Connected Principals Posts





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

As I have voraciously read books on “change”, and have had many conversations on the topic,  these are three big takeaways that I always try to focus on. Show and model change in yourself.  It is easy to tell people to move forward, but it is hard, and more important work, to say, “let’s grow … [Read more…]

Read More 3 Crucial Elements of Being a Change Agent

Before you tweet this quote (because many people will), I just want you to take a hard look at it: “Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally…

Read More “One” Is Not Enough

Before you tweet this quote (because many people will), I just want you to take a hard look at it: “Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her.” Urie Bronfenbrenner I want to think about some of the math… How many years does a child spend in school? … [Read more…]

Read More “One” Is Not Enough



I wanted to get some feedback from my PLN on whether or not they felt it was okay for educators to get angry with students. So I posted the Twitter poll I included below. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion. Your comments helped to inform my thoughts on the issue. I share some of my thinking below.




⚡️ “Is It Ever Okay For Teachers To Get Angry With Students?”https://t.co/dl5SUr1e5L

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 6, 2017



1. There are no good or bad emotions. Anger is a normal emotion that every person experiences. Teachers are no exception. To expect a person to never become angry in their professional role is to expect them to become a robot. We don’t want robots teaching kids. It’s also not healthy to repress anger. Repressed emotions end up manifesting themselves in all sorts of unhealthy ways.



2. Anger can be a force for good. I believe educators who are passionate are more likely to become angry because they don’t accept mediocrity or actions that aren’t in the best interest of learning and kids. Let’s get angry about stuff that matters. Some of our frustrations really don’t matter. Let that stuff go. Get angry because you care. Get angry because you want the best for your students. And use that anger as positive energy to create change and make things better in the world around you.



3. It’s important to be slow to anger. Being quick-tempered is not a helpful quality. Although I am advocating for some of the benefits of anger here, I think it should usually be more of a slow-simmer rather than a explosive response. When we act too quickly in anger, we will likely do more harm than good. 



4. As I mentioned before, emotions are neither inherently good or bad. They are just emotions. And our emotions are an important part of who we are. Every person is entitled to every one of their feelings. Often we cannot control how we feel, but we CAN control how we respond to what we feel. 



Part of being a mature person is learning how to handle emotions and direct them in positive ways. Teachers need to model this for students. They need to use words to talk about how they are feeling. For example, it’s good to say, “When I see a student treat another student disrespectfully, I feel angry.” People who can talk about what they are feeling are almost always more skilled at handling emotions. 



So it’s always a good idea to describe HOW we are feeling rather than acting out on how we are feeling and expecting others to create their own interpretation. Students need to see teachers modeling this type of awareness for all emotions, including ones like anger, sadness, fear, or embarrassment that might sometimes be frowned upon.



5. If you are finding yourself stuck in anger, that is not a healthy place to be. Emotions should come and go. Anger should subside. Getting stuck in anger or sadness can lead to depression. It can harm your relationships. We want to have balanced emotions.



We held a workshop for our staff several years ago called 8 to Great. We learned the following:




If we think of angry people as “mean,” we’ll cut ourselves off from our anger and get stuck in depression.

If we think of sad people as “weak,” we’ll cut ourselves off from our sadness and get stuck in rage. 



7. Is it ever okay to yell at students in anger? Well of course not, you might be thinking. How could an educator ever yell at students and feel like we are acting in a professionally appropriate manner?



One year during our Homecoming week, there was a rumor that our seniors would have silly string and air horns at the assembly. So before the assembly started I talked with the group and explained what I’d heard, and asked them to please not use the air horns or the silly string and of course I explained why. I asked if I could count on them to cooperate on that. They said they would.



Well, when it was time for class yells, the seniors did their thing but there were also a bunch of air horns going off and silly string was going everywhere. It really touched a nerve with me because it seemed so blatantly disrespectful. I had specifically asked them not to do this.



