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

Getting Really Good at Change

Update for Apr 4-8

After 10 years, I think it’s safe for me to say that a career in education doesn’t get easier.

I used to think that after working at something for a few years would lead to efficiency and allow me to be more supportive of each student in my class.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the future.

iPads, social media, connected learning, Twitter all happened within the last 10 years and they changed a lot about learning.

If I were to place my bet on what will happen over the next 10 years, I’d bet on change.  I’d also double down on the fact that it’s not going to get easier for educators who are expecting years of experience to equal “ease of use”.

So how does the mild-mannered educator deal with this reality?

Accept it.

Expect it.

Embrace it!

Get really good at change!  Yes, it’s possible!  

And it starts with…you guessed it: A growth mindset.

Actually it starts with recognizing the mindset you have when you are face-to-face with change.  Do you find yourself trying to cling to the comfort zone or thinking of the opportunity?  If you are in the former, consider this —

So how do we overcome our default response of seeking to stay in our comfort zone?  


Build skill.

In this case, we need to press pause and get our mind right when faced with change.  We need to identify our mindset and adjust it if it will not lead us to embracing change.

But think about it – It takes practice, just like a sport.  It takes mental reps that will take you through the process of pressing pause, getting your mind right, and readying yourself to consider the opportunity that change brings you.

So in a way, this does get easier —  but only if you are willing to put  your focus on getting better at change and then committing to practicing and building skill.

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading — 

52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers via @teachthought

Personalize Learning: Personalized Learning Through the Eyes of a Child

Three lessons on innovation that I learned during my 12 years at Apple: by @KelliRichards via @FastCompany 

Upcoming Dates

Apr 4 — School Community Meeting: “Press Pause, Get Your Mind Right”
Apr 4 — PTO Meeting, 7PM
Apr 5 — Herb meeting out of building AM
Apr 5 — BIT Meeting, 8AM
Apr 5 — Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45, ADE
Apr 6 — ADE Staff Meeting: R-Factor Training – R4
Apr 7 — Herb meeting outside of bldg AM
Apr 8 — KG to Franklin Park Conservatory
Apr 12 — 3, 4, 5 ELA State Testing (AM)
Apr 12 — Connection Time w/ Herb (Email-Schedule limited due to testing)
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 18 — 3, 4, 5 Grade Math State Testing
Apr 20 — ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:40 ADE Media Center
Apr 21 — 4th Grd (Soc St), 5th Grd (Sci) State Testing
Apr 21 — Herb Meeting AM
Apr 22 — Interims Go Home
Apr 27 — ADE Walk-a-thon (during related arts time)

Apr 28 — Transfer Meeting


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


The Folly of Comfort

Update for Dec 7-11

Comfortable shoes — There’s nothing else like them.  They are like the perfect pillow for sleeping or the hoodie we throw on to keep warm during a cold winter night.

At the end of a long day, no one is lacing up a pair of dress shoes to relax.  Instead, we often go for a warm pair of slippers or a pair of old running shoes that you can easily slip on without untying them.

I’ve been having some issues running lately where the muscle around my shin tenses up. It’s not something that makes me have to stop running, it’s just annoying and it slows me down a little.  I sound like a car that has a flat tire as my tensed leg strikes the ground with a flat “slap” on the pavement.

I’ve tried different stretches, paces and routes trying to find a solution.  I decided to go back to an old pair of running shoes to see if maybe my new ones were the issue.  

I laced up my old Sauconys and they felt great — Why did I ever stop wearing them?

After about a mile and a half into a run in my old shoes, my feet and knees started hurting.  Instead of going for a 6 mile run, I ended early.  What was I thinking?  I stopped wearing these shoes when I started getting injured — Why was I going back to them?

Instead of going the distance in my old comfortable shoes, I ran less than normal.

I share this because in the midst of change, we sometimes are tempted to go back to our old ways, putting on “comfortable shoes”, rather than face the challenge.

Our project is hard work and we have miles to go.  If we are going to keep moving forward and increase the depth and authenticity of the learning experiences we help create with kids, we should build off of what we do well.  

Let’s commit to strategically increasing our distance and pace and avoid seeking out comfortable solutions.

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading —

The Links Between Teaching Reading And Math

Video Worth Watching — 

Upcoming Dates —   

Dec 7 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

Dec 8 – 3rd Grade ELA State Assessment; Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45 – ADE Media Center

Dec 9 – 3rd Grade ELA State Assessment; Ed Team Meeting, 12:30; IAT Meeting, 3:45

Dec 10 – PD Series by Donna – “Dealing with Challenging Children”, 3:45 ADE Media Center

Dec 11 – KG Toys for Tots Fire Station Visit

Dec 16 – ADCC Staff Meeting, 3:40 – ADE Media Center

Dec 18 – 5th Grade Talent Show, 1:15ish; Holiday Parties, 2:30ish

Dec 21-Jan 3 — Winter Break  

Hope amid the chaos

Update for Nov 16-20

This weekend was a somber one for many around the world as events surrounding the terrorist attacks in Paris unfolded.

