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Posts tagged ‘Uncategorized’


Honored to make the list!

Today I was honored to learn that this blog was included in a list of the Top 100 School Administrator Blogs posted by Alexis Brett of  This list of bloggers is impressive, and I am truly humbled by the level of courageous discourse modeled by these leaders.  Most of the blogs identified are part of my reader file and like most of the other writers would argue, I have learned far more from the ongoing professional dialogue than from any course or book.  I hope 2011 allows me the opportunity to bless others with a few thoughts as much as I have been blessed by reading the thoughts of other leaders!

"Principal Thoughts" is listed near the bottom under the "Superintendents" section. 

 100 blogs



Organizing for joy

Traditional corporations, particularly large-scale service and manufacturing businesses, are organized for efficiency. Or consistency. But not joy.


Great post by Seth Godin. How do we do this in schools?


Lindholm is Finally Locked Up…

They finally caught up with me!!  Tomorrow I'm off to jail.  Will anyone take pity and put up bail money?



February – Good Riddens!!

Why is February such a tough month in this profession?  As many of you understand, I know it is February simply by the pace and tone of my voicemail and email traffic.  My weekends are spent catching up on the emails I can't respond to and my weeks are spent grasping for the survival ring as I drown in the "tyranny of the urgent."  I readily admit to my own struggle staying positive during this time of year and am usually ready to throw in the towel on this choice of profession around February 20th… Then I notice – it's 6pm and I can see the sun…  It's 6am and the sunrise is peeking over the horizon…  Standing in a sunbeam actually feels different than the shade…  spring break is only 4 Mondays away…

March in the southern half of Minnesota is a welcomed month.  The light at the end of the "get to spring break" tunnel is starting to tease it's way into visibility.  I saw it today.  The end of that tunnel can't get here soon enough.  When it does, it'll be a mad sprint to the end, but at least the days will be longer and the outside air will be welcomed inside.  So…  Good riddens February.  Bring on the March sunshine, the birds coming back, and the restored mental health of warm air.  Soon we'll be planning the details of final exams, graduation and in the flurry of hiring and scheduling.  Good riddens February…  We won't miss you a bit! 


Caught Stealing? (Goals, Motivation, and Joy)

". . . business school professors suggest they (goals) should
come with their own warning label: Goals may cause systematic problems for
organizations due to narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking,
decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation. Use care when
applying goals in your organization." (Pink, 2009)

you ever been
just about to do
something helpful on your own only to have someone ask you to do precisely the
thing you were about to do?  Kinda takes
the joy out of it, doesn’t it? I have actually, on occasion, refused to
continue the thing I was about to. For a long time I thought this was due to my
pride—and, ultimately, it probably is—but now I attribute it to ownership. When
I decided to perform the act I owned the action. When someone subsequently
asked me to do the same thing I no longer owned the action, but was merely the
vehicle of their ownership. I felt as if they had stolen ownership from me.
Worse than that, they had stolen my joy. Another way people can lose their joy,
or their creativity, is not due to theft, but via contract.

to Daniel Pink’s 2009 book,
people are less creative, less productive when they do something for an agreed
upon extrinsic reward than they are when they would do the same act for its own
reward. Consider this example from
of a study in Gothenburg, Sweden, in which 153 women expressed interest in coming
in to give blood. Researchers utilized this group to conduct a study and
divided the women into three groups. Group One was told their participation was
voluntary. Each member of Group Two was told they’d get paid 50 Swedish kronor
(about $7). And Group Three would also receive a 50-kronor payment each with
the immediate option to donate the amount to a children’s cancer charity. When
the opportunity came to follow through on their expressed interest the results
of the three groups may surprise you. Fifty-two percent of those who were
promised nothing (Group One) decided to donate blood. For Group Two, one might
expect the number to increase because the researchers had sweetened the pot.
However, only 30% of the women in this group decided to give blood. Group Three
responded much as the first group did; their participation was 53% (Pink, 2009).
So why did those who stood to receive no monetary reward respond in much higher
percentages than Group Two? Pink would argue that the original desire to give
blood was based in altruism; one might have any number of personal reasons for
wanting to give blood. However, once money became part of the equation, their
focus changed from intrinsic rewards to an extrinsic monetary reward. I would simply
say they sold their joy. In either case, studies show that those who complete a
task for an extrinsic reward may have short term success, but long term
complacency, whereas those who complete tasks for intrinsic reasons experience long
term fulfillment in that endeavor.

