Connected Principals Posts



I was taught as a kid that the things that you put into your mind would have an influence on who you are and who you are becoming. Garbage in, garbage out. How you fill your cup will determine what spills over in your life. 



Actually, at the time, I remember thinking some of this was just to keep me from listening to the “wrong” type of music in my teen years. 



I think my understanding of the concept was over simplified and more focused on what I should not do. But it has just as much to do with what we should do.

The Bible puts it this way…

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free of perversity;

keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead;

fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet

and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left;

keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:23-27

Now I understand more clearly the truth of this. We really do become what we think about about. The things that we focus on become more visible to us, more evident, in every area of life. It becomes our lens. And that influences our behavior.



When our family bought a Chevy Malibu a few years ago, all of the sudden I noticed how many Chevy Malibus were on the road. I had never noticed before, but these cars were everywhere. 



When a student or parent says to me, “There’s so much drama in high school” I find it interesting because I know others who haven’t experienced all of that drama. They see social conflict everywhere because it’s the paradigm they engage with. Others mostly avoid the drama, because they focus their attention on other things.



Tony Robbins has described it this way, “Where your focus goes, energy flows.” You move in the direction of the things you focus on. Your energy goes toward those things.



When you practice gratitude, it’s amazing how you will notice more things to be grateful for. I believe you actually start to have more things to be grateful for. Good things come to people who believe the best and expect the best.



Les Brown said it simply, “What you think about, you bring about.”



Below are 8 things that will influence your growth and who you are becoming. We often think this is the type of advice our students need, and for sure they need to hear this message. But I think we all need to reflect on these things. Everyone needs this message.



How are we spending our time? What are we putting into our minds, rehearsing in our minds, and how can we ensure that it is leading us where we want to go? The patterns of our mind are powerful. They can empower us or defeat us.



The things we think about influence our effectiveness in every area of life. If you want to be a more effective educator, friend, spouse, or neighbor, think about how you are being intentional with these things.



8 Things That Influence Who You’re Becoming

1. What you watch

2. What you listen to

3. What you read

4. What you believe

5. How you spend your time

6. Who you spend your time with

7. The things you say to yourself

8. The thoughts you choose to accept



What would you add to this list? What stands out to you on this list? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to hear what you think.

Read More 8 Things That Influence Who You’re Becoming

My friend and an educator that I have incredible admiration for, Bill Ferriter, recently wrote a post titled, “The Best Innovation Ever” where he discusses the importance of relationships in…

Read More Relationships at the Core

My friend and an educator that I have incredible admiration for, Bill Ferriter, recently wrote a post titled, “The Best Innovation Ever” where he discusses the importance of relationships in his classroom environment. He wrote the following: It was a different kind of year for me for one simple reason:  I stopped scrambling to find … [Read more…]

Read More Relationships at the Core

Jenny is a returning student at her high school. She has a part-time job which keeps her up late most nights. When she arrives late to school, she has already missed breakfast and she’s tardy. She stands in a long line at the counseling office until she is given her class schedule. She reads it […]

Read More PMP157: Preparing for the Start-of-School Year

This tweet: This tweet is enough for an entire blog…It is a good reminder for working not only with students but adults as well. But also this tweet. That’s the…

Read More “I’m glad you’re here.”

This tweet: This tweet is enough for an entire blog…It is a good reminder for working not only with students but adults as well. But also this tweet. That’s the entire post. A reminder so much can be said in a tweet. June 23, 2019 Starting from Where the Learner ThrivesMay 7, 2019 Defining Your … [Read more…]

Read More “I’m glad you’re here.”

Elisabeth Bostwick, author of “Take the LEAP; Ignite a Culture of Innovation,” recently shared this post on “behavior charts.” She opens her post with the following: Early on in my career, I didn’t realize that spending an abundant amount of time creating behavior charts was unnecessary. I also didn’t realize that it was a waste of … [Read more…]

Read More Knowing Your Students As Individuals to Help Them Grow Forward

From Wikipedia: Derek Anthony Redmond (born 3 September 1965) is a retired British athlete. During his career, he held the British record for the 400 metres sprint, and won gold…

Read More With the Support of Others

From Wikipedia: Derek Anthony Redmond (born 3 September 1965) is a retired British athlete. During his career, he held the British record for the 400 metres sprint, and won gold medals in the 4×400 metres relay at the World Championships and European Championships.[1] I don’t know what brought me back to the story of Derek … [Read more…]

Read More With the Support of Others

When my family recently visited the Rocky Mountain National Park, we enjoyed drives through snow-peaked mountains.  But my 13-year old son, Jack, was most excited about hiking and climbing. One morning, we gathered the family by Shadow Mountain Lake, and began a hike along the lake that eventually led to a 3-mile ascent to a […]

