Back-To-School Dreams (217:365)

For many school districts in the USA, August has become either the actual Back-To-School (as many districts have already begun the school year), or the long wait for the new school year. There are trends (and I am not talking fashion here) that have emerged about August that are spreading throughout social media. I have seen countless posts about the school year that paint a very interesting picture. There are two camps forming. One that look forward to the return of the school year, and one that dreads it. Which camp are you in? Which camp does your prospective student or parent want you in?


In my opinion, the teachers who are most noteworthy are those who charge back with positive energy, and excitement for the new year to begin. These are the same teachers who most likely tried to grow over the summer by learning something new, or simply prepared to get better. They are excited to meet their new students and parents.


Unfortunately, there are those teachers who feel proud that they did “nothing” over the summer. They come back on the first contractual day, and scoff at the fact of engaging with their colleagues in professional development because they would rather just set up their rooms. They are preparing themselves at the last minute for the “inevitable.” How sad.


How are you going to spend your August? Preparing for excitement of the opportunities that lie ahead? Or dreading the arrival of your first day? It’s your choice 🙂

Do you regularly do something out of your comfort zone? (216:365)



Do you regularly do something out of your comfort zone? Maybe I should ask, when was the last time you did something out of your comfort zone?

For instance, most of us wake up the same time, maintain the same morning routine, and even drive to work the same way everyday. Most people park in the same spot when they go to their job, and so on and so on. Routines help us develop a comfort zone, and after some time, these routines end up consuming what we do.

Successful people regularly do things out of their comfort zones. Here are some of their activities:

  • Read books outside of their normal genre
  • Travel to new places
  • Attend conferences to learn from others
  • Try new food
  • Play
  • Learn from others in a new social group

This is not an exhaustive list by no means, and there are many ways that successful people get out of their comfort zones…. What do you do?

One person’s growth is another’s nightmare (215:365)



I had an interesting connection to a few things this week. I am reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset, and I am loving it. I am really paying attention to the mindset I see in myself and others. I also read a blog post by Justin Tarte, I’d rather be’ that guy’ than no guy at all, I think. Basically, Justin’s post is about being pointed out as the “twitter guy” by others. I really connected with his post because I have experienced the same thing from friends, colleagues or when I attend conferences. I told Justin I would respond to his post because I believe what he wrote about is an issue, a real issue.


After much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t about twitter, social media or blogging but rather a mindset. Those with a growth mindset would never say to someone (and I am sure there are hints of sarcasm thrown in, but almost always under guise of humor) “Do you spend all day tweeting?” or “You better stop tweeting because your fingers are going to fall off” or “You’re that twitter guy.” Nope. No growth there. Someone with a growth mindset would never compartmentalize your learning, connections, or accomplishments.


So the next time something like that happens to you, think of the other person’s mindset. Most likely their comments are coming out of a place of a fixed-mindset. Most likely they are really bothered by what you represent…. growth….





Comedians, social media and connections (214:365)



Comedians have been utilizing social media tools since its inception. Check their twitter, instagram, facebook, or podcast and you will see activity… lots of activity. Why? In the most obvious sense, comedians are using social media to promote themselves and their upcoming performances, but actually that is only part of it…. a small part of it….


The real reason comedians are using social media is to connect and build relationships with their fans (tribe, as Seth Godin would say). You will find them on twitter talking about, you guessed it, comedy. They throw jokes out, take pictures of interesting things, and re-tweet articles and blog posts they find interesting. They have developed podcasts as  a way to have their friends, or respected colleagues on to talk, work on material, and make each other laugh/think. If they do not get a show on TV, many have just decided to start their own show in a web-based format. They can retain their creativity, and still get their message out. Sound familiar?


The comedians who have engaged in social media realize that they have about 4 minutes to connect with you while they are on stage (maybe even less, but lets just use 4 minutes as a gauge). How can you develop rapport with 100, or 1000 people within 4 minutes? You don’t. You connect with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Comedians have learned that social media breaks down barriers, allows for connections, and is super easy to use.


There is a lesson in here for educators. What connections do you see?

Failing forward… Look out! (213:365)



In a recent voxer (Tweet Theresa Stager if you want to join) conversation with Bob Dillon and he said the phase “Failing forward fast.” Wait, I know that phase, I thought. Where did I hear it? So I googled it and sure enough there is a book written by John Maxwell titled “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success.” According to the excerpt from the book, “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” Hmm, very similar to the book I am currently reading, Mindset.


The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.


