Tag: community





In 1993, famed college basketball coach Jim Valvano gave an inspiring and hopeful message at the ESPY awards. Valvano was fighting terminal cancer that would soon cut short his remarkable life. I occasionally watch the speech over again. It reminds me of what’s most important.



During his passionate speech, Valvano helped put everything in perspective:

“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. And if you do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

I invite you to take a few seconds to listen to Jimmy V speak these words in the video below.

So how can this apply to what we do as educators? Well, I think a great day at school includes the same things. We should laugh, we should certainly think, and we should also cry. 



I’m guessing that crying is harder for most of us to think about. We tend to think of some emotions as good or bad. We tend to hide those emotions that are sad or might be considered weak.



But emotions are an important way for us to connect. It’s how we better understand ourselves and others. Emotions help us to reach the heart and not just the mind.



We know that stories are powerful for learning. I think that’s because of how stories connect to emotions. You can talk about ideas all day, and I might be interested and even learn something. But if you connect those ideas with a story, and you touch my emotions, I may never forget what I’ve learned.



I remember one day years ago I was teaching freshmen English. It was one of those days when for whatever reason, I had a class period that was ahead of the others, and I needed to fill some time.



I decided to read a short story, The Scarlet Ibis, to the class. It was the first time I’d ever read the story myself, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect.



But as I read, I was drawn into the story in a powerful way. No doubt the class could sense my quivering voice, my efforts to fight back tears, and my unsettled body language. As they saw how the story was connecting with my heart, they too were drawn in. You could’ve heard a pin drop.



The story is about two brothers. The younger brother is born with health problems, and he was never able to keep up with his athletic older brother. At times, the older brother is cruel and ashamed of his handicapped sibling. At one point, he even thinks of smothering the little brother with a pillow.



But he also demonstrates his love for him. He nicknames the younger brother Doodle and decides to teach him the things he will need to be ready for school, how to run, swim, climb trees, and fight. You know, the important stuff.



But the Saturday before school starts, the older brother pushes Doodle to physical exhaustion while rowing a boat. And then a storm blows in suddenly. The older brother runs ahead angry with Doodle for not keeping up so they can get out of the rain.



But when the older brother’s anger calms, he notices Doodle is missing. He goes looking for him and finds him curled up under a bush with his head on his knees. He is bleeding from his mouth. He is dead.



It’s a tragic ending.



I remember talking with the class about how the two boys reminded me of my own sons. Both of my boys are perfectly healthy. But there was something about the way the brothers interacted that reminded me of my own sons.



I also remember talking to them about empathy and cruelty. How most of us have it in us to be cruel. How we can fail to understand what someone else is going through. How selfish we can be.



I know without a doubt, even many years later, during that class period, there was laughter, there was thinking, and there were definitely tears. I think every student in the class felt something special that day.



So what does a perfect day in the classroom look like? 100% mastery of the objective for the day?



For me, I think a great day is when students are learning the objective, and the learning is also connecting with the heart. I’m not sure who said it, but I believe it’s true, “Information without emotion is rarely retained.” The lessons that stay with us the longest connect to our emotions.



Are you teaching with heart? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Information Without Emotion Is Rarely Retained





In 1993, famed college basketball coach Jim Valvano gave an inspiring and hopeful message at the ESPY awards. Valvano was fighting terminal cancer that would soon cut short his remarkable life. I occasionally watch the speech over again. It reminds me of what’s most important.



During his passionate speech, Valvano helped put everything in perspective:

“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. And if you do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

I invite you to take a few seconds to listen to Jimmy V speak these words in the video below.

So how can this apply to what we do as educators? Well, I think a great day at school includes the same things. We should laugh, we should certainly think, and we should also cry. 



I’m guessing that crying is harder for most of us to think about. We tend to think of some emotions as good or bad. We tend to hide those emotions that are sad or might be considered weak.



But emotions are an important way for us to connect. It’s how we better understand ourselves and others. Emotions help us to reach the heart and not just the mind.



We know that stories are powerful for learning. I think that’s because of how stories connect to emotions. You can talk about ideas all day, and I might be interested and even learn something. But if you connect those ideas with a story, and you touch my emotions, I may never forget what I’ve learned.



I remember one day years ago I was teaching freshmen English. It was one of those days when for whatever reason, I had a class period that was ahead of the others, and I needed to fill some time.



I decided to read a short story, The Scarlet Ibis, to the class. It was the first time I’d ever read the story myself, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect.



But as I read, I was drawn into the story in a powerful way. No doubt the class could sense my quivering voice, my efforts to fight back tears, and my unsettled body language. As they saw how the story was connecting with my heart, they too were drawn in. You could’ve heard a pin drop.



