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

“Working The Gap”

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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

Managing Your Space

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Our R-Factor training tells us that we are in control of our own 20 square feet.  When we take care of our own space, we then positively influence the culture that connects us all.

So what happens when problems, issues, and other stuff start to crowd your space? 

What do you do when it’s hard to move in your space?

You have to Step Up.

Stepping up means to Respond in the moment. 

The Past is over – There’s nothing you can do about it.  The Future hasn’t happened yet, so you are only left with Now. 

The Dalai Lama puts it another way:

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So if we commit to Now, we begin to clear out the other junk that is taking up our space. 

When have have the space within our own 20 square feet to move around, we become better thinkers, decision-makers and doers.

We have to remind ourselves of the following, each and everyday, in order to maintain our 20 square feet:

  • Let go of what happened in the past; learn from mistakes or bad memories, but don’t let them control you.
  • Don’t fear the future — Most of the time what actually happens is ten times better than we had anticipated.
  • Respond to predictable Events with actions that are intentional and aim to change the pattern.  If your Response doesn’t change, the Outcome won’t change.
  • Waste no time on blaming, complaining, or defending.  Bring a solution-focused mindset to the challenges you face.

Redefine what’s possible.

Manage your space with intention, purpose, and with skill.

Have a GREAT week!

-Herb

Tweets Worth Checking Out —

 

 

 

Upcoming Dates —

October

10-14 — Gifted Testing; Spirit Week –>

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10 — PTO Meeting, 7PM

14 — Chapter 1 Craft Moves book talk starting in S. Firestone’s room at 8am

15 — AD/DC Warrior Dash, Starts at 4PM.  We need help! — Sign-up HERE

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

18 — Literacy Framework Refresher Course @ Britton, 3:45

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

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

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

28 — BAC Meeting — Agenda items to Karen O by Wed, Oct 26.  If no items, then no meeting is necessary.

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

 

IMPORTANT HCSD DATES

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

Fuel for the Journey

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Image from “Another Mother Runner”
This weekend, I used a product called GU Energy on my long run.  GU is designed to provide carbohydrates and other energy supplements during workouts.  Fitness experts recommend using supplements during aerobic exercises lasting longer than an hour — Our bodies only have enough fuel reserves for this amount of time.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of using GU, you aren’t missing out on much.  It looks like molasses and has the same texture and sort of tastes like the flavor listed on the package.  Strawberry banana was a real treat, let me tell you.

The bonus to taking GU was spending the next 5 miles of the run wondering how they made something that looked like molasses and felt like melted caramel in my mouth taste like a smoothie.

Having not used energy supplements on long runs before, I will say that I felt like I had more fuel in the tank an hour and a half into my run and I was thankful that I had the energy to make my goal.

——-

The school year is gearing up and we’ve just experienced our first full-moon-at-the-same-time-as-weather-system-change event, if you believe in that sort of thing having an effect on kids (I do).

So what are you planning to use to fuel yourself during your journey this school year? How will you stay motivated and stay focused on the work we need to do to support our students?

Try investing more in something you are already apart of like faith-based activities, exercise, or more pleasure reading.  Maybe take up something that is new to you.  I started doing more meditating (and by meditating, I really mean just clearing my mind in the quiet of the morning with a cup of coffee).

A book that has helped me be more productive, reduce my stress, and focus on what is important is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I highly recommend the book as fuel for anyone’s journey.

Here’s to staying focused on the work that lies ahead!  Grab some fuel and let’s go!

Have a GREAT week!

-Herb

 

Tweets Worth Reading

 

 

 

Upcoming Dates

Weds, Sept 21  ADE Staff Meeting, 3:45PM — BREAKOUT EDU!  This should be fun…

Thurs., Sept. 22  School Picture Day

Thurs., Sept. 22  PTO Fall Tailgate, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. behind school

Fri, Sept 23   Gifted Referrals due

Sun., Sept. 25     R-Factor Training, 7:00 p.m. at Darby High School’s Performing Arts Center

Mon, Sept 26  MakerSpace Grand Opening!

Weds., Sept. 28   PTO Mumkin Pick-Up Day, starting at 4:00 p.m.

Thurs., Sept. 29   Pastries with a Parent, 8:15 – 9:00 a.m.; Levy Information Community Meeting, Darby Creek, 7PM

Fri., Sept. 30       Interims go home, as needed; BAC Meeting, 8AM

Sat., Oct. 1   Cardboard Challenge, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Heritage Middle School

Sun., Oct. 2   R-Factor Training, 7:00 p.m. at Darby High School’s Performing Arts Center

Mon., Oct. 10  PTO Meeting, 7:00 p.m. (childcare provided)

 

 

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