Tag: productivity

I recently finished reading Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool.

One of the things in the book that was interesting to me was related to the impact of experience on performance. In 2005, Harvard Medic…

Read More Experience Alone Is Not Enough

Growth requires change. And it also requires doing some things that aren’t comfortable. We all have thought-patterns and beliefs that contribute to our progress or lack of progress. That’s why it’s so important to challenge any beliefs that might be …

Read More 3 Ideas You Must Reject If You Want to Grow



Here’s a reflective question to ask yourself when you’re making decisions about your priorities:



What would happen if you weren’t successful on this one thing?



What would be the ramifications? What would be the price to pay? What would be the cost if this thing did not happen? What would happen if success in this area isn’t made a priority? What would we stand to lose? How would it impact the student, the community, or the world? 



Some things are absolutely essential and some things are nice to see happen and some things really aren’t that important at all. Life’s all about priorities. But how often do we just go with the priorities of what’s been done in the past? 



How often do we accept the priorities of others without even considering if they are best for kids? How often do we push back against the priorities of the status quo because we know we can do better?



There isn’t enough time, energy, or resources to make everything a priority. We have to make good choices about what’s most important and how to apply our energy and effort. We have to establish the priorities that make the biggest difference.



Here are a few examples of my thinking as I work through this thought experiment…



1. What would happen if I didn’t develop the strongest relationships possible with my students?



I would risk losing the learner entirely. They might just check out and not follow my lead on anything. There’s greater chance of behavior problems, attitude problems, parent problems, and more. If the relationship is toxic, nothing I do will be good enough, interesting enough, or important enough. It’s impossible to have extraordinary learning experiences with mediocre relationships.



2. What would happen if students dreaded coming to our school or my classroom every day?



If students hate school, we know they’re going to be disengaged, distracted, and probably agitated. None of those are good conditions for learning. We can wish they would change and magically love school. Or we can change the school and find ways to reduce the friction. What if we made it harder for kids to hate school? What if we created a place where kids who hate (traditional) school love to learn?



3. What would happen if students didn’t get chances to lead and make decisions in this school?



If they don’t have chances to lead and make decisions now, they won’t be ready to lead and make decisions later. They won’t have opportunities to practice and they won’t be primed for leadership and decision making beyond school. Kids need practice leading and making decisions about their learning. They need agency just as much, if not more, than they need achievement. If I simply learn, I will probably forget. But if I have a strong enough learning identity, there is nothing I can’t learn eventually.



4. What would happen if students didn’t master every standard in this school?



They might not score as well as others on standardized tests. They might have some gaps in their learning. They might have to learn some things down the road if they’re faced with situations where they aren’t fully prepared. But is that really the worst thing? Is standards mastery the key to future success? I don’t think it is.



5. What would happen if students didn’t learn soft skills or develop good character in this school?



I’ll answer this question with another question. Would you prefer to have a neighbor that is a caring person or one who has outstanding academic skills? Of course, having both would be great. If you needed help with some complex math problems, they’d be able to help you and care enough about you to be willing to help you. But if you had to make a choice? I’m picking soft skills and character every time.



So what other questions might you ask to test your priorities and your school’s priorities? If we didn’t do this thing, what would happen? Pour your energy into the things that you know count the most. We get most of our results out of a small portion of our effort. We accomplish 80% of our results with just 20% of our effort. The rest of our effort is lost compared to that 20%. If we can learn to apply effort more efficiently, our overall capacity would greatly increase.



Let me know what you think about this thought experiment. Is what you’re doing today moving your students closer to what you want for them tomorrow? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More What Would Happen If You Weren’t Successful On This Thing?



Teaching is a challenging and exhausting profession. No one can understand what it’s like until you’ve experienced it. You make untold numbers of decisions every day. You work with kids who have all sorts of unique and sometimes unrelenting needs. 



The pressure is real. Sometimes it feels like you’re just treading water and then someone hands you a concrete block. So you better be a great swimmer! Ha.



I hear lots of ideas about educators dealing with stress. You need to make time for yourself. You need to recharge in the summer and on weekends. You need to have a healthy work/life balance. All of those things are probably true.



But for me, the biggest thing that helps me stay positive, productive, and energized is daily renewal. And that comes in the form of my morning routine and my mental approach throughout the day. I’m renewing in the morning and then I’m renewing by disciplining my thoughts throughout the day.



For the past couple of months, I’ve really focused on my making my mornings more effective. I’ve always tried to have a routine in the morning, but last school year at times I wasn’t as diligent. And I could definitely tell a difference.



More recently, I’m making my mornings count, and everything I’m doing seems to be working better. I feel more effective. I have more energy. My relationships are stronger. I’m more patient. More productive. More focused. More determined. I feel stronger overall.



So here’s what I’m doing differently. I don’t do every single one of these things every morning, but I do several of them each day. Being able to pick and choose gives my routine some variety. The routine can take me an hour or more, but there have been mornings I needed to get to school early, and I’ve done an abbreviated version in 10 minutes.



1. Smile



Start the day by finding something to smile about. Choose to smile. Research has shown the physical act of smiling has benefits for stress recovery, improved mood, and creativity. (Time: 30 seconds)



2. Breathe



I’m using a meditation app to work on focused breathing and meditation. There are several smartphone apps available, and I’ve tried a couple of them. Practicing mindfulness is great for increased focus, reduced anxiety, and improved cognition. (Time: 3-5 minutes)

3. Be Grateful



Gratitude is powerful for feeling better, having more energy, and training your brain to look for good things. I follow the advice of author MK Mueller. Be grateful for three things that have happened in the last 24 hours with no repeats ever. It’s great to share your gratitude with someone or journal about it. (Time: 3-5 minutes)



4. Move



This one I’m including every day in my routine. I do something to be physically active each morning. It might be running several miles. Or, it might be a two-minute plank and that’s all. But I’m getting some type of exercise in my routine every morning. (Time: 2 minutes-1 hour)



5. Envision



Almost all great athletes use mental imagery to gain an edge. When you imagine exactly how you want a situation, interaction, event, or performance to go, it creates a mental model for success. It sets the stage for success. I spend a few moments each morning thinking about desired outcomes. I think about these things as if the outcome has already been established, as if they are already true. I think it until I feel it. (Time 2-5 minutes) 



6. Affirm



This practice is similar to envisioning except it is focused on self more than situation. So I’m thinking about characteristics I’m developing in myself as if they are already present at the desired level. I tell myself the things that I value and that I want to become. It helps clarify my values and focuses my growth. (Time 2-5 minutes)



7. Read



Like movement and exercise, I also make reading part of every morning. I keep a list of books to read and have several people in my life who share book suggestions with me. I also try to read blog posts and, of course, Twitter posts from my PLN. I can’t imagine not making reading a habit in my life. The things I continually learn add so much value to who I am and what I am striving to accomplish in life. (Time 15-45 minutes)