So I made the entire senior class stay after the assembly, and I gave them a highly spirited talk. Was I yelling? Yes, I’d say I was. I explained how disappointed I was in them. I told them how much I cared about them. I told them I would never intentionally disrespect them. I told them how much I wanted them to have a great year. I let them know I knew everyone wasn’t responsible, but that what happened wasn’t acceptable for Bolivar Liberators. It was a brief, but very intense few moments.



I have very rarely yelled at students over the years. Was this worth yelling about? Is anything worth yelling about in anger? I don’t know. Respect is very important to me. It was interesting how many students came up to me and apologized afterwards and even said they completely agreed with everything I said. Were they the same ones with the air horns and the silly string? Probably not. But I think they appreciated that their principal took a stand for what they knew was right.



What do you think? Did I go too far in yelling at the kids? In general, I would say it’s never appropriate to yell. How else could I have handled this situation? What are your thoughts on dealing with your anger as an educator? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Is It Ever Okay For Teachers To Get Angry With Students?



I wanted to get some feedback from my PLN on whether or not they felt it was okay for educators to get angry with students. So I posted the Twitter poll I included below. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion. Your comments helped to inform my thoughts on the issue. I share some of my thinking below.




⚡️ “Is It Ever Okay For Teachers To Get Angry With Students?”https://t.co/dl5SUr1e5L

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 6, 2017



1. There are no good or bad emotions. Anger is a normal emotion that every person experiences. Teachers are no exception. To expect a person to never become angry in their professional role is to expect them to become a robot. We don’t want robots teaching kids. It’s also not healthy to repress anger. Repressed emotions end up manifesting themselves in all sorts of unhealthy ways.



2. Anger can be a force for good. I believe educators who are passionate are more likely to become angry because they don’t accept mediocrity or actions that aren’t in the best interest of learning and kids. Let’s get angry about stuff that matters. Some of our frustrations really don’t matter. Let that stuff go. Get angry because you care. Get angry because you want the best for your students. And use that anger as positive energy to create change and make things better in the world around you.



3. It’s important to be slow to anger. Being quick-tempered is not a helpful quality. Although I am advocating for some of the benefits of anger here, I think it should usually be more of a slow-simmer rather than a explosive response. When we act too quickly in anger, we will likely do more harm than good. 



4. As I mentioned before, emotions are neither inherently good or bad. They are just emotions. And our emotions are an important part of who we are. Every person is entitled to every one of their feelings. Often we cannot control how we feel, but we CAN control how we respond to what we feel. 



Part of being a mature person is learning how to handle emotions and direct them in positive ways. Teachers need to model this for students. They need to use words to talk about how they are feeling. For example, it’s good to say, “When I see a student treat another student disrespectfully, I feel angry.” People who can talk about what they are feeling are almost always more skilled at handling emotions. 



So it’s always a good idea to describe HOW we are feeling rather than acting out on how we are feeling and expecting others to create their own interpretation. Students need to see teachers modeling this type of awareness for all emotions, including ones like anger, sadness, fear, or embarrassment that might sometimes be frowned upon.



5. If you are finding yourself stuck in anger, that is not a healthy place to be. Emotions should come and go. Anger should subside. Getting stuck in anger or sadness can lead to depression. It can harm your relationships. We want to have balanced emotions.



We held a workshop for our staff several years ago called 8 to Great. We learned the following:




If we think of angry people as “mean,” we’ll cut ourselves off from our anger and get stuck in depression.

If we think of sad people as “weak,” we’ll cut ourselves off from our sadness and get stuck in rage. 



7. Is it ever okay to yell at students in anger? Well of course not, you might be thinking. How could an educator ever yell at students and feel like we are acting in a professionally appropriate manner?



One year during our Homecoming week, there was a rumor that our seniors would have silly string and air horns at the assembly. So before the assembly started I talked with the group and explained what I’d heard, and asked them to please not use the air horns or the silly string and of course I explained why. I asked if I could count on them to cooperate on that. They said they would.



