Tag: community



It’s been a couple of years now since I started blogging here. Starting a blog is not really the hard part. Continuing to blog is what’s tough. To be successful, you must constantly remind yourself why you started in the first place. And I think for many people, they don’t really have a clear vision of why they are blogging.



It seems to be the thing to do. It starts with Twitter. You feel the excitement and support of being connected to other educators. You really start to think about things in new ways. Ideas are flowing. Others in your network are sharing posts from their blogs. You get some encouragement, and you’re on your way.



But the newness wears off soon. It doesn’t seem like anyone notices what you write. You get discouraged or distracted and pretty soon your blog is a distant memory.



Years ago, I had more than one failed experience with blogging. They were failures in the sense that I didn’t continue to add new content, and I don’t think anyone ever read the content that was created. I had some vague notions of why I wanted to blog, but I didn’t have the commitment to continue.



Writing is hard work. And to create writing that is valuable to others is extra hard. I think many people view blogging like it’s a public journal. It’s a way to work through their thoughts. They write for personal reflection and self-expression, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.



However, your audience will demand more. If people are going to read what you write, it needs to be valuable to them. As educators, we face many of the same challenges. So you have valuable things to share from your knowledge and experience. When you are able to share something that is helpful to another teacher or principal, that is powerful. Together, we can solve more problems, offer much needed encouragement, and challenge one another’s thinking.



It’s also helpful when you make learning in your classroom or school more visible to your community. There are amazing things happening that deserve to be noticed. It’s not self-promotion, either. I know you don’t want to come across as bragging. But bragging on your students and promoting learning is part of what we do as educators. We need to sell learning.



So even though personal reflection and self-expression are valid reasons to blog, it’s important for the ideas we share to be received. Someone needs to see them. If you don’t see growth in your audience or at least consistent response from your audience, it’s tough to stay motivated.



Blogging is ultimately about the audience. It’s not about how big the audience is, but it is about how you bring value to the audience, whatever the size, through what you share. The sense of audience is one of the reasons blogging is so helpful for personal and professional growth. It forces you to really clarify your ideas and how they might be beneficial. You want your writing to be relevant and helpful to your readers. 



I realize this is vulnerable turf I’m treading. It’s really scary to publish something you really believe in and to have the response be underwhelming. It happens to me all the time. I can never predict how an idea will be received. It requires the willingness to take the risk and put yourself out there. I often read over a post later and find mistakes and wonder why I thought that was a good idea in the first place. Not everything you share will turn out the way you’d hoped.



The important thing is that you are sharing. You should be proud of that. It’s really a shame when outstanding educators don’t share what they do with others. I’ve known some amazing teachers who really didn’t share their work with anyone, even in their own school. They were completely focused on their students and their classroom and didn’t seek to have an impact beyond that circle.



But other teachers do amazing work in the classroom, and then have tremendous influence as leaders in the whole school, and even make an impact beyond their school. Blogging is one way to do that. You can share your journey with others in ways that make an impact on your profession. You can contribute to making education better for all of us.



You may feel like you have nothing to contribute. You are selling yourself way too short. Everyone…and I mean everyone…has knowledge and wisdom that is valuable to share. I am reminded of the Bill Nye quote, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Your thoughts matter and can help your audience succeed! You have incredible experiences, talents, and perspectives to contribute!



Blogging is about better thinking. When I am working on a blog post, it really pushes my thinking. I have to consider if my ideas make sense, will they be helpful, are they worth sharing? I spend time thinking about the ideas I want to share in my blog. When I have an idea that I want to write about, I make some notes about it. I get inspiration for posts from reading books and blogs, from interacting on Twitter, and when I’m just going about my day. I never know when something will trigger a thought or idea.



There is a creative process in all of this that is valuable to me. It requires my sustained thought. I am always harping on my own kids about creating vs. consuming. I don’t want them to constantly be consuming YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, etc. and never creating anything. I have to walk the walk if I’m going to expect this from them. 



I guess in a way I’ve always viewed myself as a writer, but for years I was writing very little. As educators, we all know how important literacy is. If our subject matter is important enough to learn, it is worth writing about too. If our classrooms and schools really matter, aren’t they important enough to write about? We need to model this for our students. Find your identity as a writer. How many teachers and administrators are not writing anything, ever? I wrote a post earlier about how important it is for educators to be readers, but they should be writers too. In fact, I think we should be writing alongside our students as they write too. 