8. Reflect



I often think back over recent events during my morning routine. I think about decisions or interactions and what I can learn from them. What’s working? What’s not working? I’m careful not to beat myself up if something didn’t go well. I simply consider what I could do better next time and keep my focus on the future. If I can’t do something to improve myself or the situation, then I’m not going to continue thinking about it. Worry and regret is disempowering. I want to spend my time thinking in empowered ways. (Time 2-5 minutes)



9. Pray



If you’re not a person of faith, you may choose to skip right over this one. I don’t want to push my faith on anyone. I realize a person’s beliefs about God are…well, deeply personal. But I must share this part of my morning, because for me, spending time in prayer is the most valuable part of my daily routine. I have a list of things I pray about each morning. They are things that are very important to me. I must also share that my prayer life often intersects with each of the other parts of my routine. My whole morning routine is basically my focused time with God. So I’m often praying while I’m exercising or reflecting. I want to start my day by meeting with God, so I’m more effective as I meet with people throughout the day. (Time 5-10 minutes)



I realize this seems like a long list of things to do, especially if you don’t like getting up early in the morning. Keep in mind I don’t do all of these every day. And the amount of time I spend on each one varies also. 



If you want to reduce stress, have more energy, and increase your effectiveness, I highly recommend developing your morning routine. How you spend the first hour of your day will have a big impact on how the rest of your day goes. Make it count.



What are some of your morning routines? Are you intentional about daily renewal? What are your thoughts about reducing stress and increasing your effectiveness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Daily Renewal for Educators



Teaching is a challenging and exhausting profession. No one can understand what it’s like until you’ve experienced it. You make untold numbers of decisions every day. You work with kids who have all sorts of unique and sometimes unrelenting needs. 



The pressure is real. Sometimes it feels like you’re just treading water and then someone hands you a concrete block. So you better be a great swimmer! Ha.



I hear lots of ideas about educators dealing with stress. You need to make time for yourself. You need to recharge in the summer and on weekends. You need to have a healthy work/life balance. All of those things are probably true.



But for me, the biggest thing that helps me stay positive, productive, and energized is daily renewal. And that comes in the form of my morning routine and my mental approach throughout the day. I’m renewing in the morning and then I’m renewing by disciplining my thoughts throughout the day.



For the past couple of months, I’ve really focused on my making my mornings more effective. I’ve always tried to have a routine in the morning, but last school year at times I wasn’t as diligent. And I could definitely tell a difference.



More recently, I’m making my mornings count, and everything I’m doing seems to be working better. I feel more effective. I have more energy. My relationships are stronger. I’m more patient. More productive. More focused. More determined. I feel stronger overall.



So here’s what I’m doing differently. I don’t do every single one of these things every morning, but I do several of them each day. Being able to pick and choose gives my routine some variety. The routine can take me an hour or more, but there have been mornings I needed to get to school early, and I’ve done an abbreviated version in 10 minutes.



1. Smile



Start the day by finding something to smile about. Choose to smile. Research has shown the physical act of smiling has benefits for stress recovery, improved mood, and creativity. (Time: 30 seconds)



2. Breathe



I’m using a meditation app to work on focused breathing and meditation. There are several smartphone apps available, and I’ve tried a couple of them. Practicing mindfulness is great for increased focus, reduced anxiety, and improved cognition. (Time: 3-5 minutes)

3. Be Grateful



Gratitude is powerful for feeling better, having more energy, and training your brain to look for good things. I follow the advice of author MK Mueller. Be grateful for three things that have happened in the last 24 hours with no repeats ever. It’s great to share your gratitude with someone or journal about it. (Time: 3-5 minutes)



4. Move



This one I’m including every day in my routine. I do something to be physically active each morning. It might be running several miles. Or, it might be a two-minute plank and that’s all. But I’m getting some type of exercise in my routine every morning. (Time: 2 minutes-1 hour)



5. Envision



Almost all great athletes use mental imagery to gain an edge. When you imagine exactly how you want a situation, interaction, event, or performance to go, it creates a mental model for success. It sets the stage for success. I spend a few moments each morning thinking about desired outcomes. I think about these things as if the outcome has already been established, as if they are already true. I think it until I feel it. (Time 2-5 minutes) 



6. Affirm



This practice is similar to envisioning except it is focused on self more than situation. So I’m thinking about characteristics I’m developing in myself as if they are already present at the desired level. I tell myself the things that I value and that I want to become. It helps clarify my values and focuses my growth. (Time 2-5 minutes)



7. Read



Like movement and exercise, I also make reading part of every morning. I keep a list of books to read and have several people in my life who share book suggestions with me. I also try to read blog posts and, of course, Twitter posts from my PLN. I can’t imagine not making reading a habit in my life. The things I continually learn add so much value to who I am and what I am striving to accomplish in life. (Time 15-45 minutes)



8. Reflect



I often think back over recent events during my morning routine. I think about decisions or interactions and what I can learn from them. What’s working? What’s not working? I’m careful not to beat myself up if something didn’t go well. I simply consider what I could do better next time and keep my focus on the future. If I can’t do something to improve myself or the situation, then I’m not going to continue thinking about it. Worry and regret is disempowering. I want to spend my time thinking in empowered ways. (Time 2-5 minutes)



9. Pray



If you’re not a person of faith, you may choose to skip right over this one. I don’t want to push my faith on anyone. I realize a person’s beliefs about God are…well, deeply personal. But I must share this part of my morning, because for me, spending time in prayer is the most valuable part of my daily routine. I have a list of things I pray about each morning. They are things that are very important to me. I must also share that my prayer life often intersects with each of the other parts of my routine. My whole morning routine is basically my focused time with God. So I’m often praying while I’m exercising or reflecting. I want to start my day by meeting with God, so I’m more effective as I meet with people throughout the day. (Time 5-10 minutes)



I realize this seems like a long list of things to do, especially if you don’t like getting up early in the morning. Keep in mind I don’t do all of these every day. And the amount of time I spend on each one varies also. 



If you want to reduce stress, have more energy, and increase your effectiveness, I highly recommend developing your morning routine. How you spend the first hour of your day will have a big impact on how the rest of your day goes. Make it count.



What are some of your morning routines? Are you intentional about daily renewal? What are your thoughts about reducing stress and increasing your effectiveness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Daily Renewal for Educators



Teaching is a challenging and exhausting profession. No one can understand what it’s like until you’ve experienced it. You make untold numbers of decisions every day. You work with kids who have all sorts of unique and sometimes unrelenting needs. 



The pressure is real. Sometimes it feels like you’re just treading water and then someone hands you a concrete block. So you better be a great swimmer! Ha.



I hear lots of ideas about educators dealing with stress. You need to make time for yourself. You need to recharge in the summer and on weekends. You need to have a healthy work/life balance. All of those things are probably true.



But for me, the biggest thing that helps me stay positive, productive, and energized is daily renewal. And that comes in the form of my morning routine and my mental approach throughout the day. I’m renewing in the morning and then I’m renewing by disciplining my thoughts throughout the day.