Social media became a source of information for me, especially Twitter’s “Moments” tab which populated updated information.  It amazes me how this medium has become a go-to place to learn about current events, even over the cable news channels.

One of the posts I ran across was of a man playing a mobile piano in a Paris street.  The song he played? “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Lennon’s music, especially the songs he created while a Beatle, have often been the source of inspiration for millions of people.  The Beatles could have written songs about hate, despair, and negativity, but they chose to share messages of hope, love, and inspiration.

It inspires me to see people, in the middle of chaos and unimaginable sadness, choose to share messages of hope, community, and optimism.

Have a great week —


Articles Worth Reading —

Choice is More than a Menu of Options

A Principal’s Reflections: The Challenge of Change is Not You

Tech Tools That Have Transformed Learning With Dyslexia

Videos Worth Watching —

My dream for education is to have the work we do with kids look like the work in this short clip –>

Upcoming Dates —

Nov 17 – Team Connection Time — Let me know! The schedule is clear!

Nov 18 – 4th Grade Data Team Day; ADCC Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45 ADE Media Center

Nov 19 – Principals’ Meeting (Herb), 5th Grade Data Team Day

Nov 20 – End of 1st Grading Period

Nov 23 – Board Meeting at ADE (Preschool is hosting in Cafeteria)

Nov 25-27 Thanksgiving Holiday

Dec 1 – BIT Meeting — Please have your wish list items submitted by Dec 1 to be considered by PTO.

Dec 2 – Yearbook Picture Day; ADE Staff Meeting, 8:00 AM – Media Center

Dec 3 – Admin Meeting (Herb)

Dec 7 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

Dec 8 – 3rd Grade ELA State Assessment; Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45 – ADE Media Center

Dec 9 – Spec Ed Team Meeting, 12:30; IAT Meeting, 3:45

Dec 10 – PD Series by Donna – “Dealing with Challenging Children”, 3:45 ADE Media Center

Dec 11 – KG Toys for Tots Fire Station Visit

Dec 16 – ADCC Staff Meeting, 3:40 – ADE Media Center


Let’s Talk about Minivans, Being Principal for a Year, and Truth

Update for May 26-29

It’s time for us to look into a new vehicle for the family.  The 2005 Pilot we’ve had has been good to us, but it’s time to think about what will be worth more over time: a fixer-upper, or a gently used newish car.

The fun part about this is the research that’s involved, if you’re into learning more about cars that is.  I love using websites such as Edmunds, AutoTrader, and to research the pros and cons of the different cars that are out there.

I’m looking to replace a car that has done it all: transport kids to and from practice, road trips to Florida, and hauling 30 bags of mulch.  What’s funny is that I think a minivan is going to be the way to go.  It’s safe, it’s comfortable, and it hauls lots of stuff.  

I know.  

A part of me died just a second ago after writing that.  But a minivan may just be the answer.  There are cars out there like SUVs and other crossovers that have the same seating as a minivan and can do the same things.  In fact, many of the newer crossover models kind of look a lot like minivans.

2016 Honda Pilot — Just sayin’…

But honestly, when was the last time I went “off-road” for anything?  


When was the last time I needed that all-wheel drive to kick in?  Once or twice when I drove in the snow before the road was plowed, and I still swerved and swayed down the road so it didn’t really help that much.  Besides, what do we end up doing when we know a snow storm is coming?  

We buy bread and milk since they are such versatile foods and we stay home like most folks.

It finally sunk in when we were driving home from another out-of-town soccer tournament. It had been a long day in the sun.  We were cruising down I-70 and the inside of the car was eerily quiet.  I looked up in the rear view mirror and saw both of my kids in the “I’m going to sleep now, but it won’t look pretty” sleeping positions:

While sleeping in the semi-control-over-my-neck-while-balancing-my-head position in a car is sort of a right of passage for kids, I’m thinking there’s a better way to travel.  I’m also thinking about our family’s future and I’m betting it’s going to be a lot more of this:

And not this:

And I am happy with that because it’s the truth.

When I started the year as a first year principal, I was worried that I wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations.  I thought I had to be someone different than who I am and act a certain way.  But someone at the beginning of the year once told me, “They just want you for you.”

I’ve tried to stay true to myself this year.  What you saw this year is who I am: a 36 year-old married father of two and an elementary principal who likes to have fun, who will only do what is best for kids, and who feels very blessed to do what he does.

And I think I’ll end up driving a minivan.

Thanks for an amazing year! Let’s do it again!


Articles Worth Reading