Saturday, July 29, 2017

Many Times Sacrifice is Leadership

In order to lead you have to sacrifice.  I don’t mean giving up personal time, time with family, or eating lunch sitting down.  That is inherent and probably understood by most. .  Although those are all sacrifices, but more external and not the point of this post.  

What I mean, is the internal sacrifice, where you are giving up  a piece of who you are.  Where you are allowing yourself to be upset, because you know it is for the betterment of the system and the organization (school).  I know we all hear about never giving in, always seeing things through, sticking to your guns.  This should only be reserved to those one or two things that you absolutely feel are non-negotiable, that is it.  Not something like using a reporting tool the way it is set up, if others feel it could be better modified to serve their needs.  A sacrifice, not a big one, but hopefully you get the idea.     

Now this should not go so far as to sacrifice your character, core beliefs, or deep moral understandings, but definitely many of your ideas.  A real leader understands not all their ideas are the only ideas.  They understand that you will need to swallow, take a deep breath, and realize that leading is sacrificing at times.   I can think of how many “great ideas” I had that never got past that first person I spoke with about them.  Their reaction told me right away.  This was not what I wanted to see, but I swallowed my pride and understood they were probably right.  That idea was not going to work.  You have to be lucky to be surrounded by a lot of people who have the ability to be honest with you.  I do have that good fortune.   

I can not tell you how many times I have gone with the consensus knowing that it was not something I really wanted to do, or even thought would work, but because others’ were behind it, we pulled it off.  Sacrifice is not always about giving yourself to others’, sometimes it is just giving a little less and not forcing something because it was your idea.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

To Speak Quotes Is To Be What?

To have a voice is the essence and pretense of a movement
Without we have nothing, we are sheep baaahhh, no he didn't

To quote nonstop everyday is like the life of a mayfly
Your adult life is less than 24 hours so why

Does it matter that you can say something and recite
Excuse these original thoughts, they have received no likes

We are here for kids, we are here for them
Forever our mission is guide them towards the sun

Relationships are the driver, not Uber, but acceleration

It is the epitome of the formation of compassion

Warm our hearts to move them from proletariat

To think leaders on track, for them the oceans part

These are my original quotes, not to be tweeted
Can think of them all day, but does nothing for the needed

Not that quotes are bad, I have come full circle
But 20 a day, to increase your payday?

That is the problem, that is the game, that is the crime
Time you stop quoting, time you start responding

Time you engage, not soapbox it and look for hearts
Help someone new to the arena, not package your baggage

Tired I am, need to break free from the pundents
Redundent is the flavor of the moment

You need a remix, a reset of the mission, need remission
Intervention to pull you back, put your game back on track

Your quotes sell for cents on the dollar at the local rehab shop
Come back to us, the one's living the job scene, just stop

It degrades the work of those in the field as if we don't have reactions
Speak without words, not while showering, speak with actions

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Making Decisions... I short brain dump...

Making decisions is something that is important for any school leader.
"Be decisive, have convictions, take a stance!" are all things I hear

Build consensus, get opinions, talk it through
Use a survey, get input, do you have anything new?

Adding more to the conversation
Can certainly help open communication

Is there a point when the ideas have to cease?
Isn't there a point when you have to stop and freeze?

Does the more you invest in others' thinking and reasoning...
Actually increase comprehension and deeper understanding?

Does it flood you with preference and confusion?
Wouldn't it be easier if we selected like a recess option

Decisions, what's it going to be
Yes or no, second thoughts come free

Up late, wake up early, the hustle
Working a different muscle

Are you up for it, I mean are you up?
Forget the the hug, this is happening

Emergency not, grammar gets in they way
Interpretation of reflection and decisions

You go with what is not zoned out
You go with what you feel is best developed

What is culminated from what you have taken in
What those around you feel and trust is working

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Am I an innovator - NOPE! Just a Day to Day Incremental Improver

What is the definition of Innovation?

Here is Webster's definition:

Definition of innovation

  1. 1:  the introduction of something new
  2. 2:  a new idea, method, or device
Webster's Dictionary of 1828 defines it this way:


INNOVA'TIONnoun [from innovate.] Change made by the introduction of something new; change in established laws, customs, rites or practices. innovation is expedient, when it remedies an evil, and safe, when men are prepared to receive it.

