable Attitude or Technique?

Your team just upset the #3 seed, and for the first time ever, your school will advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. And then you’re asked this question by a 13-year-old reporter from Sports Illustrated Kids.

SI Kids reporter: “When you coach or teach your team defense, what’s more important, technique or attitude?”

South Carolina Coach Frank Martin: “First of all, a lot of respect to you. That’s a heck of a question. I’ve been doing this a long time, and that’s the first time anyone’s ever asked me that, that’s a heck of a question. Attitude comes first. We gotta have guys that are gonna believe in our mission, that are going to believe in what we do. Once they believe, then we can teach them the technique.”

Kudos to Frank Martin for how he fielded this question from the kid reporter. It was a great moment. The coach showed the kid all the respect and sincerity he deserved in that moment.

But it was, after all, a great question.

Our school has enjoyed its own March Madness story this year. Our boys basketball team made it all the way to the state championship game. It was an incredible run with some unbelievable comeback victories along the way. We didn’t win the championship game, but our players played like winners.

Our coach has a mantra he uses to outline the core values of his program. E-A-T.

E – Effort

There is no substitute for consistently trying hard and giving your best effort.

A- Attitude

Your positive attitude is a gift to yourself and others. Your attitude will determine your impact in life.

T- Team

Be a great teammate. Care about others ahead of yourself. Be unselfish.

The messages from Frank Martin and from Robby Hoegh (our coach) are essentially the same. Attitude is more important than technique. You might not have the greatest talent level or the best technique (…yet), but you can always show up with great effort, enthusiasm, and energy.

It’s hiring season for schools all across the country. What is most important to you about who joins your team? Do they need to have the most sophisticated teaching strategies, the best understanding of subject content, and the most proven track record? Those things aren’t bad. In fact, they are all important.

But what’s most important is that you bring people on your team who are winners. You want people with winning attitudes. You want people who are on a mission to make a difference. Who are good teammates. Who bring positive energy every day. Who will continue learning and growing. And who want the best possible learning experience for EVERY kid.

If those qualities are in place, it’s impossible to NOT grow in your technique, knowledge, and effectiveness.

Developing these aspects of your CHARACTER is more important than your PRACTICE. Who you are is more important than what you do, because what you DO will always flow from WHO you are.

Question: How can we generate more focus on Effort, Attitude, and Team in our school cultures? What is your school doing to promote these qualities? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What’s Most Valuable Attitude or Technique?



We have a group at Bolivar High School known as the SWAT team. SWAT stands for Students Working to Advance Technology. The club started in 2015 to support our 1:1 program that was just getting off the ground. 



SWAT provides valuable support related to how we use technology in our school. For instance, they have presented how-to workshops for teachers during our annual PD day, the past two years. And they’ve been involved in parent open house to demonstrate ways technology is being used for learning in our school. They also help out in the library with issues students are having with their Chromebooks.






Most recently, the group offered tech support for senior citizens in our community every Thursday after school in February from 4-5:00pm. We publicized the opportunity in our local newspaper and on Facebook. It was a simple concept. We had some digital natives (our students) on hand to help the older crowd in our community with anything tech related we could help with.



The senior adults could bring their own device (most of them did) or the students used their Chromebooks to help with Facebook, Gmail, or whatever tool they wanted to learn.



We didn’t really know what to expect. It was our first time trying something like this. But it was a huge success. We had customers every single Thursday, and several of our guests came back week after week.








This activity was beneficial on several levels. 



1. It was helpful to the senior citizens we served.



Our students helped with Macs, PCs, iPads, Android devices, multiple smart phones, and a Kindle Fire. I don’t think there was a single question that our students didn’t handle effectively. In one case, it took about 45 minutes to research a solution, but in the end, they resolved the issue.



2. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with our community.



I think it’s great when students can go out into the community or we can bring the community in. In this case, we had quite a few people into our school building that might not normally stop by for a visit. 



3. It was a great learning experience for our students.



Our students had the opportunity to give back and lend a helping hand. They got to practice communication skills, empathy, patience, and problem solving. It gave them the opportunity to serve others.



4. Everyone seemed to love it. 



Our students enjoyed this experience so much, they asked me if we could keep doing it each week. For a variety of reasons, I made them take a break for the month of March. We’ll see after that. But I was proud they wanted to continue. And the senior citizens seemed to have a great time too. Some of them asked me if we could keep doing it, too! Okay, after reading that I feel like a scrooge for making them take a break. 🙂



Here’s a 2 minute video that includes some student voice about how they experienced this project…




Question: Is this something you might try with your students? What questions do you have about this activity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Happened When We Launched Student-Led Senior Citizen Tech Support



We have a group at Bolivar High School known as the SWAT team. SWAT stands for Students Working to Advance Technology. The club started in 2015 to support our 1:1 program that was just getting off the ground. 



SWAT provides valuable support related to how we use technology in our school. For instance, they have presented how-to workshops for teachers during our annual PD day, the past two years. And they’ve been involved in parent open house to demonstrate ways technology is being used for learning in our school. They also help out in the library with issues students are having with their Chromebooks.






Most recently, the group offered tech support for senior citizens in our community every Thursday after school in February from 4-5:00pm. We publicized the opportunity in our local newspaper and on Facebook. It was a simple concept. We had some digital natives (our students) on hand to help the older crowd in our community with anything tech related we could help with.



The senior adults could bring their own device (most of them did) or the students used their Chromebooks to help with Facebook, Gmail, or whatever tool they wanted to learn.



We didn’t really know what to expect. It was our first time trying something like this. But it was a huge success. We had customers every single Thursday, and several of our guests came back week after week.








This activity was beneficial on several levels. 



1. It was helpful to the senior citizens we served.



Our students helped with Macs, PCs, iPads, Android devices, multiple smart phones, and a Kindle Fire. I don’t think there was a single question that our students didn’t handle effectively. In one case, it took about 45 minutes to research a solution, but in the end, they resolved the issue.



2. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with our community.



I think it’s great when students can go out into the community or we can bring the community in. In this case, we had quite a few people into our school building that might not normally stop by for a visit. 



3. It was a great learning experience for our students.



Our students had the opportunity to give back and lend a helping hand. They got to practice communication skills, empathy, patience, and problem solving. It gave them the opportunity to serve others.



4. Everyone seemed to love it. 



Our students enjoyed this experience so much, they asked me if we could keep doing it each week. For a variety of reasons, I made them take a break for the month of March. We’ll see after that. But I was proud they wanted to continue. And the senior citizens seemed to have a great time too. Some of them asked me if we could keep doing it, too! Okay, after reading that I feel like a scrooge for making them take a break. 🙂



Here’s a 2 minute video that includes some student voice about how they experienced this project…




Question: Is this something you might try with your students? What questions do you have about this activity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Happened When We Launched Student-Led Senior Citizen Tech Support

More than likely, you’ve seen the video below. It is designed to test the power of your attention. It will take careful concentration to succeed in the task. 



In the video, two teams are passing basketballs, one team is wearing white shirts and the other team is wearing black shirts. Your task is to count the number of passes by the white team, ignoring the black team entirely. Before you read further, I would like for you to watch the video and see how you do.











The video has been watched millions of times. And over half those who view it do not see a person wearing a gorilla suit appear, join the other players, thump its chest, and exit. Were you among those who missed the gorilla? If so, don’t feel bad. You may have the ability to focus in ways others could not. You didn’t allow a silly gorilla to distract you.



