Friday, July 7, 2017

5+2: Affirmations & Rethinks

With the upcoming #npc17 upon us, I’ve done some reflecting from this past year and what I would like to learn more about going forward. Here are my 5 + 2: Five leadership affirmations and two rethinks.

A1- Leadership relationships, like emotions, are not static. There will be times that you will need to tell people what they do not want to hear, press a cause they do not want to accept, and point them in a direction they would not prefer to go. Preserve your human capital for the right time. Make every deposit you can, because the role of leadership guarantees you are going to make withdrawals. Too many withdrawals and not enough deposits will leave the relationship bankrupt.

A2- Express your ideas and vision clearly enough for those whom you serve, who are consumed with tasks and challenges of their own, will respond. Persuasion through trust of your character will carry a greater impact than your position’s fiat. Work to define your role, but do not be defined by your role.

A3- Realize the majority of the masses act in schools pretty much the way they might with religion. Every doctrine is more or less a matter of faith, received on account of the people’s trust they put in their apostle. The challenge with this is twofold: if they don’t believe in the messenger, they won’t believe the message. The leader needs to beware that going apostate begins when they believe more in themselves rather than in those they serve.

A4- Believe in people, and support them through connecting them to their purpose. Believe especially in teachers and educators that are closest to the students. Assume their best intentions - that they wake up each day to change the lives of students. Educators have been charged with doing the nearly impossible, and they do it every single day. Support them, create the conditions needed for success, and celebrate the learning and growth.

A5- Your example is your best leadership tool. Period.

My two questions I’m specifically working to retool around:

R1- How do I create and support a culture where students take greater ownership for their own learning, and telling the story of their learning? Related: How can schools tell their story? Looking forward to connecting with educators such as ,  @casas_jimmy , and @TonySinanis  to learn from their experiences. 

R2- How might our district blend students’ performing successfully on student achievement tests as defined by state assessments (the accountability system of education; what gets put in the state comparison listings) while ensuring schools are relevant for students and their learning (being accountable to students about what really matters most to them)? I’ve been a learner in Change.School with @willrich45 , and am looking to connect with others who are looking to truly challenge and change our schools.

I'm looking forward to learning your thoughts - affirmations and questions. What's your 5 + 2?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

One Person

I've always been a proponent of the power of relationships in learning. My recent experiences and learning confirmed and extended my belief to further pursue a greater understanding of others' impacts on my learning.  

Steve Gilliland stated: "One person, in a single moment, can change and define direction." He followed with the challenge of identifying five people who changed the direction of your life. Who would make your list? Take a moment, right now... the top five people who made the greatest impact on my life are __________.

Chances are an educator made your list. Or at least, a caring adult from your formative years who encouraged you and invested in your success. Someone who saw some genius/talent/skillset that could be ignited and developed.

Three of my five included influences from my younger years:
*Ms. Weber, my first grade teacher, with whom I credit teaching me to read so that the world continues to be open to me because I am literate.
*Mr. Haws, my middle school math teacher who taught me that I could do algebra & geometry, despite my learned helplessness in math during my upper elementary years. He also taught me that daily effort pays off - significantly.
*Coaches Steve Witcher & Jim Nickell (yes- I'm cheating here...2 for 1), my swim coaches who taught me the science of swimming fast. More important, they taught me there was a big difference between being a winner and being a champion.

As I reflect on this list, each of these people taught me specific skills. But more importantly, they stood out to me because of the manner in which they taught me. They believed that I could own the content of their teachings and turn them into something amazing. I believed in them, and because I believed in them, I believed in what they were teaching me. In teaching me, they reinforced this lesson: Relationship and content are both important; and so is the order.

Consider the reciprocity of this influence list: Who would put you on their list?

Recently I heard Dr. Adam Saenz, author The Power of a Teacher, state: "Education did not change my life. Educators changed my life." Given my choice of a career is in education, the statement gave me pause for reflection. Saenz is right on. It's not the school system or buildings, the oversight or administration, or any other formalized education structures of "school." My third grade classroom, my high school facilities, or my college lab did not change the direction of my life. But the adults who led me in those settings did, with their planned lessons & experiences, impromptu life lessons, and in the manner in which to developed me. They changed and improved my life.

I was fortunate to have many; three listed here, but there are certainly more. Unfortunately, too many of our students may not even have caring adult in their life who changes or improves their now and their future. As Rita Peirson taught us: “Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

Each of us can be that one person for someone else. One person can make a difference. One person can change the trajectory. One person can influence culture. One person…