The story is about two brothers. The younger brother is born with health problems, and he was never able to keep up with his athletic older brother. At times, the older brother is cruel and ashamed of his handicapped sibling. At one point, he even thinks of smothering the little brother with a pillow.



But he also demonstrates his love for him. He nicknames the younger brother Doodle and decides to teach him the things he will need to be ready for school, how to run, swim, climb trees, and fight. You know, the important stuff.



But the Saturday before school starts, the older brother pushes Doodle to physical exhaustion while rowing a boat. And then a storm blows in suddenly. The older brother runs ahead angry with Doodle for not keeping up so they can get out of the rain.



But when the older brother’s anger calms, he notices Doodle is missing. He goes looking for him and finds him curled up under a bush with his head on his knees. He is bleeding from his mouth. He is dead.



It’s a tragic ending.



I remember talking with the class about how the two boys reminded me of my own sons. Both of my boys are perfectly healthy. But there was something about the way the brothers interacted that reminded me of my own sons.



I also remember talking to them about empathy and cruelty. How most of us have it in us to be cruel. How we can fail to understand what someone else is going through. How selfish we can be.



I know without a doubt, even many years later, during that class period, there was laughter, there was thinking, and there were definitely tears. I think every student in the class felt something special that day.



So what does a perfect day in the classroom look like? 100% mastery of the objective for the day?



For me, I think a great day is when students are learning the objective, and the learning is also connecting with the heart. I’m not sure who said it, but I believe it’s true, “Information without emotion is rarely retained.” The lessons that stay with us the longest connect to our emotions.



Are you teaching with heart? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Information Without Emotion Is Rarely Retained



The current generation of students is dealing with more stress and anxiety than ever before. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but regardless of the causes we must work to help address the reality.



Here are the stats as reported in an article from Time:

A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)

We hear the stories every day of kids fighting depression, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with problems with friends, parents, or both. There seem to be more kids than ever who are no longer living with parents at all.



And here’s the thing, if you are depressed or filled with anxiety, how are you going to focus your energy on learning? You probably won’t unless you shift your thinking. Or unless something in your environment helps you shift your thinking.



One of our teachers commented, “I want my class to be an oasis for students. For the time they are in my class, I want it to be so good they forget the problems on the outside.”



So how do you do that? How can you help kids shift energy from a focus on problems to a focus on learning? 



Here’s what won’t work.



“Class, yesterday we worked on such and such and today we will do such and such. So let’s get started.”



Ready, set, go.



It’s an abrupt attempt to start learning. That won’t work because a bunch of kids in class are still thinking about how bad they feel, what was said to them that’s hurtful, or how they are going to deal with that personal problem. They are distracted. They aren’t emotionally in a good place to learn.



I believe every learner would benefit from more ‘right-brain’ directed starters in class. Lead with something that helps them access positive emotions, creativity, empathy, and connection.



It might take a few minutes to plan and execute these strategies, but it will be well worth it. In the end, there will be more learning by  helping students get the right focus. Start class by shifting the energy. Get kids in the right mindset first.



So here are 9 possibilities to make this happen. Find ways to open your class with one or more of these. And, look for ways to have these things show up throughout your class, too. It will help to inspire learning. 



1. Humor – Tell a joke, make fun of yourself, or do something zany and off the wall.



2. Music – Play upbeat music as students are coming into class. It’s amazing how the right music can put us in a different mood. 



3. Relaxed Breathing – Slow, deep breathing and quiet relaxation can help students to calm body and mind.



4. Imagination – Have kids write or share with each other on topics that require imagination. What if you could time travel? What time would you visit? Why?



5. Drama – Create some fun drama in the class. Have a debate about something ridiculous. Launch an investigation. Make it absurd. Be over the top.



6. Play – Toss a ball around the class. Have a quick game. Nothing too competitive. Just bring some whimsy and playfulness to class. 



7. Movement – Stand up and stretch. Give a high five to someone. Or go for a quick walk outside of class.



8. Sharing Gratitude – Ask students to share something they’re thankful for. Help them be grateful for the little things.



9. Stories – Share stories real and imagined. Find out what’s going on in their lives. I always had some winning stories that I told just about every year. Kids were on the edge of their seats.



These techniques are not intended to treat anxiety or depression, but they can temporarily relieve the symptoms. Of course, students who have depressive disorders need professional help. But for the time they are in your classroom, maybe you can help them focus on learning by using these strategies.