I cannot imagine giving up on blogging again. I’ve found it to be incredibly valuable. And I really look forward to the day when I can look back over a period of 5 or 10 years or longer and see how my thinking has changed over time. Because I should be able to trace my own growth in a way that I couldn’t before.



I recently heard Pernille Ripp speak at the Model Schools Conference in Orlando. It was a thrill for me to introduce myself after her presentation. Pernille is one of my favorite bloggers. She is truly authentic and transparent in sharing her work as a 7th grade English teacher. She doesn’t come across as a person who has it all figured out (even though she is brilliant), but she generously shares the work she is doing in her classroom. She has created tremendous value for her audience. I observed other educators greeting her with stories of her impact. It’s amazing what can happen when you decide to share.



If you are considering blogging, summer is a great time to start. You can write some posts and also plan for some later posts you might want to explore when you have a classroom full of kids again. Pernille is constantly sharing what her students have to say about learning. She uses her blog to give them voice. If you are thinking about blogging, I would urge you to visit her blog. I’m sure you’ll find it inspiring.



I would also like to hear from you. How can I help you on your blogging journey? What’s standing in your way? What passions can you share through your blog? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Why Blogging Isn’t What You Think It Is



About 10 years ago, I was principal at a small rural school in Southwest Missouri, and somehow found myself as both principal and head girls basketball coach…at the same time. I would tell you I drove a bus route and mowed the grass, too. But that wouldn’t be true. But I did coach girls basketball and was the principal for grades 7-12!



I had coached for several years prior to becoming a principal, so this whole coaching thing was not new to me. And we were pretty good, too. It didn’t hurt that one of our players averaged about 40 points a game and would go on to be the all-time leading scorer in Missouri history.



We were in a very important tournament and facing one of the best teams in the state from a class larger than us. I knew they were going to be tough to beat. So for my pregame speech I decided to take a big risk. I was going to do something so crazy and unexpected that it would, hopefully, motivate the team and take away some of their nerves.



I went into my speech about our opponent and how they were pretty good, and we were going to have to play our best game to beat them. And that there would probably be times we would want to give up, but we had to be the ones who didn’t flinch. We couldn’t let them get the best of us.



I had brought along a large bucket that I prepared upon arrival at the gym by filling it with water. It was sitting on a small table in front of me as I delivered the opening to my speech. I’m sure the players wondered why it was there.



And then I explained, “I’m going to show you what it means to push through even when things get tough. I’m going to stick my head in this bucket of water and hold my breath for as long as I possibly can. And the whole time, I’m going to think about why I started. I’m going to focus on how bad I want to do my best, to stretch myself, to test my limits.”



Now I realize there is a distinct difference between weird and whimsy. And right now, you may be thinking I’m weird. But that’s okay. Stay with me.



The girls on the team stared in utter disbelief at what they were seeing. But they definitely weren’t bored. Engagement was high at this point in the lesson!



And then my head went under. And I stayed under. And I stayed under some more. Until I couldn’t take it any more. 



I came up gasping for air, paused to regain my senses, and then, with my arms flailing wildly, exclaimed, “Now go out there and play your best game yet.” We all put our hands together in the huddle. You could see the electricity in their eyes. Some were grinning, maybe even giggling a little, but they were ready to play, and I knew it had worked.



We went on to win by the narrowest of margins. It was probably our best win of the entire season, and we won 25 games that year.



Too often in our classrooms we have lost a sense of whimsy about learning. It should be fun and exciting. It should challenge us to reach higher and do more. It helps our fears melt away. It helps us believe in our possibilities. It should never be mundane or boring or predictable.



Now you may be thinking that life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we have to just do boring stuff, and kids need to learn to do stuff that isn’t always exciting. You may be thinking that you’re not an entertainer, you’re a teacher, right? I’ve heard this before, “Kids nowadays want to be entertained all the time. They want instant gratification.”



But I don’t think life has to be mundane and boring. My wife and I are traveling and staying in a hotel as I write this. This morning at breakfast one of the guys working there was joking around with us and having a good time. You could tell he was really enjoying his job. He was making it fun. He could just as easily be putting in his time and hating life. But instead he was busy putting a smile on our faces. 



The people who really make life better for all of us know how to take even the mundane and boring parts of life and make them wonderful. It’s not about being an entertainer. Some of us aren’t entertainers. But we can all look for the whimsy in what we do. We can ask our students to partner with us in making learning fun. Ask them to help you.



