Tag: kindness





As the school year winds down, what is your school doing to recognize students? It’s really common at this time of year to have awards programs to celebrate students for success and achievement. A problem with these types of programs is they tend to only recognize a certain kind of student.



Praising compliance, outstanding grades, and high achievement may be motivating for some, but may also lead to disengagement, resentment, and alienation for others. What kind of success are we celebrating?



I don’t want to send the message to our students that only a certain type of success or achievement is celebrated in our school. All of our students are valuable and make contributions in a variety of ways. 



And most importantly, I want to celebrate the process of growth and learning, and not just the outcomes. Students can’t always control the end result, but they can control the controllables, things like effort, enthusiasm, empathy, energy, and work ethic. It’s also important to recognize students for curiosity, creativity, and perseverance.



So we do our “awards” program differently.



Each teacher chooses one student to recognize at our end of school assembly. But the teacher selects the student based on whatever criteria they choose. It could be for effort, improvement, citizenship, school spirit, or just showing up well and having positive energy.









Some of the students who receive the award are the typical academic high flyers, but many are not. Many have probably never had their name called out in front of their peers, or their parents, to receive an award.



Each teacher says just a few words about why the student was selected. These stories are powerful for showing how we value students for more than just the grades they earn.



For some of our students, receiving an honor and affirmation like this could be pivotal. It could give them the spark of confidence and belief they needed at just the right time. It could inspire them to take on new challenges and set their sights higher.



Here are three reasons to recognize effort and growth over achievement and outcomes:



1. Avoid alienation.



By the time students arrive in high school, far too many believe the system of school won’t work for them. They are checked out. And no wonder. They’ve seen a certain type of student celebrated. They’ve built their identity around not being like those students, because they can’t measure up to those kids anyway, the ones who get all the awards. Personal growth isn’t even on their radar, and they don’t see that as the purpose of school anyway. To them, school expects quiet compliance, right answers, and perfect grades. That’s how you measure up. Recognizing progress and growth levels the playing field for all students.



2. Reinforce healthy attitudes about success.



It’s not healthy to get your sense of value or self-worth from achievements. For some, success is like a drug. They need more and more of it to get the same feeling. No matter how successful they are, in the end, it’s never enough. They are dependent on success to feel good about themselves, to feel secure. Any mistake or failure is almost unbearable. They feel threatened when others do well. Some of the most high performing students in your school may not be well-adjusted in this sense. It’s great to pursue excellence. But excellence is in the process of doing your very best, growing your strengths, and finding your purpose.



3. Encourage growth mindset.



A key finding of growth mindset was the recognition that praising effort was much more effective in motivating learning behaviors than praising fixed characteristics. The belief that I can grow my intelligence leads to better outcomes in the end. But the focus is on the process of growth, not the outcome. When we only recognize students for their achievements, we reinforce the fixed mindset. But when we recognize growth, we encourage all students to stretch themselves and strive to take on challenges. Success isn’t as important as progress in this system. And failure is only a temporary setback that provides an opportunity to learn and grow.



How is your school recognizing and celebrating students? Are you encouraging effort and growth over achievement and outcomes? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More 3 Reasons to Recognize Effort and Growth Over Achievement and Outcomes



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



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



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



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



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

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



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



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



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



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

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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



His comments were profound…

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

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

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

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

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



1. Am I important to someone here?

2. Do I belong here?

3. Am I good at something here?

4. Who will listen to me here?

5. Is my presence here making a difference?



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



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



I think the Jellybean Creed really says it best.






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









Read More Kindness Is the Most Important Indicator of Success



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



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



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



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



His comments were profound…

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

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

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

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

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



1. Am I important to someone here?

2. Do I belong here?

3. Am I good at something here?

4. Who will listen to me here?

5. Is my presence here making a difference?



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



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



I think the Jellybean Creed really says it best.






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









Read More Kindness Is the Most Important Indicator of Success