Tag: Influence



I met John Norlin this summer at the National Principals Conference and knew right away I wanted to learn more about his story and his work as co-founder of CharacterStrong. One thing led to another and luckily we were able to have him present to our staff earlier this week.



It was awesome. Many of the ideas he shared are reminders. He pointed this out more than once. These aren’t new ideas. 



“I’m not here to inform you today as much as I’m here to remind you,” he said.



We all know how important relationships are. We know how important it is to develop character. We all know academic skills won’t take you very far unless you can also work effectively with people. We know kindness counts. 



But even when we know these things, we can get better at doing these things. We can become better people. And we can help our students become better people too. But we have to be intentional. We have to work at it. We have to develop our own habits. And it’s hard work. 



It doesn’t even necessarily take more time. But it does require us to use the time we have in very intentional ways. 



The reminders John shared are very important reminders. He shared the message in a way that inspired us and helped our staff build even stronger connections. I think we left more excited about our work and more committed to our students. I think we left more committed to each other too.



Here are a few reminders that stood out to me…



-Everyone NEEDS character development. All of us.



-We are built to be relational. Stronger relationships help build a stronger school and better learning.



-We need purpose more than we need happiness. Most are trying to be happy, but deeply fulfilled people know their purpose. 



-Students need a deeper why. So many don’t know their purpose and how school fits with that purpose.



-Many of our students need hope. In truth, we all need hope and we need to be hope for each other.



-Our school culture is built on behaviors. Character is revealed by behaviors. We make thousands of choices daily. How are your choices contributing to the culture of your school?



-Such an important question: What have you done for others today?



In Future Driven, I wrote about my efforts to greet students each morning. I had always tried to be visible and friendly as students arrived to school in the morning. But then I decided to be more intentional. I made sure I was at the door to welcome as many students as possible, to learn as many names as possible, to make the greeting as extraordinary as possible. 



When I became more intentional, I noticed all sorts of cool things started happening. Like this…


One day I had some help with my greeting routine. One of our students, Nathaniel, was already at the bus drop off door. He was holding it open. I didn’t think too much of it, but then he started showing up every day. He’s always there now ready to help, even before I arrive. He’s quiet, so he doesn’t say much to the other kids as they come in, but many of the other students will tell him thank you as they walk by.

And I’ve gotten to know Nathaniel a little. He is passionate about professional wrestling. He looks forward to watching it on TV each week, and he asks me if I watched it too. I asked him if he knew about Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, wrestling heroes from when I was a kid. He just grinned and said he heard of them. I also learned a little about his family, where he lives, and some of his favorite things. I even learned we have 22 buses that drop off students in the morning because Nathaniel counted them for me.
Isn’t it amazing the impact our small actions can make? Just showing up in the morning to greet kids inspired Nathaniel to do the same. Our investment in people has a way of multiplying. Nathaniel wanted to help out. I think he feels good about holding the door open in the morning. I know I feel better each day I get to see Nathaniel and hang out with him for a few minutes. We never know when a simple conversation with a student might spark something lasting and worthwhile. Every interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Nathaniel was part of the Class of 2018. As graduation approached this past May, he asked me over and over, “Who are you going to get to replace me when I graduate?



He had faithfully met me at the door each morning and now as he was about to leave our school, he was concerned about who was going to do his job. He had purpose. He was selfless. He was kind.



I told Nathaniel he would be really hard to replace. I asked if he had any suggestions for who could took his place. We talked about a couple of kids he thought might work out. 



And then a few days later he walked across the stage and was awarded his diploma. When I shook his hand, he smiled and said, “Who are you going to find to replace me?”



I was proud of him.



A few weeks ago, one of our teachers came into my office and shared that Nathaniel was very sick and in the hospital. A couple days later I went to the hospital but couldn’t see him because of the limited visiting hours in intensive care.



And then on Friday morning, September 28th we got the news that Nathaniel had passed away. It was crushing news. It still hurts as I’m writing this post.



But I’m so grateful that my story intersects with Nathaniel’s story. I’m thankful I can share about our time together. I’m thankful I can share about a student who had purpose, who was selfless, and who was kind to others.