I personally like the definition from 1828 better as it applies to school.
With a quick search of Google here is Forbes list of the top 5 innovations of the 21st Century:
The list is as follows, in order of importance:
1. Internet, broadband, www (browser and html)
2. PC/laptop computers
3. Mobile phones
4. E-mail
5. DNA testing and sequencing/human genome mapping 
Okay, enough background.  Are we as educators innovators, do we think "outside the box", do we have a growth mindset as it relates to trying to make changes based on new information?  I would say yes to all of those.  

I would also say that there are better words used to describe us and what we do.  Maybe not as catchy as innovators, but I am not looking to sell anything here, just my thoughts.  

I would say as educators we are adapters, connectors, and bridges.  We show students "things", we understand how they work, we use them to make our lives easier, and our teaching more effective.  We are able to explain them to Kindergarteners and Seniors alike.  We are able to guide their parents through what we are doing.  We are able to help colleagues understand.  We are able to show administrators the power of using a tool in class and that it is not a "waste of time". 

We are better than innovators, we are appliers, users, and adopters.  These are not sexy words, but they are the ones who get the job done.  Without these words, innovation stops at an idea, a product no one buys or applies, a thought left to a blog, maybe like this one.  

I want to stop thinking of myself as an innovator or "outside the box" thinker.  I want to think of myself as a manipulator, adapter, supporter, and modernizer.  I am not innovative, I don't think "outside the box".  Those are expectations of myself at this point.  That is mindset stuff, not work.  The work can create the mindset as you see it play out, it is not one before the other, it is one in the shadows and the other out front.  What truly gets done is what you do, not how you think.  Thinking is of utmost importance, don't get me wrong.  I am assuming if I am arguing against using innovation as an adjective, I have already adopted it as a description internally! 

I am a third way when needed person, problem solver, and task oriented communicator. These are boring descriptions, and if you use the word innovation, I am certainly not going to be a hater.  I just like these exercises of challenging my own previous thoughts, that I thought to be perfect truths.  I am now trying to convince myself differently! HAHA! 

Where is the mirror, so I can self-talk myself into my new paradigm of boring adjectives to describe myself and convince my own eyes.  Innovator, I mean "outside the box" thinker, I really mean day to day incremental improver is here, have no fear!  Not gonna sell any books or a program with that title.  Probably won't even be able to inspire my colleagues or next door neighbor...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Is My School Better Because of Me?

It was 9:25 am Sunday, I was waiting in line to get my registration pass for the National Principals' Conference.  I got a message from (Jerod Phillips (@japhillips0722) that he was at Baruti Kafele (@principalkafele) session titled Is My School Better Because of Me?  I was planning on going, but running late, I told him to save me a seat, that is what connected friends are for!  Thanks Jerod, not only a seat, but 5 feet away from the speaker, so I could feel his energy.  The room was packed with no empty seats and people flowing out into the hallway by the time I arrived.  

So enough with the set up... Within 2 minutes I was already struck with one of three takeaways that will stick with me for a while.  He asked the following question:

What is my leadership identity?

This was asked of the group to think, not respond, but think.  He said, "Do you even have an identity?"  How would other people describe you?  I always have thought to not worry about what other people think of me, and to some extent this is true on an individual level.  You can't please everyone, but if the room was polled, you would certainly be able to pull out some common themes about yourself.  What would the themes of staff be about you, if they were asked what your identity was?  

He then said is there any non-negotiable you live by?  This was easy, I never ever miss greeting my students on the bus court.  I am late to district meetings, I run down the hall when the bell rings if I am late to the bus court.  Don't stop me at this time, I have one mission!  I make angry parents wait, there is VERY little that could make me leave this post!  This is what he meant.  What are those things that you will not bend, not matter what.  I felt so strongly about it, I even stood up and told the crowd when he asked.  What does this say about my leadership identity?

This led to the second great takeaway:

My contention, my evidence, my staffs' perceptions MATTER!

To me this was eye opening in the way he said it.  What have you done to promote your perception?  What is your evidence?  If you understand your identity, then what evidence do you have to support and would others around you confirm your thoughts if asked?

Up to this point everything was personal.  There was no mention of school in terms of students or staff.  It was all about you, I am making an assumption, but I would guess that Baruti would say if you don't understand yourself first, you will never be able to understand and therefore move an organization like a school.

The final takeaway was simple, but something else I had never really thought of in this way.  He showed a picture of a doctor, pilot, police officer, and fireman with the following question:  What do you see in common with all of them? Answer: They all wear distinguishable uniforms.  

What is the expectation in the morning when I put on my uniform?

