Tag: learning





I bet you are a fantastic problem solver. Most educators have developed this ability because problems come at you all day long. And you make hundreds of decisions from dawn till dusk.



Our time is a precious resource that can be extremely scarce because of all the demands we face. If we’re not careful, the tyranny of the urgent will consume us and may crowd out time for what’s most important.



Can we agree that the things that are most urgent are often not the most important? Reflect on your day. There were things you felt had to be done. But at what cost?



When you spend all your time dealing with urgent matters, not considering what things would have the highest leverage for success, you are simply spinning your wheels. Lots of activity not going anywhere.



Benjamin Franklin dedicated 5 hours of his week to learning. His personal growth and learning was a priority. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey also share this personal commitment to learn at least one hour a day and probably more.



You will never reach your growth potential if you are captive to the urgent.



We did a strengths finder with our staff about a year ago. It was a survey instrument that gave us feedback on our strength areas. We shared these out in a meeting and enjoyed reflecting on how our differences make us collectively strong.



But we all got a chuckle when I asked for teachers to raise their hands if love of learning (one of the characteristics) made their top five strengths. Surprisingly, in this sizable group of educators, only 2-3 teachers had it in their top five.



Of course, I think our teachers love learning. But I also wonder how much of a priority we are giving to our own growth and learning. I challenge you to spend at least 5 hours a week learning and see how it impacts your effectiveness.



For me, my learning each week involves reading, blogging, connecting with other educators on Twitter, and thinking and reflecting. 



Make time to support your own growth and learning and watch how it influences the learning and growth of your students.



The most successful people in the world are extremely busy and they are still finding time to read and learn consistently. Don’t let the urgent things rule over you. Take back what’s important and invest in your own growth.



How are you growing and making time for the 5-hour rule? What are you reading? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Don’t Let What’s Urgent Keep You From What’s Important





I bet you are a fantastic problem solver. Most educators have developed this ability because problems come at you all day long. And you make hundreds of decisions from dawn till dusk.



Our time is a precious resource that can be extremely scarce because of all the demands we face. If we’re not careful, the tyranny of the urgent will consume us and may crowd out time for what’s most important.



Can we agree that the things that are most urgent are often not the most important? Reflect on your day. There were things you felt had to be done. But at what cost?



When you spend all your time dealing with urgent matters, not considering what things would have the highest leverage for success, you are simply spinning your wheels. Lots of activity not going anywhere.



Benjamin Franklin dedicated 5 hours of his week to learning. His personal growth and learning was a priority. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey also share this personal commitment to learn at least one hour a day and probably more.



You will never reach your growth potential if you are captive to the urgent.



We did a strengths finder with our staff about a year ago. It was a survey instrument that gave us feedback on our strength areas. We shared these out in a meeting and enjoyed reflecting on how our differences make us collectively strong.



But we all got a chuckle when I asked for teachers to raise their hands if love of learning (one of the characteristics) made their top five strengths. Surprisingly, in this sizable group of educators, only 2-3 teachers had it in their top five.



Of course, I think our teachers love learning. But I also wonder how much of a priority we are giving to our own growth and learning. I challenge you to spend at least 5 hours a week learning and see how it impacts your effectiveness.



For me, my learning each week involves reading, blogging, connecting with other educators on Twitter, and thinking and reflecting. 



Make time to support your own growth and learning and watch how it influences the learning and growth of your students.



The most successful people in the world are extremely busy and they are still finding time to read and learn consistently. Don’t let the urgent things rule over you. Take back what’s important and invest in your own growth.



How are you growing and making time for the 5-hour rule? What are you reading? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Don’t Let What’s Urgent Keep You From What’s Important





Some things we communicate intentionally. And sometimes when we fail to communicate intentionally, we send a message that we didn’t mean to send.




Here are 11 things you might unintentionally be communicating to your students.



1. When you don’t wait for all students to get quiet and give you their attention before you start talking, you might be communicating that it’s not really important that they listen to you.