He wasn’t worried about being popular, or cool, or a big deal. He just wanted to make a difference. 



I can’t even imagine the kind of greeting Nathaniel received in heaven. He certainly deserves the best. He might even get a job holding a door open for others arriving on the scene. 



For those of us still doing our best here on planet earth, we need reminders. Let’s not forget every interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Read More Every Interaction Is an Opportunity for Relationship Building



I met John Norlin this summer at the National Principals Conference and knew right away I wanted to learn more about his story and his work as co-founder of CharacterStrong. One thing led to another and luckily we were able to have him present to our staff earlier this week.



It was awesome. Many of the ideas he shared are reminders. He pointed this out more than once. These aren’t new ideas. 



“I’m not here to inform you today as much as I’m here to remind you,” he said.



We all know how important relationships are. We know how important it is to develop character. We all know academic skills won’t take you very far unless you can also work effectively with people. We know kindness counts. 



But even when we know these things, we can get better at doing these things. We can become better people. And we can help our students become better people too. But we have to be intentional. We have to work at it. We have to develop our own habits. And it’s hard work. 



It doesn’t even necessarily take more time. But it does require us to use the time we have in very intentional ways. 



The reminders John shared are very important reminders. He shared the message in a way that inspired us and helped our staff build even stronger connections. I think we left more excited about our work and more committed to our students. I think we left more committed to each other too.



Here are a few reminders that stood out to me…



-Everyone NEEDS character development. All of us.



-We are built to be relational. Stronger relationships help build a stronger school and better learning.



-We need purpose more than we need happiness. Most are trying to be happy, but deeply fulfilled people know their purpose. 



-Students need a deeper why. So many don’t know their purpose and how school fits with that purpose.



-Many of our students need hope. In truth, we all need hope and we need to be hope for each other.



-Our school culture is built on behaviors. Character is revealed by behaviors. We make thousands of choices daily. How are your choices contributing to the culture of your school?



-Such an important question: What have you done for others today?



In Future Driven, I wrote about my efforts to greet students each morning. I had always tried to be visible and friendly as students arrived to school in the morning. But then I decided to be more intentional. I made sure I was at the door to welcome as many students as possible, to learn as many names as possible, to make the greeting as extraordinary as possible. 



When I became more intentional, I noticed all sorts of cool things started happening. Like this…


One day I had some help with my greeting routine. One of our students, Nathaniel, was already at the bus drop off door. He was holding it open. I didn’t think too much of it, but then he started showing up every day. He’s always there now ready to help, even before I arrive. He’s quiet, so he doesn’t say much to the other kids as they come in, but many of the other students will tell him thank you as they walk by.

And I’ve gotten to know Nathaniel a little. He is passionate about professional wrestling. He looks forward to watching it on TV each week, and he asks me if I watched it too. I asked him if he knew about Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, wrestling heroes from when I was a kid. He just grinned and said he heard of them. I also learned a little about his family, where he lives, and some of his favorite things. I even learned we have 22 buses that drop off students in the morning because Nathaniel counted them for me.
Isn’t it amazing the impact our small actions can make? Just showing up in the morning to greet kids inspired Nathaniel to do the same. Our investment in people has a way of multiplying. Nathaniel wanted to help out. I think he feels good about holding the door open in the morning. I know I feel better each day I get to see Nathaniel and hang out with him for a few minutes. We never know when a simple conversation with a student might spark something lasting and worthwhile. Every interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Nathaniel was part of the Class of 2018. As graduation approached this past May, he asked me over and over, “Who are you going to get to replace me when I graduate?



He had faithfully met me at the door each morning and now as he was about to leave our school, he was concerned about who was going to do his job. He had purpose. He was selfless. He was kind.



I told Nathaniel he would be really hard to replace. I asked if he had any suggestions for who could took his place. We talked about a couple of kids he thought might work out. 



And then a few days later he walked across the stage and was awarded his diploma. When I shook his hand, he smiled and said, “Who are you going to find to replace me?”



I was proud of him.



A few weeks ago, one of our teachers came into my office and shared that Nathaniel was very sick and in the hospital. A couple days later I went to the hospital but couldn’t see him because of the limited visiting hours in intensive care.



