Tag: perseverance





I’m a big advocate of positive and productive change. If one thing is certain, it’s change. There will be change, and we must adapt. Our students must adapt. Our schools must adapt. The world is becoming more complex and uncertain, and that makes change even more imperative. 



But some things never change. Teaching principles, for instance, stand the test of time. Principles are fundamental truths. They are universal and unchanging at their core. These things should be the foundation of who we are and what we do as educators.



-Treat every child, every person, with dignity and respect.



-Make kindness a top concern.



-Communicate clear goals and objectives.



-Set high expectations.



-Believe the best of your students.



-Provide extraordinary learning experiences, not just lessons.



-Make learning relevant to time, place, and the individual.



-Persevere, push through obstacles, and never give up on a child.



-Recognize effort and progress.



-Consistently provide useful and meaningful feedback.



These things will not change. There may be some slight contextual ways that they change. But essentially, they are some of the fundamentals whether we look at education 50 years in the past or 50 years into the future.



But our practices are different. Our practices should be much different than 50 years ago. They should even be different than 5 years ago. They may be different tomorrow, based on our students’ needs. We must adapt our practices to the needs of the students we are working with today, right now. We need to adapt to the changes that are happening in the world right now as well.



Teaching practices are only effective in certain situations and change over time: grading, curriculum, technology, strategies, and lessons all must change to stay relevant.



So…



Be firm in your principles. They are your core beliefs.



Be flexible in your practices. They flow from your principles and are your actions today.



Be firm in your mission. It’s your purpose as an educator.



Be flexible in your methods. Your methods are how you achieve your purpose and may change with the situation.



How are you developing your principles and practices as an educator? Both are important. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Be Firm in Your Principles. Be Flexible in Your Practices.





I’m a big advocate of positive and productive change. If one thing is certain, it’s change. There will be change, and we must adapt. Our students must adapt. Our schools must adapt. The world is becoming more complex and uncertain, and that makes change even more imperative. 



But some things never change. Teaching principles, for instance, stand the test of time. Principles are fundamental truths. They are universal and unchanging at their core. These things should be the foundation of who we are and what we do as educators.



-Treat every child, every person, with dignity and respect.



-Make kindness a top concern.



-Communicate clear goals and objectives.



-Set high expectations.



-Believe the best of your students.



-Provide extraordinary learning experiences, not just lessons.



-Make learning relevant to time, place, and the individual.



-Persevere, push through obstacles, and never give up on a child.



-Recognize effort and progress.



-Consistently provide useful and meaningful feedback.



These things will not change. There may be some slight contextual ways that they change. But essentially, they are some of the fundamentals whether we look at education 50 years in the past or 50 years into the future.



But our practices are different. Our practices should be much different than 50 years ago. They should even be different than 5 years ago. They may be different tomorrow, based on our students’ needs. We must adapt our practices to the needs of the students we are working with today, right now. We need to adapt to the changes that are happening in the world right now as well.



Teaching practices are only effective in certain situations and change over time: grading, curriculum, technology, strategies, and lessons all must change to stay relevant.



So…



Be firm in your principles. They are your core beliefs.



Be flexible in your practices. They flow from your principles and are your actions today.



Be firm in your mission. It’s your purpose as an educator.



Be flexible in your methods. Your methods are how you achieve your purpose and may change with the situation.



How are you developing your principles and practices as an educator? Both are important. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Be Firm in Your Principles. Be Flexible in Your Practices.





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





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





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





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



We recently held commencement for the graduates of the Bolivar High School Class of 2018. I always like to provide a few words of encouragement for the graduates. The overall theme of my message this year was Aiming for Excellence.



__________________


Class of 2018, you’ve answered lots of questions in high school. But today I want to present you with a couple of different questions. These questions don’t have right or wrong answers, and you won’t be getting a grade. But how you answer these questions will impact the rest of your life: 


1. What’s your purpose? What is your purpose? Or another way of saying it, what is your dream? I believe every person has a specific purpose. There’s a dream in your heart to do something great. Find out what that is. You have a gift. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Find your purpose. Think deeply about this. 


And here’s another thing. Every day ask yourself this question:


2. What will I do today to move in the direction of my dreams? How will I carry out my purpose? Dreams without actions will always just be dreams, but if you put your dreams in motion and pursue them with passion, there’s nothing you can’t do. And you’ll leave the world a little better than you found it.

Aiming for Excellence



A couple of years ago, I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I was eager to get home after a long day, and the checkouts were backed up. You all can probably relate to that quick trip into Walmart. Never happens. I randomly picked a line since they were all busy. But this time I picked the right one. Before I knew it I was on my way home. That line moved so fast. It was clear the person working this checkout was doing a great job, not just putting in her time.

When it was almost my turn to checkout, I said to the customer in front of me, “Wow, she really knows how to make that line disappear.” The other customer smiled and agreed. I turned to the clerk, “How did you do that? Literally, it was almost like magic.”

She looked up and said, “I love my job.” 



