Tag: character

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Like many of you, I’ve had so much on my mind lately. I have several blog posts upcoming that will express more of what I’m feeling. But I wanted to share this quick bit with you. 
If we only read and share things that c…

Read More Share Understanding and Spare Pain

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No one does their best work out of compliance or out of obligation. 

No one does their best work expecting a reward. 

We do our best work when we see it as a privilege, a contribution, and an enjoyable experienc…

Read More Doing Your Best Work

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Once I was working with an entire class of freshmen at the beginning of a school year, and one of the kids made some kind of wise-guy comment in front of the whole group. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remembe…

Read More How to Respond When You Feel Disrespected

Growth requires change. And it also requires doing some things that aren’t comfortable. We all have thought-patterns and beliefs that contribute to our progress or lack of progress. That’s why it’s so important to challenge any beliefs that might be …

Read More 3 Ideas You Must Reject If You Want to Grow

No one is perfect. Not one of us. But if we’re not careful, we can fall into the trap of thinking we have to act perfect. 

I find it puzzling how students sometimes have the idea that teachers/principals/educators are somehow above making mis…

Read More 7 Benefits of Apologizing to Your Students

I recently finished reading A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by by Edwin Friedman. The author shared a number of leadership insights that were helpful to me or at least pushed my thinking.

But one of his positions knocked…

Read More Is It Possible to Have Too Much Empathy?

Students who are in trouble almost always have a good reason for why they did what they did. Sometimes a student will admit fault and take full ownership, but that’s not usually the case, especially for students who habitually shift responsibility. U…

Read More Never Ask a Student This Question About Their Behavior

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It’s been great to see all the posts today for #WorldKindnessDay. It got me thinking about what it means to be kind. I think there are a few myths out there about this concept, and I wanted to address them.



Myth #1: Kindness is weak.



Kindness is NOT weak. In fact, it takes courage to show kindness. It takes strength. It takes setting aside what’s easy for what’s valuable. Being kind requires strength of character.



Myth #2: Kindness is the same as being nice.



Kindness is NOT just being nice. Being nice is one aspect of kindness, but that’s not the end of it. Kindness is about making decisions that result in healthy relationships. It’s about giving your time, your attention, your caring heart, your extra efforts, your helping hand, your selfless actions to lift up others. 





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Myth #3: Kindness is a feeling.



Kindness is NOT a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s a behavior. You’re not going to like everyone you meet. You’re probably not always going to feel like being kind to them. But you can choose to treat everyone you meet with all the care and concern of people you do like. 



The more you practice being kind, the easier it is to demonstrate this behavior consistently. It becomes a habit. It becomes who you are, and you don’t even hesitate to act in kind ways.




You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

How has someone shown kindness to you? How are you growing in your own ability to be kind to others? What other myths exist around kindness? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Three Myths About Kindness

In this instant everything world we live in, it seems like life is moving faster than ever. It’s a text, tweet, Tic-Tok world for our kids and the idea of staying with anything for very long seems very old school. And that’s a common concern I hear from teachers. It’s extremely difficult to have a successful learning environment without learners who can persist in learning.



Perseverance matters for learning and life, and educators must be intentional about helping students develop this trait. But how can we do that most effectively?



This past summer I was blessed to be part of Education Write Now Volume III, a collaborative writing project for educators sponsored by Routledge publishing. The team gathered in Boston for this effort and produced the book in just over 48 hours!



This year’s volume, set to be released in December, will feature solutions to common challenges in your classroom or school. Each chapter will address a different challenge.



While the book promises to be a great resource for overcoming education challenges, the proceeds for the book also support a great cause seeking to overcome one of the most pressing challenges imaginable, teen suicide. The Will to Live Foundation supports teen mental health projects and is doing great work in that area.






For my chapter, I shared some thoughts on developing perseverance in students. How can we respond when students show apathy? What are strategies for nurturing grit and growth mindset? How can we ask better questions to encourage honest reflection and self-awareness in students? Those are a few questions I tried to explore.



One thing is for certain, our students are not going to reach their potential or make the most of academic opportunities unless they have an orientation toward working hard and persevering when faced with difficulties. There is great power in perseverance.



