Tag: Teacher Voice



The days of summer will soon give way to the start of a new school year. For teachers, the end of summer can be met with mixed emotions. Even the most passionate educators can be reluctant to give up the freedom and flexibility of summer break. But it’s also a great time to get excited about the possibilities that lay ahead. It’s GO-TIME!!!



As you gear up for back-to-school, here are seven reasons to be enthusiastic about the new school year.





1. Making New Friends



One of the most exciting things about the start of a new school year is the chance to meet new people and welcome them into your school. It’s a privilege to get to know new staff members and students. And it’s a great opportunity to share with them all the things that make your school great. It’s also a great opportunity to find ways they can contribute to making your school even stronger.



Remember that being new can be terrifying. Offer your support. Be sure to send the message loud and clear to everyone new to your school, “We’re glad you’re here.”



2. Reconnecting with Old Friends



I also look forward to seeing everyone who is returning. Over the years, we build increasingly strong bonds with the people we work with. It’s great to hear about their exciting adventures of summer and begin to share in the daily life of school again. I can’t wait to see all the smiles and feel the energy as we come together again to help kids.



Keep in mind that returning to school can be especially difficult in certain seasons of life. I am always reminded that a word of encouragement or act of kindness can go a long way to making the new school year better for someone going through a difficult time.



3. Making a Difference 



For some students, summer hasn’t been that great. They’ve had struggles, turmoil, maybe even hunger. Returning to school won’t solve all their problems, but it will provide a chance for educators to make a difference. No matter what their summer was like, your students are counting on you now. They need to know how much you care. They need you to love them, listen to them, and to never give up on them.



Your work as a teacher makes a difference in the lives of young people. That’s a great reason to get excited about the start of the school year! 



4. Fulfilling Your Purpose



It’s great to enjoy the wonderful time away from school during summer break. Good teaching is demanding in so many ways. We need time to recharge. But there is something about doing what you are meant to do, even when it’s hard. The start of the school year is a great time to reflect on why you started in the first place. Why did you become a teacher? How will you make a positive impact this year?



When you have passion and purpose for your students and your teaching, you won’t have too much trouble being excited for the new school year.



5. New Beginnings



When I reflect on a previous school year, there are always things I wish had gone differently. I see areas I need to improve, and things I want to change. The start of the school year is a brand new thing. It’s a fresh start.



There’s something about the cyclical nature of school that lends itself to making adjustments based on last year to continue to make things better for learning. But the key is to reflect and set goals during the summer, so that you’re ready to adjust and adapt this year.  



6. New Opportunities to Grow



Positive people grow. Happy people grow. Healthy people grow. The new school year will not doubt present challenges that will help us grow if we choose to allow growth to happen. I believe growth is an essential part of being fulfilled in our lives. We can’t stay the same or even have stagnant growth and expect to have a healthy and happy life. And for certain, we won’t make much of an impact on others if we aren’t willing to grow.



I know some people dread the start of school because they feel that they are going to face challenges that are really difficult for them. Some struggle more with difficult students. Some struggle to keep up with paperwork or grading. Clearly, some struggle to get through the school day more than others. I think most of that is related to attitude.



If we welcome the challenges and view them as a way to grow, it changes everything. If we invite hard things into our lives, it makes us stronger. Rarely do I see an unhappy teacher who also regularly takes on new challenges. Usually, the most unhappy people in your school are the ones who are most protective of their time and their comfort.



So I think a GREAT reason to get excited about a new school year is that it’s a GREAT opportunity to grow. What would your school be like if every educator had a growth mindset?



7. Believe in Amazing Possibilities



I’m excited about the new school year because I believe this will be the best school year ever. I’m excited about the work our school is doing. I believe we are moving in a positive direction. I see a tipping point happening, where we will see learners empowered in ways we’ve envisioned. 



Your classroom has amazing possibilities too. Students will learn more about who they are. They will learn and grow and become more confident and independent learners. Commit yourself to the idea that great things are going to happen this year. Focus on the positive. Who knows what incredible things will happen this year in the life of your school?



Questions: What gets you excited about a new school year? What are you anticipating? I would love to hear from you. Leave me a message below or respond on Twitter or Facebook. Here we grow!

Read More 7 Reasons for Teachers to Be Enthusiastic About a New School Year

Grading as a Kind of Manipulation



Earlier this summer I did something I vowed never to do again. I fell for a deal with a cash-back rebate. You know, the kind where you follow a complicated set of instructions and then mail-in all the required papers and hope it pays off. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your rebate check back in the mail in a few weeks.

I’m not sure why I fell for this again. I guess I thought the deal was just too good to pass up. After the rebate, the synthetic motor oil was going to be a great buy. And I didn’t even need it right away. I had just changed the oil in the vehicle I planned to use it in.

But in spite of my best intentions, I failed to ever claim my rebate. I kept the receipt. I had the bar-code and the rebate form. I was good to go. But then I got distracted. I forgot about the rebate for awhile. And when I thought to finish the process, I couldn’t find the receipt anymore. Game over.