What do you think? Do you have other ideas for shifting the energy in your classroom? I listed several general categories. I would love to hear your specific ideas. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom



The current generation of students is dealing with more stress and anxiety than ever before. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but regardless of the causes we must work to help address the reality.



Here are the stats as reported in an article from Time:

A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)

We hear the stories every day of kids fighting depression, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with problems with friends, parents, or both. There seem to be more kids than ever who are no longer living with parents at all.



And here’s the thing, if you are depressed or filled with anxiety, how are you going to focus your energy on learning? You probably won’t unless you shift your thinking. Or unless something in your environment helps you shift your thinking.



One of our teachers commented, “I want my class to be an oasis for students. For the time they are in my class, I want it to be so good they forget the problems on the outside.”



So how do you do that? How can you help kids shift energy from a focus on problems to a focus on learning? 



Here’s what won’t work.



“Class, yesterday we worked on such and such and today we will do such and such. So let’s get started.”



Ready, set, go.



It’s an abrupt attempt to start learning. That won’t work because a bunch of kids in class are still thinking about how bad they feel, what was said to them that’s hurtful, or how they are going to deal with that personal problem. They are distracted. They aren’t emotionally in a good place to learn.



I believe every learner would benefit from more ‘right-brain’ directed starters in class. Lead with something that helps them access positive emotions, creativity, empathy, and connection.



It might take a few minutes to plan and execute these strategies, but it will be well worth it. In the end, there will be more learning by  helping students get the right focus. Start class by shifting the energy. Get kids in the right mindset first.



So here are 9 possibilities to make this happen. Find ways to open your class with one or more of these. And, look for ways to have these things show up throughout your class, too. It will help to inspire learning. 



1. Humor – Tell a joke, make fun of yourself, or do something zany and off the wall.



2. Music – Play upbeat music as students are coming into class. It’s amazing how the right music can put us in a different mood. 



3. Relaxed Breathing – Slow, deep breathing and quiet relaxation can help students to calm body and mind.



4. Imagination – Have kids write or share with each other on topics that require imagination. What if you could time travel? What time would you visit? Why?



5. Drama – Create some fun drama in the class. Have a debate about something ridiculous. Launch an investigation. Make it absurd. Be over the top.



6. Play – Toss a ball around the class. Have a quick game. Nothing too competitive. Just bring some whimsy and playfulness to class. 



7. Movement – Stand up and stretch. Give a high five to someone. Or go for a quick walk outside of class.



8. Sharing Gratitude – Ask students to share something they’re thankful for. Help them be grateful for the little things.



9. Stories – Share stories real and imagined. Find out what’s going on in their lives. I always had some winning stories that I told just about every year. Kids were on the edge of their seats.



These techniques are not intended to treat anxiety or depression, but they can temporarily relieve the symptoms. Of course, students who have depressive disorders need professional help. But for the time they are in your classroom, maybe you can help them focus on learning by using these strategies.



What do you think? Do you have other ideas for shifting the energy in your classroom? I listed several general categories. I would love to hear your specific ideas. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom





I’ve been planning to write this post for the past two years. That’s right. It’s been that long. I’m not sure why I didn’t write it sooner. But the events of this weekend swiftly and certainly moved these ideas off the sidelines.



Friday night we had home football. There is always some stress associated with each home game. Our admin team often jokes about how much easier the road games are. There are just so many things that can go wrong with large crowds. On top of that, I was at the end of a long week and physically tired. That’s typical for Friday night, right?



So I noticed a Twitter post after halftime that tagged our school. I knew the individual who posted it and have a very good relationship with him, although we haven’t interacted that often. 



But I quickly became offended by the post. How could this person publicly criticize the school? He should know better than that. He manages people and events and must understand the challenges that come with that. Social media is not the place to air your concerns, at least not initially. Come talk to me. Give me a chance to solve the problem.



So…



I quickly fired off a text message to the individual expressing my frustration and disappointment.



Then came the reply, “Should I delete it?”



“Well, of course you should,” I thought.



I responded in another message ramping up my indignation.



And then when his next reply came, I got it. He clarified and all of the sudden, it was clear. It hit me all at once. It almost took the air out of me. He didn’t mean it that way! I took it wrong!



In my haste, I completely misunderstood the comment. I missed it completely.



I went back and read it again. Any other person reading the Tweet would NOT have taken it the way I did. I had started climbing the assumption ladder and had gone straight to the top rung.



Time to own my mistake. My very embarrassing mistake.



I sent my apologies. I tried to explain. I told him he did nothing wrong. I should know better. It’s totally on me. I’m sorry. I felt terrible.