For the past couple of months, I’ve really focused on my making my mornings more effective. I’ve always tried to have a routine in the morning, but last school year at times I wasn’t as diligent. And I could definitely tell a difference.



More recently, I’m making my mornings count, and everything I’m doing seems to be working better. I feel more effective. I have more energy. My relationships are stronger. I’m more patient. More productive. More focused. More determined. I feel stronger overall.



So here’s what I’m doing differently. I don’t do every single one of these things every morning, but I do several of them each day. Being able to pick and choose gives my routine some variety. The routine can take me an hour or more, but there have been mornings I needed to get to school early, and I’ve done an abbreviated version in 10 minutes.



1. Smile



Start the day by finding something to smile about. Choose to smile. Research has shown the physical act of smiling has benefits for stress recovery, improved mood, and creativity. (Time: 30 seconds)



2. Breathe



I’m using a meditation app to work on focused breathing and meditation. There are several smartphone apps available, and I’ve tried a couple of them. Practicing mindfulness is great for increased focus, reduced anxiety, and improved cognition. (Time: 3-5 minutes)

3. Be Grateful



Gratitude is powerful for feeling better, having more energy, and training your brain to look for good things. I follow the advice of author MK Mueller. Be grateful for three things that have happened in the last 24 hours with no repeats ever. It’s great to share your gratitude with someone or journal about it. (Time: 3-5 minutes)



4. Move



This one I’m including every day in my routine. I do something to be physically active each morning. It might be running several miles. Or, it might be a two-minute plank and that’s all. But I’m getting some type of exercise in my routine every morning. (Time: 2 minutes-1 hour)



5. Envision



Almost all great athletes use mental imagery to gain an edge. When you imagine exactly how you want a situation, interaction, event, or performance to go, it creates a mental model for success. It sets the stage for success. I spend a few moments each morning thinking about desired outcomes. I think about these things as if the outcome has already been established, as if they are already true. I think it until I feel it. (Time 2-5 minutes) 



6. Affirm



This practice is similar to envisioning except it is focused on self more than situation. So I’m thinking about characteristics I’m developing in myself as if they are already present at the desired level. I tell myself the things that I value and that I want to become. It helps clarify my values and focuses my growth. (Time 2-5 minutes)



7. Read



Like movement and exercise, I also make reading part of every morning. I keep a list of books to read and have several people in my life who share book suggestions with me. I also try to read blog posts and, of course, Twitter posts from my PLN. I can’t imagine not making reading a habit in my life. The things I continually learn add so much value to who I am and what I am striving to accomplish in life. (Time 15-45 minutes)



8. Reflect



I often think back over recent events during my morning routine. I think about decisions or interactions and what I can learn from them. What’s working? What’s not working? I’m careful not to beat myself up if something didn’t go well. I simply consider what I could do better next time and keep my focus on the future. If I can’t do something to improve myself or the situation, then I’m not going to continue thinking about it. Worry and regret is disempowering. I want to spend my time thinking in empowered ways. (Time 2-5 minutes)



9. Pray



If you’re not a person of faith, you may choose to skip right over this one. I don’t want to push my faith on anyone. I realize a person’s beliefs about God are…well, deeply personal. But I must share this part of my morning, because for me, spending time in prayer is the most valuable part of my daily routine. I have a list of things I pray about each morning. They are things that are very important to me. I must also share that my prayer life often intersects with each of the other parts of my routine. My whole morning routine is basically my focused time with God. So I’m often praying while I’m exercising or reflecting. I want to start my day by meeting with God, so I’m more effective as I meet with people throughout the day. (Time 5-10 minutes)



I realize this seems like a long list of things to do, especially if you don’t like getting up early in the morning. Keep in mind I don’t do all of these every day. And the amount of time I spend on each one varies also. 



If you want to reduce stress, have more energy, and increase your effectiveness, I highly recommend developing your morning routine. How you spend the first hour of your day will have a big impact on how the rest of your day goes. Make it count.



What are some of your morning routines? Are you intentional about daily renewal? What are your thoughts about reducing stress and increasing your effectiveness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Daily Renewal for Educators



Teaching is a challenging and exhausting profession. No one can understand what it’s like until you’ve experienced it. You make untold numbers of decisions every day. You work with kids who have all sorts of unique and sometimes unrelenting needs. 



The pressure is real. Sometimes it feels like you’re just treading water and then someone hands you a concrete block. So you better be a great swimmer! Ha.



I hear lots of ideas about educators dealing with stress. You need to make time for yourself. You need to recharge in the summer and on weekends. You need to have a healthy work/life balance. All of those things are probably true.



But for me, the biggest thing that helps me stay positive, productive, and energized is daily renewal. And that comes in the form of my morning routine and my mental approach throughout the day. I’m renewing in the morning and then I’m renewing by disciplining my thoughts throughout the day.



For the past couple of months, I’ve really focused on my making my mornings more effective. I’ve always tried to have a routine in the morning, but last school year at times I wasn’t as diligent. And I could definitely tell a difference.



More recently, I’m making my mornings count, and everything I’m doing seems to be working better. I feel more effective. I have more energy. My relationships are stronger. I’m more patient. More productive. More focused. More determined. I feel stronger overall.



So here’s what I’m doing differently. I don’t do every single one of these things every morning, but I do several of them each day. Being able to pick and choose gives my routine some variety. The routine can take me an hour or more, but there have been mornings I needed to get to school early, and I’ve done an abbreviated version in 10 minutes.



1. Smile



Start the day by finding something to smile about. Choose to smile. Research has shown the physical act of smiling has benefits for stress recovery, improved mood, and creativity. (Time: 30 seconds)



2. Breathe



I’m using a meditation app to work on focused breathing and meditation. There are several smartphone apps available, and I’ve tried a couple of them. Practicing mindfulness is great for increased focus, reduced anxiety, and improved cognition. (Time: 3-5 minutes)

3. Be Grateful



Gratitude is powerful for feeling better, having more energy, and training your brain to look for good things. I follow the advice of author MK Mueller. Be grateful for three things that have happened in the last 24 hours with no repeats ever. It’s great to share your gratitude with someone or journal about it. (Time: 3-5 minutes)



4. Move



This one I’m including every day in my routine. I do something to be physically active each morning. It might be running several miles. Or, it might be a two-minute plank and that’s all. But I’m getting some type of exercise in my routine every morning. (Time: 2 minutes-1 hour)



5. Envision



Almost all great athletes use mental imagery to gain an edge. When you imagine exactly how you want a situation, interaction, event, or performance to go, it creates a mental model for success. It sets the stage for success. I spend a few moments each morning thinking about desired outcomes. I think about these things as if the outcome has already been established, as if they are already true. I think it until I feel it. (Time 2-5 minutes) 



6. Affirm



This practice is similar to envisioning except it is focused on self more than situation. So I’m thinking about characteristics I’m developing in myself as if they are already present at the desired level. I tell myself the things that I value and that I want to become. It helps clarify my values and focuses my growth. (Time 2-5 minutes)