We ultimately want exactly the same things our students want. It’s two things. We want community (fun, whimsy) in the classroom. And, we want learning (curiosity, creativity) in the classroom. Yes, your students may not always act like they want either, but they do. You just have to help them get past all the defenses they’ve built to self-protect. School (and life) hasn’t always felt safe to all of them.



Here are some questions to consider related to bringing whimsy to your classroom:



1. Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?

2. If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?

3. Do you ask your students about how things are going in your classroom, from their perspective? Not to find out if you’re a good teacher or not. But out of curiosity of how they feel and how that information might help you make better decisions for them.

4. What are ways you can bring more whimsy into your classroom? In my example, I was doing something completely crazy that might be totally out of character for you. I would still challenge you to do it anyway. But there are also things related to how you design your lessons that can be whimsical and awe-inspiring. 



I challenge you to bring more whimsy to your classroom. If you are in your off-season (summer break) right now, what a great time to plan some new possibilities for this next school year. Set a tone from the start that your classroom is going to be filled with whimsy and excitement. 



If you need some more inspiration, I would highly suggest you read, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. It’s an outstanding book that will undoubtedly inspire you!



Question: How are you bringing whimsy and surprise to your classroom? Is that important to you? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More The Power of Whimsy in the Classroom



About 10 years ago, I was principal at a small rural school in Southwest Missouri, and somehow found myself as both principal and head girls basketball coach…at the same time. I would tell you I drove a bus route and mowed the grass, too. But that wouldn’t be true. But I did coach girls basketball and was the principal for grades 7-12!



I had coached for several years prior to becoming a principal, so this whole coaching thing was not new to me. And we were pretty good, too. It didn’t hurt that one of our players averaged about 40 points a game and would go on to be the all-time leading scorer in Missouri history.



We were in a very important tournament and facing one of the best teams in the state from a class larger than us. I knew they were going to be tough to beat. So for my pregame speech I decided to take a big risk. I was going to do something so crazy and unexpected that it would, hopefully, motivate the team and take away some of their nerves.



I went into my speech about our opponent and how they were pretty good, and we were going to have to play our best game to beat them. And that there would probably be times we would want to give up, but we had to be the ones who didn’t flinch. We couldn’t let them get the best of us.



I had brought along a large bucket that I prepared upon arrival at the gym by filling it with water. It was sitting on a small table in front of me as I delivered the opening to my speech. I’m sure the players wondered why it was there.



And then I explained, “I’m going to show you what it means to push through even when things get tough. I’m going to stick my head in this bucket of water and hold my breath for as long as I possibly can. And the whole time, I’m going to think about why I started. I’m going to focus on how bad I want to do my best, to stretch myself, to test my limits.”



Now I realize there is a distinct difference between weird and whimsy. And right now, you may be thinking I’m weird. But that’s okay. Stay with me.



The girls on the team stared in utter disbelief at what they were seeing. But they definitely weren’t bored. Engagement was high at this point in the lesson!



And then my head went under. And I stayed under. And I stayed under some more. Until I couldn’t take it any more. 



I came up gasping for air, paused to regain my senses, and then, with my arms flailing wildly, exclaimed, “Now go out there and play your best game yet.” We all put our hands together in the huddle. You could see the electricity in their eyes. Some were grinning, maybe even giggling a little, but they were ready to play, and I knew it had worked.



We went on to win by the narrowest of margins. It was probably our best win of the entire season, and we won 25 games that year.



Too often in our classrooms we have lost a sense of whimsy about learning. It should be fun and exciting. It should challenge us to reach higher and do more. It helps our fears melt away. It helps us believe in our possibilities. It should never be mundane or boring or predictable.



Now you may be thinking that life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we have to just do boring stuff, and kids need to learn to do stuff that isn’t always exciting. You may be thinking that you’re not an entertainer, you’re a teacher, right? I’ve heard this before, “Kids nowadays want to be entertained all the time. They want instant gratification.”



But I don’t think life has to be mundane and boring. My wife and I are traveling and staying in a hotel as I write this. This morning at breakfast one of the guys working there was joking around with us and having a good time. You could tell he was really enjoying his job. He was making it fun. He could just as easily be putting in his time and hating life. But instead he was busy putting a smile on our faces. 



The people who really make life better for all of us know how to take even the mundane and boring parts of life and make them wonderful. It’s not about being an entertainer. Some of us aren’t entertainers. But we can all look for the whimsy in what we do. We can ask our students to partner with us in making learning fun. Ask them to help you.



We ultimately want exactly the same things our students want. It’s two things. We want community (fun, whimsy) in the classroom. And, we want learning (curiosity, creativity) in the classroom. Yes, your students may not always act like they want either, but they do. You just have to help them get past all the defenses they’ve built to self-protect. School (and life) hasn’t always felt safe to all of them.