Fortunately, the person on the other end was gracious in accepting my apology. Looking back, I can’t even believe I made this mistake. I practice these skills every day. Not assuming. Trying to understand the other person’s perspective. Not jumping to conclusions.




Retrieved: http://metothepowerofwe.com/me-to-the-power-of-we/assume-dangerous-act/





So how does this happen?



A couple of years ago I read the book Crucial Conversations. It is the best thing I’ve ever read about effective communication when the stakes are high, when there might be strong opposing thoughts or opinions.



One part in particular is so important for us in keeping conversations safe. We have to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves. Here are a few of the big ideas I took from the book.



Stories Cause Feelings



Someone else doesn’t make you mad. You get angry because of the story you tell yourself. “I feel bad because of my story, not your actions.” Emotions don’t settle in like fog. Others don’t make you mad. You make you mad. You tell yourself a story, and the story leads to the emotional response. Once these stories take hold, they have a life of their own.



Avoid Silence or Violence



To keep good dialogue, we have to keep safety in the conversation. If we lose safety, the conversation will turn to one or the other or both parties holding back and not being honest or lashing out and taking cheap shots. Neither silence nor violence is a healthy response. We want to develop shared meaning and be totally honest. We want to learn from the conversation, not be right or wrong.



Stories Are How We Explain Why, How, and What Is Happening To Us



So even when presented with exactly the same set of circumstances, we will determine if it is positive or negative based on the story we tell ourselves. Our story is how we attach significance to these events. We decide the level of significance based on the story we tell.



Many Possible Responses



For every set of circumstances, there is not just one way to respond. My emotions are NOT the only valid response. So just because such and such happens to me doesn’t mean I have to respond in a certain way. There are many possible responses.



Slow Down



The thing that got me in trouble was how quickly I settled on the story in my mind based on the Tweet I was reading. I attached a certain meaning almost immediately. I didn’t consider any other possibilities. Several things had happened earlier that primed me for this response, but no matter, I still wouldn’t have failed in communicating if I would’ve slowed down or even consulted with someone else before drawing conclusions.



Three Stories



We tend to tell ourselves three types of stories to explain things we don’t like. We also use these stories to justify our own bad behavior.



Victim Stories – “It’s not my fault.”

Villain Stories – “It’s all your fault.”

Helpless Stories – “There’s nothing else I can do.”



Stories Result in a Path to Action



1. See/hear (facts)

2. Tell a story (interpretation of facts)

3. Feel (emotions)

4. Act (choose a response)



Our path to action may seem reasonable and certain, but if it is based on a story and a feeling, we may act in ways that are not helpful. I saw the Tweet on Friday night and immediately told myself a story. Then I felt upset and even angry. And that led to the awkward text message conversation that ensued. Oh my…



So this is really practical stuff that we can apply daily. In fact, the entire book has great wisdom for educators. We deal with so many crucial conversations. It happens all day, every day. It’s important to develop these skills.



It’s so important to remember there are the facts and then there are the stories we tell ourselves based on the facts. To close, here are four questions to ask that can help to avoid the crazy dance of some of our stories.



1. Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?

2. Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this? This one would have stopped me cold on Friday night.

3. What do I really want?

4. What would I do right now if I really wanted these results?



I encourage you to read Crucial Conversations. I still mess it up sometimes (obviously), but the book was really helpful for me in dealing with difficult situations. Have you noticed yourself telling stories and jumping to conclusions? Maybe with student behaviors? Or colleagues? Are you retreating to silence or resorting to violence in your conversations? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Facts and the Stories We Tell Ourselves Based on the Facts





I’ve been planning to write this post for the past two years. That’s right. It’s been that long. I’m not sure why I didn’t write it sooner. But the events of this weekend swiftly and certainly moved these ideas off the sidelines.



Friday night we had home football. There is always some stress associated with each home game. Our admin team often jokes about how much easier the road games are. There are just so many things that can go wrong with large crowds. On top of that, I was at the end of a long week and physically tired. That’s typical for Friday night, right?



So I noticed a Twitter post after halftime that tagged our school. I knew the individual who posted it and have a very good relationship with him, although we haven’t interacted that often. 



But I quickly became offended by the post. How could this person publicly criticize the school? He should know better than that. He manages people and events and must understand the challenges that come with that. Social media is not the place to air your concerns, at least not initially. Come talk to me. Give me a chance to solve the problem.



So…



I quickly fired off a text message to the individual expressing my frustration and disappointment.



Then came the reply, “Should I delete it?”



“Well, of course you should,” I thought.



I responded in another message ramping up my indignation.



