Friday, May 10, 2019

Affirmation, Commendation, Thankfulness, and Confident Confirmation

My pictures are random as they are only stopping points for reflection.

Affirmation, commendation, thankfulness, and confident confirmation are all things that all school leaders need to think about all the time.  They are different and they need to be thought of differently.

So let me, from my experience, help you understand them as I understand them.

Affirmation is the teacher that comes to you and "has a plan" it might be academic, management, or dealing with a difficult situation (student, parent, colleague).  "Hey Doug, you got a minute....." type of conversation.  It involves listen, put the computer screen down, make eye contact, react facially appropriate, and then ponder for a minute.  You have a question, ask it. You need them to repeat it, ask them too.  You need clarification, go for it.

You have feedback? Because if you are an experienced leader, you have heard this type of scenario before, in some sort of scenario.  The feedback is probably positive "They had a plan", but, will it derailed them in a way that is worth the feedback.

In other words, is the feedback that good it is worth making the teacher take a step back to take two steps forward.... You need to decide in less than 2 seconds, or you could defer to, "let me get back to you", but that type of feedback in this type of situation, is often lost.  So you decide, but always affirm.  It was a "good idea" regardless, because it was an idea.  We want to promote ideas and never squash them.  If feedback is needed fine, but if feedback is truly not going to improve the idea, keep it shut and just say something positive about the idea.  Don't be that guy or girl.  If it was a mistake, they will learn from the experience.

Commendation is the recognizing of a staff member for something they did.  It can be in public or private, but should be done in both.  It should not be "your the best" type.  It should be thought out or in the moment.  Thought out, is planned, I know you and therefore going to speak about you in a way that is positive to help you understand more fully how I have been feeling about you.  In the moment is, "wow" you just really impressed me...! This one is simple, just make sure it's authentic and directed.  If not don't do it, practice it with a trusted friend or in the mirror.  Don't mess this one up as it is the easiest one.

Thankfulness  is the catching of someone in doing something that you truly appreciate.  It could be a normal event or something you asked them to do.  It could be something that is above and beyond, or just doing the "daily" with consistency.  These should be given out like "likes" in Facebook.  Thanking someone is the easiest thing you can do beyond commending them.  The difference is we often as leaders resort to "sorry" than "thank you".  I asked you to cover a class should not be "sorry" you had to cover, but "thank you" for sacrificing for a colleague in need.  "Thank You" for staying 10 minutes past contracted hours to help kids get on a bus or watching a child not yet picked up.

This is why this is harder than Commendation because we as leader assume the worst at times.  We need to understand and constantly remind ourselves that "all educators" in schools are there because they care.  It is never a job to any of us, it is a passion.  So "thank you" for sacrificing, not "I am sorry" you had to sacrifice.

Confident Confirmation is where my train might go off the tracks.  If you can not confirm your own existence as an educator, then you are not going to make it to retirement.  You are going to do 5-7 like a minor drug bust and get out without parole.  You will never be a "life sentence" without confident confirmation.  You need to regularly "recognize" who you are as an educator.  You need to look in the mirror, like actually look in the mirror, and say the following:

  • Without you nothing happens in the world.
  • You have a bigger influence in your life work than 100 CEO's, as you touch a minimum 750 souls.
  • You are both loved and respected, as those that can don't and those that can't reach
  • Everyone knows your profession as everyone has been in your space for many years.
  • There is no better way to change the world than make a connection with a child.

Say those 5 things every day like a mantra, and you will not only be Affirmed, Commended, Thanked, but also build your Confident Confirmation that you need to be a "lifer".  

This is the only profession where you want a "life sentence".  I am guilty, I accept my "life sentence", but I also understand that I need time in the mirror to make sure I confirm my worth.  I need a "thanks" and a "great job" here and there, but more than anything I need me.... I need me to tell me, this is the work I was made for.  I was created for this... I have a mission to do this... There is no other reason I am here than this... Okay I went too far, but true educators get it, I hope!  

I can always count on me as I can't run from me or get away from me, no matter how much I try!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! 

Hope you made a connection with this..... I am not perfect or great in any of them beyond Confident Confirmation, and therefore work needs to be done! 

This is page 29 and 30 of my manifesto... which was started a while ago. I just added a lot of words tonight.  Thank you #cddolphins you are my inspiration!


Thursday, April 18, 2019

3 simple positive things

Over the past 2+ weeks leading up to spring break I asked my staff, the wonderful #cddolphins, to write 3 positive things about their students or classroom each morning.  They could share them with me by putting them in my mailbox, anonymous or not... It was their choice.  The idea was to think about 3 things, and then make them permanent or memorialize them by writing it down.  Simple, short, sweet.

Today I realize, I did not do it.....  Don't be fake DOUG!!!!

Although I feel I do it naturally now, as this is something I have internalized now for a number of years.  So here is my 3 things over the last 2+ weeks.

1.  I saw a staff member sit with a student when they did not have to.  It was not their job, but they sat with them, tried to understand why they were upset.  They waited until the child was ready, and then met that student's need.  The student was still upset, but the connection there was so powerful.