Here’s an excerpt from my chapter:




As educators, we must plan for teaching students about perseverance just like we would plan for teaching subject matter content. Developing perseverance in students is just as important as learning any academic content and will support the learning of academic content. I believe the investment in educating kids about productive failure will result in increased learning across the board. As a building leader, I also want to support this work and take every opportunity to recognize and celebrate perseverance in our school.




We can all probably agree that perseverance is important and that it’s valuable for kids to develop these skills, but we have to be intentional about creating the structures and systems that support the development of perseverance. We can think it’s important, but what are doing to act like it’s important? Intentions without actions aren’t going to result in any progress.



As you’re planning for your classroom or school environment, are you being intentional about character and leadership development? Are you teaching students how to persevere? 



When we see students struggling with an essential life skill, one that’s keeping them from academic success, I believe we should be just as intentional about teaching these skills as we are about teaching academic standards. It was an honor for me to share several specific strategies that might prove helpful in #EdWriteNow Vol. III.



So what’s it like to write a book in 48 hours? Exhausting? Yes! Exhilarating? Yes! But when you’ve got a great team to help you through…it’s an amazing experience. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.




What are some of your thoughts on teaching skills like perseverance? Do you feel this is a significant challenge in your classroom? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Power of Perseverance



Earlier this month, we hosted a CharacterStrong training in our school. Our presenter was Houston Kraft, CharacterStrong co-founder. He was amazing with the teachers, staff, and even a few students who attended. 



After the day concluded, I couldn’t stop thinking about how we must bring more of this type of hope, energy, and connection to the daily life of our school. All schools need this work. It’s truly an amazing experience!

As Houston shared with the group, one other idea really jumped out at me from the day. I was reminded just how powerful our lens can be. Our paradigm or perspective can have a powerful impact on the people we interact with. 



It’s true that how we see others, including our students, makes a huge difference in how they see themselves. Let me say that again, how you see your students influences how students will see themselves.



So consider this question Houston presented. Do you see your students as probabilities or as possibilities? Do you see their strengths and what’s possible for them? Or, do you only see the deficits, challenges, and shortcomings? Do you only see what’s probable for them based on how they show up today? Or what might be in their background?



After all, it’s easy to build a case for how another person will behave or what they will achieve in the future. We know that in general past performance is often a good predictor of future performance. It’s also easy to judge on other factors that limit our students and what they can accomplish.

However, if we want to add value, win hearts and minds, or be agents of change in our relationships, we have to see others for who they are becoming, not just for who they are right now. We have to see them as possibilities and not just probabilities. We have to see them as future world changers, as leaders, as influencers, as difference makers. 



And then we need to encourage them, provide experiences for them, and offer opportunities for them to rise up. How we view others has a big impact on how they view themselves. 



5 Ways to See Students as Possibilities



1. Notice their strengths and reinforce them every chance you get.



Every child in every school needs to hear an encouraging word every day. We need to build on the strengths of our students while simultaneously challenging them to stretch themselves to do hard stuff. 


2. Give them opportunities to lead and have responsibilities.


I love this quote from Booker T Washington…

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” -Booker T. Washington

What are ways you can give a student responsibility and demonstrate your trust in him or her? 



3. Listen to your students and respect their voice, background, and culture.



We need to be very careful about placing judgments on students because of our differences. Instead, we need to listen with caring and curious hearts. We need to recognize we’re not there to rescue, fix, or determine their future. We’re there to help, support, and influence them as they discover the story they want to create with their lives.



4. View mistakes as learning opportunities.


When we view mistakes as learning opportunities, we are far less likely to sort students or determine what’s possible for them based on how they show up right now. Many highly accomplished people have leveraged their challenges, failures, and shortcomings to do amazing things in life. Maybe your student will be one of those stories. And your belief in them can make the difference.


5. Never crush a child’s dream.


Yeah, we all know the odds of making it to the NBA are very slim. But my job as an educator is not to remind kids of what they can’t do. Encourage their dreams. But at the same time, hold them accountable to the value of other things along the journey too. NBA players need to be coachable, they need to be learners, and they need to solve problems and use their thinking skills. So good news…my classroom can help you get ready for the NBA!


What other tips do you have for seeing students as possibilities? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Do You View Students as Possibilities or Probabilities?

Earlier this summer our district leadership team spent a day of training together around the Clifton Strengths Assessment. It was really interesting to learn more about self and others and how to leverage our individual and collective strengths to make our impact for kids stronger.



