Expectations of Students and Teachers Must Align

I don’t write much about education these days because much of what I say is so counter to what is being said that it is perceived as  abrasive.

This will no doubt fall into that category but it comes from the purest of intent: get you to think a bit differently.

So here it is… 

Social media and education outlets are full of chatter about students needing to build, create, design, innovate, collaborate, go global, be public, do big things, transform the world, etc..

I couldn’t agree more. But here is the thing: how many of the adults in your school/district are doing this themselves regularly? How many of them are pushing the status quo in their professional and personal life? How many are growth and change minded?

The number will directly correlate to the number of students experiencing these things in the classroom.

In other words, none of this will happen systemically if the adults aren’t living it themselves. Leaders – align the expectations of students with the same expectations of teachers or you’ll never see systemic change.

Am I Selfish?

Am I selfish?

(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

To answer the question, one must ask whether selfish is about intent and outcome or just about one’s actions.

For example, am I selfish because I devote 2-3 hours a day to the gym? If one is looking at it purely from an action point of view, one could reasonably argue that I’m selfish given that I have children and a profession. On the other hand, one could look at the intent and mindset behind my 2-3 hours a day in the gym not merely the act of going to the gym. That would, undoubtedly, yield a different view.

But selfish is often a label placed upon people like me. What is a person like me? I’m a person who…

  • is all in or all out – no in between
  • feels dead inside when he isn’t challenged
  • thrives on change and evolving
  • takes risks and fails forward
  • seeks the horizon, dreams wildly, and lives in the clouds
  • fears complacency and
  • play and lives on the edge
  • longs for adventure, the new, and the extraordinary
  • abandons things quickly if they aren’t moving him forward, bringing him growth, or maximizing his ability to #livelaughlove to the greatest degree
  • loathes normalcy and believes he is destined for anything but average
  • chases dreams and cultivates his vision at the expense of nearly anything
  • connects with many people but intimately surrounds himself with but a few, extremely passionate people
  • intolerant of people who embrace stagnation and defend status quo

Egocentric? Selfish? Self-Centered? Before you answer that, let me pose this…

I model for my children and those in my life a growth mindset. I model a constant movement towards a better me. I model a life of passion and dreams. I am creative and innovative yet know I have many flaws – I simply choose to work on making my strengths so much stronger that my weaknesses are minimized.

But I see person after person who model for their children and those around them a fixed mindset. How they look, behave, and function today is what they will be 5, 10, 20 years from now. They don’t change. They don’t evolve. They’ve stopped growing. They’ve stopped dreaming. They live day to day as a checklist not a vision list. They wake walk. Are they happy? Maybe. Not for me to judge.

So back to Am I selfish. The real question is who is selfish? The person showing a life of growth or a life of stagnation? I was once told that “by doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.” Those that are stagnant aren’t doing what they love. They are operating from fear, safety, and complacency. How is that a model for anyone? If I’m inspiring and awakening a fire in my children, students, and those I’m blessed to cross paths with in life, then I’ll take this brilliant label of selfish oft cast upon me.

And ultimately, perhaps there is a larger question: why the negative connotation with the word selfish?

Three Choices 

Life’s moments can be simplified down to three choices. With any moment, one can…

  1. Give up. 
  2. Give in. 
  3. Give it everything. 

It comes down to beliefs, heart, and passion. In other words, our way of looking at life, our mindsets.

And that is just it. We must overcome our number one obstacle: our mind. Otherwise, fear, excuses, and paralysis govern decision making.

Dreams Require Loss

Having dreams. Believing in those dreams. Acting upon those dream daily. While cyclical, each is a phase that requires a different focus, lens, and level of intensity.

It is easy to lose sight and begin focusing on everything but those dreams. But your dreams can’t stop for anyone. You have to be willing to give up and sacrifice anything (except your beliefs and values) to bring each one to life. Surround yourself with those that have unwavering, unselfish support. Surround yourself with those that don’t question your path, cause unnecessary stress, nor make you feel out of sorts for dream chasing.

Support me or move away from me. Together or alone. It doesn’t matter. I’m bringing my vision to life knowing full well that dreams never come true without loss.


Weekend Mindset

It never fails. By 8am, I’ve heard at least three times how many days until the weekend: “two down. Three to go!”, “almost there”, “get me to the weekend”, and so forth.

Living for the weekend is fascinating and probably the easiest warning sign that something needs to change.

My goal has always been to live in the moment away from the regret of yesterday and the anxiety of tomorrow. Tis not always easy.

But how many of us are caught in counting days to meaningfulness instead of sucking meaning out of the moment? What if the weekend mindset was our daily mindset?

Imagine how much more loving, laughing, and loving would emerge.

Doors Closing

The lifespan of an opportunity is always near ready to close the door on that moment. When your mind is close to giving up and questioning why, remember your vision. 

Message upon message will scream, “you can’t… You shouldn’t…” . A society that is change adverse sees those who fear complacency as different, even a threat. But that message matters only to the degree that one listens.