And then on Friday morning, September 28th we got the news that Nathaniel had passed away. It was crushing news. It still hurts as I’m writing this post.



But I’m so grateful that my story intersects with Nathaniel’s story. I’m thankful I can share about our time together. I’m thankful I can share about a student who had purpose, who was selfless, and who was kind to others.



He wasn’t worried about being popular, or cool, or a big deal. He just wanted to make a difference. 



I can’t even imagine the kind of greeting Nathaniel received in heaven. He certainly deserves the best. He might even get a job holding a door open for others arriving on the scene. 



For those of us still doing our best here on planet earth, we need reminders. Let’s not forget every interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Read More Every Interaction Is an Opportunity for Relationship Building



I met John Norlin this summer at the National Principals Conference and knew right away I wanted to learn more about his story and his work as co-founder of CharacterStrong. One thing led to another and luckily we were able to have him present to our staff earlier this week.



It was awesome. Many of the ideas he shared are reminders. He pointed this out more than once. These aren’t new ideas. 



“I’m not here to inform you today as much as I’m here to remind you,” he said.



We all know how important relationships are. We know how important it is to develop character. We all know academic skills won’t take you very far unless you can also work effectively with people. We know kindness counts. 



But even when we know these things, we can get better at doing these things. We can become better people. And we can help our students become better people too. But we have to be intentional. We have to work at it. We have to develop our own habits. And it’s hard work. 



It doesn’t even necessarily take more time. But it does require us to use the time we have in very intentional ways. 



The reminders John shared are very important reminders. He shared the message in a way that inspired us and helped our staff build even stronger connections. I think we left more excited about our work and more committed to our students. I think we left more committed to each other too.



Here are a few reminders that stood out to me…



-Everyone NEEDS character development. All of us.



-We are built to be relational. Stronger relationships help build a stronger school and better learning.



-We need purpose more than we need happiness. Most are trying to be happy, but deeply fulfilled people know their purpose. 



-Students need a deeper why. So many don’t know their purpose and how school fits with that purpose.



-Many of our students need hope. In truth, we all need hope and we need to be hope for each other.



-Our school culture is built on behaviors. Character is revealed by behaviors. We make thousands of choices daily. How are your choices contributing to the culture of your school?



-Such an important question: What have you done for others today?



In Future Driven, I wrote about my efforts to greet students each morning. I had always tried to be visible and friendly as students arrived to school in the morning. But then I decided to be more intentional. I made sure I was at the door to welcome as many students as possible, to learn as many names as possible, to make the greeting as extraordinary as possible. 



When I became more intentional, I noticed all sorts of cool things started happening. Like this…


One day I had some help with my greeting routine. One of our students, Nathaniel, was already at the bus drop off door. He was holding it open. I didn’t think too much of it, but then he started showing up every day. He’s always there now ready to help, even before I arrive. He’s quiet, so he doesn’t say much to the other kids as they come in, but many of the other students will tell him thank you as they walk by.

And I’ve gotten to know Nathaniel a little. He is passionate about professional wrestling. He looks forward to watching it on TV each week, and he asks me if I watched it too. I asked him if he knew about Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, wrestling heroes from when I was a kid. He just grinned and said he heard of them. I also learned a little about his family, where he lives, and some of his favorite things. I even learned we have 22 buses that drop off students in the morning because Nathaniel counted them for me.
Isn’t it amazing the impact our small actions can make? Just showing up in the morning to greet kids inspired Nathaniel to do the same. Our investment in people has a way of multiplying. Nathaniel wanted to help out. I think he feels good about holding the door open in the morning. I know I feel better each day I get to see Nathaniel and hang out with him for a few minutes. We never know when a simple conversation with a student might spark something lasting and worthwhile. Every interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Nathaniel was part of the Class of 2018. As graduation approached this past May, he asked me over and over, “Who are you going to get to replace me when I graduate?



He had faithfully met me at the door each morning and now as he was about to leave our school, he was concerned about who was going to do his job. He had purpose. He was selfless. He was kind.