I love my job. I…Love…My…Job!!!


That’s what she said. And I thought to myself that’s pretty cool, maybe I need to try for a job at Walmart.

But seriously, it’s not every day you hear someone say that. Lots of places I go people seem miserable in their jobs. You probably see these people too, dragging themselves along with a frown on their face. But not this Walmart cashier. She was going above and beyond. 



She went on to double bag all my cold items, rushed around to help load groceries into the cart, and even made a suggestion about a type of potato chips our family might like similar to the ones I bought. She wasn’t just doing her job. She was aiming for excellence.

What’s your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams? In everything you do, give it your very best. Do more than expected. Be generous in how you treat others. Be faithful in the small things, and you’ll have opportunities to do greater things. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Be the best version of you.

More than your talent, your education, or what’s happened in your life to this point, the thing that will determine your success and your future more than anything else is your attitude. Most people tend to see the negative. But did you know that in a study of the best characteristics of leaders, the number one thing people want in a leader is a positive attitude?

Not everything that happens to you will be positive. Life will knock you down. There’ll be obstacles, failures, and disappointments that come your way. When these things happen, get back up. You’ll be a stronger person. When (BHS cross country athlete) Kelie Henderson fell to the ground with the state championship right in front of her (she had a sizable lead at the time), just steps from the finish line, she didn’t quit. In the end, she didn’t win the race, but she showed she’s a winner. Her body shut down on her. But her spirit pushed through, and she crawled the last hundred yards to the finish line. And she inspired us all.

I know many of your stories. Some I do not, regretfully. But I know all of you have faced challenges. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning felt like a challenge. But you are overcomers. There will be difficulties. But in difficulties there are also opportunities. View your challenges as beneficial. I’ve learned nothing in my life from the easy days. The easy stuff teaches me nothing. But the difficulties, the hardships, and even the pain has taught me so much.

So I leave you with these final thoughts:

#1 Start With Questions – What is your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams?

#2 Aim for Excellence – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

#3 Lead Up – Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your success.

#4. Lift Up – Be generous with people. Give encouragement and understanding.

#5 Never Give Up – Your struggle will make you stronger. Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Never give up. It’s the Bolivar Way.

Class of 2018, I am very proud of you and your accomplishments and it’s been truly an honor to know you and be a part of your high school years. I wish you the best. I believe in you. God bless you all!





Read More Aiming for Excellence: Whatever You Do, Do It to the Best of Your Ability



We recently held commencement for the graduates of the Bolivar High School Class of 2018. I always like to provide a few words of encouragement for the graduates. The overall theme of my message this year was Aiming for Excellence.



__________________


Class of 2018, you’ve answered lots of questions in high school. But today I want to present you with a couple of different questions. These questions don’t have right or wrong answers, and you won’t be getting a grade. But how you answer these questions will impact the rest of your life: 


1. What’s your purpose? What is your purpose? Or another way of saying it, what is your dream? I believe every person has a specific purpose. There’s a dream in your heart to do something great. Find out what that is. You have a gift. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Find your purpose. Think deeply about this. 


And here’s another thing. Every day ask yourself this question:


2. What will I do today to move in the direction of my dreams? How will I carry out my purpose? Dreams without actions will always just be dreams, but if you put your dreams in motion and pursue them with passion, there’s nothing you can’t do. And you’ll leave the world a little better than you found it.

Aiming for Excellence



A couple of years ago, I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I was eager to get home after a long day, and the checkouts were backed up. You all can probably relate to that quick trip into Walmart. Never happens. I randomly picked a line since they were all busy. But this time I picked the right one. Before I knew it I was on my way home. That line moved so fast. It was clear the person working this checkout was doing a great job, not just putting in her time.

When it was almost my turn to checkout, I said to the customer in front of me, “Wow, she really knows how to make that line disappear.” The other customer smiled and agreed. I turned to the clerk, “How did you do that? Literally, it was almost like magic.”

She looked up and said, “I love my job.” 



I love my job. I…Love…My…Job!!!


That’s what she said. And I thought to myself that’s pretty cool, maybe I need to try for a job at Walmart.

But seriously, it’s not every day you hear someone say that. Lots of places I go people seem miserable in their jobs. You probably see these people too, dragging themselves along with a frown on their face. But not this Walmart cashier. She was going above and beyond. 



She went on to double bag all my cold items, rushed around to help load groceries into the cart, and even made a suggestion about a type of potato chips our family might like similar to the ones I bought. She wasn’t just doing her job. She was aiming for excellence.

What’s your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams? In everything you do, give it your very best. Do more than expected. Be generous in how you treat others. Be faithful in the small things, and you’ll have opportunities to do greater things. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Be the best version of you.

More than your talent, your education, or what’s happened in your life to this point, the thing that will determine your success and your future more than anything else is your attitude. Most people tend to see the negative. But did you know that in a study of the best characteristics of leaders, the number one thing people want in a leader is a positive attitude?

