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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
People that know me understand my obsession with positive psychology and the state of #livelaughlove. It is why I drift to roles in my professional life that are centered on designing experiences. In education, one of those has long been this ambiguous concept of professional development design.
Believe me, it is brutally difficult and there are many facets to it. However, one often overlooked aspect is the actual experience you want people to a) look forward to b) actually experience c) remember. Positive psychology, behavioral psychology, and design provide a tremendous framework, a framework I pull out with any experience I am trying to design – yes, whether in education or just my life.
In a nutshell, there are three keys to creating a happy experience: anticipation, interaction, and afterglow. These create a halo. The Happiness Halo, in other words, means the experience will last much longer than the moment and has a much greater chance of meaningful impact if you design for before, during, and after.
The next time you are designing an experience, say a professional development experience, consider thinking about how you are designing for happiness. I promise you’ll see the benefits!
I would rather build my self-esteem on reflection and continued growth than on being right. This requires courage, a bias towards action, risk-taking, and vulnerability. In fact, my addiction is changing, evolving, and progressing. It is my greatest gift and perhaps worst flaw. I take a lot of risks. I experiment and play with ideas constantly. I tell people my mind shifts often because of this idea of constant growth.
But I’d rather model 10x and Design Thinking Mindsets than model complacency, safety and security. That can torment some. That can frighten others. But it is real. It is authentic. And through it all, I remain committed that every single day I’m focused on the following:
- Be a blessing
- Stay hungry
- Make Progress
- Live meaningfully
- Remain engaged
- Give more than I receive
- Take action
People will like or dislike my approach, but I remain true to it. So Stand for something. Model what you believe. It isn’t easy. It isn’t safe. It isn’t secure. But it does make all the difference.
Onward with Joy… Dream so big that you can’t help but live in the clouds!
I’ve always been an early riser. It is in my DNA. My day starts at 4am and I have a crazy habitual routine that I follow. I wake up jazzed. No alarm. No snooze. No willpower. My vision for life is so clear, so powerful that I can’t wait to get going in the morning!
Power of Routine
While I fear stagnation and embrace change, the power of routine is crucial to me:
- It centers and grounds me in the moment.
- It calms and focuses me on what matters.
- It empowers me to make the day impactful and meaningful.
- It energizes me to live, love, and laugh.
4:00-4:40:::: Preparing for an Awesome Day
- Drink one liter of water immediately
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Fire up stove to cook veggies, brown rice, oats, and eggs.
- Read a book for 10 minutes while food is cooking.
- Write for 10 minutes while food is cooling.
- Cue a motivational talk or video via YouTube while packaging food and getting ready for the gym.
- Say a few words to my kids either outside of their door, peaking in while they sleep, or via a note if they are restless. I don’t ever wake them up!
4:40-4:55:::: Flipping the Switch
- Fire up the ol Mustang, cue one of my training playlists, and scoot to the gym.
- Reherse on the way my exercises, sequence, intensifiers, and goals of training session.
- Be at locker #33 ready to roll by 5am
5:00-6:30:::: Fitness Mindset
- Training and conditioning.
- Chug a postworkout protein and glutamine bomb
- Get ready for work.
6:30-7:15:::: Growth Mindset
- Drive to work.
- 30 minutes of the commute is listening to a book on tape or podcast.
- Stop and watch the sunrise (a must for me when it is a clear sky). Eat Meal 1 of the day.
- 10 minutes of the commute is asking how I will make a difference today, what will be meaningful about today, who can I bring joy to today, and how will today help me leave a lasting impact. I focus a lot here on dreams, innovation, mindsets, and passions. It is who I am!
7:15-8:00::: Professional Mindset
- Connect with my team
- Check voicemail and notes
- Create a To Do List using remnants from yesterday’s (different post but I love my To Do List approach)
- Scan my online readers
- Scan emails
- Brush my teeth again and then walk the building
My morning has officially begun!
It is a constant theme, a steady buzz: are we too infatuated, obsessed, even addicted to our devices.
Frankly, I watch this deeply with my own children, stare at the question with our students, and glare at the actions of adults that often shout from the hills one thing yet do another.
And momentary awareness of the immediate surroundings for the full awareness of the always on digital connection does concern me. It concerns me in the same way that people get lost in the regret of the past and the anxiety of the future at the expense of the beauty and growth of the moment.
I’m also frightened by the race to live up to the expectations of the perfect construction shown in digital worlds.
But here is the thing that doesn’t frighten me: heavy use of devices. I use mine ALL THE TIME. It is my greatest tool. In that light, humans have always had a symbiotic relationship with tools and those transformative tools have long spawn debates regarding what we’ve lost vs what we’ve gained. Think Automotives. Think Print Press. And on and on.