2.  I was involved in an ongoing conversation about trauma in kids.  It was asynchronous, it was shared, it was honest and authentic.  It made me feel not alone.

3.  I had a conversation with another staff member that did the right thing although it was difficult.  They decided that right was better than easy or comfortable.

As I write this, I have thought of at least 23 more, but for the point of this post, I will stop.

Take a second, maybe 20 and write down 3 things you are thankful or grateful for.  Just writing this brought a smile to my face and made me forget about all the negative things that also happened over the past 2+ weeks.  It is what makes us keep going!  Keep it simple, keep it moving, keep it to 3 a day. It does work!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Short Post About Privilege

I know most of you don't know you got it
I know most of you don't realize it
I know most of you pretend not to feel it
I know most of you have never been exposed to it
I know, because I am it
I am the it, the privilege to the that
Never needed to sit in, protest this or that
Never needed to worry for my life, nothing like that
Never needed to worry about a look or who's that
Never needed to feel a way about a reaction to what's that
Never needed to awkward, my color, never reacted to that
Never did I have to explain my aggression to that or this
Grew up not knowing, not understanding this
Grew up not knowing, blind to her and his this
Grew up not knowing, realized 30's too late for this
Grew up not knowing, white is a privilege, realize this
Grew up not knowing, thinking I had struggle, not his realize
Grew from reading, talking, living my uncomfortable risk
This ain't no growth mindset, innovative, platitude risk
This ain't no growth mindset, but an acceptance of your guilt risk
This ain't no growth mindset, no apology for being white risk
This ain't no growth mindset, but a support and prop up people of color risk
This ain't no growth mindset, an action to speak up to your white friends risk
This is the end to this thought, not a risk, as it how I feel.

There is no risk when you feel something to the core. There is no risk or chance when you know you are right.  You feel guilt? Embarrassment? Like you don't have privilege? You want to know why?

It is simple, it is systemic, it is not your fault on an individual basis.  You are not to blame, the system is, not created by you.  But........ We need to fight it and change it now.  It is up to you and each individual conversation you have with other white people.  I am white, I am not ashamed of that, and I know I need to affect other white people.  That is my mission, help white people understand.   Not what "we did" in terms of right now, but what "we did" in terms of setting up systems that just don't work for all Americans.

When you "hear" that comment... As a white person, just ask, "Please tell me what you mean by that..."  then, "why" "why" "why" "why" to their next 4 responses.  Don't say anything more.  You will get to the core.  They will realize that their assimilationist mindset is jaded.  Just ask... Don't put your head in the sand or nod them off... It is our turn white people to do this.  People of color have doing this work with so little support for too long.

PS... BPM 95 works great here.  Think 90's California Rap... You find it.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

#edupoetry is back for now...

You should listen and watch this first -

Been absent for a bit
Not for a respit
Just did not need it

Not gonna be that one that says
Much needed break, feel for me
I make choices, they are mine
At times I just don't have time

I jump on music, for a minute
Not leaving it, but found that spot
Now back to writing, I think
Kinda, that more water I need to drink

It is a crash diet in my brain
It is a dive into the deep end
After not swimming since 2017
Hope it comes back quick
I hope it sticks
But if it don't
Gonna go with the physical
The workout has been the constant
The no matter what
The bible of where I am at
Without that I got nothing
Without that I got none
Without that I am done
Without that I am not a father or a son
It is about order
I made it this far with privilege
I made it this far without thesaurus
I made it this far based on my latest mix
I made it this far based on all my self cognitive
I made it this far with an idea, not for me, but for us
I made it this far dropping everything, what feel will stick

Bringing it back
Attack the reaction
Milly day is March 14th
Pi for the unsolved never ending
Reform in bars 8, 16, or life incarceration
Philly did good today more than honoring
My homegrown hero, 20, 34, or 3, 15 Greer

It is always a process, an answer to new attention
Retention may not be good, but intention is not mentioned
Tradition, I rhyme to 4
Always looking for more

So here it is
My current state
Rate the date, hold on wait
Fake never, I hope to relate
Turn my phone over
Spent time doing other
4 bars needed, repeated message
Not necessary, Not for me
Could not sleep, retreat
Where we meet, what you seek
Don't call me weak 7 days a week
Just glad to be back
That is nothing but fact

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Untold Story of Leadership

About 4 years ago I started what might be described as a Manifesto or journal of ideas and thoughts that came to me in my journey in leadership.  I stopped writing that about 8 months ago, not because I was done, but because if I am not committed to a project in the moment, I just pause.  I used to write weekly at a minimum and on some weeks, daily.

My last entry was:

It was up to 28 pages at that point.  Single spaced, no pictures.

There is no event or moment that made me stop writing.  Well maybe a series of events...

Maybe I ran out of original ideas?
Maybe I had a life changing event, but I don't think so?
Maybe I felt as if I was regurgitating the same things I saw on SM?
Maybe I got tired?