7. Read



Like movement and exercise, I also make reading part of every morning. I keep a list of books to read and have several people in my life who share book suggestions with me. I also try to read blog posts and, of course, Twitter posts from my PLN. I can’t imagine not making reading a habit in my life. The things I continually learn add so much value to who I am and what I am striving to accomplish in life. (Time 15-45 minutes)



8. Reflect



I often think back over recent events during my morning routine. I think about decisions or interactions and what I can learn from them. What’s working? What’s not working? I’m careful not to beat myself up if something didn’t go well. I simply consider what I could do better next time and keep my focus on the future. If I can’t do something to improve myself or the situation, then I’m not going to continue thinking about it. Worry and regret is disempowering. I want to spend my time thinking in empowered ways. (Time 2-5 minutes)



9. Pray



If you’re not a person of faith, you may choose to skip right over this one. I don’t want to push my faith on anyone. I realize a person’s beliefs about God are…well, deeply personal. But I must share this part of my morning, because for me, spending time in prayer is the most valuable part of my daily routine. I have a list of things I pray about each morning. They are things that are very important to me. I must also share that my prayer life often intersects with each of the other parts of my routine. My whole morning routine is basically my focused time with God. So I’m often praying while I’m exercising or reflecting. I want to start my day by meeting with God, so I’m more effective as I meet with people throughout the day. (Time 5-10 minutes)



I realize this seems like a long list of things to do, especially if you don’t like getting up early in the morning. Keep in mind I don’t do all of these every day. And the amount of time I spend on each one varies also. 



If you want to reduce stress, have more energy, and increase your effectiveness, I highly recommend developing your morning routine. How you spend the first hour of your day will have a big impact on how the rest of your day goes. Make it count.



What are some of your morning routines? Are you intentional about daily renewal? What are your thoughts about reducing stress and increasing your effectiveness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Daily Renewal for Educators



Teaching is a challenging and exhausting profession. No one can understand what it’s like until you’ve experienced it. You make untold numbers of decisions every day. You work with kids who have all sorts of unique and sometimes unrelenting needs. 



The pressure is real. Sometimes it feels like you’re just treading water and then someone hands you a concrete block. So you better be a great swimmer! Ha.



I hear lots of ideas about educators dealing with stress. You need to make time for yourself. You need to recharge in the summer and on weekends. You need to have a healthy work/life balance. All of those things are probably true.



But for me, the biggest thing that helps me stay positive, productive, and energized is daily renewal. And that comes in the form of my morning routine and my mental approach throughout the day. I’m renewing in the morning and then I’m renewing by disciplining my thoughts throughout the day.



For the past couple of months, I’ve really focused on my making my mornings more effective. I’ve always tried to have a routine in the morning, but last school year at times I wasn’t as diligent. And I could definitely tell a difference.



More recently, I’m making my mornings count, and everything I’m doing seems to be working better. I feel more effective. I have more energy. My relationships are stronger. I’m more patient. More productive. More focused. More determined. I feel stronger overall.



So here’s what I’m doing differently. I don’t do every single one of these things every morning, but I do several of them each day. Being able to pick and choose gives my routine some variety. The routine can take me an hour or more, but there have been mornings I needed to get to school early, and I’ve done an abbreviated version in 10 minutes.



1. Smile



Start the day by finding something to smile about. Choose to smile. Research has shown the physical act of smiling has benefits for stress recovery, improved mood, and creativity. (Time: 30 seconds)



2. Breathe



I’m using a meditation app to work on focused breathing and meditation. There are several smartphone apps available, and I’ve tried a couple of them. Practicing mindfulness is great for increased focus, reduced anxiety, and improved cognition. (Time: 3-5 minutes)

3. Be Grateful



Gratitude is powerful for feeling better, having more energy, and training your brain to look for good things. I follow the advice of author MK Mueller. Be grateful for three things that have happened in the last 24 hours with no repeats ever. It’s great to share your gratitude with someone or journal about it. (Time: 3-5 minutes)



4. Move



This one I’m including every day in my routine. I do something to be physically active each morning. It might be running several miles. Or, it might be a two-minute plank and that’s all. But I’m getting some type of exercise in my routine every morning. (Time: 2 minutes-1 hour)



5. Envision



Almost all great athletes use mental imagery to gain an edge. When you imagine exactly how you want a situation, interaction, event, or performance to go, it creates a mental model for success. It sets the stage for success. I spend a few moments each morning thinking about desired outcomes. I think about these things as if the outcome has already been established, as if they are already true. I think it until I feel it. (Time 2-5 minutes) 



6. Affirm



This practice is similar to envisioning except it is focused on self more than situation. So I’m thinking about characteristics I’m developing in myself as if they are already present at the desired level. I tell myself the things that I value and that I want to become. It helps clarify my values and focuses my growth. (Time 2-5 minutes)



7. Read



Like movement and exercise, I also make reading part of every morning. I keep a list of books to read and have several people in my life who share book suggestions with me. I also try to read blog posts and, of course, Twitter posts from my PLN. I can’t imagine not making reading a habit in my life. The things I continually learn add so much value to who I am and what I am striving to accomplish in life. (Time 15-45 minutes)



8. Reflect



I often think back over recent events during my morning routine. I think about decisions or interactions and what I can learn from them. What’s working? What’s not working? I’m careful not to beat myself up if something didn’t go well. I simply consider what I could do better next time and keep my focus on the future. If I can’t do something to improve myself or the situation, then I’m not going to continue thinking about it. Worry and regret is disempowering. I want to spend my time thinking in empowered ways. (Time 2-5 minutes)



9. Pray



If you’re not a person of faith, you may choose to skip right over this one. I don’t want to push my faith on anyone. I realize a person’s beliefs about God are…well, deeply personal. But I must share this part of my morning, because for me, spending time in prayer is the most valuable part of my daily routine. I have a list of things I pray about each morning. They are things that are very important to me. I must also share that my prayer life often intersects with each of the other parts of my routine. My whole morning routine is basically my focused time with God. So I’m often praying while I’m exercising or reflecting. I want to start my day by meeting with God, so I’m more effective as I meet with people throughout the day. (Time 5-10 minutes)



I realize this seems like a long list of things to do, especially if you don’t like getting up early in the morning. Keep in mind I don’t do all of these every day. And the amount of time I spend on each one varies also. 



If you want to reduce stress, have more energy, and increase your effectiveness, I highly recommend developing your morning routine. How you spend the first hour of your day will have a big impact on how the rest of your day goes. Make it count.



What are some of your morning routines? Are you intentional about daily renewal? What are your thoughts about reducing stress and increasing your effectiveness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Importance of Daily Renewal for Educators



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



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



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



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



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

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



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



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



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



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

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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





Recently, I enjoyed a conversation with my friend Art Lieberman (@artFling). He is a middle school teacher in Texas and author of several books including The Art of Focus and The Art of Motivation



I’m sharing a recording of this conversation for you to enjoy. It’s a blogcast. It’s kind of a mix of a blogpost and a podcast. 



