Tag: community



Information and well-reasoned arguments are rarely of much benefit to cause pivotal change. In Switch, by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, the authors detail dozens of examples of two different approaches to influencing (organizational and individual) behavior.



Think/Analyze/Change

One approach is Think/Analyze/Change. In this approach you present the facts. If you do this, this will happen. You make reasoned arguments. You encourage people to think like the rational human beings you expect them to be.

But the problem is, most people don’t make decisions based on carefully reasoned decisions. Of course, to the individual, every decision is reasonable. Our students believe they have a good reasons for their choices. It’s always important to remember students, and people in general, do things for their reasons and not ours.

So when we use “telling” as a strategy to reason with students about why they should comply, follow rules, or try harder, it probably goes in one ear and out the other, except for the students who already agree with our reasoning, and they aren’t the ones who need to hear it.

See/Feel/Change

So the second approach is See/Feel/Change. This approach has been shown time and again to be far more effective in creating behavioral change. This approach makes change more visible. It often relies on mental pictures and narratives that people can really connect with. It focuses on heart needs. It connects with the person emotionally. That is critically important. 



While we would all like to think we’re rational beings, we’ve made some of the biggest decisions of our life based on emotion…where we went to college, who we married, deciding to have kids, buying a house or that new car. There were powerful emotions at play in all of those decisions.

To be a change agent, you have to use See/Feel/Change strategies. 



Here are five tips…

1. The energy you bring to your classroom communicates expectations more powerfully than your words. If you bring enough purpose, passion, and energy to the space, you communicate to students that this teacher is not going to accept less than my best. Keep in mind your rules are no match for student habits.

2. Give your students experiences. Use demonstrations. Use role playing. Make the principles you are trying to teach visible and interactive and don’t rely on just “telling.” Invite students to reflect on experiences and draw meaning from concrete examples.

3. Tell stories. People connect with stories. So if you have a story that illustrates a principle, use it. But also tie it to a higher purpose. So instead of telling a story of how your son or daughter was complemented in his/her job for showing up on time and keeping his cell phone put away, share how proud you are as a parent that your child is doing well in his adult life. Our kids want their parents to be proud of them. Or, talk about how he or she is taking such good care of their family. Our students may not care about a career at 15 years old. But they do care about the things all people care about (relationships, feeling significant, being good at something, family, connection, etc.).

4. Teach specific first steps to make the change a reality. If students experience some success in an area, they are more likely to continue down that path. So don’t just say, remember to do your homework. Help them make plans for exactly what steps they will take to do their homework. Planning first steps is extremely important to creating change. Don’t assume they know what to do.

5. Help students find a sense of purpose. People who lack purpose have no reason to change. They have no hope. Encourage students by believing in their possibilities and by giving them encouragement to grow. Students are more likely to invest themselves when they feel meaning and purpose. Learning must be more meaningful than a grade or a test score.

Final thoughts…

Students (all people actually) do things for their reasons, not ours.

Information without emotion is rarely retained. And information rarely changes behavior.

Be mindful of how you can add the greatest value to students who could benefit from changed habits. Be a change agent.



Let me here from you. What are strategies you’ve used to help student’s make pivotal changes? I’m talking about real, lasting change. Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Read More What’s the Key to Influencing Your Students?



Information and well-reasoned arguments are rarely of much benefit to cause pivotal change. In Switch, by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, the authors detail dozens of examples of two different approaches to influencing (organizational and individual) behavior.



Think/Analyze/Change

One approach is Think/Analyze/Change. In this approach you present the facts. If you do this, this will happen. You make reasoned arguments. You encourage people to think like the rational human beings you expect them to be.

But the problem is, most people don’t make decisions based on carefully reasoned decisions. Of course, to the individual, every decision is reasonable. Our students believe they have a good reasons for their choices. It’s always important to remember students, and people in general, do things for their reasons and not ours.

So when we use “telling” as a strategy to reason with students about why they should comply, follow rules, or try harder, it probably goes in one ear and out the other, except for the students who already agree with our reasoning, and they aren’t the ones who need to hear it.

See/Feel/Change

So the second approach is See/Feel/Change. This approach has been shown time and again to be far more effective in creating behavioral change. This approach makes change more visible. It often relies on mental pictures and narratives that people can really connect with. It focuses on heart needs. It connects with the person emotionally. That is critically important. 



While we would all like to think we’re rational beings, we’ve made some of the biggest decisions of our life based on emotion…where we went to college, who we married, deciding to have kids, buying a house or that new car. There were powerful emotions at play in all of those decisions.

To be a change agent, you have to use See/Feel/Change strategies. 



Here are five tips…

1. The energy you bring to your classroom communicates expectations more powerfully than your words. If you bring enough purpose, passion, and energy to the space, you communicate to students that this teacher is not going to accept less than my best. Keep in mind your rules are no match for student habits.

2. Give your students experiences. Use demonstrations. Use role playing. Make the principles you are trying to teach visible and interactive and don’t rely on just “telling.” Invite students to reflect on experiences and draw meaning from concrete examples.

3. Tell stories. People connect with stories. So if you have a story that illustrates a principle, use it. But also tie it to a higher purpose. So instead of telling a story of how your son or daughter was complemented in his/her job for showing up on time and keeping his cell phone put away, share how proud you are as a parent that your child is doing well in his adult life. Our kids want their parents to be proud of them. Or, talk about how he or she is taking such good care of their family. Our students may not care about a career at 15 years old. But they do care about the things all people care about (relationships, feeling significant, being good at something, family, connection, etc.).

4. Teach specific first steps to make the change a reality. If students experience some success in an area, they are more likely to continue down that path. So don’t just say, remember to do your homework. Help them make plans for exactly what steps they will take to do their homework. Planning first steps is extremely important to creating change. Don’t assume they know what to do.

5. Help students find a sense of purpose. People who lack purpose have no reason to change. They have no hope. Encourage students by believing in their possibilities and by giving them encouragement to grow. Students are more likely to invest themselves when they feel meaning and purpose. Learning must be more meaningful than a grade or a test score.

Final thoughts…

Students (all people actually) do things for their reasons, not ours.

Information without emotion is rarely retained. And information rarely changes behavior.

Be mindful of how you can add the greatest value to students who could benefit from changed habits. Be a change agent.



Let me here from you. What are strategies you’ve used to help student’s make pivotal changes? I’m talking about real, lasting change. Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Read More What’s the Key to Influencing Your Students?



Information and well-reasoned arguments are rarely of much benefit to cause pivotal change. In Switch, by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, the authors detail dozens of examples of two different approaches to influencing (organizational and individual) behavior.