The blindness to the gorilla is caused by the focused attention on counting the passes of the white team. Our brain has the ability to ignore what it doesn’t perceive as important. And we all know the idea of effective multi-tasking is a myth. You can learn more about this study on selective attention at theinvisiblegorilla.com



One of the remarkable findings of the study is how surprised people are to realize they missed the gorilla. “No way!” they think. They cannot imagine how they could have not seen someone in a gorilla suit in the video. They can’t believe they missed it.



The invisible gorilla study reveals a couple of interesting facts about our minds. 



First, we can be blind to the obvious. We can miss the forest for the trees. We are so focused on the details we miss the bigger picture.



And second, we are not only blind to the obvious, but we are unwilling to admit we didn’t see clearly. We are also blind to our blindness.



This gorilla business got me thinking about blind spots we may have as educators. The day-to-day problems we face require intense concentration, and unless we pause to reflect, to listen, to pay attention to the world around us, we may miss some of the most important changes happening. Or we may miss things we need to change.



The world is changing rapidly. And we can be so busy we don’t even realize what’s happening. Because of our intense focus on the routine parts of our work, we may not be aware of how our classrooms and schools need to change. 



We can’t afford to let that happen. Our students can’t afford for us to have blind spots. Here are five questions to help you think through some issues that can be blind spots for educators. You may have assumptions that haven’t been tested. Maybe these questions will help you see any ‘gorillas’ in your approach.



1. Are my lessons designed to help me teach better or to help students learn more?



Some teachers design lessons to deliver content to students. They strive to teach better. They seek better presentations, better strategies, more tools. They rely on a test at the end to know if students are learning. Other teachers design lessons that cause students to own their learning. Students are the ones doing the heavy lifting. They are creating instead of consuming. They are active in the process. Their learning is visible throughout.



2. Am I teaching students first, or a curriculum?



Some teachers implement a curriculum. They teach the standards of their curriculum with fidelity. But if that is all they do, in my mind, they are not an effective teacher. If you teach students first, you recognize their unique needs. You seek to guide them, mentor them, and help them grow as people. You make learning personal. And you want them to be more excited about learning when they leave your class than when they came. It’s more important to develop a passion for learning than to check off standards.

3. Am I preparing students for the world they live in or the one I grew up in?



Some teachers are teaching exactly the same as they were taught. If you visited their classroom, there would be no way to distinguish between this classroom and one from 1991. Your classroom should never become a time capsule. It should actually be more of a time machine, helping students to see what they will need to be successful in their futures. The next 20 years will be the most dramatic period of change in the history of the world. How are you adjusting your classroom to prepare students an uncertain, complex world?



4. Would I want to be a student in my own classroom?



If you are like most learners, you don’t enjoy sitting for long periods of time, listening to someone else, and having very little input about anything. Be the teacher who prepares learning experiences, not lectures. Listen to students and try to see learning through their eyes. That’s one of the most powerful weapons a teachers can have. If you can understand your students better, you can create learning that is irresistible.



5. Do my students see me as a learner too?



Some teachers are afraid of being wrong. They want to have all the answers and be seen as the expert in the classroom. But more important than being the content expert, teachers need to be learning experts. They need to model how to be an effective lifelong learner. If you asked most student if their teacher learns new stuff, they might say yes—at a conference, or a training, or in teacher meetings. But what about the classroom? Do your students see you learning side-by-side with them every day?



Question: What other blind spots might educators have about learning? I think we all have areas we could see more clearly. Or, we miss the forest for the trees. Or, we don’t acknowledge the gorilla. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Read More 5 Blind Spots Educators Must Address

More than likely, you’ve seen the video below. It is designed to test the power of your attention. It will take careful concentration to succeed in the task. 



In the video, two teams are passing basketballs, one team is wearing white shirts and the other team is wearing black shirts. Your task is to count the number of passes by the white team, ignoring the black team entirely. Before you read further, I would like for you to watch the video and see how you do.











The video has been watched millions of times. And over half those who view it do not see a person wearing a gorilla suit appear, join the other players, thump its chest, and exit. Were you among those who missed the gorilla? If so, don’t feel bad. You may have the ability to focus in ways others could not. You didn’t allow a silly gorilla to distract you.



The blindness to the gorilla is caused by the focused attention on counting the passes of the white team. Our brain has the ability to ignore what it doesn’t perceive as important. And we all know the idea of effective multi-tasking is a myth. You can learn more about this study on selective attention at theinvisiblegorilla.com



One of the remarkable findings of the study is how surprised people are to realize they missed the gorilla. “No way!” they think. They cannot imagine how they could have not seen someone in a gorilla suit in the video. They can’t believe they missed it.



The invisible gorilla study reveals a couple of interesting facts about our minds. 



First, we can be blind to the obvious. We can miss the forest for the trees. We are so focused on the details we miss the bigger picture.



And second, we are not only blind to the obvious, but we are unwilling to admit we didn’t see clearly. We are also blind to our blindness.



This gorilla business got me thinking about blind spots we may have as educators. The day-to-day problems we face require intense concentration, and unless we pause to reflect, to listen, to pay attention to the world around us, we may miss some of the most important changes happening. Or we may miss things we need to change.



The world is changing rapidly. And we can be so busy we don’t even realize what’s happening. Because of our intense focus on the routine parts of our work, we may not be aware of how our classrooms and schools need to change. 



We can’t afford to let that happen. Our students can’t afford for us to have blind spots. Here are five questions to help you think through some issues that can be blind spots for educators. You may have assumptions that haven’t been tested. Maybe these questions will help you see any ‘gorillas’ in your approach.



1. Are my lessons designed to help me teach better or to help students learn more?



Some teachers design lessons to deliver content to students. They strive to teach better. They seek better presentations, better strategies, more tools. They rely on a test at the end to know if students are learning. Other teachers design lessons that cause students to own their learning. Students are the ones doing the heavy lifting. They are creating instead of consuming. They are active in the process. Their learning is visible throughout.



2. Am I teaching students first, or a curriculum?



Some teachers implement a curriculum. They teach the standards of their curriculum with fidelity. But if that is all they do, in my mind, they are not an effective teacher. If you teach students first, you recognize their unique needs. You seek to guide them, mentor them, and help them grow as people. You make learning personal. And you want them to be more excited about learning when they leave your class than when they came. It’s more important to develop a passion for learning than to check off standards.

3. Am I preparing students for the world they live in or the one I grew up in?



Some teachers are teaching exactly the same as they were taught. If you visited their classroom, there would be no way to distinguish between this classroom and one from 1991. Your classroom should never become a time capsule. It should actually be more of a time machine, helping students to see what they will need to be successful in their futures. The next 20 years will be the most dramatic period of change in the history of the world. How are you adjusting your classroom to prepare students an uncertain, complex world?



4. Would I want to be a student in my own classroom?



If you are like most learners, you don’t enjoy sitting for long periods of time, listening to someone else, and having very little input about anything. Be the teacher who prepares learning experiences, not lectures. Listen to students and try to see learning through their eyes. That’s one of the most powerful weapons a teachers can have. If you can understand your students better, you can create learning that is irresistible.



5. Do my students see me as a learner too?



Some teachers are afraid of being wrong. They want to have all the answers and be seen as the expert in the classroom. But more important than being the content expert, teachers need to be learning experts. They need to model how to be an effective lifelong learner. If you asked most student if their teacher learns new stuff, they might say yes—at a conference, or a training, or in teacher meetings. But what about the classroom? Do your students see you learning side-by-side with them every day?



