8 Keys for Striving for Excellence

In any career or task the individual works to attain a certain level of success. A new teacher may feel successful after completing the 1st year of teaching, a veteran teacher feels content when they have lessons/units planned out well in advance and an administrator may feel satisfied once they are in their building for several years. However, this type of approach is not sufficient in today’s rapidly changing world – our students deserve the very best. All educators must improve day to day and get better. In short, educators must strive for excellence in all that they do. No one person is perfect – but striving for excellence does not mean that someone is perfect. Instead, it means that the individual recognizes that they must continually get better at their craft as students need their best. To do this, learners try to learn at all times in a variety of ways as they recognize that learning can happen anywhere, anytime. This consistent approach on striving to get better leads to excellence.  From my perspective and learnings from others, I think there are 8 ways that learners strive for excellence in everything they do.
1. They focus on what they can control – In many situations there will be problems or challenges that may range from lack of budget, schedule constraints, lack of enthusiasm……but leaders focus on finding solutions and not focusing their time/efforts on things that they have no control over.
2. They model the behaviors they want to create – When striving for excellence, others will look at the leaders and see how they handle stress, conflict, interactions with people – so how a leader models kindness, positive intent, empathy and a focus on kids will resonate with people.
3. They gather energy from interactions with others – Leading can be draining both physically and emotionally. Leaders who strive to make daily impact when they interact with others in a positive way get energy and strength from those individuals. In turn, they listen to the needs of others and provide encouragement to their work. This strengthens the relationships and builds greater momentum.
4. They never stop learning – Leaders continually find new ways to learn from others. This may be through social media such as Podcasts, Voxer Chats, Twitter or Facebook. But it also includes reading books and listening to others through conversations.
5. Reflection is a constant part of their routine – Leaders always reflect on current practices and ask “why are we using that practice” and “is there a better way that can be achieved”. This reflection allows leaders to challenge the status quo.
6. Inspire others and their behaviors through influence – Leaders recognize the most impactful thing they can do is Influence others by supporting them, encouraging their growth and providing them feedback along the way.
7. They develop leaders through shared vision – Leaders recognize that the “smartest person in the room is the room” and strive to help others realize that when they work together there is no limit to what can be accomplished.
8. They create sustainable change – Leaders know that they cannot do it alone; the most powerful thing they can do is create leaders who can carry on when they are not there so the organization continues to run at high levels in their absence.
If you are reading this then you are already striving for excellence. I would be curious on how you strive for excellence and what aspects do you recognize that are important in your growth and others as we strive to provide the very best for kids. Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

Learn
Empower
Adapt
Delegate
Engage
Reflect
Serve

Power of Momentum

The change in schools is rapid across our country as educators strive to prepare students for an evolving world. This includes change in instructional strategies, technology, grading practices, schedules, assessments and social emotional learning practices. What allows the “change” to be successful? It is momentum.

Momentum by definition is the “motion of a moving body” and in education you could relate it to the practice of learning a new skill, implementing it, reflection/adjustment and then further implementation that leads to sustained success. As I have read, listened and learned from others such as John Maxwell – the question becomes “why do some initiatives gain momentum and others fade away?” Listed below from my perspectives are the 8 reasons why momentum allows change process to be successful.

  1. When the change process is considered, the leaders must keep efforts FUTURE DRIVEN so the change will ensure students/schools can strive for excellence in a changing world.
  2. In any change process, there must be a FOCUS to “why” change must occur. This keeps everyone’s attention on how it helps students and the learning experience.
  3. The educators involved in the change will use past experiences and learn from it to SHAPE the change that fits their school and systems. Do not try to fit someone else’s change to your system – make it yours!
  4. The foundation of schools are people, so the change process must involve people COLLABORATING in highly effective/efficient levels.
  5. During any change, it is imperative to CELEBRATE small wins and do this by all members of the team.
  6. The leaders/educators must show PASSION for “why” the change is needed so it truly impacts the most important part of schools – the students.
  7. The change process must create ACTION within it that leads to a positive difference for students. Words by themselves do not create change nor does hope – only does true action.
  8. In any change process there will be mistakes – the leaders must show CHARACTER and admit mistakes, learn from it so that desired adjustments can be made for long term success.