Think/Analyze/Change

One approach is Think/Analyze/Change. In this approach you present the facts. If you do this, this will happen. You make reasoned arguments. You encourage people to think like the rational human beings you expect them to be.

But the problem is, most people don’t make decisions based on carefully reasoned decisions. Of course, to the individual, every decision is reasonable. Our students believe they have a good reasons for their choices. It’s always important to remember students, and people in general, do things for their reasons and not ours.

So when we use “telling” as a strategy to reason with students about why they should comply, follow rules, or try harder, it probably goes in one ear and out the other, except for the students who already agree with our reasoning, and they aren’t the ones who need to hear it.

See/Feel/Change

So the second approach is See/Feel/Change. This approach has been shown time and again to be far more effective in creating behavioral change. This approach makes change more visible. It often relies on mental pictures and narratives that people can really connect with. It focuses on heart needs. It connects with the person emotionally. That is critically important. 



While we would all like to think we’re rational beings, we’ve made some of the biggest decisions of our life based on emotion…where we went to college, who we married, deciding to have kids, buying a house or that new car. There were powerful emotions at play in all of those decisions.

To be a change agent, you have to use See/Feel/Change strategies. 



Here are five tips…

1. The energy you bring to your classroom communicates expectations more powerfully than your words. If you bring enough purpose, passion, and energy to the space, you communicate to students that this teacher is not going to accept less than my best. Keep in mind your rules are no match for student habits.

2. Give your students experiences. Use demonstrations. Use role playing. Make the principles you are trying to teach visible and interactive and don’t rely on just “telling.” Invite students to reflect on experiences and draw meaning from concrete examples.

3. Tell stories. People connect with stories. So if you have a story that illustrates a principle, use it. But also tie it to a higher purpose. So instead of telling a story of how your son or daughter was complemented in his/her job for showing up on time and keeping his cell phone put away, share how proud you are as a parent that your child is doing well in his adult life. Our kids want their parents to be proud of them. Or, talk about how he or she is taking such good care of their family. Our students may not care about a career at 15 years old. But they do care about the things all people care about (relationships, feeling significant, being good at something, family, connection, etc.).

4. Teach specific first steps to make the change a reality. If students experience some success in an area, they are more likely to continue down that path. So don’t just say, remember to do your homework. Help them make plans for exactly what steps they will take to do their homework. Planning first steps is extremely important to creating change. Don’t assume they know what to do.

5. Help students find a sense of purpose. People who lack purpose have no reason to change. They have no hope. Encourage students by believing in their possibilities and by giving them encouragement to grow. Students are more likely to invest themselves when they feel meaning and purpose. Learning must be more meaningful than a grade or a test score.

Final thoughts…

Students (all people actually) do things for their reasons, not ours.

Information without emotion is rarely retained. And information rarely changes behavior.

Be mindful of how you can add the greatest value to students who could benefit from changed habits. Be a change agent.



Let me here from you. What are strategies you’ve used to help student’s make pivotal changes? I’m talking about real, lasting change. Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Read More What’s the Key to Influencing Your Students?



Information and well-reasoned arguments are rarely of much benefit to cause pivotal change. In Switch, by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, the authors detail dozens of examples of two different approaches to influencing (organizational and individual) behavior.



Think/Analyze/Change

One approach is Think/Analyze/Change. In this approach you present the facts. If you do this, this will happen. You make reasoned arguments. You encourage people to think like the rational human beings you expect them to be.

But the problem is, most people don’t make decisions based on carefully reasoned decisions. Of course, to the individual, every decision is reasonable. Our students believe they have a good reasons for their choices. It’s always important to remember students, and people in general, do things for their reasons and not ours.

So when we use “telling” as a strategy to reason with students about why they should comply, follow rules, or try harder, it probably goes in one ear and out the other, except for the students who already agree with our reasoning, and they aren’t the ones who need to hear it.

See/Feel/Change

So the second approach is See/Feel/Change. This approach has been shown time and again to be far more effective in creating behavioral change. This approach makes change more visible. It often relies on mental pictures and narratives that people can really connect with. It focuses on heart needs. It connects with the person emotionally. That is critically important. 



While we would all like to think we’re rational beings, we’ve made some of the biggest decisions of our life based on emotion…where we went to college, who we married, deciding to have kids, buying a house or that new car. There were powerful emotions at play in all of those decisions.

To be a change agent, you have to use See/Feel/Change strategies. 



Here are five tips…

1. The energy you bring to your classroom communicates expectations more powerfully than your words. If you bring enough purpose, passion, and energy to the space, you communicate to students that this teacher is not going to accept less than my best. Keep in mind your rules are no match for student habits.

2. Give your students experiences. Use demonstrations. Use role playing. Make the principles you are trying to teach visible and interactive and don’t rely on just “telling.” Invite students to reflect on experiences and draw meaning from concrete examples.

3. Tell stories. People connect with stories. So if you have a story that illustrates a principle, use it. But also tie it to a higher purpose. So instead of telling a story of how your son or daughter was complemented in his/her job for showing up on time and keeping his cell phone put away, share how proud you are as a parent that your child is doing well in his adult life. Our kids want their parents to be proud of them. Or, talk about how he or she is taking such good care of their family. Our students may not care about a career at 15 years old. But they do care about the things all people care about (relationships, feeling significant, being good at something, family, connection, etc.).

4. Teach specific first steps to make the change a reality. If students experience some success in an area, they are more likely to continue down that path. So don’t just say, remember to do your homework. Help them make plans for exactly what steps they will take to do their homework. Planning first steps is extremely important to creating change. Don’t assume they know what to do.

5. Help students find a sense of purpose. People who lack purpose have no reason to change. They have no hope. Encourage students by believing in their possibilities and by giving them encouragement to grow. Students are more likely to invest themselves when they feel meaning and purpose. Learning must be more meaningful than a grade or a test score.

Final thoughts…

Students (all people actually) do things for their reasons, not ours.

Information without emotion is rarely retained. And information rarely changes behavior.

Be mindful of how you can add the greatest value to students who could benefit from changed habits. Be a change agent.



Let me here from you. What are strategies you’ve used to help student’s make pivotal changes? I’m talking about real, lasting change. Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Read More What’s the Key to Influencing Your Students?



Strong leaders have strong visions for their schools. They feel a constant tension between how things are and how they could be. And leaders want to see progress toward the vision. And progress toward the vision is great, but it comes at a cost if leaders aren’t careful.



People must never feel diminished at the expense of the vision.



I would challenge leaders to consider this question. Why do you provide learning opportunities for your teachers? I’m guessing the most common answer would be it’s for the kids and their learning. 



