No matter where you are in your career, there comes a time when you wonder if a change is necessary. In this post I share a simply approach to finding your way to a career path that brings you joy and satisfaction.Read More
Are you looking for a short read that provides clear and practical examples of effective leadership for personal development? If so, you would benefit from studying Donald T. Phillips’ book, Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times, an analysis of the executive leadership traits embodied by the 16th president of the United States. In his review of President Abraham Lincoln’s example, Phillips takes the perspective of one discovering a rich tapestry of leadership skills hidden in plain sight. His approach makes the reader feel like they are learning about the well-studied leader for the first time.Read More
It is hard to imagine a segment of our American society in 2019 that has not been impacted by the dysfunction of our current political and social structure. Nevertheless, our inability to find unifying solutions to matters that we agree upon is an indicator of a much deeper problem that we have not begun to understand. Sadly, these issues are magnified in the public education system in America. I am sure we have all heard the adage derived from the writings of Thomas Reid, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Unfortunately, today the strength of character of the individual educator is the "weakest link" and is often overshadowed by the debate over the effectiveness of the United State's public education system.Read More
Most days I wake up with my daily routine on my mind. I anticipate my workout and the associated feelings of accomplishment after I complete the sweat session. Ever mindful of the time, I continuously monitor the clock to make sure I have ample time for prayer, Bible study, and writing. Then it is a mad dash to hit the shower, get dressed, and kiss my family goodbye before dashing out of the door only to be joined in traffic by thousands of other individuals rushing to work. As I engage in all of these routine tasks, I am intentionally focused on doing, what I have come to learn, helps me to be the best person I can be for the day. But today, when I arrived at work, I realized that there was an important factor missing from my daily regiment.Read More
It is nearly impossible to welcome a new calendar year without thinking about what is to come. The pressure to set new goals, make new plans, and start anew is brought on by the constant reminders from our friends, social networks, and media of all types. Essentially, you would have to be living under a rock not to be bombarded with the expectations of setting new year resolutions. Well, this year I asked myself, what if we saw the new year's resolution craze for what it really was, an arbitrary point in time in the dead of winter that is marketed as a reset button. Upon further reflection, I believe that we are easily charmed by this idea of a 'do-over' because we fundamentally lack stick-to-itiveness for many of our challenging goals in life. I say this not as a pessimist, rather, as a realist that aims to focus on the bigger issue to actually achieve real change. After all, isn't that what we all really want in the new year, change? So to do this, I will embark on the following alternative plan of action for 2019 and suggest you do the same.Read More
Today’s demand for a highly skilled workforce in the areas of science, technology engineering, and math (STEM) is making an immediate impact on our society and what we value in education. Changes in state and federal budgets further illustrate this shift our society is making in educational priorities. I am starting to wonder what will be the long-term effects of these changes.Read More
Summer is in full effect. Swimming, family trips, and other leisure activities are also in full effect. As a result, I am sure that professional learning is not ranked very high on the summer fun list for most teachers. The funny thing is the summer presents the most optimal time for exploring very meaningful professional development ideas. I have come to understand the value of the of a well-timed summer professional learning task, and I would like to solicit other educators for their ideas for teachers of various levels of experience. Please comment below with a professional learning idea that you have benefited from and would like to share with others.
So you have to work with an adult learner, and you have some concerns. Below is a comparison of the learning characteristics of adult learners and youth learners adapted from Rochester Institute of Technology. Of course, these are generalizations with exceptions occurring in each group of learners, but you may want to keep these differences in mind as you consider the learner population you will be working with.
|Adult Learners||Youth Learners|
Problem-centered; seek educational solutions to where they are compared to where they want to be in life
Subject-oriented; seek to successfully complete each learning task, regardless of how the task relates to their own goals
Results-oriented; have specific results in mind for education - will drop out if education does not lead to those results because their participation is usually voluntary
Future-oriented; youth education is often a mandatory or an expected activity in a youth's life and designed for the youth's future
Self-directed; typically not dependent on others for direction
Often depend on adults for direction
Often skeptical about new information; prefer to try it out before accepting it
Likely to accept new information without trying it out or seriously questioning it
Seek education that relates or applies directly to their perceived needs that is timely and appropriate for their current lives
Seek education that prepares them for an often unclear future; accept the postponed application of what is being learned
Accept responsibility for their own learning if learning is perceived as timely and appropriate
Depend on others to design their learning; reluctant to accept responsibility for their own learning
In summary, adult learners usually approach learning differently than younger learners:
- They are more self-guided in their learning.
- They bring more, and expect to bring more, to a learning situation because of their wider experience - and can take more away.
