Category Archives: Podcast

PMP:070 How Your Brain Resists Change

When I was in high school, my dad reenlisted in the Navy and we moved to New York where he was stationed while his ship was in dry-dock.

Photo by dierk schaefer – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/26480501@N06


For a country boy from West Tennessee, New York was a culture shock. I remember being so afraid to speak because I didn’t want others making fun of my southern accent.

One day I was standing in front of grocery store in Brooklyn when a man stopped to ask me what time it was. I realized I was wearing a watch and he wasn’t. So I just held up the watch without saying a word and let him read the time. Continue reading

PMP:069 Entanglement & Why Messaging Matters

Invisibilia is a fascinating podcast about the invisible forces that affect us without us being aware. In a January 29, 2015 episode, the reporters narrating the episode were talking about a phenomenon known as “entanglement.”

Photo by TonZ – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/96947578@N00


They began by describing a physics experiment where scientists have been able to isolate particle atoms in separate locations, change the motion, and cause the two separate atoms to react to the change at the same time in separate locations.

That’s right. In one experiment, an atom contained in a box four feet away from itself in another box was demonstrating simultaneous responses in both boxes. These atoms are not mirror images of one another; this research suggests that they are one another. Separate but one: a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement. Charles Q. Choi from Live Science explains that scientists theorize entangled atoms may stay connected even if a universe a part!

Scientists are able to explain how to make this happen, but they are still unable to explain why this is possible. Continue reading

PMP:068 Choose To Run The Race Anyway

One summer when our oldest daughter, Emily, was beginning to run track, she signed up to run her first 5k with her younger sister during the July 4th holiday.

Photo by Josiah Mackenzie – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/36531501@N00


Unfortunately, our younger daughter ended up unable to run it with her. When I drove Emily to the race downtown to run her race alone, I could tell she was a little overwhelmed with the crowds, the music, and the loudspeakers. This was her first 5K and she looked at me at nervously.

“How about I run it with you?” I asked.

“Can you do that? You’re not registered.”

“We paid for your sister’s registration,” I explained. “And I have her race number. I’ll use it.” Continue reading

PMP:067 Wrapping Up Your School Year—Planning for Summer Break

Occasionally my wife will remind me when it’s been awhile since I’ve cleaned out my closet.

Photo by cobalt123 – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/66606673@N00

So I’ll take time to sort out what I don’t need anymore. I can easily fill a couple of trash bags with items to donate to the local Goodwill store.

Summer break is a great time to “clean the closets” of our schools. I’m not talking about literal closets (which can also be helpful), but I’m talking about issues, priorities, goals, and conversations that have been neglected as you have been finishing a school year.

We just finished another school year at my high school. We wrapped up curriculum standards, graduated seniors and hired new teachers for next year. Many people ask me what I do with my summer break. The short answer is: I prepare for next school year. I often tell others that leading a school is like landing a cruise ship. When you finish one tour, you spend the break restocking for the next launch. Continue reading

PMP: 066 What Factors Predict Student Success?

One weekend I was having lunch with a friend who works in petroleum engineering. We talked about the kind of research and data that he uses to determine which sites are best for drilling or exploration.

Photo by CollegeDegrees360 – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410@N07

Investors are especially interested in the ability of a company to substantiate the reason they should commit to providing resources for research and development–or in drilling and exploration.

When the conversation switched to my work as a principal, my friend asked me a probing question. It was so different than any question I had been asked before that I asked him to repeat it. “In a meta-analysis of student data,” he asked, “what would you say are the most significant factors in predicting student success?” Continue reading

PMP:064 Five Tips For Finishing Strong

During my daughter’s first year in high school, I drove to the local lake dam spillway to meet her teammates for a weekend track workout.

Photo by Chris Maki – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/79526375@N00


After twenty minutes of warm-up running on the grassy path to the spillway and back, they lined up for drills. These included twelve sprints up an intimidatingly steep grassy incline to practice increasing speed.