Well, when it was time for class yells, the seniors did their thing but there were also a bunch of air horns going off and silly string was going everywhere. It really touched a nerve with me because it seemed so blatantly disrespectful. I had specifically asked them not to do this.



So I made the entire senior class stay after the assembly, and I gave them a highly spirited talk. Was I yelling? Yes, I’d say I was. I explained how disappointed I was in them. I told them how much I cared about them. I told them I would never intentionally disrespect them. I told them how much I wanted them to have a great year. I let them know I knew everyone wasn’t responsible, but that what happened wasn’t acceptable for Bolivar Liberators. It was a brief, but very intense few moments.



I have very rarely yelled at students over the years. Was this worth yelling about? Is anything worth yelling about in anger? I don’t know. Respect is very important to me. It was interesting how many students came up to me and apologized afterwards and even said they completely agreed with everything I said. Were they the same ones with the air horns and the silly string? Probably not. But I think they appreciated that their principal took a stand for what they knew was right.



What do you think? Did I go too far in yelling at the kids? In general, I would say it’s never appropriate to yell. How else could I have handled this situation? What are your thoughts on dealing with your anger as an educator? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Is It Ever Okay For Teachers To Get Angry With Students?



I posted the Twitter poll below to get some feedback from my PLN on whether or not they felt it was okay for educators to get angry with students. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion. Your comments helped to inform my take on the issue. I offer some of my thoughts below.




⚡️ “Is It Ever Okay For Teachers To Get Angry With Students?”https://t.co/dl5SUr1e5L

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 6, 2017



1. There are no good or bad emotions. Anger is a normal emotion that every person experiences. Teachers are no exception. To expect a person to never become angry in their professional role is to expect them to become a robot. We don’t want robots teaching kids. It’s also not healthy to repress anger. Repressed emotions end up manifesting themselves in all sorts of unhealthy ways.



2. Anger can be a force for good. I believe educators who are passionate are more likely to become angry because they don’t accept mediocrity or actions that aren’t in the best interest of learning and kids. Let’s get angry about stuff that matters. Some of our frustrations really don’t matter. Let that stuff go. Get angry because you care. Get angry because you want the best for your students. And use that anger as positive energy to create change and make things better in the world around you.



3. It’s important to be slow to anger. Being quick-tempered is not a helpful quality. Although I am advocating for some of the benefits of anger here, I think it should usually be more of a slow-simmer rather than a explosive response. When we act too quickly in anger, we will likely do more harm than good. 



4. As I mentioned before, emotions are neither inherently good or bad. They are just emotions. And our emotions are an important part of who we are. Every person is entitled to every one of their feelings. Often we cannot control how we feel, but we CAN control how we respond to what we feel. 



Part of being a mature person is learning how to handle emotions and direct them in positive ways. Teachers need to model this for students. They need to use words to talk about how they are feeling. For example, it’s good to say, “When I see a student treat another student disrespectfully, I feel angry.” People who can talk about what they are feeling are almost always more skilled and handling emotions. 



So it’s always a good idea to describe HOW we are feeling rather than acting out on how we are feeling and expecting others to create their own interpretation. Students need to see teachers modeling this type of awareness for all emotions, including ones like anger, sadness, fear, or embarrassment that might sometimes be frowned upon.



5. If you are finding yourself stuck in anger, that is not a healthy place to be. Emotions should come and go. Anger should subside. Getting stuck in anger or sadness can lead to depression. It can harm your relationships. We want to have balanced emotions.



We held a workshop for our staff several years ago called 8 to Great. We learned the following:




If we think of angry people as “mean,” we’ll cut ourselves off from our anger and get stuck in depression.

If we think of sad people as “weak,” we’ll cut ourselves off from our sadness and get stuck in rage. 



7. Is it ever okay to yell at students in anger? Well of course not, you might be thinking. How could an educator ever yell at students and feel like we are acting in a professionally appropriate manner?