Some people are so caught up on failure, losing, making mistakes…. It’s a shame because they are truly missing out on life’s lessons. I have to think part of that blame stems from educators and bureaucrats. Not for long, though. I feel a tide is slowly turning where people are beginning to see that the innovative mindset can no longer be burdened by an educational system that is, at its core, based on standardized tests, developmentally appropriateness, and educators who are hyper-focused on good/bad. Well, back to the drawing board…


Thanks Bob!

This better not mess up! (212:365)



Maybe what’s holding people back is the fear failure…. Do you often ask yourself (or those you supervise) “Will this mess things up?” Or “What is the proof that your innovation will work?”


YET…… What do we do when we have proof that the existing way of doing things isn’t working? What is the proof needed to keep going?


Do we require more from innovations than we do our traditional practice?


And if it messes up, what do we do?

High School Stinks! (211:365)



I came across the TEDx Philly talk the other day delivered by my friend Chris Lehman, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy, in Philadelphia, PA. If you don’t know Chris, I highly recommend to connect with him! He is a passionate High School Principal dedicated to making high school relevant, inquiry-based, and dare I say fun. Having visited SLA, I can attest that it is the real deal. High School students are not bored, not in rows and not “processed.” These kids are powerful, inquisitive, and problem-solvers. They are proud of SLA and so is Chris!


Check out his TEDx Talk on why High School Stinks, and more importantly, what he is doing to make it less-stinky:) More importantly, ask yourself this question… what are you going to do to make your classroom, school, or district less stinky?

Are you growth or fixed minded? (210:365)

source: Carol Dweck via

source: Carol Dweck via @cindywarber

Everyone is faced with the same dilemma… Do you get to a certain part of your career, and decide that you have learned everything? Or do you continue to push yourself and grow? Its easier said than done, but Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a great read for anyone seeking to understand this dilemma.


The graphic (on the left hand side) was found on twitter thanks to Cindy Warber. The important aspect of the graphic is the compare/contrast of Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset. I thought this was an amazing breakdown and illustrates things you may say to yourself, or hear others say in your meetings, or conversations in your organization. It reveals a lot about how we learn.

So, I have to ask… are you in a growth mindset, or a fixed mindset? Do you know anyone who has a fixed mindset, and might need to read this? Please share 🙂



PD Made Easy? (209:365)



The other day I came across a tweet from Alfie Kohn. He simply asked, “Question for prof dev orgs: Do you mostly 1) ask tchrs “How can we help?” or 2) train them to implement the latest mandate from on high?” He made a really good point. I furthered discussed the issue with fellow educator Starr Sackstein.You can discuss this, and other issues with Starr on twitter, or read her new column in EdWeek!


For the most part, Professional Development organizations have existed to simply help/train educators to implement the latest mandate. I’m guilty of this as well…. I started to reflect, “When was the last time I asked the staff what I could do to help?


I developed a quick Google form to ask three simple questions (besides their name).

Here are the questions:

1. What do you need help with?

2. What do you want to learn more about?

3. What are you willing to help others with?


In terms of “Professional Development”  the results of this quick survey will help me help the staff. Simple as that. Knowing I can’t do everything, I did put in the third question in because I truly believe that the the staff can help each other out!  I’m looking forward to a more collaborative approach to building-level professional development. For those who are reading this who work in the building, I embedded the document (I will email the staff as well). For everyone else, I appreciate the support because I may need to call on you to help, or maybe we can help you! …. Power of the PLN!

Are you planning to steal dreams in the Fall? (208: 365)



As you prepare for the students to return to your district, school, or classroom….Think for a minute… What is School for?

I just watched a TEDxYouth Talk from Seth Godin, and right from the beginning of the talk he had me thinking…. What is school for? He recanted how we have spent over 150 years in education with the same introduction,”Good morning Mr. or Mrs. so and so.” Wonder why? According to Godin, school was designed to teach obedience. Ironically, this form of education fit perfectly with the standardized tests, and the future factory employment. YIKES!


Throughout the TEDx talk, Seth provides the framework for the industrialized classroom (basically how we learned, our parents, grand-parents learned and how our kids are learning now… with little change):

  • Process students throughout the year, and the defective ones are sent back for reprocessing
  • Sit the kids in straight rows… just like the factory
  • Build a system based on inter-changeable people (and parts)
  • Train students to “buy stuff”

Towards the middle of the talk, Seth provides 8 things that are going to change completely if we decide how we are going to answer this question… What is school for?


Check out this brilliant talk by Seth Godin for yourself (Thanks to my PLN for sharing)