I had never thought of myself as putting on a uniform, but certainly I do.  I go from Doug Timm to Mr. Timm, Principal Timm, or whatever...  I do act differently at school than I do at home.  I am a different person, we all are.  But what is my level of commitment?  I think that is what he was referring to.  What is my drive, focus, and willingness to work in order to make my school better?  Since I got my job I have understood that I am different at school, but never thought of myself as putting on a uniform.  This tiny switch in thinking is a reminder that not only should I value my work, but others value it as well.  If I begin to lose focus, get frustrated, say something inappropriate, then I need to look down to my tie and remind myself that I have my uniform on.

There was so much more, but those were the three big things.  All if going back to the title of the presentation:
Is My School Better Because of Me?  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

With my people it's different sharing our story - not my PLN

It is 8:30 am on Monday, preparing for a presentation at 9:00 am at the NAESSP conference, with my instructional coaches.  I am nervous, drinking nothing but coffee, and probably developing a caffeine headache.  +Jessica Hoban replies to my comment about the expected crowd. "These are your people," with a smile and a smirk.  It struck me... as I knew that the audience was probably going to be over 90% school admins, but at the same time, I realized something.  I have never spoken to only admins in an audience.  Many conferences, edcamps, etc. but all were mixed crowds.  I realized that without teachers, instructional coaches, district offices staff, etc. it would be different.

I was immediately excited, not because I did not want the other groups there, but I knew with a look, an eye contact, a wink, this group knew EXACTLY what I meant when I referred to "being interrupted" or having "an issue with that," and many other things we say.  Unless you walk in these shoes, you don't understand.  Just like I don't understand the feeling teachers have with dealing with all the issues they deal with on a daily basis anymore.  This was not my PLN (Professional Learning Network), it was my peers.  They all understood, they all "got it".  I have never made so much eye contact with a large group before, but I wanted them to feel me, and I wanted to feel them.

I was able to speak to them from the heart, a practitioner that has the exact same struggles every single day.  I spoke to them as I wanted.  This is different than how I felt I needed.  That is a big difference, I let a few things fly out that were for them only, for that group of equals.  I did not speak to them as to what they should do, but what we did, and why it was so important for us.  Even with all the struggles and lessons learned.  They even heard about my first kiss... Seriously a total side story for another time! HAHA!

It was not a call to action, but a call to trying something.  Something that we severely modified from its original intent to better our overall instructional quality.  Failure or success, it was a true test in taking a chance...

Now sharing that story with those that understood what that meant.  I explained over and over what we did was an investment in people equity.  I felt like we had built up enough reserve and now I was going to tap into that for a withdrawal.  It was not culture, relationships, or other stuff that is easy to speak to, it was a process that was not always smooth.  Definitely not a program, that if it failed, we had an easy excuse.  It had the potential of really hurting.  We owned it, failure or success, it was ours, we had no scapegoat.

I left feeling like I connected with the crowd, I wanted them to understand, not shame them for not doing more.  I wanted them to know one aspect of our school life with doors wide open.  I told them, "I don't know" a few times, and admitted to a few other things that were not perfectly implemented.  I may have gotten emotional and excited a little at times, but tried to keep my reactions in check.

I also knew that what we did was special, special that we asked people to share their passion (teaching) with their peers/colleagues in the most intimate way.  Then when that was done, hear a detailed breakdown of their lesson, and finally speak to their decisions face to face with the whole group, in the same day.  This I feel is the ultimate test in school culture for staff. On this measure I think we passed with flying colors.  I could not have asked for more and the main reason why I felt like this story needed to be shared!!!

It needed to be shared with those that may be hesitant, may want to just put a toe in the shallow end, or just try something a little different.  "Push the uncomfortable" is a saying I heard a lot this week.  I feel like we lived in uncomfortable for a while this year, during this process.  Then we made the bed and walked out, head high, looking for a new place to sleep.  Thank you #cddolphins for allowing me to present your awesome willingness to go on this uncomfortable journey and keeping focus on the ultimate goal, "our kids" and how they think.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Where does creation cross with comprehension

Reggie Watts may be the most creative/comprehending person you have never heard (2011).  He has much more, but these clips below really resonated and were funny.

Follow this until (minute 11:06)Song (Creative) -

Then innovation until (minute 17:00)  -

By all means watch the whole thing, but this is the full scope and sequence of cognitive growth, this train and habit of thought allows for immeasurable growth.

If you can think like this you can accomplish anything, problem solve, create, reflect, improve and do everything we want our 21st century learners to do.

It does take work, practice and repetition to create, think, and be special.

The whole video from the start -