Tag: perseverance



What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can’t afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 



In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.



Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don’t yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.


LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It’s easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.


Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being ‘future-ready’ goes beyond just ‘college/career’ readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 



Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we’ve had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.



While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It’s the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.





The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.


1. Problem-Solving



It’s not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.


2. Creativity 



The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it’s not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.


3. Communication Skills



Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 


4. Taking Risks



Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn’t hold them back.



5. Continuous Growth



It’s not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.


6. Recognizing Opportunities



Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don’t wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.


7. Building Networks



Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.


8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other’s backs.



9. Leveraging Resources



An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 


10. Managing Change



Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won’t deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it’s possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 



11. Interpersonal Skills


Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.



12. Embracing Diversity



Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 



13. Life Mission/Purpose


When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.



14. Sharing Knowledge



Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.


15. Perseverance



Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.



Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future



What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can’t afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 



In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.



Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don’t yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.


LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It’s easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.


Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being ‘future-ready’ goes beyond just ‘college/career’ readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 



Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we’ve had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.



While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It’s the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.





The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.


1. Problem-Solving



It’s not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.


2. Creativity 



The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it’s not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.


3. Communication Skills



Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 


4. Taking Risks



Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn’t hold them back.



5. Continuous Growth



It’s not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.


6. Recognizing Opportunities



Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don’t wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.


7. Building Networks



Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.


8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other’s backs.



9. Leveraging Resources



An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 


10. Managing Change



Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won’t deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it’s possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 



11. Interpersonal Skills


Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.



12. Embracing Diversity



Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 



13. Life Mission/Purpose


When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.



14. Sharing Knowledge



Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.


15. Perseverance



Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.



Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn





Like many educators, I’m excited about the discussion of innovation in schools. It’s great to think about how education is changing to meet the needs of today’s learners. I am convinced that we can solve any problem that comes our way if we are committed to better thinking. Innovation starts with understanding a current reality, and then developing and implementing ideas that have the potential to create positive change. 



Here are 7 strategies educators can use to think like an innovator.



1. Practice Creative Thinking


Creative thinking is closely tied to innovation. When I think of invention or innovation, I think of creativity. Some seem to think creativity is an elusive, inborn trait. They throw up their hands, “Well I’m just not very creative.” But I believe creativity is really more about being willing to take a risk, to try something new, to make mistakes, and to try again. Thomas Edison is perhaps the greatest inventor in history, holding 1,093 patents. His inventions changed the world. But Edison recognized that his ability to create was a result of his perseverance. He just never gave up on ideas. He would come at it another way until he found something that worked.
Image Retrieved: http://thinkjarcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/edison-on-failure.jpg
2. Embrace Reflective Thinking


Reflective thinking is so important to learning and growing. Through careful observation you can better understand the current reality and build on it through reflection. Reflection is revisiting the past to gain clarity and understanding. Innovation is not just following the latest fads in education. It is considering the current way, how it might improve, and reflecting on how new ideas might benefit your school. You can gain perspective and learn from the mistakes of the past by reflecting.


Image Retrieved: http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-we-do-not-learn-from-experience-we-learn-from-reflecting-on-experience-john-dewey-49-76-08.jpg


3. Develop Strategic Thinking



Innovation may seem lofty and idealistic but it still involves strategy and planning. Strategy helps to give you direction for today and for the future. It helps you think about where you’re headed, what you will need to get there, and how long it will take. Innovation without strategic thinking won’t go anywhere. You might have innovative ideas, but you will need planning and action to move them forward. As Henry Ford said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into smaller parts.”



4. Engage in Collaborative Thinking



If you want to develop the best ideas, you should test your thoughts with the best thinkers you know. Isolation rarely results in better ideas. Most often, a good idea becomes a great one when you receive feedback from others, even from those who may have completely different thoughts from your own. A high-performing, collaborative team can achieve compounding results from testing ideas and building on one another’s collective genius. Collaboration can be a powerful accelerator of innovation.