2. If you complain about the school, other teachers, or the way things are, your students will probably think it’s okay to be negative about the school, other teachers, and probably your classroom too.



3. When you pass a student in the hall or they enter your room and you don’t say hello or call them by name, they may think you don’t really care about them.



4. If you give a grade for every assignment or activity and talk about how “this or that is going to be on the test,” your students may think your class is more about grades than learning.



5. If the questions you ask have just one correct answer, there’s a good chance your students will think your class is all about right answers, not about being better thinkers.



6. If you only recognize the ‘A’ students or celebrate the kids who have high test scores, that may communicate that only the ‘smart’ kids matter and that growth is not valued.

7. If you make mistakes in front of your students and then act defensive or embarrassed, you might be sending the message that only perfection is accepted and risk taking is not appreciated.



8. When you break a school policy or act like the rules are no big deal, you might send the message you don’t really value a culture of respect and shared responsibility.



9. If you aren’t intentional about making your classroom innovative and future driven, you may be sending the message to students that what their parents learned in school will be good enough for them too.



10. When you come in dragging, lack energy, or just don’t give your best, you might be communicating to students that it’s okay to try hard only when you feel like it.



11. If you don’t give students choices in their learning or opportunities to pursue their passions, they may view learning as more about compliance than actually being about…well…learning.



We have to be very careful about what we are communicating. Kids are always watching. They want to see alignment between our words and actions. They are looking to see what we really think, what we really believe, and how much we really care about them.



What is being communicated in your school unintentionally? I think that’s a good question to consider. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Things You Might Unintentionally Be Communicating to Your Students





Some things we communicate intentionally. And sometimes when we fail to communicate intentionally, we send a message that we didn’t mean to send.




Here are 11 things you might unintentionally be communicating to your students.



1. When you don’t wait for all students to get quiet and give you their attention before you start talking, you might be communicating that it’s not really important that they listen to you.



2. If you complain about the school, other teachers, or the way things are, your students will probably think it’s okay to be negative about the school, other teachers, and probably your classroom too.



3. When you pass a student in the hall or they enter your room and you don’t say hello or call them by name, they may think you don’t really care about them.



4. If you give a grade for every assignment or activity and talk about how “this or that is going to be on the test,” your students may think your class is more about grades than learning.



5. If the questions you ask have just one correct answer, there’s a good chance your students will think your class is all about right answers, not about being better thinkers.



6. If you only recognize the ‘A’ students or celebrate the kids who have high test scores, that may communicate that only the ‘smart’ kids matter and that growth is not valued.

7. If you make mistakes in front of your students and then act defensive or embarrassed, you might be sending the message that only perfection is accepted and risk taking is not appreciated.



8. When you break a school policy or act like the rules are no big deal, you might send the message you don’t really value a culture of respect and shared responsibility.



9. If you aren’t intentional about making your classroom innovative and future driven, you may be sending the message to students that what their parents learned in school will be good enough for them too.



10. When you come in dragging, lack energy, or just don’t give your best, you might be communicating to students that it’s okay to try hard only when you feel like it.



11. If you don’t give students choices in their learning or opportunities to pursue their passions, they may view learning as more about compliance than actually being about…well…learning.



We have to be very careful about what we are communicating. Kids are always watching. They want to see alignment between our words and actions. They are looking to see what we really think, what we really believe, and how much we really care about them.



What is being communicated in your school unintentionally? I think that’s a good question to consider. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Things You Might Unintentionally Be Communicating to Your Students

Alec Couros shared this on Facebook: Every “new” revolution or trend in education is inevitably accompanied by the critics who wisely note “We tried this back in the x0’s. If you want change to happen and to stick, engage your historians to better understand why things failed the first time around. I then shared his post on […]

Read More Been there, done that? Actually, no.



The current generation of students is dealing with more stress and anxiety than ever before. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but regardless of the causes we must work to help address the reality.