Here are some questions to consider related to bringing whimsy to your classroom:



1. Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?

2. If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?

3. Do you ask your students about how things are going in your classroom, from their perspective? Not to find out if you’re a good teacher or not. But out of curiosity of how they feel and how that information might help you make better decisions for them.

4. What are ways you can bring more whimsy into your classroom? In my example, I was doing something completely crazy that might be totally out of character for you. I would still challenge you to do it anyway. But there are also things related to how you design your lessons that can be whimsical and awe-inspiring. 



I challenge you to bring more whimsy to your classroom. If you are in your off-season (summer break) right now, what a great time to plan some new possibilities for this next school year. Set a tone from the start that your classroom is going to be filled with whimsy and excitement. 



If you need some more inspiration, I would highly suggest you read, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. It’s an outstanding book that will undoubtedly inspire you!



Question: How are you bringing whimsy and surprise to your classroom? Is that important to you? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More The Power of Whimsy in the Classroom

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

Elevator selfie while waiting for rescue!

Sunday we held our Commencement ceremony for 205 Bolivar Liberator graduates. It was a great day, and I’m so thankful for all the teamwork that makes an event like this a success. I am truly surrounded by rock stars!



It was an extra special graduation day for me. My son Cooper received his diploma. I had the great honor of presenting it to him. He plans to attend Southwest Baptist University next year to study computer science. I’m a proud dad!


You might notice in the picture I am wearing an abundance of beads and Hawaiian leis. The graduating class usually gets me a little gift that each person hands me as they make their way to receive the diploma. This year I was all decked out.



During this year’s Senior Trip to NYC and Washington, DC, there was some unexpected excitement. A group of us were stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes. It was the inspiration for my message to this year’s class:



It’s customary for graduation speakers to bestow some parting wisdom on the graduating class. I would like to do that today so I created a short list: 5 Life-Changing Lessons from Being Stuck on an Elevator…in New York City…on Senior Trip.



1. Keep Good Company



Surround yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you. You don’t want to be stuck on a hot, crowded elevator with negative people. You want people who believe rescue is possible and who can smile and face adversity with a good attitude, people who suggest things like ordering out a pizza or taking a selfie.



2. Be Problem Solvers



Work the problem. You start pushing various buttons on the panel, you bang on the door, you use the intercom to call for help. 



“We’re stuck in the elevator?” 



“Okay, we can help.”



“How many are in there?” 



“14” 



“Seriously, how many?”



Sheepishly, “Really, there’s 14 people in here.” 



But you don’t give up. You collaborate with your team to suggest ideas, “Maybe we could crawl out the ceiling, like in Die Hard?” 



For the record, I vetoed that idea. Or if you can’t solve the problem, you bring along expert help, like the New York City Fire Department.



3. Be Careful of Shortcuts



When you’re on the tenth floor and you’re tired and hungry you might be tempted to try to squeeze into a crowded, creaky elevator. But sometimes the easy way is not the best way. Give that extra effort. Take the stairs. Show a little more patience. Wait for the next elevator. When 12 high school students tell you there’s plenty of room, don’t listen!!!



4. Have Courage



Don’t let fear take over. Your mind starts racing, “What if no one hears our call for help? What if the cable breaks? What if we suffocate? What if we miss dinner? What if I need to go to the bathroom?” 



I was recently reading that Jesus’s most repeated command was to not be afraid. It’s mentioned over and over in the New Testament. There is a way to live a life of hope and faith where fear is not in control.



5. Make Plans but Be Willing to Adjust 



We like to try to plan life and have it work out just the way we want. We want things to go as expected. But then you get stuck in an elevator. That can be scary. But you have to adjust and keep believing in your dreams. Many of you have big plans for after high school. Some of you aren’t sure what you want yet. 



But I hope as a result of your time at BHS, you know yourself a little better, you’re a better problem-solver, and you can adapt to the challenges life throws at you. You may get stuck in an elevator now and then, but you can handle just about anything because you won’t give up.



And one bonus piece of advice – very important – use a high quality deodorant. If you’re ever stuck in an elevator, everyone will thank you.



Good luck and blessings to the Class of 2016!!! #ProudPrincipal

      

Read More 5 Life-Changing Lessons from Being Stuck on an Elevator…in New York City…on Senior Trip

Elevator selfie while waiting for rescue!