Of my top five strengths, I was a little disappointed to learn that none of them fell into the larger category of Relationship Building. 



That’s right, I often write about how much I value relationships and how important they are, but connecting is not a natural strength for meat least not in my top 5 according to this instrument. 



Our trainer was really helpful in explaining that just because something isn’t a natural strength doesn’t mean you’re not good at it, or that you don’t find value in it. It just requires more effort and intention to be good at it. When you believe strongly in something, you can be effective in it even when it’s not near the top of your strengths.



That was encouraging to me. 



My top 5 strengths were 1. Learner, 2. Activator, 3. Belief, 4. Futuristic (sounds like a familiar book title), and 5. Self-Assurance. These are all areas where I get energy, where I thrive.



But I also realize that relationships are the most important part of what I do. I can’t be effective as an educator or as a human being for that matter, unless relationships are my number one priority. So I will remain intentional about how I strive to connect with others.



I’ve noticed sometimes when I interact with students I feel like I’m saying the same things over and over. Just simply exchanging pleasantries, smiling, nodding, fist-bumping, etc. And then maybe I’ll ask about last night’s game or how their classes are going.



I’ve also noticed that while we often talk about how important relationships are in education, we don’t always share specific strategies for how to build relationships and connect in the middle of all those interactions we have every day. 



But I read an article recently about a study by psychologist Arthur Aron that described how certain questions have proven to build connection between people. And while the questions were designed to be used in a single 45 minute conversation, I’m wondering about how some of these questions might be helpful to me in working with students or colleagues, perhaps in shorter time frames. 



Some of the questions seemed more fitting than others. I thought I would share a few here in case you’re like me and looking for ways to make your conversations more meaningful. The questions were divided into sets based on the level of vulnerability they might require.



I think they might even be good for staff meetings to build more connection and teamwork among teachers. When we share together we grow stronger together.



Set 1



1. Would you like to be famous? In what way?



2. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?



3. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?



4. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?



Set 2



5. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?



6. What do you value most in a friendship?



7. What is your most treasured memory?



8. Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?



Set 3



9. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?



10. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?



11. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…”



There were actually 36 questions total. I’m just sharing a few of the ones that seemed most likely that I might use. I would definitely be uncomfortable asking students, or even colleagues, a few of the questions that were included in the larger group, especially from Set 3. 



You might want to check out the full list of 36 questions and the protocol for the entire activity. You might find some other questions you like for your classroom or school. Or, you might want to try the entire process for date night with your significant other. Enjoy!

What are other questions or topics you rely on to foster connection? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 11 Questions that Build Relationships and Foster Connection



I was taught as a kid that the things that you put into your mind would have an influence on who you are and who you are becoming. Garbage in, garbage out. How you fill your cup will determine what spills over in your life. 



Actually, at the time, I remember thinking some of this was just to keep me from listening to the “wrong” type of music in my teen years. 



I think my understanding of the concept was over simplified and more focused on what I should not do. But it has just as much to do with what we should do.

The Bible puts it this way…

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free of perversity;

keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead;

fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet

and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left;

keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:23-27

Now I understand more clearly the truth of this. We really do become what we think about about. The things that we focus on become more visible to us, more evident, in every area of life. It becomes our lens. And that influences our behavior.



When our family bought a Chevy Malibu a few years ago, all of the sudden I noticed how many Chevy Malibus were on the road. I had never noticed before, but these cars were everywhere. 



When a student or parent says to me, “There’s so much drama in high school” I find it interesting because I know others who haven’t experienced all of that drama. They see social conflict everywhere because it’s the paradigm they engage with. Others mostly avoid the drama, because they focus their attention on other things.



Tony Robbins has described it this way, “Where your focus goes, energy flows.” You move in the direction of the things you focus on. Your energy goes toward those things.



When you practice gratitude, it’s amazing how you will notice more things to be grateful for. I believe you actually start to have more things to be grateful for. Good things come to people who believe the best and expect the best.



Les Brown said it simply, “What you think about, you bring about.”



Below are 8 things that will influence your growth and who you are becoming. We often think this is the type of advice our students need, and for sure they need to hear this message. But I think we all need to reflect on these things. Everyone needs this message.



