PMP:136 Crucial Conversations for Reaching Targeted Destinations

I’ve been on the road a lot lately.

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And as I travel, I often think about how to reach my destination while also making the experience a positive one. For me, that means trying to learn while I drive by listening to helpful podcasts, audio-books, or news programs. Or sometimes it means connecting with friends or colleagues for phone chats.

As we wrap up another semester of the school year, my family is also planning a road trip. During the holidays, we normally travel back east for time in West Tennessee with my parents and family members there. It’s a long road from Oklahoma there, so we try to make the trip as enjoyable as possible: good snacks, and good books, music and movies downloaded on devices.

But long road trips can also be difficult when you grow tired of the road or sometimes grow tired of one another. And sometimes the journey through a school year can be a lot like a road trip. You pack up the car with lots of hope and anticipation, but hours into the drive, you grow tired of being on the road, and maybe the passengers grow tired of each other too.

How do you keep driving toward a positive destination on the long journey of a school year? Continue reading

PMP:135 Using FOMO for Positive School Culture with Kim Coody

In a recent conversation with author and generation expert Dr. Tim Elmore, he shared how many students are affected by “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out).

For many young people, this condition is demonstrated by a preoccupation with wanting to constantly know what is happening with peers or social media contacts. FOMO can sometimes lead to levels of anxiety that make it difficult for them to disconnect from social media. (See Psychology Today article by Dr. Elmore here.)

When Kim Coody, Principal of Glenpool High School, near Tulsa, Oklahoma told me she was creating FOMO experiences for her student, I was intrigued. She explained that this school year, her staff has committed to increasing engagement with students so that they fear missing out on school. What has this looked like for her school?

Kim’s Bio


Kim Coody has spent 21 years working with Oklahoma students as a special education teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal and high school principal. Kim has 15 years in secondary administration experience at Glenpool Public Schools. She began her administrative career as the high school assistant principal for 8 years. She spent 3 years as the principal at Glenpool Middle School before being named the high school principal in 2015. Continue reading

PMP:134 Creating Engaging Cultures with Dr. Tim Elmore

How do engage students while also understanding the unique challenges and strengths of Generation Z students?

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Several years ago, I was introduced to Dr. Tim Elmore through his curriculum and online resources for leadership. He is known as an expert in researching generational trends and is the author of dozens of books on developing leadership. He may be best known for his Habitudes series, lessons using images to teach leadership principles for students from public schools to university settings.

Over the past couple of years, Tim and I have developed a strong working relationship. I have attended and spoken at his conferences, and I have heard him present and speak several times as well. On a personal level, I view Tim as one of my mentors. As I’ve talked to him, read his books, and watched him lead others, I have come to admire him as someone who practices what he teaches.

Tim’s Bio


Dr. Tim Elmore, President and Founder of Growing Leaders, is a best-selling author and international speaker. Dr. Elmore uses his knowledge to equip educators, coaches, leaders, parents, and other adults to impart practical life and leadership skills to young adults that will help them navigate through life. Continue reading

PMP:133 Three Reasons to be Thankful

Five years ago this month, our son Jack was diagnosed with a rare disease called Kawasaki that brought our normal world to a stand still as we circled together searching for answers and praying for his healing.

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The disease inflames the blood vessel, and if untreated, it can be fatal. As I look back at his recovery years later, I remember how overwhelmed my wife and I were at the time. I remember seeing our little boy in his hospital gown, hooked up to tubes and wires. When he went into shock during treatments, he had to rest for several days while his medical team reevaluated. Eventually his condition stabilized enough for him to receive the helpful IV solutions he needed. After ten long days, treatments normalized his body, and he was finally healed.

It was a Thanksgiving I won’t forget as we celebrated having our little boy home again. Continue reading

PMP:Encore043 What Can You Accomplish Together?

The European Space Agency’s historical comet landing of the spacecraft Rosetta in 2014 was an amazing feat.

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Imagine organizing a team of scientists and space engineers who design and launch a spacecraft with the goal of intersecting with a comet 500 million kilometers from Earth. Then imagine ten years later, your findings show the spacecraft is indeed crossing paths with the targeted comet. From 500 million kilometers away, your Earth-bound team maneuvers the activation of the spacecraft’s previously inert power source, it orbits around the comet, and it attempts a landing.

You must wait a half hour for the data from the spacecraft to transmit back to Earth to even know what its “current” status may be. Finally, the images of the comet’s surface appear on your computer screens, and you know the landing has happened. Let the cheering begin! From 500 million kilometers away, a team’s dream had become a reality. The euphoria, amazement, thrill, and adrenaline rush must have been electric.

I get excited every time I think about how many seemingly insurmountable obstacles were overcome to achieve this profound result! But here’s my question for those of us back on earth: What challenges are you facing at school, in leadership or in life right now? Continue reading

PMP:132 Frameworks for Managing Student Discipline

During my second year as a high school assistant principal, I received notice one morning that a number of students were missing items from their lockers.