And then when his next reply came, I got it. He clarified and all of the sudden, it was clear. It hit me all at once. It almost took the air out of me. He didn’t mean it that way! I took it wrong!



In my haste, I completely misunderstood the comment. I missed it completely.



I went back and read it again. Any other person reading the Tweet would NOT have taken it the way I did. I had started climbing the assumption ladder and had gone straight to the top rung.



Time to own my mistake. My very embarrassing mistake.



I sent my apologies. I tried to explain. I told him he did nothing wrong. I should know better. It’s totally on me. I’m sorry. I felt terrible.



Fortunately, the person on the other end was gracious in accepting my apology. Looking back, I can’t even believe I made this mistake. I practice these skills every day. Not assuming. Trying to understand the other person’s perspective. Not jumping to conclusions.




Retrieved: http://metothepowerofwe.com/me-to-the-power-of-we/assume-dangerous-act/





So how does this happen?



A couple of years ago I read the book Crucial Conversations. It is the best thing I’ve ever read about effective communication when the stakes are high, when there might be strong opposing thoughts or opinions.



One part in particular is so important for us in keeping conversations safe. We have to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves. Here are a few of the big ideas I took from the book.



Stories Cause Feelings



Someone else doesn’t make you mad. You get angry because of the story you tell yourself. “I feel bad because of my story, not your actions.” Emotions don’t settle in like fog. Others don’t make you mad. You make you mad. You tell yourself a story, and the story leads to the emotional response. Once these stories take hold, they have a life of their own.



Avoid Silence or Violence



To keep good dialogue, we have to keep safety in the conversation. If we lose safety, the conversation will turn to one or the other or both parties holding back and not being honest or lashing out and taking cheap shots. Neither silence nor violence is a healthy response. We want to develop shared meaning and be totally honest. We want to learn from the conversation, not be right or wrong.



Stories Are How We Explain Why, How, and What Is Happening To Us



So even when presented with exactly the same set of circumstances, we will determine if it is positive or negative based on the story we tell ourselves. Our story is how we attach significance to these events. We decide the level of significance based on the story we tell.



Many Possible Responses



For every set of circumstances, there is not just one way to respond. My emotions are NOT the only valid response. So just because such and such happens to me doesn’t mean I have to respond in a certain way. There are many possible responses.



Slow Down



The thing that got me in trouble was how quickly I settled on the story in my mind based on the Tweet I was reading. I attached a certain meaning almost immediately. I didn’t consider any other possibilities. Several things had happened earlier that primed me for this response, but no matter, I still wouldn’t have failed in communicating if I would’ve slowed down or even consulted with someone else before drawing conclusions.



Three Stories



We tend to tell ourselves three types of stories to explain things we don’t like. We also use these stories to justify our own bad behavior.



Victim Stories – “It’s not my fault.”

Villain Stories – “It’s all your fault.”

Helpless Stories – “There’s nothing else I can do.”



Stories Result in a Path to Action



1. See/hear (facts)

2. Tell a story (interpretation of facts)

3. Feel (emotions)

4. Act (choose a response)



Our path to action may seem reasonable and certain, but if it is based on a story and a feeling, we may act in ways that are not helpful. I saw the Tweet on Friday night and immediately told myself a story. Then I felt upset and even angry. And that led to the awkward text message conversation that ensued. Oh my…



So this is really practical stuff that we can apply daily. In fact, the entire book has great wisdom for educators. We deal with so many crucial conversations. It happens all day, every day. It’s important to develop these skills.



It’s so important to remember there are the facts and then there are the stories we tell ourselves based on the facts. To close, here are four questions to ask that can help to avoid the crazy dance of some of our stories.



1. Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?

2. Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this? This one would have stopped me cold on Friday night.

3. What do I really want?

4. What would I do right now if I really wanted these results?



I encourage you to read Crucial Conversations. I still mess it up sometimes (obviously), but the book was really helpful for me in dealing with difficult situations. Have you noticed yourself telling stories and jumping to conclusions? Maybe with student behaviors? Or colleagues? Are you retreating to silence or resorting to violence in your conversations? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Facts and the Stories We Tell Ourselves Based on the Facts

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~Aristotle  I think that we sometimes lose sight of what is important. We focus on individual acts, or in schools, individual assignments, and on praising final products and presentations. We often lose sight of the continual work, the tireless editing […]

Read More Excellence is a Habit

A small group of educators from Coquitlam gather at a restaurant where 10 of them take turns doing an Ignite talk. 20 slides, timed at 15 seconds, for a fixed total time of 5 minutes. Excited to be a part of #ignite43 with my old friend @datruss pic.twitter.com/yC1O343mcO — Dave Sands (@dhsands) September 29, 2017 […]

Read More #Ignite43 Eureka!