How are we spending our time? What are we putting into our minds, rehearsing in our minds, and how can we ensure that it is leading us where we want to go? The patterns of our mind are powerful. They can empower us or defeat us.



The things we think about influence our effectiveness in every area of life. If you want to be a more effective educator, friend, spouse, or neighbor, think about how you are being intentional with these things.



8 Things That Influence Who You’re Becoming

1. What you watch

2. What you listen to

3. What you read

4. What you believe

5. How you spend your time

6. Who you spend your time with

7. The things you say to yourself

8. The thoughts you choose to accept



What would you add to this list? What stands out to you on this list? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to hear what you think.

Read More 8 Things That Influence Who You’re Becoming



How important are bus drivers? Our kids’ safety is in their hands. They are the first point of contact in the morning and help set the tone for the day. Bus drivers make a difference. And so do cooks. And custodians. And everyone else who gives so much to the life of a school.



I was speaking last week at the Cypress-Fairbanks Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships Leadership conference in Houston. It was a great event, and I enjoyed making some wonderful connections with educators there.


One of the people I met shared some valuable wisdom with me. The conference provided a shuttle to and from the hotel, and my driver’s name was Tammy.


She drives a school bus for the district, but she’s not just a regular school bus driver. She substitutes for all the bus routes in the Cy-Fair district (one of the largest in Texas) wherever she’s needed.


I can’t imagine how difficult that must be to drive a different group of kids every day, on a different school bus, in city traffic, with your back turned to them. That takes a special skill set!


Tammy is amazing! I was inspired by her commitment and her kindness. I asked her how she handles working with so many different kids while navigating unfamiliar routes.


I’m paraphrasing what Tammy said…and then adding a few of my thoughts too. She shared great advice and encouragement!


1. “They can tell I enjoy them and love them. And that makes all the difference.”


When kids know you care about them and accept them, you’ll bring out the best in them. The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Every kid wants to feel like they are easy to love.


2. “When I ask them to do something, I address them as sir or m’am. And when they follow through, I say thank you.”


Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you have the highest respect for them.


3. “When those middle school students realize they can’t get under my skin, I have them right where I want them.”


The kids are going to test you and see how you respond. If it’s with anger or frustration, the situation is likely to escalate. If you are firm, polite, and also calm and caring, you’ll get a much better result. Let them know you’re in their corner even when you’re correcting them.


4. “I keep doing this because they need me.”


Tammy explained she had thought about retiring, but I could tell she also felt great satisfaction and purpose in what she’s doing. She sees purpose and contribution in what she does. She’s making things better with each interaction she has.


5. “I can tell you put your heart and soul into what you do.”


She said that to me. I was so honored and humbled. She gave me a big hug when she dropped me off at the airport. And I’m not even that much of a hugger. She encouraged me and affirmed me and added value to me.


Who makes the difference in your school?


Every person who works in a school makes a difference. Every person contributes to the culture of the school. 


What if everyone in your school gave as generously as Tammy to love and support the kids and the adults in the school? What if we all showed a little more care and appreciation for every person in every interaction? That’s how you build a strong school culture.


Who is someone who inspires you? How are you giving generously to others? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Read More What You Do Matters



How do you respond when students don’t exhibit the behaviors you would like to see? Do you tell students they need to change? Do you lecture them about responsibility or respect? Do you complain to your colleagues about kids these days? Do you punish or reward?



How effective are those options? Telling doesn’t work. Lectures create distance. Complaining doesn’t empower anyone. And rewards and punishments mostly work only to get compliance and not to build better better behavioral skills.



But what would be an effective response to harmful behaviors? 



What can educators do to better address non-learning behaviors? 



Teaching behavior is better than just punishing behavior.



Teach the students the new behaviors you want to see.



If they aren’t organized, teach them how to be organized.



If they aren’t respectful, teach them about respect and how to show it.



If they aren’t responsible, teach them new skills to show responsibility.



If they are distracted, teach them how to focus.



Break down any behavior into specific skills and teach your students the steps to successfully exhibit the behaviors.



How to Teach Behavior



1. Know your own expectations for your students. Have a vision for exactly what you expect. Know exactly what you want to see.



2. Communicate your expectations clearly. Be very specific. Over communicate. Explain why the behavior is important. Use stories and examples to make it clear.



