Your Unfair Advantage

Over break, I read Embracing a Culture of Joy: How Educators Can Bring Joy to Their Classrooms Each Day, by Dean Shareski and was struck by the phrase “unfair advantage” that Shareski uses: 

Finding your unfair advantage is not about competition but rather an internal sense of confidence and purpose. It speaks to Pink’s (2009) and Schwartz’s (2015) notion of mastery and autonomy. While teacher satisfaction research can vary, many studies indicate that the lack of autonomy is growing in education (Sparks & Malkus, 2015). If teachers were told to embrace what makes them unique, to find and foster their unfair advantages, I can’t help but surmise that it would make a significant difference to job satisfaction. The unfair advantage of schools is the diversity of students and teachers.

Shareski explains that, if given that all things are equal – resources, time, etc., we all have something unique that we bring to our work and that gives us an unfair advantage over others.  Shareski goes on to say that this isn’t about being competitive.  It’s about recognizing a talent or passion you have that others in the building do not have and how that leads to a culture of joy in your classroom and throughout the building.

The problem, as Shareski points out, is that we often can’t see our own unfair advantage because we spend most of our time in our own classroom, our own building or our own district.  However, that shouldn’t stop any of us from knowing or finding out what our own unfair advantage is.  We should continue to look for opportunities to gain an outside perspective that will allow us to discover what it might be.  Discovering our own unfair advantage allows us to embrace what makes us unique and leverage these strengths in our work.  Recognize your strengths. Be proud of what you bring to the classroom and to our kids!

Finally, how powerful would it be for our kids if we help them think about their strengths and how they can grow them and use them as they continue to develop as learners?

EnJOY the GREAT week back!

– Herb

Worth Checking Out —

 

 

Upcoming Dates –

27 – Class Panoramic Pictures

28 – Legend Group (403b) here during lunches

29 – Staff Meeting, 3:45 – One2One Pioneers to present; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

30 – Mental Health & Wellness meeting, 8:00

30-31 – Herb in DC

31 – Fruit & Veggies (pineapple & carrots); Staff school supply orders due; PTO Parents Painting Night, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

 

April

3 – School Community Meeting – “Adjust and Adapt”, 10:45am; Board of Education meeting at ADE, 7pm

4 – BIT meeting, 8am; 5th grade ELA, Part 1

5 – IMPACT PD (K-2 Teachers); 6th grade transition meeting, 2:00 – 4:00; 5th grade ELA, Part 2

6 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM); Blue Jackets Choir performance (before game); 3rd & 4th grade ELA, Part 1

7 – 3rd & 4th grade ELA, Part 2

10 – Preschool IEP meetings (Herb/Brian H), throughout day; PTO Meeting, 7:00

12 – Staff Meeting – Progress check on Data Team goal; KG ELL testing; Urban Zen, 3:45 – 4:45; Lambright’s Parent Ed Camp

13 – Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am; One2One Principal meeting, 10am; KG fieldtrip to Franklin Park Conservatory; 2nd grade Wax Museum; Last day to submit requisitions; Staff Lunch

14 – Holiday, No School

17 – 4th grade fieldtrip to Supreme Court & Statehouse

18 – 5th grade Math test

19 – SLSP fieldtrip to Steak N Shake; 4th grade Math Test

20 – Principal’s meeting (Herb, AM); 3rd grade Math Test

21 – 2nd grade fieldtrip to Art Museum

24-28 – Book Fair, open til 5:00 on 25th; open during Art Show on 27th; open 8:00-10:00 am on 28th

24 – Gifted model parent meeting, 6:00; Vidic’s Medicine Safety Presentation (5th=1:30 – 2:15, 4th=2:15-3:00)

25 – 5th grade Science Test; 4th grade Social Studies Test; Vidic’s Medicine Safety Presentation (2nd=1:00-1:35; 3rd=1:40-2:15; 1st=2:20-2:55)

26 – Staff meeting, 3:40; Walk-A-Thon

27 – Elementary Transfer meeting, 8:30; Art Show, times TBD

28 – BAC meeting, 8:00; fruit & veggies (grapes & snow peas); clean office lounge

This Incredible Opportunity

My goal as an educator has always been to help change the world and help make it a better place for all.