Here are the stats as reported in an article from Time:

A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)

We hear the stories every day of kids fighting depression, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with problems with friends, parents, or both. There seem to be more kids than ever who are no longer living with parents at all.



And here’s the thing, if you are depressed or filled with anxiety, how are you going to focus your energy on learning? You probably won’t unless you shift your thinking. Or unless something in your environment helps you shift your thinking.



One of our teachers commented, “I want my class to be an oasis for students. For the time they are in my class, I want it to be so good they forget the problems on the outside.”



So how do you do that? How can you help kids shift energy from a focus on problems to a focus on learning? 



Here’s what won’t work.



“Class, yesterday we worked on such and such and today we will do such and such. So let’s get started.”



Ready, set, go.



It’s an abrupt attempt to start learning. That won’t work because a bunch of kids in class are still thinking about how bad they feel, what was said to them that’s hurtful, or how they are going to deal with that personal problem. They are distracted. They aren’t emotionally in a good place to learn.



I believe every learner would benefit from more ‘right-brain’ directed starters in class. Lead with something that helps them access positive emotions, creativity, empathy, and connection.



It might take a few minutes to plan and execute these strategies, but it will be well worth it. In the end, there will be more learning by  helping students get the right focus. Start class by shifting the energy. Get kids in the right mindset first.



So here are 9 possibilities to make this happen. Find ways to open your class with one or more of these. And, look for ways to have these things show up throughout your class, too. It will help to inspire learning. 



1. Humor – Tell a joke, make fun of yourself, or do something zany and off the wall.



2. Music – Play upbeat music as students are coming into class. It’s amazing how the right music can put us in a different mood. 



3. Relaxed Breathing – Slow, deep breathing and quiet relaxation can help students to calm body and mind.



4. Imagination – Have kids write or share with each other on topics that require imagination. What if you could time travel? What time would you visit? Why?



5. Drama – Create some fun drama in the class. Have a debate about something ridiculous. Launch an investigation. Make it absurd. Be over the top.



6. Play – Toss a ball around the class. Have a quick game. Nothing too competitive. Just bring some whimsy and playfulness to class. 



7. Movement – Stand up and stretch. Give a high five to someone. Or go for a quick walk outside of class.



8. Sharing Gratitude – Ask students to share something they’re thankful for. Help them be grateful for the little things.



9. Stories – Share stories real and imagined. Find out what’s going on in their lives. I always had some winning stories that I told just about every year. Kids were on the edge of their seats.



These techniques are not intended to treat anxiety or depression, but they can temporarily relieve the symptoms. Of course, students who have depressive disorders need professional help. But for the time they are in your classroom, maybe you can help them focus on learning by using these strategies.



What do you think? Do you have other ideas for shifting the energy in your classroom? I listed several general categories. I would love to hear your specific ideas. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom



The current generation of students is dealing with more stress and anxiety than ever before. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but regardless of the causes we must work to help address the reality.



Here are the stats as reported in an article from Time:

A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)

We hear the stories every day of kids fighting depression, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with problems with friends, parents, or both. There seem to be more kids than ever who are no longer living with parents at all.



And here’s the thing, if you are depressed or filled with anxiety, how are you going to focus your energy on learning? You probably won’t unless you shift your thinking. Or unless something in your environment helps you shift your thinking.



One of our teachers commented, “I want my class to be an oasis for students. For the time they are in my class, I want it to be so good they forget the problems on the outside.”



So how do you do that? How can you help kids shift energy from a focus on problems to a focus on learning? 



Here’s what won’t work.



“Class, yesterday we worked on such and such and today we will do such and such. So let’s get started.”



Ready, set, go.



It’s an abrupt attempt to start learning. That won’t work because a bunch of kids in class are still thinking about how bad they feel, what was said to them that’s hurtful, or how they are going to deal with that personal problem. They are distracted. They aren’t emotionally in a good place to learn.



I believe every learner would benefit from more ‘right-brain’ directed starters in class. Lead with something that helps them access positive emotions, creativity, empathy, and connection.



