Tag Archives: collaboration

PMP:099 Collaborating for Results – Interview with Dr. Judi Barber

This Christmas break, I took the family to see the newest Star Wars movie.

Photo by SarahCartwright – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/80912889@N00

If you haven’t seen it, please note the forthcoming spoiler alert. In the opening scene, Jedi-in-training, Rey, has journeyed to the planet where the retired Luke Skywalker, has hidden himself away from the universe and its troubles. She climbs the heights to his hidden village and finds him meditating on a cliff overlooking the sea.

Rey introduces herself: “I’m from the Resistance,” she says, “Leia sent me. We need your help.” To her surprise the elder Luke refuses to help and walks away. And thus, begins the most important conflict of “The Last Jedi” as Rey must find a way to convince Luke to train her and help her save the Rebellion. Thankfully, Luke finally begins training her and then takes the steps necessary to save the universe.

You can see the movie for yourself, but I had that opening scene in mind last week I traveled two hours from Tulsa to the backroads in Grove, Oklahoma. I was on my way to see a Jedi-master-in-education.

I wound my way up a long driveway to beautiful home nestled on a bay above Grand Lake. Standing on the front porch was Dr. Judi Barber and her husband Dennis. After a cup of coffee and some catching up, I asked Judi if I could interview her. This was her 50th year as an education leader, and I had sat under her teaching and coaching in my early years of school admin. She had agreed days before to letting me capture an audio recording of our conversation. Continue reading

PMP:043 Lessons from a Comet Landing (What Can We Accomplish Together?)

The European Space Agency’s historical comet landing of the spacecraft Rosetta in 2014 was an amazing feat I share about in this week’s podcast.

Photo by yasutani – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/96369622@N00

First of all, 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. Continue reading

Becoming Better: How You Influence Growth

Last weekend I traveled with my son, Jack, and his Cub Scout pack to a joint campout with an older Boy Scout troop.
It was a perfect October weekend: 70’s with sun and breeze; evening temperatures in the 50’s—cold enough that a sleeping bag was the perfect cocoon for tent sleeping.

Although Jack and I have camped a lot, this was my first experience watching a Boy Scout troop at a campout. Throughout the whole experience, the boys were in charge. During mealtime, the senior patrol leader, a ninth grader, separated the group of 23 boys into three groups. Each had their own food preparation area, menus they had created, food they had procured, and tasks assigned.

Whenever the entire group needed to be addressed, the senior patrol leader would call them together, hold up a Scout sign (three fingers), and everyone would go silent as they held up their fingers in response.

That night the boys had a special treat: they were given a tour of the U.S.S. Batfish, a retired World War II submersible boat that once toured the Pacific and survived. Its maiden crew of 80 was confined to tiny spaces where each man played essential tasks: repairing engines, launching torpedoes, radioing signals, navigating with gauges and periscope, or preparing pastries for hungry crew members.

After the tour, the boys were allowed to bunk in the berthing room for the night. Two adult leaders stayed on the boat, but I made way back to my tent. Continue reading

PMP:032 Olympic Lessons in Collaboration for Educators

Last Saturday my children were watching the Olympics throughout the day.
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

Are We Committing Educational Malpractice?

One day I was visiting my family medical doctor, when a nurse asked me to follow her to another room.
She asked if I would unbutton my shirt so that she connect me to some small leads and do an electrocardiogram.

I was surprised since I thought this was just a routine physical. Perhaps she was aware of my family history, I thought. Or maybe the doctor recommended more information on my heart than his stethoscope could give. I wasn’t sure. So I just sat there and let her complete the test. Continue reading

Cultivating a Culture of Growth

When I was a boy, one day my dad walked me to the back pasture of our farm.

Image source: seatlefoodshed.com

Image source: seatlefoodshed.com

At the end of long rows of corn, he had set aside an area that he had tilled and planted with potato cuttings. The plants had grown and died. In this patch, I couldn’t see any sign of life.

“Get down on your hands and knees,” he said, as he squatted on all fours. So I followed suit.

“Now start digging down below the top layer of soil until you feel something,” he told me as he began moving dirt.

Soon I felt the warm topsoil give way to the cool, rich dirt below. And before long I was digging up dozens of new, red potatoes. We made piles of them, loaded them up and carried them home to clean. Continue reading

Celebrating Collaboration and the Ability to Fly

Last week I flew to the NASSP annual conference in Orlando with connecting flights in Dallas.

Image Source: www.wikihow.com

Image Source: www.wikihow.com

As I boarded my flight home, my mind was filled with new ideas about school, and I began comparing the process of flying to the process of collaboration.

Sometimes when I fly, I feel like the only one on-board who is paying attention to the experience. Perhaps I’m intrigued because I fly so infrequently, or maybe it’s because I’m a teacher at heart. Either way, my fellow passengers usually appear to be sleeping, reading, or staring at phones while I’m all eyes and ears. Continue reading