Don’t forget…relationships should include parents too! What do parents want from a principal?

I recently participated in #IMMOOC (Innovators Mindset Massive Online Book Course with hundreds of ed enthusiasts.  Today my featured post comes from one of the educators that I had to privilege to encounter.   Her name is Amber Teaman and she is principal of Whitt Elementary in Wylie ISD in Wylie, Texas.

Her post is fantastic and one of my all-time favorites!

In it she discusses what she would want her parents to know about her, her passion for education, and her passion to help their students be successful.  Before she releases these 5 heartfelt ideas she has one of her parents highlight the parent perspective.  What a parent would want from their principal.   Before I give away the details-take 10 minutes and read it now.  You will not be disappointed!

 

Should high school be more like the real world? These innovators think so

The USA Today recently shared a great post called “Should high school be more like the real world? These innovators think so“.  It highlights the work of Powderhouse Studios.

Here is part of the introduction:

“The high school, set to open in a repurposed former school building in Somerville, Mass., next year, won’t have grade levels or traditional classes. Instead, students will be immersed in interdisciplinary projects that tap into their interests and ambitions. They’ll divide their days between seminars and project-based work, meeting with faculty for guidance regularly. And students will go to school year-round from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., taking vacations based on their families’ schedules. Classrooms, lectures and lesson plans – the things traditional schools are built on – won’t be a big part of daily life at Powderhouse.

In short, Powderhouse will look more like a workplace than a high school.”

This piece is so powerful that it is a MUST READ.  These educators are taking innovation to the next step and taking a HUGE risk.   They are taking #placebaseded and #makerspaces to the next level.  I can’t wait to read about and see how successful this school is.  I believe they are on an amazing track for success.

4 Common Creativity-Killers + How to Avoid Them

Krista Gray highlights “4 Common Creativity-Killers + How to Avoid Them“.  Here is an excerpt from her article:

“Learning to channel your creativity to produce awesome work is one of the most valuable skills you can develop (and use to stay inspired!) this year. Not only will your ultra-original style set you apart, whether working on quick projects or making your wildest DIY dreams come true, but it can help you share all your feels for a happier, healthier you.”

This had me sold!  I am all about finding fast, efficient ways to make my life better and she comes up with 4 killer ideas AND provides us with an idea to solve them!!  Here the four but you will have to read the article for the details!

  1. Having Super-Specific Expectations
  2. Your Regular Old Routine
  3.  Insecurities of a Fear of Being Judged
  4. A Time Crunch (or a Hard Stop)

Featured image is borrowed from Studybay

The #1 Leadership Trait

Great leaders see the value in relationships, innovation, taking risks, supporting others, accountability, honesty, communication, the list goes on.   These traits can be debated over and over again but when you look at each trait, I feel that there is a larger trait that connects them all, humility.

“Humility is the number 1 trait that all leaders should strive to achieve.”

Think of a leader that you work(ed) with that was humble.  Answer these questions about that person (I’ll do the same):

  1. Were they trustworthy? (Me-yes)
  2. Were they good at building relationships? (Me-yes)
  3. Were they empathetic? (Me-yes)
  4. Were they open to others opinions? (Me-yes)
  5. Were they able to reflect? (Me-yes)
  6. Were they micro-managers? (Me-no)

This is an ideal leader!  If one is humble; they are empathetic, honest, and open-minded while also able to reflect, let people do their jobs, and accept ambiguity.  Who doesn’t want to work for a humble leader who:

  • Supports you in taking risks
  • Trusts your judgement
  • Accepts when you make mistakes
  • Admits when they make mistates
  • Listens and shows empathy
  • Encourages you to grow
  • Inspires you through modeling all of these

Not me!  Give me a leader who is humble all day because I know that they are that and more!

 

 

Leaders of 2017

One of my favorite things that Education Week does is it created the Education Week Leaders to Learn From.  It highlights Ed Leaders and then puts ALL of their success stories in 1 location!  Honestely it was part of the inspiration for me to start my website and my newsletter.  There are SO many resources available, and I value my time, so I wanted to find easy ways to share information with my peers that I found valuable.

The purpose of this post is to simply share the link to the Leaders of 2017!  This year has a list of 13 amazing educators and this link will provide you access to their amazing stories.

Image is borrowed from Education Week Leaders to Learn From

The Power of Family

How many of you have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of a “family”?  I use the quotations here because the term “family” has MANY variations.  Websters defines a family as: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.  In school this would have a different meaning.  As educators, I believe that if we lead our students as we would lead our own family, relationships will blossom!  James Comer summarizes how the power of relationships will impact learning.

Isn’t this worth investing time in!? I recently had a revelation about the power of family and how it has influenced me.

I am the oldest/2nd oldest, on either side of my family and growing up was taught to provide a great example for my younger family members.  On my dad’s side of the family we have “family dinner” at my grandmother’s house EVERY Sunday.  People miss here and for different reasons but the beauty of this was talking with them about how my week was, what’s new, having a group to support me, etc.

It was here, in these moments, where I always wanted to have something great to say that would make me look good, feel good, but most importantly not disappoint anyone.  I was pretty good at being a role model, I believe, up until I started to disconnect myself from my family.  After college I got married which quickly turned into a divorce.  Suddenly I was no longer confident in my answers to how was your week, what’s new, etc.  I fell into a dark place for almost two years and always found salvation in teaching and my classroom family but was uncomfortable to share with my real family.