We are designed to change, evolve, grow, and succeed, a constant pattern of fail-recommit. Somewhere we lose this and we begin calculating risk/reward (overestimating risk while underestimating reward), playing it safe, and sabotaging personal growth and happiness to satisfy the status quo societal needs. 

I’m guilty as charged and it hurts. It is the making of regret, of giving up, of being content/good enough. 

Like water flowing in a stream, you’ll never be in this spot again. Make the most of it! Get your mindset right and become your vision!

Life of Purpose

I believe in the need to discover a deep sense of purpose for one’s life. Then one must not only believe but work daily on fulfilling that purpose! This means doing what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love. As Terry Orlick eloquently proclaims, “The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.”

What is your pursuit? What gives you meaning? What brings you joy? If you don’t know, begin removing the things that aren’t/don’t. 

Life of purpose is a life worth living.

Be a Blueprint not a Copy

Focusing on the past to create the future is so education.

  1. Time to design a new course. What are other schools doing?
  2. Time to design a new space. What are other schools doing?
  3. Time to design a new goal. What are other schools doing?
  4. Time to design a new approach. What are other schools doing?

Rise up and say, “No more. Let’s be a blueprint not a copy”!

The list goes on and on. Boldness is saying we are constantly redesigning and evolving. We are the blueprint. Yes – This means putting ourselves out there. Yes – This means failing. Yes – This means missteps. Yes – This means messy and embracing the craziness. Yes – This means 10x thinking.  Yes – This means interacting with all walks of life not just fellow schools. But it is that courage that will allow us to create the most meaningful experiences for our students. It is that boldness that will lean to change that we all are proud to own.

Sadly, easy is asking what other schools are doing and tweaking it (at best) for your school. Meaningful is creating your own and leveraging networks to make it better.

“Exploit the Absurdities. Embrace the Enigmas. Revel in the Power of Paradox.” Gordon MacKenzie
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney

Meaningful Faculty Meetings

I’ve spoken about faculty meetings and my strong desire to rebrand these into meaningful experiences. However, my prior positions left little room for anything but words.

But the feelings remained that the notion of faculty meetings should shift from passive consumption to maximum involvement. In other words, utilize every drop of time for meaningful learning. 

My principal challenged me to move words to action, and today was our first newly remodeled faculty meeting. 

Goals for New Faculty Meeting Format

  • Maximize time for professional learning opportunities
  • Utilize each faculty meeting as a learning and community-building opportunity
  • Create a sense of play, imagination, creativity, and wonder
  • Model the learning environment we desire in the classroom
  • Share the stage with the expertise within our school and beyond our school
  • Connect and keep on the forefront of people’s thinking the various initiatives taking place
  • Ensure faculty conversations and voices are a driving force of change
  • Leverage proper communication channels for one-way communication

Format for the Faculty Meeting
Each faculty meeting will now serve as a communication team centered on a driving question, a learning experience, and the exchanging of ideas. This will be 30-40 minutes followed by a 15 minute reporting out in the library as a whole faculty. The experiences will vary: reading, viewing, creating, and playing but always in the spirit of discussing, exchanging, and sharing (oh my -ing).

Time is precious

While there is value in giving information, I value more deeply the exchange of ideas. The 60 minutes of a faculty meeting each month is a great opportunity to exchange ideas and grow stronger as a community. These are opportunities for voices on key aspects of The school. 

Productivity Boost

Creativity. Productivity. Likability.  If you want to boost these, one trick is to moderate and regulate your sleep.

It sounds simple. It isn’t a revolutionary new idea. But how many of us practice explicit regulation of refueling our tank to full each night?

I Changed

I spent ten years averaging 3-5 hours of sleep a night. Then, I would crash for 15-20 hours or land myself in the hospital dehydrated, sick, and frustrated. I put on significant weight, tried upon unhealthy food to fuel me, and wore wings constantly to fool myself that I had energy.

I wore it like a badge of honor. I pushed the idea that “this is all my body needs” and defended the practice with “look how much I’m getting done.” Truth is that I was getting a lot done. But getting things done and making a difference are two radically different things. 

My Formula

Life is much different now. After trial and error, my tank is near fuel with 7-8 hours of sleep. Seven is golden if I have relaxed  my brain:  warm shower, fiction book (never nonfiction), journal, etc.. Eight if I have not relaxed myself. 

I follow this 90% of the time. 

Trade Offs

Don’t get me wrong. This increase in sleep comes with trade-offs. Here are things I’ve lost:

  • I don’t get as much done… 
  • I don’t live much of a night life 
  • I start to fall asleep if I’m out at night 🙂
  • I had to create a To Do List process because of the lost waking hours 
  • I had to cut ties with things that were time waste for me. In other words, I wanted to regain some of those hours being put to sleep. For example, I cut out television and reduced social media
  • I had to create a powerful morning routine 

Sweet Dreams 

It is hard for me to imagine my life before this shift what could have been would I have focused here a lot sooner. Dreams are sweeter. Life is sweeter. I’m happier and more mindful.

Rest easy! Onward!