Staying Vulnerable In Order to Grow

Update for May 9-13

Last week, we focused on “Building Skill” – Intentional, focused repetitions on a skill we know we need to improve to move from Good to Exceptional.

We talked again about how talent alone doesn’t get the job done.  I mentioned this ad from Nike that I think underscores this point:

We also discussed the need to not only share your goal for improvement with others, but also ask them to hold you accountable.  Jim Rohn wrote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Surrounding ourselves with others we trust, whose approaches to life and work we wish to emulate, can help us build the skill we need to move from good to elite.

However, this comes at a price to our ego.  In order to build skill, we need to stay vulnerable.

I am constantly working to improve as a leader.  The topic and concept of leadership is a passion of mine so I find myself reading, thinking, reflecting, and sharing anything on leadership.  It truly fascinates me.

And because leadership is a skill I am constantly building, I need to continue to make myself vulnerable in order to grow.

I have done two “feedback” surveys with the staff and it has helped, to a point.  Anonymous surveys are a mixed bag.  Most people use the anonymity to be honest in answering the questions I asked on the survey.  

One or two folks used anonymity as an opportunity to be less-than-professional with their feedback.  The truth is, it’s feedback I can’t really use — It just puts a giant pit in my stomach and keeps me from sleeping (Maybe that was what they really wanted to happen).  If you want to give someone feedback that will help them improve, you need to be specific.

In order to stay vulnerable and in order to get more out of your feedback, I hope that each of you will take me up on the offer to provide me with face-to-face feedback.  I was inspired by Thomas Hoerr’s article in this month’s Educational Leadership that discussed this type of feedback format.

I am ready to have some of my assumptions about the ways things are going affirmed from our conversation.  I am also ready to face the music when the feedback hurts — That’s the feedback I need to listen to in order to get better.

Here are some questions I am considering (Again, inspired by Thomas Hoerr):

  • What should I start doing?
  • What should I stop doing?
  • What should I continue doing?
  • Is my vision for learning evident?
  • Are my expectations clear and realistic?
  • Do I provide good feedback and positive reinforcement?
  • Can I be trusted?
  • How could I help you more?

I hope you will take 10 minutes out of your schedule to chat with me and help me grow!  A link to a sign-up will be coming soon.

Have a GREAT week!


Tweets Worth Checking Out —

Upcoming Dates — 

May 10 — Team Connection Time; let me know if you want to touch base.
May 11 — Spec Ed Team meeting, 12PM; RTI Team Meeting, 3:30PM
May 14 — AD/DC Warrior Dash, 6PM
May 17 — K/1 Data Team Half-Day Meeting
May 18 — 2/3 Data Team Half-Day Meeting
May 19 — 5/4 Data Team Half-Day Meeting 
May 18 — ADDC Staff Meeting, ADE Media Center, 3:45
May 19 — Herb Mtg AM
May 26 — Last Grow Together Thursday
May 30 — Holiday, NO SCHOOL
May 31 — ADE PTO Family Luau

Jun 3 — Last Day of School (Students)


Change, Debt, and "Owing the World"

Update for Apr 11-15

Labeled for reuse —
This week, we went deeper into R-Factor with students at our school community meeting.  We shared with them the power of pressing pause and getting our minds right.  I loved seeing the “press pause” signs students starting taping to the walls in the hallway.  I also enjoyed the anecdotes about students using these strategies with peers — 


Common language is powerful!

We also went deeper into the concept of “adjust and adapt”; being ready to take on change and getting better at dealing with change.  

One of the most powerful lessons from this part of the R-Factor training is our response to new situations determines our level of stress.  Anticipating change and getting better at adjusting and adapting reduces our stress and increases positive outcomes.

A few weeks ago, I read a couple of pages out of Seth Godin’s book What To Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn) and today they make more sense to me after experiencing this week than they did when I first read them.

The first read by Godin focused on the phrase “It will be okay” – Something we say to ourselves that means, “It will turn out the way we want it to.”  

But as Godin reminds us, it almost never turns out the way we want it to.  

He suggests we start saying and thinking the phrase “Something will happen” because something always will.  We just have to have an open mindset and anticipate the right thing.  

I told someone the other day that I do my best to help grow authentic experiences at school — I try to listen and wait, sort of like a fisherman waiting for the right fish.  I’ve been trying to think “something will happen” more because what actually does happen usually far exceeds my expectations.


