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Another school year to the launch pad…

Lovin' this.  Every school year launch is a miracle.  Do you believe in the magic??




It’s easier to teach compliance than initiative

Check out Seth Godin'spost directed at America's schools.  How about your classroom, school or district?  Do your behaviors demonstrate a culture that embraces compliance – or cultivating initiative? 

Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test for and simple to teach. Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.



Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test for and simple to teach. Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.

Initiative is very difficult to teach to 28 students in a quiet classroom. It's difficult to brag about in a school board meeting. And it's a huge pain in the neck to do reliably.

Schools like teaching compliance. They're pretty good at it.

To top it off, until recently the customers of a school or training program (the companies that hire workers) were buying compliance by the bushel. Initiative was a red flag, not an asset.

Of course, now that's all changed. The economy has rewritten the rules, and smart organizations seek out intelligent problem solvers. Everything is different now. Except the part about how much easier it is to teach compliance.


ISD 191 – Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing

The over-simplified stages of becoming a team = forming, storming, norming, performing. 

Both the Executive Director of HR and I are new members of the superintendent's cabinet this fall.  The sup has been in the district for two years, the Executive Director of Finance has been in that role for about 7 months, the Communications Director is a new face to the cabinet and the Sped Director is relatively new…  It's an entirely new team.  We be storming and norming and storming and norming (4 hours this morning – ugh…)… 

The superintendent is transparent with the board.  He's zeroed in on student achievement like a laser.  He is encouraging rigorous debate and is putting real data on the table.  Some of it isn't so good.  He smirks when the debate gets lively, and he wants real answers that are right… not the easy ones that are consensus.  I'm likin' that!!   =)

The principal team is almost entirely new in the past 5 years.  A few have some years of experience but most are relatively new to the principalship.  As a group, we're storming and norming and storming and norming.  Frankly, we're just forming as a team.  

My time in ISD 191 is going to be a good ride.  It's starting to feel like the geological build up of pressure below some kind of seismic change.  I'm just starting to wrap my head around some of the dynamics and getting fired up to focus this team on doing what is right for kids.  We will build a culture of Greatness with disciplined people - practicing discplined thought - and disciplined action.  We will build a culture that doesn't make excuses.  We will build a culture that expects exceptional results.  Afterall, these are children.  We don't make trinkets.  We can't afford bad days.

It takes at least 5 years to make real changes in an organization - but we don't have that kind of time.  Game on 191…  I'm in it for the kids.  Every one of them.  How about you?


Great TED Talks for math teachers!

Thanks to fellow administrator Dave Meister, I ran across this Ted video.  This is a thoughtful, reflective math teacher speaking about the work he does to engage students in mathematics.  Great stuff!!   Dan Meyer presents his thoughts on his blog, dy/dan



You Don’t Need to be Brilliant to be Wise…

I saw this video this morning thanks to fellow school administrator @gcouros on Twitter.  George is a principal who gets the big picture – he pushes for excellence and resists rigid rules and policies that box educators into situations that deter doing what is right.  He blogs about his own journey on The Principal of Change and hosts a shared principal blog called Connected Principals.  Take a look at the video from Ted Talks featuring psychologist, Barry Schwartz.  It was posted on George's blog The Principal of Change today. 

Teachers – are you a wise educator focused on creating a relevant classroom that resists the lure of shallow rules that stop you from connecting to kids? 

Principals – do you give in to the pressure to create shallow rules from teachers who can't see the deep wisdom and meaning in individual situations – or do you create an environment of deep meaning that is relavant to all students, staff members and the community your serve?




Good to Great in School??

This clip is worth a re-post.  This is raw Jim Collins talking about disciplined culture in a church, school, military team, social sector organization, etc…  School leaders – pay attention.  This is the language of high expectations and excellence!