Question: What other blind spots might educators have about learning? I think we all have areas we could see more clearly. Or, we miss the forest for the trees. Or, we don’t acknowledge the gorilla. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Read More 5 Blind Spots Educators Must Address



There are a number of visuals like the one above that illustrate some distinctions between a boss and a leader. I bet you can think of a specific person who characterizes the boss list. This type of person tends to make big impression. You can probably also think of someone who exhibits the leader qualities. You probably admire that person. Of course, these are illustrations intended for the workplace, not the classroom.



Clearly, they are relevant to school administrators, but I’m also thinking they can be applied to classroom leaders as well, aka teachers. In fact, they can apply to anyone charged with leading people and charged with getting something done.



Here’s another. This one is similar but contrasting management vs. leadership.





Source: Verma and Wideman (1994)

Most everyone would agree leadership is a top priority in moving any group of people toward a desired outcome or goal. But in education we use the term classroom management frequently to refer to how teachers get things done in the classroom. Some educators actually reject the term. They would say you manage things (grading papers) and you lead people (students). 



But I’m not overly concerned about using the term classroom management as long as we can work from a shared understanding of the meaning. To me, it’s all about the things we do to create a positive and productive learning culture in the classroom.



But that will never happen just by managing. If we rely on the lists in the left columns without having the necessary leadership qualities, we are doomed to failure. Sure, some students will still learn, but the overall classroom learning culture will not thrive. And there will be little passion or inspiration for learning.



But on the other hand, if we don’t also establish some ‘management’ qualities to go with leadership, we may have great ideas and willing students but a lack of specific steps to achieve the goal.



Although several items from each column have value in context, I would always choose leaders over managers. Most everyone leans one way or another.



In fact, most every problem that persists in the classroom is at its root a leadership issue. That is not to blame the ‘leader’ but to say that if an ongoing problem is to be overcome it will usually happen by good leadership and not through better management.



Here are 7 Reasons ‘Classroom Leadership’ Is Better Than ‘Classroom Management.’



1. Establishing a Vision for Learning



Leaders create a vision for learning. They communicate why the learning is important. Better yet, they help followers (students) unpack for themselves how and why the learning is important. When there is a clear vision, students will be empowered to move toward aims without having to be pushed there forcefully.



How are you clarifying a vision of learning for your students?

2. Building Strong Relationships 



Building positive relationships is essential to establishing a positive classroom learning culture. Leaders develop a ‘we’ feeling with students. Students feel safe, connected, like they belong. Every student feels like they are valued. The leader doesn’t use fear as a motivator. Instead, they rely on relationship building to correct and guide.



How can you commit to building stronger relationships with your students?



3. Generating Enthusiasm



Leaders are inspiring and energizing. They have passion for what they are doing and it’s contagious. They encourage others to come along on the learning journey. Managers don’t think about the energy they bring. They rely more on structure and organization to be efficient. Efficiency is more important than passion to the manager. 



What are ways you show enthusiasm not only for your subject but also for your students?



4. Building Trust 



When trust is lost, it does incredible damage. A leader is careful to ensure students don’t feel disrespected, overlooked, or misunderstood. When things go wrong, leaders help to shoulder blame. And when things go right, they are willing to share the credit. Leaders are quick to forgive. And work to repair a relationship that is hurting.



Will you protect the dignity of each child in your classroom?



5. Honest and Clear Communication



Even if you establish great, trusting relationships with students, you won’t have a strong learning culture unless you are communicating effectively. Sometimes this includes delivering hard truth to students. Sometimes it means standing firm. Setting boundaries. Giving consequences. However, consequences are never as effective as communication for establishing a positive change.



Are you consistently communicating with students and clarifying the classroom norms and expectations?



6. Leading By Example



Managers don’t feel the need to set an example. They view their role as making sure the kids are doing what they’re supposed to, but don’t look at their own actions. Leaders have high expectations for themselves. They start with the person in the mirror. They model the types of behaviors and mindsets they want to see in others.





How are you modeling the values you want to establish in your classroom?



7. Being Proactive vs. Reactive



Managers react. Leaders prevent. Managers focus on what just happened. Leaders focus on what will happen next. An effective leader anticipates the needs of followers and works to stay in front of problems. 



In what ways are being proactive in building a learning culture rather than being reactive when the culture goes off the tracks?



Question: What are your thoughts on building a learning culture in your classroom or school? What would you add to the thinking I’ve shared? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter.





Read More 7 Reasons ‘Classroom Leadership’ Is Better Than ‘Classroom Management’ {Infographic}



There are a number of visuals like the one above that illustrate some distinctions between a boss and a leader. I bet you can think of a specific person who characterizes the boss list. This type of person tends to make big impression. You can probably also think of someone who exhibits the leader qualities. You probably admire that person. Of course, these are illustrations intended for the workplace, not the classroom.



Clearly, they are relevant to school administrators, but I’m also thinking they can be applied to classroom leaders as well, aka teachers. In fact, they can apply to anyone charged with leading people and charged with getting something done.



Here’s another. This one is similar but contrasting management vs. leadership.





Source: Verma and Wideman (1994)

Most everyone would agree leadership is a top priority in moving any group of people toward a desired outcome or goal. But in education we use the term classroom management frequently to refer to how teachers get things done in the classroom. Some educators actually reject the term. They would say you manage things (grading papers) and you lead people (students). 



But I’m not overly concerned about using the term classroom management as long as we can work from a shared understanding of the meaning. To me, it’s all about the things we do to create a positive and productive learning culture in the classroom.



But that will never happen just by managing. If we rely on the lists in the left columns without having the necessary leadership qualities, we are doomed to failure. Sure, some students will still learn, but the overall classroom learning culture will not thrive. And there will be little passion or inspiration for learning.



But on the other hand, if we don’t also establish some ‘management’ qualities to go with leadership, we may have great ideas and willing students but a lack of specific steps to achieve the goal.



Although several items from each column have value in context, I would always choose leaders over managers. Most everyone leans one way or another.



In fact, most every problem that persists in the classroom is at its root a leadership issue. That is not to blame the ‘leader’ but to say that if an ongoing problem is to be overcome it will usually happen by good leadership and not through better management.



Here are 7 Reasons ‘Classroom Leadership’ Is Better Than ‘Classroom Management.’



1. Establishing a Vision for Learning



Leaders create a vision for learning. They communicate why the learning is important. Better yet, they help followers (students) unpack for themselves how and why the learning is important. When there is a clear vision, students will be empowered to move toward aims without having to be pushed there forcefully.



How are you clarifying a vision of learning for your students?

2. Building Strong Relationships 



Building positive relationships is essential to establishing a positive classroom learning culture. Leaders develop a ‘we’ feeling with students. Students feel safe, connected, like they belong. Every student feels like they are valued. The leader doesn’t use fear as a motivator. Instead, they rely on relationship building to correct and guide.



How can you commit to building stronger relationships with your students?



3. Generating Enthusiasm



Leaders are inspiring and energizing. They have passion for what they are doing and it’s contagious. They encourage others to come along on the learning journey. Managers don’t think about the energy they bring. They rely more on structure and organization to be efficient. Efficiency is more important than passion to the manager. 



What are ways you show enthusiasm not only for your subject but also for your students?



4. Building Trust 



When trust is lost, it does incredible damage. A leader is careful to ensure students don’t feel disrespected, overlooked, or misunderstood. When things go wrong, leaders help to shoulder blame. And when things go right, they are willing to share the credit. Leaders are quick to forgive. And work to repair a relationship that is hurting.



Will you protect the dignity of each child in your classroom?



5. Honest and Clear Communication



Even if you establish great, trusting relationships with students, you won’t have a strong learning culture unless you are communicating effectively. Sometimes this includes delivering hard truth to students. Sometimes it means standing firm. Setting boundaries. Giving consequences. However, consequences are never as effective as communication for establishing a positive change.