It might take a few minutes to plan and execute these strategies, but it will be well worth it. In the end, there will be more learning by  helping students get the right focus. Start class by shifting the energy. Get kids in the right mindset first.



So here are 9 possibilities to make this happen. Find ways to open your class with one or more of these. And, look for ways to have these things show up throughout your class, too. It will help to inspire learning. 



1. Humor – Tell a joke, make fun of yourself, or do something zany and off the wall.



2. Music – Play upbeat music as students are coming into class. It’s amazing how the right music can put us in a different mood. 



3. Relaxed Breathing – Slow, deep breathing and quiet relaxation can help students to calm body and mind.



4. Imagination – Have kids write or share with each other on topics that require imagination. What if you could time travel? What time would you visit? Why?



5. Drama – Create some fun drama in the class. Have a debate about something ridiculous. Launch an investigation. Make it absurd. Be over the top.



6. Play – Toss a ball around the class. Have a quick game. Nothing too competitive. Just bring some whimsy and playfulness to class. 



7. Movement – Stand up and stretch. Give a high five to someone. Or go for a quick walk outside of class.



8. Sharing Gratitude – Ask students to share something they’re thankful for. Help them be grateful for the little things.



9. Stories – Share stories real and imagined. Find out what’s going on in their lives. I always had some winning stories that I told just about every year. Kids were on the edge of their seats.



These techniques are not intended to treat anxiety or depression, but they can temporarily relieve the symptoms. Of course, students who have depressive disorders need professional help. But for the time they are in your classroom, maybe you can help them focus on learning by using these strategies.



What do you think? Do you have other ideas for shifting the energy in your classroom? I listed several general categories. I would love to hear your specific ideas. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom





A positive school is built on positive moments. It doesn’t just happen by accident. Every interaction counts. It takes a concerted effort on the part of everyone to create an environment that is awesome. So what are some things everyone should know to be more positive in their own mindset and help contribute to that positive environment we all want? 



Here are ten thoughts to consider:



1. Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your impact.



Positive people inspire and influence others. If you want to help others be great, you have to demonstrate a positive attitude. Your ability to be joyful, hopeful, and resilient will inspire others like nothing else.

2. Positive attitude is not believing everything is okay; it’s believing everything is going to be okay.



Positive people find the silver lining in the most difficult of circumstances. They learn from difficulties. They don’t pretend everything is okay. That’s not positive thinking. That’s denial. Positive people just believe that things can get better. They expect things to get better. And they believe they might just learn something from the difficulty along the way.



3. Positive attitude is not feeling happy all the time.



Even people who are positive feel negative emotions like sadness, disappointment, and regret. But these feelings do not overwhelm them, partly because they are able to also feel positive emotions simultaneously. For example, perhaps at the same moment they grieve for a loss, they are also thankful for the blessing they had for a time. Even when things are at their worst, positive people view negative feelings as temporary and expect their emotional well-being to improve.



4. When you bring positive energy to a space, negativity leaves.



Negative energy can create a toxic culture and spread throughout your school. It’s so important to create and nurture a positive environment to keep the negativity out. Scientists have found that people’s brain patterns actually start to align as they spend time together. Attitudes are literally contagious it seems. 

5. It takes at least 4 positive experiences to overcome a negative one.



I’m not sure this number is actually correct. But I do know we need to relish the positive moments and use them to overcome the setbacks and difficulties we face. It you do 20 things right today but make one mistake, you will be tempted to ignore all of those positives and focus only on your mistake. It takes deliberate celebration of the positives to help overcome the negatives. Relish those positive moments.



6. Sharing gratitude grows your positive reserves.



When you focus on the positive experiences in your day and share those with others, it makes you stronger and helps others too. We often start our meetings just by sharing the good things that are happening. What are three things you’re thankful for in the last 24 hours? Who are you thankful for? If you want more energy and enthusiasm, focus on showing appreciation. Lift up others, and you’ll be lifted up too.