Now I am just a resentful consumer. I’m irritated with myself for breaking my promise to never try for these offers. And, I’m irritated with the brand for manipulating me with a rebate offer they know many customers won’t complete. They count on it. They are manipulating customers to buy knowing many consumers won’t ever complete the rebate process successfully.

But it’s so frustrating, and it’s not customer-focused. If they really wanted to give me a great deal, they’d just give me the $10 off, without all the hoops. They don’t actually want me to be successful. They want me to fail.

You’ve probably been frustrated by a rebate offer too. I think most people have. But not getting my $10 bucks is not the end of the world. But when similar tactics are used in the classroom, it undermines the foundation of learning.

The Problem With Points and Grades

In schools, the currency is not dollars and cents, it’s points. And for a student, the more points you earn the better grade you get in the class. Students start learning this at a very young age, as soon as grades matter to them and their parents.

The points themselves are not the problem. The problem is how the points are used. Students learn to see the points as part of a transactional system, the game of school. The goal is to earn points. We have used the system to the extent that many students have forgotten how to learn just for the sake of learning. The first question students ask in many classrooms after an assignment is given is, “How many points is this worth?”

Clearly, classrooms and schools aren’t offering cash-back rebates, although I’m guessing students might say it was great if we did! But when we further a grading system that is transactional, in essence, we are using sticks and carrots to manipulate behaviors and results. It’s very similar to what companies do when they use rebates.

Just like the rebate is used to manipulate, points can be used to manipulate, too. Teachers have used the power of points for all sorts of reasons. To get students to participate, to show up on time, to choose right answers, and even to bring boxes of Kleenex.



Students are even sorted and ranked according to how well they play the game and earn points. I’m not a fan of sorting or ranking when it comes to learning. But this is especially concerning since earning points is often more about compliance and selecting right answers than showing good thinking or solving problems creatively.


In the current system, teachers even communicate the importance of an assignment by how many points it’s worth. “The test tomorrow is worth 100 points so you better study tonight.”



It’s well-intentioned manipulation. And when used on rare occasions it might be helpful. Teachers are always trying to influence student behaviors and decisions. And for good reason. We will do just about anything to motivate students to learn. But as soon as sticks and carrots become routine in the classroom, students come to expect them all the time.








Point Chasing Never Empowers Students As Learners


The problem with transactional systems is they only change behavior for a moment. They never last. In fact, they work against most some of the most valuable things we want students to gain from school. They rob empowerment. They steal intrinsic motivation. And they even undermine relationships. 



Some students get so frustrated with the points game, they just quit caring. They refuse to play along and choose not to care about how the teacher or the school ‘grades’ them. And it’s not just the kids who are ‘at-risk’ or ‘underprivileged’ who tend to reject this system. Often some of the most intelligent and creative students see through this artificial construct and pull back from learning in school.

Some of these same students have passions outside of school they pursue as self-motivated learners. They pour themselves into hobbies, interests, and causes. They will read online for hours, they will create art or practice an instrument, or they will share ideas on message boards or through social media on all types of important topics.

We do our students a disservice when we don’t empower them as learners at school too. If students leave school less excited about learning than when they entered, we have failed them.



Learning Isn’t About Transactions Between Students and Teachers


We don’t have to use transactional systems in classrooms and schools.



Some companies choose not to use rebates. They let their product or service stand on its own merits. They communicate the value of their products with a compelling message of why they are helpful and beneficial to us. And because we believe in their product, we are willing to pay full price.

Likewise, classrooms and schools offer something extremely valuable to their end-users. What could be more valuable or more helpful than learning, for the sake of learning? But we have to remind our students of the wonder and awe of learning. We have to package it in ways that are interesting and attractive. This is especially true when they have come to view learning as part of a system of compliance to ultimately earn a grade.

Cash back rebates don’t build loyalty with consumers, whether they ultimately receive the rebate or not. And a school culture driven by points and grades won’t build loyalty with students either. It won’t transform students into self-motivated learners. Only empowerment and authentic learning experiences will do that.



Question: How do you empower your students and avoid the compliance-driven classroom? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More Does Your Classroom Offer Cash-Back Rebates?

Grading as a Kind of Manipulation



Earlier this summer I did something I vowed never to do again. I fell for a deal with a cash-back rebate. You know, the kind where you follow a complicated set of instructions and then mail-in all the required papers and hope it pays off. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your rebate check back in the mail in a few weeks.

I’m not sure why I fell for this again. I guess I thought the deal was just too good to pass up. After the rebate, the synthetic motor oil was going to be a great buy. And I didn’t even need it right away. I had just changed the oil in the vehicle I planned to use it in.

But in spite of my best intentions, I failed to ever claim my rebate. I kept the receipt. I had the bar-code and the rebate form. I was good to go. But then I got distracted. I forgot about the rebate for awhile. And when I thought to finish the process, I couldn’t find the receipt anymore. Game over.

Now I am just a resentful consumer. I’m irritated with myself for breaking my promise to never try for these offers. And, I’m irritated with the brand for manipulating me with a rebate offer they know many customers won’t complete. They count on it. They are manipulating customers to buy knowing many consumers won’t ever complete the rebate process successfully.