That’s a noble goal, right?



It’s to help teachers be better so kids can learn more too. It’s to move the school forward toward the vision. We have important work to do to be the best we can be, so the kids can be the best they can be.



But here’s the translation for many teachers: My current work is not appreciated here. It’s never good enough. You’re always trying to squeeze more out of me. I’m doing all I can and now you’re adding to my plate. My work is not valued here. I feel like I’m being pushed in directions I don’t even know if I want to go.



But what if we approached professional learning from a different perspective? What if school leadership focused more on serving teachers and meeting their needs? What if professional learning was more about growing the teacher and not about better test scores or some other outcome?



Let’s create a culture of professional learning that values teachers. Let’s start with this idea. We want to provide experiences that help teachers get the most out of their work. We want to provide experiences that help you achieve your greatest fulfillment as a teacher. 



We want to provide experiences that offer the highest return on your investment as an educator. 



That’s servant leadership. Helping others make a greater impact and find more fulfillment in what they are doing. It’s not about squeezing more out of the individual for the sake of the school, the test scores, or even for the kids. It’s not about winning at the SMART goals game.



But those things will probably improve too as teachers feel more appreciated, find more fulfillment, and sense they are getting a higher return on their investment as an educator.



There’s nothing wrong with leaders asking more of the people they lead. That’s what good leaders do. They challenge people to grow their capacity and to use their capacity to the fullest.



But start with why. Reflect on your own motives. Why are you asking more? It has to be to care for your team. Love your team. It has to be for the benefit of each individual first. Help them reach their goals. Help them feel a greater sense of accomplishment. Give them a sense of their own talent, progress, and strengths.



The best leaders are constantly affirming the work that is being done. They are recognizing the strengths and contributions of each team member. The vision is realized as a result of valuing people, encouraging them, and supporting them all along the way.



Leaders: When we ask teachers to risk more and to give more, are we also giving more and risking more for teachers?



The vision for your school is important, but the vision is meaningless if performance is more important than people.



What are some ways you are risking more for you colleagues, caring for them, and increasing the return on investment for others? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Don’t Ask For More Until You’re Willing to Risk More



Strong leaders have strong visions for their schools. They feel a constant tension between how things are and how they could be. And leaders want to see progress toward the vision. And progress toward the vision is great, but it comes at a cost if leaders aren’t careful.



People must never feel diminished at the expense of the vision.



I would challenge leaders to consider this question. Why do you provide learning opportunities for your teachers? I’m guessing the most common answer would be it’s for the kids and their learning. 



That’s a noble goal, right?



It’s to help teachers be better so kids can learn more too. It’s to move the school forward toward the vision. We have important work to do to be the best we can be, so the kids can be the best they can be.



But here’s the translation for many teachers: My current work is not appreciated here. It’s never good enough. You’re always trying to squeeze more out of me. I’m doing all I can and now you’re adding to my plate. My work is not valued here. I feel like I’m being pushed in directions I don’t even know if I want to go.



But what if we approached professional learning from a different perspective? What if school leadership focused more on serving teachers and meeting their needs? What if professional learning was more about growing the teacher and not about better test scores or some other outcome?



Let’s create a culture of professional learning that values teachers. Let’s start with this idea. We want to provide experiences that help teachers get the most out of their work. We want to provide experiences that help you achieve your greatest fulfillment as a teacher. 



We want to provide experiences that offer the highest return on your investment as an educator. 



That’s servant leadership. Helping others make a greater impact and find more fulfillment in what they are doing. It’s not about squeezing more out of the individual for the sake of the school, the test scores, or even for the kids. It’s not about winning at the SMART goals game.



But those things will probably improve too as teachers feel more appreciated, find more fulfillment, and sense they are getting a higher return on their investment as an educator.



There’s nothing wrong with leaders asking more of the people they lead. That’s what good leaders do. They challenge people to grow their capacity and to use their capacity to the fullest.



But start with why. Reflect on your own motives. Why are you asking more? It has to be to care for your team. Love your team. It has to be for the benefit of each individual first. Help them reach their goals. Help them feel a greater sense of accomplishment. Give them a sense of their own talent, progress, and strengths.



The best leaders are constantly affirming the work that is being done. They are recognizing the strengths and contributions of each team member. The vision is realized as a result of valuing people, encouraging them, and supporting them all along the way.



Leaders: When we ask teachers to risk more and to give more, are we also giving more and risking more for teachers?



The vision for your school is important, but the vision is meaningless if performance is more important than people.



What are some ways you are risking more for you colleagues, caring for them, and increasing the return on investment for others? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Don’t Ask For More Until You’re Willing to Risk More



Strong leaders have strong visions for their schools. They feel a constant tension between how things are and how they could be. And leaders want to see progress toward the vision. And progress toward the vision is great, but it comes at a cost if leaders aren’t careful.



People must never feel diminished at the expense of the vision.



I would challenge leaders to consider this question. Why do you provide learning opportunities for your teachers? I’m guessing the most common answer would be it’s for the kids and their learning. 



That’s a noble goal, right?



It’s to help teachers be better so kids can learn more too. It’s to move the school forward toward the vision. We have important work to do to be the best we can be, so the kids can be the best they can be.



But here’s the translation for many teachers: My current work is not appreciated here. It’s never good enough. You’re always trying to squeeze more out of me. I’m doing all I can and now you’re adding to my plate. My work is not valued here. I feel like I’m being pushed in directions I don’t even know if I want to go.



But what if we approached professional learning from a different perspective? What if school leadership focused more on serving teachers and meeting their needs? What if professional learning was more about growing the teacher and not about better test scores or some other outcome?



Let’s create a culture of professional learning that values teachers. Let’s start with this idea. We want to provide experiences that help teachers get the most out of their work. We want to provide experiences that help you achieve your greatest fulfillment as a teacher. 



We want to provide experiences that offer the highest return on your investment as an educator. 



That’s servant leadership. Helping others make a greater impact and find more fulfillment in what they are doing. It’s not about squeezing more out of the individual for the sake of the school, the test scores, or even for the kids. It’s not about winning at the SMART goals game.



But those things will probably improve too as teachers feel more appreciated, find more fulfillment, and sense they are getting a higher return on their investment as an educator.



There’s nothing wrong with leaders asking more of the people they lead. That’s what good leaders do. They challenge people to grow their capacity and to use their capacity to the fullest.



But start with why. Reflect on your own motives. Why are you asking more? It has to be to care for your team. Love your team. It has to be for the benefit of each individual first. Help them reach their goals. Help them feel a greater sense of accomplishment. Give them a sense of their own talent, progress, and strengths.



