Sunday, May 28, 2017

Get Up, Show Up, Never Give Up

Just last week we held commencement for the graduates of the Bolivar High School Class of 2017. I always like to provide a few words of encouragement for the graduates. But I also like to keep my remarks brief. I try to follow the public speaking advice of President Franklin Roosevelt who said, "Be sincere, be brief, and be seated." My message this year was to always Get Up, Show Up, and Never Give Up! 

Something curious happens every year at Bolivar HS. There’s an outbreak of a mysterious illness. It’s symptoms include loss of energy, excessive sleep, lack of motivation, procrastination, apathy toward school work, excessive tardies, and in the worst cases truancy.

I see the affects of this peculiar illness and hear about it from students, teachers, and even parents. They say things like, “Dr. Geurin, I think maybe Garrett is suffering from a bad case of senioritis.” Yes, it's the dreaded senioritis.

Class of 2017, by a show of hands, how many of you have felt the affects of senioritis this year?

Now here’s the real question, "Parents and teachers, how many of you have felt the affects of senioritis this year?"

It’s often thought the only cure for this terrible affliction is graduation. And here we are today. Without a doubt, graduation does greatly relieve the symptoms. But I’ve found there are often times in life where symptoms arise that are a lot like ‘senioritis.’ There are times you’re tired, you’re done, you feel like you just don’t care. You don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. 

We’ve all experienced that. So if graduation doesn’t cure your ‘senioritis’ permanently, here are a few ideas for overcoming it if you have an unfortunate relapse in the future. Here are three tips to overcome senioritis - Get Up, Show Up, and Never Give Up!

1. Get up 

Attack each day with enthusiasm. Bring great energy, excitement, and passion to whatever you do. A perfect example from the Class of 2017 is Doug. He never failed to bring a ton of energy and excitement to BHS. Okay, so a few times there was a little TOO much energy from Doug. Maybe that had something to do with that Good Morning ringtone we heard about a million times.

2. Show up!

Show up each day with a great attitude in every situation. An important part of success is being fully present. It's being consistent. People can count on you. It’s showing up every day. Cal Ripken, Jr. did it in baseball. He played in 2,632 consecutive MLB games. He was nicknamed The Iron Man. But BHS has it’s own Iron Man. One member of the class of 2017 has gone from Kindergarten thru his Senior year with missing a single day of school. That is an amazing feat. I’d like for Jose Hernandez to stand so we can give him a hand for this incredible accomplishment.

3. Never Give Up

Here you are today. You didn’t give up. Senioritis may have tried to bring you down, but you didn’t let it get the best of you. And even when you didn’t win every time, like at float building for instance, new opportunities always came along. You are Polk County grinders. You are Liberators. You know how to take on a challenge. Success is NOT about never getting knocked down. It’s about getting back up every time.

So when ‘senioritis’ strikes again in the future, know that you are well-prepared to fight it off. You know how to persevere and finish strong. And remember you’re not alone. You’re part of a very important and select group of people, the Bolivar HS Class of 2017. You’ve left a strong legacy here!

Part of that legacy is incredible achievement. The Class of 2017 has earned so far, nearly $2.9 million dollars in scholarships. That sets a new record topping the previous mark by over $600,000.

Class of 2017, I am very proud of you and your accomplishments and it’s been truly an honor to know you and be a part of your high school years. I wish you the best. I believe in you. I know you’ll do great things. You'll be world changers! God bless you all!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

5 Myths of Digital Leadership

The use of technology in schools continues to rise each year. By 2019, spending for education technology is expected to be more than $55 billion. More and more schools are utilizing devices as part of routine, daily learning. 

And this shift is happening for good reason. The world is becoming increasingly digital, and students will need skills that involve using technology to create, connect, and learn. A recent article claimed that just having the word 'digital' listed on your resume improved your chances of landing the job.

As technology becomes even more pervasive in schools, the need for effective digital leadership will increase as well. Even now, I believe it's impossible to be an effective leader unless you are also an effective digital leader. All educators need skills for using digital tools to support and transform learning.

But there are also a number of myths about digital leadership I want to dispel. There are often misunderstandings about what it means to be a digital leader.

1. Digital leaders are tech geeks.

You don't have to be a technology geek to be an effective digital leader. It's great if you have strong digital skills or love technology, but it's more important to be an expert about learning. The most important thing is the willingness to learn more about technology. It's great if you're a tech geek, but it's essential to be a learning geek. And, it's critical to recognize the importance of technology to help you and your students leverage skills. 

Every digital leader should strive to learn more about using tech and strive to make that learning visible. I'm often considered a tech-forward principal, but I learn something new every day. It's not as important to have all the technical knowledge as it is to model the mindset of a constant learner.

2. Digital leaders are always administrators.

It's very important for administrators to be digital leaders, but they aren't the only ones in the school who can do the job. We need leadership from every corner of the school. It takes collective leadership to really support the culture of digital learning that is needed in schools. Change is hard, and there are often leaders in the school besides the administrator who can help champion the cause of using technology for learning.

3. Digital leaders force everyone in their schools to use technology.

Effective digital leaders don't look for technology to be used at every turn. They don't force technology on people. Instead, they constantly model, teach, and inspire. They start with why it's important to for students to use technology, and then they challenge people to grow. They don't want technology being used just for the sake of technology. They want to see digital tools being used when it makes sense to use them and when it supports learning. They encourage teachers to use digital tools in ways that transform learning.