But it’s so frustrating, and it’s not customer-focused. If they really wanted to give me a great deal, they’d just give me the $10 off, without all the hoops. They don’t actually want me to be successful. They want me to fail.

You’ve probably been frustrated by a rebate offer too. I think most people have. But not getting my $10 bucks is not the end of the world. But when similar tactics are used in the classroom, it undermines the foundation of learning.

The Problem With Points and Grades

In schools, the currency is not dollars and cents, it’s points. And for a student, the more points you earn the better grade you get in the class. Students start learning this at a very young age, as soon as grades matter to them and their parents.

The points themselves are not the problem. The problem is how the points are used. Students learn to see the points as part of a transactional system, the game of school. The goal is to earn points. We have used the system to the extent that many students have forgotten how to learn just for the sake of learning. The first question students ask in many classrooms after an assignment is given is, “How many points is this worth?”

Clearly, classrooms and schools aren’t offering cash-back rebates, although I’m guessing students might say it was great if we did! But when we further a grading system that is transactional, in essence, we are using sticks and carrots to manipulate behaviors and results. It’s very similar to what companies do when they use rebates.

Just like the rebate is used to manipulate, points can be used to manipulate, too. Teachers have used the power of points for all sorts of reasons. To get students to participate, to show up on time, to choose right answers, and even to bring boxes of Kleenex.



Students are even sorted and ranked according to how well they play the game and earn points. I’m not a fan of sorting or ranking when it comes to learning. But this is especially concerning since earning points is often more about compliance and selecting right answers than showing good thinking or solving problems creatively.


In the current system, teachers even communicate the importance of an assignment by how many points it’s worth. “The test tomorrow is worth 100 points so you better study tonight.”



It’s well-intentioned manipulation. And when used on rare occasions it might be helpful. Teachers are always trying to influence student behaviors and decisions. And for good reason. We will do just about anything to motivate students to learn. But as soon as sticks and carrots become routine in the classroom, students come to expect them all the time.








Point Chasing Never Empowers Students As Learners


The problem with transactional systems is they only change behavior for a moment. They never last. In fact, they work against most some of the most valuable things we want students to gain from school. They rob empowerment. They steal intrinsic motivation. And they even undermine relationships. 



Some students get so frustrated with the points game, they just quit caring. They refuse to play along and choose not to care about how the teacher or the school ‘grades’ them. And it’s not just the kids who are ‘at-risk’ or ‘underprivileged’ who tend to reject this system. Often some of the most intelligent and creative students see through this artificial construct and pull back from learning in school.

Some of these same students have passions outside of school they pursue as self-motivated learners. They pour themselves into hobbies, interests, and causes. They will read online for hours, they will create art or practice an instrument, or they will share ideas on message boards or through social media on all types of important topics.

We do our students a disservice when we don’t empower them as learners at school too. If students leave school less excited about learning than when they entered, we have failed them.



Learning Isn’t About Transactions Between Students and Teachers


We don’t have to use transactional systems in classrooms and schools.



Some companies choose not to use rebates. They let their product or service stand on its own merits. They communicate the value of their products with a compelling message of why they are helpful and beneficial to us. And because we believe in their product, we are willing to pay full price.

Likewise, classrooms and schools offer something extremely valuable to their end-users. What could be more valuable or more helpful than learning, for the sake of learning? But we have to remind our students of the wonder and awe of learning. We have to package it in ways that are interesting and attractive. This is especially true when they have come to view learning as part of a system of compliance to ultimately earn a grade.

Cash back rebates don’t build loyalty with consumers, whether they ultimately receive the rebate or not. And a school culture driven by points and grades won’t build loyalty with students either. It won’t transform students into self-motivated learners. Only empowerment and authentic learning experiences will do that.



Question: How do you empower your students and avoid the compliance-driven classroom? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More Does Your Classroom Offer Cash-Back Rebates?



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


I was honored to recently be a guest on John Linney’s outstanding podcast, Edspiration. John shares great ideas and does a fantastic job hosting. He has developed a really interesting format for his shows. I’ve really enjoyed listening to several of his previous podcasts. 





During my interview, we discussed adapting to change, possibility thinking, and leading from where you are, and a few other ideas. I would invite you to listen to the full episode if you get a chance. And be sure to subscribe to the Edspiration podcast in iTunes or through your favorite podcast app. I like to use Stitcher.



Alternatively, you can visit the web home of Edspiration at schoolclimateinstitute.org. Below is a rundown of a few of the key ideas we discussed, and an embedded audio player for your listening convenience.








“The secret to success is leadership, and leadership is about making the lives of your team members better.” -Tony Dungy



1. Education has been trying to improve on a system that has been fundamentally the same for 50+ years. How can we think about completely new ways to think about education?



2. Everyone can lead. We need leaders from every corner of the school. A title doesn’t make you a leader. A willingness to serve others and to take risks are excellent leadership qualities.



3. If the rate of change in school lags too far behind how things are changing in the world, schooling will become increasingly irrelevant.



4. Possibility thinking goes beyond implementing what we already know. We need to dream big and believe there is probably a better way to do most everything.