My point is humans have always been humans with tools. Fighting that human nature leads to frustration. The real fight is on mindsets, habits, and passions. We focus on deeply developing, identifying, and growing those… devices won’t be an issue any longer.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea” Antoine De Daint-Exupery
But we don’t do that so much. We focus more and more on tasks, action items, to-do lists, and initiatives. And then, we wonder why such little motivation? such little passion? such little energy?
I had this amazingly brief yet powerful exchange the other with a great friend about grit, passion, perseverance. Honestly, waking up and having that unquenchable thirst. And that is what I’ve wrestled of late – this idea of motivation as it pertains to grit, passion, and perseverance. We talk about motivation as something that is given instead of something that emerges when the conditions are created. Quite honestly, that’s scary as hell especially for teacher to consider. If I don’t control motivation, I’m dead.
And that’s the crap right? We have to move away from thinking we control motivation to we create conditions that hopefully create sparks. How do we do it? I don’t know but I think there is a starting point that all can do:
But first, all of this is rooted in these ideas that I think are needed to create an environment ripe for motivation:
- leaders need to create conditions for agility, autonomy, curiosity, innovation with execution, and passion.
- leaders need to embody a #livelaughlove mindset: the power of love, joy, and adventure.
- leaders need to encourage the falling in love with the journey more (or at least equally) than anguishing over a specific outcome.
What wakes you up? I’m not talking about wake walking (e.g. just going through the motions without much effort or attachment). I’m speaking about what has you charged to get out of bed and get after it. I’m speaking about what stimulates your mind, lives in your mind, and eats away at your mind 24/7.
Try This: On a post-it note, tell me about a time you were lost in complete flow, time stood still you were so deeply engaged. On the backside of that post-it, tell me the conditions that helped you get into that state of flow.
Heart, Mind, and Body
Now, imagine three interlocking circles (Venn Diagram style, baby). Circle one represents the heart, circle two represents the body, and circle three represents the brain. Take your post it note that gives your flow moment and place it where within the circle that best represents where you were engaged: heart, mind, body, heart-mind, heart-body, mind-body, heart-mind-body.
For most, those deep moments of flow where we are at our highest level of motivation we are engaging emotional (heart), cognitively (brain), and physically (body). How are we designing experiences for learners that engage them emotionally, cognitively, and physically? If we couple that with autonomy, creativity, and exploration of a diversify of interest, this will wakes them up. This will create a spark that leads to passion.
And it is here that we find grit and perseverance. We see them engaged and alive. Not because we did it to them. No. It is because we created the conditions.
How many of us are living awake with our passions with a sense of wonderment that sparks innovation that leads to execution? How many of us have the courage to continue down that pathway with the degree of grit that allows that dream to persevere?
And more importantly, I’m back to students. How are we encouraging students to explore and discover a diversity of interest that leads them to that spark, that passion, which has them wide awake and living with the curiosity, agility, and grit that makes a difference in the world?
Something to think about…
It is easy to put your head down, get lost in your own world, or bury your thoughts into a device while going about your day. But the simple power of a “hi” can make all the difference.
Now I’m not talking about that “oh no, he or she made I contact so I must say something” hello, the “oh crap… it is just him/her and I in this space (think elevator) and this uncomfortable silence is unbearable” hello, or any other obligatory hello.
I’m talking about a genuine smile and hello to an absolute stranger.
It is so simple yet I rarely see it anymore. And I’ll be honest. I’ve caught myself too many times of late not doing it. My moments of moving from point A to point B are now opportunities to send texts, send emails, and check my calendar or get lost in my own thoughts and reflections. Both of which are a result of a societal shift where the proverbial jug of time is always empty.
On Thursday, I entered the gym hyper-focused on the task at hand: music was blaring through my headphones, hoodie was up, and mind was tunnel visioned. As the intensity pulsated through me, I was in one of those “say something to me and someone will need to peel me from the ceiling” moments.
For whatever reason, I caught the eye of a gentleman my senior heading out of the locker after what appeared to be a workout. His eyes quickly moved away from me, but I slid my headphones down and said “good morning… hope you had a good workout and an even more amazing day”. He said nothing but acknowledge me with a slight rise out of the corner of his mouth.
I thought little of it and went about my leg workout with extreme prejudice.
Too my surprise, I ran into this gentleman this morning and he tapped me on the shoulder to say, “Thank you”. The details of why my connecting with him as a human are beyond the point of this story (though truly heart filling).
The real point is that you simply never know what your awareness and acknowledgement of people around you can mean. We get lost today in ourselves and those digitally close to us often at the price of those around us. We get lost today in hyper-connecting with our close circle of people that we fail to realize the importance of connecting with the new, with strangers.