It was a joy to watch all of the students working hard and pushing themselves. As they neared their tenth sprint drill, their legs began shaking, their shirts were lined with sweat, and their chests heaved with every breath. Their movement was a mass of arms pumping, legs kicking up the hill, bending over to catch a breath, standing up tall before making the climb down to run up again. Continue reading

PMP:062 Setting the Record Straight & School Advocacy

A few years ago, I had the privilege to participate in a ten-day tour of four cities in China.

Photo by rmgirardin – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/30559266@N04


On one leg of the trip, I sat by a Mongolian woman who was fluent in English and on her way home after completing graduate studies at Boston University. We enjoyed trading stories about our families, home, schools, and studies. Toward the end of our conversation, she turned to me and asked poignantly, “Why do U.S. schools not measure up to other nations on standardized tests?”

This was a fair question. After all, I’m sure she had seen the statistics commonly discussed in higher education about the comparison of U.S. public school scores to students in other industrialized nations. I also knew she came from a situation and background that allowed her access to higher education, so she had seen first-hand how helpful her own education had been.

As a good teacher tries to do, however, I answered her question with some questions of my own. Continue reading

PMP:060 How Mindfulness Influences Leadership

A few nights ago, I was sitting on the couch with my wife, Missy, when our four children slowly made their way into the living room.

Photo by Patr!c!a – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/25439875@N04


Our lives are so busy with three teenage girls and an eleven-year-old boy that we rarely find time to all be together these days. Emily, our oldest, came and sat on the floor so she could get “mommy scratches” while she played on her iPhone. Mattie, our second oldest, was across the room. She had placed her laptop on the piano bench with a video of dancers from the musical Beauty and the Beast, and she danced along practicing moves.

Katie, our third girl, was on the opposite couch with her guitar. She was playing a version of Hello from the Other Side while Emily was humming harmonies along with her. And then there was Jack with a snack of cheese crackers on the table. With a cracker in his mouth, he was everywhere: sometimes carrying his basketball, moving it between his legs or bouncing it. Or he’d sit on the couch and hum along with the music and then jump back up for another cracker. Continue reading

PMP:058 Triggering the Brain with Wonder

The other day I was talking to our high school choir teacher, when she told me about a fascinating brain study involving music.

Photo by AmandaD_TX – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/8773000@N08


MIT neuroscientists have discovered that music triggers an auditory cortex of the brain that doesn’t appear to respond to other basic auditory sounds like speech.

If our brains have portions that only react to sounds recognized as music, this leads to an important question: Are we really engaging the brain most effectively if we aren’t exposing it to both left brain (facts, patterns, figures, and information) and right brain activities (creative, imaginative, inspiring ideas)? Continue reading

PMP 056: Reaching Generation iY and iGen Students

A few years ago, I was talking to a senior student, Jesse, who was publishing his first book.

Photo by OllyHart – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/75178220@N00


He shared with me that he had a great opportunity to speak at a gathering of authors at a book conference. Later, he was invited to a number of middle schools to share with younger students his passion for writing. I asked him if I could attend one of his presentations, and it was amazing to watch him communicating ideas and inspiration to groups of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

Over the next few months, Jesse would stop by my office, and we would talk about his dreams and plans. Because he was so teachable, I pointed him toward resources to help him start blogging, creating an email subscription list, and leveraging his social media options. We explored ways he might maximize opportunities before starting college.

As a result, Jesse began building a platform for his writing, ideas, and creative projects before he even graduated high school. He stayed in contact with readers and students he had met through his content and events. He is in college now, has published his second book, and is hosting his own podcast. (Check out his website jessehaynesauthor.com to see his profile, books, and podcast links!)

Jesse has exceptional gifts, drive, and opportunities for someone his age. And as I watch other students like him pursuing their futures, I realize that this generation faces options for careers that my generation never knew. Today’s students no longer have to wait for permission or continuing education to begin connecting, designing, creating or sharing ideas.

When I think about my own children entering the adult world and the students in my school, I realize they have amazing options: Continue reading