We who teach have been given this incredible opportunity to help lead a community of learners.  Our work empowers students with the skills and knowledge they will need to be the leaders we will need in the future.

When I feel down or stressed, I need to remember to be grateful for this incredible opportunity I have to make a difference – to keep the main thing the main thing – and then act with as much positivity, optimism, and joy as I can every single time I walk through the doors of this great community of learners.

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

Articles Worth Checking Out

Can Personalized Learning Flourish Within A Traditional System?

Lazy but talented

Using Math Menus: Some Nuts & Bolts | Marilyn Burns Math Blog

Upcoming Dates

March

7 – BIT Meeting, 8am; 3rd Safety Drill, 10:45 am

8 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am — Check in on Students’ writing performance since last month (Counts as monthly Data Team check-in for literacy)

10 – Principals’ One2One meeting, 10am

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

15 – Olive Tree Spirit DAY; Class Panoramic Pictures; Spec Ed Team Meeting, noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:40

16 – 5th Grade Musical Performances: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

20-24 – Spring Break

29 – Staff Meeting, 3:45

30-31 – Herb in DC

2016-17 Testing Calendar

Ohio State Assessment Schedule at ADE (Grades 3, 4 & 5):

Tuesday, April 4 — Grade 5 English Language Arts, Part 1

Wednesday, April 5 — Grade 5 English Language Arts,  Part 2

Thursday, April 6 — Grades 3 & 4 English Language Arts, Part 1

Friday, April 7 — Grades 3 & 4 English Language Arts, Part 2

Tuesday, April 18 — Grade 5 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Wednesday, April 19 — Grade 4 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Thursday, April 20 — Grade 3 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Tuesday, April 25 — Grade 5 Science and Grade 4 Social Studies, Parts 1 & 2

Inefficient energy

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I loved physics in high school.  We did so many great experiments and had many conversations that challenged assumptions we had about science.

I remember my teacher, Mr. Mackey, telling us that heat is one of the most inefficient energy sources we have.  He had us think about how the sun’s light heats the Earth each day and how most of that energy all around us during the day slowly starts to transfer to lower forms of energy as soon as the sunsets.

I thought about this lesson this weekend as I thought back on the week that was.  There were a handful of times at home and at school when I was reacting to the heat of the moment.  In those moments, I reacted with default behaviors instead of disciplined ones.  I ended up spending more of my time and energy having to go back and clean up my own mess.

“Heat” is certainly an inefficient source of energy. 

This week was a great reminder to stay focused on behaviors and habits that have helped me stay disciplined in the past:

  • Meditating and running in the morning to keep balanced all day.
  • Getting plenty of sleep to keep my head clear.
  • Building 5 to 10 minutes in between projects and activities to get my mind right.
  • Continue to celebrate the positive and being grateful for the great things in life.

E+R=O is easy to say and hard to implement with 100% efficiency.

This week was a great opportunity for me to remember that culture and leadership is the experience you provide for others.

Heat is one of the most inefficient sources of energy, and it’s certainly not an efficiency energy source for delivering a culture or leadership experience.

I hope you reflect with me this week — How are others experiencing our culture through you?

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

Worth Checking Out –

What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education http://zhaolearning.com/2017/02/17/what-works-can-hurt-side-effects-in-education/

A new way to measure the benefits of school recess http://brook.gs/2lxMoLy via @BrookingsInst

 

Upcoming Dates –

February

21 – 4th Grade / 5th Grade Data Team Meeting

22 – Gifted Cluster PD (Cluster teachers); Staff Meeting, 3:45

23 – Fire Drill, 10:20am

24 – BAC, if needed, 8am

27 – Spring Flower Sale Kickoff

March

1 – School Community Meeting – Step Up/Build Skill, 10:45; Spec Ed Team meeting, noon

2 – Admin mtg (AM)

4 – ADE Family Fun Day, 10am-3pm

7 – BIT Meeting, 8am; 3rd Safety Drill

8 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am

10 – Principals’ One2One meeting, 10am

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

15 – Olive Tree Spirit DAY; Spec Ed Team Meeting, noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:40

16 – 5th Grade Musical: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

20-24 – Spring Break

2016-17 Testing Calendar

 

[New Post] The Power of “Self-Talk”

 

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It was Sunday morning and my alarm for 4:45am was telling me it was time to get up.

