Friday, September 22, 2017

The 2nd 20 Days of Excellence

The 1st 20 days of school are critical to starting your journey to excellence, and now they are coming to an end for many students.  So what does that mean and what is the next step?  That means that what kids have done everyday since the first day of school is now a habit, and the next step is to break bad habits and solidify habits of excellence.  

So What Habits have your Kids Formed?

Do your students have productive habits?  Have the built habits that will lead to excellence, or have they created habits of avoidance?  Do they instinctively jump into a new task with a groan once it is announced, or do their eyes light up because they are conditioned to embrace uncertainty?   The answers to these questions culminate into one question.  

How well did you do at establishing your vision for excellence in the 1st 20 days?

If your vision of excellence is not where you want it to be, that's ok.  In fact, that's great because acknowledging you're not where you want to be means that you want to make meaningful change to get back on the path to excellence.    

The next step to making the 2nd 20 days of school great for all kids is to see what kind of habits have formed with individual students especially those who struggle.   

  • Resources - Determine how competent kids are with your resources for learning.  If they don't like the resources or don't know how to use them, that reinforces habits of avoidance.
  • Routines - Assess your routines and procedures and determine where students need higher expectations or even accountability from you. 
  • Relationships - Identify which students have negative relationships with you, your content or with students in the room.  Relationships are critical to success in learning.
  • Engagement - Evaluate where your lesson planning fails to meet struggling students head-on.  The failure to engage specific students guarantees that habits of poor performance that become petrified and therefore unbreakable.
  • Rigor - Which content is too challenging for kids?  How can you make it more accessible and ultimately attainable to learn?
  • Differentiation - How many minutes of learning are students empowered to chase their learning through intervention and extension?  The answer to this question will lead you to create need learning experiences to reinforce positive learning habits.
  • Celebration - What are you celebrating?  Better yet, what are the kids celebrating?  If it's the end of class, it's time to build celebration into your instruction.

The 2nd 20 Days = 1st 20 Days + 1 Focus on Excellence
The 1st 20 Days of school establish the pathway to excellence, but the 2nd 20 days can either accelerate or stall your growth towards excellence.   If we want the next 20 days of school to accelerate growth, we must reflect.  We must brave enough, vulnerable enough and critical of ourselves and our work so that we can find our areas or opportunities for growth (aka weaknesses).  Then and only then will we discover how to make the 2nd 20 Days of School even better than the 1st 20.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Moving from Maximized to Optimized Leadership

Leaders always want to get more done, but does getting more done lead to optimum performance or even ultimate impact.  Seth Godin made a great point in his post "Optimum or Maximized".  Maximum speed is not the same as optimum speed.  So if you apply this idea to leadership, what is the difference between optimized leadership and maximized leadership?
  • Maximizedshort-term output level of high stress, where parts degrade but short-term performance is high.
  • Optimizedthe best or most effective use of a situation, opportunity, or resource.
  • Leadership - service, influence, the function of a leader, the action of leading a group of people.
Leadership is essentially a vehicle for systemic improvement.  Even the word has a vehicle in it (ship). You can go as fast as you like, but if you're chasing maximum output, your vehicle will overheat and eventually burn up.  Maximized leadership will go faster than optimum leadership, but it will eventually burn the leader out and destroy the organization.

Optimized leadership, on the other hand, can never burn out because this form of leadership optimizes every situation.  It gets the best out of all people.  It makes the most of all time available, and it doesn't waste resources, people or their time either.  If we want optimum organizational performance, leaders should shift their focus from maximum output to optimized performance.  The organization will thank you for it.





Friday, September 8, 2017

The Secret about "Good Data"

Everyone wants "good data", but so often it's rarely found.  The minute you receive low scores, you have "bad data", right?  If you receive high scores, skepticism creeps in, and you doubt if they really knew it at high levels.  Does your data leave you with doubt?

Here's the reality.  Good Data is Fool's Gold.  There's no such thing as "good data".