7. Positive people are problem solvers. 



They don’t make excuses. They find solutions. When you are negative, you see only problems. In fact, negative people seem to find a problem for every solution. But positive people can open their minds more possibilities. They can see possible solutions that others might miss.



8. Positive people are playful.



“Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.” I remember these words from my childhood. My mom would say it after making fun of some unfortunate circumstance. It was a way of coping, and I’m thankful we had permission to see the humor in little misfortunes. Positive people don’t take themselves too seriously, and they are eager to have fun while getting the job done.



9. Resilience is built on positive thinking.



Positive thoughts give you power over your circumstances. Don’t let negative thinking give your circumstances power over you. Reality does not shape you. The lens through which you view reality is what actually shapes you. Make that a positive lens. Some of the happiest people in the world have very little of what this world has to offer. But they view the world through a positive lens and make the most of whatever they have.



10. Positive people are happier, more creative, more productive, and have more energy.



We often think hard work leads to success. We just need to work harder, try harder, be more committed, sacrifice more and then we’ll be happy. But that’s never enough. Turns out, it’s better to start with being happy and then let that drive your productivity, creativity, and success. This amazing TED Talk makes the case much better than I can.




What is your best tip for keeping a positive attitude? Share it with us all so we can learn from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 10 Thoughts On Positive Attitude to Share With Your Team





A positive school is built on positive moments. It doesn’t just happen by accident. Every interaction counts. It takes a concerted effort on the part of everyone to create an environment that is awesome. So what are some things everyone should know to be more positive in their own mindset and help contribute to that positive environment we all want? 



Here are ten thoughts to consider:



1. Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your impact.



Positive people inspire and influence others. If you want to help others be great, you have to demonstrate a positive attitude. Your ability to be joyful, hopeful, and resilient will inspire others like nothing else.

2. Positive attitude is not believing everything is okay; it’s believing everything is going to be okay.



Positive people find the silver lining in the most difficult of circumstances. They learn from difficulties. They don’t pretend everything is okay. That’s not positive thinking. That’s denial. Positive people just believe that things can get better. They expect things to get better. And they believe they might just learn something from the difficulty along the way.



3. Positive attitude is not feeling happy all the time.



Even people who are positive feel negative emotions like sadness, disappointment, and regret. But these feelings do not overwhelm them, partly because they are able to also feel positive emotions simultaneously. For example, perhaps at the same moment they grieve for a loss, they are also thankful for the blessing they had for a time. Even when things are at their worst, positive people view negative feelings as temporary and expect their emotional well-being to improve.



4. When you bring positive energy to a space, negativity leaves.



Negative energy can create a toxic culture and spread throughout your school. It’s so important to create and nurture a positive environment to keep the negativity out. Scientists have found that people’s brain patterns actually start to align as they spend time together. Attitudes are literally contagious it seems. 

5. It takes at least 4 positive experiences to overcome a negative one.



I’m not sure this number is actually correct. But I do know we need to relish the positive moments and use them to overcome the setbacks and difficulties we face. It you do 20 things right today but make one mistake, you will be tempted to ignore all of those positives and focus only on your mistake. It takes deliberate celebration of the positives to help overcome the negatives. Relish those positive moments.



6. Sharing gratitude grows your positive reserves.



When you focus on the positive experiences in your day and share those with others, it makes you stronger and helps others too. We often start our meetings just by sharing the good things that are happening. What are three things you’re thankful for in the last 24 hours? Who are you thankful for? If you want more energy and enthusiasm, focus on showing appreciation. Lift up others, and you’ll be lifted up too.



7. Positive people are problem solvers. 



They don’t make excuses. They find solutions. When you are negative, you see only problems. In fact, negative people seem to find a problem for every solution. But positive people can open their minds more possibilities. They can see possible solutions that others might miss.



8. Positive people are playful.



“Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.” I remember these words from my childhood. My mom would say it after making fun of some unfortunate circumstance. It was a way of coping, and I’m thankful we had permission to see the humor in little misfortunes. Positive people don’t take themselves too seriously, and they are eager to have fun while getting the job done.