One year during our Homecoming week, there was a rumor that our seniors would have silly string and air horns at the assembly. So before the assembly started I talked with the group and explained what I’d heard, and asked them to please not use the air horns or the silly string and of course I explained why. I asked if I could count on them to cooperate on that. They said they would.



Well, when it was time for class yells, the seniors did their thing but there were also a bunch of air horns and silly string was going everywhere. It really touched a nerve with me because it seemed so blatantly disrespectful. I had specifically asked them not to do this.



So I made the entire senior class stay after the assembly, and I gave them a highly spirited talk. Was I yelling? Yes, I’d say I was. I explained how disappointed I was in them. I told them how much I cared about them. I told them I would never intentionally disrespect them. I told them how much I wanted them to have a great year. I let them know I knew everyone wasn’t responsible, but that what happened wasn’t acceptable for Bolivar Liberators. It was a brief, but very intense few moments.



I have very rarely yelled at students over the years. Was this worth yelling about? Is anything worth yelling about in anger? I don’t know. Respect is very important to me. It was interesting how many students came up to me and apologized afterwards and even said they completely agreed with everything I said. Were they the same ones with the air horns and the silly string? Probably not. But I think they appreciated that their principal took a stand for what they knew was right.



What do you think? Did I go too far in yelling at the kids? In general, I would say it’s never appropriate to yell. How else could I have handled this situation? What are your thoughts on dealing with your anger as an educator? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Is It Ever Okay For Teachers To Get Angry With Students?



I’m thankful I don’t always get what I deserve. Sometimes maybe I’ve gotten worse, but far more often I’ve been blessed far beyond what I merited. It’s because people believed in me even when I didn’t have a clue. And the people who believed in me had a great influence on me.



As educators, we are working with immature human beings. They are kids. Of course, there are plenty of adults who still haven’t matured, but that’s what we’re trying to avoid. We want to help students develop into mature, responsible grownups.



But it can be very challenging. As a teacher, you know you will be mistreated. It’s just part of working in a school with kids who bring all their junk with them each day. We should also remember we’re bringing our fair share of junk too.



Students are going to challenge your kindness. They aren’t always going to appreciate your offers of help. They don’t always respond the way we would like them to. And that’s why it’s important to keep a long-term perspective. Today may have been a really bad day. But let’s make sure we have a fresh start tomorrow.



Let’s focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now. The temptation is to treat students as they deserve. 



I’ll treat them with dignity when they act with dignity. I’ll show respect when they earn it. I’ll show them kindness and help them when they live up to my expectations.



But what if we tried a different approach? What if we extend grace and treat them better than they deserve? What if we focused on showing them we believe in them? Why not try something different?

Today, as I was greeting kids coming into school, I got a good morning high five from a student who has been less than respectful to me this year. I was shocked. More than once, I’ve thought about directly addressing some of the passive-aggressive behaviors I’ve felt from the student. 



And that would’ve been a perfectly appropriate response. In fact, I think some teachers probably need to be more assertive in setting boundaries and communicating expectations. I never want to condone bad behavior. Accountability is important, but the most important thing is growth. Sometimes growth comes from giving someone space to grow.



So in this case, I decided to just continue being nice. I decided to keep smiling, saying hello, and brushing off the subtle offenses. I decided to treat the student with the most care and concern I could muster. And maybe it’s working? The high five this morning was a good sign. But only time will tell.



When you extend grace, it can turn a heart around. Instead of allowing a student to create an adversarial relationship, refuse to be part of that. Continue with kindness.



How will you interact with your students? Will you treat them as they deserve? Or will you treat them like they might just change the world someday? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Focus On Who Students Are Becoming, Not Just Who They Are Right Now



I’m thankful I don’t always get what I deserve. Sometimes maybe I’ve gotten worse, but far more often I’ve been blessed far beyond what I merited. It’s because people believed in me even when I didn’t have a clue. And the people who believed in me had a great influence on me.