Are you consistently communicating with students and clarifying the classroom norms and expectations?



6. Leading By Example



Managers don’t feel the need to set an example. They view their role as making sure the kids are doing what they’re supposed to, but don’t look at their own actions. Leaders have high expectations for themselves. They start with the person in the mirror. They model the types of behaviors and mindsets they want to see in others.





How are you modeling the values you want to establish in your classroom?



7. Being Proactive vs. Reactive



Managers react. Leaders prevent. Managers focus on what just happened. Leaders focus on what will happen next. An effective leader anticipates the needs of followers and works to stay in front of problems. 



In what ways are being proactive in building a learning culture rather than being reactive when the culture goes off the tracks?



Question: What are your thoughts on building a learning culture in your classroom or school? What would you add to the thinking I’ve shared? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter.





Read More 7 Reasons ‘Classroom Leadership’ Is Better Than ‘Classroom Management’ {Infographic}





Are you beating the state average? The teacher down the hall? The school down the road? How about the Fins or the Singaporeans? How do your scores measure up? Is your school keeping up with the Joneses?



Lately, I’ve seen lots of comparisons of achievement data. Including the PISA international benchmark results that were just released. Once again, U.S. scores were not stellar in comparison to some of the best test takers in the world.



While reading Linchpin by Seth Godin, I was challenged to think about how we define success. And where we spend our energy to develop world class schools. Godin illustrates how difficult it is to be the best by any statistical comparison.

❝Donald Bradman was an Australian cricket player. He was also the best athlete who ever lived. By any statistical measure, he was comparatively the best at what he did. He was far better at cricket than Michael Jordan was at basketball or Jack Nicklaus was at golf.

It’s very difficult to be as good as Donald Bradman. In fact, it’s impossible. Here’s a chart of Bradman’s batting average compared with the other all-time cricket leaders. 

Bradman’s Test batting average was 99.94. In cricket, a player’s batting average is the

total number of runs scored by the number of times they have been out.


Everyone else is quite grouped near sixty. Bradman was in a league of his own, not even close to the others. 

The challenge of becoming a linchpin solely based on your skill at plying a craft or doing a task or playing a sport is that the market can find other people with the skill with surprising ease. Plenty of people can play the flute as well as you can, clean a house as well as you can, program in Python as well as you can. If all you can do is the task and you’re not in a league of your own at doing the task, you’re not indispensable. 

Statistics are a dangerous deal, because statistics make it strikingly clear that you’re only a little better than the other guy. Or perhaps not better at all.

When you start down the path of beating the competition based on something that can be easily measured, you’re betting that with practice and determination, you can do better than Len Hutton or Jack Hobbs did at cricket. Not a little better, but Don Bradman better.

And you can’t. 



And this demonstrates the problem with measuring school performance based on standardized tests. To clarify…



1. Someone is always statistically better. 



You cannot be the best just on your effort or the effort of the students in your classroom or school. You cannot measure up. Even your best will not be enough. There will always be a Don Bradman. So when we accept this measure as judge and jury of our effectiveness, we are setting ourselves up for frustration and inadequacy.



2. More achievement is not always better.



A recent article about the learning culture in Singapore shows just how unhealthy a culture of over-achievement can be. Even in our own schools, we should not celebrate unhealthy attitudes toward achievement. How many ulcers, headaches, and mental health issues are a result of students, and educators, who are placing too much emphasis on achievement results? Being an effective human being involves a healthy attitude toward achievement, not high achievement no matter what it takes.



3. What can be measured doesn’t always count the most.



And what counts the most can’t always be measured. There are so many things about being an effective learner, a well-educated person beyond test scores. In fact, there are many people in our communities who are incredibly successful and lifelong learners, but who did not excel as test takers. Their success is attributable to many intangibles that cannot be easily measured. As Godin points out, “The easier it is to quantify the less it’s worth.” The most valuable things are often hard to measure.








4. High test scores are not a vision for learning.



When raising test scores becomes a chief aim of a school or district, it can easily become the vision of the school. And raising test scores is not a vision for learning. This approach marginalizes the individual and their learning needs in favor of data objectives that may not even be meaningful to the individual. In a sense, it dehumanizes learning. A vision for learning should always focus on the individual learner and create a culture that helps each student reach his or her goals. 



5. A school’s identity should not be contingent on achievement.



The identity of a school, or individual, should not be contingent on achievement. It should be comprised of the way the school seeks to fulfill its mission. We should seek to have a high level of commitment, collaboration, and care. We should strive to help our students achieve, but also to fully engage, to be more excited about learning, to gain hope, to learn more about who they are, and to fulfill their potential in the broadest sense. We control our identity, but we can’t always control our scores. Any teacher knows this, but sometimes we do our best work with students who DO NOT demonstrate achievement on tests.



So what’s the alternative to playing the test score game? Godin suggests using emotional labor to make yourself indispensable. I think this principle can be applied to schools, too. The idea is to focus energy on connecting, supporting, reaching out, lifting up, and offering hope better than anyone else. It is always teaching students first, then curriculum.



Even though many educators realize how important emotional labor is, it is rarely included in strategic plans, teacher evaluations, or educator standards. It is not considered a strategic advantage. In my review of my state’s principal standards, the word data was found 15 times. By contrast, the word relationships was not to be found. The era of accountability has created an assembly line approach to schooling. It seems to almost eliminate the human element. 



But the truth is the human element is everything in education and in most every profession. Once you have achieved a measure of expertise in polishing your craft, you become a game-changer only through your interaction with each child. Your emotional labor is what makes you able to do your job unlike anyone else on the planet. And if your school collectively does it’s emotional labor better than anyone else, it will indeed be world class. And I’m betting your test scores will improve as an added bonus.



Question: How do you view the role of emotional labor in your classroom and school? Is it a measure of success? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Reasons to Look Beyond Test Scores as the Measure of School Success





Are you beating the state average? The teacher down the hall? The school down the road? How about the Fins or the Singaporeans? How do your scores measure up? Is your school keeping up with the Joneses?



Lately, I’ve seen lots of comparisons of achievement data. Including the PISA international benchmark results that were just released. Once again, U.S. scores were not stellar in comparison to some of the best test takers in the world.



While reading Linchpin by Seth Godin, I was challenged to think about how we define success. And where we spend our energy to develop world class schools. Godin illustrates how difficult it is to be the best by any statistical comparison.

❝Donald Bradman was an Australian cricket player. He was also the best athlete who ever lived. By any statistical measure, he was comparatively the best at what he did. He was far better at cricket than Michael Jordan was at basketball or Jack Nicklaus was at golf.

It’s very difficult to be as good as Donald Bradman. In fact, it’s impossible. Here’s a chart of Bradman’s batting average compared with the other all-time cricket leaders. 

Bradman’s Test batting average was 99.94. In cricket, a player’s batting average is the

total number of runs scored by the number of times they have been out.


Everyone else is quite grouped near sixty. Bradman was in a league of his own, not even close to the others. 

The challenge of becoming a linchpin solely based on your skill at plying a craft or doing a task or playing a sport is that the market can find other people with the skill with surprising ease. Plenty of people can play the flute as well as you can, clean a house as well as you can, program in Python as well as you can. If all you can do is the task and you’re not in a league of your own at doing the task, you’re not indispensable. 

Statistics are a dangerous deal, because statistics make it strikingly clear that you’re only a little better than the other guy. Or perhaps not better at all.