“What am I doing?” I thought.

It was race day.  I had signed up for a 10 mile race a couple of months ago when the realities of the school year hadn’t sunk in yet.  Last week was probably one of the most challenging weeks I’ve experienced and I was drained.  The last thing I wanted to do was get up and run.

The negative self-talk started the minute I woke up and kept on happening all the way up to the 8am start of the race:

I don’t need to do this.

I don’t feel good.

The race fees are going to charity so I’m not wasting money.

It’s cold outside.

I owe it to myself to rest.

Negative self-talk is powerful.  I almost gave up.

In A Mindset for Learning, Mraz & Hertz refer to negative self-talk as the “Superhighway of Doom”.  Negative self-talk is developed over time starting when we are kids.  It’s partly a self-defense mechanism, but it eventually turns into a default response to unfamiliar situations when we need to be Discipline-Driven.

But we can overcome negative self-talk with enough focus and intentional positive self-talk.  It takes time.  It takes practice.  And it’s possible to deconstruct the “Superhighway to Doom”, even for adults.

Fast-forward to 9:30am and I am crossing the finish line because I chose to ignore my complaining, defending, and blaming and focus instead on my goal.

I ran my best long run ever, pacing myself to get fastest over the length of the race.  The best part was seeing my family at the finish line, which was such a complete surprise I got a little teary-eyed.

I share this story because it’s one more reminder that you are your own worst enemy. We all have negative self-talk moments each day.  We each face Events in our lives where negative self-talk because our Default-Driven Response.  We have to remember that we have power over this.  We have to intentionally practice each day to get better. And we have to remember that there are others who want to help us cross the finish line.

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Have a GREAT week!

-Herb

Article Worth Reading – Gearing Up for MAKERSPACE!

Please take a moment to read this article related to the Maker Movement.  John Spencer’s story about himself as the quiet kid in class reflects so many of our kids (and is exactly who I was as a kid).  The second half of the article connected with me when I was thinking about the work we will do with kids in the future.  It is a fast read that is well worth your time!

The MakerSpace will be a touchstone for innovation that will support all of our students.  It is a reflection of the direction we are taking learning.

“The Future Belongs to the Makers”, by John Spencer — http://www.spencerauthor.com/2016/09/the-future-belongs-to-the-makers.html/

Upcoming Dates

September

26 – MakerSpace Grand Opening!

28 – Mumkin Pickup, 4-7PM

29 – Pastries with Parents

30 – Building Advisory Committee meeting, 8AM; Interims go home

October

1 – Community Cardboard Challenge, 9-Noon, Heritage MS

4 – BIT Meeting, 8AM

7 – Building Tour by Board of Education

17-20 — Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

Click here for the Elementary Assessment Calendar for 2016-2017.

IMPORTANT HCSD DATES

 

Board of Education Meeting – September 26, 7pm at Davidson High School

Community Information Meeting – September 27, 7:30pm at JW Reason Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 29, 7:30pm at Darby Creek Elementary

Community R Factor Training – October 2, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 4, 7:30 pm at Hoffman Trails Elementary

Community Information Meeting – 6, 7:30pm at Horizon Elementary

Community R Factor Training – October 9, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – October 10, 7pm at Bradley High School

Community Information Meeting – October 11, 7:30pm at Crossing Elementary

Community Information Meeting – 13, 7:30pm at Bradley High School

Community R Factor Training – October 16, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 18, 7:30pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – 20, 7:30pm at Davidson High School

Community R Factor Training – October 23, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – October 24, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 27, 7:30pm at Tharp

Community Information Meeting – November 7, 7:30pm at Station

How To View a Day

How do you view the day that lies before you?  Do you see the celebrations, the growth and the joy of what’s to come? Have you already determined the challenges are almost impossible to overcome?