The best leaders are constantly affirming the work that is being done. They are recognizing the strengths and contributions of each team member. The vision is realized as a result of valuing people, encouraging them, and supporting them all along the way.



Leaders: When we ask teachers to risk more and to give more, are we also giving more and risking more for teachers?



The vision for your school is important, but the vision is meaningless if performance is more important than people.



What are some ways you are risking more for you colleagues, caring for them, and increasing the return on investment for others? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Don’t Ask For More Until You’re Willing to Risk More



Strong leaders have strong visions for their schools. They feel a constant tension between how things are and how they could be. And leaders want to see progress toward the vision. And progress toward the vision is great, but it comes at a cost if leaders aren’t careful.



People must never feel diminished at the expense of the vision.



I would challenge leaders to consider this question. Why do you provide learning opportunities for your teachers? I’m guessing the most common answer would be it’s for the kids and their learning. 



That’s a noble goal, right?



It’s to help teachers be better so kids can learn more too. It’s to move the school forward toward the vision. We have important work to do to be the best we can be, so the kids can be the best they can be.



But here’s the translation for many teachers: My current work is not appreciated here. It’s never good enough. You’re always trying to squeeze more out of me. I’m doing all I can and now you’re adding to my plate. My work is not valued here. I feel like I’m being pushed in directions I don’t even know if I want to go.



But what if we approached professional learning from a different perspective? What if school leadership focused more on serving teachers and meeting their needs? What if professional learning was more about growing the teacher and not about better test scores or some other outcome?



Let’s create a culture of professional learning that values teachers. Let’s start with this idea. We want to provide experiences that help teachers get the most out of their work. We want to provide experiences that help you achieve your greatest fulfillment as a teacher. 



We want to provide experiences that offer the highest return on your investment as an educator. 



That’s servant leadership. Helping others make a greater impact and find more fulfillment in what they are doing. It’s not about squeezing more out of the individual for the sake of the school, the test scores, or even for the kids. It’s not about winning at the SMART goals game.



But those things will probably improve too as teachers feel more appreciated, find more fulfillment, and sense they are getting a higher return on their investment as an educator.



There’s nothing wrong with leaders asking more of the people they lead. That’s what good leaders do. They challenge people to grow their capacity and to use their capacity to the fullest.



But start with why. Reflect on your own motives. Why are you asking more? It has to be to care for your team. Love your team. It has to be for the benefit of each individual first. Help them reach their goals. Help them feel a greater sense of accomplishment. Give them a sense of their own talent, progress, and strengths.



The best leaders are constantly affirming the work that is being done. They are recognizing the strengths and contributions of each team member. The vision is realized as a result of valuing people, encouraging them, and supporting them all along the way.



Leaders: When we ask teachers to risk more and to give more, are we also giving more and risking more for teachers?



The vision for your school is important, but the vision is meaningless if performance is more important than people.



What are some ways you are risking more for you colleagues, caring for them, and increasing the return on investment for others? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Don’t Ask For More Until You’re Willing to Risk More



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



It seems obvious doesn’t it? But I think it’s one of the most important things to come to terms with in developing empathy. It’s important to recognize another person’s experience is different than mine and then honor that experience and try to understand it.



That’s empathy. It’s the emotional skill of being able to recognize, understand, and honor the feelings of another person.



I have to admit, sometimes I struggle to understand another person’s experience. It seems so obvious to me how they should respond or how they should feel in a given situation. If I’m not careful, I start feeling the need to convince them why they should feel more like I do about this thing. My sweet wife will confirm this I promise!



But that’s not helpful. Every person has every right to every one of their feelings. They belong to that person. And that’s okay. 

I’ve learned better how to respond when I have those thoughts, when I’m tempted to expect others to see it my way, right away. In the past, I felt frustrated and even angry if a student or colleague (or my wife or kids) was being unreasonable in my view, if they didn’t see it my way, if they didn’t feel the same as me. 



It’s so important to keep healthy emotional boundaries. I’m not going to let your (emotional) stuff bump into my (emotional) stuff.

Instead of responding with anger or frustration, I’ve learned to try to respond with curiosity. Rather than being upset by someone else’s feelings, I respond with curiosity and puzzlement. Hm? I wonder what this person is experiencing right now or what this person has experienced in the past that makes them feel this way? I’m curious. I want to understand.



And that creates the safety for dialogue. It keeps safety in the conversation. And it requires me to listen. When I’m curious, I want to know more. I want to understand how this person is experiencing this. I remind myself that my feelings are still mine. I can feel a certain way while honoring another person’s feelings too. It helps me to show up well in the situation and work toward win-win solutions.



When we honor the other person’s experience, it opens paths for shared understanding. Most of us want to be understood. In fact, one of the things that bumps into me more than just about anything else is feeling misunderstood. I’m sure many of you can relate to that.



Some people (mainly guys) might see all of this as soft or weak, but it’s not. It’s actually being a much stronger person. You are stronger when you have your emotional abilities in hand. Weak people fly off the handle and act like toddlers when they don’t get their way. Strong people don’t feel threatened easily by someone’s differences. There is great strength in accepting differences.



But of course, it’s still completely appropriate and beneficial to call out bad behavior. We must hold people accountable when they act badly. Empathy is not being tolerant of bad behavior. But it is being tolerant of another person’s experiences and feelings. It’s addressing the behavior in a way that tries to understand what the behavior is communicating, because all behavior is communication.



Empathy helps us think about the needs of others, and ultimately when we do this we are much more likely to have our needs met too. We’re more likely to have authentic conversations that lead to better decisions. We’re also more likely to feel heard when we are able to have honest conversations that keep empathy at the center. 



So clearly I value empathy. Why is it so important? Here are 9 reasons for educators.



1. Empathy leads to kindness. It fosters acceptance and understanding. Empathy lifts up others. It meets needs. It believes the best about others.



2. Empathy brings people together in community. It helps us to connect in spite of our differences, no matter what our differences.



3. Empathy results in better lesson plans. It seeks to understand how students learn this best, how they are experiencing learning. It values them as learners. 



4. Empathy results in better discipline plans. Empathy is not punitive, it’s corrective and supportive. It seeks to understand and prevent the causes of poor behavior. It is essential to resolving conflict.



5. Empathy improves teamwork. Effective teams are build on trust and togetherness. Empathy allows for constructive conflict.



6. Empathy improves problem-solving. It opens us to new possibilities and it considers the end-user and how solutions will impact others.