Art and I talked about how he became an author and why passion projects can be helpful for teachers. You can listen to the entire conversation embedded below, and I also included highlights and key takeaways in my notes below.



Notes



Twitter allowed Art and I to connect and eventually collaborate on a project. He helped edit my new book Future Driven.



Art credits his increase in productivity to changes in his diet and exercise habits. When he made these changes, he had more energy to devote to things outside the school day, like passion projects.



One of the changes was adding green smoothies to his diet. He explains how he makes them and why they make such a difference. They are much better than taking vitamins.



Art wanted to do more writing and so he started blogging.



Blogging is a great way to share, connect, and grow.



As he wrote more blog posts, Art realized with the amount of writing he had produced, he could’ve written a book.



Blogging helped Art practice his writing so he was ready to take on a bigger passion project, writing a book.



Passion projects can sometimes also be extra sources of income, but sometimes they are just for the love of the experience.



Being creative is good for us. Everyone has the ability to create. Everyone has gifts. When you use these gifts more fully, it actually helps you have more energy. It helps you be more productive.



Your passion project may be related to education, or it may not relate directly. However, a passion project can make you a better educator too. It’s one way educators can model lifelong learning.



And finally, don’t wait to start that passion project you want to do. There will never be enough time. You have to make time to do what’s important to you.

Be sure to check out Art’s podcasts here: One Teaching Tip.

Are you working on a passion project or thinking about starting one? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would like to hear from you.

Read More Pursuing Your Passion Projects: A Conversation with Art Lieberman





Recently, I enjoyed a conversation with my friend Art Lieberman (@artFling). He is a middle school teacher in Texas and author of several books including The Art of Focus and The Art of Motivation



I’m sharing a recording of this conversation for you to enjoy. It’s a blogcast. It’s kind of a mix of a blogpost and a podcast. 



Art and I talked about how he became an author and why passion projects can be helpful for teachers. You can listen to the entire conversation embedded below, and I also included highlights and key takeaways in my notes below.



Notes



Twitter allowed Art and I to connect and eventually collaborate on a project. He helped edit my new book Future Driven.



Art credits his increase in productivity to changes in his diet and exercise habits. When he made these changes, he had more energy to devote to things outside the school day, like passion projects.



One of the changes was adding green smoothies to his diet. He explains how he makes them and why they make such a difference. They are much better than taking vitamins.



Art wanted to do more writing and so he started blogging.



Blogging is a great way to share, connect, and grow.



As he wrote more blog posts, Art realized with the amount of writing he had produced, he could’ve written a book.



Blogging helped Art practice his writing so he was ready to take on a bigger passion project, writing a book.



Passion projects can sometimes also be extra sources of income, but sometimes they are just for the love of the experience.



Being creative is good for us. Everyone has the ability to create. Everyone has gifts. When you use these gifts more fully, it actually helps you have more energy. It helps you be more productive.



Your passion project may be related to education, or it may not relate directly. However, a passion project can make you a better educator too. It’s one way educators can model lifelong learning.



And finally, don’t wait to start that passion project you want to do. There will never be enough time. You have to make time to do what’s important to you.

Be sure to check out Art’s podcasts here: One Teaching Tip.

Are you working on a passion project or thinking about starting one? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would like to hear from you.

Read More Pursuing Your Passion Projects: A Conversation with Art Lieberman





I’m currently reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I couldn’t put it down. These ideas are immediately relevant in trying to help myself and others (teachers and students) build capacity to do more and be more.



One profound takeaway for me is how small changes can lead to bigger changes and superior results. Habits are powerful, even ones that may not seem directly related to a particular outcome. 



Alcoa



When Paul O’Neil was named CEO of metals producer Alcoa, the company had been underperforming for years. Many questioned his selection for the top position, but after he spoke to shareholders the first time, he was especially under the microscope. You see, he didn’t talk about raising profits. He spoke of creating the safest company possible.



He created an intense focus on worker safety, something he felt everyone in the company could get behind. The company had problems with quality and efficiency, but he didn’t focus on on that. He made worker safety the driving concern.



But as his safety measures were implemented, quality and efficiency improved across the board, and soon Alcoa was turning profits that were extraordinary. Even though the company’s energy wasn’t focused squarely on profit-driving levers, those levers were subsequently effected by the focus on safety.



Impact of Exercise



Researchers have found over the decades that people who introduce consistent exercise routines into their lifestyle, also seem to improve other patterns in their life, often unknowingly.



They also improve their eating habits, smoke less, show more patience with others, and even use their credit cards less. It’s almost like the consistent, positive change spills over into other parts of life. As exercise improved, so did other aspects of life, and it even happened unknowingly for participants. They weren’t aware of the improvements they were making.



These types of habits, that tend to have the spill over effect, are referred to as keystone habits. They are the key to improving in a whole variety of ways.



Weight Loss



The conventional advice for weight loss was to join a gym, exercise more, follow restrictive low-calorie diets, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Of course, those actions are helpful if you stick with them but most weight loss patients would not. They would follow them for a few weeks but slip back into old patters.



But when researchers asked 1600 obesity patients to make one simple change and keep a journal of what they ate for an entire day at least one day a week, the results were extraordinary. The people who kept the journal lost twice as much weight as those that did not and other behaviors changed, like exercise and diet, even though the researchers didn’t make any suggestions to the patients about exercise or diet. They simply asked them to log what they were eating. It seems the journal was a keystone habit.



Other Keystone Habits



Families who eat together on average have children who make better grades, have more emotional stability, and demonstrate more confidence. 



Making your bed every morning has been shown to correlate to increased productivity, sticking to a budget, and better overall sense of well-being.



These keystone habits establish small wins in a person’s (or organization’s) life that can translate to bigger wins.

“Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage,” one Cornell professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.” Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

Implications for Educators



Are we taking advantage of small wins? Are we leveraging keystone habits in schools? 



Often when thinking about improving student achievement, we simply double down on math or reading. We implement more interventions. We increase the rigor, give more homework, or take away electives in favor of core instruction. And maybe we do increase performance just a little.



But at what cost? Is it worth it if we are sacrificing the joy of learning?



And, are we overlooking other levers that might yield better results and produce stronger learners?



What if we looked at other factors that might produce small wins and set some goals around these areas? I was part of a conversation with some local school leaders who were discussing goals for the year. 



One of the schools was focusing on getting more kids involved in school activities. Involvement in sports, clubs, fine arts, etc. has shown correlation to student achievement in studies. If we can get a small win in this area, it’s good for kids regardless, and perhaps it will spill over to classroom learning.



What if you worked on having extraordinary greetings and made that an important habit in your school?



What if everyone made it a point to call students by name, make eye contact, and smile more? 



What if you focused on proximity in the classroom? Moving from the front of the room, sitting by students, being with students instead of in front of them.



I’m going to continue to reflect on how we can leverage the power of small wins in our school. What do you think about your classroom or school? 