As educators, we are working with immature human beings. They are kids. Of course, there are plenty of adults who still haven’t matured, but that’s what we’re trying to avoid. We want to help students develop into mature, responsible grownups.



But it can be very challenging. As a teacher, you know you will be mistreated. It’s just part of working in a school with kids who bring all their junk with them each day. We should also remember we’re bringing our fair share of junk too.



Students are going to challenge your kindness. They aren’t always going to appreciate your offers of help. They don’t always respond the way we would like them to. And that’s why it’s important to keep a long-term perspective. Today may have been a really bad day. But let’s make sure we have a fresh start tomorrow.



Let’s focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now. The temptation is to treat students as they deserve. 



I’ll treat them with dignity when they act with dignity. I’ll show respect when they earn it. I’ll show them kindness and help them when they live up to my expectations.



But what if we tried a different approach? What if we extend grace and treat them better than they deserve? What if we focused on showing them we believe in them? Why not try something different?

Today, as I was greeting kids coming into school, I got a good morning high five from a student who has been less than respectful to me this year. I was shocked. More than once, I’ve thought about directly addressing some of the passive-aggressive behaviors I’ve felt from the student. 



And that would’ve been a perfectly appropriate response. In fact, I think some teachers probably need to be more assertive in setting boundaries and communicating expectations. I never want to condone bad behavior. Accountability is important, but the most important thing is growth. Sometimes growth comes from giving someone space to grow.



So in this case, I decided to just continue being nice. I decided to keep smiling, saying hello, and brushing off the subtle offenses. I decided to treat the student with the most care and concern I could muster. And maybe it’s working? The high five this morning was a good sign. But only time will tell.



When you extend grace, it can turn a heart around. Instead of allowing a student to create an adversarial relationship, refuse to be part of that. Continue with kindness.



How will you interact with your students? Will you treat them as they deserve? Or will you treat them like they might just change the world someday? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Focus On Who Students Are Becoming, Not Just Who They Are Right Now



I’m thankful I don’t always get what I deserve. Sometimes maybe I’ve gotten worse, but far more often I’ve been blessed far beyond what I merited. It’s because people believed in me even when I didn’t have a clue. And the people who believed in me had a great influence on me.



As educators, we are working with immature human beings. They are kids. Of course, there are plenty of adults who still haven’t matured, but that’s what we’re trying to avoid. We want to help students develop into mature, responsible grownups.



But it can be very challenging. As a teacher, you know you will be mistreated. It’s just part of working in a school with kids who bring all their junk with them each day. We should also remember we’re bringing our fair share of junk too.



Students are going to challenge your kindness. They aren’t always going to appreciate your offers of help. They don’t always respond the way we would like them to. And that’s why it’s important to keep a long-term perspective. Today may have been a really bad day. But let’s make sure we have a fresh start tomorrow.



Let’s focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now. The temptation is to treat students as they deserve. 



I’ll treat them with dignity when they act with dignity. I’ll show respect when they earn it. I’ll show them kindness and help them when they live up to my expectations.



But what if we tried a different approach? What if we extend grace and treat them better than they deserve? What if we focused on showing them we believe in them? Why not try something different?

Today, as I was greeting kids coming into school, I got a good morning high five from a student who has been less than respectful to me this year. I was shocked. More than once, I’ve thought about directly addressing some of the passive-aggressive behaviors I’ve felt from the student. 



And that would’ve been a perfectly appropriate response. In fact, I think some teachers probably need to be more assertive in setting boundaries and communicating expectations. I never want to condone bad behavior. Accountability is important, but the most important thing is growth. Sometimes growth comes from giving someone space to grow.



So in this case, I decided to just continue being nice. I decided to keep smiling, saying hello, and brushing off the subtle offenses. I decided to treat the student with the most care and concern I could muster. And maybe it’s working? The high five this morning was a good sign. But only time will tell.