3. Build relationships. Students will always learn behavior lessons better from someone that’s trusted and connected.



4. Discuss unwanted behaviors with your students. Don’t tell. Ask questions. Listen. Understand.



5. Give students feedback on how they’re doing. Correct them. Direct them. But most of all, encourage them.



6. Facilitate reflection with your students. Ask them to think about their own behavior and how they are learning and growing. Track progress.



7. Offer a fresh start each day. Don’t bring up previous mistakes except as a teaching opportunity but never to shame or gain the upper hand. Be patient.



8. Always protect the dignity of each child. Don’t lose your cool and say something harmful. Don’t use shame or guilt to motivate. 



How would you treat him/her if his/her grandmother were watching?



9. Review. It’s always good to circle back around to important lessons about expectations and how things are going.



What if I don’t have time to teach behavior?



Better question: What if you DON’T take the time to teach behavior? If you don’t teach the behaviors you want to see, you’ll spend much more time correcting issues that might have been prevented. Make sure your expectations are clear.



When you are intentional about teaching the behaviors you want to see, you are being proactive instead of reactive. You don’t just wait until there is a problem. Try to see things from the student’s perspective and anticipate what reminders they might need.



What do you do to be proactive about teaching behaviors in your classroom? Share your strategies by leaving a comment below or responding on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Teaching the Behaviors You Want to See



How do you respond when students don’t exhibit the behaviors you would like to see? Do you tell students they need to change? Do you lecture them about responsibility or respect? Do you complain to your colleagues about kids these days? Do you punish or reward?



How effective are those options? Telling doesn’t work. Lectures create distance. Complaining doesn’t empower anyone. And rewards and punishments mostly work only to get compliance and not to build better better behavioral skills.



But what would be an effective response to harmful behaviors? 



What can educators do to better address non-learning behaviors? 



Teaching behavior is better than just punishing behavior.



Teach the students the new behaviors you want to see.



If they aren’t organized, teach them how to be organized.



If they aren’t respectful, teach them about respect and how to show it.



If they aren’t responsible, teach them new skills to show responsibility.



If they are distracted, teach them how to focus.



Break down any behavior into specific skills and teach your students the steps to successfully exhibit the behaviors.



How to Teach Behavior



1. Know your own expectations for your students. Have a vision for exactly what you expect. Know exactly what you want to see.



2. Communicate your expectations clearly. Be very specific. Over communicate. Explain why the behavior is important. Use stories and examples to make it clear.



3. Build relationships. Students will always learn behavior lessons better from someone that’s trusted and connected.



4. Discuss unwanted behaviors with your students. Don’t tell. Ask questions. Listen. Understand.



5. Give students feedback on how they’re doing. Correct them. Direct them. But most of all, encourage them.



6. Facilitate reflection with your students. Ask them to think about their own behavior and how they are learning and growing. Track progress.



7. Offer a fresh start each day. Don’t bring up previous mistakes except as a teaching opportunity but never to shame or gain the upper hand. Be patient.



8. Always protect the dignity of each child. Don’t lose your cool and say something harmful. Don’t use shame or guilt to motivate. 



How would you treat him/her if his/her grandmother were watching?



9. Review. It’s always good to circle back around to important lessons about expectations and how things are going.



What if I don’t have time to teach behavior?



Better question: What if you DON’T take the time to teach behavior? If you don’t teach the behaviors you want to see, you’ll spend much more time correcting issues that might have been prevented. Make sure your expectations are clear.



When you are intentional about teaching the behaviors you want to see, you are being proactive instead of reactive. You don’t just wait until there is a problem. Try to see things from the student’s perspective and anticipate what reminders they might need.



What do you do to be proactive about teaching behaviors in your classroom? Share your strategies by leaving a comment below or responding on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Teaching the Behaviors You Want to See



It’s inevitable. Sooner or later there will be conflict. People will have differences. Disagreements will erupt. Mistakes will be made. Stuff happens.



But we can sharpen our skills to be ready when unhealthy conflict begins to rise. And we can use our tools to keep dialogue open and productive. Disagreements don’t have to turn destructive. 



A difference of opinion doesn’t haven’t to escalate into a damaged relationship. The phrases I share below have worked well for me, for the most part. Tone of voice and body language are critically important too.



