Monthly Archives: August 2016

PMP:034 Six Ways to Avoid Making Wrong Calls

I once knew a teaching couple who told me a funny story.
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They lived right across the street from a man who never seemed to go to work.

During their breaks from school, the neighbor always seemed to be home; they would usually see him in cut-offs, working in his yard. They began to suspect the man was unemployed. Before long they had constructed their own narrative–imagining the sad times that must have led up to this disappointing time in his life. Continue reading

PMP:033 What Motivates Your Learning? A Better Alternative…

When I was a junior high student, I remember feeling pretty clueless about what to expect in high school. suprisingimaginationSometimes my teachers would tell me to expect to be treated like a number. At other times, they would warn us that if we were unprepared, we could expect a dismal future.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that whatever stage of education students are in, we often try to motivate them by either the heights they can achieve or the dismal experiences they will suffer without a good preparation. We often appeal to either their pride (what’s in it for me) or their fear (what dreadful thing happens if I don’t do this).

I’ve often wondered if there is a third or better alternative. Continue reading

PMP:032 Olympic Lessons in Collaboration for Educators

Last Saturday my children were watching the Olympics throughout the day.
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I was walking through the living room when I glanced up at the screen and saw men’s cycling. After six and half hours of racing, the final five kilometers lay ahead, and Poland’s Rafal Majka appeared a certain winner as he was leading the race with a 25 second lead ahead of any chasers.

Then I heard the sportscaster say something that caught my ear: “He’s only moments away from a gold medal unless the others decide to collaborate…”

Did he say collaborate? I thought. I sat down by my kids and watched.

Behind Majka were several other cyclists. Each of them was riding in single file and taking turns switching the leader to reduce each rider’s drag. The ones behind would ride in the draft created by the line ahead. Then a rider would pull ahead to lead so the previous leader could regain strength from pedaling behind–a method cyclists call streamlining. Continue reading

PMP:031 Creating a Sense of Ownership for Students

Today’s episode is in response to a listener question, “How can we create a sense of ownership for students into today’s education system?”
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Although answering this question could be very long, let me ask three questions connected to mindsets I believe are important for any school:

1. As a school leader, how have you envisioned the outcomes you want all students to achieve?

Do you dream about what you want every student to achieve in your school? If you’re a high school principal, for instance, you should be able to communicate to students and parents how you want every student in your school to accomplish learning, be exposed to challenging lessons, and be involved in great activities before they walk across a stage to receive their diplomas. Continue reading

PMP:030 Three Simple Ways to Respond to Negativity

In PMP Episode 30, I continue responding to listener and reader questions.
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This week’s question was: What’s one of the biggest leadership challenges you face right now? One principal wrote back, “How can I respond to negativity among teachers about their students, colleagues or the community?” The answer to that question comes in three parts.

1. Check yourself first.

There is no way we can combat negativity unless we’re committed to being positive leaders first. How often are you speaking of those with whom you work in positive, rather than negative ways? If the primary comments we use are negative, how can we influence others to be positive? Continue reading