Not everything that happens to you will be positive. Life will knock you down. There’ll be obstacles, failures, and disappointments that come your way. When these things happen, get back up. You’ll be a stronger person. When (BHS cross country athlete) Kelie Henderson fell to the ground with the state championship right in front of her (she had a sizable lead at the time), just steps from the finish line, she didn’t quit. In the end, she didn’t win the race, but she showed she’s a winner. Her body shut down on her. But her spirit pushed through, and she crawled the last hundred yards to the finish line. And she inspired us all.

I know many of your stories. Some I do not, regretfully. But I know all of you have faced challenges. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning felt like a challenge. But you are overcomers. There will be difficulties. But in difficulties there are also opportunities. View your challenges as beneficial. I’ve learned nothing in my life from the easy days. The easy stuff teaches me nothing. But the difficulties, the hardships, and even the pain has taught me so much.

So I leave you with these final thoughts:

#1 Start With Questions – What is your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams?

#2 Aim for Excellence – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

#3 Lead Up – Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your success.

#4. Lift Up – Be generous with people. Give encouragement and understanding.

#5 Never Give Up – Your struggle will make you stronger. Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Never give up. It’s the Bolivar Way.

Class of 2018, I am very proud of you and your accomplishments and it’s been truly an honor to know you and be a part of your high school years. I wish you the best. I believe in you. God bless you all!





Read More Aiming for Excellence: Whatever You Do, Do It to the Best of Your Ability



We recently held commencement for the graduates of the Bolivar High School Class of 2018. I always like to provide a few words of encouragement for the graduates. The overall theme of my message this year was Aiming for Excellence.



__________________


Class of 2018, you’ve answered lots of questions in high school. But today I want to present you with a couple of different questions. These questions don’t have right or wrong answers, and you won’t be getting a grade. But how you answer these questions will impact the rest of your life: 


1. What’s your purpose? What is your purpose? Or another way of saying it, what is your dream? I believe every person has a specific purpose. There’s a dream in your heart to do something great. Find out what that is. You have a gift. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Find your purpose. Think deeply about this. 


And here’s another thing. Every day ask yourself this question:


2. What will I do today to move in the direction of my dreams? How will I carry out my purpose? Dreams without actions will always just be dreams, but if you put your dreams in motion and pursue them with passion, there’s nothing you can’t do. And you’ll leave the world a little better than you found it.

Aiming for Excellence



A couple of years ago, I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I was eager to get home after a long day, and the checkouts were backed up. You all can probably relate to that quick trip into Walmart. Never happens. I randomly picked a line since they were all busy. But this time I picked the right one. Before I knew it I was on my way home. That line moved so fast. It was clear the person working this checkout was doing a great job, not just putting in her time.

When it was almost my turn to checkout, I said to the customer in front of me, “Wow, she really knows how to make that line disappear.” The other customer smiled and agreed. I turned to the clerk, “How did you do that? Literally, it was almost like magic.”

She looked up and said, “I love my job.” 



I love my job. I…Love…My…Job!!!


That’s what she said. And I thought to myself that’s pretty cool, maybe I need to try for a job at Walmart.

But seriously, it’s not every day you hear someone say that. Lots of places I go people seem miserable in their jobs. You probably see these people too, dragging themselves along with a frown on their face. But not this Walmart cashier. She was going above and beyond. 



She went on to double bag all my cold items, rushed around to help load groceries into the cart, and even made a suggestion about a type of potato chips our family might like similar to the ones I bought. She wasn’t just doing her job. She was aiming for excellence.

What’s your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams? In everything you do, give it your very best. Do more than expected. Be generous in how you treat others. Be faithful in the small things, and you’ll have opportunities to do greater things. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Be the best version of you.

More than your talent, your education, or what’s happened in your life to this point, the thing that will determine your success and your future more than anything else is your attitude. Most people tend to see the negative. But did you know that in a study of the best characteristics of leaders, the number one thing people want in a leader is a positive attitude?

Not everything that happens to you will be positive. Life will knock you down. There’ll be obstacles, failures, and disappointments that come your way. When these things happen, get back up. You’ll be a stronger person. When (BHS cross country athlete) Kelie Henderson fell to the ground with the state championship right in front of her (she had a sizable lead at the time), just steps from the finish line, she didn’t quit. In the end, she didn’t win the race, but she showed she’s a winner. Her body shut down on her. But her spirit pushed through, and she crawled the last hundred yards to the finish line. And she inspired us all.

I know many of your stories. Some I do not, regretfully. But I know all of you have faced challenges. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning felt like a challenge. But you are overcomers. There will be difficulties. But in difficulties there are also opportunities. View your challenges as beneficial. I’ve learned nothing in my life from the easy days. The easy stuff teaches me nothing. But the difficulties, the hardships, and even the pain has taught me so much.

So I leave you with these final thoughts:

#1 Start With Questions – What is your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams?

#2 Aim for Excellence – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

#3 Lead Up – Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your success.