7. Empathy improves performance. Performance is stronger when people value risk taking and accept failure as an opportunity to learn. Empathy provides the safety for that to flourish.



8. Empathy builds stronger relationships. Most people want to be liked, to have more friends, to have people we can really count on. Empathy is essential to developing stronger bonds between people.



9. Empathy can reduce anxiety and depression. When people feel heard, feel understood, and feel supported, it can help ease anxiety and depression. Depression for teens, especially has been on the rise. I wonder how a culture of empathy might ease this in our schools.



I want to hear from you. Why is empathy important to you and what are you doing to cultivate it in your classroom or school? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Note: Header Image Retrieved https://www.pinterest.com/hattieshortie/english-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Read More What Is Empathy? And Why Is It So Important?



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



It seems obvious doesn’t it? But I think it’s one of the most important things to come to terms with in developing empathy. It’s important to recognize another person’s experience is different than mine and then honor that experience and try to understand it.



That’s empathy. It’s the emotional skill of being able to recognize, understand, and honor the feelings of another person.



I have to admit, sometimes I struggle to understand another person’s experience. It seems so obvious to me how they should respond or how they should feel in a given situation. If I’m not careful, I start feeling the need to convince them why they should feel more like I do about this thing. My sweet wife will confirm this I promise!



But that’s not helpful. Every person has every right to every one of their feelings. They belong to that person. And that’s okay. 

I’ve learned better how to respond when I have those thoughts, when I’m tempted to expect others to see it my way, right away. In the past, I felt frustrated and even angry if a student or colleague (or my wife or kids) was being unreasonable in my view, if they didn’t see it my way, if they didn’t feel the same as me. 



It’s so important to keep healthy emotional boundaries. I’m not going to let your (emotional) stuff bump into my (emotional) stuff.

Instead of responding with anger or frustration, I’ve learned to try to respond with curiosity. Rather than being upset by someone else’s feelings, I respond with curiosity and puzzlement. Hm? I wonder what this person is experiencing right now or what this person has experienced in the past that makes them feel this way? I’m curious. I want to understand.



And that creates the safety for dialogue. It keeps safety in the conversation. And it requires me to listen. When I’m curious, I want to know more. I want to understand how this person is experiencing this. I remind myself that my feelings are still mine. I can feel a certain way while honoring another person’s feelings too. It helps me to show up well in the situation and work toward win-win solutions.



When we honor the other person’s experience, it opens paths for shared understanding. Most of us want to be understood. In fact, one of the things that bumps into me more than just about anything else is feeling misunderstood. I’m sure many of you can relate to that.



Some people (mainly guys) might see all of this as soft or weak, but it’s not. It’s actually being a much stronger person. You are stronger when you have your emotional abilities in hand. Weak people fly off the handle and act like toddlers when they don’t get their way. Strong people don’t feel threatened easily by someone’s differences. There is great strength in accepting differences.



But of course, it’s still completely appropriate and beneficial to call out bad behavior. We must hold people accountable when they act badly. Empathy is not being tolerant of bad behavior. But it is being tolerant of another person’s experiences and feelings. It’s addressing the behavior in a way that tries to understand what the behavior is communicating, because all behavior is communication.



Empathy helps us think about the needs of others, and ultimately when we do this we are much more likely to have our needs met too. We’re more likely to have authentic conversations that lead to better decisions. We’re also more likely to feel heard when we are able to have honest conversations that keep empathy at the center. 



So clearly I value empathy. Why is it so important? Here are 9 reasons for educators.



1. Empathy leads to kindness. It fosters acceptance and understanding. Empathy lifts up others. It meets needs. It believes the best about others.



2. Empathy brings people together in community. It helps us to connect in spite of our differences, no matter what our differences.



3. Empathy results in better lesson plans. It seeks to understand how students learn this best, how they are experiencing learning. It values them as learners. 



4. Empathy results in better discipline plans. Empathy is not punitive, it’s corrective and supportive. It seeks to understand and prevent the causes of poor behavior. It is essential to resolving conflict.



5. Empathy improves teamwork. Effective teams are build on trust and togetherness. Empathy allows for constructive conflict.



6. Empathy improves problem-solving. It opens us to new possibilities and it considers the end-user and how solutions will impact others.



7. Empathy improves performance. Performance is stronger when people value risk taking and accept failure as an opportunity to learn. Empathy provides the safety for that to flourish.



8. Empathy builds stronger relationships. Most people want to be liked, to have more friends, to have people we can really count on. Empathy is essential to developing stronger bonds between people.



9. Empathy can reduce anxiety and depression. When people feel heard, feel understood, and feel supported, it can help ease anxiety and depression. Depression for teens, especially has been on the rise. I wonder how a culture of empathy might ease this in our schools.



I want to hear from you. Why is empathy important to you and what are you doing to cultivate it in your classroom or school? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Note: Header Image Retrieved https://www.pinterest.com/hattieshortie/english-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Read More What Is Empathy? And Why Is It So Important?



It was awesome to recently hold our first ever Jellybean Festival at our school. The Jellybean Festival brings together students of differing abilities to work with each other and perform for an audience. Think of it as Special Olympics meets the performing arts or even America’s Got Talent.



It was great to see the celebration of ALL our students and the opportunity for our students with special needs to really shine in front of their peers. One student even commented after the event, “I feel like a star!”



Our school has an organization called Character Council that promotes acceptance, positive decisions, kindness, etc. They organized our event and served as coaches for the participants, helping them develop acts and performing alongside them.



We were thrilled to have Howard Martin, the founder of the Jellybean Conspiracy, in attendance at our program. He shared his story and some thoughts on kindness and acceptance. 



His comments were profound…

At the Jellybean Festival we celebrate two things. First, every life matters. Every life, every single life matters.The second thing is thisit is kindness that makes us most human and most divine.

I’m going to tell you something now I don’t think you’re going to believe. But I challenge you to put aside your doubts. The most important indicator of success in life is kindness. The most important thing you can learn in high school is to be kind.

You want a definition for kindness? Kindness is becoming important in the life of another human being, especially the one is most likely to be left out.

You want another definition of kindness? See what happens today at the Jellybean Festival.

 In my recent post, I presented 5 questions every person is trying to answer:



1. Am I important to someone here?

2. Do I belong here?

3. Am I good at something here?

4. Who will listen to me here?

5. Is my presence here making a difference?



We all have a responsibility to BE the answer to these questions for someone. We all must help others know they are valued and that they matter. It is so important to do this.



The Jellybean Festival was a way we could do that as an entire school. It was a way to show how we should value each other. We were able to celebrate differences and just have fun together. 



I think the Jellybean Creed really says it best.