Have you seen examples of the power of small wins? What do you see as possible keystone habits educators could develop in students? 



Leave a comment or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I’m curious what’s on your mind.



Read More The Power of Keystone Habits





I’m currently reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I couldn’t put it down. These ideas are immediately relevant in trying to help myself and others (teachers and students) build capacity to do more and be more.



One profound takeaway for me is how small changes can lead to bigger changes and superior results. Habits are powerful, even ones that may not seem directly related to a particular outcome. 



Alcoa



When Paul O’Neil was named CEO of metals producer Alcoa, the company had been underperforming for years. Many questioned his selection for the top position, but after he spoke to shareholders the first time, he was especially under the microscope. You see, he didn’t talk about raising profits. He spoke of creating the safest company possible.



He created an intense focus on worker safety, something he felt everyone in the company could get behind. The company had problems with quality and efficiency, but he didn’t focus on on that. He made worker safety the driving concern.



But as his safety measures were implemented, quality and efficiency improved across the board, and soon Alcoa was turning profits that were extraordinary. Even though the company’s energy wasn’t focused squarely on profit-driving levers, those levers were subsequently effected by the focus on safety.



Impact of Exercise



Researchers have found over the decades that people who introduce consistent exercise routines into their lifestyle, also seem to improve other patterns in their life, often unknowingly.



They also improve their eating habits, smoke less, show more patience with others, and even use their credit cards less. It’s almost like the consistent, positive change spills over into other parts of life. As exercise improved, so did other aspects of life, and it even happened unknowingly for participants. They weren’t aware of the improvements they were making.



These types of habits, that tend to have the spill over effect, are referred to as keystone habits. They are the key to improving in a whole variety of ways.



Weight Loss



The conventional advice for weight loss was to join a gym, exercise more, follow restrictive low-calorie diets, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Of course, those actions are helpful if you stick with them but most weight loss patients would not. They would follow them for a few weeks but slip back into old patters.



But when researchers asked 1600 obesity patients to make one simple change and keep a journal of what they ate for an entire day at least one day a week, the results were extraordinary. The people who kept the journal lost twice as much weight as those that did not and other behaviors changed, like exercise and diet, even though the researchers didn’t make any suggestions to the patients about exercise or diet. They simply asked them to log what they were eating. It seems the journal was a keystone habit.



Other Keystone Habits



Families who eat together on average have children who make better grades, have more emotional stability, and demonstrate more confidence. 



Making your bed every morning has been shown to correlate to increased productivity, sticking to a budget, and better overall sense of well-being.



These keystone habits establish small wins in a person’s (or organization’s) life that can translate to bigger wins.

“Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage,” one Cornell professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.” Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

Implications for Educators



Are we taking advantage of small wins? Are we leveraging keystone habits in schools? 



Often when thinking about improving student achievement, we simply double down on math or reading. We implement more interventions. We increase the rigor, give more homework, or take away electives in favor of core instruction. And maybe we do increase performance just a little.



But at what cost? Is it worth it if we are sacrificing the joy of learning?



And, are we overlooking other levers that might yield better results and produce stronger learners?



What if we looked at other factors that might produce small wins and set some goals around these areas? I was part of a conversation with some local school leaders who were discussing goals for the year. 



One of the schools was focusing on getting more kids involved in school activities. Involvement in sports, clubs, fine arts, etc. has shown correlation to student achievement in studies. If we can get a small win in this area, it’s good for kids regardless, and perhaps it will spill over to classroom learning.



What if you worked on having extraordinary greetings and made that an important habit in your school?



What if everyone made it a point to call students by name, make eye contact, and smile more? 



What if you focused on proximity in the classroom? Moving from the front of the room, sitting by students, being with students instead of in front of them.



I’m going to continue to reflect on how we can leverage the power of small wins in our school. What do you think about your classroom or school? 



Have you seen examples of the power of small wins? What do you see as possible keystone habits educators could develop in students? 



Leave a comment or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I’m curious what’s on your mind.



Read More The Power of Keystone Habits





I bet you are a fantastic problem solver. Most educators have developed this ability because problems come at you all day long. And you make hundreds of decisions from dawn till dusk.



Our time is a precious resource that can be extremely scarce because of all the demands we face. If we’re not careful, the tyranny of the urgent will consume us and may crowd out time for what’s most important.



Can we agree that the things that are most urgent are often not the most important? Reflect on your day. There were things you felt had to be done. But at what cost?



When you spend all your time dealing with urgent matters, not considering what things would have the highest leverage for success, you are simply spinning your wheels. Lots of activity not going anywhere.



Benjamin Franklin dedicated 5 hours of his week to learning. His personal growth and learning was a priority. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey also share this personal commitment to learn at least one hour a day and probably more.



You will never reach your growth potential if you are captive to the urgent.



We did a strengths finder with our staff about a year ago. It was a survey instrument that gave us feedback on our strength areas. We shared these out in a meeting and enjoyed reflecting on how our differences make us collectively strong.



But we all got a chuckle when I asked for teachers to raise their hands if love of learning (one of the characteristics) made their top five strengths. Surprisingly, in this sizable group of educators, only 2-3 teachers had it in their top five.



Of course, I think our teachers love learning. But I also wonder how much of a priority we are giving to our own growth and learning. I challenge you to spend at least 5 hours a week learning and see how it impacts your effectiveness.



For me, my learning each week involves reading, blogging, connecting with other educators on Twitter, and thinking and reflecting. 



Make time to support your own growth and learning and watch how it influences the learning and growth of your students.



The most successful people in the world are extremely busy and they are still finding time to read and learn consistently. Don’t let the urgent things rule over you. Take back what’s important and invest in your own growth.



How are you growing and making time for the 5-hour rule? What are you reading? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Don’t Let What’s Urgent Keep You From What’s Important





I bet you are a fantastic problem solver. Most educators have developed this ability because problems come at you all day long. And you make hundreds of decisions from dawn till dusk.



Our time is a precious resource that can be extremely scarce because of all the demands we face. If we’re not careful, the tyranny of the urgent will consume us and may crowd out time for what’s most important.



Can we agree that the things that are most urgent are often not the most important? Reflect on your day. There were things you felt had to be done. But at what cost?



When you spend all your time dealing with urgent matters, not considering what things would have the highest leverage for success, you are simply spinning your wheels. Lots of activity not going anywhere.



Benjamin Franklin dedicated 5 hours of his week to learning. His personal growth and learning was a priority. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey also share this personal commitment to learn at least one hour a day and probably more.



You will never reach your growth potential if you are captive to the urgent.



We did a strengths finder with our staff about a year ago. It was a survey instrument that gave us feedback on our strength areas. We shared these out in a meeting and enjoyed reflecting on how our differences make us collectively strong.



But we all got a chuckle when I asked for teachers to raise their hands if love of learning (one of the characteristics) made their top five strengths. Surprisingly, in this sizable group of educators, only 2-3 teachers had it in their top five.