Sunday we held our Commencement ceremony for 205 Bolivar Liberator graduates. It was a great day, and I’m so thankful for all the teamwork that makes an event like this a success. I am truly surrounded by rock stars!



It was an extra special graduation day for me. My son Cooper received his diploma. I had the great honor of presenting it to him. He plans to attend Southwest Baptist University next year to study computer science. I’m a proud dad!


You might notice in the picture I am wearing an abundance of beads and Hawaiian leis. The graduating class usually gets me a little gift that each person hands me as they make their way to receive the diploma. This year I was all decked out.



During this year’s Senior Trip to NYC and Washington, DC, there was some unexpected excitement. A group of us were stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes. It was the inspiration for my message to this year’s class:



It’s customary for graduation speakers to bestow some parting wisdom on the graduating class. I would like to do that today so I created a short list: 5 Life-Changing Lessons from Being Stuck on an Elevator…in New York City…on Senior Trip.



1. Keep Good Company



Surround yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you. You don’t want to be stuck on a hot, crowded elevator with negative people. You want people who believe rescue is possible and who can smile and face adversity with a good attitude, people who suggest things like ordering out a pizza or taking a selfie.



2. Be Problem Solvers



Work the problem. You start pushing various buttons on the panel, you bang on the door, you use the intercom to call for help. 



“We’re stuck in the elevator?” 



“Okay, we can help.”



“How many are in there?” 



“14” 



“Seriously, how many?”



Sheepishly, “Really, there’s 14 people in here.” 



But you don’t give up. You collaborate with your team to suggest ideas, “Maybe we could crawl out the ceiling, like in Die Hard?” 



For the record, I vetoed that idea. Or if you can’t solve the problem, you bring along expert help, like the New York City Fire Department.



3. Be Careful of Shortcuts



When you’re on the tenth floor and you’re tired and hungry you might be tempted to try to squeeze into a crowded, creaky elevator. But sometimes the easy way is not the best way. Give that extra effort. Take the stairs. Show a little more patience. Wait for the next elevator. When 12 high school students tell you there’s plenty of room, don’t listen!!!



4. Have Courage



Don’t let fear take over. Your mind starts racing, “What if no one hears our call for help? What if the cable breaks? What if we suffocate? What if we miss dinner? What if I need to go to the bathroom?” 



I was recently reading that Jesus’s most repeated command was to not be afraid. It’s mentioned over and over in the New Testament. There is a way to live a life of hope and faith where fear is not in control.



5. Make Plans but Be Willing to Adjust 



We like to try to plan life and have it work out just the way we want. We want things to go as expected. But then you get stuck in an elevator. That can be scary. But you have to adjust and keep believing in your dreams. Many of you have big plans for after high school. Some of you aren’t sure what you want yet. 



But I hope as a result of your time at BHS, you know yourself a little better, you’re a better problem-solver, and you can adapt to the challenges life throws at you. You may get stuck in an elevator now and then, but you can handle just about anything because you won’t give up.



And one bonus piece of advice – very important – use a high quality deodorant. If you’re ever stuck in an elevator, everyone will thank you.



Good luck and blessings to the Class of 2016!!! #ProudPrincipal

      

Read More 5 Life-Changing Lessons from Being Stuck on an Elevator…in New York City…on Senior Trip

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens in our school with strong teacher leadership. Programs come and go. So do principals. But teachers are consistently in a position to create change and positively impact their classrooms and the entire school. 



We often think of teacher effectiveness as what happens with classroom instruction. And that is one very important part of how teachers lead and exert influence. But there are many other ways teachers can contribute to positive change.








Teacher leadership is not limited to a title or role, such as department head, instructional coach, etc. While it is great to have teachers in formal teacher-leader positions, it’s important to recognize that leadership is more about actions than defined roles and responsibilities. 










Leadership, in essence, is concerned with making the lives of your team members better and doing what is best for them in the long run. Here are 11 ways teacher leadership can drive change in your school.




1. If we want to empower students, we need to empower teachers. Students need greater voice and choice, so do teachers. Teachers are more likely to offer student-driven learning experiences if they have the same opportunities to drive their own experience.


2. Teachers understand the challenges and the opportunities. Too many ideas for education have been imposed from outside sources, sometimes originating from bureaucrats with little knowledge of a classroom. Teacher leaders know first-hand the complexities of learning, and how to develop solutions that work.



3. Teachers influence other teachers. When teachers take risks, it encourages others to take risks too. Change can be difficult, but with support from other teachers, it’s much easier.