#4. Lift Up – Be generous with people. Give encouragement and understanding.

#5 Never Give Up – Your struggle will make you stronger. Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Never give up. It’s the Bolivar Way.

Class of 2018, I am very proud of you and your accomplishments and it’s been truly an honor to know you and be a part of your high school years. I wish you the best. I believe in you. God bless you all!





      

Read More Aiming for Excellence: Whatever You Do, Do It to the Best of Your Ability



We recently held commencement for the graduates of the Bolivar High School Class of 2018. I always like to provide a few words of encouragement for the graduates. The overall theme of my message this year was Aiming for Excellence.



__________________


Class of 2018, you’ve answered lots of questions in high school. But today I want to present you with a couple of different questions. These questions don’t have right or wrong answers, and you won’t be getting a grade. But how you answer these questions will impact the rest of your life: 


1. What’s your purpose? What is your purpose? Or another way of saying it, what is your dream? I believe every person has a specific purpose. There’s a dream in your heart to do something great. Find out what that is. You have a gift. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Find your purpose. Think deeply about this. 


And here’s another thing. Every day ask yourself this question:


2. What will I do today to move in the direction of my dreams? How will I carry out my purpose? Dreams without actions will always just be dreams, but if you put your dreams in motion and pursue them with passion, there’s nothing you can’t do. And you’ll leave the world a little better than you found it.

Aiming for Excellence



A couple of years ago, I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I was eager to get home after a long day, and the checkouts were backed up. You all can probably relate to that quick trip into Walmart. Never happens. I randomly picked a line since they were all busy. But this time I picked the right one. Before I knew it I was on my way home. That line moved so fast. It was clear the person working this checkout was doing a great job, not just putting in her time.

When it was almost my turn to checkout, I said to the customer in front of me, “Wow, she really knows how to make that line disappear.” The other customer smiled and agreed. I turned to the clerk, “How did you do that? Literally, it was almost like magic.”

She looked up and said, “I love my job.” 



I love my job. I…Love…My…Job!!!


That’s what she said. And I thought to myself that’s pretty cool, maybe I need to try for a job at Walmart.

But seriously, it’s not every day you hear someone say that. Lots of places I go people seem miserable in their jobs. You probably see these people too, dragging themselves along with a frown on their face. But not this Walmart cashier. She was going above and beyond. 



She went on to double bag all my cold items, rushed around to help load groceries into the cart, and even made a suggestion about a type of potato chips our family might like similar to the ones I bought. She wasn’t just doing her job. She was aiming for excellence.

What’s your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams? In everything you do, give it your very best. Do more than expected. Be generous in how you treat others. Be faithful in the small things, and you’ll have opportunities to do greater things. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Be the best version of you.

More than your talent, your education, or what’s happened in your life to this point, the thing that will determine your success and your future more than anything else is your attitude. Most people tend to see the negative. But did you know that in a study of the best characteristics of leaders, the number one thing people want in a leader is a positive attitude?

Not everything that happens to you will be positive. Life will knock you down. There’ll be obstacles, failures, and disappointments that come your way. When these things happen, get back up. You’ll be a stronger person. When (BHS cross country athlete) Kelie Henderson fell to the ground with the state championship right in front of her (she had a sizable lead at the time), just steps from the finish line, she didn’t quit. In the end, she didn’t win the race, but she showed she’s a winner. Her body shut down on her. But her spirit pushed through, and she crawled the last hundred yards to the finish line. And she inspired us all.

I know many of your stories. Some I do not, regretfully. But I know all of you have faced challenges. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning felt like a challenge. But you are overcomers. There will be difficulties. But in difficulties there are also opportunities. View your challenges as beneficial. I’ve learned nothing in my life from the easy days. The easy stuff teaches me nothing. But the difficulties, the hardships, and even the pain has taught me so much.

So I leave you with these final thoughts:

#1 Start With Questions – What is your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams?

#2 Aim for Excellence – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

#3 Lead Up – Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your success.

#4. Lift Up – Be generous with people. Give encouragement and understanding.

#5 Never Give Up – Your struggle will make you stronger. Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Never give up. It’s the Bolivar Way.

Class of 2018, I am very proud of you and your accomplishments and it’s been truly an honor to know you and be a part of your high school years. I wish you the best. I believe in you. God bless you all!





      

Read More Aiming for Excellence: Whatever You Do, Do It to the Best of Your Ability



We recently held commencement for the graduates of the Bolivar High School Class of 2018. I always like to provide a few words of encouragement for the graduates. The overall theme of my message this year was Aiming for Excellence.



__________________


Class of 2018, you’ve answered lots of questions in high school. But today I want to present you with a couple of different questions. These questions don’t have right or wrong answers, and you won’t be getting a grade. But how you answer these questions will impact the rest of your life: 


1. What’s your purpose? What is your purpose? Or another way of saying it, what is your dream? I believe every person has a specific purpose. There’s a dream in your heart to do something great. Find out what that is. You have a gift. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Find your purpose. Think deeply about this. 