Schools are in a constant state of change due to many variables. Some of these are internal and others are external and beyond control. It is important school leaders keep the above-mentioned aspects in mind so momentum is developed and leads to accelerated change for sustained success.

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about the ways you sustain momentum in the change process within your school and organization. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

 

How do we change our culture?

Education leaders and learners recognize the most important aspect impacting schools and student achievement is the culture. But what is school culture, how do you improve it and what should you avoid as a leader?

Here are some key points regarding school culture that I learned from the folks within my PLN on what is culture, how to change it, how to make it positive and build a strong culture over time.

School Culture Defined

Culture is the school’s personality or behavior (why staff do things). It is a slow process to change and the culture influences the values and beliefs of those that work there. On the other hand, Climate is the attitude of the staff within the school and this can change much quicker than culture.

Ways to shake up the culture

To change the culture, then it is important to disrupt the status quo that may include using things like:

  • Praise and compliment risk taking
  • Make meetings fun and celebrate efforts of those that are supporting the desired culture
  • Push boundaries of past practice so staff can consider “why did we do what we have done” and “is there a better way”?
  • Encourage the development of your most effective teachers so they grow into leaders
  • Embrace an open culture
  • Create an amazing school environment

How to build positive culture

  • Building positive culture is a series of intentional interactions focused on positivity and what is best for kids
  • Clarify what success looks like and keep the focus on a few essential elements
  • Monitor progress along the way and address issues as they arise
  • Express gratitude everywhere you go
  • Honor the right people and reward the right things
  • Celebrate areas of success (no matter how small)
  • Maximize the strengths of your people
  • Real growth occurs by connections and relationships

How to build a strong culture

  • Help the staff to connect to their values
  • Identify a common vision that is supported by effective professional learning
  • Develop teacher leaders who help lead Professional Learning
  • Develop a culture of innovation and empowering students
  • Raise expectations by supporting teachers by pushing them beyond their comfort zone
  • Engage with students, staff and parents
  • Bring positive energy every day
  • Seek feedback from the students, listen to them and act upon it

Culture is the most significant factor influencing the success of a school. Culture drives expectations and beliefs and that leads to the behavior of the staff. As leaders, we help decide that culture by our modeling, our passion, optimism and purposeful tasks. As Simon Sinek shared, “Leadership isn’t about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” Leaders must support, encourage and develop the staff so the culture becomes the positive driving force behind school change.

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you regarding your view of school culture. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Why Communication Matters

As we all start the new school year, there are many opportunities to create new connections, move our buildings forward and help build a school culture that is innovative and great for kids. To be effective in this role and efficient with time, all great leaders understand “why communication matters”. Communication, or the lack of it, may be one of the few factors that determines why certain leaders, initiatives, programs either are successful or fail.  Below are some important foundations of communication.

Let’s review what we know about communication:

  • Most leaders lose jobs due to poor communication and relationships rather than test scores.
  • Leaders must recognize that you must work hard every day to tell your school’s story as that is what we stand for and what the school is about.
  • Every opportunity to communicate to even just one parent will help either build your school’s vision or weaken it.
  • Always be proactive with communication to the parent community – if you are not telling your school’s story then someone else is telling it for you.

Key aspects of Effective Communication:

  • Should be truthful with stakeholders about the efforts
  • Must be Relevant/timely and must use quality communication – not quantity.
  • Use varied types of communication (ex. email, phone call, and social media) as some situations call for different types of communication. You will know your school community and what works best – but there are some instances where a personal phone call is the best way to resolve an issue instead of a simple email.
  • Timely communication is vital
  • If it is a sensitive issue – have the conversation in person (no email) and if you are concerned on how something was shared – go to the source and find out.
  • Avoid sarcasm and defensiveness – don’t make it about you – make it about moving your school forward

Communication Within your staff:

  • Begins the process of building trust among staff
  • Be Efficient with staff communication and have a routine when it is distributed compared to “all building emails” all the time (ex. have an internal weekly email newsletter)
  • Should inform/organize and motivate others
  • To build the vision and culture, keep in mind the analogy of “shout praise and whisper criticism” – so visit individually with someone when there is a concern and then collectively to everyone share the praise and supports
  • Make the praise authentic, specific and immediate

Communication is a part of a leader’s job and happens throughout the day…..every day in every email, phone conversation and social media post. It is a key attribute that effective leaders or organizations all have in common.  The role of a school leader is very complex and each day places different demands upon leaders.  Using these basic characteristics will help ensure communication is effective and moves your organization forward.

I look forward to hearing from you about your insights into the importance of communication within your role.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

3 aspects to focus on with social media in your growth

If you are reading this, that means you are a leader that has a hunger to grow more to help your school.  Great Job!  My reflection recently occurred during a long run how my growth as a learner and as a leader simply came from three areas using social media.  I recognized that most of the inspiration, ideas, and strategies for this growth has been from my PLN through social media.  In today’s modern age, there are endless Twitter chats, Voxer chats, e-books to read, podcasts to listen, webinars etc….to learn from but I found that there are “Three aspects to focus on with social media in your growth” that can maximize your opportunity.

As I share these, I hope you recognize that this is for my current role and growth as a leader.  For leaders, it will vary to an extent based upon where he/she is at in their journey as a leader.

The areas that I found gave me the greatest growth came from the following three areas:

  1. Culture – there are many great ideas out there from true practitioners on this topic. I encourage you to always learn and see if it can help drive your building forward. Culture and building it to focus on students while supporting your staff is the most important part of your role.
  2. Leadership – Yes, all of us can improve and we must continually search for those innovate ways to connect to our younger teaching staff, students with different needs than in the past and how to reconnect our parents to our schools. Most importantly, learning how to develop others as leaders is how you make a great school!
  3. Future Learning Experiences – To ensure that we are preparing our students for anything, it is essential that our classrooms develop skills in students NOW to prepare them for success. This includes instructional lessons, blended learning and the overall focus of how the learning experience occurs within your building.

As you learn new aspects and implement within your role, keep in mind the following progression to ensure quality implementation. It takes the following path:

  • Learning new instructional approaches/strategies that apply to your role
  • Apply those into your role by implementing that strategy
  • Reflect upon its impact (did it serve the right purpose)
  • Gather feedback from those that were involved in the new approach
  • Revise your approach if needed for future use

 

Use your learnings to find ways to move your school forward.  This includes:

  1. Embracing an open culture that stimulates learning
  2. Narrow the focus of your school so the staff can deepen their learning on a few essential ideas (quality vs quantity).
  3. Challenge each other to think about past practices and why those were used, how did it benefit learners and are there other options to consider that would better serve our learners?
  4. Focus on strengths of staff and maximize their impact with your school community.

 

 

In short, we must continue growing and learning as the field of teaching/learning has changed so much.  It has helped me on social media to focus on those three critical areas, as they are the backbone of growth for me as a learner and leader. 

 

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on ways you grow as a leader using social media.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

 

10 Ways to Empower students and provide leadership opportunities

As we begin to start this school year, through the myriad of things leaders must grapple with, we cannot lose sight of the most important things.  That is empowering our students and providing them with opportunities for leadership in our schools.  Below are the 10 Ways our school community works on this important aspect. I hope by sharing, it provides some reflective practices for you that perhaps you can tweak in your school or implement to help your students.  By empowering our students and giving them leadership – we place students at the heart of our school and truly transform it to a student-centered school.

10 Ways to Empower Students and Provide Leadership Opportunities

  1. Get to know your students – Yes, this sounds simple – and it is! But taking the time to getting to know your students by name and knowing their passions (and challenges), this helps them to feel valued and connected to your school. This is for teachers and administrators. For example, in the hallways, do not just say “hi”, say “Hi Sophia” – use their names and be sincere with your interactions as that will help students feel a connection to staff and the school itself.