4. Solutions developed by teachers are more likely to succeed. Why? Because if we believe in something, we will find a way to make it successful. Whether it is the best idea or not might not even matter. We’ll make it successful because we believe it is the best idea. 



5. The closer the goals are to the classroom the better. We get maximum results when students and teachers are developing goals together. 








6. Teacher leadership builds teamwork, trust, and shared ownership. When teachers lead, it creates greater interdependence. Team members play to their strengths and contribute in ways that make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.



7. Teachers are professionals and deserve to make professional decisions. Too many schools have a culture of permission, where teachers feel they must clear decisions they believe will be best for students. We need a culture of intention, not a culture of permission.



8. Leadership provides opportunities to grow. We cannot effectively explore our talents or potential without opportunities to lead. Using our talents to serve others is leadership. If we hope to create positive change, we have to be willing to grow and have the courage to challenge our own assumptions. We aren’t the school we used to be, but we’re not the school we want to be. 



9. Teacher leaders are culture builders. Nothing is more important in our schools than developing a strong culture. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they recognize how their voices matter to help set the tone for a caring, productive, learning-focused culture. Changing culture isn’t always easy to quantify, but it’s one of the most important things we can do. Every school should strive for a stronger culture.

10. Teacher leaders change lives. I’m constantly amazed at the ways teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students and colleagues. Every time I see this type of commitment, I see leadership in action. Change happens in a school one person at a time.



Question: What are ways teacher leaders drive change in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 10 Ways Teacher Leadership Drives Change

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens in our school with strong teacher leadership. Programs come and go. So do principals. But teachers are consistently in a position to create change and positively impact their classrooms and the entire school. 



We often think of teacher effectiveness as what happens with classroom instruction. And that is one very important part of how teachers lead and exert influence. But there are many other ways teachers can contribute to positive change.








Teacher leadership is not limited to a title or role, such as department head, instructional coach, etc. While it is great to have teachers in formal teacher-leader positions, it’s important to recognize that leadership is more about actions than defined roles and responsibilities. 










Leadership, in essence, is concerned with making the lives of your team members better and doing what is best for them in the long run. Here are 11 ways teacher leadership can drive change in your school.




1. If we want to empower students, we need to empower teachers. Students need greater voice and choice, so do teachers. Teachers are more likely to offer student-driven learning experiences if they have the same opportunities to drive their own experience.


2. Teachers understand the challenges and the opportunities. Too many ideas for education have been imposed from outside sources, sometimes originating from bureaucrats with little knowledge of a classroom. Teacher leaders know first-hand the complexities of learning, and how to develop solutions that work.



3. Teachers influence other teachers. When teachers take risks, it encourages others to take risks too. Change can be difficult, but with support from other teachers, it’s much easier.








4. Solutions developed by teachers are more likely to succeed. Why? Because if we believe in something, we will find a way to make it successful. Whether it is the best idea or not might not even matter. We’ll make it successful because we believe it is the best idea. 



5. The closer the goals are to the classroom the better. We get maximum results when students and teachers are developing goals together. 








6. Teacher leadership builds teamwork, trust, and shared ownership. When teachers lead, it creates greater interdependence. Team members play to their strengths and contribute in ways that make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.



7. Teachers are professionals and deserve to make professional decisions. Too many schools have a culture of permission, where teachers feel they must clear decisions they believe will be best for students. We need a culture of intention, not a culture of permission.



8. Leadership provides opportunities to grow. We cannot effectively explore our talents or potential without opportunities to lead. Using our talents to serve others is leadership. If we hope to create positive change, we have to be willing to grow and have the courage to challenge our own assumptions. We aren’t the school we used to be, but we’re not the school we want to be. 



9. Teacher leaders are culture builders. Nothing is more important in our schools than developing a strong culture. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they recognize how their voices matter to help set the tone for a caring, productive, learning-focused culture. Changing culture isn’t always easy to quantify, but it’s one of the most important things we can do. Every school should strive for a stronger culture.

10. Teacher leaders change lives. I’m constantly amazed at the ways teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students and colleagues. Every time I see this type of commitment, I see leadership in action. Change happens in a school one person at a time.



Question: What are ways teacher leaders drive change in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 10 Ways Teacher Leadership Drives Change

Dear Lone Wolf, It seems odd to speak of lone wolves to you, a person that is so intricately… connected. And yet, as you read on, you will relate to…

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I firmly believe that “It takes a community to raise a child” and so without cooperation and communication between a school and their parent community, ‘we’ cannot fully support our…

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