I told Nathaniel he would be really hard to replace. I asked if he had any suggestions for who could took his place. We talked about a couple of kids he thought might work out. 



And then a few days later he walked across the stage and was awarded his diploma. When I shook his hand, he smiled and said, “Who are you going to find to replace me?”



I was proud of him.



A few weeks ago, one of our teachers came into my office and shared that Nathaniel was very sick and in the hospital. A couple days later I went to the hospital but couldn’t see him because of the limited visiting hours in intensive care.



And then on Friday morning, September 28th we got the news that Nathaniel had passed away. It was crushing news. It still hurts as I’m writing this post.



But I’m so grateful that my story intersects with Nathaniel’s story. I’m thankful I can share about our time together. I’m thankful I can share about a student who had purpose, who was selfless, and who was kind to others.



He wasn’t worried about being popular, or cool, or a big deal. He just wanted to make a difference. 



I can’t even imagine the kind of greeting Nathaniel received in heaven. He certainly deserves the best. He might even get a job holding a door open for others arriving on the scene. 



For those of us still doing our best here on planet earth, we need reminders. Let’s not forget every interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Read More Every Interaction Is an Opportunity for Relationship Building



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



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



Think/Analyze/Change

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

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

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

See/Feel/Change

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



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

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



Here are five tips…

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts…

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

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

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



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

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



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



Think/Analyze/Change

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

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

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

See/Feel/Change

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



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

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



Here are five tips…

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts…

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

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

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



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

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



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



Think/Analyze/Change

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

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

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

See/Feel/Change

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



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

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



Here are five tips…

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts…

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

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

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



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

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



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



Think/Analyze/Change

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

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

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

See/Feel/Change

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



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

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



Here are five tips…

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts…

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

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

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



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

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



When you think about your students, what stories are you telling yourself about them? I’ve been guilty of buying into limiting stories about who they are, where they come from, or what they’re capable of.



Of course, I care about all of our kids and strive to treat them all with dignity and respect. But it’s easy to see them a certain way if I’m not careful. It’s easy to make judgments. There are subtle thoughts and feelings. I might believe a story that casts some as most likely to succeed and others as at-risk or some other label.



It’s almost effortless to impose our stories on them or accept the limiting stories others believe about them without a question.



They don’t have a chance.



They’re victims of their environment.



They don’t have the right parents, the right influences, the right resources. 



They have an IEP. 



They’re low functioning.



They’re a behavior problem.



They’re lazy.



They don’t care about school.



They’ll never make it in college.



We can easily make all kinds of assumptions even without thinking. 

I’ve seen on Twitter recently the idea that we shouldn’t judge a student by the chapter of their story we walk in on. That is a powerful thought. So true! We all know people who’ve had difficult back stories who were probably judged as incapable or unlikely to succeed.



And yet, they made it.



Some famous examples include Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Not only did they make, they became world changers.



I’m gonna try harder to never tell myself a story about a kid that says they can’t because of where they live, what kind of home they come from, the trauma they’ve experienced, or anything else that limits their possibilities.



Things that have been true in the past don’t have to be true for the future. Alan Cohen writes “our history is not our destiny.”



As educators, we cannot buy into the idea that because a kid comes from the wrong side of the tracks, lacks resources, or has a difficult home environment they have limited capacity.



As I wrote in Future Driven

Treat all of your students like future world changers. I know there are some who are difficult, disrespectful, and disengaged. But don’t let that place limits on what they might accomplish someday. Believe in their possibilities and build on their strengths.

Kids can overcome any obstacle placed in their way. Don’t believe it? How can you know what might be possible with effort, enthusiasm, and continuous learning? 



And when no one else in the world is seeing a kid for the genius of what’s inside them, it’s time for educators to step up and be the ones who find that spark. 



No limits. No excuses.



What story are you telling yourself? What story are you believing about yourself? What story are you believing about your students?



The culture on the inside of your school must be stronger than the culture on the outside. There are so many outside voices telling kids what they can’t do, and it’s no wonder that kids start to believe it.



Every school needs every adult who works there to believe in the possibilities of their students, who will push them to greatness every day, who show them how to reach higher and go further. They may have limits crashing down on them from the external realities they live with, but we can help unleash the greatness they have within them. We can help them overcome and break through the limits.