Of course, I think our teachers love learning. But I also wonder how much of a priority we are giving to our own growth and learning. I challenge you to spend at least 5 hours a week learning and see how it impacts your effectiveness.



For me, my learning each week involves reading, blogging, connecting with other educators on Twitter, and thinking and reflecting. 



Make time to support your own growth and learning and watch how it influences the learning and growth of your students.



The most successful people in the world are extremely busy and they are still finding time to read and learn consistently. Don’t let the urgent things rule over you. Take back what’s important and invest in your own growth.



How are you growing and making time for the 5-hour rule? What are you reading? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Don’t Let What’s Urgent Keep You From What’s Important



I arrived home from school one day this past week to find our trash can turned over on its side with trash littering our yard. I had set the container at our curb that morning expecting it to be picked up by our trash service. It was a very windy day and now there was a real mess to clean up. I grabbed my cell phone and immediately called to demand answers to this terrible injustice.



“Yes, why wasn’t my trash picked up this morning? All my neighbors had theirs picked up? And now my trash has blown all over my yard.” So there you have it!!!!


“Oh I’m so sorry about that, sir. Please let me help you with that.”


“By all means, you better help me with this,” I thought to myself, applauding my assertiveness at not letting this mistake pass without it being addressed.


“What’s your address, sir?”


“4404 S 146th Rd.”


“Sir, it looks like your trash gets picked up on Thursdays.”



I’m quite aware that our trash gets picked up on Thursdays. The problem in this scenario is that the day I set out the trash was Wednesday. I set the trash out on the wrong day!!! 


At this point, the conversation turned in a completely different direction as I backpedaled furiously.


The month of May is the busiest month of the year for me. There are so many end-of-the-year events, responsibilities, and tasks that have to be done. I’m sure many of you can relate. I am constantly on the go and have very little time to power down and allow my mind a little much needed rest. 


And maybe that’s why I set the trash out on the wrong day. But that’s not the end of my missteps.


Sunday at church, there was a time to shake hands and welcome others and that type of thing. I left the row where I was sitting to walk over and visit with some of our high school students and former students. As the service moved on to the next phase, I hustled back to my seat.


Only it wasn’t my original seat. Pretty soon I felt a tapping on my shoulder, only to turn around and see my wife’s beautiful smile. I sat down in the row in front of her. I didn’t make it back to where I started. Most of the congregation saw this comical scene. I scrambled back to my actual seat, the one next to my wife, and all I could do was laugh uncontrollably. Pretty much the whole church was laughing too. I’m glad I could brighten their day.


But once again, I have to think the hectic schedule I’ve been keeping played a role in my lack of focus. When there are so many things racing through your mind, it’s tough to concentrate.


By nature, I’m a doer. I am always thinking of the next project or possibility. If I’m not careful, I can turn into a human doer, instead of a human being. You see, we were created to have times where we allow ourselves to just be


To just be still.


To be quiet.


To be at rest.


To be recharged, refreshed, and renewed.


If we are always doing every moment, we won’t have the time for just being.


I’m very thankful my mistakes did not have serious implications. But it did cause me to reflect on my schedule and how I can make sure I’m fully present and showing up well even in the month of May.


I read an article recently about how we Americans are wearing our busyness as a badge of honor. If we’re not careful, we can get caught in a trap of feeling we need to do more and more and more. 


But it’s hurting our ability to be our best. 

When people feel that they are busy, they tend to make short-term decisions and not focus on the things that really matter in the long term. They stop investing in their personal development, and they no longer try to think of new ways to approach work.

Busyness also undermines our ability to achieve complex problem solving, creativity, and empathy, skills that the World Economic Forum has identified as needed for success in the future.

When you’re busy, you become less creative, less imaginative, and less engaged.

This past Sunday, we had graduation for the Class of 2017 and the school year has ended, so my summer schedule is already kicking in. While I have still have plenty to do, I am committing to slow down a little and remember to say no to some things.

It’s time to just be for a little while.

Question: Do you wear your busyness as a badge of honor? What are you doing to slow down, refresh, and recharge regularly? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. When you share your stories and wisdom it’s appreciated!

Read More You Can Never Be Your Best If You’re Too Busy



I arrived home from school one day this past week to find our trash can turned over on its side with trash littering our yard. I had set the container at our curb that morning expecting it to be picked up by our trash service. It was a very windy day and now there was a real mess to clean up. I grabbed my cell phone and immediately called to demand answers to this terrible injustice.



“Yes, why wasn’t my trash picked up this morning? All my neighbors had theirs picked up? And now my trash has blown all over my yard.” So there you have it!!!!


“Oh I’m so sorry about that, sir. Please let me help you with that.”


“By all means, you better help me with this,” I thought to myself, applauding my assertiveness at not letting this mistake pass without it being addressed.


“What’s your address, sir?”


“4404 S 146th Rd.”


“Sir, it looks like your trash gets picked up on Thursdays.”



I’m quite aware that our trash gets picked up on Thursdays. The problem in this scenario is that the day I set out the trash was Wednesday. I set the trash out on the wrong day!!! 


At this point, the conversation turned in a completely different direction as I backpedaled furiously.


The month of May is the busiest month of the year for me. There are so many end-of-the-year events, responsibilities, and tasks that have to be done. I’m sure many of you can relate. I am constantly on the go and have very little time to power down and allow my mind a little much needed rest. 


And maybe that’s why I set the trash out on the wrong day. But that’s not the end of my missteps.


Sunday at church, there was a time to shake hands and welcome others and that type of thing. I left the row where I was sitting to walk over and visit with some of our high school students and former students. As the service moved on to the next phase, I hustled back to my seat.


Only it wasn’t my original seat. Pretty soon I felt a tapping on my shoulder, only to turn around and see my wife’s beautiful smile. I sat down in the row in front of her. I didn’t make it back to where I started. Most of the congregation saw this comical scene. I scrambled back to my actual seat, the one next to my wife, and all I could do was laugh uncontrollably. Pretty much the whole church was laughing too. I’m glad I could brighten their day.


But once again, I have to think the hectic schedule I’ve been keeping played a role in my lack of focus. When there are so many things racing through your mind, it’s tough to concentrate.


By nature, I’m a doer. I am always thinking of the next project or possibility. If I’m not careful, I can turn into a human doer, instead of a human being. You see, we were created to have times where we allow ourselves to just be


To just be still.


To be quiet.


To be at rest.


To be recharged, refreshed, and renewed.


If we are always doing every moment, we won’t have the time for just being.


I’m very thankful my mistakes did not have serious implications. But it did cause me to reflect on my schedule and how I can make sure I’m fully present and showing up well even in the month of May.


I read an article recently about how we Americans are wearing our busyness as a badge of honor. If we’re not careful, we can get caught in a trap of feeling we need to do more and more and more. 


But it’s hurting our ability to be our best. 

When people feel that they are busy, they tend to make short-term decisions and not focus on the things that really matter in the long term. They stop investing in their personal development, and they no longer try to think of new ways to approach work.