And here’s another thing. Every day ask yourself this question:


2. What will I do today to move in the direction of my dreams? How will I carry out my purpose? Dreams without actions will always just be dreams, but if you put your dreams in motion and pursue them with passion, there’s nothing you can’t do. And you’ll leave the world a little better than you found it.

Aiming for Excellence



A couple of years ago, I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I was eager to get home after a long day, and the checkouts were backed up. You all can probably relate to that quick trip into Walmart. Never happens. I randomly picked a line since they were all busy. But this time I picked the right one. Before I knew it I was on my way home. That line moved so fast. It was clear the person working this checkout was doing a great job, not just putting in her time.

When it was almost my turn to checkout, I said to the customer in front of me, “Wow, she really knows how to make that line disappear.” The other customer smiled and agreed. I turned to the clerk, “How did you do that? Literally, it was almost like magic.”

She looked up and said, “I love my job.” 



I love my job. I…Love…My…Job!!!


That’s what she said. And I thought to myself that’s pretty cool, maybe I need to try for a job at Walmart.

But seriously, it’s not every day you hear someone say that. Lots of places I go people seem miserable in their jobs. You probably see these people too, dragging themselves along with a frown on their face. But not this Walmart cashier. She was going above and beyond. 



She went on to double bag all my cold items, rushed around to help load groceries into the cart, and even made a suggestion about a type of potato chips our family might like similar to the ones I bought. She wasn’t just doing her job. She was aiming for excellence.

What’s your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams? In everything you do, give it your very best. Do more than expected. Be generous in how you treat others. Be faithful in the small things, and you’ll have opportunities to do greater things. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Be the best version of you.

More than your talent, your education, or what’s happened in your life to this point, the thing that will determine your success and your future more than anything else is your attitude. Most people tend to see the negative. But did you know that in a study of the best characteristics of leaders, the number one thing people want in a leader is a positive attitude?

Not everything that happens to you will be positive. Life will knock you down. There’ll be obstacles, failures, and disappointments that come your way. When these things happen, get back up. You’ll be a stronger person. When (BHS cross country athlete) Kelie Henderson fell to the ground with the state championship right in front of her (she had a sizable lead at the time), just steps from the finish line, she didn’t quit. In the end, she didn’t win the race, but she showed she’s a winner. Her body shut down on her. But her spirit pushed through, and she crawled the last hundred yards to the finish line. And she inspired us all.

I know many of your stories. Some I do not, regretfully. But I know all of you have faced challenges. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning felt like a challenge. But you are overcomers. There will be difficulties. But in difficulties there are also opportunities. View your challenges as beneficial. I’ve learned nothing in my life from the easy days. The easy stuff teaches me nothing. But the difficulties, the hardships, and even the pain has taught me so much.

So I leave you with these final thoughts:

#1 Start With Questions – What is your purpose? What will you do today to move in the direction of your dreams?

#2 Aim for Excellence – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

#3 Lead Up – Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your success.

#4. Lift Up – Be generous with people. Give encouragement and understanding.

#5 Never Give Up – Your struggle will make you stronger. Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Never give up. It’s the Bolivar Way.

Class of 2018, I am very proud of you and your accomplishments and it’s been truly an honor to know you and be a part of your high school years. I wish you the best. I believe in you. God bless you all!





      

Read More Aiming for Excellence: Whatever You Do, Do It to the Best of Your Ability



Last night I watched the film, Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th U.S. President. It was great to finally see it. I’m kind of a history nerd, but for some reason I had never watched it before. It’s an incredible film covering the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day Lewis is outstanding in his portrayal of the president.



As I watched, I noticed several times how Lincoln used the word must as he considered the decisions and actions he would take as the leader of a bitterly divided nation. He was a courageous leader who stood firmly on principles in the face of incredible opposition and obstacles.



I reflected on the difficult decisions he made. I’m sure there were times he would rather have taken an easier path. He faced hardships and failure throughout his life, and he could’ve veered off course, retreated, or just settled for the status quo. He probably didn’t want to carry all of the heavy burdens of a Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. 



But he did carry those burdens and remained a steadfast leader. He stood firm. Because he felt a moral imperative. He felt he must



We are all faced with challenges as educators. We are often faced with choices about what we would rather do versus what we must do.



And while our decisions may not be described in history books, our work has great significance in the life of a child. We might be the best hope for some. We don’t always know what might hang in the balance. We don’t always know what difference we might make for this one child.



We usually have the opportunity to make the greatest difference when we choose must over rather.



I would rather not have that difficult conversation, but I must.



I would rather not have to learn something new, but I must.



I would rather not be creative today, but I must.



I would rather not call that parent, but I must.



I would rather not give that extra effort, but I must.



I would rather not be enthusiastic today, but I must.



I would rather not have to repair that relationship, but I must.



I would rather not consider another idea or perspective, but I must.



I would rather not give that kid a fresh start today, but I must.