The second read talked about the feeling that we are owed something and it spurred additional reflection, but again it feels different after this week.  

Sometimes we hold this notion that we are owed certain things in life.  Not things like getting paid for work we do or rights we have.  This is more along the lines of “I’m a good person…the world owes me for it” or “I have x amount of experience, so I am owed that opportunity”.  

Godin shares that this becomes toxic because this mindset creates massive amounts of disappointment.  For example, what you think you are owed usually differs from how someone thought they should pay you back.  We also set ourselves up for disappointment when we assume something must happen as a result of something we did.  This disappointment and the constant mindset of feeling that you are owed something can be toxic.

I found myself agreeing with two truths shared by Godin:

1. No one owes you anything.
2. It’s actually you who owes the world.

Wow — That’s turning the expectations table, don’t you think?

“Owing the world” connected with me as a blend of my faith, servant leadership, and R-Factor.  I am doing what I do because I want to serve others.  I also know that my Response to a situation is someone else’s Event.  So given those two ideas, and given the statement in #2, remembering that “I owe the world” keeps me humble and keeps me focused on working towards positive outcomes.

We all have good intentions when we work hard and then expect certain things to happen for us.  

I think the lesson here is that we should work hard, but keep our minds open to the possibilities and unexpected outcomes that come from our hard work.  

Let go of the toxicity of feeling owed; serve others and stay open to possibilities.  

That is something you owe to yourself.

Have a GREAT week!


Article Worth Reading —

“9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should ‘Unsettle’ Us” by @willrich45

I really hope you take the time to read this — This list and the changes that are detailed reflects my goals for education.  This is what drives me, what excites me, and what keeps me up at night.

Quotes Worth Sharing — 

Upcoming Dates —

Apr 11 —  Connection Time w/ Herb
Apr 12 — 3, 4, 5 ELA State Testing (AM)
Apr 12 — Tech/Media Planning day w/Teams
Apr 13 — Spec Ed Team Meeting, Noon
Apr 13 — RTI Team Meeting
Apr 14 — PD w/ Dr. Donna: “Connecting Classroom Language to Student Success”
Apr 15 — School Community Meeting: Walk-a-thon Kickoff
Apr 19 — 3, 4, 5 Grade Math State Testing
Apr 20 —  Thrively survey due
Apr 20 — ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:40 ADE Media Center
Apr 21 — Herb Meeting AM
Apr 22 — Interims Go Home
Apr 26 — 4th Grd (Soc St), 5th Grd (Sci) State Testing
Apr 27 — ADE Walk-a-thon (during related arts time)
Apr 28 — Transfer Meeting

“Exercise the Option”

Update for Feb 22-26

It’s a given: The only thing constant is change.

I think about change often.  I think about how I need to respond to change.  I realized during year 5 of being an educator that each year will be different.  

I have also come to understand that it doesn’t get easier if you want to get better.

There is a gap between good and great.  

Good is comfortable.  Good is relying on your talents to get you by,

Getting to Great is hard work.  Great is knowing that talent alone won’t help you grow.  Great is knowing that being on autopilot, resistant and impulsive doesn’t work with change.

Great is knowing how to press pause, reflect and get your mind right, stepping up and owning the reality around you.  Great is knowing that it takes intentional practice and a growth mindset to get better.  That is how successful people respond to change.


When we aren’t flexible and responsive to change, our life and our work gets harder.  Think about it — Change is hard.  Not changing is harder.  Life will eventually catch up, pass you by and win.  

We have the opportunity to invent tomorrow with our students.  That will take consistent reflection, consistent mental stamina, and consistent practice at getting better and growing.

As we’ve learned from R-Factor training and “Above the Line”:

“Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional. The smart thing to do is exercise the option.”

Articles Worth Reading —

STEAM + Project-Based Learning: Real Solutions From Driving Questions

Mattel Unveils ThingMaker, A $300 3D Printer That Lets Kids Make Their Own Toys via @techcrunch

Future-Focused Leadership 

I love this thought —

Upcoming Dates —

Feb 23 — KG Data Team mtg AM, 1st Grade Data Team mtg PM
Feb 24 — 2nd Grade Data Team mtg AM, 3rd Grade Data Team mtg PM
Feb 25 –5th Grade Data Team mtg AM, 4th Grade Data Team mtg PM   
Feb 24 — ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:40 at ADE
Feb 26 — End of K-5 Grading Period *See emails from Joanne and updates on TAC about Progress Report Timeline.