The self-talk we have before the day begins will manifest itself into the day we talk about later.  If we assume and expect “bad things” will happen, chances are we’ll be talking about our “bad day”.

I don’t believe for a minute that we can eliminate tough days from our lives; that’s just not a realistic expectation.  However, I do believe we have more control than we think over the way our days play out.

Like other staff members, I am currently reading “A Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth” by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz (2015), and this is one of the many points they make in the book.

I think this book is the perfect read for this year because it combines so many elements of our current work and focus are discussed by the authors in the context of teaching practices.  The authors are on a mission to connect growth mindset practices to learning practices but in a meaningful and transforming way.  Take a look at this from the authors:

We cannot let fear of benchmarks stand in the way of helping children find their value and their voice.  What does it matter if that same child does not believe she has power and agency? A child in passive receipt of learning will be in passive receipt of life. (p. xvi)

And their message is that it starts with us.  We set the tone that drives the behaviors that gets us the results we desire.  We have to see the possibilities of each day.  The change has to happen within us before it happens through us.

So as you start each day, imagine what you will celebrate.  Imagine the joy you will help create with kids.  Imagine the hope you will instill.  We can make a difference but it’s up to us to see it in our mind before we can see it with our eyes.

Have a GREAT week!

-Herb

 

Tweets Worth Reading

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Dates

September

6 – BIT Meeting, 8AM

7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

8 – House Leader Meeting, 8AM at DCR

9 – Campus Project Q&A with Herb, 7:45 Media Center *Voluntary* – I will have coffee 🙂

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

22 — School Picture Day!

24 – EdCamp Columbus at Gahanna-Lincoln HS

 

October

1 – Community Cardboard Challenge

7 – Building Tour by Board of Education

17-20 — Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

 

Click here for the Elementary Assessment Calendar for 2016-2017.

IMPORTANT HCSD DATES

Community Information Meeting – September 6, 7:30pm at Scioto Darby Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 8, 7:30pm at Beacon Elementary

Community R Factor Training – September 11, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – September 13, 7pm at Ridgewood Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 15, 7:30pm at Britton Elementary

Board of Education Meeting – September 12, 7pm at Memorial Middle School

Community R Factor Training – September 18, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – September 20, 7:30pm at Norwich Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 22, 7:30pm at Brown Elementary

Community R Factor Training – September 25, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – September 26, 7pm at Davidson High School

Community Information Meeting – September 27, 7:30pm at JW Reason Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 29, 7:30pm at Darby Creek Elementary

Community R Factor Training – October 2, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 4, 7:30 pm at Hoffman Trails Elementary

Community Information Meeting – 6, 7:30pm at Horizon Elementary

Community R Factor Training – October 9, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – October 10, 7pm at Bradley High School

Community Information Meeting – October 11, 7:30pm at Crossing Elementary

Community Information Meeting – 13, 7:30pm at Bradley High School

Community R Factor Training – October 16, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 18, 7:30pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – 20, 7:30pm at Davidson High School

Community R Factor Training – October 23, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – October 24, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 27, 7:30pm at Tharp

Community Information Meeting – November 7, 7:30pm at Station

 

Looking for an answer

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The few weeks just before the new school year is my favorite time of year and for a host of reasons.

Summer is still in full swing but football is getting started.  Vegetables taste better because they were grown in season rather than in a hydroponic hothouse.

But the biggest reason why this is my favorite time of year is because it’s when things start to come together for me on a professional level.

Like most educators, I spend my time off reflecting on the work we have done in the service of others and think about what we can do to improve.  But as a principal entering year 3, this feeling of everything coming together has been different in a way.

The past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about my message – What am I going to share with staff during the first part of the new school year that will hopefully energize and inspire us to continue to make a difference.  This year, it just wasn’t coming to me like it had in the past.  Usually, what I hope to focus on just comes to me through a variety of sources – Reading articles or books, conversations with my wife, or while I’m out on a run.

But this time, the well of ideas seemed dry.  It feels like I’ve had writer’s block for several weeks.