9. Resilience is built on positive thinking.



Positive thoughts give you power over your circumstances. Don’t let negative thinking give your circumstances power over you. Reality does not shape you. The lens through which you view reality is what actually shapes you. Make that a positive lens. Some of the happiest people in the world have very little of what this world has to offer. But they view the world through a positive lens and make the most of whatever they have.



10. Positive people are happier, more creative, more productive, and have more energy.



We often think hard work leads to success. We just need to work harder, try harder, be more committed, sacrifice more and then we’ll be happy. But that’s never enough. Turns out, it’s better to start with being happy and then let that drive your productivity, creativity, and success. This amazing TED Talk makes the case much better than I can.




What is your best tip for keeping a positive attitude? Share it with us all so we can learn from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 10 Thoughts On Positive Attitude to Share With Your Team

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~Aristotle  I think that we sometimes lose sight of what is important. We focus on individual acts, or in schools, individual assignments, and on praising final products and presentations. We often lose sight of the continual work, the tireless editing […]

Read More Excellence is a Habit

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



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



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



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



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



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



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



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



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



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



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

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

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



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



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



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



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



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



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



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



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



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



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

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





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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



About making excellence a personal mission and doing your best.



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



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



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




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



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



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



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



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

Read More Are Today’s Kids Different?





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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



About making excellence a personal mission and doing your best.



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



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



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




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



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



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



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



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

Read More Are Today’s Kids Different?





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



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




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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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

Read More Creating Stronger Learners, Stronger Leaders





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



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




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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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

Read More Creating Stronger Learners, Stronger Leaders

I’m happy to announce the release of Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World! Back at the start of summer I made a public commitment that I would have this passion project finished before the start of the new school year (See: Do Something Today to Move In the Direction of Your Dreams).



Well, we’ve been in school for a couple of weeks now. So I didn’t exactly meet my own deadline. But hey, there are still many schools who haven’t returned from summer break yet, so technically maybe I did!



The book is now available on Amazon. And for a very limited time, the Kindle version of Future Driven will only be $2.99. I encourage you to download it now. 



Plus, through the end of September, I’m donating all of the proceeds from Future Driven to Care to Learn, an organization in our community that provides for the health, hunger, and hygiene needs of disadvantaged school-age children. It is important to me to give back to our students. It’s always about students first. I want to be part of creating a better future through better schools. It starts with us.



Care to Learn was started in Springfield, MO by philanthropist Doug Pitt. You might have heard of his brother, Brad. Yes, the same Hollywood Brad Pitt you see regularly in the grocery checkout line. The organization now has many chapters in our area, including here in Bolivar. 



Image may contain: one or more people, text and closeup


About half of our students are from low income households and qualify for free/reduced lunches. With Care to Learn, we are able to instantly meet the emergent health, hunger, and hygiene needs of our students. 



If a kid needs shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, groceries, etc., our counselors take him or her shopping and meet the need right away. We know it’s impossible for students to learn their best if they have unmet needs. We are so thankful for Care to Learn.



I certainly hope you find Future Driven inspiring and helpful. Your work matters. You are needed as a change maker. Just know that if you get your copy now, you’ll also be helping kids have what they need to learn. Your support of Care to Learn will make an impact too.



Let me know if you have any questions about Future Driven or my process of being an independent author. It has been an unbelievable adventure and so many have helped me along the way. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Be sure to the use the hashtag #FutureDriven as you share your passion for being a future-driven educator.

Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World?

In Future Driven, David Geurin describes how to conquer the status quo, create authentic learning, and help your students thrive in an unpredictable world. He shares how to simultaneously be more committed to your mission while being more flexible with your methods. You’ll discover strategies to …

Read More Future Driven: Looking Forward, Giving Back

I’m happy to announce the release of Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World! Back at the start of summer I made a public commitment that I would have this passion project finished before the start of the new school year (See: Do Something Today to Move In the Direction of Your Dreams).