Image Retrieved: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/fa/aa/c4/faaac4599981da5f8d0cd1a58661146b.jpg

5. Activate Big Picture Thinking


Big picture thinking has no limitations. All of the assumptions about the problem are set aside. Big picture thinking is daring to dream. It’s getting cozy with ambiguity. It often involves thinking about ideas that might seem unrelated and applying what is known to new contexts. For instance, in a previous post, I considered the question, What if schools were more like Google and Starbucks? In a sense, I was thinking big, beyond the normal ways we think about education. Is it possible to apply some of the principles of today’s leading companies to our work in schools? Big picture thinking goes far beyond what is commonplace.




https://abdirizakmohamed.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/quote-what-the-mind-of-man-can-conceive-and-believe-it-can-achieve-napoleon-hill-85184.jpg



6. Believe in Possibility Thinking



Possibility thinkers believe that even the most difficult problems can be solved. The focus is not on why something can’t be done; instead, possibility thinking asks why not? One of surest ways to stifle a great idea is to start thinking too quickly about how it can be done. We should start with why it should be done, and then enlist possibility thinkers to figure out how to make it happen. 



A great example of possibility thinking was conveyed in the recent movie The Martian. Matt Damon plays an astronaut mistakenly presumed dead and left behind on Mars. Survival on Mars is not an easy thing and chances of rescue are slim. It will be four years before the next mission arrives. Damon’s character does not give up however. He begins to look for possibilities to gain hope for survival. He says you have to solve one problem, and then the next problem, and then the next. And “if you solve enough problems, you get to go home.” Ultimately, possibility thinking on his part, and on the part of others, results in his unlikely rescue.

7. Don’t Neglect Purposeful Thinking



Some innovations almost happen by accident. By implementing innovative thinking, new ideas may result in unexpected findings. For example, Post-It Notes were invented at 3M when a new adhesive wasn’t all that sticky and was initially considered useless. But when someone had the idea to apply the new formula to a different kind of notepad, a new office staple was born, almost by accident. 



But many innovations are not this random. More purposeful thinking can be very helpful in schools. What outcomes do you want for students? Begin with the end in mind. Do you want to engage learners, improve student ownership, develop critical thinking, or increase understanding? Do you want better readers and writers? Then be purposeful to try new ideas that have the potential to improve these outcomes. Purposeful innovation turns ideas into results. Our activities and goals are consistent with the results we want to achieve.



Question: How are you thinking like an innovator? What are ways you challenge the thinking of others? I would like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Strategies to Think Like An Innovator





Like many educators, I’m excited about the discussion of innovation in schools. It’s great to think about how education is changing to meet the needs of today’s learners. I am convinced that we can solve any problem that comes our way if we are committed to better thinking. Innovation starts with understanding a current reality, and then developing and implementing ideas that have the potential to create positive change. 



Here are 7 strategies educators can use to think like an innovator.



1. Practice Creative Thinking


Creative thinking is closely tied to innovation. When I think of invention or innovation, I think of creativity. Some seem to think creativity is an elusive, inborn trait. They throw up their hands, “Well I’m just not very creative.” But I believe creativity is really more about being willing to take a risk, to try something new, to make mistakes, and to try again. Thomas Edison is perhaps the greatest inventor in history, holding 1,093 patents. His inventions changed the world. But Edison recognized that his ability to create was a result of his perseverance. He just never gave up on ideas. He would come at it another way until he found something that worked.
Image Retrieved: http://thinkjarcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/edison-on-failure.jpg
2. Embrace Reflective Thinking


Reflective thinking is so important to learning and growing. Through careful observation you can better understand the current reality and build on it through reflection. Reflection is revisiting the past to gain clarity and understanding. Innovation is not just following the latest fads in education. It is considering the current way, how it might improve, and reflecting on how new ideas might benefit your school. You can gain perspective and learn from the mistakes of the past by reflecting.