5. Innovation starts with better thinking. Innovation is spread through leadership.



6. Risk taking is dependent on the level of trust and safety in the school culture.



7. Make learning personal for teachers. How does our professional learning have potential to improve student learning?



8. How are you connecting with other educators? Build your PLN.



9. If your school is going to be successful, it’s because of strong teacher leadership.

Question: How do you lead from where you are? How do you exercise your innovation muscles? Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you!



      

Read More Leading From Where You Are


I was honored to recently be a guest on John Linney’s outstanding podcast, Edspiration. John shares great ideas and does a fantastic job hosting. He has developed a really interesting format for his shows. I’ve really enjoyed listening to several of his previous podcasts. 





During my interview, we discussed adapting to change, possibility thinking, and leading from where you are, and a few other ideas. I would invite you to listen to the full episode if you get a chance. And be sure to subscribe to the Edspiration podcast in iTunes or through your favorite podcast app. I like to use Stitcher.



Alternatively, you can visit the web home of Edspiration at schoolclimateinstitute.org. Below is a rundown of a few of the key ideas we discussed, and an embedded audio player for your listening convenience.








“The secret to success is leadership, and leadership is about making the lives of your team members better.” -Tony Dungy



1. Education has been trying to improve on a system that has been fundamentally the same for 50+ years. How can we think about completely new ways to think about education?



2. Everyone can lead. We need leaders from every corner of the school. A title doesn’t make you a leader. A willingness to serve others and to take risks are excellent leadership qualities.



3. If the rate of change in school lags too far behind how things are changing in the world, schooling will become increasingly irrelevant.



4. Possibility thinking goes beyond implementing what we already know. We need to dream big and believe there is probably a better way to do most everything.



5. Innovation starts with better thinking. Innovation is spread through leadership.



6. Risk taking is dependent on the level of trust and safety in the school culture.



7. Make learning personal for teachers. How does our professional learning have potential to improve student learning?



8. How are you connecting with other educators? Build your PLN.



9. If your school is going to be successful, it’s because of strong teacher leadership.

Question: How do you lead from where you are? How do you exercise your innovation muscles? Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you!



      

Read More Leading From Where You Are





We are trying to develop a culture of innovation in our school. Here’s why I think that’s so important. In the past, we would always try to get better at areas we felt needed to improve. We would implement this strategy or that strategy in the hopes that it would result in a better learning experience for students. Most of the ideas were not “home grown.” They were handed down from the state department or driven by standardized testing. Teachers, at times, didn’t feel all that invested and sometimes even felt the programs were being pushed upon them. Instead of nurturing an innovation culture, we had an implementation culture—implementing someone else’s ideas.



In an innovation culture, teachers are empowered to develop ideas that will create better learning opportunities for students. They are free to try new things, to make mistakes, to take risks, and to think out of the box. Since the ideas are developed by teachers in the classroom, they are invested in the process, and they understand the unique opportunities and challenges of their students and their content. They don’t have to ask permission to do what they believe is best for students. In fact, they are encouraged to look at school and learning with new eyes. So much of what we do is based on tradition and habit, even though it might not work best for students or learning.



Schools have been trying to get better at mostly the same old stuff for 50+ years. Maybe it’s time to try some new stuff. Instead of trying to repair the old things, I would suggest we consider building something new. It’s important to recognize that innovation is not just thinking of new ideas. It is about trying them out in a reflective way. It’s thinking of ideas and carrying them out.



As we have pursued a change culture in our school, we’ve thought about ways we can increase innovative thinking. But it’s also important to think about the things that keep us from innovating. Here are nine things that absolutely kill innovative thinking. 



1. “Prove it.”



More precisely, prove it with data. Schools are under intense pressure to prove results with data. But some promising innovations might not deliver results right away. The initial success does not always indicate what the long-term success might be. And moreover, some of the measures that schools are using may not be the best indicators of success in the first place. If we are relying exclusively on test scores to show success, are we really measuring the right thing?



Instead of being data-driven, we should be student-driven, and learning-driven. Look at a wide variety of indicators of success. When an idea isn’t successful right away, don’t feel that you must abandon it. If you feel it has the potential to make a positive impact, stick with it.



When an idea really takes off, we don’t need to prove it. I’ve seen things that are so wildly successful, that no one would question that it was incredibly beneficial for students. If our ideas are big enough, we will know if they are successful or not. 



2. “We’ve never done it that way.”



It’s so easy to get stuck in our patterns of thinking. Often we do the things that are familiar without another thought as to how effective they might be or if there might be a better way. It’s been said this is the most dangerous phrase in the language. That may be a slight exaggeration, but undoubtedly it is an innovation killer.



Instead of clinging to the way it’s always been, we should always question, “Why have we done it this way for so long?” Is this really what’s best, especially given how quickly the world is changing around us? If schools aren’t changing to meet the challenges of today and even tomorrow, what will that mean for our students?



Without a doubt, I think we are struggling to keep up with the changes in our world. The question is how far behind are we going to be before we make some bigger shifts in how we do business.



3. “We can’t afford it.”