I’ve included the video highlights from our festival. You can get an idea of what our event was like in case your school wants to do something like this too. If you want to bring a Jellybean Festival to your school, I am happy to share more about how to do that. 









Read More Kindness Is the Most Important Indicator of Success



It was awesome to recently hold our first ever Jellybean Festival at our school. The Jellybean Festival brings together students of differing abilities to work with each other and perform for an audience. Think of it as Special Olympics meets the performing arts or even America’s Got Talent.



It was great to see the celebration of ALL our students and the opportunity for our students with special needs to really shine in front of their peers. One student even commented after the event, “I feel like a star!”



Our school has an organization called Character Council that promotes acceptance, positive decisions, kindness, etc. They organized our event and served as coaches for the participants, helping them develop acts and performing alongside them.



We were thrilled to have Howard Martin, the founder of the Jellybean Conspiracy, in attendance at our program. He shared his story and some thoughts on kindness and acceptance. 



His comments were profound…

At the Jellybean Festival we celebrate two things. First, every life matters. Every life, every single life matters.The second thing is thisit is kindness that makes us most human and most divine.

I’m going to tell you something now I don’t think you’re going to believe. But I challenge you to put aside your doubts. The most important indicator of success in life is kindness. The most important thing you can learn in high school is to be kind.

You want a definition for kindness? Kindness is becoming important in the life of another human being, especially the one is most likely to be left out.

You want another definition of kindness? See what happens today at the Jellybean Festival.

 In my recent post, I presented 5 questions every person is trying to answer:



1. Am I important to someone here?

2. Do I belong here?

3. Am I good at something here?

4. Who will listen to me here?

5. Is my presence here making a difference?



We all have a responsibility to BE the answer to these questions for someone. We all must help others know they are valued and that they matter. It is so important to do this.



The Jellybean Festival was a way we could do that as an entire school. It was a way to show how we should value each other. We were able to celebrate differences and just have fun together. 



I think the Jellybean Creed really says it best.






I’ve included the video highlights from our festival. You can get an idea of what our event was like in case your school wants to do something like this too. If you want to bring a Jellybean Festival to your school, I am happy to share more about how to do that. 









Read More Kindness Is the Most Important Indicator of Success



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. 



Everyone needs to matter!



All. Of. Us.



It’s through relationships we create the supportive, inclusive, positive, and caring place we want to see. A place where people can thrive. A place to be great. A place to reach higher and do more.



Students are trying to answer these questions. And adults are trying to answer these questions too. The title of this post might be focused on the kids. But all of the adults in the building have these needs as well. These questions are essential to us all.



1. Am I important to someone here?



2. Do I belong here?



3. Am I good at something here?



4. Who will listen to me here?



5. Is my presence here making a difference?



As we work to improve the culture of learning in our schools, we should always keep these questions in mind. Can students and staff members answer these questions positively and confidently? What are we doing to build stronger connections and take care of each other?



This week every chance you get, look for ways to help others find the answers to these questions. You can show another person they matter to you. You can lift them up and make them feel like they are valued for who they are. You can show them they are heard. You can notice the unique talents and gifts they have to offer the world. You can show them how they are making a difference.



What are ways you are helping your students and your colleagues answer these questions? Who will you lift up this week? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. It’s always a privilege to connect with you.

Read More 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. 



Everyone needs to matter!



All. Of. Us.



It’s through relationships we create the supportive, inclusive, positive, and caring place we want to see. A place where people can thrive. A place to be great. A place to reach higher and do more.



Students are trying to answer these questions. And adults are trying to answer these questions too. The title of this post might be focused on the kids. But all of the adults in the building have these needs as well. These questions are essential to us all.



1. Am I important to someone here?



2. Do I belong here?



3. Am I good at something here?



4. Who will listen to me here?



5. Is my presence here making a difference?



As we work to improve the culture of learning in our schools, we should always keep these questions in mind. Can students and staff members answer these questions positively and confidently? What are we doing to build stronger connections and take care of each other?



This week every chance you get, look for ways to help others find the answers to these questions. You can show another person they matter to you. You can lift them up and make them feel like they are valued for who they are. You can show them they are heard. You can notice the unique talents and gifts they have to offer the world. You can show them how they are making a difference.



What are ways you are helping your students and your colleagues answer these questions? Who will you lift up this week? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. It’s always a privilege to connect with you.

Read More 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. 



Everyone needs to matter!



All. Of. Us.



It’s through relationships we create the supportive, inclusive, positive, and caring place we want to see. A place where people can thrive. A place to be great. A place to reach higher and do more.



Students are trying to answer these questions. And adults are trying to answer these questions too. The title of this post might be focused on the kids. But all of the adults in the building have these needs as well. These questions are essential to us all.



1. Am I important to someone here?



2. Do I belong here?



3. Am I good at something here?



4. Who will listen to me here?



5. Is my presence here making a difference?



As we work to improve the culture of learning in our schools, we should always keep these questions in mind. Can students and staff members answer these questions positively and confidently? What are we doing to build stronger connections and take care of each other?



This week every chance you get, look for ways to help others find the answers to these questions. You can show another person they matter to you. You can lift them up and make them feel like they are valued for who they are. You can show them they are heard. You can notice the unique talents and gifts they have to offer the world. You can show them how they are making a difference.



What are ways you are helping your students and your colleagues answer these questions? Who will you lift up this week? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. It’s always a privilege to connect with you.

Read More 5 Questions Every Kid Is Trying to Answer




With less than a minute left in the game, we’re up by one point and inbounding the ball from under our own basket.



The ref is counting, and it’s getting close to a five-second violation.


You’d think a turnover might be the worst thing that could happen here. But you’d be wrong.


Our inbounder senses the need to avoid the 5-count. He throws the ball long, toward the other end of the court. It’s a common play, almost a safety valve.


But when our player catches the ball almost without breaking stride he runs for the opponent’s basket and lays the ball in the basket effortlessly.


That’s right, he scored for the other team.


With less than a minute on the clock. Against one of our biggest rivals.


We went from up one to down one in a flash.


How could this happen?


The large and enthusiastic home crowd went suddenly quiet.


Our coach immediately called timeout. Within seconds, teammates were speaking encouragement to the shocked player. I can’t imagine how he felt when he realized what he’d just done. You could see his disappointment.


In the huddle, our coach reminded his team, “Next play. Next play.” We always move on to the next play. We don’t dwell on our mistakes. We play through our mistakes. We don’t blame, or point fingers, or pout, or feel sorry for ourselves.


We move on to the next play…together.


He stayed in the game. Coach didn’t take him out.