When you extend grace, it can turn a heart around. Instead of allowing a student to create an adversarial relationship, refuse to be part of that. Continue with kindness.



How will you interact with your students? Will you treat them as they deserve? Or will you treat them like they might just change the world someday? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Focus On Who Students Are Becoming, Not Just Who They Are Right Now

I saw this visual from Amy Fast, being shared all over social media: Now I might challenge the term “rules” because this is more of a compelling vision of a classroom, which I think is so much more powerful and inspiring for our students.  For “rules”, simply using the idea of respecting yourself, others, and … [Read more…]

Read More What are the expectations for your classroom?

Teachers work extremely hard and the job can be thankless some days.  Seemingly, more and more is being placed on teachers and educators, where they have moved from full “plates”…

Read More Innovate One Thing

Teachers work extremely hard and the job can be thankless some days.  Seemingly, more and more is being placed on teachers and educators, where they have moved from full “plates” but to full “platters”. So why do I focus on “innovation” so much in education? Doesn’t this become just another “thing”? The reality of our … [Read more…]

Read More Innovate One Thing

I remember one student I worked with who was quite a handful for teachers. He was very quick on his feet, and if he noticed that he got on your…

Read More Finding the Good in the Bad

I remember one student I worked with who was quite a handful for teachers. He was very quick on his feet, and if he noticed that he got on your nerves, he would double down on what he was doing.  Although I was bothered by his behaviour, I did see that his ability to read … [Read more…]

Read More Finding the Good in the Bad





As a high school principal in a small town, even getting fast food can be a unique experience. Of course, many of our students are the ones working at these restaurants. Sometimes, when I place an order at the drive through, the voice on the other end will say, “Hello Dr. G!”



This past week a student asked if I’d been to Sonic a day earlier. I replied that I had, and the student said, “Yeah I thought I recognized your voice.”



We all have a voice. Every educator speaks hundreds of words every day. Sometimes at school and sometimes outside of school. How we use our voice is so important. It’s important to use it in ways that make an impact.



Your words matter and might make a lasting difference far beyond what you expect.



I remember two instances of encouragement I received as a student that had a profound impact on me. Both were during times of transition in my life. The words of support were significant. They were at the right time and in the right moment. And as a result, I have never forgotten those words.



The first instance was shortly after my family moved to a new town, and I was in a new school. Not only was I in a new school, I was also entering high school as a freshmen. I went out for the basketball team, wanting badly to make the team. But in pre-season conditioning I was far behind the other boys. They blew me away, and quite frankly I was embarrassed and wanted to quit. But the head varsity coach approached me and said these words, “Don’t give up. You can do it. Just keep working at it each day. I want to see you make this team.”



I have never forgotten those words. Later that school year my family moved again. A couple of years after that, I played in a game against my old school and scored 18 points in a varsity game against Coach Radford, the same coach who encouraged me as a struggling freshmen. He created a monster.



The second instance was as a freshmen in college. My first semester didn’t go so well because I was not focused academically. I knew I let my parents down, and I wasn’t happy with myself either. But in my second semester, I was fully committed to getting good grades. I was studying and staying on top of everything. Psychology was a fun class but the professor was known for really tough tests. I had made a huge stack of note cards to study. I remember I was sitting near the front, and he noticed my stack of note cards. He looked at them and said, “You’re working really hard at this aren’t you.”



It almost seems silly to me now that I still remember that comment so vividly. But it made a big impression on me. I looked up to the professor, and I was proud he noticed my effort.



Both of these examples were not extraordinary circumstances. They were caring educators who probably made a habit of lifting up students and encouraging them to do their best. But for me, the words were extraordinary. Your efforts to encourage can last a lifetime. You never know how your words may create a lasting influence.



What will students remember when they think of your voice?



Can you think of a time you were encouraged by someone in your life? How can you bring that to your work as an educator now? Who will you lift up? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

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