Connected Principals Posts

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

Read More Discipline or compliance?

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

Read More Discipline or compliance?

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

Read More Default Setting or Mindful and Intentional?

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

Read More Honoring the Past While Moving Toward the Future

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



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



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



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



What exactly does it mean to be professional?



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



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



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



What’s your professional identity?



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



What adjustments are you making?



A professional educator is seeking to make learning irresistible. 



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



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



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



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



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

Read More What’s More Professional?

In Scott McLeod and Dean Shareski’s book, “Different Schools for a Different World,” they discuss four shifts that “deeper learning” schools place their focus. They are the following: 1.  Higher-level thinking: The shift from an overwhelming emphasis on lower-level-thinking tasks, such as factual recall and procedural regurgitation, to tasks of greater cognitive complexity, such as creativity, … [Read more…]

Read More The Connection Between “Lower” and “Higher” Level Thinking

For those who follow my blog and podcast, I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season, and I wanted to offer you best wishes on the New Year. It’s been a blessed year on the home front. In 2018, my wife, Missy, and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. Our four children are healthy — with […]

Read More Principal Matters – Year in Review

For the last two years, I have shared some of my favourite quotes from the past year that have inspired me or made me think deeper about a subject. I wanted to provide some for this year as well.  Have an amazing 2019! 2017  2018      Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig … [Read more…]

Read More 20 Inspirational Quotes to Start off 2019

For the last two years, I have shared some of my favourite quotes from the past year that have inspired me or made me think deeper about a subject. I wanted to provide some for this year as well.  Have an amazing 2019! 2017  2018      Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig … [Read more…]

Read More 20 Inspirational Quotes to Start off 2019



I continue to enjoy learning from you all and appreciate your connection with my blog throughout 2018. I’m inspired by the incredible community of educators who are so deeply committed to preparing students for the future.



That’s really the message of my book, Future Driven. Today’s schools can’t afford to be time capsules, preparing students for a world that no longer exists. They must be time machines, preparing students for the future, preparing them to be adaptable, continuous learners.



Our world is changing faster than ever, and schools can’t afford to stay the same.



This past year I continued to share thoughts here at the blog along those lines. Like you, I’m seeking ways to leverage my learning to help provide better learning for students. 



Here are a few of the ideas that seemed to resonate the strongest with readers. The top 10 for 2018…



1. 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students

5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students

Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger.



2. Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate

Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?

I’m really interested in know where passion comes from. And that’s because I can’t think of a single passionate educator who doesn’t make a greater impact for kids. And on the other hand, I can’t think of a single educator who seems burned out who can still be their very best for kids.

3. 5 Questions Every Kid Is Trying to Answer

5 Questions Every Kid Is Trying to Answer

When we think about creating a stronger school culture, we know how important it is to focus on relationships. But why are relationships such an important part of an outstanding learning environment? It seems clear when you think about it. Everyone needs to feel connected. Everyone needs to feel like he or she matters.

4. What’s Your Priority? Passion or Proficiency

What’s Your Priority? Passion or Proficiency

Passion and proficiency. Both are important. But what’s your priority? What comes first? Some teachers know their content, have great strategies, and work hard every day. And yet they aren’t getting the results they hope for. In Future Driven , I wrote about the importance of rekindling passion in an accountability era where proficiency has been prioritized to the detriment of everything else.

5. 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom

20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom

Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not.

Top 10 Continued…

Read More Top 10 Most Popular Future Driven Posts from 2018

As a basketball fan, and also a fan of human beings, I loved this read, “My Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley.” It is an excellent story of what seems to be an unlikely friendship, but as you read it, you realize how much the relationship makes sense because of the shared bonds between two people.  … [Read more…]

Read More “To give your kids everything in life.”

I learned a lot from my time as a basketball referee. It taught me to think quickly under pressure and how to de-escalate disagreement on the fly.  Humility and confidence…

Read More Say Less, Heard More

I learned a lot from my time as a basketball referee. It taught me to think quickly under pressure and how to de-escalate disagreement on the fly.  Humility and confidence were necessary, and I learned those traits are more interconnected than we give them credit. I remember before one game, we were talking about the … [Read more…]

Read More Say Less, Heard More