Sunday, August 20, 2017

Create your Very Own Pineapple Club! (FREE RESOURCE)

The pineapple is the universal symbol of welcoming people into your home, and many teachers are seizing this symbol as an opportunity to open their classroom to other teachers.  And this makes sense.  Teachers learn more when they are open to having people visit their classrooms to help them get better.

Do you want to create your very own Pineapple Club?
Below I have created a Canva that you can print and post outside your door.  On this canva, teachers can post the excellence they would like to share with others.  Additionally, teachers can also use this tool to seek feedback and advice on areas that they would like to grow.

I am very excited that teachers in our district are creating their very own Pineapple Club because they are modeling a deep desire to learn, grow and excel.  The Pineapple Club is a fantastic way to help more kids grow in their learning because teachers are modeling their desire to learn, vulnerability, and confidence in who they are as excellence in progress.

Wouldn't it be awesome if as a profession we could create this initiative in every school?   We would learn a tremendous amount because we would knock down the walls of isolation and come together as a professional learning community with one explicit purpose, building shared knowledge around best practices that help all kids grow in their learning.

Isn't that what school is all about, helping all kids grow by seeking professional growth first?


Pineapple Club by Johnwink90

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Answer Questions ONCE and for ALL with C4B4Me

Questions are essential to an organization's success, and for good reason. They drive new learning and continuous growth.  The plain and simple truth is that good leaders and teachers embrace followers and students who ask questions because they know that their questions mean they're in it to win it. 

BUT DO WE ANSWER TOO MANY QUESTIONS???

There is one caveat to this thought. The same question asked over and over stifles leaders from making progress. Think about it. Do you ever get tired of answering the same question over and over?  
Of course we do.  Does the same question over and over stop you from moving forward?  Why yes it does.

So whose fault is it that you are asked the same questions repeatedly?

Great leaders understand that the same question asked over and over stifles leadership impact and solidifies learned helplessness. In other words, the want to answer questions one time to the person asking the question and a second time for every person after that.

3 TIPS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ONCE AND FOR ALL

1. TELL - when a question is posed if you, assume others can benefit from your response. Recognize

and thank the person for asking the question in a group setting or even an email and list your response. That solidifies both that you embrace questions, but that you want others to learn from their questions.

2.  SHOW - many questions I receive are technical in nature and can best be answered not by telling, but by showing.  Show the person personally and then show the others through face to face or even better video or screencasts and procedural text with screenshots of your response.

3.  CURATE - Some questions are asked about tasks that are once a month, a quarter or even a year. Great leaders leverage wikis, GoogleSheets and webpages to create one central location to house every answer to every question. See example below. 








Answer Questions ONCE and for ALL!!!

I often am asked, "Isn't this more work on you?"  Actually this strategy is LESS work on me. If I can answer a question one time face to face, and one more time through a virtual format forever, I rarely have to worry about that question again.

My goal is to have a C4B4Me procedure in my leadership. 

  1. Check yourself, your personal resources and notes first. 
  2. Go to the organizational virtual resources next. 
  3. Go to your peers third. 
  4. Use your technology to find an answer. 
  5. If you can't find the answer, I will be glad to help you. 

If leaders would implement a C4B4Me strategy, they would bank hours back into their week.  They would also empower teachers to solve their own problems and collaborate with their peers. Sure leaders will still have to answer a lot of questions, but they would be the questions that can only be answered by the leader.

I challenge you to answer questions ONCE and for ALL. 

It may just be the thing that takes your classroom, your school, or your organization to the next level. 



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#TxEd - You Have 2 Choices: March or March

The other day, I ran into a teacher friend of mine, and she said,

"John, you haven't said anything about the Texas special legislative session".

She's right. I have been under the radar so to speak this summer.

So today, I'm going to surprise you.  I'm NOT going to talk about vouchers, school finance or even A-F.  I'm NOT going to lament the decisions that the Texas Senate is making on public education, and I'm not even going to advocate for a bill, today.

I'm going to talk about YOU
and this is what I have to say.







March - Educators across Texas are inspiring me by going down to the courthouse and even the Capital to state their position on education.  The great thing about this kind of march is that it tells legislators what you are for and what you are against.  Marching is a very powerful action as it sends the message loud and clear that you don't like what's going on.

March -  This March makes all the difference in the world.  Here, you show up to the voting box at the March primaries and vote for candidates, who will legislate on behalf of the 5.3 million students in Texas.  This kind of March is  the only way to make substantial change because voters are selecting the people who can make the changes that education needs.


The Choice is Yours
So will you march or not?   I truly believe that educators can't say they care about education if they don't march.  If you want to move the needle for education, you can physically march, but if you don't show up to vote and (even more important) encourage others to vote in March, you will have wasted all of your energy.  March is the only choice we have to improve education.  Now the only question left becomes this.

Will the education profession show up and March?


Friday, July 14, 2017

Is Commitment Really Enough???

I've been reading H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick, and in one of his chapters he talks about the need for conviction. For him conviction is the only thing that can conquer temptation. As I started pondering his thoughts, this question kept surfacing. 

Is Commitment Enough???

I realize that commitment and conviction are synonymous, but as I ponder the 2 words, it seems that commitments can be broken, but conviction can't be shaken. Just like a convicted criminal can't evade his sentence, those who are convicted can't evade their super-commitment to the mission that is tethered to them. 

When I think of commitment, I think of a promise held by your word. But when I think of conviction, I see a ball and chain that is with you wherever you go.  See where I'm headed???

So are You are Committed or Convicted?