      2. Tap into their passion – By knowing your students, think about how you can tap     into their passions within your school community that allows them to lead. For example, this past year I had the pleasure of getting to know students that were super talented with making videos (filming-editing-final product). Therefore, I enlisted their help on several occasions. This included filming different students in our front office about how “the classroom experience is motivating to them”. We interviewed and filmed enough students so that each teacher was represented and mentioned in the videos. We then showed the entire staff this video for professional development – very powerful for staff to see how their efforts are appreciated by students and valued.  These students also made videos of our assemblies and our traditions that we then put on our school website that helped to promote our brand!

  1. Get their Feedback – We try to visit with our students twice each quarter thru what we call “Feedback Loops”. We do this during student lunches and invite students to join us. We ask questions ranging from academic challenges, to if they feel supported and valued and what suggestions they have.  Their input is so valuable and real – truly from their hearts.  This has allowed us to make significant improvements in many areas.

 

  1. Listen to their needs and see trends over time – Changing our learning experiences to focus on things that can be hard to measure (ex. collaboration, communication, empathy) means we had to find a way to ask questions that allow us over time to see trends. The feedback discussions are awesome and very real. However, they do not involve all students. Therefore, to make sure we hear from all students we have developed a set of questions that we have all students respond to and we use these similar questions for many years so we can see trends in data over time. We typically do this 1-2 times each year to gather data and feedback. This is powerful as the trends in data can help inform us on so many deeper levels.

 

  1. Peer Mentors –We have developed an opportunity for students to be peer mentors and directly work with other students that have needs that need support. These mentors take this as an elective class or do this during their Advisory time. For so many mentors, this is the highlight of their day where they find value and success.  This makes school relevant for them and it is heartwarming to watch how they succeed when they help others.  Kindness at its best!

 

  1. Ambassadors – An area we learned from our students, they felt we could improve in how we welcome in our new 6th Yes, we have an orientation day where the 6th grade goes through their schedule but our students said they wanted more time to get to know each other (since they come to us from several elementary schools). Therefore, we formed our Eagle Ambassadors who are students in 7th and 8th grades that apply for this opportunity.  We have started an Eagle Camp where the student Eagle Ambassadors lead the 6th graders through “get to know you” activities, Q/A sessions about middle school, and foster kindness and positivity.  Huge success in terms of helping 6th graders feel more comfortable and the Eagle Ambassadors feeling like they are shaping our school.

 

  1. Student led parent teacher conferences – The thought of having parent teacher conferences and involving the student in the conference is powerful! We all are here for students so why should we not have them there so they can be the lead in that conversation!  When students see/feel as if they are part of their education and not just that it is being done to them is powerful – true investment.

 

  1. Student Showcase – As principal, I have 3-4 “Coffee with the Principals” each year where during the school day I meet with our parent community and discuss different aspects related to our school. We have started having our students (10-15 kids) actually demonstrate their classroom learning experience so parents see their presentations and products so the parents better understand student centered instruction and why the skills are so important.  Our kids are great at explaining why they do the things they do.  We pick random 10-15 kids and not the Eagle Ambassadors so more kids have chance to lead.

 

  1. Student Voice/Choice – Within our student-centered instruction, our teachers have done a great job of incorporating “student choice/voice” into the lessons at appropriate times. This includes instead of just giving kids a test to measure learning, they give kids 3-4 options of demonstrating their learning (ex. video, skit, drawing, presentation) that is more relevant for kids and gets to their areas of interest.

 

  1. Recognizing the Human Element – As we are all aware, societal and work force needs are changing due to computers and AI. Students must have the essential skills and the human element such as being able to be empathetic towards others, be able to be adaptable/flexible, responsible, kind, respectful, and resilient and committed. These are all essential for our students.  We have established our Eagles of Excellence recognition program where once each month we recognize 3 kids from each grade level that demonstrate a specific attribute like empathy.  The teachers choose them, administrators congratulate them and we take their picture and put in our main hall, include their names in our e-newsletter to parent community and announce to the student body.  We felt as a school if we truly cared about these non-academic skills, then we must teach them in our classes and celebrate them with our school community.