Busyness also undermines our ability to achieve complex problem solving, creativity, and empathy, skills that the World Economic Forum has identified as needed for success in the future.

When you’re busy, you become less creative, less imaginative, and less engaged.

This past Sunday, we had graduation for the Class of 2017 and the school year has ended, so my summer schedule is already kicking in. While I have still have plenty to do, I am committing to slow down a little and remember to say no to some things.

It’s time to just be for a little while.

Question: Do you wear your busyness as a badge of honor? What are you doing to slow down, refresh, and recharge regularly? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. When you share your stories and wisdom it’s appreciated!

Read More You Can Never Be Your Best If You’re Too Busy





I use my iPhone to do most of my connecting through social media. I guess that trend is common since mobile device use is up while use of laptops/desktops is down worldwide. This chart illustrates how that trend is expected to continue.




Retrieved: http://digiday.com/media/mobile-overtaking-desktops-around-world-5-charts/





Social media has been transformational in my work as an educator. The connections I’ve made and the ideas I’ve encountered have pushed me to grow and learn in ways I never could’ve imagined.



But I also don’t want social media to take over my life. I work very hard to maximize my productivity and get the most out of my online work without compromising other important areas of my life.



These are 11 apps I’ve used that I’ve found most beneficial to managing my social media life. They aren’t in any particular order, and they serve a variety of purposes.



1. Twitter-I use the Twitter app to read tweets and post to multiple accounts (school and personal/professional). I sometimes even participate in Twitter chats using my iPhone. 



2. Buffer-This app is fantastic for scheduling tweets and managing multiple social media accounts. I like to read and share relevant content to my followers. I’ve found Buffer is the best way to do this. One of the things I like about it is the ability to follow RSS feeds within the app. It brings some of my favorite content right into the app so I can review and share.



3. Facebook Pages-I help manage content for our high school page, and I also have a Facebook fan page for my blog. I can take care of both accounts through this app’s interface. It works great!



4. Nuzzel-I use Nuzzel to read the hottest stories from my Twitter feed. Basically, it ranks articles that have been shared the most by my friends. I always find content here I want to share with others. It also works with Facebook. You just have to connect your accounts to the app.



5. Evernote-Anything I don’t want to forget goes in Evernote. It’s a great app for taking notes and staying organized. I keep a list of possible blog topics here also so I always have something to think and write about.



6. Juice-This app is another way I get content to read and share. It analyzes my Twitter and then generates new articles to read every 24 hours. I don’t think very many people know about this one, but I really like it.



7. Flipboard-I use Flipboard semi-regularly, but it often frustrates me. It’s supposed to aggregate relevant links and stories based on my interests. It’s algorithm is supposed to learn my preferences and habits. The problem is I don’t find helpful content there as often as I’d like. Am I doing something wrong? 



8. Vanillapen-This app is great for making quick and easy quote images. I like to share inspiring images or quotes and this makes it a breeze.



9. Pexels-You might share this app with your students too. It’s a great online platform for finding Creative Commons licensed photos to use in projects and presentations. You don’t want to violate copyright laws by choosing any photo from a Google search. The photos on this site are free and there are new pics added daily. 



10. Canva-I use Canva to create images for blog posts or to share on social media. Some of the graphics and images are fee based, but I use it often and rarely pay for anything.



11. TweetDeck-This tool is my favorite way to participate in Twitter chats. The simple column view allows users to monitor multiple accounts or hashtags all at once. For a chat, I typically have a column for the hashtag and one for my notifications so I know when someone has mentioned or tweeted at me.



I always enjoying new apps and have really benefited from the ones I’ve shared in this post. Having the right app is like finding the right tool in my shop. It makes every project turn out better!



Question: What are your favorite apps right now? I’m curious what works well for you. You can leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 11 Apps That Help Me Manage My Social Media Life





I use my iPhone to do most of my connecting through social media. I guess that trend is common since mobile device use is up while use of laptops/desktops is down worldwide. This chart illustrates how that trend is expected to continue.




Retrieved: http://digiday.com/media/mobile-overtaking-desktops-around-world-5-charts/





Social media has been transformational in my work as an educator. The connections I’ve made and the ideas I’ve encountered have pushed me to grow and learn in ways I never could’ve imagined.



But I also don’t want social media to take over my life. I work very hard to maximize my productivity and get the most out of my online work without compromising other important areas of my life.



These are 11 apps I’ve used that I’ve found most beneficial to managing my social media life. They aren’t in any particular order, and they serve a variety of purposes.



1. Twitter-I use the Twitter app to read tweets and post to multiple accounts (school and personal/professional). I sometimes even participate in Twitter chats using my iPhone. 



2. Buffer-This app is fantastic for scheduling tweets and managing multiple social media accounts. I like to read and share relevant content to my followers. I’ve found Buffer is the best way to do this. One of the things I like about it is the ability to follow RSS feeds within the app. It brings some of my favorite content right into the app so I can review and share.



3. Facebook Pages-I help manage content for our high school page, and I also have a Facebook fan page for my blog. I can take care of both accounts through this app’s interface. It works great!



4. Nuzzel-I use Nuzzel to read the hottest stories from my Twitter feed. Basically, it ranks articles that have been shared the most by my friends. I always find content here I want to share with others. It also works with Facebook. You just have to connect your accounts to the app.



5. Evernote-Anything I don’t want to forget goes in Evernote. It’s a great app for taking notes and staying organized. I keep a list of possible blog topics here also so I always have something to think and write about.



6. Juice-This app is another way I get content to read and share. It analyzes my Twitter and then generates new articles to read every 24 hours. I don’t think very many people know about this one, but I really like it.



7. Flipboard-I use Flipboard semi-regularly, but it often frustrates me. It’s supposed to aggregate relevant links and stories based on my interests. It’s algorithm is supposed to learn my preferences and habits. The problem is I don’t find helpful content there as often as I’d like. Am I doing something wrong? 



8. Vanillapen-This app is great for making quick and easy quote images. I like to share inspiring images or quotes and this makes it a breeze.



9. Pexels-You might share this app with your students too. It’s a great online platform for finding Creative Commons licensed photos to use in projects and presentations. You don’t want to violate copyright laws by choosing any photo from a Google search. The photos on this site are free and there are new pics added daily. 



10. Canva-I use Canva to create images for blog posts or to share on social media. Some of the graphics and images are fee based, but I use it often and rarely pay for anything.



11. TweetDeck-This tool is my favorite way to participate in Twitter chats. The simple column view allows users to monitor multiple accounts or hashtags all at once. For a chat, I typically have a column for the hashtag and one for my notifications so I know when someone has mentioned or tweeted at me.



I always enjoying new apps and have really benefited from the ones I’ve shared in this post. Having the right app is like finding the right tool in my shop. It makes every project turn out better!



Question: What are your favorite apps right now? I’m curious what works well for you. You can leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 11 Apps That Help Me Manage My Social Media Life