Mar 1 — BIT Meeting, 8am
Mar 1 — Connection Time w/ Herb — Schedule is wide open! Stop by for a chat!  I don‘t know what you’re thinking if you don’t share with me.
Mar 1 — Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45 at DCR
Mar 2 — ADE Staff Meeting
Mar 7 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7pm
Mar 7-11 — OLSAT (Gifted), Grades 1 to 5 by recommendation
Mar 9 — Spring Concert, 7pm, Bradley HS
Mar 10 — PD Series w/ Dr. Donna: “Discovery Approach”, 3:45 at DCR
Mar 15 — Professional Development Day — No SCHOOL (Students)
Mar 18 — Elementary Student Transfer Request Forms Due
Mar 18-24 — Spring Break — NO SCHOOL
Mar 25 — Holiday — NO SCHOOL


Teaching: Shoshin-Style

Update for Feb 8-11

Labeled for noncommercial reuse 

I went running Saturday without my running app, music, or device. I forgot to charge my old phone that I use just for running.

I was really bummed because I really enjoy listening to music as I run. I like knowing how far I’ve gone and what my current pace is. For a minute I wondered if I should run at all.

I ran anyway because it was just too beautiful outside. Sure it was 38 degrees, but a sunny day in February in Ohio is a rarity.

About a mile into my run I realized something that I probably knew deep down anyway, but became clear to me then. 

I realized that if you take away the music, if I take away the app, take away the device, and if I take away the little voice that keeps telling me how fast (or slow) I’m going, what I was left with is my determination and the path that lies before me. 

It made me think about where we are in education, how things are changing and how fast we are needing to change in order to keep up. 

Deep down we all know that constantly evolving as educators is something that needs to happen — Education is always changing. It’s just that this time, it’s a little bit more profound because the changes that we see in the world are more profound. Technology is increasing the rate at which people can access knowledge and that is causing parts of our lives to be more simplified, more personalized, and a lot more on demand. And our kids don’t know any different.

Some say we have to “let go” of a lot of things. That sounds scarier that it really is and it doesn’t help us accept change easier. I think it helps to take a Shoshin approach – to look at what we do now with a beginner’s eye. We need to form a different perspective on the work we do for kids. This enables us to see possibilities that we didn’t see before. And if we strip away our current perspective about our work, we are left with the teacher in the learner.  

What we do best is help others learn. Learning is universal. It’s in our DNA. Helping others learn is why we got into this profession. When we start at that point and build up, we can see the possibilities that we didn’t know existed.

I’ve gone through many pairs of shoes, three different earbuds, 3 different devices, and two different apps as a runner. What hasn’t changed for me is that in order to run, all it really takes is my commitment to putting one foot in front of the other. I take comfort in knowing that’s all I will ever need in order to keep running.

Take solace that amidst change in education in knowing that helping others learn will always be the constant.

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading —

An Open Letter to Those Who Don’t Feel “Good Enough” via @marcandangel

“‘I’, ‘We’, and ‘You'” by Seth Godin

The Future of Jobs by Dr. Marschhausen

Upcoming Events

Feb 8-11 February Conference Week 
Feb 10 — Conference Evening; Band/Orchestra Demos (10:30)
Feb 12 — Parent/Teacher Conference Comp Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 15 — Presidents’ Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 16 — Teacher Steering Committee Meeting @ ADE
Feb 20 — Family Fun Day, 10-3pm
Feb 23 — K (AM) & 1st Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 24 — 2nd Grade (AM) & 3rd Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting

Feb 25 — 4th Grade (AM) & 5th Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting

Mar 7 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7pm
Mar 7-11 — OLSAT (Gifted), Grades 1 to 5 by recommendation
Mar 9 — Spring Concert, 7pm, Bradley HS
Mar 15 — Hillard U Day! 
Mar 18 — Elementary Student Transfer Request Forms Due
Mar 18-24 — Spring Break — NO SCHOOL
Mar 25 — Holiday — NO SCHOOL

My Favorite Question

Update for Feb 1-5

Late last week, I had the opportunity to visit my daughter’s classroom.  Her teacher is hosting parents and community members who are willing to share something they are an expert at in life.  She is hoping to help the kids see how one becomes an expert at something and hopefully inspire the kids to want to learn more about at topic they are interested in learning.

I shared how to make pancakes since that’s something I do with Ally almost every weekend.

I know.