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about the ways you empower students and provide leadership opportunities.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

8 Ways to focus on things that truly matter

While the planning and organizing started in the past school year, the final weeks leading up to the start of the new school year always brings so many important details and emotions. This includes the feeling of passion, excitement and enthusiasm about the start of the year and helps all of us to remember why we went into education. However, due to so many meetings, external pressures and overwhelming emails/calls, this time of year can also be extremely busy. So the question becomes, “how do you gear up for the new school year” so you can be successful and keep your focus on the things that truly matter.

During my journey, I have learned so much from my PLN (ideas shared below come from among others Jimmy Casas, Beth Houf, David Geurin, Danny Steele, Bill Ziegler, William Parker). This collective group of educators have been valuable in my growth and allowed me to acquire new knowledge/skills while providing a soundboard to share ideas and methods.  I am grateful to their leadership to help others. I have also picked up many slogans, mantra’s, acronym’s and other valuable ways to help me remember key aspects of running a school community and how to strive for excellence during the busiest of times. The ideas that I share below deal with culture and leadership.  I hope this provides a way to help you remember to focus on the things that truly matter so you can develop as a leader, support the growth of others and help your students strive for excellence.  Here we go…….

  1. Culture….Culture…..Culture

Of all things leaders build or create during a school year, the culture of the building is the most important. Leaders always need to be working on building the culture through building relationships with others, modeling the types of behaviors they want in their school, supporting teachers and communicating to parents.

 

2. Rome wasn’t built in a day

As leaders work on culture and transform schools for the future, we need to keep in mind that the change process takes a long time.  Climate can improve quickly and certain aspects of culture can change quickly to…but the habits and behaviors of all stakeholders takes time to change.  Give yourself some grace and recognize it’s the consistency, authenticity and passion you put into the transformation that will allow true change to happen.

 

3. Be Firm with your Principles but Flexible with your practices

Leaders must have a vision of how they want to engage their school community, collaborate and function to meet the needs of the students. However, how this is carried out can change from 1 setting to the next, one year to the next and requires leaders to be adaptable, flexible and meet the needs of their teaching staff and utilize their talents/strengths to strive for excellence.

 

4. Don’t focus on change as much as you focus on growth

All schools are rapidly changing to keep pace with the demands and how they must meet the needs of their learners.  The change process can be challenging for everyone involved. Therefore, it is important to support those involved and focus on new learning and skills and how they are implemented with students.  This will lead to empowerment and staff finding that they have grown as an educator from the improvement of their work.

 

5. Confidence is the most powerful thing a principal can give a teacher and a teacher can give a student

It is important to involve teachers in the professional learning, making school wide decisions and provide them feedback upon their classroom instructional lessons. This instills confidence that they are making a difference in students and their school – this leads to confidence they pass along to students.

 

6. Shout Praise, Whisper Criticism 

Educators care and believe they can make a difference – that is why at some level any teacher went into education.  Yet, in today’s difficult times, they face many challenges and at times, they make mistakes. When those mistakes happen, privately share the concern and steps for correcting the behavior. It is even more important that when they are trying to install new practices and skills, to celebrate the small wins, give them the “pat on the back” they deserve for their effort and growth.

 

7. Lead from you feet, not your seat

Leaders must model for staff and students what they want in their school. This includes building meaningful relationships, trying new digital practices and utilizing new professional learning approaches. This also includes being visible in car line, at recess, in classrooms, at lunches and attend student activities.

 

8. Be a Thermostat, not a Thermometer

Schools are a complex organization as the challenges that students and staff face sometimes creates tension or stress. During these moments, it is important that leaders model the calm and reasonable approach to situations so that it can be resolved and all involved develop trust in their leaders.  Leaders set the tone for their buildings in every interaction they have but this is even more important during those intense moments.

 

The role of a school leader is very complex and each day places different demands upon leaders.  While it is important to be efficient and take care of issues, it is also important that leaders are effective in their craft to help transform schools. By keeping in mind some of these slogans or ideas, leaders are able to focus on the things that truly matter the most.