Read More PMP156: 6 Tips for Managing School-Wide Changes

From the article, “4 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”, Eric Barker shares some humbling ideas that make you think about how you approach life. He summarizes the article with these four ideas: These are four harsh truths that will make you a better person: You’re going to die: You have a deadline. … [Read more…]

Read More Time is Short

From the article, “4 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”, Eric Barker shares some humbling ideas that make you think about how you approach life. He summarizes…

Read More Time is Short

In the leadership blog, “Lead Change,” the article “Addicted to Change” starts by discussing exactly what the title suggests; leadership is often addicted to continuous change.  As indicated by the author, purposeful change begins with why you are changing, but it takes time and a focus on depth for any critical change to be meaningful to the … [Read more…]

Read More Purposeful Change That is Focused on Depth and Time

In the leadership blog, “Lead Change,” the article “Addicted to Change” starts by discussing exactly what the title suggests; leadership is often addicted to continuous change.  As indicated by the author, purposeful change begins with why you are changing, but it takes time and a focus on depth for any critical change to be meaningful to the … [Read more…]

Read More Purposeful Change That is Focused on Depth and Time



I noticed an educator recently who had ‘change agent’ listed in her Twitter bio. I thought that was cool. I think every teacher, every educator for that matter, should be a change agent. We aren’t just teaching lessons, we’re cultivating potential. We’re helping students become world changers. We are helping them build capacity in a variety of ways. Academics is only one part of what we do.



This summer I’ve read a number of books on change. One that was especially helpful was Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I wanted to share a few of my notes and how I think it might apply to classrooms and schools.



Which of the following is most powerful?



Think, Analyze, Change or See, Feel, Change



Think, Analyze, Change is when we use data, evaluation, reasoning, and research to drive change.



See, Feel, Change is when we utilize stories, experiences, connections, and emotions to drive change.



For smaller adjustments and minor behavioral changes, Think, Analyze, Change seems to work fine. But for transforming change that requires much bigger shifts in thinking and behavior, emotion is critical.



Think about the biggest decisions and the biggest changes you’ve made in your life. I bet they were more driven by emotion than by analyzing. Where you went to college. Who you married. Deciding to have children. Buying a car or home. I’m sure you used your powers of reasoning in these situations also. But there were also very strong emotions at play.



Do most people get into too much debt because of a problem with analyzing or a problem managing emotions?



It’s not uncommon for emotions to overpower the reasoning that we apply to a given situation.



So if you want the people (students, colleagues, staff) you are leading to change, it’s probably more effective to help them ‘see’ and ‘feel’ why the change is important and not just present them with the reasons why they should change. 



You can’t change them, but you can help create conditions where they can change themselves.



An example from Switch was a 1st grade teacher who told her students that by the end of the year, they were going to learn so much they would be as smart as 3rd graders. For 1st graders, it feels really good to be like a 3rd grader. It feels big and strong and important. So the teacher constantly revisited the idea that by the end of this class you’re going to be like 3rd graders.



Our emotions are often driven by our identity, and we tend to act in ways that are consistent with how we see ourselves, who we believe ourselves to be.



Change agents use See, Feel, Change to help others see themselves in new and powerful ways. They see them not just as they are now, but for who they are becoming.



Here are five ways to use See, Feel, Change as a teacher or principal or parent. You can use these in any role.



1. Give people experiences.



Powerful experiences can be transformational. I remember moments my thinking changed entirely at a conference. We’ve sent teachers to Ron Clark Academy, even though we’re a high school. And some of our teachers have credited that experience with a whole new trajectory in their teaching.



2. Give people affirmation.



Affirmation is not just giving a complement. Those are good too. But affirmation is seeing qualities in someone they may not see in themselves. My high school coach saw potential in me when I didn’t believe in myself. That made all the difference. The person who influences you the most isn’t the person you believe in. It’s the person who believes in you. All of our students are future world changers. See the good in them.



3. Give people responsibility.



If you want people to rise, give them responsibility. It’s amazing how the opportunity to take the lead can change a pattern. When you give responsibility, it shows faith and trust in someone. They don’t want to let you down. The new responsibility can disrupt the pattern of disempowerment they’ve experienced.

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” -Booker T. Washington.

4. Give people hope.



Some of our kids are hopeless because they don’t think it matters what they do. Nothing will change. So we need to constantly tell stories of courage, perseverance, and triumph to let them know what’s possible. We must give people something to believe in. Things can get better. We always have the power to decide. And our decisions will determine our destiny.



5. Give people connection.



And finally, give people connection. For people to change, they need to feel a sense of safety and belonging. They need to feel secure. They need to know they matter, that someone is listening, and that their presence here is making a difference. 



What are you thoughts on being a change agent? Is that something that’s important to you? How are you driving change? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Read More Are You a Change Agent?