Stillness and Connectedness 

It is so interesting to see the ongoing assault proclaiming value (or lack there) of social media, importance  (or lack there) of technology in th classroom, greatness (or lack there) of connectedness, vitalness (or lack there) of access, etc..

I have long been done with both sides. Entrenched ideology is scary and both are so buried they are blinded and continue doubling down.

And this leaves a generation of youth lost. One side marvels at our technological creation. One side longs to return to a time that is gone. In particular, schools continue archaic ways and absolute positions at the expense of innovation.

I seek is meaningful, thoughtful directions that are bold but done with a spirit larger than one moment, issue, item. I want mindfulness, mindsets, and wellness to be our unifier. I hope for purpose, a purpose larger than personal interest masquerading as greater good. 

Until then, this gets my attention because it is a crossroads for human potential. Until then, I’ll find stillness in craziness. Until then, my energy is my soul. 

And I hope the words like Pico Iyer move us not towards an absolute or entrenched ideology but towards how to make the present meaningful and powerful: “Not many years ago, it was access to information and movement that seemed our greatest luxury; nowadays it’s often freedom from information, the chance to sit still, that feels like the ultimate prize”.

Live. Laugh. Love.

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.

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. 

Design for Happiness

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!



Be Who You Are NOT what People Want You To BE

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:

  1. Be a blessing
  2. Stay hungry
  3. Make Progress
  4. Live meaningfully
  5. Remain engaged
  6. Give more than I receive
  7. 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!