Habit: The Double-Edged Sword

Before we were married, my wife Carrie once asked me, “Why are you so grumpy all of the time?”  I honestly had no idea why.  I had a pessimistic view of the world and thought there was nothing right with the world that couldn’t be broken by what was wrong with the world.

One day not too long after, Carrie gave me the book Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom, and said that I needed to read it.

It’s hard to explain what happened to me as I read and finished the book because it completely changed my outlook on life. Here was this beautiful person who was lying on his deathbed but who was also so grateful for everything he had throughout his life. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the life lessons Morrie’s shared – to live life to the fullest, to be grateful, and to love. But for some reason, his story connected with me and changed me for the better.

Most of us wake up either with a smile or ready to complain about the world around us. Both responses are habits of mind that have become ingrained inside of us over time.

If you stop and thought about the default responses you have to the predictable events of a typical day – the alarm going off in the morning, traffic, kids not following expectations – which side of the ledger would you see most of your responses?  On the positive side or on the negative side?

What does your balance sheet look like at the end of the day?

The bad news is that habits are hard to break.

The good news is that new habits can be made as long as we are committed to changing and forming habits that help our default responses be more positive ones.  It takes self-reflection, commitment, and finding people in our lives who will hold us accountable maintaining our goal to change.

I like this reflection sheet from our R-Factor training:

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 5.52.05 AM

What should we stop doing and what should we start doing to help make our lives more positive and happy?
Commit to putting more marks on the positive side of your daily balance sheet.

And read Tuesdays with Morrie. It’s worth every minute!

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

Worth Checking Out –

How Personal Learning Is Working in Vermont
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar17/vol74/num06/How-Personal-Learning-Is-Working-in-Vermont.aspx

Upcoming Dates –

April (State Testing dates listed below)

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; Staff Breakfast, 8:20 am

5 – IMPACT PD (K-2 Teachers); 6th grade transition meeting, 2:00 – 4:00; 5th grade ELA, Part 2; Newsletter items due; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

6 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM); Blue Jackets Choir performance (before game); 3rd & 4th grade ELA, Part 1; Garden/Compost Club, 3:35 – 4:30

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; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30; Lambright’s Parent Ed Camp, 6:30 – 7:30; Full moon!

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 Luncheon; Garden/Compost Club, 3:35 – 4:30

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; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

20 – Principal’s meeting (Herb, AM); 3rd grade Math Test; Garden/Compost Club, 3:35 – 4:30

21 – 2nd grade fieldtrip to Art Museum

22- Hilliard’s Earth Day Celebration

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, 9:00 am – 2:30 pm; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

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

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

Let Your “Why” Lead the Way

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Image source: flickr

What is your “why”?

What is your response when someone asks you why you got into education?

Serving others and changing the world for the better are the “whys” that drive me.

Serving others sounds reasonable and relatable to others, especially those who are outside of our field.

However, the second “why” – helping change the world for the better – gets a different response: a coy smile, a “yeah, right” look, or some sort of patronizing response.

But it’s true – I want to change the world and make it a better place.  I believe that education is the key to that change.  The values we lift up show our kids the importance of integrity, responsibility and citizenship and what that looks like when we apply what we’ve learned to create something new or solve a problem that exists.

I love this thought from the book Start. Right. Now.: Teach and Lead for Excellence

Good teachers help students learn facts so they can do well on tests and progress in school.

Great teachers empower students to use knowledge to change the world.

Whitaker, T., Zoul, J., & Casas, J. (2017). Start. Right. Now.: teach ande lead for excellence. San Diego: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

The learning experiences we create for kids should go beyond just covering a curriculum or making sure we “hit” standards.  Our work needs to be rooted in the bigger goal of creating students who are empowered to use knowledge to make the world better.

When we talk about “exercising the gap” between good and great, we are talking about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone and escape from “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.  Doing so gets us and our students closer to a more personalized learning experience and to a point where we are developing learner agency.

It’s shocking to me how people dismiss the importance of education to our future.   It’s even more shocking when educators misplace this importance.

Let’s continue to commit ourselves to developing an understanding of the importance of the work we do and how it connects to the success our students will experience in their future.

Each one of us is the key to developing a future we hope to see.

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

 

Worth Checking Out

How Schools Can Face The ‘Bad Habits’ That Inhibit Meaningful Changes https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/03/06/how-schools-can-face-the-bad-habits-that-inhibit-meaningful-changes/

Want to Fix Schools? Go to the Principal’s Office https://nyti.ms/2m9RAWx

Upcoming Dates

March

 

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

14 – IMPACT PD (K-2 Teachers)

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

16 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM); 5th Grade Musical Performances: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

17 – BAC meeting (rescheduled to this date), 8:15am

20-24 – Spring Break

27 – Class Panoramic Pictures

29 – Staff Meeting, 3:45 – One2One Pioneers to present.

