Reflections of life, leadership, and the pursuit of excellence.
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Day 5 (21 Days of Gratitude)
I am not going to go too deep on my gratitude today; quite simply, I am grateful for college football. There is not much that I enjoy more than sitting in my living room and watching games on Saturdays throughout the fall. There is something about the atmosphere of a college campus during football Saturdays that I love including tailgaiting activities, crisp fall weather, and an unbelievable amount of excitement and pride. I have been very fortunate to attend a couple of games this season, as I traveled to State College, Pennsylvania and Iowa City in consecutive weeks. Whether I am watching a game with 107,000 people in Beaver Stadium or taking in USC vs. UCLA in the cozy confines of my living room, I love everything about the game of college football.
When I was a little boy and first learned how to ride my bike, I had all kinds of difficulties. I would struggle with balance, fall down often, and accumulate my fair share of scraped knees. This was not an easy task, as it took several hours, days, and weeks of guided practice before I mastered the proper technique. I don't remember a great deal about the process other than my mother and father pushing me to stick with it while providing me with a great deal of feedback and encouragement. I bring up this memory not only because I am in the process of unsuccessfully teaching my six year-old how to ride a bike, but also because I think it is applicable to our work with students.
Many years ago I was teaching fifth grade and the students were given an open response problem to solve independently as part of their first math assessment of the year. These types of problems are based on real-world scenarios and require deep thought. There are infinite ways of coming up with an answ…
The embedded podcast above features a conversation that I had with Greg Deutmeyer and Jenny Hillebrand; it takes a deeper look at the content within this post. I hope you enjoy it.
I am going to say what's been on my mind for the past 4 months. After listening to the debates, watching the political events leading up to the election, and the first week in office, I am deeply worried about what the future holds for us. More importantly, I am worried about the behavior being modeled to my seven and four year-old boys by the so-called leaders at the highest level.
As educators, we work extremely hard to develop a variety of academic skills whether we are providing direct instruction, project based learning, or facilitating a discussion about a current event. The academic content that we teach kids is extremely important and should never be underestimated; however, what matters most to me are the critical life skills that will serve our students for many years to come.
Over the past few weeks I have been learning about culture, climate, engagement, teamwork, and leadership in a variety of texts, articles, podcasts, and blog posts. As I continued to read, listen, and reflect, I kept asking myself what separates the great teams and organizations from the rest.
There have been many books written by authors who have a lot more experience and research than me and are quite a bit more articulate on this topic; however, within this post, I am going to explain what I believe separates the best from everyone else.
Plain and simple, the best schools, districts, teams, companies, and organizations have created and operate within an "all in" culture. In places like this, everyone from the teachers, custodians, secretaries, administrators, food service workers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, school counselors, instructional coaches, and anyone who serves the school feels valued and clearly understands that what they say and do matters every minute of …