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Driven By Passion

On Instagram the other day, my friend @samueldueth shared this post:

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This really struck a cord with me. I think this short statement is profoundly true. It is always easier to do the bare minimum. It is easier to continue to do things the way that we have always done them, not rock the boat and continue to remain in our comfort zone. At first glance, this may not even be a bad thing. After all, most of us do the things we are doing and have done for a long time because they are good things. The problem is that good can be the enemy of great.

This got me thinking. What causes somebody to move from good to great? What fuels somebody enough to allow themselves to choose the more difficult path, embrace something new, and ultimately embrace the self inconvenience that comes with change? My first thought was vision. After all, vision is about the destination. It is the road map to accomplishing whatever it is that one is striving after. It is the action plan to the dream. In reflecting more about it though, I wonder is vision by itself enough? After all, it is easy to say that you believe in a vision, it is easy to have a dream, but what fuels the vision on day to day basis? What causes somebody to embrace the discomfort of inconvenience, day in and day out when nobody else is looking? I propose that vision by itself is not enough; instead, it is about passion for the vision. If vision is the vehicle to accomplish something great, passion is the fuel that drives the car. Often vision can ignite passion; however, passion is something that needs to be stewarded in one’s life if it is to be sustained. (more…)

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Innovation Takes Time

I started this school year by participating in Educator’s Innovation Day. The day was dedicated for educators to work individually or in groups on anything they wanted to work on around the theme of improving education. I spent the day working with Jesse McLean around the idea of wanting to come up with a middle years entrepreneurial option. By the end of the day we had created the Becoming Tycoons Option and Student Business Planning Guide designed to allow for student choice, innovation, and introduce them to business concepts such as start-ups, management, marketing, and finances. Both Greystone Centennial Middle School and Muir Lake School students will be participating in this option at the same time so we are going to be setting up collaboration and sharing opportunities between our students with Google Hangouts and in person. We have not yet taught this option yet, but I am very excited to see what the students come up with for their businesses. Ultimately, my hope is that this will lay a foundation and open up possibilities for students in their future in the area of business and innovation.

Although, I am excited about this project that we came up with, the day in and of itself has bigger implications for educators. Taking the time to spend a day working on something that we have never done before and was completely brand new to us was extremely valuable. How often do we do that? It is so easy to fill up our days with the business of working and teaching in a school. Rarely, do we feel like we have the time to just sit, talk, and collaborate on working on something new with the aim to improve education. Yet, I would argue that this is some of the most valuable time that we could spend as an educator and is too often neglected.

As educators, we don’t spend enough time in quadrant II of Steven Covey’s Time Management Grid. Taking time to think, reflect, collaborate, share, be creative and innovate never feels urgent but it is of the utmost importance. This time is what keeps education relevant in an ever changing world. It is time that ignites passion and motivation in students and teachers. It is what fights off a culture of complacency that allows for things to be taught and learned in the same way just because that is the way it was taught and learned last year… and the year before that… and the year before that.  It is time that fuels inspiration, growth and change. It is time that allows for the extraordinary as opposed to settling for mediocrity. As educators we need to prioritize this time.

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I know our days are busy. I feel the pressure of the other quadrants everyday. (more…)

1:1 Technology Initiative

I am excited about the 1-to-1 Technology Initiative that we have been implementing at Muir Lake School. We are in year one of our three year plan to see all of our students in Learning Communities 4-9 to have access to a personal laptop in every class to be utilized whenever it is the best tool for the learning activity.

Let me be clear. Just adding access to technology for our students is not the goal. We don’t want $500 notebooks sitting on every child’s desk functioning as expensive pen and paper. Our focus is learning first. We want our students to be able to collaborate and extend learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. We want our students to think critically and problem solve. We want our students to increase information fluency and literacies (National Council of Teachers of English Definition of 21st Century Literacies and My Kids Are Illiterate. Most Likely Yours Are Too). We want our students to be prepared for their future, opening a world of opportunities to them. We want them to be able to solve problems that we don’t know are problems yet, and make careers in jobs that currently do not exist. We want them to be creative, innovative, motivated and engaged in their learning. We want students to choose and explore different ways to demonstrate their learning. We want every student to succeed to the best of their ability. Utilizing 1-to-1 learning environments effectively accomplishes this.

Our classrooms should no longer look like they did in the past. (more…)

I choose… Leadership Wisdom

Today I participated in the Chick-fil-A Leadercast that featured a wide array of visionary leaders. The event featured many great speakers and inspirational leaders, some of my favourites of the day being @AndyStanley, @AngelaAhrendts, @johncmaxwell, and @TimTebow. It was a great event full of amazing wisdom that left me inspired and motivated to continue to grow in my leadership capacity. After listening and tweeting #cfaleadercast leadership wisdom all day, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect upon and share some of my biggest take-away leadership principles of the day that spoke to me the most.

  1. Great leaders are vulnerable. Intentional vulnerability by leaders creates an atmosphere of trust imperative for any great team. I choose to be transparent. 
  2. A leader is a dreamer with a plan. Innovation is the starting block and the implementation of the of the vision is the race. I choose to plan to dream.
  3. People will live DOWN or UP to the expectations leaders set. Creating an atmosphere of high expectations in a culture of trust, fostered by mutual collaboration, with the freedom to take risks is essential to great achievement. This is true of students and staff. I choose to expect a lot of myself and others.
  4. Managers manage everyone in the same way… leaders lead everyone differently. People are individuals. It is the mission of a leader to foster an environment for team members to flourish. Leading everyone the same will not motivate or inspire. I choose to seek to know the people around me as individuals.
  5. The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. Growth is not passive; it is intentional. My daily habits and choices will either lead me to where I want to go or take me father away. The greatest investment you will ever make is in yourself. I choose to be intentional about growing. (more…)

“Who’s on First?” Conflict vs. Combat

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” Max Lucade 

It is natural and even expected that whenever a group of people gather in one place in order to accomplish a task that disagreements, differences of opinion, and conflict will occur. Many people tend to shy away from confrontation, viewing it as a negative or uncomfortable event, that will often bring disastrous results. I have witnessed people walk away from disagreements carrying personal offense over an issue that has been damaging to the relationship. Consequently, a tendency to avoid confrontation, contribute to problem solving tasks, and collaborate effectively with one another will develop among colleagues. This type of staff culture is highly ineffective, debilitating, and unacceptable for a highly productive learning team. Conflict is actually a positive thing that can inspire the best in individuals and solutions moving forward, as long as it doesn’t become combat.

As an administrator of a school, I have dealt with a number of conflicts at our school that have arisen between staff, students, volunteers, and parents in different combinations of all of these groups of individuals. Every conflict involved different people and different issues; however, they all, in one way or another, had one thing in common… communication or more accurately… miscommunication. (more…)

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