What we need is VALID DATA

The secret to getting valid data is to create valid assessments.  Think about it.  If you fail to spend time creating assessments that you believe in, you will discount the data it yields and therefore blame the assessment for giving you "bad data" or invalid data.  If you have little involvement creating the assessment and the data is "good", then you will wonder if the assessment truly met the depth and complexity of the standards you wished to assess.  In short the quality of the assessment leads to the validity of the data.  There's no other way around it.


The Secret to Valid Data
Bottom line is there are a few things to consider if you want to move from getting good data to generating valid and actionable data.

  1. Know your standards.
  2. Create assessment items that assess those standards at the basic, intermediate and advanced level.
  3. Provide students a variety of assessment items that require students to transfer their learning in predictable as well as unpredictable situations.
  4. Analyze the student data by student by standard by level of proficiency.

At the end of the day, you will never get data that will drive your work with laser-like precision until you create assessments that are intentional, meaningful, and most importantly reliable in driving your response to student learning.  Good data tells you how you did.  Valid data drives you to know what to do next.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Let's Create a Human-force Hurricane of Help

As I sat this weekend and into the week watching Hurricane Harvey, I was paralyzed by what I saw.  It was devastation like I have never seen before. I thought Katrina and Rita were bad in 2004, but this was unbelievable.  As I watched TV 4 hours from the eye of the storm, I thought to my self, what can I do to help literally millions of people who in many cases lost much if not everything.

As the magnitude of everything sank in, I got a message from Todd Nesloney asking me and others in
his PLN to send a welcome back message to his Webb Elementary staff.  Then I watched Eric Sheninger's Facebook posts directly from his house which was inches from flooding, and then I had numerous conversations with my friend and fellow superintendent, Brian Morris, about the devastation his district is experiencing.  So I decided to join what people around the world are doing, jumping in and getting involved to help our friends and neighbors in southeast Texas.

HURRICANE HELP
The only way to respond to the worst hurricane in history is with a human-force hurricane of even greater power.  Let's get give everything we can to help our fellow Americans and Texas brothers and sisters.  Here are just a few ways that together we can create human-force hurricane of help.

1. Jeff Mann - @mann4edu (Adopt a School)




2. Kasey Bell - @shakeuplearning

Texas Needs Your Help, Y’all! – Harvey Relief




3. TREA - Texas Rural Educators Association




4. Eric Sheninger - @E_Sheninger  - Will You Step Up



5. My District - @blueridgeisd

How BRISD will Help with Hurricane Harvey
Harvey If you have been watching the news, you are probably hurting for the people in southeast Texas.  The impact is beyond belief, and we know many people who have lost everything.  In talking with several people in our district, we all want to do something to help, so we have elected to teach our kids how to give a random act of kindness to someone even though we can't possibly help everyone.  

You are invited to join BRISD in supporting residents in Columbus ISD.  We elected to build a personal relationship and help one district in hopes that we encourage other districts to adopt other districts so that all districts get specific support.  We hope that this act will be one more example that inspires everyone to give what they can to help our Texas brothers and sisters.




6. Traditional ways that you can donate:

 Will you step up?  
Will you join the relief effort?  Millions of Texans need us, and we must do everything we can to help them.  Texas is waiting for Hurricane Help.  Will you be part of it? I will.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Economy of Excellence

Do you know someone that amazes you by how much they accomplish?  Is there someone who inspires to you do more because they do so much?  Who is the person that accomplishes excellence no matter where they are or no matter what circumstances they encounter?  Why do they exceed and how do they succeed?

The Economy of Excellence
Time is the constant. How we leverage it is the variable. The best get more done for one simple reason. They waste less time than the rest of us. They are more efficient in their use of time and more effective in optimizing their time in various tasks. 

So How Can We Improve the Economy? 

Not Right Now - Excellent people say yes to critical tasks and not right now to less than critical tasks. 

Automaticity - Excellent people work to increase their automaticity into their work. Their work fluency is how they accelerate their work and ultimately get more things done than others. 