It doesn’t matter if the conflict is with a student, a colleague, or a parent, it’s so important to listen carefully and let the other person know you are listening carefully. 



Listen carefully and practice empathy. Try to fully understand where the other person is coming from.



Here are 11 phrases that might be helpful…

1. “Let’s work together to solve this.”



All of the problem-solving to address an issue shouldn’t come from one side or the other. It’s not me vs. you. It’s us vs. the problem.



2. “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s look at the facts.”



Our natural tendency is to become defensive when someone challenges us. Take a tentative stance at the start. That shows you’re open to listening.



3. “If I’m wrong I want to correct it and make it right. I may be in error.”



If you start to defend your position right away you set yourself in opposition to the other side. When we set ourselves in opposition to another, it’s their instinct to cling to their ideas and defend them whether there is truly any merit to them or not.



4. “Let me see if I got that.”



Or “Let me see if I understand you correctly?” Listen actively. Acknowledge what the other person is saying. Instead of defending or explaining, start by paraphrasing. Repeat what they’ve said to ensure that you’re getting the right meaning. Ask clarifying questions. It makes the other person feel heard. It shows you are listening.



5. “What’s your biggest concern?”



Sometimes when people get upset they vent about all sorts of things that may be related and may not be related. This question helps focus on what the real issue is.



6. “How are you feeling about that?”



Again this question is acknowledging that there are strong feelings as a result of the situation. It’s good to validate the feelings someone is having. It doesn’t mean you agree with what needs to happen, but you are trying to understand how they feel. 



7. “What would you like to see happen? What would make you happy?”



Sometimes when I ask this question after I’ve listened carefully for a time, the person will say they don’t really want anything to happen. They just wanted to express their frustration. And sometimes there are specific requests. This question get possible next steps out on the table. 



8. “Is it possible that we could…?”



Or “What if…” Help introduce new possibilities to the situation. In emotionally charged situations, people often get locked into seeing things from only one perspective. We’re looking for a creative solution that is win/win.



9. “I’m willing to discuss this as long as needed until we’re both satisfied how it’s resolved.”



I love to say this when I can tell things are really heated. It immediately says to the other person that I’m not going to be your opponent in this discussion. I’m not going to allow this to be an argument. It almost always diffuses the situation.



10. “Let me think about this some more. Let’s try again later.”



Sometimes, even when I’ve tried to maintain dialogue and approach the problem with as much diplomacy as possible, we still can’t seem to either deescalate or find acceptable solutions. Then it’s time to say let’s both think about it some more and try again later.



11. “Do you feel like the situation’s been handled fairly?”



It’s very rewarding when a conversation that could be angry and awful ends up being successful. It actually builds a stronger relationship. Conflict can make us stronger. Sometimes I will even ask if the other person feels it’s been handled fairly. If they can’t say yes, then maybe we need to talk some more.



Don’t allow yourself to become an opponent in the conversation. If people sense that you are defensive, they will set themselves in opposition to you. They will cling to their ideas and defend them no matter what. Even if there isn’t merit to the concern, they will fight for their point of view. They won’t care about what’s right. They’ll only care about being right. They’ll defend the most ridiculous claims and blunders simply because they view you as an opponent.



And conversely, if you truly listen and avoid becoming an opponent, people are far more likely to admit errors of their own. If they are handled gently and respectfully, they will be more open to listening to your perspective too. But make sure they’ve had plenty of opportunities to be heard before you expect them to hear your point of view.



Do you have other ideas for disarming conflict? What’s been your experience with handling conflict successfully? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Helpful Phrases for Disarming Conflict



Reflection is important for growth. But we have to be intentional about it. Our reflection is meaningless unless we do something with it. It has to change us. Or, it has to help us change directions. Effective people are reflective people.



Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s incredible book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just this last week, I decided to start reading it again. Carnegie tells the story of a bank president who for many years made it a practice to reflect at the end of each week on every appointment he had in the previous week. He would ask himself the following questions:



“What mistakes did I make that time?”



“What did I do that was right–and in what way could I have improved my performance?”



“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”



The banker attributed his great success in large part to his system:

I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, that continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

It helped me improve my ability to make decisions–and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly. 

I also try to make it a point to consistently reflect on how things are going in my work. However, I don’t have a process as systematic as what’s described by the banker. Maybe that’s something I should consider.



