Connected Principals Posts

I’ve been on the road a lot lately. And as I travel, I often think about how to reach my destination while also making the experience a positive one. For me, that means trying to learn while I drive by listening to helpful podcasts, audio-books, or news programs. Or sometimes it means connecting with friends […]

Read More PMP:136 Crucial Conversations for Reaching Targeted Destinations

Image by John Spencer It is almost winter holidays for many teachers all over North America.  At this time of year, it can be extremely stressful as kids minds are…

Read More Because of a Teacher…

It is almost winter holidays for many teachers all over North America.  At this time of year, it can be extremely stressful as kids minds are often other places, sometimes positive, and sometimes negative, but usually not in the classroom.  It can be easy to “check out” yet great teachers all over the world do … [Read more…]

Read More Because of a Teacher…

So I had a really interesting experience the other day that I wanted to share. This experience inspired me to make a point of reaching out to people, and connecting…

Read More The Story You Don’t Know

The film you are about to see was created entirely by students. From beginning to end  entirely by students. Every                   thought              word            shot            line Everything. That’s iHub. That’s the opening to […]

Read More Created Entirely By Students



Here’s a reflective question to ask yourself when you’re making decisions about your priorities:



What would happen if you weren’t successful on this one thing?



What would be the ramifications? What would be the price to pay? What would be the cost if this thing did not happen? What would happen if success in this area isn’t made a priority? What would we stand to lose? How would it impact the student, the community, or the world? 



Some things are absolutely essential and some things are nice to see happen and some things really aren’t that important at all. Life’s all about priorities. But how often do we just go with the priorities of what’s been done in the past? 



How often do we accept the priorities of others without even considering if they are best for kids? How often do we push back against the priorities of the status quo because we know we can do better?



There isn’t enough time, energy, or resources to make everything a priority. We have to make good choices about what’s most important and how to apply our energy and effort. We have to establish the priorities that make the biggest difference.



Here are a few examples of my thinking as I work through this thought experiment…



1. What would happen if I didn’t develop the strongest relationships possible with my students?



I would risk losing the learner entirely. They might just check out and not follow my lead on anything. There’s greater chance of behavior problems, attitude problems, parent problems, and more. If the relationship is toxic, nothing I do will be good enough, interesting enough, or important enough. It’s impossible to have extraordinary learning experiences with mediocre relationships.



2. What would happen if students dreaded coming to our school or my classroom every day?



If students hate school, we know they’re going to be disengaged, distracted, and probably agitated. None of those are good conditions for learning. We can wish they would change and magically love school. Or we can change the school and find ways to reduce the friction. What if we made it harder for kids to hate school? What if we created a place where kids who hate (traditional) school love to learn?



3. What would happen if students didn’t get chances to lead and make decisions in this school?



If they don’t have chances to lead and make decisions now, they won’t be ready to lead and make decisions later. They won’t have opportunities to practice and they won’t be primed for leadership and decision making beyond school. Kids need practice leading and making decisions about their learning. They need agency just as much, if not more, than they need achievement. If I simply learn, I will probably forget. But if I have a strong enough learning identity, there is nothing I can’t learn eventually.



4. What would happen if students didn’t master every standard in this school?



They might not score as well as others on standardized tests. They might have some gaps in their learning. They might have to learn some things down the road if they’re faced with situations where they aren’t fully prepared. But is that really the worst thing? Is standards mastery the key to future success? I don’t think it is.



5. What would happen if students didn’t learn soft skills or develop good character in this school?



I’ll answer this question with another question. Would you prefer to have a neighbor that is a caring person or one who has outstanding academic skills? Of course, having both would be great. If you needed help with some complex math problems, they’d be able to help you and care enough about you to be willing to help you. But if you had to make a choice? I’m picking soft skills and character every time.



So what other questions might you ask to test your priorities and your school’s priorities? If we didn’t do this thing, what would happen? Pour your energy into the things that you know count the most. We get most of our results out of a small portion of our effort. We accomplish 80% of our results with just 20% of our effort. The rest of our effort is lost compared to that 20%. If we can learn to apply effort more efficiently, our overall capacity would greatly increase.



Let me know what you think about this thought experiment. Is what you’re doing today moving your students closer to what you want for them tomorrow? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More What Would Happen If You Weren’t Successful On This Thing?

I am blessed and truly grateful to be invited to speak at many educational conferences, and I am always appreciative of the opportunity. I have done my best to not…

Read More Arrogance Leads to Irrelevance

I am blessed and truly grateful to be invited to speak at many educational conferences, and I am always appreciative of the opportunity. I have done my best to not only attend these events as a presenter but also try to take advantage of participating as a learner. Just today, I had the opportunity to … [Read more…]

Read More Arrogance Leads to Irrelevance

In a recent conversation with author and generation expert Dr. Tim Elmore, he shared how many students are affected by “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out). For many young people, this condition is demonstrated by a preoccupation with wanting to constantly know what is happening with peers or social media contacts. FOMO can sometimes lead to […]

Read More PMP:135 Using FOMO for Positive School Culture with Kim Coody

I watched this Kyrie Irving ad, and I am not going to lie, it brought me to tears. I loved basketball as a kid (still do) and I asked my dad for a hoop in our driveway. My dad put together the ugliest green piece of wood ever, that was definitely a quadrilateral but neither … [Read more…]

Read More Doing Our Best with the Knowledge We Have

I heard this quote the other day (author unknown): What you don’t know is more than what you know. It was a reminder of the importance of growing and developing as learners, but also having humility on the journey.  Those two reminders for me were evident in Brad Gustafson’s new book from the IMPress team, “Reclaiming … [Read more…]

Read More Reclaiming Our Calling; The New Book from Brad Gustafson