With only seconds on the clock, we hit a three point shot to put us up by two. But then the opposing team came back and tied the game just before time expired. Unbelievable.


Two overtimes later, our Liberators pulled out the win. And the kid who scored for the other team hit a huge three point shot of his own, at our basket of course.


It’s nice that we won. It makes me happy for our kids when we win. But I’m far more concerned that our kids learn to play like winners. And that’s what I saw in the finish to this extraordinary game.


Over the years, I’ve also seen teams that haven’t handled adversity well. It never ends well.


Instead of lifting each other up, they bring each other down.


Instead of being unselfish, they put ME before WE.


Instead of accepting their role, they feel sorry for themselves.


Instead of believing in each other, they believe they deserve more.


Instead of supporting the coach, they think they know better.


And it’s not true just for sports. It can happen in your school, with your family, or at your church. 


Difficulties can pull us together, or they can tear us apart.


They can make us bitter or they can make us better.
The best people rally together in hard times. They don’t panic or act poorly simply because there’s adversity. They believe doing things the right way will eventually lead to great things coming your way.


It might not happen in this moment, in this game.


But in life, if you’re surrounded by good teammates, you’ll never fail alone. Your team will be there to pick you up, even when you score at the wrong basket.


You’ll move through the difficulties. You’ll learn from them.


And eventually, if you keep doing the things successful people do, you’ll give yourself the best chance to be successful.


How are you responding to difficulties? Are they making you bitter or better? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Difficulties Make Us Bitter or They Make Us Better




With less than a minute left in the game, we’re up by one point and inbounding the ball from under our own basket.



The ref is counting, and it’s getting close to a five-second violation.


You’d think a turnover might be the worst thing that could happen here. But you’d be wrong.


Our inbounder senses the need to avoid the 5-count. He throws the ball long, toward the other end of the court. It’s a common play, almost a safety valve.


But when our player catches the ball almost without breaking stride he runs for the opponent’s basket and lays the ball in the basket effortlessly.


That’s right, he scored for the other team.


With less than a minute on the clock. Against one of our biggest rivals.


We went from up one to down one in a flash.


How could this happen?


The large and enthusiastic home crowd went suddenly quiet.


Our coach immediately called timeout. Within seconds, teammates were speaking encouragement to the shocked player. I can’t imagine how he felt when he realized what he’d just done. You could see his disappointment.


In the huddle, our coach reminded his team, “Next play. Next play.” We always move on to the next play. We don’t dwell on our mistakes. We play through our mistakes. We don’t blame, or point fingers, or pout, or feel sorry for ourselves.


We move on to the next play…together.


He stayed in the game. Coach didn’t take him out.


With only seconds on the clock, we hit a three point shot to put us up by two. But then the opposing team came back and tied the game just before time expired. Unbelievable.


Two overtimes later, our Liberators pulled out the win. And the kid who scored for the other team hit a huge three point shot of his own, at our basket of course.


It’s nice that we won. It makes me happy for our kids when we win. But I’m far more concerned that our kids learn to play like winners. And that’s what I saw in the finish to this extraordinary game.


Over the years, I’ve also seen teams that haven’t handled adversity well. It never ends well.


Instead of lifting each other up, they bring each other down.


Instead of being unselfish, they put ME before WE.


Instead of accepting their role, they feel sorry for themselves.


Instead of believing in each other, they believe they deserve more.


Instead of supporting the coach, they think they know better.


And it’s not true just for sports. It can happen in your school, with your family, or at your church. 


Difficulties can pull us together, or they can tear us apart.


They can make us bitter or they can make us better.
The best people rally together in hard times. They don’t panic or act poorly simply because there’s adversity. They believe doing things the right way will eventually lead to great things coming your way.


It might not happen in this moment, in this game.


But in life, if you’re surrounded by good teammates, you’ll never fail alone. Your team will be there to pick you up, even when you score at the wrong basket.


You’ll move through the difficulties. You’ll learn from them.


And eventually, if you keep doing the things successful people do, you’ll give yourself the best chance to be successful.


How are you responding to difficulties? Are they making you bitter or better? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Difficulties Make Us Bitter or They Make Us Better



Think about the best dining experience you ever had. What made it exceptional? Was it the service, the atmosphere, or the cuisine? How was the experience more than just a good meal? Why was it truly memorable?



We recently asked our teachers to reflect on these questions during a faculty meeting. And the point of the reflection wasn’t to assess what kind of foodies are among our staff members. However, our culinary arts teacher (@BettyGlasgow) had plenty to say on the topic! 


Our chief aim was to examine what makes an extraordinary culture for a restaurant and how can that relate to creating an extraordinary culture in our school. Most everyone can recount a dining experience that was truly outstanding. What made it different?


One of our instructional coaches (@ealove21) had participated in a similar activity in a graduate class. In the end, our goal was to draw parallels between an extraordinary dining experience and an outstanding classroom experience.


Our staff talked about things like how they were treated by the wait staff. How they felt like they were the most important guests ever. They shared how there was attention to just about every detail. How the atmosphere made them feel wonderful. They explained how the entire experience exceeded their expectations in every way. And of course, the food was outstanding, too.


If I just want to get a decent meal, my options are endless. But if I want a truly remarkable dining experience, there seem to be only a few restaurants meeting that standard. There is something extra that really makes it stand out.



Can the same be said for schools too? Are we providing something extraordinary? Is your classroom meeting expectations or exceeding them? Is your school truly excellent or doing pretty much what every school is expected to do?




Our next part of the conversation with our team was to ask our teachers to consider the basic expectations for schools. What exactly is it that every school should be doing? What things are just the minimum requirements?



Should every school love kids? Yes.



Should every school be a safe place? Yes.


Should every school implement engaging, relevant curriculum and instruction? Yes.



Should every school work together with families and the community? Yes.



Should every school promote life-long learning? Yes.



Those are all really important things schools should do. And there are many more. But those are really just the basic expectations. Excellence is how we can do those things in remarkable ways, in ways that demonstrate passion, commitment, and continuous growth.



In what ways are we making learning extraordinary and not just routine? Our kids deserve to have a truly remarkable, world class education. So it’s really good that we’re doing the things that make for a good school. But let’s not be satisfied with being good when we can be GREAT!



While Chick-Fil-A is certainly not counted among my best dining experiences ever, I would say that among fast food restaurants, this chain is remarkable. And because of the commitment to their values and culture, Chik-Fil-A is crushing the competition. 



