Tag Archives: education

PMP:119 Your Friendships – Learning to Climb Together

When I was in college, I had my first experience in mountain climbing.

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I was traveling in Guatemala for a summer missions outreach when one morning, we woke up before dawn and rode a bus to the base of an active volcano. About twenty of us had decided to begin our climb in the dark so that we could summit the mountain at sunrise.

The night before, our team leader had talked to us about the climb. He explained how difficult the terrain would be as well as the altitude changes. He encouraged us to find team members whom we could stay with on the hike. He cautioned us that climbing was just as much emotional as it was physical, and that we must be committed to finishing as the last 100 meters of the climb would be the hardest.

This past week, I was talking to my wife about friendships. She had just been reading the book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girl Friends by Shantel Nelson. In the book, the author refers to a study released on friendship in 2008 by professors from four universities called the Social Support and the Perception of Geographical Slant in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Participants in their studies were asked to estimate the incline of a hill in front of them. Continue reading

PMP:118 Growing Leaders Takeaways – Crucial Conversations About Students

The other morning, I woke up early in a hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia.

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For a moment, I couldn’t remember where I was. Then it dawned on me that I was presenting that morning at a Growing Leaders Principal Roundtable event hosted by Dr. Tim Elmore. I dressed, grabbed my laptop bag and headed downstairs for a hot bowl of oatmeal and a cup coffee before walking the short-distance to the conference event center.

As I sat my bag down near a table up front, I was excited. Not only do I enjoy presenting to other school leaders but also, I was going to hear from some dynamic speakers and presenters as well as interact with principals during discussion times about their best practices.

My own kids tell me I geek-out about principal leadership, and this event was giving me permission to do just that. After playing some fun, interactive introduction games, the lessons began. Continue reading

PMP:Encore027 Ten Tips for Interviewing for an Education Opening

Last week I was on the phone with a teacher who will soon be interviewing for an assistant principal opening.

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Just this past week, I have talked to two superintendents and a principal who have openings for principal or assistant principal positions at their schools. It’s that time of year again for hiring and job searches!

Whether you are conducting an interview or being interviewed, I have found some common expectations anyone should have when walking into an education interview. If you are looking for sample questions specific to principal interviews, let me encourage you to check out the post, 30 Questions from Principal Interviews.

But if you are in transition or you know someone preparing for their next interview, I want to share some tips to keep in mind for a solid interview experience: Continue reading

PMPEncore065: Ending the School Year with Celebration

Last year my student council members came to see me about an idea they had for finishing the year with positivity.

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These student leaders wanted to end the year was by doing something to help others. They designed an amazing idea called “BARK” week. With the school mascot being a Bulldog, the theme fit perfectly.

In order to set expectations in advance, the student council sponsor shared out the following announcements with her fellow teachers:

Good morning! Student Council and the Leadership class wanted to start a Philanthropy Week this year, where we have events every day during one week, and all proceeds will go to a designated charity. The week we have chosen is May 1st – 5th. The kids came up with the name “BARK Week,” BARK is an acronym for Bulldogs Achieving Real Kindness. Continue reading

PMP:109 The Power of One Caring Adult with Josh Shipp

Last year I sat across my desk from a student whose father had abandoned him and left the state.

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A family in our community had taken in the young man, and our school had been in contact with the Department of Human Services on what to do next. That morning I had been watching a video by Josh Shipp called One Caring Adult.

On a whim, I asked the student if he would watch the video on my computer with me. In his story, Josh Shipp shared his own story of abandonment, foster-care, abuse, and eventually finding stability and hope. His story was a powerful reminder of how one caring adult can change the life of a young person.

After watching the video-clip, I asked the young man if he’d ever had one caring adult on whom he could depend. He said, “Yes, my adopted mom who lives out-of-state. But I left because I didn’t want to follow her rules, and I don’t know if she’d have me back.” After several calls and other conversations, his adopted mom arranged a flight for him, and he flew back to her home to start the next chapter in his life.

Josh Shipp has a powerful story that inspires educators and students alike. Earlier this year, Josh spoke at the Oklahoma Middle Level Educators Association annual conference. Later, I was able to sit down with him for an interview. You can listen to our podcast interview or watch the video of our conversation. Continue reading

PMP:102 Four Essentials for Advancing in Your Leadership

Last week I was speaking to a group of Assistant Principals near Montgomery, Alabama, when I noticed a familiar face at a table near the back of the room.

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I saw a man whom I had met the day before on my ride from the airport to the conference center. Mr. Willie Lewis, a retired pastor, had told me his wife asked him to find something to keep him busy. So, he began driving for Uber. Now he had arrived early to drive me back to the airport.

As we made our way through the streets of Montgomery, we chatted about our work and families. He had been an author and also served as interim pastor to many congregations during his retirement. As we passed an exit sign for Selma, Alabama. I asked him if he had seen the movie, Selma, about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Continue reading

PMP:089 Marching off the Map with Andrew McPeak

Recently, on a trip to Philadelphia, I was sitting in airport gate seating area, which gave me a view of the ground crews prepping planes for departure.

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Workers were driving baggage trains, pulling fuel trucks in and out, and loading bags on runways into planes.

While I watched them, I thought about how many people it takes for you to arrive at any destination. Whether you’re on the road or in the air, someone has to build the vehicles, hire the workers, schedule the routes, write code for mapping programs, or drill the ground for the necessary fossil fuels. But no matter how varied the people or methods for reaching your destinations, you can’t reach the road ahead unless those people or methods are reliable. Continue reading

PMP:042 The Future of Education (A Conversation with Undergraduates)

Recently I was asked to be a guest presenter for an undergraduate education class at Bartlesville Wesleyan University, a college not too far from my high school.

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“What do you see?” Wonder Image Source: wonderopolis.org


At the end of my presentation, I asked four students if I could interview them for a podcast episode.

I had two goals in this conversation:
1. I wanted to hear from prospective educators their motivations, dreams, and challenges in choosing this career.
2. I wanted others to be reminded why investing in training, recruiting, and supporting strong teachers is so essential.

I’m indebted to the generosity of Dr. Jeffrey Keeney for allowing me to present to his class, and to the four students who agreed to participate in this podcast: Shelby Totino of Spearfish, South Dakota; Karley Baker of Fredonia, Kansas; Kelly Tjon of Houston, Texas; and Kirsten Fisher of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

If you’ve ever wondered why we should be committed to investing in education—why we should be finding ways to better compensate teachers for their hard work and dedication to children—then listen in to the responses of these four young people. 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.
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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

5 Steps for using YouTube in Hiring

Spring time is not only busy as we finish out the school year, but also it is often a busy time for hiring new teachers or staff.
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Even with the pending cuts in state funding, we were excited to be able to fill a couple of openings for the coming school year.

As I’ve looked for strong candidates this spring, I’ve kept in mind some lessons I learned from Jimmy Casas earlier this year (see previous post on Tips for Hiring for Excellence). Jimmy’s advice has been spot on with tips on reaching out to candidates ahead of time, having multiple conversations, and rallying around a common vision.

If I could add anything to Jimmy’s suggestions, it would be some feedback I received from a candidate today. Continue reading