Leadership Capacity - Excellent leaders improve their economy by building leadership capacity and by empowering decision making in followers so that they preserve their time and reserve their effort for decisions that can only be answered by them. 

Reflection - Excellent people reflect regularly and use reflection to improve their economy. They identify where they are wasting time, being over-involved, or under-involved in improving outcomes. 

How's your Economy?

Where are you wasting time?  Where do you need to increase in your automaticity?  Where do you need to let go and empower others.  The answers to these questions are the key to improve your economy, and the ability or inability to act. The only question we have to answer is will we have courage to change.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Create your Very Own Pineapple Club! (FREE RESOURCE)

The pineapple is the universal symbol of welcoming people into your home, and many teachers are seizing this symbol as an opportunity to open their classroom to other teachers.  And this makes sense.  Teachers learn more when they are open to having people visit their classrooms to help them get better.

Do you want to create your very own Pineapple Club?
Below I have created a Canva that you can print and post outside your door.  On this canva, teachers can post the excellence they would like to share with others.  Additionally, teachers can also use this tool to seek feedback and advice on areas that they would like to grow.

I am very excited that teachers in our district are creating their very own Pineapple Club because they are modeling a deep desire to learn, grow and excel.  The Pineapple Club is a fantastic way to help more kids grow in their learning because teachers are modeling their desire to learn, vulnerability, and confidence in who they are as excellence in progress.

Wouldn't it be awesome if as a profession we could create this initiative in every school?   We would learn a tremendous amount because we would knock down the walls of isolation and come together as a professional learning community with one explicit purpose, building shared knowledge around best practices that help all kids grow in their learning.

Isn't that what school is all about, helping all kids grow by seeking professional growth first?


Pineapple Club by Johnwink90

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Answer Questions ONCE and for ALL with C4B4Me

Questions are essential to an organization's success, and for good reason. They drive new learning and continuous growth.  The plain and simple truth is that good leaders and teachers embrace followers and students who ask questions because they know that their questions mean they're in it to win it. 

BUT DO WE ANSWER TOO MANY QUESTIONS???

There is one caveat to this thought. The same question asked over and over stifles leaders from making progress. Think about it. Do you ever get tired of answering the same question over and over?  
Of course we do.  Does the same question over and over stop you from moving forward?  Why yes it does.

So whose fault is it that you are asked the same questions repeatedly?

Great leaders understand that the same question asked over and over stifles leadership impact and solidifies learned helplessness. In other words, the want to answer questions one time to the person asking the question and a second time for every person after that.

3 TIPS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ONCE AND FOR ALL

1. TELL - when a question is posed if you, assume others can benefit from your response. Recognize

and thank the person for asking the question in a group setting or even an email and list your response. That solidifies both that you embrace questions, but that you want others to learn from their questions.

2.  SHOW - many questions I receive are technical in nature and can best be answered not by telling, but by showing.  Show the person personally and then show the others through face to face or even better video or screencasts and procedural text with screenshots of your response.

3.  CURATE - Some questions are asked about tasks that are once a month, a quarter or even a year. Great leaders leverage wikis, GoogleSheets and webpages to create one central location to house every answer to every question. See example below. 








Answer Questions ONCE and for ALL!!!

I often am asked, "Isn't this more work on you?"  Actually this strategy is LESS work on me. If I can answer a question one time face to face, and one more time through a virtual format forever, I rarely have to worry about that question again.

My goal is to have a C4B4Me procedure in my leadership. 

  1. Check yourself, your personal resources and notes first. 
  2. Go to the organizational virtual resources next. 
  3. Go to your peers third. 
  4. Use your technology to find an answer. 
  5. If you can't find the answer, I will be glad to help you. 

If leaders would implement a C4B4Me strategy, they would bank hours back into their week.  They would also empower teachers to solve their own problems and collaborate with their peers. Sure leaders will still have to answer a lot of questions, but they would be the questions that can only be answered by the leader.

I challenge you to answer questions ONCE and for ALL. 

It may just be the thing that takes your classroom, your school, or your organization to the next level.