When you start down the path of beating the competition based on something that can be easily measured, you’re betting that with practice and determination, you can do better than Len Hutton or Jack Hobbs did at cricket. Not a little better, but Don Bradman better.

And you can’t. 



And this demonstrates the problem with measuring school performance based on standardized tests. To clarify…



1. Someone is always statistically better. 



You cannot be the best just on your effort or the effort of the students in your classroom or school. You cannot measure up. Even your best will not be enough. There will always be a Don Bradman. So when we accept this measure as judge and jury of our effectiveness, we are setting ourselves up for frustration and inadequacy.



2. More achievement is not always better.



A recent article about the learning culture in Singapore shows just how unhealthy a culture of over-achievement can be. Even in our own schools, we should not celebrate unhealthy attitudes toward achievement. How many ulcers, headaches, and mental health issues are a result of students, and educators, who are placing too much emphasis on achievement results? Being an effective human being involves a healthy attitude toward achievement, not high achievement no matter what it takes.



3. What can be measured doesn’t always count the most.



And what counts the most can’t always be measured. There are so many things about being an effective learner, a well-educated person beyond test scores. In fact, there are many people in our communities who are incredibly successful and lifelong learners, but who did not excel as test takers. Their success is attributable to many intangibles that cannot be easily measured. As Godin points out, “The easier it is to quantify the less it’s worth.” The most valuable things are often hard to measure.








4. High test scores are not a vision for learning.



When raising test scores becomes a chief aim of a school or district, it can easily become the vision of the school. And raising test scores is not a vision for learning. This approach marginalizes the individual and their learning needs in favor of data objectives that may not even be meaningful to the individual. In a sense, it dehumanizes learning. A vision for learning should always focus on the individual learner and create a culture that helps each student reach his or her goals. 



5. A school’s identity should not be contingent on achievement.



The identity of a school, or individual, should not be contingent on achievement. It should be comprised of the way the school seeks to fulfill its mission. We should seek to have a high level of commitment, collaboration, and care. We should strive to help our students achieve, but also to fully engage, to be more excited about learning, to gain hope, to learn more about who they are, and to fulfill their potential in the broadest sense. We control our identity, but we can’t always control our scores. Any teacher knows this, but sometimes we do our best work with students who DO NOT demonstrate achievement on tests.



So what’s the alternative to playing the test score game? Godin suggests using emotional labor to make yourself indispensable. I think this principle can be applied to schools, too. The idea is to focus energy on connecting, supporting, reaching out, lifting up, and offering hope better than anyone else. It is always teaching students first, then curriculum.



Even though many educators realize how important emotional labor is, it is rarely included in strategic plans, teacher evaluations, or educator standards. It is not considered a strategic advantage. In my review of my state’s principal standards, the word data was found 15 times. By contrast, the word relationships was not to be found. The era of accountability has created an assembly line approach to schooling. It seems to almost eliminate the human element. 



But the truth is the human element is everything in education and in most every profession. Once you have achieved a measure of expertise in polishing your craft, you become a game-changer only through your interaction with each child. Your emotional labor is what makes you able to do your job unlike anyone else on the planet. And if your school collectively does it’s emotional labor better than anyone else, it will indeed be world class. And I’m betting your test scores will improve as an added bonus.



Question: How do you view the role of emotional labor in your classroom and school? Is it a measure of success? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Reasons to Look Beyond Test Scores as the Measure of School Success





Since VH1 never produced this important countdown (surprising I know), I am stepping up to the plate. For some reason, teachers and schools are often overlooked in rock music. I guess there was Hot for Teacher and Smokin’ in the Boys Room. But that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I’m looking for songs that actually have some educational/inspirational value related to learning. And for this list, they have to be from the 80’s.



I’ll share my list and you can leave a comment to let me know what you would add. Enjoy!

10. Rock Me Amadeus by Falco (1985)

The movie Amadeus was a huge hit that sparked an interest in classical music and the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s always great when pop culture leads to learning, even if the song is really weird. The Broadway show Hamilton is having a similar impact today. 









9. One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston (1988)







This Emmy Award winning song was the anthem of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a song about reaching higher and striving to be the best you can be. It’s really connected to the mission of educators, to help students see their potential and dream big dreams.



8. Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFarren 





If everyone in your school came to school every day with this attitude, what kind of place would it be? We need classrooms and schools filled with positive and supportive people.



7. Chariots of Fire by Vangelis (1981)





This instrumental theme from the movie by the same name was included on my list for a couple of reasons. It’s an inspirational piece of music for sure, but it’s also from a film that I find very compelling. It’s a fact-based story of Olympians who find great meaning and purpose in their running. Educators should also run their race with this type of commitment and purpose. 



6. We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel (1989)





This song has been used in history classes over and again. In fact, there is a webpage that details the historical events listed in the song.



5. Highway to the Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins (1986)





You probably recognize this song from the hit movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise. For teachers, the danger zone might be the day after Halloween in an elementary school or after school parking lot duty in a high school. There are plenty of “dangerous” parts of the job.



4. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 (1987)





This is one of my favorite songs. As an educator, you want to have success with every student and every lesson. But this is tough work and failure is inevitable. And there is always work to do. Until school works for every kid, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.



3. Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson (1987)





The lyrics of this song are powerful. Great educators must concern themselves with social good. Be the change.



2. Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds (1985)





The Breakfast Club is one of the most iconic movies of the 80’s. The themes are really important ones for educators to understand. The need to be understood, to feel a sense of belonging, etc. No one wants to be forgotten.



1. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey (1981)





Not a song about school. But it is a song about taking a chance, going places, and reaching for dreams. The best educators are dream builders and give hope to their students. Don’t stop believin’!!! 



Question: What 80’s tunes would you add to my list? How do they inspire you as an educator? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More The Ultimate 80’s Countdown for Educators





Since VH1 never produced this important countdown (surprising I know), I am stepping up to the plate. For some reason, teachers and schools are often overlooked in rock music. I guess there was Hot for Teacher and Smokin’ in the Boys Room. But that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I’m looking for songs that actually have some educational/inspirational value related to learning. And for this list, they have to be from the 80’s.



I’ll share my list and you can leave a comment to let me know what you would add. Enjoy!

10. Rock Me Amadeus by Falco (1985)

The movie Amadeus was a huge hit that sparked an interest in classical music and the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s always great when pop culture leads to learning, even if the song is really weird. The Broadway show Hamilton is having a similar impact today. 









9. One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston (1988)







This Emmy Award winning song was the anthem of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a song about reaching higher and striving to be the best you can be. It’s really connected to the mission of educators, to help students see their potential and dream big dreams.



8. Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFarren 





If everyone in your school came to school every day with this attitude, what kind of place would it be? We need classrooms and schools filled with positive and supportive people.



7. Chariots of Fire by Vangelis (1981)





This instrumental theme from the movie by the same name was included on my list for a couple of reasons. It’s an inspirational piece of music for sure, but it’s also from a film that I find very compelling. It’s a fact-based story of Olympians who find great meaning and purpose in their running. Educators should also run their race with this type of commitment and purpose. 



6. We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel (1989)





This song has been used in history classes over and again. In fact, there is a webpage that details the historical events listed in the song.



5. Highway to the Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins (1986)





You probably recognize this song from the hit movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise. For teachers, the danger zone might be the day after Halloween in an elementary school or after school parking lot duty in a high school. There are plenty of “dangerous” parts of the job.



4. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 (1987)





This is one of my favorite songs. As an educator, you want to have success with every student and every lesson. But this is tough work and failure is inevitable. And there is always work to do. Until school works for every kid, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.



3. Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson (1987)





The lyrics of this song are powerful. Great educators must concern themselves with social good. Be the change.



2. Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds (1985)





The Breakfast Club is one of the most iconic movies of the 80’s. The themes are really important ones for educators to understand. The need to be understood, to feel a sense of belonging, etc. No one wants to be forgotten.



1. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey (1981)





Not a song about school. But it is a song about taking a chance, going places, and reaching for dreams. The best educators are dream builders and give hope to their students. Don’t stop believin’!!! 



Question: What 80’s tunes would you add to my list? How do they inspire you as an educator? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More The Ultimate 80’s Countdown for Educators





Developing a shared vision for technology in your school should include lots of conversations. These conversations should occur among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. It’s important to think through the pros and cons of technology use and how technology can play an valuable role in learning.


Sometimes I think people hold ideas about technology that only consider one side of the issue. Forward thinking educators and parents want to race ahead with technology implementation without considering some of the drawbacks.


On the other hand, status quo defenders quickly point out the drawbacks of technology use in the classroom without considering how important technology will be to student success in a rapidly changing world. 


To bridge the divide, we need to have more honest conversations and seek to understand the various issues. Whichever way we lean, we need to consider various perspectives and use good thinking to arrive at common ground.


Here are 5 conversations to have about education technology in your classroom or school.


1. Why is technology use important?


Even if you don’t really like the prominent role of technology in our society, it is indisputable that more and more opportunities are tied to the effective use of technology for learning and productivity. In our modern world, digital technology is how stuff gets done. And clearly the internet is not going away. And mobile technology is not just a fad. 


So if we are going to truly prepare students for their future, we must include technology as an essential part of the learning process. Technology needs to be implemented in authentic ways that reflect the way it is used by people across a wide variety of professions. 


We should also invite students to use their imaginations to consider how technology might be used in the future. Opportunities for innovation abound. The ability to adapt and create might allow students to ‘create’ a job for themselves even when the traditional way of ‘finding’ a job might prove more difficult. All the rules are changing.
2. What are things technology won’t do for your classroom or school?


Technology should not be viewed as something that will automatically result in better learning for students. In fact, technology can actually hurt learning if it is not implemented properly. It’s important to start with a strong learning culture and a teacher who inspires and guides learning. Effective technology use requires effective leadership.


So let’s talk openly about the limitations of technology. 
  • Adding technology won’t make a poor lesson suddenly great.
  • It won’t fix a learning culture that is sluggish or disengaged.
  • It won’t necessarily result in higher standardized test scores.
  • Technology isn’t appropriate for every learning task.
  • Technology can be a distraction. 
  • It can also bring new concerns for student wellness and safety.


Adding technology to lessons doesn’t make them great lessons. #edchat #edtech #sunchat pic.twitter.com/iKWUYTfOGr

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 25, 2016



3. How can we overcome challenges that come with technology use?

Too many educators focus on the drawbacks or challenges to technology use and never even consider how these obstacles can be overcome. There are significant challenges when using technology for learning. However, there are plenty of schools that are doing a great job of addressing and overcoming every one of the challenges. But it takes a concerted effort to address these concerns.
  • Educators must model safe and appropriate use of technology.
  • Schools must teach digital citizenship and activate students as digital leaders.
  • Schools must support professional learning for teachers on technology use.
  • Effective pedagogy must be prioritized over using technology for the sake of technology.
  • Schools must develop strong relationships with students, parents, etc. so that there is a cooperative effort to make technology work for learning. 
4. What are the most valuable ways we can use technology for learning?


Not all uses of technology are created equal. Some ways of using technology are more valuable than others. We need to use technology in ways that are high leverage for learning. 


When used effectively, technology can be powerful. In fact, it can transform learning. In an earlier post I listed 7 Ways Technology Transforms Learning. Most importantly, technology can empower learning. It can give learners greater voice, more opportunities, and provide the platform to create new knowledge in a very personal and customized way.


Some ways of using technology are not as effective for learning. They don’t result in greater student agency, deeper thinking, or more opportunities to connect with others.
  • Drill and kill on a device is still low leverage.
  • Activities that are simply “busy work” are still mindless even on a device.
  • Test prep programs are not my idea of authentic technology use.
  • Worksheets are not more engaging just because they are pushed out on a device.
Effective learning with technology should involve students in making decisions about their learning. There should be opportunities for students to make learning choices about time, place, path, or pace. 


5. How are you growing in your use of technology as an educator?


One of the most important parts of successful use of technology in schools is that educators are growing in their use of technology, too. It’s critical for leaders to model learning with digital tools. In fact, anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader, too. It’s not something reserved for the technology department or techie teachers only. Everyone needs to model learning in this area.


I think some teachers still think technology is reserved for students who are going into IT or some other computer related field. But that’s just not the case. Nearly every profession will be impacted by technology advances. Moreover, every person needs skills for how to use technology for learning and creating. It’s not about knowing specific tech tools. It’s about knowing how to be an effective learner in a modern digital world. Using the tools just flows from the needs of being a learner.


Everyone is at a different place on their personal learning journey. Educators should understand and embrace this. Not every teacher has to be at a certain level. But the point is to continuously grow. Keep learning and taking risks with technology. Always.


Question: How are these technology conversations going for you? What other conversations should educators be having related to technology? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Five Critical #EdTech Conversations For Your School





Developing a shared vision for technology in your school should include lots of conversations. These conversations should occur among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. It’s important to think through the pros and cons of technology use and how technology can play an valuable role in learning.


Sometimes I think people hold ideas about technology that only consider one side of the issue. Forward thinking educators and parents want to race ahead with technology implementation without considering some of the drawbacks.


On the other hand, status quo defenders quickly point out the drawbacks of technology use in the classroom without considering how important technology will be to student success in a rapidly changing world. 


To bridge the divide, we need to have more honest conversations and seek to understand the various issues. Whichever way we lean, we need to consider various perspectives and use good thinking to arrive at common ground.


Here are 5 conversations to have about education technology in your classroom or school.


1. Why is technology use important?


Even if you don’t really like the prominent role of technology in our society, it is indisputable that more and more opportunities are tied to the effective use of technology for learning and productivity. In our modern world, digital technology is how stuff gets done. And clearly the internet is not going away. And mobile technology is not just a fad. 


So if we are going to truly prepare students for their future, we must include technology as an essential part of the learning process. Technology needs to be implemented in authentic ways that reflect the way it is used by people across a wide variety of professions. 


We should also invite students to use their imaginations to consider how technology might be used in the future. Opportunities for innovation abound. The ability to adapt and create might allow students to ‘create’ a job for themselves even when the traditional way of ‘finding’ a job might prove more difficult. All the rules are changing.
2. What are things technology won’t do for your classroom or school?


Technology should not be viewed as something that will automatically result in better learning for students. In fact, technology can actually hurt learning if it is not implemented properly. It’s important to start with a strong learning culture and a teacher who inspires and guides learning. Effective technology use requires effective leadership.


So let’s talk openly about the limitations of technology. 
  • Adding technology won’t make a poor lesson suddenly great.
  • It won’t fix a learning culture that is sluggish or disengaged.
  • It won’t necessarily result in higher standardized test scores.
  • Technology isn’t appropriate for every learning task.
  • Technology can be a distraction. 
  • It can also bring new concerns for student wellness and safety.


