Friday, July 29, 2022

Share Your Learning with Others

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What does it mean to share your learning with others? 

I've noticed that some educators are very good at sharing their beliefs. In other words, they share their philosophy. They might share what they believe about grading, or classroom management, or homework to name a few. And perhaps there can be some benefit to these discussions. But the benefit is limited because beliefs are sometimes entrenched and static. They don't lead to any kind of action or change. These conversations seem to be common in some education circles.

I've also noticed that some educators are very good at sharing their preferences. In other words, they share what they like or don't like. I don't like using technology. I like direct instruction. I don't like to see a cell phone in my classroom. I like to work with certain types of students. It's their preferences, and we all have them. Sometimes people share their preferences in the form of a complaint, and that really doesn't inspire anyone.

Sometimes educators share their methods or their strategies with others. This type of sharing can be really helpful when they have developed skills that are highly effective and can be replicated or implemented by others. I've noticed that some educators are reluctant to learn from what works for someone else. They seem to want to do things their way, even if it isn't the best way.

But the best type of sharing I've observed is when educators share their learning with others. When you share your learning, you are creating a powerful dynamic. You're saying, I used to think this, but now I think this. You might share your beliefs or preferences or methods, but you share how they've updated based on your current learning.

You're setting an example that you're a learner, that your practice is not static or entrenched. You're helping to create an environment in your school that is open to learning and growth. You don't come across as an expert or know-it-all when you share your learning. You're showing humility that you're willing to change. And that's leadership.

Keep learning. Keep sharing. Keep leading.

How do people respond when you share something you're learning? Is your school open to growth and change? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Good Intentions vs. Being Intentional

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The most effective and the least effective people in any profession have many of the same intentions. Most everyone has good intentions. They want to be successful in their work. They want to make contributions. They want to perform to the best of their ability.

And the same is true for educators as well. Educators want to make a difference for kids. Most every educator wants to make a greater impact, unless they've lost their way somehow.

But what ultimately makes the difference is not our intentions. It's our actions. It's having an indomitable will. It's preparing for success and then putting into practice our plan of action. It's developing the skills and habits needed to be great.

This time of year I'm always thinking ahead to the new school year and what I want to accomplish and where I need to improve. How can I drive better results and outcomes? How can I be a better leader?

My intentions are similar each year. I want stronger relationships. I want increased engagement. I want learning to be at the highest level possible. I want to inspire others to expand their capacity and be their best. I want to be the most supportive and encouraging principal possible.

But in spite of my good intentions, very little will change unless I am very intentional. 

To be intentional means to have specific actions to carry out your intentions. 

To be intentional means you have goals, plans, and steps forward.

To be intentional means you develop your habits to get the most out of your time and energy.

To be intentional means that you don't just hope to create change, but you impose your will to create change.

To be intentional means you implement design thinking to solve problems and develop solutions. You think strategically.

I want to caution here that I'm not suggesting that anyone needs to work harder this coming school year. I'm assuming you work extremely hard already and take great pride in how hard you work. This last year educators were pressed in on all sides. You can't work any harder!

However, I've noticed that even though I work hard every day, my results are not the same every day. Some days I seem to get more done. I'm more productive. I touch more lives positively. And I believe those are the days I'm most intentional. I keep first things first. I own my time instead of letting my time own me.

On those best days, I bring my "A-game." I want to bring my "A-game" every day! I want to be more intentional every day.

As you think about the upcoming school year, don't plan to work harder, plan to work smarter.

Move beyond having good intentions to BEING more intentional.

What are some ways you want to be more intentional this upcoming school year? How will you make sure that happens? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Behavior Is Communication: But How Should We Respond?

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All behavior is communication. It can provide us important clues about a child and let us know that something is wrong or that something is missing.

Most behavior is driven by legitimate needs. It's just that kids (and many of us adults too) don't always have the skills and maturity to meet our legitimate needs in legitimate ways. But everyone wants to have their needs met.

A compassionate and caring educator looks beyond the behavior to see the need. So instead of getting frustrated, angry, or impatient, they are curious and understanding. They try to see things from a different perspective.

A student's behavior usually says more about what they're going through than what they're trying to put you through. How many times has a student acted out or shown up poorly because of environmental factors? Something happened at home, at the bus stop, or during lunch? 

Or maybe an inner battle is happening because of past trauma or hurt.

So how can we respond to better understand what is behind the behavior?

Try these ideas depending on the age of the student and the situation. Be curious in how you respond to the child.

1. "Talk to me about the meaning behind what just happened."

2. "Talk to me about what you wanted when that happened."

3. "Share what you were experiencing (or what you were feeling) when that happened."

Notice these responses are not delivered as questions, and they could be just as easily. I heard Mike Rutherford present earlier this week, and he made a great point about how questions can feel like they should have a right answer. They have more power to make us defensive than a statement.

Also, these prompts are completely open ended. Avoid asking questions that make assumptions or feel accusatory. So don't ask...

Are you having a bad day?

What happened to you?

Why did you do that?

All of these questions are unlikely to be helpful. They will probably make the situation worse or the student will be less likely to open up and be reflective. 

If we can help students better understand their own needs and behaviors, then we are helping them to develop important skills to self-regulate. Punishing behavior may ensure compliance to rules, but it doesn't teach kids how to manage their own behaviors.    

What do you think about this quick behavior tip? What else would you add to this advice? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.