What are specific ways we can help students realize they have greatness within? How can we unleash the potential they have to pursue their unlimited capacity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Story Are You Telling Yourself?



When you think about your students, what stories are you telling yourself about them? I’ve been guilty of buying into limiting stories about who they are, where they come from, or what they’re capable of.



Of course, I care about all of our kids and strive to treat them all with dignity and respect. But it’s easy to see them a certain way if I’m not careful. It’s easy to make judgments. There are subtle thoughts and feelings. I might believe a story that casts some as most likely to succeed and others as at-risk or some other label.



It’s almost effortless to impose our stories on them or accept the limiting stories others believe about them without a question.



They don’t have a chance.



They’re victims of their environment.



They don’t have the right parents, the right influences, the right resources. 



They have an IEP. 



They’re low functioning.



They’re a behavior problem.



They’re lazy.



They don’t care about school.



They’ll never make it in college.



We can easily make all kinds of assumptions even without thinking. 

I’ve seen on Twitter recently the idea that we shouldn’t judge a student by the chapter of their story we walk in on. That is a powerful thought. So true! We all know people who’ve had difficult back stories who were probably judged as incapable or unlikely to succeed.



And yet, they made it.



Some famous examples include Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Not only did they make, they became world changers.



I’m gonna try harder to never tell myself a story about a kid that says they can’t because of where they live, what kind of home they come from, the trauma they’ve experienced, or anything else that limits their possibilities.



Things that have been true in the past don’t have to be true for the future. Alan Cohen writes “our history is not our destiny.”



As educators, we cannot buy into the idea that because a kid comes from the wrong side of the tracks, lacks resources, or has a difficult home environment they have limited capacity.



As I wrote in Future Driven

Treat all of your students like future world changers. I know there are some who are difficult, disrespectful, and disengaged. But don’t let that place limits on what they might accomplish someday. Believe in their possibilities and build on their strengths.

Kids can overcome any obstacle placed in their way. Don’t believe it? How can you know what might be possible with effort, enthusiasm, and continuous learning? 



And when no one else in the world is seeing a kid for the genius of what’s inside them, it’s time for educators to step up and be the ones who find that spark. 



No limits. No excuses.



What story are you telling yourself? What story are you believing about yourself? What story are you believing about your students?



The culture on the inside of your school must be stronger than the culture on the outside. There are so many outside voices telling kids what they can’t do, and it’s no wonder that kids start to believe it.



Every school needs every adult who works there to believe in the possibilities of their students, who will push them to greatness every day, who show them how to reach higher and go further. They may have limits crashing down on them from the external realities they live with, but we can help unleash the greatness they have within them. We can help them overcome and break through the limits.



What are specific ways we can help students realize they have greatness within? How can we unleash the potential they have to pursue their unlimited capacity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Story Are You Telling Yourself?



When you think about your students, what stories are you telling yourself about them? I’ve been guilty of buying into limiting stories about who they are, where they come from, or what they’re capable of.



Of course, I care about all of our kids and strive to treat them all with dignity and respect. But it’s easy to see them a certain way if I’m not careful. It’s easy to make judgments. There are subtle thoughts and feelings. I might believe a story that casts some as most likely to succeed and others as at-risk or some other label.



It’s almost effortless to impose our stories on them or accept the limiting stories others believe about them without a question.



They don’t have a chance.



They’re victims of their environment.



They don’t have the right parents, the right influences, the right resources. 



They have an IEP. 



They’re low functioning.



They’re a behavior problem.



They’re lazy.



They don’t care about school.



They’ll never make it in college.



We can easily make all kinds of assumptions even without thinking. 

I’ve seen on Twitter recently the idea that we shouldn’t judge a student by the chapter of their story we walk in on. That is a powerful thought. So true! We all know people who’ve had difficult back stories who were probably judged as incapable or unlikely to succeed.



And yet, they made it.



Some famous examples include Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Not only did they make, they became world changers.



I’m gonna try harder to never tell myself a story about a kid that says they can’t because of where they live, what kind of home they come from, the trauma they’ve experienced, or anything else that limits their possibilities.