This had me panicking.  What was wrong? Had I lost my passion? No – I still feel the same way I had, perhaps even more emboldened by my convictions and my beliefs about the possibilities we can create for kids.

So what was it with me?

This week, I found the answer.

Tuesday night, I had the privilege to attend the inaugural TEDxHilliard event and heard several amazing stories related to one’s drive to achieve goals and dreams — Amazing stories of overcoming adversity, empowering others, and finding purpose that filled the evening.  Then, the next morning, I had the opportunity to attend the Ohio Innovative Learning Environments Conference in Hilliard and heard Jon Gordon speak about leading through love, kindness, and service to others.

The answer was that I had been focusing on the wrong thing.

I was looking for the wrong answer to the right purpose.

The “right purpose” in my opinion is being a servant leader to those within my “tribe” – My staff, my students, and the families that make up our community.  I want to empower others to make a difference and to remove the roadblocks on the path of progress.

Deep down the answers to what my message should be were always there.

The answer is “love” (Isn’t it always?).

The answer is “hope“.

The answer is “yes“.

The answer is “care“.

They may seem simple, but these are the words that can inspire, the ones that empower, and the ones that build relationships. 

I am so thankful for the folks who had the bravery and desire to share their story.  I am re-energized and ready to take on the best school year yet!

 

Articles Worth Reading —

Upcoming Dates — 

August

8 – KG Assessment/Screening Day

12 – New Teacher Work Day

15 – Convocation (AM) / District PD (PM)

15 – Meet the Teacher Night – 5-6PM; Ice Cream Social 5-6:30PM

16 – Building PD (AM) / Work Afternoon (PM)

17 – First Day of 2016-17 School Year

25 – Community-Wide Meeting at ADE (Finances/Levy), 7PM

 

September

7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

30 – Building Advisory

Staying Vulnerable & "Rising Strong" – Follow-up Post

Update for May 23-27



A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about being inspired by Brene’ Brown’s book Rising Strong to stay vulnerable in order to grow as a leader.

I set up times for my staff members to provide me with face-to-face feedback on these questions:

  • 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?

While not everyone took me up on the opportunity to provide me with feedback, those who did helped me in a very meaningful way.

“Start doing”? Those answered ranged from “Watch how you react to situations; you seem to wear your heart on your sleeve” to “I can’t figure you out – You always seem to be wearing a poker face in situations”.

That was all good feedback, but I had to laugh at that!

“Stop doing” responses included “You don’t need to do a blog post every week”, “You sometimes are sending too many emails” and “I want to know what is going on, so “stop” not including us in some of the details.”

Another opportunity to chuckle.

There were slices of moments when the implicit message from staff members affirms things I am doing well and causes me to pause and reflect on the things I am not.

I have realized from this opportunity that I have to provide a range of leadership that attempts to meet the needs of my staff and parents.  

I need to differentiate my leadership – Be explicit with feedback and be more telling with some while planting seeds and leading from behind with others. The former pushes me to try and get better — It puts me outside of my comfort zone which means I will probably fail or fall short of expectations during this journey.

But I’m ready for that.

As Dr. Brown states in Rising Strong,

“I believe that vulnerability — the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome — is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.”

I am committed to staying vulnerable and I challenge each of my staff to do the same.  

I challenge you to create a time when you can offer your students the chance to provide you with feedback on the experience you provided them with this year.  It will be affirming, uncomfortable, challenge and probably one of the best professional learning opportunities you will have this year.

I would love to know if you take this opportunity to get better and how it turned out!

In the meantime, have a GREAT week!

-Herb

Tweets Worth Checking Out —

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Upcoming Dates — 

May 23-Jun 3 — No PD dates (includes Assessment Days)

May 26 — Last Grow Together Thursday
May 30 — Holiday, NO SCHOOL
May 31 — ADE PTO Family Luau, 6-8PM — It’s a great time to relax and have fun with families! I ended up in a conga line last year and that’s saying something!

Jun 3 — Last Day of School (Students)
Jun 10 — Secretaries’ last day to report
Jun 24 — Herb’s last day to report