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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

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





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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



What will students remember when they think of your voice?



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

Read More An Encouraging Word Can Last a Lifetime





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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



What will students remember when they think of your voice?



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

Read More An Encouraging Word Can Last a Lifetime

I’m happy to announce the release of Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World! Back at the start of summer I made a public commitment that I would have this passion project finished before the start of the new school year (See: Do Something Today to Move In the Direction of Your Dreams).



Well, we’ve been in school for a couple of weeks now. So I didn’t exactly meet my own deadline. But hey, there are still many schools who haven’t returned from summer break yet, so technically maybe I did!



The book is now available on Amazon. And for a very limited time, the Kindle version of Future Driven will only be $2.99. I encourage you to download it now. 



Plus, through the end of September, I’m donating all of the proceeds from Future Driven to Care to Learn, an organization in our community that provides for the health, hunger, and hygiene needs of disadvantaged school-age children. It is important to me to give back to our students. It’s always about students first. I want to be part of creating a better future through better schools. It starts with us.



Care to Learn was started in Springfield, MO by philanthropist Doug Pitt. You might have heard of his brother, Brad. Yes, the same Hollywood Brad Pitt you see regularly in the grocery checkout line. The organization now has many chapters in our area, including here in Bolivar. 



Image may contain: one or more people, text and closeup


About half of our students are from low income households and qualify for free/reduced lunches. With Care to Learn, we are able to instantly meet the emergent health, hunger, and hygiene needs of our students. 



If a kid needs shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, groceries, etc., our counselors take him or her shopping and meet the need right away. We know it’s impossible for students to learn their best if they have unmet needs. We are so thankful for Care to Learn.



I certainly hope you find Future Driven inspiring and helpful. Your work matters. You are needed as a change maker. Just know that if you get your copy now, you’ll also be helping kids have what they need to learn. Your support of Care to Learn will make an impact too.



Let me know if you have any questions about Future Driven or my process of being an independent author. It has been an unbelievable adventure and so many have helped me along the way. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Be sure to the use the hashtag #FutureDriven as you share your passion for being a future-driven educator.

Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World?

In Future Driven, David Geurin describes how to conquer the status quo, create authentic learning, and help your students thrive in an unpredictable world. He shares how to simultaneously be more committed to your mission while being more flexible with your methods. You’ll discover strategies to …

Read More Future Driven: Looking Forward, Giving Back

I’m happy to announce the release of Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World! Back at the start of summer I made a public commitment that I would have this passion project finished before the start of the new school year (See: Do Something Today to Move In the Direction of Your Dreams).



Well, we’ve been in school for a couple of weeks now. So I didn’t exactly meet my own deadline. But hey, there are still many schools who haven’t returned from summer break yet, so technically maybe I did!



The book is now available on Amazon. And for a very limited time, the Kindle version of Future Driven will only be $2.99. I encourage you to download it now. 



Plus, through the end of September, I’m donating all of the proceeds from Future Driven to Care to Learn, an organization in our community that provides for the health, hunger, and hygiene needs of disadvantaged school-age children. It is important to me to give back to our students. It’s always about students first. I want to be part of creating a better future through better schools. It starts with us.



Care to Learn was started in Springfield, MO by philanthropist Doug Pitt. You might have heard of his brother, Brad. Yes, the same Hollywood Brad Pitt you see regularly in the grocery checkout line. The organization now has many chapters in our area, including here in Bolivar. 



Image may contain: one or more people, text and closeup


About half of our students are from low income households and qualify for free/reduced lunches. With Care to Learn, we are able to instantly meet the emergent health, hunger, and hygiene needs of our students. 



If a kid needs shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, groceries, etc., our counselors take him or her shopping and meet the need right away. We know it’s impossible for students to learn their best if they have unmet needs. We are so thankful for Care to Learn.



I certainly hope you find Future Driven inspiring and helpful. Your work matters. You are needed as a change maker. Just know that if you get your copy now, you’ll also be helping kids have what they need to learn. Your support of Care to Learn will make an impact too.



Let me know if you have any questions about Future Driven or my process of being an independent author. It has been an unbelievable adventure and so many have helped me along the way. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Be sure to the use the hashtag #FutureDriven as you share your passion for being a future-driven educator.

Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World?