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Upon further investigation, we discovered that in one hallway of the school, an entire row of lockers had broken into and contents were missing from several. Thankfully, we had cameras in that section of the building, and I began watching tape – rewinding from the time school was dismissed the day before and viewing until the morning of the report.

I finally found footage of several students late the evening before, and I could see them breaking into the lockers. It was during evening credit-recovery classes we offered, and the students seemed to be on what appeared to be a bathroom break and had chosen a hallway where the lights were off.

For the most part, all I could see were their silhouettes. Throughout the day, I pulled in some of my staff and team members who helped me match descriptions with the names on evening class roll. After our day-time students went home that day, I stayed late to talk to the teacher in charge of evening classes and to meet one-on-one with each student suspected of being involved. Continue reading

PMP:131 School Without Walls – Interview with Richard Trogisch

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, I walked into a D.C. high school called School Without Walls, a four-story building interspersed with hallways full of art.

I saw hand-built go-carts with bicycle parts lining a floor-way. Sky-lights hovering over walls of exposed brick created a sense of old and new. Expansions to the building allow School Without Wall to serve just over 600 students, grades 9-12. The top floor is home to a library with windows looking across at George Washington University.

School Without Wall boasts the following mission: “[To] provide every student with a rigorous, college preparatory, humanities program that incorporates global and local resources in an experiential and interdisciplinary methodology to teaching and learning.” Every senior is required to submit a senior research project and present his or her findings in order to receive a SWW diploma.”

Over 1,300 students apply to attend each year with 140 accepted to the incoming freshman class. Every student is required to take AP Language and AP Literature, and each graduate earns an Associate Degree through concurrent credits at The George Washington University. With offers from universities all across American, 84% of School Without Walls graduates finish college. Continue reading

PMP:130 Five Lessons in Resilience – Reflections from Unbroken

Several years ago, Oklahoma received one of the worst blizzards I had ever seen in a state that sometimes has no snow fall during winter.

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As our community was plunged into a blanket of white with drifts of 3-4 feet deep, roads were impassable, and schools were closed. With days of wintery weather, I finally had the excuse I needed to sit and read. That Christmas I had received a copy of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

As I took breaks from shoveling sidewalks and building snow fortresses with my children, I was riveted by the story of a man whose life story was inspiring. And Laura Hillenbrand’s seven years of research and writing produced a book I couldn’t put down. Unbroken has since been made into a movie. And recently, I discovered the audio-version published as an abridged version for adolescents.

This past week, as my 13-year old son and I were heading out on a long road trip over fall break to visit family in Tennessee, we listened to the entire story together. The narrative was just as inspiring and moving the second time. As I thought about the lessons throughout the story, I wanted to share a few takeaways that may apply to your leadership and life: Continue reading

PMP:129 Why School Culture Matters – Interview with Heather Shaffery

This time of year, I’m on the road a lot visiting schools across my state.

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As I drive across Oklahoma, trees and fields have been brushed with the red and orange hues of fall. Rivers are swollen with much needed rains. And you can feel the first hints of winter’s chill in the strong prairie winds. The change in weather also brings along a change in expectations too. Teachers and students are talking about fall break, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas.

Just as our physical environment influences our feelings and attitudes, our school cultures also affect they way we feel about school. And as I visit with school leaders, I am hearing a lot of conversations about the importance of their school culture. Building strong school culture is a tall order but one that more and more school leaders realize is the foundation for building a community of learning. Continue reading

PMP:128 Integrating Technology School-wide with Janalyn Taylor

How can schools integrate technology across all classrooms?

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Janalyn Taylor, Principal of Nance Elementary in Clinton, Oklahoma, believes that school leaders must be willing to model learning and teaching with technology in order to see teachers and students embracing its innovative uses.

In a recent webinar conversation, Ms. Taylor explains how her school has embedded technology into learning, and how parents and community members are engaged with the lessons, activities, and products students are creating and sharing.

Janalyn Taylor is Oklahoma’s 2018 National Distinguished Principal.

She holds B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She has spent the last 11 years of her 36-year career as principal of Nance Elementary School, a rural school serving a diverse population of pre-K through first grade students. With 83% of students participating in the free- and reduced-price meals program and 29% classified as English Language Learners, Taylor’s leadership is driven by a fierce commitment to equity and her ability to rally teachers and staff to ensure her vision is realized.

She will be recognized at the 2018 National Distinguished Principals Program Oct. 11 – 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C., To see her entire biography, visit the National Association of Elementary School Principal website list of National Distinguished Principals.

In our webinar conversation, she shares lessons for principals who want to integrate technologies for student-learning in every classroom. You can watch the webinar here, or listen to the podcast version of the presentation. Continue reading