Well, we’ve been in school for a couple of weeks now. So I didn’t exactly meet my own deadline. But hey, there are still many schools who haven’t returned from summer break yet, so technically maybe I did!



The book is now available on Amazon. And for a very limited time, the Kindle version of Future Driven will only be $2.99. I encourage you to download it now. 



Plus, through the end of September, I’m donating all of the proceeds from Future Driven to Care to Learn, an organization in our community that provides for the health, hunger, and hygiene needs of disadvantaged school-age children. It is important to me to give back to our students. It’s always about students first. I want to be part of creating a better future through better schools. It starts with us.



Care to Learn was started in Springfield, MO by philanthropist Doug Pitt. You might have heard of his brother, Brad. Yes, the same Hollywood Brad Pitt you see regularly in the grocery checkout line. The organization now has many chapters in our area, including here in Bolivar. 



Image may contain: one or more people, text and closeup


About half of our students are from low income households and qualify for free/reduced lunches. With Care to Learn, we are able to instantly meet the emergent health, hunger, and hygiene needs of our students. 



If a kid needs shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, groceries, etc., our counselors take him or her shopping and meet the need right away. We know it’s impossible for students to learn their best if they have unmet needs. We are so thankful for Care to Learn.



I certainly hope you find Future Driven inspiring and helpful. Your work matters. You are needed as a change maker. Just know that if you get your copy now, you’ll also be helping kids have what they need to learn. Your support of Care to Learn will make an impact too.



Let me know if you have any questions about Future Driven or my process of being an independent author. It has been an unbelievable adventure and so many have helped me along the way. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Be sure to the use the hashtag #FutureDriven as you share your passion for being a future-driven educator.

Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World?

In Future Driven, David Geurin describes how to conquer the status quo, create authentic learning, and help your students thrive in an unpredictable world. He shares how to simultaneously be more committed to your mission while being more flexible with your methods. You’ll discover strategies to …

Read More Future Driven: Looking Forward, Giving Back



Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sub for one of our classrooms from start to finish. The regular teacher was called away with a sick child. It’s not that unusual for me to cover a class temporarily but to teach the whole block doesn’t happen that often.



Let me tell you it’s tough to be a substitute teacher even when you are the principal in the building. You are coming into a classroom with an established routine and culture that you’re not familiar with. You don’t know all of the students and their needs. And the subject matter is brand new in that context even if you have some background in that area.



I had the advantage of the kids knowing me, and I knew most of them too. And the teacher left me incredibly detailed plans. He teaches dual credit biology so many of the students are getting high school credit and college credit for this class. They are a sharp group of kids.



I showed up with all the energy and enthusiasm I would want for my own kids. I let them know from the start I would need their help in making this successful. I told them my background is not in biology, but we will work through any challenges and make sure that we do everything possible to accomplish the goals for the day.



We had a successful 83 minutes together. There were some excellent conversations. We explored the questions and topics with active participation. I’m sure my insights and feedback were not to the level of the regular teacher, but we gave it our everything.



As the students were leaving, one of them commented, “Thank you. You did a good job.” Of course, that made me feel like a million bucks.



But last night, I was reflecting on the class period and what I wish I would’ve done differently. I kept thinking of things that I would improve if given the chance.

  1. I didn’t learn every student’s name. I called students by name when I could. That’s something we emphasize. And I think I learned a couple of more. But I missed a great opportunity to learn everyone’s name.
  2. Every student was supposed to share the Google doc for the activity with the regular teacher. I reminded them several times, but I did not go to each table and confirm that they did this. As I reflected, I was concerned that some may not have completed that step. I could’ve made sure that happened instead of just hoping it happened.
  3. They had a jigsaw activity near the end of the class. I wish I would’ve gotten a better sense about how well they summarized their reading. I don’t think I provided very good feedback on that part.
But overall, it was a successful class. We had some really good conversations and lots of participation. The teacher had established that type of learning culture already. That made it easy for me.