In Future Driven, David Geurin describes how to conquer the status quo, create authentic learning, and help your students thrive in an unpredictable world. He shares how to simultaneously be more committed to your mission while being more flexible with your methods. You’ll discover strategies to …

Read More Future Driven: Looking Forward, Giving Back





I’ve been guilty of looking at business as a metaphor for education many times. I think there are some ways it works okay. We can learn from the business community and certainly need to work closely with business partners. We have some shared interests in good education outcomes. I enjoy reading books from business and a whole variety of areas and applying principles I learn to my work as an educator, where appropriate.



But we have to be very careful with comparing education to the business model. Our mission should be to advance the human condition. Our measure of success as educators is changing lives and creating opportunities. And making our democracy stronger. In business, the bottom line is ultimately measured in dollars and cents. But you can’t reduce a child’s education to increased profits.



The business metaphor is especially dangerous considering the current political and policy landscape. There are many who would like to privatize education. Better schools, goes the thinking, would result from competition and the marketplace. Capitalism would do it’s thing and education would be stronger for it. But that model has proven failed over and again. Learning is not a commodity.



I’ve also been guilty of referring to students as customers. When I’ve done this, it is making the point that we should provide good customer service. Our students are the end users of what we do, and we should carefully consider their experience and how school is working for them. 



But this comparison only works to a degree. The relationship between a business and a customer is transactional. The customer doesn’t own much responsibility in the relationship. The customer pays for goods or services and expects the business to do the rest. 



But schools need to go beyond treating students like customers. We must make students partners in learning. We are not just delivering learning to students like a product. We must co-create learning with students if it is to be most effective. It requires a degree of pulling together and helping students to contribute to their own learning. 



Metaphors are generally helpful to try to understand the world in deeper and more meaningful ways. But as educators, we have to be careful about comparing what we do to what businesses do. Can we learn from business? Yes! But should schools entirely operate as a business model? I think not.



Question: What are your thoughts on schools as businesses? And students as customers? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Schools Aren’t Businesses, and Students Aren’t Customers





I’ve been guilty of looking at business as a metaphor for education many times. I think there are some ways it works okay. We can learn from the business community and certainly need to work closely with business partners. We have some shared interests in good education outcomes. I enjoy reading books from business and a whole variety of areas and applying principles I learn to my work as an educator, where appropriate.



But we have to be very careful with comparing education to the business model. Our mission should be to advance the human condition. Our measure of success as educators is changing lives and creating opportunities. And making our democracy stronger. In business, the bottom line is ultimately measured in dollars and cents. But you can’t reduce a child’s education to increased profits.



The business metaphor is especially dangerous considering the current political and policy landscape. There are many who would like to privatize education. Better schools, goes the thinking, would result from competition and the marketplace. Capitalism would do it’s thing and education would be stronger for it. But that model has proven failed over and again. Learning is not a commodity.



I’ve also been guilty of referring to students as customers. When I’ve done this, it is making the point that we should provide good customer service. Our students are the end users of what we do, and we should carefully consider their experience and how school is working for them. 



But this comparison only works to a degree. The relationship between a business and a customer is transactional. The customer doesn’t own much responsibility in the relationship. The customer pays for goods or services and expects the business to do the rest. 



But schools need to go beyond treating students like customers. We must make students partners in learning. We are not just delivering learning to students like a product. We must co-create learning with students if it is to be most effective. It requires a degree of pulling together and helping students to contribute to their own learning. 



Metaphors are generally helpful to try to understand the world in deeper and more meaningful ways. But as educators, we have to be careful about comparing what we do to what businesses do. Can we learn from business? Yes! But should schools entirely operate as a business model? I think not.



Question: What are your thoughts on schools as businesses? And students as customers? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Schools Aren’t Businesses, and Students Aren’t Customers

“Educators who work in isolation improve incrementally, while educators who collaborate transform exponentially!” I said this in a Twitter Chat a few days ago in response to the question: “Why do you believe that a shared vision and belief system is important to transform education?” This was one of the Twitter Chat questions posed by […]

Read More Isolation vs Collaboration





Walt Disney was fired by his newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” 



Reportedly, Albert Einstein was told as a child, “You will never amount to anything!”



Beethoven’s music was not initially accepted by critics and one music teacher said, “as a composer, he is hopeless.”



You’ve heard stories like these of famous failures. We see the incredible achievements of their lives, but we often forget the struggles they most definitely faced. We all face struggles. Most every person can relate to withstanding a biting critique or unfair assessment. 



And when we hear these voices expressing doubts about us, our abilities, and even our intentions, it can cause us to doubt ourselves, our worth, and our purpose in this world.



But often the voice that is most damaging to our future is the voice within us. It’s our own shadow. We are often our own worst critics. Our internal voice says play it safe, don’t take any chances, just stay comfortable.



