Connected Principals Posts

When I was in Grade 4, my teacher, Miss Butler, ended the year by giving everyone a personalized card that wrote about the unique things she saw in me in the classroom.  As my parents owned a restaurant, she thanked my family for providing pizza for the class, and also acknowledged my sense of humor … [Read more…]

Read More Simplest Gestures Are Often the Most Memorable

In a recent workshop, I was asked: “Do you think that kids should just be able to bring phones to the classroom whenever they want?” At the end of the…

Read More The Trust Default

In a recent workshop, I was asked: “Do you think that kids should just be able to bring phones to the classroom whenever they want?” At the end of the answer, I always share that ultimately, the decision should be with the teacher as they know their community the best, but here are some things … [Read more…]

Read More The Trust Default

Oklahoma has experienced its share of storms and severe weather this spring. The other day, our family was sitting in our storm closet as sirens were sounding at 6:30AM. Afterwards, I was driving my seventh-grade son, Jack, to school. As we approached the school, I began to predict how his principals would manage the morning. […]

Read More PMP154: Parenting as Principals – Do’s and Don’ts, Part 1

Picture by Mari Andrew I saw this picture on Imgur by Mari Andrew, and I love it because of the simplicity, yet powerful emotions it evokes. Rough times will always…

Read More This Moment

I saw this picture on Imgur by Mari Andrew, and I love it because of the simplicity, yet powerful emotions it evokes. Rough times will always happen, but they will not stay.  Good times will happen, but they will not remain. That is part of what it is to be human. The trick is not … [Read more…]

Read More This Moment

Early on in my career as both a teacher and principal I encountered a number of upset parents. At times, some of them were livid, talking crazy we might say, and other times on the brink of losing their minds […]

Read More Thinking Differently About an Upset Parent

I am a total sucker for quotes.  I feel short quotes are often like great song lyrics in the way that they tell the consumer a story made for their interpretation in a way that is needed at the moment.  This article providing quotes on criticism has some thought-provoking ideas from different viewpoints. For example, … [Read more…]

Read More The Growth from Accepting and/or Ignoring Criticism



How do you define student achievement? Is student achievement defined by how students perform on some type of standardized assessment? When politicians, policymakers, and lots of educators too, talk about raising student achievement, it usually means raising test scores.



The problem is that test scores are a very narrow way to define student success and student achievement. That definition favors a certain type of student, magnifying a certain type of skill set, while diminishing a whole range of other factors that can lead to success academically and in life.


So why is it the current definition of student achievement is always tied to how students perform on one test that happens in one moment once a year? I want to see more emphasis on student agency. I want to find ways for students to connect to what they are learning, to apply what they are learning, to do things with their learning that are making a difference. To me, when students exercise agency and demonstrate growth, that is achievement.


When we are driven by preparing kids for a test, we may neglect preparing them for life. I’m not saying we can’t prepare kids for the test and for life, but too often I think that’s exactly what’s happening. The test is driving everything in some schools. 


But does the learning stick? Will students remember the things they must know for the test? I really like how Will Richardson put words around this idea. He says we need to aim for learning that results in permanence. We should seek learning that has lasting value. When students have agency and ownership in learning, it’s much more likely to have long term impact. When it connects to their passions and their goals, they’re much more invested emotionally and intellectually.


Another question I would raise is this, does the learning shift perspective? Simply learning content and using it to answer test questions doesn’t necessarily change who you are or how you see the world. And I think education should always result in more empathy and understanding. It doesn’t just change what you know but helps you better understand who you are and how you can make a bigger difference.



If we want more permanence and perspective in education, we have to be willing to invest in agency. We must empower students and teachers to do things that are bigger than just mastering content standards. We have encourage creativity and connection and allow for learning that taps into strengths and passions.



So let’s aim to get a better balance between achievement and agency. Achievement won’t solve the world’s problems unless our students learn they are powerful problem solvers. They must know first and foremost the significant agency they have to make a difference.



What are you thoughts? How are you specifically equipping students with greater agency and empowerment in your classroom and school? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Balancing Achievement and Agency

I am trying to work through some thoughts, so bear me as it is one of those “write to learn” posts. My daughter Kallea and I are watching the movie Smallfoot (which she loves but basically if there is music and it is animated, she will love it) and there is one part in the … [Read more…]

Read More Keeping “Purpose” in the Forefront

When Principal Jen Schwanke was talking to one of her teachers about the importance of balance, her teacher asked an honest question. “Why should I do this when you don’t?”  Jen realized then that she had been modeling bad habits for her teachers. For instance, when she sent emails to teachers at 10:00 PM, she […]

Read More PMP153: Maintaining Balance and Focusing on What Matters, Part 2



Kindness is more than being nice. It’s great to do nice things for people, and that’s certainly part of being kind. But true kindness goes deeper. It tests our character because it isn’t always easy. Most everyone is kind to others when they feel like it, or when other people are nice to them.



But here are 7 questions that take it deeper. These might be good to discuss with your students or even with your colleagues. I know I need to consistently reflect on these to keep growing and developing my own kindness qualities.




1. Are you happy for others when they succeed?



True kindness doesn’t envy the success of others. It’s being happy for others and celebrating with them and for them. 


2. How do you treat people who can do nothing for you in return?


Some people are kind to gain status or favor or tangible rewards. But true kindness shows up strongest with selfless motives, expecting nothing in return.


3. How do you treat others in times of crisis?


When things are spiraling out of control, that tests how committed we are to kindness. Do you still treat people respectfully and with dignity even when it’s a crisis?


4. Are you able to maintain respectful dialogue with someone who strongly disagrees with you?



Disagreement doesn’t have to result in disrespect. We should be able to share different perspectives without feeling diminished or making others feel diminished.


5. When you make a mistake or act poorly, do you take full ownership? Do you apologize immediately and sincerely?



Kindness doesn’t make excuses. If you make a mistake, admit it and do what you can to make it right.


6. Do you have positive beliefs about others? Do you look for the best in them? Do you believe the best about their intentions?



A person who is kind believes the best about others. It’s being the type of person who can see the strengths in others, even when they’re hard to see.


7. Are you able to forgive others for their mistakes? Are you able to forgive even if they don’t apologize or admit their mistake?



Holding a grudge is definitely not a kindness quality. But sometimes it’s hard if the other person doesn’t apologize. But true kindness is tested by the hard stuff.



What are other ways you can think of to show kindness? Leave a comment or respond on Facebook or Twitter. It would be great to hear from you!



        

 

Read More 7 Questions to Reflect on Kindness

Jeff Kubiak posted this image on Twitter: LOVE! The concept of “focusing on strengths” is something that I have shared in “The Innovator’s Mindset,” and dive into deeper in my next book, “Innovate Inside the Box” (Coming out in August 2019).  One of the ideas that I discuss as a “Core” element is focusing on … [Read more…]

Read More Empowering Learning Through Student Strengths

Jeff Kubiak posted this image on Twitter: LOVE! The concept of “focusing on strengths” is something that I have shared in “The Innovator’s Mindset,” and dive into deeper in my next book, “Innovate Inside the Box” (Coming out in August 2019).  One of the ideas that I discuss as a “Core” element is focusing on … [Read more…]

Read More Empowering Learning Through Student Strengths