There are many innovative ideas that don’t cost a thing. They just require a shift in thinking and courage to do things in a different way. I think too many schools think they can’t be innovative because of limited resources. But sometimes innovation does need budgetary support. While there are only so many dollars available for a school to spend, how funds are allocated is to some extent a choice. Instead of thinking “we can’t afford it,” maybe schools should consider “how can we find a way to afford it?” Ultimately, we shouldn’t allow the budget to kill innovation. Let’s think of possibilities to support innovation with our budgets.



4. “Our scores are great!”



Great standardized test scores can be an innovation killer. Why? Because teachers feel the pressure to keep the scores high and trying something new might result in lower scores. In many schools, a drop in scores would be considered complete failure. When the scores are high, we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back and feel that we are doing exactly what we should be doing. But is our goal to develop students who are great test takers? Or, are we trying to help students be adaptable learners and creative problem solvers? Some of the most important skills students need to be life-ready aren’t reflected in a standardized, content-driven test. 



5. “Our scores are terrible!”



Low standardized test scores can also be an innovation killer. Schools with low scores usually feel tremendous pressure to raise scores. Unfortunately, this often means a focus on remediation, with an increase in prescribed lessons, test-prep, and drill-and-practice. These methods may result in higher scores, but they can hardly be considered authentic or innovative. Moreover, these narrow-minded methods don’t prepare students to be adaptable or lifelong learners. It’s extremely difficult to think big and be bold when the focus is on fixing low test scores.



6. “That’s not how I do it.”



As George Couros has been quoted, “Isolation is the enemy of innovation.” Teachers who want to do it their way, without considering other possibilities, are detrimental to an innovative culture. This type of thinking resists collaboration and sharing work. Instead of looking for ways to work together, this attitude builds walls to protect my turf. 



7. How would we ever do that?”



One of the quickest ways to kill a creative brainstorming session is to start trying to figure out “how” the idea would work. Many great ideas were shot down because they didn’t seem possible at first. Until later, someone had the courage to give it a shot, to think in a different way, and then it became successful. Instead of focusing on “how” right from the start, think about “why” the idea might be important. Then, if the idea is important enough, you can figure out the “how” later. When something is important enough, you find a way to make it happen.



8. “We only use research-based practices.”



We can learn much from education research. But to think that we are only going to adopt ideas that have been proven successful in the research literature seems very limiting to me. If we only do the things that have been proven to work, what is the opportunity cost? Are there ideas that might be incredibly beneficial in our school that aren’t established in research? Most schools that focus exclusively on research-based practices are the ones that are trying to grow and get better at the same old stuff. They are not the ones trying to transform education so that schools are fundamentally different in ways that benefit today’s students. Research-based practices is a focus on the past. Forward-thinking practices are ones that look to prepare students for a future that will require different skills than ever before.



9. “Just one more thing.”



When educators have too many things on their plate, it becomes difficult to be innovative. There’s not enough margin in our time to think, dream, create, and experiment. This results in any new idea feeling like it’s just one more thing. And that is an innovation killer. Schools need to carve out time for teachers to collaborate, think, and develop ideas. I think it’s great for teachers to have their own Genius Hour, a time to work on projects they are passionate about. It’s one more way to encourage an innovation culture in your school.



Question: What are some other innovation killers? How can we overcome these challenges to create schools of the future? I want to hear from you. Respond by leaving a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More The 9 Innovation Killers in Your School





We are trying to develop a culture of innovation in our school. Here’s why I think that’s so important. In the past, we would always try to get better at areas we felt needed to improve. We would implement this strategy or that strategy in the hopes that it would result in a better learning experience for students. Most of the ideas were not “home grown.” They were handed down from the state department or driven by standardized testing. Teachers, at times, didn’t feel all that invested and sometimes even felt the programs were being pushed upon them. Instead of nurturing an innovation culture, we had an implementation culture—implementing someone else’s ideas.



In an innovation culture, teachers are empowered to develop ideas that will create better learning opportunities for students. They are free to try new things, to make mistakes, to take risks, and to think out of the box. Since the ideas are developed by teachers in the classroom, they are invested in the process, and they understand the unique opportunities and challenges of their students and their content. They don’t have to ask permission to do what they believe is best for students. In fact, they are encouraged to look at school and learning with new eyes. So much of what we do is based on tradition and habit, even though it might not work best for students or learning.



Schools have been trying to get better at mostly the same old stuff for 50+ years. Maybe it’s time to try some new stuff. Instead of trying to repair the old things, I would suggest we consider building something new. It’s important to recognize that innovation is not just thinking of new ideas. It is about trying them out in a reflective way. It’s thinking of ideas and carrying them out.



As we have pursued a change culture in our school, we’ve thought about ways we can increase innovative thinking. But it’s also important to think about the things that keep us from innovating. Here are nine things that absolutely kill innovative thinking. 



1. “Prove it.”



More precisely, prove it with data. Schools are under intense pressure to prove results with data. But some promising innovations might not deliver results right away. The initial success does not always indicate what the long-term success might be. And moreover, some of the measures that schools are using may not be the best indicators of success in the first place. If we are relying exclusively on test scores to show success, are we really measuring the right thing?