The opportunity to teach this class was a fantastic experience. I felt like I was seeing through the eyes of a teacher. I thought about how important reflection is. It’s easy to get in the routine and always be thinking only of what’s next, but we have to circle around and think about how we can improve. I think that’s an essential for growth. It’s important to always be thinking, “How could that have been better? What could I do next time to improve?”


We never want to be entirely satisfied with what we’ve accomplished. But we also don’t want to be too hard on ourselves. We want to be content, but not satisfied. I’ve known teachers who sweated every detail and beat themselves up over every mistake. That’s not being content. Do the best you can and be okay with it for today. But never be satisfied. Always try to be better tomorrow than you are today. The only way that will happen is when you honestly reflect and push yourself to improve.


The next time I get a chance to sub, I will try to be better than I was this time. It’s important to always keep aiming for excellence.


Question: How do you make reflection part of your routine? Are you able to keep a healthy balance of not being satisfied, while remaining content? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Always Reflect, Always Learn: Be Content, but Never Be Satisfied



Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sub for one of our classrooms from start to finish. The regular teacher was called away with a sick child. It’s not that unusual for me to cover a class temporarily but to teach the whole block doesn’t happen that often.



Let me tell you it’s tough to be a substitute teacher even when you are the principal in the building. You are coming into a classroom with an established routine and culture that you’re not familiar with. You don’t know all of the students and their needs. And the subject matter is brand new in that context even if you have some background in that area.



I had the advantage of the kids knowing me, and I knew most of them too. And the teacher left me incredibly detailed plans. He teaches dual credit biology so many of the students are getting high school credit and college credit for this class. They are a sharp group of kids.



I showed up with all the energy and enthusiasm I would want for my own kids. I let them know from the start I would need their help in making this successful. I told them my background is not in biology, but we will work through any challenges and make sure that we do everything possible to accomplish the goals for the day.



We had a successful 83 minutes together. There were some excellent conversations. We explored the questions and topics with active participation. I’m sure my insights and feedback were not to the level of the regular teacher, but we gave it our everything.



As the students were leaving, one of them commented, “Thank you. You did a good job.” Of course, that made me feel like a million bucks.



But last night, I was reflecting on the class period and what I wish I would’ve done differently. I kept thinking of things that I would improve if given the chance.

  1. I didn’t learn every student’s name. I called students by name when I could. That’s something we emphasize. And I think I learned a couple of more. But I missed a great opportunity to learn everyone’s name.
  2. Every student was supposed to share the Google doc for the activity with the regular teacher. I reminded them several times, but I did not go to each table and confirm that they did this. As I reflected, I was concerned that some may not have completed that step. I could’ve made sure that happened instead of just hoping it happened.
  3. They had a jigsaw activity near the end of the class. I wish I would’ve gotten a better sense about how well they summarized their reading. I don’t think I provided very good feedback on that part.
But overall, it was a successful class. We had some really good conversations and lots of participation. The teacher had established that type of learning culture already. That made it easy for me.


The opportunity to teach this class was a fantastic experience. I felt like I was seeing through the eyes of a teacher. I thought about how important reflection is. It’s easy to get in the routine and always be thinking only of what’s next, but we have to circle around and think about how we can improve. I think that’s an essential for growth. It’s important to always be thinking, “How could that have been better? What could I do next time to improve?”


We never want to be entirely satisfied with what we’ve accomplished. But we also don’t want to be too hard on ourselves. We want to be content, but not satisfied. I’ve known teachers who sweated every detail and beat themselves up over every mistake. That’s not being content. Do the best you can and be okay with it for today. But never be satisfied. Always try to be better tomorrow than you are today. The only way that will happen is when you honestly reflect and push yourself to improve.


The next time I get a chance to sub, I will try to be better than I was this time. It’s important to always keep aiming for excellence.


Question: How do you make reflection part of your routine? Are you able to keep a healthy balance of not being satisfied, while remaining content? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Always Reflect, Always Learn: Be Content, but Never Be Satisfied