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about the ways you gear up for the new school year in your role as a leader to focus on things that matter the most.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Setting your vision as a leader

During the past few years, I have spent lots of time learning from others, deepening my understanding of school practices, reflecting and putting this work into action.  I have relished the opportunity to lead a school and help shape the learning experiences for students while supporting our teachers and helping them re-discover their passion for working with students.  This journey is far from over, but it has occurred to me that I have been so busy learning and supporting others, that I also need to re-assess my vision as a leader for the school community.  As leaders, we must continually have a vision for our growth as well as the school community and the staff we support.  I am curious how you are “Setting your vision as a leader” that allows for continual growth and a balance in your life.

When I think of my vision as a leader, I use an analogy that I gained from others to help reflect upon the essential core values into my work for the school community.  This is simply from my perspective, but I hope by looking at these principles it will help you to think about the vision you are creating or working on for your school community.

Learn –   Educational practices are rapidly changing to meet student’s needs. It is essential that leaders make time to get better at their skills and learn from the true practitioners in the field and their best practices. I try to spend 5 hours a week on this learning, as it is paramount to grow my skillset both as a leader and for the school community.  We then must work with staff to provide professional learning that is relevant, engaging and meets their needs.

Engage – To help the school community move forward in one direction, it is imperative to connect with the parents and staff within the community. The learning should involve everyone and be visible as the backbone of our work.  Most importantly, engage the students and take time to get their thoughts/concerns, which will help guide our process.  Overall, when I think of engaging the school community, I try to focus on developing a sense of trust with stakeholders so that everyone has a vested interest in our work.

Adapt – Continuous change will happen in education, so as leaders we must continually adapt our growth to provide the support of others.  We must be flexible and be open to change when it occurs; including the vision we have for our school.  As David Geurin shares, “be firm with your principles but flexible with your practices”.  This message resonates on how we must continually adapt to meet changing needs.

Delegate – A single leader should not try to lead a school. Collaborative leadership and maximizing the strengths of others is essential.  This builds the confidence and their capacity to lead.

Empower – By providing opportunities for others to learn and try new things, we are giving them chances to take risks, remove fear and provide innovate opportunities. This is true for professional learning for staff and then for students within the classroom as well.

Reflect – As educators, we learn by doing and trying new things. However, the learning is most impactful when we reflect upon that learning experience.  It is not important how a person reflects, but making that a consistent part of your work is essential as it helps to drive your behaviors, attitudes and efforts.  This reflection is needed for leaders but also for staff as they innovate and try new classroom experiences.

Serve – As I remind myself frequently, it is not about “me”, but rather what we can provide for our students.  In a larger scope, I think it is about what we can provide for our teachers and school community.  Servant leadership is modeling the behaviors we seek, empowering others to try new approaches to help others grow in their capacity and put the needs of the school above mine.

Reviewing these core principles help me to set a vision and a process for continual growth for our school community.  It has allowed me to set a vision on being “A Lead Learner that is future driven on helping students, educators and administrators collectively to grow and learn from each other.”  I encourage you to look at these principles mentioned above and how it applies to you in your growth as a learner for your school community.

I look forward to hearing from you and how you set your vision as a leaderComment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

What a vacation taught me as a leader

As we are in the thick of summer, I hope everyone has already had a chance to get away for a few days or will have that chance before school starts back up.  Finding time to get away is so important for many reasons. This past week I had the chance to get away for several days with my family.  While I intended to “leave work behind for several days”, I actually had great insights into my leadership growth through the activities with my family.  Here is “what a vacation taught me as a leader”?