A Forbes article detailed the extraordinary culture and success of the fast food giant:

Chick-fil-A has achieved tremendous success by any business standard. They’ve experienced a more than 10% sales increase almost every year since launching in 1946. Franchisees retention rate has been 96% for nearly 50 years, while the corporate staff retention rate has hovered at 95-97% over the same time period.

If you are familiar with Chick-Fil-A, I bet you can think of several things related to their culture that makes them extraordinary. One thing some people even find annoying is when Chick-Fil-A employees will always say, “It’s my pleasure” anytime a customer says “Thank you.” Whether you think that is annoying or remarkable, it demonstrates this company is committed to doing things a certain way. 



One of our teachers commented, “When you’re at a Chick-Fil-A, there is just something that feels different about it.”



Most fast food restaurants are the complete opposite of that. They aren’t remarkable. They are in a race to the bottom, to do it the cheapest, and with the least personal attention, or so it seems. We never want school to be like that. We want to be more like Chick-Fil-A



Do we do things in a certain way as part of our culture that makes us remarkable? I’m not talking about being good or bad. Clearly, most teachers are doing really good work and are willing to make extra efforts to help kids. Most schools are striving to meet expectations. But how are you demonstrating your excellence in visible and tangible ways? How is your classroom or school different? 


In our school, we have a goal this year related to our culture. We are striving to have an outstanding greeting for our students each and every day, both on arrival to school and arrival to each classroom. It’s a simple thing, but it can make a huge difference. We’ve always greeted students, but we are working to make our greetings awesome.



We are aiming to provide a greeting that is extraordinary, that shows our students all the care and concern we believe they deserve. We believe it will translate and help make our school stronger in a whole variety of ways.



And our students have noticed how this is becoming a thing. We keep raising the bar. We added music to the morning greeting. We added handshakes and high fives. We’re striving to make sure we know every student’s name. Students have joined us to help welcome other students. And we’ve added signs that communicate our values. We’ve taken a simple thing and are doing all we can to make it extraordinary.



We’re aiming for excellence!




Shout out to Brian McCann (@casehighprinc) for the sign inspiration!



Question: What is something your school is doing that is extraordinary? What makes your classroom or school different? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Is Your School Extraordinary?



Think about the best dining experience you ever had. What made it exceptional? Was it the service, the atmosphere, or the cuisine? How was the experience more than just a good meal? Why was it truly memorable?



We recently asked our teachers to reflect on these questions during a faculty meeting. And the point of the reflection wasn’t to assess what kind of foodies are among our staff members. However, our culinary arts teacher (@BettyGlasgow) had plenty to say on the topic! 


Our chief aim was to examine what makes an extraordinary culture for a restaurant and how can that relate to creating an extraordinary culture in our school. Most everyone can recount a dining experience that was truly outstanding. What made it different?


One of our instructional coaches (@ealove21) had participated in a similar activity in a graduate class. In the end, our goal was to draw parallels between an extraordinary dining experience and an outstanding classroom experience.


Our staff talked about things like how they were treated by the wait staff. How they felt like they were the most important guests ever. They shared how there was attention to just about every detail. How the atmosphere made them feel wonderful. They explained how the entire experience exceeded their expectations in every way. And of course, the food was outstanding, too.


If I just want to get a decent meal, my options are endless. But if I want a truly remarkable dining experience, there seem to be only a few restaurants meeting that standard. There is something extra that really makes it stand out.



Can the same be said for schools too? Are we providing something extraordinary? Is your classroom meeting expectations or exceeding them? Is your school truly excellent or doing pretty much what every school is expected to do?




Our next part of the conversation with our team was to ask our teachers to consider the basic expectations for schools. What exactly is it that every school should be doing? What things are just the minimum requirements?



Should every school love kids? Yes.



Should every school be a safe place? Yes.


Should every school implement engaging, relevant curriculum and instruction? Yes.



Should every school work together with families and the community? Yes.



Should every school promote life-long learning? Yes.



Those are all really important things schools should do. And there are many more. But those are really just the basic expectations. Excellence is how we can do those things in remarkable ways, in ways that demonstrate passion, commitment, and continuous growth.



In what ways are we making learning extraordinary and not just routine? Our kids deserve to have a truly remarkable, world class education. So it’s really good that we’re doing the things that make for a good school. But let’s not be satisfied with being good when we can be GREAT!



While Chick-Fil-A is certainly not counted among my best dining experiences ever, I would say that among fast food restaurants, this chain is remarkable. And because of the commitment to their values and culture, Chik-Fil-A is crushing the competition. 



A Forbes article detailed the extraordinary culture and success of the fast food giant:

Chick-fil-A has achieved tremendous success by any business standard. They’ve experienced a more than 10% sales increase almost every year since launching in 1946. Franchisees retention rate has been 96% for nearly 50 years, while the corporate staff retention rate has hovered at 95-97% over the same time period.

If you are familiar with Chick-Fil-A, I bet you can think of several things related to their culture that makes them extraordinary. One thing some people even find annoying is when Chick-Fil-A employees will always say, “It’s my pleasure” anytime a customer says “Thank you.” Whether you think that is annoying or remarkable, it demonstrates this company is committed to doing things a certain way. 



One of our teachers commented, “When you’re at a Chick-Fil-A, there is just something that feels different about it.”



Most fast food restaurants are the complete opposite of that. They aren’t remarkable. They are in a race to the bottom, to do it the cheapest, and with the least personal attention, or so it seems. We never want school to be like that. We want to be more like Chick-Fil-A



Do we do things in a certain way as part of our culture that makes us remarkable? I’m not talking about being good or bad. Clearly, most teachers are doing really good work and are willing to make extra efforts to help kids. Most schools are striving to meet expectations. But how are you demonstrating your excellence in visible and tangible ways? How is your classroom or school different? 


In our school, we have a goal this year related to our culture. We are striving to have an outstanding greeting for our students each and every day, both on arrival to school and arrival to each classroom. It’s a simple thing, but it can make a huge difference. We’ve always greeted students, but we are working to make our greetings awesome.



We are aiming to provide a greeting that is extraordinary, that shows our students all the care and concern we believe they deserve. We believe it will translate and help make our school stronger in a whole variety of ways.



And our students have noticed how this is becoming a thing. We keep raising the bar. We added music to the morning greeting. We added handshakes and high fives. We’re striving to make sure we know every student’s name. Students have joined us to help welcome other students. And we’ve added signs that communicate our values. We’ve taken a simple thing and are doing all we can to make it extraordinary.



We’re aiming for excellence!




Shout out to Brian McCann (@casehighprinc) for the sign inspiration!



Question: What is something your school is doing that is extraordinary? What makes your classroom or school different? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Is Your School Extraordinary?