My schedule did not change, I just dropped off the writing to myself planet.  It has been a lonely, really lonely 8 months.  I need to be my own best self advocate.  For if I am not, then nothing anyone tells me is going to matter.  I am that type of person that on the surface does not like praise, I am self-deprecating.  There are many leaders I have met that also share these traits.  This seems to be more the norm, than not.

At the same time I chose this profession.  This is what I always wanted to do.  There was really no other choice.  I realize as a school leader, you choose to go on an island.  When I was an assistant in a building with 4 admins, I was on a peninsula, but not an island.  There were others that shared the glory, share experiences, and sometimes shared the pain.

I don't have a staff lounge, or a daily meeting as I did as an assistant with others that had similar stories.  My #cddolphins definitely let me in their lounge and we definitely have fun chit chatting about all sorts of life stuff.  I have people I can talk to, but don't know my experiences like a teacher neighbor might, or a cubicle neighbor in a business world might.

I don't have an outlet similar to mine, my writing was my outlet.  Where I could discuss, I'll be it, with myself, about things that were happening.  Nothing specific, all general, but an outlet to get it out.  I used to write about the importance of "getting it out".  Now I just don't write, and I don't know why?  There is something that did take its place, as I have been practicing the art of mixing music together.  My free time is also limited, but like a grandparent, I always try to make the most of that time.  I still have my time for working out, for which I am forever grateful.

I don't know why I wrote this. This has taken me a week or more.  I guess it is a placeholder on where I am.  It is a good spot.  It is a spot of some inner turbulence trying to figure out my own personal direction.  Not a job switch, but more a motivation, I never want to do anything else.  I have no aspirations of anything more.  I love having the impact on the community for which I serve.  I love having the relationships with the staff, students, parents, and colleagues for which I have.  I am doing the work, I am looking forward to continuing to do the work.  I know that my doing the work will help those that I serve to find their own work.  It is an every day accomplishment and goal.  It is a real impact on our most precious resource.  It is not a joke, or a job, or a way to get ready for retirement.  It is exhausting, it is rewarding, it is frustrating, and it is exactly what I thought and wanted it to be.

Maybe I just wrote this to remind myself that I don't need to write this to feel accomplished, excited, or justified in my choices.  Maybe I wrote this to spark a new motivation to write.  Maybe I wrote this to put in my "manifesto".  Probably not that, as this would not really fit in with that theme.

I know I wrote this for me, if you read, maybe you relate, maybe you don't.  To be honest that does not matter to me.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

He needs to go...

This is going to be short.

One of my podcasts @brilliantidiots which, by the way, is the greatest name ever....

Marinate on that.  Brilliant Idiots

Charlamange and Andrew teach me every week to keep the "same" energy. 

A Democratic governor of Virginia, A white male... no duh!

Had a picture of a KKK member and a "Black Face" person holding beers with a dumb, but not offensive, narrative. 

OKAY, he got to go.

Never have I ever thought of doing that, posting it, including it in my bio page in a yearbook.  Like neva eva...

He has to go... Keep the same energy Democrats, even though I am not one of you.  I am progressive, I am wanting to be a social justice warrior.  I am striving and practicing to be really anti-rasist.  I am close,  maybe... therefore politics does not matter.

Racism is racism.  There is no politics.  So to all the white people, white males, that want to bring politics into this... Please put your "devil's advocate" and "well.... what if..." theories away. 

They don't work.  He needs to go, we need to make sure of it.  Get on board or shove your racism away again, like you did last year and lived with it. 


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Been listening more lately, less producing
Reflecting and dreaming, regardless
Stressful in the act to listen
Take on others harm
I had to disarm, had to throw away
Throw away the advocate
Relocate, filter applied
Can't believe how long I been lied
Dream, memory, remember me
Figuring action immediately

That is my bar...

Here is my reason. 

I have always had passions.  I have always had dreams, goals, and bucket list items.  I also have begun to realize the power of being where you are.  My dreams, goals, and bucket list are for the future, maybe... I am also a person that has been blessed with being able to have already fulfilled many of the bucket list items of others.  So I speak from a position of privilege, and recognition of what I have been given.  I have earned little, I have been given much. 

I feel I need to put that out there as I am my own best and worst critic.  It is a split relationship I am just beginning to understand. 

All that being said, I feel I know what I need to do.  Sort of what I have always done.  Be an advocate and a line in the sand for the young people that are around me.  Recently that also includes my own children over the past 10 years.  Now that I have been in education for 17 years and 26 working with kids going back to Counselor In Training Days at soccer and day camps.   

Don't know why I feel, a need to put the resume out there
Back to the bars, as I try to explain my tune, justify I dare
It started with a conversation, a tweet, a vox, a list, a blog, a book
Snook... it took me to a place in myself I did not want to see
I had to ask repeat is that me... no not me... yes, me... woweee

Below is a list that allowed me to understand what I was learning from sources that were interacting with me.  It was a Code Switch, which is a great podcast to learn from.  Just search those words.  *** Disclaimer *** The below list is from a 40 year old white guy that has a love affair with Philadelphia. 

J. Cole, Charlamagne. HEZI, Rage, Public Enemy, Meek, Fontaine, Black Thought, Run the Jewels, Jedi Mind Tricks