So our vacation consisted of several days of doing outdoor activities that was aimed to get us away from the hustle and bustle (and also the constant technology for today’s youth).  It allowed us to have fun in so many different ways in the great outdoors. While I prepared meals or was swimming with my daughters, I found myself reflecting upon their experiences and how it related to leaders and their journey to improve.  Here is what I learned:

Vacation Activity Impacts for a Leader’s growth
My daughters both tried new outdoor activities that they had never previously done. This was their idea and made us so proud. This reminded me that the only way to grow is to learn new skills/strategies and apply those to your role as a leader.  You will not grow if you stay with the status quo – you must embrace change.
When my youngest daughter tried a 3 story high ropes course – she was scared. However, she approached this with an open mindset full of confidence and learned from early struggles. She then applied that learning to later obstacles and she finished successfully! As I watched her do the “ropes course”, I reflected how it is important to learn from past practices to improve future endeavors. Jon Gordon has wrote, “failure is part of path to success; failure doesn’t define you but rather it refines you”.  It is so important that leaders learn from their experiences to improve future practices.
Spending time with my family allowed us to develop greater connections – the most important part of our trip. As a leader, you must have a purpose!  This will guide your journey with positivity and a focus that will allow you to overcome challenges.  “People don’t get burned out from a job because of the work – they get burned out because they forgot their purpose”.
My oldest daughter was determined to take a canoe trip (her first experience with a canoe). While it was new, she showed determination and drive to be successful to take the canoe all over the lake!

 

She showed me that as a leader we must have GRIT. Grit is someone’s passion that allows you to persevere to reach your goals.  A leader’s role is difficult with many negatives that come our way, but having Grit allows us to overcome these negative situations and be successful.

I hope everyone finds time get away from work for a period of time this summer.  At some point, I also hope you reflect about that time with your family/friends as it can help us to learn new insights into the role as a leader.  Our journey never stops – be relentless to learn, grow, collaborate with others to help make our schools the very best.

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about your reflective thoughts from your summer vacation and how it applies to your role as a leader.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

 

What do we learn from our students?

As shared in an earlier post, from my perspective a key aspect in the growth of any person is the importance of reflection.  Despite my efforts to find time do this regularly, the pace of summer seems to allow for more frequent and in-depth reflection.  Recently, I was thinking of this past year – both the challenges but also the successes of our school.  While this year has had significant hurdles and challenges that had to be worked through, I also recognize that for our students it was (in my humble opinion) a very successful year.  As I reflected about “why”, I came to conclusions by asking myself “what do we learn from our students” and it allowed me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for our learners.

While our staff strived and were successful in providing learning experiences for students that were engaging, involved high-level thinking, a focus on skill development in areas of communication-collaboration-creativity and were built on relationships- I recognized that our students demonstrated and displayed so many attributes during these learning experiences every day.    My learning from the students include the following observations:

  • Positivity – Every day is a new day as they do not focus on the past failures but focus their energy on the present.
  • Gratitude – They enjoy connecting with others and can easily smile and show their appreciation for others through words and actions.
  • Mindset – They love to try new things – fail – try again – come close to the goal – adjust and then find success. Our students overall do model the importance of innovation and finding multiple answers to a problem.
  • Learning is fun – They share their ideas in multiple formats and learn through just as many modalities. It is amazing to see how comfortable they are at learning new aspects ranging from making videos, playing games, picking up new skills…..they crave learning!
  • Empathy – The many groups students worked in throughout the year displayed a “give and take”. They listened to other opinions, learned about others and used that information to make well-informed decisions in the best interest of the group.
  • Human element – They display passion, heart and a relentless spirit in the pursuit of greatness. Whether it be the athletic field, the fine arts performance or a group of students completing a PBL – they amaze me with these attributes. They relate to each other, show compassion, build teamwork and communicate their ideas for the success of all.

 

 

My hope is that by understanding our learners regarding their hopes, goals, mindsets and habits – it will make me a better leader and help guide next steps in our building and in our work.

As I summarized these traits, I recognize that I need to do a better job of using these same characteristics in my learning, both individually and with our staff.  This will help create excitement, a sense of purpose, a common vision and help all of us further understand our “why”.  By establishing a stronger culture through connecting with each other and building trust, we will also then be able to better support our learners in our classroom with their learning experiences.   I have learned from our students that when you establish trust while building positive and productive relationships, communicate in a personable and engaging way, then you can change the culture and reach excellence!

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about what you learned from your students this year?  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com