 If you're committed, you own your passion.  But if you're convicted, you not only own your passion, you also carry the burden of the impact your passion has on those you lead. Commitment owns the result. Conviction owns the result and the consequences associated with the efforts to gain the result. 




I think it's high time we deem the word, commitment, as a cliche. 

Has the word, commitment, has lost its value in our world? Think about it. Everybody wants commitment.  Everyone expects it, but there's always a loophole to absolve yourself from it. You can always get out of a commitment, if the conditions aren't right for you. 

I'll choose conviction. It's commitment times 10. It's painful, and it's pleasurable. You can't shake it, and you certainly can't fake it.  Actually it's the difference between leadership and transformational leadership.  

Got conviction???





Friday, July 7, 2017

What Kind of Deal is your School Offering?

Hiring season is in full swing, and schools are competing for the best applicants.  When I think of recruiting and retaining the best, I think of the one of the best clothing stores, Old Navy.  Old Navy is probably one of the best retailers at bringing people in the door, enticing them to buy good nice attire, and bringing them back for more.  Their advertising, marketing and communication strategies convey one thing. 

We are you doing to make people think this about your school?

Source - Old Navy


Let's face it. A great deal will convince the biggest skeptic to bite the bullet and spend money. 


So If You're a Big Deal, Then What Kind of Deals are You Offering?
When it comes to teacher recruitment and retention, it comes down to one thing. 

What Kind of Deal are They Getting

If you want to increase your retention rate and entice the best to work in your school, you have to be able to answer a few important questions. 
  • How competitive are you with salaries, stipends, incentives, etc.?
  • How well does your school do at reducing the teacher load or amount of preps?
  • How much work is being taken off of your staff's proverbial plate next year?
  • What reductions are people getting on redundant work?
  • How much time are employees getting to do work that matters?
  • How well are you slashing bureaucratic nonsense? 
  • How successful are you at making teacher professional development less standardized and more personalized?

In other words, what is your school's 
Source - Old Navy


And What are You doing to make Teachers Say
Source - Old Navy


If you want to make the best deal with your staff, it starts with knowing your clientele, what they need and giving it to them in the best way possible. But it also means doing it WITHOUT lowering your standards, dropping your expectations, and sacrificing your bottom line, student success. 

Student success can only exist when teacher success is the constant not the variable. The key to teacher success is creating schools that teachers believe in, run to and commit to. That only happens when leaders know have to make deals that keep teachers coming back for more. 



Friday, June 23, 2017

Walkthroughs Don't Work!!!

This year, after 23 years in education, I will work in a school where we will not do walkthroughs. Why do you say? Well it's simple. 

Walkthroughs don't work. 

Think about it. What has a greater impact on student learning, instruction or assessment?  Obviously instruction is the variable on student learning and assessment is the gauge of learning. If we really believe in this idea about growing kids, then why are we only assessing our teachers when we walk in their classroom?

The research shows that walkthroughs don't improve teacher effectiveness.  Here's what I mean. Walkthroughs with no feedback negatively impact teaching.  Yes, they make teachers less effective. Observations with a form have no positive or negative impact on learning, so walkthrough forms have little impact on teacher effectiveness.  When observations are accompanied with coaching, teachers see gains in their effectiveness. In other words coaching is what helps teachers grow. 

So What Will We Do This Year?
If we want teachers to grow, we must admit that forms with checkboxes won't suffice. Ratings scales won't do either. To grow our teachers, we will replace walkthroughs with coaching visits. 

Yes, Coaching Visits!!!

Our teachers will receive coaching feedback that does 4 things.
1. Affirm positive practices in places
2. Identify missed opportunities. 
3. Pose questions for reflection and to open the discussion. 
4. Help the observer grow in their ability to help teachers grow. (MOST IMPORTANT)

The Goal is Simple. 
We will work to drop the imbalance of power that the term, walkthrough, brings forth. If we are truly instructional leaders, then we must realize that we must offer our teachers instruction on how they are doing and how they can improve, not just assess how they're doing. Furthermore we must provide a platform of reciprocity for teachers so that teachers can also instruct leaders on how they can improve at supporting teachers. 

Pure and simple, the purpose of a walkthroughs is to rate the teacher.   The purpose of a coaching visit is to improve both the teacher and the leader. Just as iron sharpens iron, so does one person sharpen another. If we truly want to make schools better, it starts by creating observation system that require feedback protocols for that is the most productive way to grow all educators. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What if Kids had Learning Streaks???

Snapchat is everywhere, and kids are seriously addicted to it.  Seriously, they are, and why not?  It has a relevant goal that all kids want to reach.

STREAKS

Kids essentially are gamifying their connections to other kids, and when a kid loses a streak, it is devastating.  When my kids lose their phone privileges, it is heartbreaking.  The streak ends and they have to start all over again.

So How Can We Tie STREAKS to Learning?

It's pretty simple.  Kids need connections with other kids to accelerate their growth in learning.  In other words, collaboration is not just important.  It downright ESSENTIAL.  Below are a few ideas that we could use to get our kids to create learning streaks.

  1. Use Snapchat to share their learning with other peers during classtime.
  2. If technology rules prevent the use of Snapchat, use Twitter or Instagram for kids to tag their learning to a class account.  The consecutive days of tagging classmates to learning could become the streak.
  3. If technology is a problem altogether, build collaboration into your instruction where students can share their work with other students and have peers give written feedback or suggestions for improvement along with the student's signature to signify the learning connection and to curate the streak.

Honestly, this is a random thought running through my head and not really formalized into a completely rational thought.  I do however think that educators must leverage the relevance that students find in STREAKS and let this fascination serve as a tool for engagement and a relevant entry point for learning.  

What ideas or thoughts would you add?