Adding technology to lessons doesn’t make them great lessons. #edchat #edtech #sunchat pic.twitter.com/iKWUYTfOGr

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 25, 2016



3. How can we overcome challenges that come with technology use?

Too many educators focus on the drawbacks or challenges to technology use and never even consider how these obstacles can be overcome. There are significant challenges when using technology for learning. However, there are plenty of schools that are doing a great job of addressing and overcoming every one of the challenges. But it takes a concerted effort to address these concerns.
  • Educators must model safe and appropriate use of technology.
  • Schools must teach digital citizenship and activate students as digital leaders.
  • Schools must support professional learning for teachers on technology use.
  • Effective pedagogy must be prioritized over using technology for the sake of technology.
  • Schools must develop strong relationships with students, parents, etc. so that there is a cooperative effort to make technology work for learning. 
4. What are the most valuable ways we can use technology for learning?


Not all uses of technology are created equal. Some ways of using technology are more valuable than others. We need to use technology in ways that are high leverage for learning. 


When used effectively, technology can be powerful. In fact, it can transform learning. In an earlier post I listed 7 Ways Technology Transforms Learning. Most importantly, technology can empower learning. It can give learners greater voice, more opportunities, and provide the platform to create new knowledge in a very personal and customized way.


Some ways of using technology are not as effective for learning. They don’t result in greater student agency, deeper thinking, or more opportunities to connect with others.
  • Drill and kill on a device is still low leverage.
  • Activities that are simply “busy work” are still mindless even on a device.
  • Test prep programs are not my idea of authentic technology use.
  • Worksheets are not more engaging just because they are pushed out on a device.
Effective learning with technology should involve students in making decisions about their learning. There should be opportunities for students to make learning choices about time, place, path, or pace. 


5. How are you growing in your use of technology as an educator?


One of the most important parts of successful use of technology in schools is that educators are growing in their use of technology, too. It’s critical for leaders to model learning with digital tools. In fact, anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader, too. It’s not something reserved for the technology department or techie teachers only. Everyone needs to model learning in this area.


I think some teachers still think technology is reserved for students who are going into IT or some other computer related field. But that’s just not the case. Nearly every profession will be impacted by technology advances. Moreover, every person needs skills for how to use technology for learning and creating. It’s not about knowing specific tech tools. It’s about knowing how to be an effective learner in a modern digital world. Using the tools just flows from the needs of being a learner.


Everyone is at a different place on their personal learning journey. Educators should understand and embrace this. Not every teacher has to be at a certain level. But the point is to continuously grow. Keep learning and taking risks with technology. Always.


Question: How are these technology conversations going for you? What other conversations should educators be having related to technology? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Five Critical #EdTech Conversations For Your School



Recently, we had a faculty meeting to start our teachers thinking about their personal learning plans for this year. Personal learning plans are an important part of what we do to grow and learn as educators at Bolivar High School. I outlined what we do and why we do it in a previous blog post.



During our last meeting, I challenged our teachers to try to develop a learning plan that has the potential to be a game-changer for their own professional practice and for student learning. It’s easy to get in a pattern of just doing mostly the same things but trying to do them a little better. As a result, we may miss great opportunities to do something that would be completely different and possibly tranformational for student learning. It could be a game-changer.



I would certainly applaud those who seek to improve established practices, especially newer teachers. It’s much better than an approach that doesn’t seek growth at all. A worse scenario would be an educator who teaches exactly the same lessons year after year with little adaptation. Even the smallest incremental change is better than no effort to improve.



But for teachers who have developed their instructional foundation, it can be highly rewarding to take a risk that could be awesome or awful. You see I believe the things we often choose to pour our energies into are safe. We want to improve, but we aren’t comfortable enough with failure. If we are doing hard things, it can be highly rewarding, but it can also be terrifying.



During our staff meeting, I shared the video of Caine’s Arcade with our staff. I asked our teachers to consider how their own personal and professional learning is similar or perhaps different from Caine’s learning.






Each small group worked to develop a visual representation of how Caine’s Arcade might help us think about developing our own successful learning plans. These are a few of the characteristics often found in successful projects. 

1. Starts with Empathy – Empathy recognizes there is a problem to be solved. It involves seeing things from another person’s perspective and seeking to help make something better.

2. Rich Inquiry – Develop lots of questions to drive your learning forward. Seek out resources. Find the information you need to advance the project.

3. Deeper Learning – Apply the knowledge to create new understanding and original ideas. Invite complex thinking.

4. Meaningful Connections – Successful projects are usually personally meaningful, and they usually involve connections with others.

5. Autonomy – If you want commitment and engagement, not just compliance, autonomy is better. Our teachers are the ones who choose their project and are empowered to see it through.

6. Risk of Failure/Celebration of Success – Most meaningful projects have a chance of failure. The idea might not work. The more ideas we try, the more likely we are to find ones that are game-changers. We always need to reflect and celebrate what we’ve learned and what aspects are successful.



Our teachers shared some amazing insights from their reflection on the video. It was exciting to see the type of thinking happening around the room.


Here are some of the comments teachers shared on an exit survey:


It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to learn something new and different. I also love to experiment.
You telling us that if we try our plan and it fails, it’s OK.
I like that PLP is all about ownership and autonomy.
They will be something that has a positive impact on students and teachers.
Personal growth encouraged
The autonomy to make decisions of how I want to spend my time making a difference.
I feel good about the collaboration and the sharing that will take place. I feel like it’s a very open place to share good and new ideas
I want to continue to grow as a professional.
PLP’s hold me accountable for growth.
This next week we will have small group meetings (3-4) to share the ideas we have so far. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give and receive feedback. When we share our ideas, they almost always get better. Someone will have a suggestion or make a connection that will move our thinking forward. 


Caine’s Arcade was transformational. He didn’t necessarily have that in mind when he started, but he did have lots of big ideas. In the end, his little arcade started a movement that has impacted students, educators, and beyond. And some more pretty cool stuff happened for him too. Caine’s Arcade Part 2 details what happened after the initial video. It’s amazing.




Who knows what you might start at your school with an idea and the willingness to pursue it? Be willing to take a big chance and try something new for your students. Your dreams and passions make learning come alive for you and for your students.


Question: Some educators seem to think that new ideas are unnecessary. They say the fundamentals of learning and education are unchanging. Stay with the tried and true. What would you say to this type of thinking? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Not Just Better, But Different



Recently, we had a faculty meeting to start our teachers thinking about their personal learning plans for this year. Personal learning plans are an important part of what we do to grow and learn as educators at Bolivar High School. I outlined what we do and why we do it in a previous blog post.



During our last meeting, I challenged our teachers to try to develop a learning plan that has the potential to be a game-changer for their own professional practice and for student learning. It’s easy to get in a pattern of just doing mostly the same things but trying to do them a little better. As a result, we may miss great opportunities to do something that would be completely different and possibly tranformational for student learning. It could be a game-changer.



I would certainly applaud those who seek to improve established practices, especially newer teachers. It’s much better than an approach that doesn’t seek growth at all. A worse scenario would be an educator who teaches exactly the same lessons year after year with little adaptation. Even the smallest incremental change is better than no effort to improve.



But for teachers who have developed their instructional foundation, it can be highly rewarding to take a risk that could be awesome or awful. You see I believe the things we often choose to pour our energies into are safe. We want to improve, but we aren’t comfortable enough with failure. If we are doing hard things, it can be highly rewarding, but it can also be terrifying.



During our staff meeting, I shared the video of Caine’s Arcade with our staff. I asked our teachers to consider how their own personal and professional learning is similar or perhaps different from Caine’s learning.






Each small group worked to develop a visual representation of how Caine’s Arcade might help us think about developing our own successful learning plans. These are a few of the characteristics often found in successful projects. 

1. Starts with Empathy – Empathy recognizes there is a problem to be solved. It involves seeing things from another person’s perspective and seeking to help make something better.