I would rather not change my lesson, but I must.



I would rather not deal with new technology, but I must.



I would rather not overlook that offense, but I must.



Every day I see educators choosing must over rather. But we should always, always, always be asking, “What is best for kids?” 



In this situation, “Am I choosing must or rather?”



Do you ever struggle to choose must instead of rather? I think we all face that. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Power of Choosing ‘Must’ Instead of ‘Rather’



Last night I watched the film, Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th U.S. President. It was great to finally see it. I’m kind of a history nerd, but for some reason I had never watched it before. It’s an incredible film covering the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day Lewis is outstanding in his portrayal of the president.



As I watched, I noticed several times how Lincoln used the word must as he considered the decisions and actions he would take as the leader of a bitterly divided nation. He was a courageous leader who stood firmly on principles in the face of incredible opposition and obstacles.



I reflected on the difficult decisions he made. I’m sure there were times he would rather have taken an easier path. He faced hardships and failure throughout his life, and he could’ve veered off course, retreated, or just settled for the status quo. He probably didn’t want to carry all of the heavy burdens of a Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. 



But he did carry those burdens and remained a steadfast leader. He stood firm. Because he felt a moral imperative. He felt he must



We are all faced with challenges as educators. We are often faced with choices about what we would rather do versus what we must do.



And while our decisions may not be described in history books, our work has great significance in the life of a child. We might be the best hope for some. We don’t always know what might hang in the balance. We don’t always know what difference we might make for this one child.



We usually have the opportunity to make the greatest difference when we choose must over rather.



I would rather not have that difficult conversation, but I must.



I would rather not have to learn something new, but I must.



I would rather not be creative today, but I must.



I would rather not call that parent, but I must.



I would rather not give that extra effort, but I must.



I would rather not be enthusiastic today, but I must.



I would rather not have to repair that relationship, but I must.



I would rather not consider another idea or perspective, but I must.



I would rather not give that kid a fresh start today, but I must.



I would rather not change my lesson, but I must.



I would rather not deal with new technology, but I must.



I would rather not overlook that offense, but I must.



Every day I see educators choosing must over rather. But we should always, always, always be asking, “What is best for kids?” 



In this situation, “Am I choosing must or rather?”



Do you ever struggle to choose must instead of rather? I think we all face that. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Power of Choosing ‘Must’ Instead of ‘Rather’



We have a basic speech class that we require just about every student in our school to take. It’s not a graduation requirement, but our counselors include this semester class for all sophomores unless there is some compelling reason they just can’t fit it into their schedule.



We expect all students to take it because we know how important it is to develop good oral communication skills. The class includes public speaking components, but it also provides practice with interpersonal skills and interviewing. It’s essential stuff for life.



You’ve probably heard it stated that people fear public speaking more than death, in surveys at least. So inevitably, there are students who don’t want to take this course. And from time to time, I will here from parents who don’t want their child to take the course.



Jerry Seinfeld found the humor in just how much most people dread public speaking:

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

I get it. Public speaking can produce anxiety, dread, discomfort, apprehension, and more.



As a result, I always listen carefully to parent concerns and try to show empathy and understanding. It can be scary to stand in front of your peers and speak.



But I’m not easily persuaded to change our expectations about students taking this class. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to grow and develop all sorts of valuable skills.



So, my dialogue with parents asks them to consider what’s best for their child:



“I understand this class makes lots of students uncomfortable. But that can be a good thing because growth requires stepping out of comfort zones. We don’t grow stronger by doing what’s easy. When we face something hard and push through it, that makes us stronger. So I’m always asking myself as a parent, do I want my kids to be comfortable or do I want them to grow? And the answer, of course, is I want them to grow. Isn’t that what all parents want for their kids?”



And of course, parents do want their kids to grow, but for some reason, we’ve developed a desire in our culture to protect our kids from anything that is uncomfortable or difficult. It’s very common to see parents protecting their kids from anything that produces discomfort.



But we can’t have it both ways.



Growth demands stretching the limits and trying something new. Growth demands risk of failure. It requires some discomfort. So we need to invite kids to embrace the discomfort. And we need to invite parents to encourage discomfort and not rescue kids from the struggle.



So I will continue to share with everyone in our school my belief that we have to get uncomfortable if we want to be all we can be. We have to push past our fear and go for it.



Do you have tips for helping parents understand that it’s not a bad thing for their child to be uncomfortable? That productive struggle is a good thing? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More Do You Want Your Child to Grow or Do You Want Him to Be Comfortable?



We have a basic speech class that we require just about every student in our school to take. It’s not a graduation requirement, but our counselors include this semester class for all sophomores unless there is some compelling reason they just can’t fit it into their schedule.



We expect all students to take it because we know how important it is to develop good oral communication skills. The class includes public speaking components, but it also provides practice with interpersonal skills and interviewing. It’s essential stuff for life.



You’ve probably heard it stated that people fear public speaking more than death, in surveys at least. So inevitably, there are students who don’t want to take this course. And from time to time, I will here from parents who don’t want their child to take the course.