- They require learning "to make sense" - they will not perform a learning activity just because you said to do it.
I have come to learn that reflective feedback plays a major role in learning. The key to opening up more opportunities for learning for teachers is to utilize the appropriate form of reflective feedback. According to a study done by Costa & Garmston, feedback usually is given in the following forms:
Options for reflective feedback
Clarifying questions or statements for better understanding
Feedback statements that identify value or value potential
Feedback to mediate thinking through the use of reflective questions for possibilities
Another necessary part of providing reflective feedback questions should be to presume positive intent. Whenever you presume reflective thinking on the part of educators you run the risk of causing a teacher to withdraw. Once the language of positive presupposition is a part of one’s natural way of speaking and thinking, the use of reflective questions is as natural and easy as finding a word dictionary.
Questioning with Positive Presupposition
Try these strategies next time you work with teachers as you refine your art of reflective feedback.
Use positive presuppositions that presume a person has capacity, positive intention, desire, and prior and ongoing consideration.
Honor the speaker by demonstrating belief or trust in the speaker.
Model acceptance and respect
In a world of ever-increasing productivity, it is easy to feel the pressure to do more. I know many educators, including myself, have been forced to learn how to do more with less in this down economy and diminishing education budgets. I, in fact, have been reflecting more on my current realities and have been trying out different strategies for increasing my teachers' effectiveness. So far one of the most effective strategies has been helping teachers establish and follow through with a traffic light reflection. If you work in a coaching role with teachers, try these three strategies for helping increase teacher effectiveness.
1. Examine your practice. When I work with educators, I constantly try to help them make connections between their efforts and their desired results. Well, that involves two important steps: understand clearly what you are trying to achieve and recognize the actions you are taking to accomplish your goals. I believe it is essential that a coach have clarity in both before successfully helping an educator reach his goals. Basic questions like, what evidence should you see to inform you that you are reaching your goals, what would success look like for you, or what moves have you made as a result of these on to the next challenge, should become a regular part of a teacher's reflection and should be answered with clear measurable steps or actions for the coach.
2.Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light. In everything a coach should strive to help a teacher take a structured approach toward reflection. As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get into the routine of adding on more things to do or taking on more responsibilities. In my work I have found that more attention should be given to identifying the actions that are contributing to the goal as well as those that are not contributing. To do this I recommend using what I call a traffic light approach to reviewing action. If followed one should look at the actions that should be started - the "green light", the actions that should be continued - the "yellow light", as well as the actions that should be stopped - the "red light". I have personally found it easier to find the green and yellow light tasks that should be added or continued, while the red light tasks that need to be discontinued are sometimes less obvious.
3. Take a 30 day challenge. This step is simple. Now that you have clearly articulated the end goal and have applied a traffic light reflection to your actions, make a concerted effort to keep track of your efforts for 30 days. I have found that making this short-term goal allows you to ease into the new reflection habit while giving you enough time to measure a change in your effectiveness. With a new year right around the corner this could be a perfect fit.
Are you the type of teacher who looks forward to summer professional development, or are you trying to avoid anything related to learning until you absolutely have to go to a training seminar? Chances are you are somewhere in the middle. If you find yourself looking for a relaxing yet meaningful way to grow professionally this summer, try these quick and easy activities
Write a book or article review
How often do you get the chance to really get engulfed in academic reading? If you have ever had the urge to get to the heart of a troubling issue in education or simply have wanted to learn something new about your craft, the summer break is the perfect time to dive right in. Even during the summer, our lives can be busy, but without the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day classroom and school activities, we can really take the time to dissect an academic topic at your leisure. Make a list of the educational topics that pique your interest or get you on a soapbox the quickest. Then, search for relevant journals, books, or research articles, and strive to make the complex plain. Analyze the reading as though you were going to be responsible for supporting a new teacher on that topic. Before long, you will discover just how much you can grow professionally from simply researching topics of your choice during the summer break.
Well, I can't believe 2010 has gone by so fast. What I have to show for it? Hmm. I have to be honest this year has not been my finest. Much of has to do we the amount of change that took place in my life during the year. I am not trying to make excuses for it but I need this year to realize a few things about myself. I would like to share a few of them with you in this blog so hopefully, you don't have to repeat my mistakes in 2011.
For starters, I realized that routines get you through the weird times. This past year I gradually became committed to framing my daily work with well worked out schedules. The more I stuck to it when things were good the more it will be useful to me when things weren't so great.