2. Rich Inquiry – Develop lots of questions to drive your learning forward. Seek out resources. Find the information you need to advance the project.

3. Deeper Learning – Apply the knowledge to create new understanding and original ideas. Invite complex thinking.

4. Meaningful Connections – Successful projects are usually personally meaningful, and they usually involve connections with others.

5. Autonomy – If you want commitment and engagement, not just compliance, autonomy is better. Our teachers are the ones who choose their project and are empowered to see it through.

6. Risk of Failure/Celebration of Success – Most meaningful projects have a chance of failure. The idea might not work. The more ideas we try, the more likely we are to find ones that are game-changers. We always need to reflect and celebrate what we’ve learned and what aspects are successful.



Our teachers shared some amazing insights from their reflection on the video. It was exciting to see the type of thinking happening around the room.


Here are some of the comments teachers shared on an exit survey:


It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to learn something new and different. I also love to experiment.
You telling us that if we try our plan and it fails, it’s OK.
I like that PLP is all about ownership and autonomy.
They will be something that has a positive impact on students and teachers.
Personal growth encouraged
The autonomy to make decisions of how I want to spend my time making a difference.
I feel good about the collaboration and the sharing that will take place. I feel like it’s a very open place to share good and new ideas
I want to continue to grow as a professional.
PLP’s hold me accountable for growth.
This next week we will have small group meetings (3-4) to share the ideas we have so far. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give and receive feedback. When we share our ideas, they almost always get better. Someone will have a suggestion or make a connection that will move our thinking forward. 


Caine’s Arcade was transformational. He didn’t necessarily have that in mind when he started, but he did have lots of big ideas. In the end, his little arcade started a movement that has impacted students, educators, and beyond. And some more pretty cool stuff happened for him too. Caine’s Arcade Part 2 details what happened after the initial video. It’s amazing.




Who knows what you might start at your school with an idea and the willingness to pursue it? Be willing to take a big chance and try something new for your students. Your dreams and passions make learning come alive for you and for your students.


Question: Some educators seem to think that new ideas are unnecessary. They say the fundamentals of learning and education are unchanging. Stay with the tried and true. What would you say to this type of thinking? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Not Just Better, But Different



Recently, we had a faculty meeting to start our teachers thinking about their personal learning plans for this year. Personal learning plans are an important part of what we do to grow and learn as educators at Bolivar High School. I outlined what we do and why we do it in a previous blog post.



During our last meeting, I challenged our teachers to try to develop a learning plan that has the potential to be a game-changer for their own professional practice and for student learning. It’s easy to get in a pattern of just doing mostly the same things but trying to do them a little better. As a result, we may miss great opportunities to do something that would be completely different and possibly tranformational for student learning. It could be a game-changer.



I would certainly applaud those who seek to improve established practices, especially newer teachers. It’s much better than an approach that doesn’t seek growth at all. A worse scenario would be an educator who teaches exactly the same lessons year after year with little adaptation. Even the smallest incremental change is better than no effort to improve.



But for teachers who have developed their instructional foundation, it can be highly rewarding to take a risk that could be awesome or awful. You see I believe the things we often choose to pour our energies into are safe. We want to improve, but we aren’t comfortable enough with failure. If we are doing hard things, it can be highly rewarding, but it can also be terrifying.



During our staff meeting, I shared the video of Caine’s Arcade with our staff. I asked our teachers to consider how their own personal and professional learning is similar or perhaps different from Caine’s learning.






Each small group worked to develop a visual representation of how Caine’s Arcade might help us think about developing our own successful learning plans. These are a few of the characteristics often found in successful projects. 

1. Starts with Empathy – Empathy recognizes there is a problem to be solved. It involves seeing things from another person’s perspective and seeking to help make something better.

2. Rich Inquiry – Develop lots of questions to drive your learning forward. Seek out resources. Find the information you need to advance the project.

3. Deeper Learning – Apply the knowledge to create new understanding and original ideas. Invite complex thinking.

4. Meaningful Connections – Successful projects are usually personally meaningful, and they usually involve connections with others.

5. Autonomy – If you want commitment and engagement, not just compliance, autonomy is better. Our teachers are the ones who choose their project and are empowered to see it through.

6. Risk of Failure/Celebration of Success – Most meaningful projects have a chance of failure. The idea might not work. The more ideas we try, the more likely we are to find ones that are game-changers. We always need to reflect and celebrate what we’ve learned and what aspects are successful.



Our teachers shared some amazing insights from their reflection on the video. It was exciting to see the type of thinking happening around the room.


Here are some of the comments teachers shared on an exit survey:


It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to learn something new and different. I also love to experiment.
You telling us that if we try our plan and it fails, it’s OK.
I like that PLP is all about ownership and autonomy.
They will be something that has a positive impact on students and teachers.
Personal growth encouraged
The autonomy to make decisions of how I want to spend my time making a difference.
I feel good about the collaboration and the sharing that will take place. I feel like it’s a very open place to share good and new ideas
I want to continue to grow as a professional.
PLP’s hold me accountable for growth.
This next week we will have small group meetings (3-4) to share the ideas we have so far. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give and receive feedback. When we share our ideas, they almost always get better. Someone will have a suggestion or make a connection that will move our thinking forward. 


Caine’s Arcade was transformational. He didn’t necessarily have that in mind when he started, but he did have lots of big ideas. In the end, his little arcade started a movement that has impacted students, educators, and beyond. And some more pretty cool stuff happened for him too. Caine’s Arcade Part 2 details what happened after the initial video. It’s amazing.




Who knows what you might start at your school with an idea and the willingness to pursue it? Be willing to take a big chance and try something new for your students. Your dreams and passions make learning come alive for you and for your students.


Question: Some educators seem to think that new ideas are unnecessary. They say the fundamentals of learning and education are unchanging. Stay with the tried and true. What would you say to this type of thinking? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Not Just Better, But Different

If you’ve been on the fence about using Twitter to support your professional learning, this list might help. If you exhibit the following signs, it’s probably a good idea to just forget about Twitter.



1. You don’t understand Twitter and aren’t willing to learn.


2. You don’t need any more personal or professional support. You have all the friends you’ll ever need.


3. You have perfected your craft. Every kid is learning every day. You have no room for improvement.


4. You’ve never had a good idea someone else might benefit from.


5. You’re not interested in your voice being part of a larger conversation about education.


6. You only collaborate with colleagues in your school because they have cornered the market on how to teach well.


7. You don’t have time to do something that could be a game-changer for you and your students.
8. You’re afraid you might change your mind about something. You hold onto your beliefs about kids and learning like a security blanket. You wouldn’t want that disturbed. What if your flawed assumptions were challenged and didn’t hold up under scrutiny? Ouch!


9. You can’t believe amazing professional learning could be free and convenient and totally self-directed!?! But it is.


10. You’re so passionate about education and kids, you are afraid you will get addicted and have to go to therapy (warning: this could happen).



If this list doesn’t describe you, you might be a great candidate to use Twitter to grow your PLN (personal learning network). Twitter may seem a little difficult at first, but it’s a great way to challenge your thinking, find new resources, connect with educators across the globe, and consider new ideas that can help your professional practice.



Best of all, it’s free and can be done at your convenience, any time of day all from the comfort of wherever you are. There are really no wrong ways to use Twitter for professional learning as long as you feel it’s supporting your goals. For me, it’s been the most powerful professional learning possible. It’s been a game-changer.






Question: Is Twitter your thing? Or are you still on the sidelines? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook…or Twitter. 🙂

Read More 10 Signs Twitter PD Might Not Be Your Thing