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Focus on Essentials (September ASCD Review)

This quote by Education Leadership expert Michael Schmoker from the September Education Leadership (ASCD) caught my eye and I needed to share with you, Poor instructional practices amount to "hundreds of hours of wasted class time" every year in the great majority of schools. 

Click here to read the full article. 

Schmoker points out three key competencies teachers must master in order to ensure school performance is moving in a positive direction for all students:

1. Clear, Coherent, Curriculum: I recall one time asking a leadership team what was the school's curriculum. Of the five leaders in the room, I received four different answers. "If you all are not clear, how would the 30 teachers in charge of disseminating know?" The first question know that I ask school leaders when we conduct a walkthrough is, "How will we know what will students be learning today?" On a scale of 1-10, how well can you answer this question?

2. Sound Instruction: Schmoker shares that every...

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Winning With People Lesson #8: Encourage the Dreams of Others

Have you ever told anyone your dreams? Recently my six-year old son Matthew asked me, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” “A professional baseball player,” I said with great certainty. Then my memories went right to someone in my family telling me when I was 12, “You have no shot of making it.”  That was 31 years ago but it still stings. I actually did play all the way to college and played one year in an adult wooden bat league. Just good enough to not embarrass myself most days.

As a coach, mentor and trainer I am privileged to hear the goals and dreams of many. A privilege I never take lightly as it shows a great deal of courage and trust. I am very conscious of the power of my response. The wrong word, tone or body language can crush a person’s dream; the right word can inspire him or her to pursue it. If someone thinks enough of you to tell you about his or her dreams, take care. And keep these things in mind to encourage...

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"Get"-ting Our Students

Do you remember what it felt like when a teacher really "got” you? What I mean by that is do you remember a teacher who knew your strengths and your weak­nesses and encouraged you to aim higher in both?

I sure do. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Bragg, was one. My 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Vandevelder, was one, and my graduate school professor, Chris Thaiss, was one. They “got” me, and the "me" that they “got” was someone they liked. I liked that version of me too, and because of the way they saw me and responded to me, I thrived in their classrooms.

In grade school, I always pictured one of my teachers who didn’t “get” me talking to one of my teachers who did “get” me. As a kid, I believed that everyone I knew had nothing better to do than to talk about me. Perhaps that is a common thought among children. 

Back to my picture. I’d picture my math teacher talking to Mrs. Bragg, and this is how the...

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Everything Worthwhile is Uphill

fears leadership success Oct 10, 2019

My son is six years' old and recently we removed his training wheels from his bike. We live very close to multiple parks but every time I suggest we take the bike to get there, he immediately gives excuses about not being able to climb the hill leading to the park, "My legs are too small, I don't have the energy, walking is healthier, my scooter is safer." I shared with him that everything worthwhile is uphill and if you want to enjoy the park, you have to pay the price. 

Price is the number one obstacle between you and your potential and many leaders lack the willingness to pay the price. They treat their pursuit of leadership like a New Years resolution. They give up based on distraction, or pursuit of something shinier. 

Being a highly effective leaders is cool to want, neat to say, something great to pursue, it is just hard to stay with it. That is price you must pay to be an effective leader.  

What separates the greats from the others is their tenacity,...

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Winning With People Lesson #7: Say the Right Words at the Right Time

people development Oct 07, 2019

Can you think of a time where someone said the right thing to you, at exactly the right time? I remember in my first month as a teacher at Charter Day School I was pulled into a room by a group of students because their teacher was unresponsive. I grabbed a teammate and we immediately started CPR but we were not able to resuscitate her. She had died instantly from an aneurysm. I didn’t know her at all, but for the next month I couldn’t get that feeling, that image, out of my head. Our Superintendent wanted to ensure that every employee on campus had CPR training just in case this situation occurred again. When the trainer came that day I spoke to him about how I wasn’t able to save her. He looked at me and said in a  short, almost crass tone, “She was already dead.” I gave him a confused look. He continued, “The only reason you started CPR is because she was dead. Be proud of the fact that you tried. Most people don’t.” Those...