It’s not exactly what I had in mind either when it came to what expertise I could share.   We had fun nevertheless!

The night before I was supposed to come in, I told Ally I was going to be able to do an expert talk in her class.  She was surprised, but not for the reason I assumed.

“Are you sure you have time to do this, Dad, since you’re a principal?”

“Sure!” I said.

“What do you do all day anyways?”

*record scratch*

Now this is my least favorite question about being a principal and for many reasons (My favorite question is a little later).

I think teachers can relate, too, because how could we possibly describe what we do all day?

(Here’s someone who tries to help others understand:)

I’ve tried to actually describe what I do as a principal each day and watch as the eyes of the person who asked me glaze over and wish they had never asked me the question.

I’ve tried keeping it short, too — “I get to help people all day,” (which is true, by the way) and they kind of look at me sideways like, He’s not telling me the truth.

The truth is what I do all day is try to answer one question.

I believe we are all working to answer this question, we just may not have articulated it before.

I didn’t really articulate it before either until I read an Educational Leadership article called “Trust, But Verify”.

There was a powerful paragraph in the article that helped me articulate my new favorite question. I shared the passage with three of my colleagues earlier this week and here it is for you:

“As professionals, we’re expected to seek better ways of educating children.”

Pretty powerful, in my opinion.  We are all called to work toward this expectation. This is why we do what we do.  This became the inspiration for my favorite question:

“Can we do this better for kids?”

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading —

“Program leaders hope to help autistic kids express themselves via DispatchAlerts”

“5 Things We Can do to Prepare Students to Work Independently.”

“This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like


Video Worth Watching —

Upcoming Dates —

Feb 1 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7pm
Feb 2 — ADE Kindergarten Registration Day
Feb 2 — BIT Meeting, 8am
Feb 3 — ADE Staff Meeting, 8am — Topic – Follett Shelf
Feb 3 — “Open Office Hours” – After school in the Media Center — I’ll be available to discuss House Options & Project Timeline.  
Feb 4 — Herb Admin meeting
Feb 5 — Yearbook Sale Ends
Feb 8-11 February Conference Week 
Feb 10 — Conference Evening
Feb 12 — Parent/Teacher Conference Comp Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 15 — Presidents’ Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 16 — Teacher Steering Committee Meeting
Feb 23 — K (AM) & 1st Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 24 — 2nd Grade (AM) & 3rd Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting

Feb 25 — 4th Grade (AM) & 5th Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting

Serving Others & Making "Change Work for Us"

UUpdate for Jan 18-22


Last year on MLK Day, I wrote about the energy of our words and how leaders like Dr. King continue to guide us towards a better world through words that were spoken decades ago.

I thrive on the words of others — Their ideas shared through blogs, videos, and Tweets make me a better educator.  But an idea isn’t much without action.

And Dr. King wasn’t just about ideas either — He was about action.  He was about taking steps to create a better future for all.  

When Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”, he was calling on all of us to take action towards making a better life for others.  He was asking us to commit to leadership in the form of service to others.

For me, it means to act in this time of rapid change in the field of education.  It means committing to creating a learning experience that lifts up the very best of what we have to offer as educators and connecting that to the interests, learning styles, and natural curiosity of each of our students.  It’s recognizing that we will never truly arrive and that we will always need to evolve with the world.  

Six years ago this April, the first iPad was released.  Think of how dramatically teaching and learning has changed within these past six years.  

Now consider that our kids are currently experiencing the worst technology they will ever know.

The writing is on the wall — Change is inevitable and it does not follow any rules, protocols, or timelines.  

What lies ahead in the next six years?

Last week, President Obama delivered his last state of the Union address to Congress and had this to say about change:

“We live in a time of extraordinary change — change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet, our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families.
It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists, plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.
America has been through big changes before — wars and depression, the influx of new immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, movements to expand civil rights.
Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future, who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, who promised to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears.We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the dogmas of the quiet past. Instead we thought anew and acted anew.
We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more people. And because we did, because we saw opportunity where others saw peril, we emerged stronger and better than before.
What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nation — our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery, our diversity, our commitment to rule of law — these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.”

I am committed to making “change work for us” in education.

What actions will you take to move education forward?

