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Posted by on in Education Leadership

disciplining kids

Then…

I (Brent) am a former student pastor turned public educator. Upon leaving vocational ministry, I moved into a position as a teacher and coach in southeast Texas. I taught science at the seventh and eighth grade levels for seven years and loved it. However fun my science classes were to teach, science was never my passion. My passion is in helping students learn from their choices (good and bad) and grow from one day to the next. During my time that I was in the classroom, I told my students on a regular basis, “My goal is for you to be a better person on the last day you walk out of my class than on the first day that you walked in. If you learn some science along the way, that’s awesome too!” Obviously, I wanted them to learn science and I wanted to do a great job of teaching it to them. After all, that’s what I was getting paid to do and I want to be great at my job. That doesn’t mean that science was my main goal for my students.

Like Brent, I (Jeff) spent 11 years as a student pastor before I transitioned into public education. I knew the call into the classroom was about relationships and helping kids to be better today than they were yesterday. Having taught both elementary and middle school students you come to find out that meeting the basic needs of students is universal. I can remember my first year teaching 4th grade, I had a parent of one young man indicate to me that it was the first year in his young school career that he had not been sent to the office. During that year we had several one on one conversations, where being 6’ 4’’ I would crouch down to eye level, and remind him what he could do. I always shared that  I expected more because he was capable. The power of high expectations seemed to resonate equally somewhere deep inside this little guy’s mind and heart. We developed a strong relationship by the time the school year finished. Though I was teaching english language arts we were all learning what it meant to live out the art of doing life together - what it means to become better with the help of another.

Now…

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

 

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There's nothing better than breakfast meetings in the summer! I get excited at the chance in meeting with colleagues over a cup of coffee and dialogue to brainstorm ways to better support our students and staff in the upcoming school year.

As part of our summer work, I have been been holding "check-in" meetings with our principals to reflect on our academic continuous improvement plans.  As the new principal at Worthington Kilbourne High School, Mr. Aric Thomas has been working to deeply understand the great work that has been done in the past and how to best continue leading the work in the future.  Talking with him during breakfast gave us both a chance to brainstorm plans for the upcoming year as well as get to know each other more.  As we got up to leave, we realized we weren't alone!


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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Recently, I had the chance to catch up with a colleague from a previous school district who I hadn’t seen for years.  While drinking coffee and catching up about our families and life, I asked him about his recent change in positions at a new school district last year.  Suddenly, his head lowered and his eyes scanned the inside of his empty coffee cup.  Barely opening his mouth, he quietly murmured, “My goal next year will be to stay under the radar”.

Although I could have asked him to disclose details on why he would have said that, I knew that wouldn’t have accomplished anything to help him.  Instead, I asked him what he thought that would accomplish.  This question allowed for a better, richer dialogue to see how I could help coach him up.

His eyes looked up, and placed his coffee cup on the table.  With a small smile peeking through his mouth, he admitted that he wasn’t truly sure.  He guessed that it would be better if he kept his head down low and stayed quiet around his peers due to some missteps from the year before and some negative feedback he received on his performance.  As he restated his initial plan to just “fly under the radar”, he began to doubt the merits to this idea.

“Flying under the radar” doesn’t work in leadership. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

I found myself mixed with humility and joy listening to my sixteen-year old son, Keegan, as well as just observing his passionate explanation of how I don't know how to use my own camera to take pictures.  Having mastered the art of lecturing to me complete with eyes rolls and exhausted breath, he walked me through all the various settings, buttons, and dials on the camera. When did my son learn all of this?  

While I tried to act interested in all of his tips, tricks, and strategies, I waited patiently for him to finish, so I could school him a very important fact that would keep me at the top of the food chain of knowledge in the family; the fact that I bought an expensive camera with something called "Auto-Focus".  When he finished, I paused for dramatic effect before announcing my profound statement.  Getting ready to drop the mic, he quickly brought me down to Earth with his response: "Then, why would the company still keep all these features?  Sometimes, it is necessary to focus manually."

Even a year later, that experience and his response had me reflecting on its truth in settings outside of the photography world.  We tend to think about the word “Focus”, and think it should be automatic in what we do with it.  We tell ourselves we need to focus more as a New Year's Resolution, and say it when we are asked what changes we intend to make in improvement settings.  It has become such a much-needed area of work that it often gets nods of approval and the occasional "Amen" when we say it aloud.  We treat the ability to focus as something automatic, when it is something that is meant to be set manually.

In an effort to ensure you are focused, here are "Four Strategies To Manually Set Your Focus": 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

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It’s been very busy on my end over the past month. I released my second podcast, published my first flash-read on Amazon, and have crisscrossed the country. Despite all of the good stuff, those who aren’t fans of mine capitalized on some mistakes that were made under my watch.

As a superintendent, the buck stops with me.  I am responsible for everything that happens under the time I am there. I’m also responsible for giving and getting the best possible education for students. I’m not perfect, and I will never pretend to be, but I will say there is truth in that the higher you climb up the leadership ladder, the bigger target you become.

With being so busy, I hired a media group to take care of my social media and my online presence. I was online from time to time, but I also have twins that just turned two and am making presentations all over the country, so I didn’t bother with it.  What could go wrong, right (note –  sarcasm)? Well…for me, all of it.  In talking about some future projects, the person took that information and misrepresented me online. Not cool at all. It eventually turned into a local news story, and before I knew it, I had to start playing defense.  I looked like a fool. Had I not corrected any of it, who knows what this would have become?

I fired the company and hired a new firm to handle this. They did, and we move on, right?

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