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Building Systems is Your Key to Success

Did you know that even the way an email is responded to needs a system? The same is true for the way you assign and hold your team accountable to results. Whether you know it or not, systems are everywhere in your organization. You, as the leader of the organization, are a systems engineer, whether you’re aware of it or not. Ignoring this truth will create an organization that’s out of control. I like to call it, organized chaos. 

The key to having an organization that simply works is creating your systems with intention. What this means is many organization leaders inadvertently create ‘systems’ that completely depend on themselves, or specific employees, without even realizing it. That is a great deal of intellectual property that leaves the organization every day. One day, they might not come back. 

For example, if your Student Admissions Director Mary is the only one in your organization who knows how the lottery runs and enrollment forms are...

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Winning With People Lesson #6: Give Others A Reputation to Uphold

Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be. -Goethe

 Just this past weekend I was looking for something to be on in the background as I worked on our new web page sharing our new Youth Leadership Programs and the classic Lean on Me (Morgan Freeman as principal “Crazy” Joe Clark) was available on Netflix. I love this movie not just for the transformation Clark brought to Eastside High, but the transformation Clark goes through himself through the movie. Clark’s tactics are highly criticized even 30 years later, but there is one thing he did extraordinary well is see the possibility in the 2,700 students and hold them to that standard at all times. He communicated a vision of success through discipline and hard work, while painting a picture of possibilities for each adult and student in the classroom regarding their future. He said,...

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Creating YOUR Legacy Begins Today

goals leadership Sep 26, 2019

When you think of Alfred Nobel, what comes to mind? You might be like me and not have known his first name, but that last name conjures up the faces of the best of the best of humanity--Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama to name a few Nobel Peace Prize winners. 

Alfred Nobel is the man responsible for the Nobel Peace Prize, but did you know that he was also a chemist, engineer, and innovator who manufactured weapons? He had dedicated his life to developing nitroglycerine as an explosive; one of his brothers, Emil, was even killed during one experiment. Ultimately, he invented patented and sold a new product called dynamite, drastically reducing the cost of blasting rock, drilling tunnels, and forming canals, not to mention the endless tension between Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in the Bugs Bunny Show.  

Where the focus goes, the energy flows.

For most of his life, Alfred had focused on explosives, but in 1888, that all changed. His...

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Winning With People Lesson #5: Compliment Other People in Front of Others

For over 30 years John Maxwell has written and recorded leadership lessons which have been used to mentor tens of thousands of people every single month. One of the most memorable lessons I remember listening to is as a leader, it is your responsibility to find people with great potential and how to create an environment for them to flourish and emerge as “full fledged” leaders. The lesson was called “Searching for Eagles.”

Here are the ten marks of an eagle from that lesson:

  1. Eagles make things happen.
  2. Eagles see and seize opportunities.
  3. Eagles influence the opinions and actions of others.
  4. Eagles add value to you. 
  5. Eagles draw winners to them. 
  6. Eagles equip others to lead. 
  7. Eagles provide ideas that help any organization. 
  8. Eagles possess ideas that help the organization.
  9. Eagles live up to their commitments and responsibilities. 
  10. Eagles show fierce loyalty to the organization and the leader. 

It’s an inspiring and...

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Seven Steps to Clearly Communicated Expectations

communication leadership Sep 19, 2019

Recently while consulting for a charter school having challenges with their school culture, a group of teachers were complaining about their board not understanding their school, not attending school events or touring the school. I asked one teacher, “Is that what you expect them to do? Do they know that? I have been a board member for over four years now and I’d be really surprised to hear that is what is expected of me.”

An expectation is defined as believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way. However, any expectation not communicated is merely a thought.

I know I struggle with communicating clear expectations. It is something I have to work on daily. I will allow my faulty assumptions to close that expectation gap. Which has never led to great results.

As a consultant and coach for school leaders across the country, the lack of clearly understood and communicate expectations is the number one issue I see in...

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