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading — 

“What Teachers That Use Technology Believe” via @teachthought

“Supporting Young Artists in Our Schools” by @staceygoodman

This is one of the better articles I’ve read in a while.  Well worth the read! — 

“You Don’t Need New Ideas, You Need a New Perspective” via @99u

Something to think about — 

Upcoming Dates —

Jan 19-Feb 29 — Scholastic Reading Inventory window (Grades 2 to 5)
Jan 20 – ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:45 – DCR Media Center: R-Factor Training
Jan 23 & Feb 20 — NUMATS (gifted) test (by invitation/recommendation only)
Jan 25 — Yearbook Sale Begins (Ends Feb 5)
Jan 25-Feb 26 — Calkins Writing Assessment window (Grades K to 5)
Jan 29 — K-5 Interim Reports

Feb 1 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7pm
Feb 2 — ADE Kindergarten Registration Day
Feb 5 — Yearbook Sale Ends
Feb 8-11 February Conference Week
Feb 10 — Conference Evening
Feb 12 — Parent/Teacher Conference Comp Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 15 — Presidents’ Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 23 — K (AM) & 1st Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 24 — 2nd Grade (AM) & 3rd Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 25 — 4th Grade (AM) & 5th Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 26 — End of K-5 Grading Period


Always Building

Update for Jan 11-15

When I host families who visit our school for the first time, I treat it like I’m on an interview.  

One of my favorite education leaders, Todd Whitaker, says that induction starts with the interview.  This is my chance to sell our building’s culture and initiatives. When I tour with a family, I want them to experience our culture and I want them to know about what we are working on as a building community.

I do this knowing that the family might not even end up being a family that attends our school.  But there is something bigger at play here than a building tour.  

It’s about building our brand.  It’s about celebrating our accomplishments and our work.  It’s about connecting visitors to our culture.  

I do this because I believe we are Always Building Culture.

This Friday, I shared a note with our staff that a recent visitor sent to me. She and her family had toured Alton Darby in mid-December, just before winter break.

The family was planning on relocating from St. Louis and wanted to tour schools in the Central Ohio area before making a decision about where to relocate.  

Here’s what she wrote:

As you can see, the family decided to move to a different school district in Central Ohio, but I believe there was a reason why she took the time to write me and positive note anyway.  I believe it’s because I committed to helping the family experience the culture we have built.  

We may not have gained a family, but we may have gained one more person who will indirectly help us build our brand and our culture.  If she ever talks about her experience at Alton Darby, chances are she’ll share something positive.

As Tim Kight reminds us, the work we do each day “creates the culture that drives the behavior that produces the results” we hope for – Students who are ready to confidently take on any opportunity that comes their way.

Each of us plays a role in creating our building’s culture. Each of us drives behavior that produces results.  The tone we set through our actions has a direct effect on our culture.  

How are your actions supporting our district and building initiatives?  Are there actions you are taking that go against what we are trying to accomplish as a district and as a building?

Do you come to school each day ready to build?


#ADCCulture Challenge continues this week!  It’s not a competition between others — It’s about challenging yourself to positively impact our culture and to connect with others. Have fun!

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading — 

How To Get Your Kids Interested In STEM (Without Forcing It On Them) (via @LifehackerAU)

An Educator’s Gift to Their Learners: Seeing Each One of Them via @jackiegerstein

How Showing and Telling Kids ‘I Believe in You’ Can Empower Them at School

Video Worth Watching — 

Upcoming Dates — 

Jan 12 — Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45, DCR
Jan 13 — Special Ed Team Meeting, 12:00
Jan 14 — Author Visit, Steve Harpster
Jan 18 — Martin Luther King, Jr Day — NO SCHOOL
Jan 19-Feb 29 — Scholastic Reading Inventory window (Grades 2 to 5)
Jan 23 & Feb 20 — NUMATS (gifted) test (by invitation/recommendation only)
Jan 25 — Yearbook Sale Begins (Ends Feb 5)
Jan 25-Feb 26 — Calkins Writing Assessment window (Grades K to 5)
Jan 29 — K-5 Interim Reports

Feb 1 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7pm
Feb 2 — ADE Kindergarten Registration Day
Feb 5 — Yearbook Sale Ends
Feb 8-11 February Conference Week
Feb 10 — Conference Evening
Feb 12 — Parent/Teacher Conference Comp Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 15 — Presidents’ Day, NO SCHOOL
Feb 23 — K (AM) & 1st Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 24 — 2nd Grade (AM) & 3rd Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 25 — 4th Grade (AM) & 5th Grade (PM) ½ Day Data Team Meeting
Feb 26 — End of K-5 Grading Period