Things that have been true in the past don’t have to be true for the future. Alan Cohen writes “our history is not our destiny.”



As educators, we cannot buy into the idea that because a kid comes from the wrong side of the tracks, lacks resources, or has a difficult home environment they have limited capacity.



As I wrote in Future Driven

Treat all of your students like future world changers. I know there are some who are difficult, disrespectful, and disengaged. But don’t let that place limits on what they might accomplish someday. Believe in their possibilities and build on their strengths.

Kids can overcome any obstacle placed in their way. Don’t believe it? How can you know what might be possible with effort, enthusiasm, and continuous learning? 



And when no one else in the world is seeing a kid for the genius of what’s inside them, it’s time for educators to step up and be the ones who find that spark. 



No limits. No excuses.



What story are you telling yourself? What story are you believing about yourself? What story are you believing about your students?



The culture on the inside of your school must be stronger than the culture on the outside. There are so many outside voices telling kids what they can’t do, and it’s no wonder that kids start to believe it.



Every school needs every adult who works there to believe in the possibilities of their students, who will push them to greatness every day, who show them how to reach higher and go further. They may have limits crashing down on them from the external realities they live with, but we can help unleash the greatness they have within them. We can help them overcome and break through the limits.



What are specific ways we can help students realize they have greatness within? How can we unleash the potential they have to pursue their unlimited capacity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More What Story Are You Telling Yourself?



When you think about your students, what stories are you telling yourself about them? I’ve been guilty of buying into limiting stories about who they are, where they come from, or what they’re capable of.



Of course, I care about all of our kids and strive to treat them all with dignity and respect. But it’s easy to see them a certain way if I’m not careful. It’s easy to make judgments. There are subtle thoughts and feelings. I might believe a story that casts some as most likely to succeed and others as at-risk or some other label.



It’s almost effortless to impose our stories on them or accept the limiting stories others believe about them without a question.



They don’t have a chance.



They’re victims of their environment.



They don’t have the right parents, the right influences, the right resources. 



They have an IEP. 



They’re low functioning.



They’re a behavior problem.



They’re lazy.



They don’t care about school.



They’ll never make it in college.



We can easily make all kinds of assumptions even without thinking. 

I’ve seen on Twitter recently the idea that we shouldn’t judge a student by the chapter of their story we walk in on. That is a powerful thought. So true! We all know people who’ve had difficult back stories who were probably judged as incapable or unlikely to succeed.



And yet, they made it.



Some famous examples include Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Not only did they make, they became world changers.



I’m gonna try harder to never tell myself a story about a kid that says they can’t because of where they live, what kind of home they come from, the trauma they’ve experienced, or anything else that limits their possibilities.



Things that have been true in the past don’t have to be true for the future. Alan Cohen writes “our history is not our destiny.”



As educators, we cannot buy into the idea that because a kid comes from the wrong side of the tracks, lacks resources, or has a difficult home environment they have limited capacity.



As I wrote in Future Driven

Treat all of your students like future world changers. I know there are some who are difficult, disrespectful, and disengaged. But don’t let that place limits on what they might accomplish someday. Believe in their possibilities and build on their strengths.

Kids can overcome any obstacle placed in their way. Don’t believe it? How can you know what might be possible with effort, enthusiasm, and continuous learning? 



And when no one else in the world is seeing a kid for the genius of what’s inside them, it’s time for educators to step up and be the ones who find that spark. 



No limits. No excuses.



What story are you telling yourself? What story are you believing about yourself? What story are you believing about your students?



The culture on the inside of your school must be stronger than the culture on the outside. There are so many outside voices telling kids what they can’t do, and it’s no wonder that kids start to believe it.



Every school needs every adult who works there to believe in the possibilities of their students, who will push them to greatness every day, who show them how to reach higher and go further. They may have limits crashing down on them from the external realities they live with, but we can help unleash the greatness they have within them. We can help them overcome and break through the limits.



What are specific ways we can help students realize they have greatness within? How can we unleash the potential they have to pursue their unlimited capacity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More What Story Are You Telling Yourself?



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

      

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

      

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students