Instead of being data-driven, we should be student-driven, and learning-driven. Look at a wide variety of indicators of success. When an idea isn’t successful right away, don’t feel that you must abandon it. If you feel it has the potential to make a positive impact, stick with it.



When an idea really takes off, we don’t need to prove it. I’ve seen things that are so wildly successful, that no one would question that it was incredibly beneficial for students. If our ideas are big enough, we will know if they are successful or not. 



2. “We’ve never done it that way.”



It’s so easy to get stuck in our patterns of thinking. Often we do the things that are familiar without another thought as to how effective they might be or if there might be a better way. It’s been said this is the most dangerous phrase in the language. That may be a slight exaggeration, but undoubtedly it is an innovation killer.



Instead of clinging to the way it’s always been, we should always question, “Why have we done it this way for so long?” Is this really what’s best, especially given how quickly the world is changing around us? If schools aren’t changing to meet the challenges of today and even tomorrow, what will that mean for our students?



Without a doubt, I think we are struggling to keep up with the changes in our world. The question is how far behind are we going to be before we make some bigger shifts in how we do business.



3. “We can’t afford it.”



There are many innovative ideas that don’t cost a thing. They just require a shift in thinking and courage to do things in a different way. I think too many schools think they can’t be innovative because of limited resources. But sometimes innovation does need budgetary support. While there are only so many dollars available for a school to spend, how funds are allocated is to some extent a choice. Instead of thinking “we can’t afford it,” maybe schools should consider “how can we find a way to afford it?” Ultimately, we shouldn’t allow the budget to kill innovation. Let’s think of possibilities to support innovation with our budgets.



4. “Our scores are great!”



Great standardized test scores can be an innovation killer. Why? Because teachers feel the pressure to keep the scores high and trying something new might result in lower scores. In many schools, a drop in scores would be considered complete failure. When the scores are high, we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back and feel that we are doing exactly what we should be doing. But is our goal to develop students who are great test takers? Or, are we trying to help students be adaptable learners and creative problem solvers? Some of the most important skills students need to be life-ready aren’t reflected in a standardized, content-driven test. 



5. “Our scores are terrible!”



Low standardized test scores can also be an innovation killer. Schools with low scores usually feel tremendous pressure to raise scores. Unfortunately, this often means a focus on remediation, with an increase in prescribed lessons, test-prep, and drill-and-practice. These methods may result in higher scores, but they can hardly be considered authentic or innovative. Moreover, these narrow-minded methods don’t prepare students to be adaptable or lifelong learners. It’s extremely difficult to think big and be bold when the focus is on fixing low test scores.



6. “That’s not how I do it.”



As George Couros has been quoted, “Isolation is the enemy of innovation.” Teachers who want to do it their way, without considering other possibilities, are detrimental to an innovative culture. This type of thinking resists collaboration and sharing work. Instead of looking for ways to work together, this attitude builds walls to protect my turf. 



7. How would we ever do that?”



One of the quickest ways to kill a creative brainstorming session is to start trying to figure out “how” the idea would work. Many great ideas were shot down because they didn’t seem possible at first. Until later, someone had the courage to give it a shot, to think in a different way, and then it became successful. Instead of focusing on “how” right from the start, think about “why” the idea might be important. Then, if the idea is important enough, you can figure out the “how” later. When something is important enough, you find a way to make it happen.



8. “We only use research-based practices.”



We can learn much from education research. But to think that we are only going to adopt ideas that have been proven successful in the research literature seems very limiting to me. If we only do the things that have been proven to work, what is the opportunity cost? Are there ideas that might be incredibly beneficial in our school that aren’t established in research? Most schools that focus exclusively on research-based practices are the ones that are trying to grow and get better at the same old stuff. They are not the ones trying to transform education so that schools are fundamentally different in ways that benefit today’s students. Research-based practices is a focus on the past. Forward-thinking practices are ones that look to prepare students for a future that will require different skills than ever before.



9. “Just one more thing.”



When educators have too many things on their plate, it becomes difficult to be innovative. There’s not enough margin in our time to think, dream, create, and experiment. This results in any new idea feeling like it’s just one more thing. And that is an innovation killer. Schools need to carve out time for teachers to collaborate, think, and develop ideas. I think it’s great for teachers to have their own Genius Hour, a time to work on projects they are passionate about. It’s one more way to encourage an innovation culture in your school.



Question: What are some other innovation killers? How can we overcome these challenges to create schools of the future? I want to hear from you. Respond by leaving a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More The 9 Innovation Killers in Your School

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens in our school with strong teacher leadership. Programs come and go. So do principals. But teachers are consistently in a position to create change and positively impact their classrooms and the entire school. 



We often think of teacher effectiveness as what happens with classroom instruction. And that is one very important part of how teachers lead and exert influence. But there are many other ways teachers can contribute to positive change.








Teacher leadership is not limited to a title or role, such as department head, instructional coach, etc. While it is great to have teachers in formal teacher-leader positions, it’s important to recognize that leadership is more about actions than defined roles and responsibilities. 