30-31 – Herb in DC

 

April (State Testing dates listed below)

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

4 – BIT meeting, 8am

6 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM)

10 – Preschool IEP meetings (Herb/Brian H), throughout day

12 – Staff Meeting – Progress check on Data Team goal

13 – Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am; One2One Principal meeting, 10am

14 – Holiday, No School

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

 

“Working The Gap”

sea-man-person-legs

Last week, I wrote about “the edge” — The point where you can either give up or push forward; the point where you realize that failure is likely to happen.

This week, I had the opportunity to hear a Brian Kight talk about Building Skill at the last Community R-Factor meeting.

“Growth mindset”, “the power of ‘yet'” —  We’ve heard time and time again that being willing to have an open mind to new situations makes us learners who are eager to want to learn something new and to build new skill.

Brian Kight’s focus for the evening went deeper than this though.  Kight’s message emphasized the mechanics and the emotion it takes to move from being Automatic (Good) to Exceptional (Elite).

Here’s a summary of Kight’s message on the difference between Good and Elite:

Good = Comfortable, automatic, where 80% of people perform.

Elite = Exceptional, learning mindset, where few people choose to perform because they think it’s too much work or too risky.

Think back to the first two years of your teaching career (or to the first teaching experience you had if this is your first year). Think about the excitement you felt each day because everything was new and how that excitement is different now that you have experience. I know that we all still get excited about teaching, but the excitement is for different reasons. As experienced educators, we spend more time excited about a favorite unit or lesson and less time excited about learning something new.

See the difference? With experience, we exchange the excitement of learning something new and trying something that puts us way out of our comfort zone for the comfort of the familiar.

Which of the two descriptions match the energy level and curiosity need to be “Elite”? Which description match what is needed to be “Good”, comfortable and automatic?

This is why most of us, whether it has to do with our job or something that has to do with our personal life, resist change.  Resisting change is a reaction to having to walk away from the experience we have built over the years. That experience took hard work and, over time, has granted us comfort.

Seeking comfort is not necessarily bad. It could be argued that it’s human nature to seek comfort.

However, we also need to recognize that the world is ever-changing and because of that we must adjust.

Go back to the feeling of resistance to change.  Let’s say you agree that this resistance is a natural reaction — You’ve worked hard to build the skill that has given you the experience necessary to be successful.

How do you convince yourself to accept that our world changes whether we like it or not and that we too must change?

When I think about how I would respond to this question, I think about what it was I did to get where I am now. 

What did it take for me to reach my goal of being a building principal?

Hard work.

Practice.

Vulnerability.

Facing adversity.

What has been needed of me to perform as a building principal?

Hard work.

Practice.

Vulnerability.

Facing adversity.

So, what is it exactly that I would be giving up if I embrace change?

Nothing.

I’ve realized that “change” is just an opportunity to learn something new using skills that I have gained through experience.

This not only provides me with comfort, but it helps me take on new challenges.

This is how I need to approach work that is in the “Gap” — The space between Good and Elite.  I need to have a Beginner’s Mindset and view the world and work I do with fresh eyes and with excitement.

We have very little to lose staying “Good” at what we do; we also have very little else to gain.

Let’s commit to being Exceptional at a skill or habit that directly impacts the work we do for kids.  Let’s get great at change and work hard in the Gap between Good and Elite!

Have a GREAT week!

-Herb

Articles Worth Reading

Upcoming Dates

October

24 – Design Team Meeting, 8am at DCR; State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – 3rd Grade Data Team day; FIRE DRILL, 2:15pm; State of Schools (Davidson), 6-9PM

26 – 4th Grade Data Team day; ADDC STAFF MEETING, 3:45 at ADEState of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

28 – BAC, 8am if needed.  Please send your agenda items to me or Karen O by Wednesday!

31 – Hilliard Trick or Treat night

 

November

1 – Building Improvement Team meeting, 8am; Kindergarten Data Team day; RIMP Deadline; SLO Deadline

2 – 1st Grade Data Team day

3 – 2nd Grade Data Team day

5 – Lit Drop, pick-up lit at Heritage MS between 9-11am

7 – 2nd Grade Culture Show, 2pm

9 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am

10 – Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am; 5th Grade Data Team day

16 – Spec Ed Team meeting, 12 noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:30pm

22 – 5th Grade Talent Show, 1:20-2:20

23-25 — Thanksgiving holiday

 

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

 

IMPORTANT HCSD DATES

 

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