Then I met my wife, reconnected with family, created a family of my own (we have 3 beautiful girls), and have a job that I am passionate about.  It has completely restored my drive and desire to be a role model, leader, father, and husband.  I feel like I did when I was 18 but now have weathered some storms and feel stronger in my own skin that I ever have before.  I rediscovered who I am.

“Sooooooooo Justin, great story of redemption but what does this have to do with education?”

I believe that if we build families at school then our students will grow and behave similar to how I do with my own family.  If we want to significantly help our students grow and learn, this occurs with significant relationships.  As teachers, we have the ability to develop a family within our classrooms.  My goal as a teacher was to create an environment where my kids felt safe, appreciated, and most importantly, loved.  In Episode 1 of my podcast Perspectives in Education, I talk with a former student of mine and she reflects on what it was like to be a part of my “family” at school.   It takes time but the benefits are priceless.

I found that my students started to act like me when I was around my family.  They knew that each day I was there to greet them, be there for them, support them, but at the end of the day I was going to ask them how their day was.  They did not want to disappoint me so slowly I started to see growing as they learned more about themselves.  They were taking control of their lives in school, I feel, because of the power of family.  They wanted to share positive stories, try new things, and grow into someone that I and their classmates respected.

This is the power of family.  It is developing a group of people that support, love, believe, and listen to you.  Through these powerful relationships, your students can change, evolve, and grow.  Think back to a teacher that influenced you the most.  What did you love about them?  Did you ever want to disappoint them with behavior, not completing homework, or failing tests?  Odds are you did the best in those classes because of the relationship you built with them.  Don’t you want to be the one that your students still talk about 10, 20, 50 years from now?

Bottom Line

This is your chance!  Cultivate and plant family atmosphere with your students, water them daily with love, empathy, grace, and understanding, provide them a voice, and most importantly LISTEN, and watch your family grow!  It will change your life and the life of your students.  I am confident in it because of seen in first hand and also because family changed mine.

 

 

TEDx Talk – I’m 17

“A world of creative collaboration between adults and students” – Kate Simonds

Have you ever sat down with a student and they express some very powerful feelings and you respond with, “Your only _____ (a kid, 17, a child, in high school, middle school, etc.) , you don’t understand”

I know I have and the funny thing is I remember being told that when I was young and I did not take to it nicely, yet still, I did it to my students.  “Treat others as you wish to be treated” applies to not just current, real world scenarios but also to experiences that we have already gone through.

Take 13 minutes and 38 seconds to watch Kate Simonds provide a TEDx talk in Boise, Idaho and it might change your perspective.  She blew me away.  You can feel her passion, the anxiety of being a teenager on such a big stage, and she absolutely kills it!!

Hats off to you Kate!  I hope to get you on my podcast, Perspectives in Education soon because your perspective is important and needs to be recycled through the ed world!

Featured image is borrowed from Idaho News

Leadership is a Choice

Eric Sheninger has an amazing blog called A Principal’s Reflections.  One of this posts resonated with me and I am just getting to share it with out all now, “Leadership is a Choice“.

Throughout my career as a child, teenager, student, athlete I was looked at as being a “leader” or having the characteristics of one.  The best part about this post is how Eric highlights that just because you have the characteristics to be a leader, you still have to CHOOSE to do so!

“Everyone has the ability to lead and our schools need more educators to embrace this challenge. Never underestimate your own unique talents and abilities that can help shape the future of our schools to create a better learning culture that students deserve. Some of our best leaders are right under our nose – our teachers and students.  Great leaders not only understand this, but also help these key stakeholders make the choice to lead. ”

 

Growth Mindset, Building Significant Relationships , and Achieving Your Dreams

Episode 1: Student Perspective

Our first guest for our podcast was Miashanti Smith.  She was a student of mine who had an amazingly positive attitude on life.  Miashanti dreamed of playing professional football and I remember laughing, in my head of course, because she was a young woman.  Little did I know that their was a professional football league and now, she is a significant role player for the Pittsburgh Passion.  Outside of her dream she also faced a variety of other hurdles to tackle: oldest of 12 siblings, living in a dangerous neighborhood, being identified as having special needs, and just being a teenager trying to fit in.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The power of LISTENING
  • Growth Mindset
  • Dealing with Adversity
  • Urgency in Education – How that influences the learning process
  • The POWER of Building Significant Relationships

Please share and comment!  Would love to get feedback and suggestions.  If you are interested in sharing your story, please reach out to me!

 

10 Big Ideas We Are Learning Through Our High School Internships

Internships is something that I was never lucky enough to experience in high school but have worked at 2 high schools that offered them and they are GREAT!  I would love to see more schools go to this model because it teaches our children so many things.

This post comes from Getting Smart and is highlighted by two 9th grade students who share 10 things they are learning through their internships.

iris and kim.jpg

Image borrowed from Getting Smart

Here are their 10 but you know the drill… you have to check the article for the details!

  1.  Focus on Curiosity and Interests
  2. Be Yourself
  3. Celebrate Uniqueness
  4. Follow Dress Code and Language Code
  5. Use Connections
  6. Conduct Interviews, Follow-ups, & Job Shadows
  7. Do Your Paperwork
  8. Be a Good Communicator
  9. Keep in Touch
  10. Trust Each Other: “Once you’re at Big Picture you never really leave”