Leadership, in essence, is concerned with making the lives of your team members better and doing what is best for them in the long run. Here are 11 ways teacher leadership can drive change in your school.




1. If we want to empower students, we need to empower teachers. Students need greater voice and choice, so do teachers. Teachers are more likely to offer student-driven learning experiences if they have the same opportunities to drive their own experience.


2. Teachers understand the challenges and the opportunities. Too many ideas for education have been imposed from outside sources, sometimes originating from bureaucrats with little knowledge of a classroom. Teacher leaders know first-hand the complexities of learning, and how to develop solutions that work.



3. Teachers influence other teachers. When teachers take risks, it encourages others to take risks too. Change can be difficult, but with support from other teachers, it’s much easier.








4. Solutions developed by teachers are more likely to succeed. Why? Because if we believe in something, we will find a way to make it successful. Whether it is the best idea or not might not even matter. We’ll make it successful because we believe it is the best idea. 



5. The closer the goals are to the classroom the better. We get maximum results when students and teachers are developing goals together. 








6. Teacher leadership builds teamwork, trust, and shared ownership. When teachers lead, it creates greater interdependence. Team members play to their strengths and contribute in ways that make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.



7. Teachers are professionals and deserve to make professional decisions. Too many schools have a culture of permission, where teachers feel they must clear decisions they believe will be best for students. We need a culture of intention, not a culture of permission.



8. Leadership provides opportunities to grow. We cannot effectively explore our talents or potential without opportunities to lead. Using our talents to serve others is leadership. If we hope to create positive change, we have to be willing to grow and have the courage to challenge our own assumptions. We aren’t the school we used to be, but we’re not the school we want to be. 



9. Teacher leaders are culture builders. Nothing is more important in our schools than developing a strong culture. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they recognize how their voices matter to help set the tone for a caring, productive, learning-focused culture. Changing culture isn’t always easy to quantify, but it’s one of the most important things we can do. Every school should strive for a stronger culture.

10. Teacher leaders change lives. I’m constantly amazed at the ways teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students and colleagues. Every time I see this type of commitment, I see leadership in action. Change happens in a school one person at a time.



Question: What are ways teacher leaders drive change in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 10 Ways Teacher Leadership Drives Change

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens in our school with strong teacher leadership. Programs come and go. So do principals. But teachers are consistently in a position to create change and positively impact their classrooms and the entire school. 



We often think of teacher effectiveness as what happens with classroom instruction. And that is one very important part of how teachers lead and exert influence. But there are many other ways teachers can contribute to positive change.








Teacher leadership is not limited to a title or role, such as department head, instructional coach, etc. While it is great to have teachers in formal teacher-leader positions, it’s important to recognize that leadership is more about actions than defined roles and responsibilities. 










Leadership, in essence, is concerned with making the lives of your team members better and doing what is best for them in the long run. Here are 11 ways teacher leadership can drive change in your school.




1. If we want to empower students, we need to empower teachers. Students need greater voice and choice, so do teachers. Teachers are more likely to offer student-driven learning experiences if they have the same opportunities to drive their own experience.


2. Teachers understand the challenges and the opportunities. Too many ideas for education have been imposed from outside sources, sometimes originating from bureaucrats with little knowledge of a classroom. Teacher leaders know first-hand the complexities of learning, and how to develop solutions that work.



3. Teachers influence other teachers. When teachers take risks, it encourages others to take risks too. Change can be difficult, but with support from other teachers, it’s much easier.








4. Solutions developed by teachers are more likely to succeed. Why? Because if we believe in something, we will find a way to make it successful. Whether it is the best idea or not might not even matter. We’ll make it successful because we believe it is the best idea. 



5. The closer the goals are to the classroom the better. We get maximum results when students and teachers are developing goals together. 








6. Teacher leadership builds teamwork, trust, and shared ownership. When teachers lead, it creates greater interdependence. Team members play to their strengths and contribute in ways that make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.



7. Teachers are professionals and deserve to make professional decisions. Too many schools have a culture of permission, where teachers feel they must clear decisions they believe will be best for students. We need a culture of intention, not a culture of permission.



8. Leadership provides opportunities to grow. We cannot effectively explore our talents or potential without opportunities to lead. Using our talents to serve others is leadership. If we hope to create positive change, we have to be willing to grow and have the courage to challenge our own assumptions. We aren’t the school we used to be, but we’re not the school we want to be. 



9. Teacher leaders are culture builders. Nothing is more important in our schools than developing a strong culture. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they recognize how their voices matter to help set the tone for a caring, productive, learning-focused culture. Changing culture isn’t always easy to quantify, but it’s one of the most important things we can do. Every school should strive for a stronger culture.

10. Teacher leaders change lives. I’m constantly amazed at the ways teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students and colleagues. Every time I see this type of commitment, I see leadership in action. Change happens in a school one person at a time.



Question: What are ways teacher leaders drive change in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 10 Ways Teacher Leadership Drives Change





Brent Catlett (@catlett1) and Brad MacLaughlin (@IsdBrad) led a great session at #edcamplibertyWhat Great Leaders Do Differently in 2016. I really enjoyed the discussion. It was everything EdCamp should be. There was enthusiastic participation from the room. Lots of great ideas were shared. 