I also realized that not to do lists are just as important as to do list. I can't take all the credit for this one because I got the idea from a great article, but I did make it my own. It is very easy to become consumed by the need to do more. I learned the hard way that the ability to do more is not as good as the ability to do more quality work. It was hard, but forcing myself to identify the things that I needed to stop doing caused me to reflect more on the impact of my actions. As a result, I could recognize what were the true ingredients to successfully completing higher quality work.
Lastly, I realized that you have to always remember who you are and what you make you good at what you do. This may sound unpractical, but surprisingly it is very helpful when done correctly. Who doesn't have work-related stress, demanding clients, and looming deadlines? Well in all that it is easy to lose sight of what makes you successful or what do you actually do well. Both of which are needed when times are tough and the workload is piling up. It does not hurt to keep a record of your successes and acknowledgments. It could be as a simple as box or folder that you collect artifacts supporting your "genius". Maybe it would be easier for you to keep an electronic record, regardless of your preference, just do it. Now you can't stop there, you will have to review it from time to time to keep it fresh. After all, if you keep up with your successes who will?
Well, I know that I will have many more lessons this year and I look forward to learning them all! Try these out and hopefully you will be able to move on to bigger and better lessons this year. May you have a blessed 2011!
"Happy Thanksgiving." This is something I am sure we all hear often this time of year but does it really mean anything to anybody any more. Just look around, the economy is in shambles, many people are without jobs, the government is divided, and the Dallas Cowboys lost! Personally, I have a job that challenges me every day, a healthy growing family, as well as tests and trials, so what should be my mindset on Thanksgiving?
When I look around me I don't things are not always "black and white" when it comes to having a Thanksgiving mindset. This country has become accustomed to so much material wealth and prosperity that even in times of financial crisis we continue with many of the lifestyle habits that not only contradict a true Thanksgiving attitude but also contribute to the financial downturn. Ironically, over the years we have moved further and further away from giving thanks on the day of Thanksgiving. Think about it, what would Thanksgiving be these days without our fixation on turkey, football, gluttony, and Black Friday?
Personally, I am tired of the cycle. This year I am going to be thankful for my faith, family, friends, employment, health, and everything else that comes along with them even if it kills me. I refuse to fall into the trap of overeating and regretting it on the scale. I refuse to be glued to the TV watching football while ignoring all of the family members sitting around me. I refuse to be influenced by the commercials and advertisements dead set on getting me to want more and buy more of the latest greatest gadgets. I also refuse to continue wasting precious time away from what matters most in my life. First I will strive to live a thankful week. Then I will look forward to experiencing a thankful month. Ultimately, I am going to try to avoid all of the things that have come to symbolize Thanksgiving. Now I am not talking about the things we say this day represents, but the things that have come the represent Thanksgiving today. Here is to really giving thanks on the day of Thanksgiving!
From Haiti to America
If you were on planet earth this week, you have been exposed to the heart-wrenching devastation in the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti. I can't stop thinking about the agony and bewilderment those people are going through. I also can't stop thinking about how foreign those experiences are to me here in America. Many Americans are watching a nation brought to their knees crying out for help on our HD flat screen televisions. Sure we are probably tearing up while trying to get involved in the aid effort after praying for the people. Or we may just be watching in utter amazement. Regardless of what we are doing, what should we be learning from this?
Taking Things for Granted
I have been really trying to wrap my brain around this question for the last two days. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so what can I learn from this? Could this just be an exercise in all peoples coming together as one human race to help out those in a time of need? I don't think so. Could this be an opportunity to look at what I have in life and learn to appreciate it? Again, I don't think so? So what could the lesson be? Why such devastation? Maybe the lesson here is to look at the how we spend our time. Yes, I said how we spend our time! Now hear me out on this. We are living in a materialistic world with an insatiable appetite for more wealth, goods, attention, and pleasure. Even when we think we are living modestly, when we compare ourselves to nations like Haiti, we are living the high life. It is time we start living each as though each day we breathe in peace, it is the most important day in our lives. We need to surround ourselves with the things that matter most and spend our time doing things that truly enrich the meaning of one's life. Now I am sure the Haitian people did not think that their last day on earth would come so soon, but who really knows when it is their last day. So let's walk away from this life-changing event with something that really means something. Let's live each day like it could be our last and pursue those things that positively impact in this world.
I am sure you are one of those individuals that love to learn. If you are anything like me, you even think learning is fun. But have you ever asked yourself why? Or better yet, have you asked, how long has it been that way? Many of you urban educators are facing students daily that don't seem to be infatuated with learning like yourself. So why don't we challenge ourselves to understand why we can't wait to learn something new and what was it that cultivated the craving for knowledge in our lives? If we can tap into that, maybe we can tap into our students.