Jerry Seinfeld found the humor in just how much most people dread public speaking:

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

I get it. Public speaking can produce anxiety, dread, discomfort, apprehension, and more.



As a result, I always listen carefully to parent concerns and try to show empathy and understanding. It can be scary to stand in front of your peers and speak.



But I’m not easily persuaded to change our expectations about students taking this class. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to grow and develop all sorts of valuable skills.



So, my dialogue with parents asks them to consider what’s best for their child:



“I understand this class makes lots of students uncomfortable. But that can be a good thing because growth requires stepping out of comfort zones. We don’t grow stronger by doing what’s easy. When we face something hard and push through it, that makes us stronger. So I’m always asking myself as a parent, do I want my kids to be comfortable or do I want them to grow? And the answer, of course, is I want them to grow. Isn’t that what all parents want for their kids?”



And of course, parents do want their kids to grow, but for some reason, we’ve developed a desire in our culture to protect our kids from anything that is uncomfortable or difficult. It’s very common to see parents protecting their kids from anything that produces discomfort.



But we can’t have it both ways.



Growth demands stretching the limits and trying something new. Growth demands risk of failure. It requires some discomfort. So we need to invite kids to embrace the discomfort. And we need to invite parents to encourage discomfort and not rescue kids from the struggle.



So I will continue to share with everyone in our school my belief that we have to get uncomfortable if we want to be all we can be. We have to push past our fear and go for it.



Do you have tips for helping parents understand that it’s not a bad thing for their child to be uncomfortable? That productive struggle is a good thing? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More Do You Want Your Child to Grow or Do You Want Him to Be Comfortable?





I’m interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.



After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.



It’s not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don’t need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.



Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.



Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It’s all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.



1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.



Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.



2. Show acceptance even when you can’t show approval of the behavior.



Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don’t make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 



3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.


Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother’s best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, “You can do this! This is important. I believe in you.”


4. Value people over performance.


Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 



5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 


When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don’t react. Don’t try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.



If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.



Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students





I’m interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.



After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.



It’s not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don’t need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.



Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.



Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It’s all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.



1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.



Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.



2. Show acceptance even when you can’t show approval of the behavior.



Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don’t make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 



3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.


Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother’s best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, “You can do this! This is important. I believe in you.”


4. Value people over performance.


Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 



5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 


When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don’t react. Don’t try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.



If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.



Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students



In a previous post, I shared about the power of keystone habits. The ideas are based on the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business



So what are keystone habits? They are habits that seem to have a spill over effect. The changing of a keystone habit leads to changes in a person’s other habits too.



For instance, getting enough sleep might be a keystone habit. It could also result in improving other habits like better communication, more productivity, or avoiding late night snacking. The initial goal was just to get better sleep, but it can lead to improvements in other areas too.



One critically important keystone habit is willpower. In fact, it has been shown in research to be the most powerful habit of all.

In a 2005 study, for instance, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 164 eighth grade students, measuring their IQs and other factors, including how much willpower the students demonstrated, as measured by tests of their self-discipline. 

Students who exerted high levels of willpower were more likely to earn higher grades in their classes and gain admission into more selective schools. They had fewer absences and spent less time watching television and more hours on homework.

“Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable,” the researchers wrote.

“Self-discipline predicted predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the school year, whereas IQ did not… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”

Sounds a lot like grit and growth mindset to me. These have been very important topics in the education community. We see this every day. Kids with willpower habits do better. But I wonder how much success schools are having with teaching these skills? And should we be doing more?

Starbucks has an intensive training program to help employees develop the willpower to handle the moments they believe will make or break the company. It must be working because we all know how prolific Starbucks has become.



They focus their training on what employees will do when they hit rough patches. Each employee develops a plan for how they will deal with an angry customer, for instance. And there are opportunities for role playing. They want to develop automatic response loops that employees can rely on when faced with a problem.



So if the Starbucks employees encounter a certain situation, they automatically use the strategies they’ve learned and practiced.



I wonder what that would look like in the classroom? Sometimes, I think we simply tell students to work harder or to persevere, but we aren’t giving them tools they need to learn these skills. We aren’t teaching the behavior we want to see.



Sure, we may reinforce qualities like grit and willpower when we see them, and that’s a good technique, but could we be doing more to explicitly train students how to have willpower?



Based on the studies of willpower as a keystone habit, it seems like it should be one of our most important priorities. Most of your students who are struggling in your class have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. Part of that might be attributable to a lack of willpower. How can we disrupt that pattern? That’s something to think about.



I’m curious what curriculum or programs readers have been using to teach grit and willpower? For instance, I’ve heard some good things about Leader in Me, but I’ve also heard it’s expensive. I would like to find a more systematic way to teach these habits in our school. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter 

Read More Is It Possible To Teach Grit?



In a previous post, I shared about the power of keystone habits. The ideas are based on the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business



So what are keystone habits? They are habits that seem to have a spill over effect. The changing of a keystone habit leads to changes in a person’s other habits too.