Image Retrieved: http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-we-do-not-learn-from-experience-we-learn-from-reflecting-on-experience-john-dewey-49-76-08.jpg


3. Develop Strategic Thinking



Innovation may seem lofty and idealistic but it still involves strategy and planning. Strategy helps to give you direction for today and for the future. It helps you think about where you’re headed, what you will need to get there, and how long it will take. Innovation without strategic thinking won’t go anywhere. You might have innovative ideas, but you will need planning and action to move them forward. As Henry Ford said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into smaller parts.”



4. Engage in Collaborative Thinking



If you want to develop the best ideas, you should test your thoughts with the best thinkers you know. Isolation rarely results in better ideas. Most often, a good idea becomes a great one when you receive feedback from others, even from those who may have completely different thoughts from your own. A high-performing, collaborative team can achieve compounding results from testing ideas and building on one another’s collective genius. Collaboration can be a powerful accelerator of innovation.




Image Retrieved: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/fa/aa/c4/faaac4599981da5f8d0cd1a58661146b.jpg

5. Activate Big Picture Thinking


Big picture thinking has no limitations. All of the assumptions about the problem are set aside. Big picture thinking is daring to dream. It’s getting cozy with ambiguity. It often involves thinking about ideas that might seem unrelated and applying what is known to new contexts. For instance, in a previous post, I considered the question, What if schools were more like Google and Starbucks? In a sense, I was thinking big, beyond the normal ways we think about education. Is it possible to apply some of the principles of today’s leading companies to our work in schools? Big picture thinking goes far beyond what is commonplace.




https://abdirizakmohamed.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/quote-what-the-mind-of-man-can-conceive-and-believe-it-can-achieve-napoleon-hill-85184.jpg



6. Believe in Possibility Thinking



Possibility thinkers believe that even the most difficult problems can be solved. The focus is not on why something can’t be done; instead, possibility thinking asks why not? One of surest ways to stifle a great idea is to start thinking too quickly about how it can be done. We should start with why it should be done, and then enlist possibility thinkers to figure out how to make it happen. 



A great example of possibility thinking was conveyed in the recent movie The Martian. Matt Damon plays an astronaut mistakenly presumed dead and left behind on Mars. Survival on Mars is not an easy thing and chances of rescue are slim. It will be four years before the next mission arrives. Damon’s character does not give up however. He begins to look for possibilities to gain hope for survival. He says you have to solve one problem, and then the next problem, and then the next. And “if you solve enough problems, you get to go home.” Ultimately, possibility thinking on his part, and on the part of others, results in his unlikely rescue.

7. Don’t Neglect Purposeful Thinking



Some innovations almost happen by accident. By implementing innovative thinking, new ideas may result in unexpected findings. For example, Post-It Notes were invented at 3M when a new adhesive wasn’t all that sticky and was initially considered useless. But when someone had the idea to apply the new formula to a different kind of notepad, a new office staple was born, almost by accident. 



But many innovations are not this random. More purposeful thinking can be very helpful in schools. What outcomes do you want for students? Begin with the end in mind. Do you want to engage learners, improve student ownership, develop critical thinking, or increase understanding? Do you want better readers and writers? Then be purposeful to try new ideas that have the potential to improve these outcomes. Purposeful innovation turns ideas into results. Our activities and goals are consistent with the results we want to achieve.



Question: How are you thinking like an innovator? What are ways you challenge the thinking of others? I would like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Strategies to Think Like An Innovator

The Apollo 13 mission is one of my favorite stories of endurance.

Image Source: AlanBeanGallery.com
Image Source: AlanBeanGallery.com

On April 11, 1970 when Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise set off for their mission to the moon at speeds equivalent to 20,000 mph, they had entered a realm of record-breaking proportions.

When they were approximately 205,000 miles away from Earth, an oxygen tank exploded, and their mission to moon was immediately transformed to one of survival. Read More Remembering Apollo 13: Overcoming the Insurmountable