Our shadow makes us hesitate. It generates fear in us that is paralyzing. We retreat to the familiar, the routine, the mundane.



But don’t let your shadow steal your dream!



If you have a dream, don’t put it off. If you feel a push to do something, make it happen. As Henry David Thoreau urged, “advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Don’t wait.



The shadow’s push-back against your dreams will not relent unless you push-through and just go for it. Make something happen.



Over a year ago, I took the first step toward a dream I have of writing a book for educators. I wanted to write a book that would make a difference for classrooms and schools. I started. But then my own voice of discouragement slowed my progress. I was too busy (so I thought). My ideas were lacking (so I thought). I hesitated.



But I am determined to push through. I am determined to see this dream realized. Before I return to school in August, my new book will be published. My hope is that it will challenge and inspire educators to crush the status-quo so we can better prepare students for an unpredictable world. 




Cheesy photo to keep me focused!



I want to use my effort, enthusiasm, and experiences to strengthen our profession. I want to see stronger schools. I want to see more excitement for learning than ever before. I want to see students and teachers engaged and empowered by their school experience. That is my dream.



And I want the same for you. I want to see your talents and passions used to reach for your dreams. There will never be a perfect time. Your shadow always wants you to hesitate. Don’t listen to your internal critic. Do something today to move in the direction of your dreams.



A body in motion tends to stay in motion. And a body at rest tends to stay at rest. If you are going to fulfill your purpose in life, you have to step forward in faith. You have to take risks. You can’t play it safe. You have to take that first step now. 



As I make progress on finishing the book, I’ll share some updates here on my blog. I’ll give you a preview of the book and detailed plans for release. And I’ll also ask for your help in sharing the news in your circles. 



Press on toward your dreams! 



Question: What are you going to do this summer to move in the direction of your dreams? I want to hear from you. Share your story of overcoming your shadow. Let’s unleash our purpose and potential together. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Do Something Today to Move in the Direction of Your Dreams





Walt Disney was fired by his newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” 



Reportedly, Albert Einstein was told as a child, “You will never amount to anything!”



Beethoven’s music was not initially accepted by critics and one music teacher said, “as a composer, he is hopeless.”



You’ve heard stories like these of famous failures. We see the incredible achievements of their lives, but we often forget the struggles they most definitely faced. We all face struggles. Most every person can relate to withstanding a biting critique or unfair assessment. 



And when we hear these voices expressing doubts about us, our abilities, and even our intentions, it can cause us to doubt ourselves, our worth, and our purpose in this world.



But often the voice that is most damaging to our future is the voice within us. It’s our own shadow. We are often our own worst critics. Our internal voice says play it safe, don’t take any chances, just stay comfortable.



Our shadow makes us hesitate. It generates fear in us that is paralyzing. We retreat to the familiar, the routine, the mundane.



But don’t let your shadow steal your dream!



If you have a dream, don’t put it off. If you feel a push to do something, make it happen. As Henry David Thoreau urged, “advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Don’t wait.



The shadow’s push-back against your dreams will not relent unless you push-through and just go for it. Make something happen.



Over a year ago, I took the first step toward a dream I have of writing a book for educators. I wanted to write a book that would make a difference for classrooms and schools. I started. But then my own voice of discouragement slowed my progress. I was too busy (so I thought). My ideas were lacking (so I thought). I hesitated.



But I am determined to push through. I am determined to see this dream realized. Before I return to school in August, my new book will be published. My hope is that it will challenge and inspire educators to crush the status-quo so we can better prepare students for an unpredictable world. 




Cheesy photo to keep me focused!



I want to use my effort, enthusiasm, and experiences to strengthen our profession. I want to see stronger schools. I want to see more excitement for learning than ever before. I want to see students and teachers engaged and empowered by their school experience. That is my dream.



And I want the same for you. I want to see your talents and passions used to reach for your dreams. There will never be a perfect time. Your shadow always wants you to hesitate. Don’t listen to your internal critic. Do something today to move in the direction of your dreams.



A body in motion tends to stay in motion. And a body at rest tends to stay at rest. If you are going to fulfill your purpose in life, you have to step forward in faith. You have to take risks. You can’t play it safe. You have to take that first step now. 



As I make progress on finishing the book, I’ll share some updates here on my blog. I’ll give you a preview of the book and detailed plans for release. And I’ll also ask for your help in sharing the news in your circles. 



Press on toward your dreams! 



Question: What are you going to do this summer to move in the direction of your dreams? I want to hear from you. Share your story of overcoming your shadow. Let’s unleash our purpose and potential together. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Do Something Today to Move in the Direction of Your Dreams