Every educator is at a different place with their skills and their mindset about technology. Digital leaders honor teachers as learners and support them wherever they are in their learning journey. Even when growth is slow, if the educator is growing, that is success.

4. Digital leaders love everything about technology.

Not true. Digital leaders can fully see the importance and relevance of technology and still not love everything about technology. Sometimes technology is a pain. It hovers somewhere between being a blessing and a burden. And there are some parts of technology we don't have to embrace. No one likes it when technology doesn't work. Devices can be a huge distraction. There are all sorts of dangers online. People get addicted to the internet. And the list goes on. Some of these challenges work directly against learning.

But clearly there are incredible benefits to technology too. Digital leaders work tirelessly to overcome the pitfalls of technology use to help make sure teachers and students have what they need to leverage these tools for productive use. There isn't a single challenge I've seen that can't be overcome with inspired leadership and careful planning.

5. Digital leaders spend the whole day tweeting.

Completely false. There's no question that digital leaders tend to be connected leaders and one of the best ways to connect is through Twitter. In fact, Twitter has been one of the best tools for professional learning I've ever encountered, and it has been an invaluable resource in my own digital leadership, and in my leadership overall.

But effective digital leaders are busy each day supporting learning in their schools in hundreds of face to face interactions. Not everything that happens in a school is digital, nor should it be. Our goal in our school as we transitioned to a device for every learner was to improve the quality of our conversations at the same time. We want better learning with digital tools, while at the same time increasing the quantity and quality of discussions happening in classrooms.

Question: What other myths or misunderstandings do you see about digital leadership? What are the biggest challenges digital leaders face? I want to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

You Can Never Be Your Best If You're Too Busy

I arrived home from school one day this past week to find our trash can turned over on its side with trash littering our yard. I had set the container at our curb that morning expecting it to be picked up by our trash service. It was a very windy day and now there was a real mess to clean up. I grabbed my cell phone and immediately called to demand answers to this terrible injustice.

"Yes, why wasn't my trash picked up this morning? All my neighbors had theirs picked up? And now my trash has blown all over my yard." So there you have it!!!!

"Oh I'm so sorry about that, sir. Please let me help you with that."

"By all means, you better help me with this," I thought to myself, applauding my assertiveness at not letting this mistake pass without it being addressed.

"What's your address, sir?"

"4404 S 146th Rd."

"Sir, it looks like your trash gets picked up on Thursdays."

I'm quite aware that our trash gets picked up on Thursdays. The problem in this scenario is that the day I set out the trash was Wednesday. I set the trash out on the wrong day!!! 

At this point, the conversation turned in a completely different direction as I backpedaled furiously.

The month of May is the busiest month of the year for me. There are so many end-of-the-year events, responsibilities, and tasks that have to be done. I'm sure many of you can relate. I am constantly on the go and have very little time to power down and allow my mind a little much needed rest. 

And maybe that's why I set the trash out on the wrong day. But that's not the end of my missteps.

Sunday at church, there was a time to shake hands and welcome others and that type of thing. I left the row where I was sitting to walk over and visit with some of our high school students and former students. As the service moved on to the next phase, I hustled back to my seat.

Only it wasn't my original seat. Pretty soon I felt a tapping on my shoulder, only to turn around and see my wife's beautiful smile. I sat down in the row in front of her. I didn't make it back to where I started. Most of the congregation saw this comical scene. I scrambled back to my actual seat, the one next to my wife, and all I could do was laugh uncontrollably. Pretty much the whole church was laughing too. I'm glad I could brighten their day.

But once again, I have to think the hectic schedule I've been keeping played a role in my lack of focus. When there are so many things racing through your mind, it's tough to concentrate.

By nature, I'm a doer. I am always thinking of the next project or possibility. If I'm not careful, I can turn into a human doer, instead of a human being. You see, we were created to have times where we allow ourselves to just be

To just be still.

To be quiet.

To be at rest.

To be recharged, refreshed, and renewed.

If we are always doing every moment, we won't have the time for just being.

I'm very thankful my mistakes did not have serious implications. But it did cause me to reflect on my schedule and how I can make sure I'm fully present and showing up well even in the month of May.

I read an article recently about how we Americans are wearing our busyness as a badge of honor. If we're not careful, we can get caught in a trap of feeling we need to do more and more and more. 

But it's hurting our ability to be our best. 
When people feel that they are busy, they tend to make short-term decisions and not focus on the things that really matter in the long term. They stop investing in their personal development, and they no longer try to think of new ways to approach work.
Busyness also undermines our ability to achieve complex problem solving, creativity, and empathy, skills that the World Economic Forum has identified as needed for success in the future.
When you’re busy, you become less creative, less imaginative, and less engaged.
This past Sunday, we had graduation for the Class of 2017 and the school year has ended, so my summer schedule is already kicking in. While I have still have plenty to do, I am committing to slow down a little and remember to say no to some things.

It's time to just be for a little while.

Question: Do you wear your busyness as a badge of honor? What are you doing to slow down, refresh, and recharge regularly? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. When you share your stories and wisdom it's appreciated!
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