As educators, we also are so aware of the finite, ever shrinking amount of time that we can at times fail to notice the beauty of our surroundings and the immense possibilities that emerge when we are hyper-aware not always hyper-connected.
This gentleman’s story over his coffee and my protein shake this morning jolted me back to something I’ve recently forgotten. The power of hyper-awareness coupled with a genuine smile, hello, and curiosity.
Life is full of moments both big and small. The small moments, I’ve found, are the one with the greatest potential to become profound because we are living, laughing, and loving. We aren’t trying to force things. We aren’t overthinking things. We are being who we are.
I’ve tried to instill this in my kids that exploring, observing, reflecting, talking, and wondering in everyday moments are the absolute best moments that open the door of amazement.
So I try to create conditions where my kids can engage with strangers that have made their passions, their purpose. I have them write their questions in a Moleskine and bring it with them on adventures. I ask them to talk with strangers, engage with strangers, and observe strangers. This is where they learn! This is where they make connections.
One of the ways we do this is tours based upon whatever interest or spark has formed.
Investing in a Child’s Spark
But as much as I can do with creating conditions, there is a need for others to recognize a spark in a child. This is where the magic happens. When a stranger says, “I want to be part of making this moment matter for you.” They go that extra mile. They see curiosity and interest not a kid. They see fun and heart not a kid. They see happiness and joyousness not a kid. They see themselves and what they would have wanted. They see a child and the difference they can make in that soul’s life.
Recently, Faelin has expressed this unbelievable interest in being a chef. From helping me food prep to cooking meals from her creative spirit, she continues to wonder about this world. So we did a donut tour this morning as her curiosity about donuts continued to poke at her: how do they make donuts, how many do they make, how do they choose what goes on and in them, how are the shapes formed, and so forth.
A Model of What It Means to Live in the Moment
Chef D’Antignac at Do-Rite Donuts absolutely made my daughter glow. He didn’t just answer her questions. He didn’t just move past her. He took a transient moment and made it a lifelong memory even though there was a line out the door. He invested in a child’s awe, curiosity, dreams, and wonder by…
- Listening to her
- Talking with her
- Asking her questions
- Honoring her as authentic and real
- Engaging her in hands-on experiences
- Creating with her
- Investing in her interests and passions
- Connecting with her as a human
I’m not sure he knew that he was making dreams come true, bringing the greatest smile to her face, and creating a lifelong memory. She is glowing and outside sharing with her friends right now. This small moment on a tour profoundly changed her in ways that I believe will carry with her long after the glow has faded.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Chef D’Antignac. You saw a curious mind and extended your hand when you could have easily done the exact opposite! I hope you know the difference you made today in shaping this smart, strong, brave, creative, and beautiful soul’s mindset and future!
This is an educational blog for the most part. So I’ll simply ask these two questions:
- what if each student felt those aforementioned 8 things in his or her daily experiences in school?
- what if we embraced curiosity, interest, and wonder instead of dismissing an age
I can tell you it would look like this at the end of each and every day #livelaughlove.
Strong. Smart. Brave. Beautiful. Creative.
If you spend anytime around me with my kids, you’ll either hear me or them say these words together, individually, or within some combination. Without question, there is a deep importance to them that goes beyond merely uttering the words.
I started off with just one word a few years ago but it has grown as I see their process flow. And I tell them what I’m seeing. I tell them when they are acting brave or creative. I tell them when I see them being and showing their beautiful side. I also tell them when I see them not displaying these traits, so they see these are pieces we embody but need to be constantly grown.
Because this is life, right? It isn’t about the win/loss, the praise and prizes, the grades, the programs, the life in hyper-drive, nor any one moment. It is about creating conditions that foster a foundation of constant growth. It is about developing a core that cannot be rocked by the failures, setbacks, hurt, and attacks they will encounter in life. It is about them knowing that awareness, effort, process, and fail forward are your cores.
This past week, Finn lost another football game. He was frustrated and sad to say the least. As we went for a walk and sat upon a little hill, our focus was on the question, “what did you learn/what did this teach you?”. This is a difficult question but the focus is on process, getting better, and rising to the challenge.
And when he struggled with this question because emotions were on a specific outcome, this is where those five words come into play. It is putting all five pieces together and seeing them as tools not permanent praise, seeing them as springboards into growth not as a permanent position.
Not a day/night goes by where I don’t follow the ritual of asking them what are you, what is something good that happened today, what was the funniest moment today, and what did you go out and learn today. It is Dweck-ian in nature but I see the impact on growth, optimism, fun, and joyousness.
The question I keep wondering about is how does this translate to the classroom, to leadership…