So let’s
take this out of book-speak and frame it in questions that have relevance to us
as educators. Do parents take the joy out of on-going learning when they offer
their kids $5 for every A? Do educators steal the joy of our students’ learning
when we use extrinsic rewards (grades, tokens, detentions, etc) to get them to
do their work? (And why do we call it work?) Do we, as teachers, turn in our
best work (there’s that word again) when asked to present professional goals at
the request of administration? What kind of intrinsic awards can we as
professional educators devise to take our students from short term success to
long term, on-going accomplishments? What can we do on our own to grow professionally
so that administration does not feel compelled to compel us to turn in a
professional goals sheet?

short, how do we keep the joy in learning for all involved and still educate
the kids? And, more personally, as teachers, do we steal the joy from our
students or encourage it?


Pink, D.H. (2009). Drive. Riverhead Books, New York, NY.




Serious athletes

Jump roping with some serious rigor!



What Do Teachers Make

For those teachers feeling the daylight getting shorter and the "newness" of the year fading…

Here's Taylor Mali on You Tube:



Blogging for kids

The core of a successful democracy depends upon a public that is well informed, that values the common good, and that upholds the importance of rigorous and respectful debate leading to decisions that are right.  This blog is a means to that end where sharing insights, supported opinions, and thoughtful questions is encouraged.  Your thoughtful dialogue is appreciated!


Good to Great at Emmaus

Along with using the framework and principles in Good to Great for improving our school, I am currently working a little bit with Emmaus Church in Northfield on the journey to greatness.  Some of the resources I ran across while preparing for a session with the church council and ministry staff seemed too valuable to keep in my own notes.  If you’re a fan of Good to Great, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, or other Jim Collins work, here are some resources that may be applicaple to your work.  Please feel free to add comments with other resources that may be helpful!! – Jim’s site including many articles, videos, etc…

Eric Swanson shares some enlightening thoughts about defining greatness in churches in his article published in Christianity Today. “Not every church can go from good to great in the traditional sense, but perhaps it is in going around doing good that we become great—no matter what our size.”

Taking your church missions strategy from Good to Great from North American Mission Board

The Good to Great Pastor from Leadership – an interview with Jim Collins – **Great interview**

Because I Said So blog 

Breakout Churches by Dr. Thom Ranier – replicated research strategy in GTG studying churches

While I don’t like the title of the blog on church marketing, here is a post briefly outlining GTG and a trail of rich comments. 

Alpha Leadership blog post on Breakout Churches and GTG – quick article with some good points

Neat blog post story that ends up hashing out the Hedgehog Concept for churches

Flyer from a business consulting firm on their use of GTG  –  pastor/scholar on GTG – not a fan!

Please add more!!



Greatness requires asking tough questions

I recently joined an on-line book club of fellow educators and am finding the conversation to be invigorating after only a couple of days.  The group (over 200 folks!!) is reading Why Don't Students Like School,by Daniel Willingham and participating in rigorous, lively debate in hopes of learning more.  Please accept an invitation to participate as an observer (!!

One of the kickoff entries titled "Curiosity is fragile"  concludes with a question should be tough to swallow for many educators –  If indeed we know that such common teaching strategies as worksheets, end-of-chapter questions, drill and kill activities, etc… are contradictory to basic cognitive principles, why are they so prevalent in classrooms today (reference to principles outlined in chapter 1 of Why Don't Students Like School)