For instance, getting enough sleep might be a keystone habit. It could also result in improving other habits like better communication, more productivity, or avoiding late night snacking. The initial goal was just to get better sleep, but it can lead to improvements in other areas too.



One critically important keystone habit is willpower. In fact, it has been shown in research to be the most powerful habit of all.

In a 2005 study, for instance, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 164 eighth grade students, measuring their IQs and other factors, including how much willpower the students demonstrated, as measured by tests of their self-discipline. 

Students who exerted high levels of willpower were more likely to earn higher grades in their classes and gain admission into more selective schools. They had fewer absences and spent less time watching television and more hours on homework.

“Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable,” the researchers wrote.

“Self-discipline predicted predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the school year, whereas IQ did not… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”

Sounds a lot like grit and growth mindset to me. These have been very important topics in the education community. We see this every day. Kids with willpower habits do better. But I wonder how much success schools are having with teaching these skills? And should we be doing more?

Starbucks has an intensive training program to help employees develop the willpower to handle the moments they believe will make or break the company. It must be working because we all know how prolific Starbucks has become.



They focus their training on what employees will do when they hit rough patches. Each employee develops a plan for how they will deal with an angry customer, for instance. And there are opportunities for role playing. They want to develop automatic response loops that employees can rely on when faced with a problem.



So if the Starbucks employees encounter a certain situation, they automatically use the strategies they’ve learned and practiced.



I wonder what that would look like in the classroom? Sometimes, I think we simply tell students to work harder or to persevere, but we aren’t giving them tools they need to learn these skills. We aren’t teaching the behavior we want to see.



Sure, we may reinforce qualities like grit and willpower when we see them, and that’s a good technique, but could we be doing more to explicitly train students how to have willpower?



Based on the studies of willpower as a keystone habit, it seems like it should be one of our most important priorities. Most of your students who are struggling in your class have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. Part of that might be attributable to a lack of willpower. How can we disrupt that pattern? That’s something to think about.



I’m curious what curriculum or programs readers have been using to teach grit and willpower? For instance, I’ve heard some good things about Leader in Me, but I’ve also heard it’s expensive. I would like to find a more systematic way to teach these habits in our school. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter 

Read More Is It Possible To Teach Grit?



A teacher at one of our elementary schools shared this recently. She was talking about how she encourages her students to persist in the face of difficulties.



Instead of saying something that makes a wrong answer seem like a curse or worse, she encourages the process. She says to students with curiosity and wonder, “Oh, that’s my favorite mistake!”



Students are then able to view problem-solving as something that is not just about getting a right answer. It’s about having thinking that perseveres. It’s about staying with the problem longer.



Thomas Edison failed over and again in trying to invent the incandescent light bulb. He documented 1,000 failed attempts before he was successful. When a reported asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” 



Our district has adopted new math curriculum, and it’s challenging. But kids are rising to the occasion. And a big reason it’s successful is the focus on the process and the greatness of teachers to promote perseverance and model growth-mindset thinking.



Here are five questions to ask your students to help them reflect on their own mindset. The questions might need some unpacking for younger students. But I think all kids can think about these ideas.



1. When I start to feel like quitting, what will I do in that moment to persevere?



This might be the most powerful question on the list. When people decide exactly how they will respond to a difficulty in advance, they are far more likely to push through in the face of the challenge.



2. What are my thoughts telling me about how successful I might be at learning this skill? If these thoughts are limiting to me, how might I think differently?



Lots of kids are thinking thoughts that are self-limiting. “I’m not good at math” for instance. It’s helpful to think of phrases that are filled with belief and resourcefulness to replace the negative thinking. Teachers can help students find the words for this.



3. What am I saying or doing to myself that is holding me back?



There are many things that can undermine a growth mindset. Excuses, justifications, worries, perfectionist thinking, thought patterns, past failures, etc. It’s important to recognize what unhelpful beliefs students need to overcome.



4. What would I want my teacher to say to me when he/she sees me taking a risk, trying hard, or pushing through mistakes to pursue this goal?



This question is helping to shift the perspective to expecting success. When I try hard, good things happen. My teacher will say this to me, and that feels good.



5. Imagine how you will feel when you accomplish something that is really challenging. Describe that feeling. 



Again, this one is beginning with the end in mind. Getting a picture of success is so important. Humans are the only creatures on the planet with imagination. We can experience the whole range of emotions through our minds. Visualization is extremely valuable. It teaches the brain to expect success.



When gymnast Mary Lou Retton won her first gold medal, a reporter asked her, “How does it feel to win gold?” 



She replied, “Just like it’s always felt.”



“But this is your first gold medal?” said the puzzled reporter.



“Yes, I know. But I’ve experienced this moment thousands of times in my mind,” she explained.



The power of belief cannot be understated.



What do you think about these questions? Do you have suggestions for other questions that might be helpful for students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Reflective Questions to Encourage a Growth Mindset