In fact, several ideas were actually applauded. How cool is it that educators are gathering on a Saturday morning to discuss leadership and cheer each other on? The session gave me plenty of inspiration for this post.



So what do great leaders do differently in 2016?



1. They lead themselves first. Instead of focusing on managing others, they lead by example and model the qualities they would like to see in others.

If I am going lead anyone, I have to lead myself first via @IsdBrad #edcampliberty

— Brent Catlett (@catlett1) March 12, 2016



2. Great leaders take risks. They view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Great leaders make others feel safe to try something new. They understand setbacks.



3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens with strong teacher leadership. #edcampliberty

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) March 12, 2016



4. Great leaders are flexible. They see problems as opportunities. They are comfortable with ambiguity.



5. They are present. The entire school is their office. Traditional leaders might manage from behind a desk, but 2016 leaders can work from anywhere.

School leaders need to be visible and available for both teachers and students. #edcampliberty

— Scott Miller (@Miller_BHS) March 12, 2016



6. Great leaders are instructional leaders. They are out of the office for a reasonto be supportive of learning.



7. They are authentic. They admit mistakes. They are self-aware. They know their strengths and weaknesses. 



8. Great leaders are digital leaders. They recognize what it takes to succeed in a digital world. They are modeling the use of digital tools.



9. They are quick to give credit. And even quicker to shoulder blame.




Great leaders share the credit and shoulder the blame. Tweet this image.



10. Great leaders know their stuff. They are lead learners. They remain curious and are always seeking to learn.



11. They listen. And strive to understand. They lead with empathy. They lead with heart.

Leaders learning alongside teachers impacts change in school systems! It is about listening and the conversation! @catlett1 #edcampliberty

— Tracey Kracht (@TraceyKracht) March 12, 2016



12. Great leaders help others reach their goals. They don’t impose their own goals or organizational goals. They start with helping individuals grow.



13. They generate enthusiasm. They have a great attitude, have great energy, and inspire others to be stronger and more enthusiastic too.



A common theme seemed to be that schools should be ‘flat’ organizations instead of hierarchies. And leaders should be working alongside other team members, in classrooms and hallways, and not separate from them. We need more great leaders for 2016 and beyond. Judging by the group at #edcampliberty this shouldn’t be a problem!



Question: What are your thoughts on great leaders for 2016? What do they do differently? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.








      

Read More What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016





Brent Catlett (@catlett1) and Brad MacLaughlin (@IsdBrad) led a great session at #edcamplibertyWhat Great Leaders Do Differently in 2016. I really enjoyed the discussion. It was everything EdCamp should be. There was enthusiastic participation from the room. Lots of great ideas were shared. 



In fact, several ideas were actually applauded. How cool is it that educators are gathering on a Saturday morning to discuss leadership and cheer each other on? The session gave me plenty of inspiration for this post.



So what do great leaders do differently in 2016?



1. They lead themselves first. Instead of focusing on managing others, they lead by example and model the qualities they would like to see in others.

If I am going lead anyone, I have to lead myself first via @IsdBrad #edcampliberty

— Brent Catlett (@catlett1) March 12, 2016



2. Great leaders take risks. They view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Great leaders make others feel safe to try something new. They understand setbacks.



3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens with strong teacher leadership. #edcampliberty

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) March 12, 2016



4. Great leaders are flexible. They see problems as opportunities. They are comfortable with ambiguity.



5. They are present. The entire school is their office. Traditional leaders might manage from behind a desk, but 2016 leaders can work from anywhere.

School leaders need to be visible and available for both teachers and students. #edcampliberty

— Scott Miller (@Miller_BHS) March 12, 2016



6. Great leaders are instructional leaders. They are out of the office for a reasonto be supportive of learning.



7. They are authentic. They admit mistakes. They are self-aware. They know their strengths and weaknesses. 



8. Great leaders are digital leaders. They recognize what it takes to succeed in a digital world. They are modeling the use of digital tools.



9. They are quick to give credit. And even quicker to shoulder blame.




Great leaders share the credit and shoulder the blame. Tweet this image.



10. Great leaders know their stuff. They are lead learners. They remain curious and are always seeking to learn.



11. They listen. And strive to understand. They lead with empathy. They lead with heart.

Leaders learning alongside teachers impacts change in school systems! It is about listening and the conversation! @catlett1 #edcampliberty

— Tracey Kracht (@TraceyKracht) March 12, 2016



12. Great leaders help others reach their goals. They don’t impose their own goals or organizational goals. They start with helping individuals grow.



13. They generate enthusiasm. They have a great attitude, have great energy, and inspire others to be stronger and more enthusiastic too.



A common theme seemed to be that schools should be ‘flat’ organizations instead of hierarchies. And leaders should be working alongside other team members, in classrooms and hallways, and not separate from them. We need more great leaders for 2016 and beyond. Judging by the group at #edcampliberty this shouldn’t be a problem!



Question: What are your thoughts on great leaders for 2016? What do they do differently? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.








      

Read More What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016