This week as I’m reflecting, I thought of a few more questions to consider…



1. How is the reluctant learner experiencing our school (or your classroom if you’re a teacher)?



We may think about how our students are doing overall, but I think we need to be especially attentive to how the reluctant learner is doing. If we create an experience that engages some of our most challenging students, that same experience will also probably benefit our other students too. We’re aiming to create a place where even kids who “hate school” love to learn.



2. Am I measuring with a yardstick of my own years?



When I get frustrated with some of the behaviors I see in students, I need to be reminded that they are often acting exactly like 15-year-olds are inclined to act. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to influence them to rise up, but I can’t get frustrated when they don’t think, or act, like me. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But I think we all tend to get frustrated if people don’t act just like we think they should.



3. Do I have a healthy level of dissatisfaction with my own performance?



At the end of the day, it’s important to be content with doing my best but to also be dissatisfied with how things are. I don’t want to become complacent. And I don’t want to beat myself up when I make a mistake. So be content, but never be satisfied. 



4. Are there ways I’m falling into binary thinking?



Binary thinking creates false dichotomies. It’s either/or. Effective leadership almost always requires a more nuanced position. We can have fun AND have high expectations. We can use technology AND develop social skills and teamwork. We can encourage student agency/inquiry AND improve achievement. It’s not all or nothing.



5. What specific strategies am I using to motivate students (and teachers)?



I’m thinking about the ways I influence student and teacher motivation. Am I doing it by connecting and building relationships? Am I doing it by clearing barriers and showing support? Am I motivating students by creating a positive environment? Just what are the specific strategies I’m using to motivate? Food for thought.



So how are you developing a reflection routine? Would you benefit from having intentional reflection each week? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Questions for Deeper Reflection



Reflection is important for growth. But we have to be intentional about it. Our reflection is meaningless unless we do something with it. It has to change us. Or, it has to help us change directions. Effective people are reflective people.



Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s incredible book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just this last week, I decided to start reading it again. Carnegie tells the story of a bank president who for many years made it a practice to reflect at the end of each week on every appointment he had in the previous week. He would ask himself the following questions:



“What mistakes did I make that time?”



“What did I do that was right–and in what way could I have improved my performance?”



“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”



The banker attributed his great success in large part to his system:

I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, that continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

It helped me improve my ability to make decisions–and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly. 

I also try to make it a point to consistently reflect on how things are going in my work. However, I don’t have a process as systematic as what’s described by the banker. Maybe that’s something I should consider.



This week as I’m reflecting, I thought of a few more questions to consider…



1. How is the reluctant learner experiencing our school (or your classroom if you’re a teacher)?



We may think about how our students are doing overall, but I think we need to be especially attentive to how the reluctant learner is doing. If we create an experience that engages some of our most challenging students, that same experience will also probably benefit our other students too. We’re aiming to create a place where even kids who “hate school” love to learn.



2. Am I measuring with a yardstick of my own years?



When I get frustrated with some of the behaviors I see in students, I need to be reminded that they are often acting exactly like 15-year-olds are inclined to act. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to influence them to rise up, but I can’t get frustrated when they don’t think, or act, like me. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But I think we all tend to get frustrated if people don’t act just like we think they should.



3. Do I have a healthy level of dissatisfaction with my own performance?



At the end of the day, it’s important to be content with doing my best but to also be dissatisfied with how things are. I don’t want to become complacent. And I don’t want to beat myself up when I make a mistake. So be content, but never be satisfied. 



4. Are there ways I’m falling into binary thinking?



Binary thinking creates false dichotomies. It’s either/or. Effective leadership almost always requires a more nuanced position. We can have fun AND have high expectations. We can use technology AND develop social skills and teamwork. We can encourage student agency/inquiry AND improve achievement. It’s not all or nothing.



5. What specific strategies am I using to motivate students (and teachers)?



I’m thinking about the ways I influence student and teacher motivation. Am I doing it by connecting and building relationships? Am I doing it by clearing barriers and showing support? Am I motivating students by creating a positive environment? Just what are the specific strategies I’m using to motivate? Food for thought.



So how are you developing a reflection routine? Would you benefit from having intentional reflection each week? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Questions for Deeper Reflection