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Posted by on in Education Leadership

walking symbol

Last weekend, I attended a college recruitment fair.  More than 1,000 students walked through the booths of over 200 colleges from across the country speaking to college recruiters, picking up pamphlets, and filling out forms for future mailing lists.  Someone likened the process to “speed dating” in that parents and students try to narrow down this enormous number of colleges to a manageable size based on majors, activities, demographics, location, and other data variables.  After that, no conversation at a booth is going to seal the deal.  At that point, you have to actually go to the college.  You have to walk the campus, walk throughout the community, and walk into the dorms, and walk into some classes.  For something as important as the choice of where someone will spend the next four years of their life, they have to physically walk around. 

While things might look appealing behind a desk, taking a walk determines the reality.

There's a Japanese phrase detectives use - "taking a Gemba walk".  Gemba is a word that means the "real place", and a "gemba walk" is a chance to walk the crime scene.  The actual place something occurs.  For architects, a gemba walk would be walking away from the desk and blueprints and going to the actual job site for first-hand knowledge.  For corporate managers, it would be walking the production floor.  For school leaders, it is walking around the building, classrooms, and community.

School leaders know the importance of conducting walk-arounds and see the benefits in being visible in the school and community.  But, many leaders have not established the proper purpose, environment, and steps in implementing real walk arounds.

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Posted by on in General

did-my-friends.jpg

My three best friends are black men. What does this say about me? Nothing really. There have times in my life when my three best friends were white men. So why do I bring this up?

I bring this up because it's still early in the morning and I haven't talked to my best friends today. Haven't received a text, a dm or a phone call. And I may not. Did they go out last night? And if they did, did they make it home okay? Did they make it home alive? I realize these are rather extreme questions I am asking. Ones that would not even cross my mind if my three best friends were white.

But...

They are not white. They are black. And every time they go out they run the risk of being misjudged or misinterpreted simply because they are black. These men are three of the kindest, caring and most amazing people that I know. One is a principal, one is a hip hop artist and one is a CEO. I am truly honored to call each one of them my friend.

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Tagged in: Dads diversity Race
Posted by on in Education Leadership

2e1ax elegantwhite entry Bamradio Leadership That Moves

Have you ever heard someone say, "one day when I'm the leader" or "when I can make the decisions things will be different." They believe that the ability to influence decisions happens across a desk or podium. Many abdicate their influence by getting stuck believing that they can only truly influence other through a position. Your leadership doesn't begin when you get THE position. If you believe you will become a great leader once you get that instructional coach position, department chair, administrative job, or central office gig, you are missing the point. We grow the capacity of our leadership and influence by the choices we make today, not tomorrow. You become a great leader because of your relationship with people, not the position in relation to others. Your leadership role isn't about your job, it is about how you position yourself in the lives of people, your investment in them, not your actual position. Our capacity as leaders is best expressed when we understand that our position can support our effectiveness, but our effectiveness is never dependent on our position. We move others when we see that as our primary role, not to build our name but others. Allow me to share a few ways that our leadership can move others...

Connect

Every opportunity that gives you an opportunity to connect with someone you should take it. If as leaders we are inaccessible or set ourselves up that make us unrelatable then we greatly diminish our ability to be effective in other's lives. This doesn't mean I will be everyone's friend, but I certainly shouldn't attempt to make myself unlikable. There are those who would say, "I don't need to be liked but respected." Reality - people won't respect you if they don't like you. People won't follow you if they don't like you. People won't stay at your school if they don't like you. Let us not confuse fear with respect. If I stake my leadership based on what others are doing or not doing, results driven rather than relationships, it communicates a culture that values performance over people. In that type of system, people will never be able to perform enough.

Bottom line: Am I giving a compelling reason for people to stay connected and committed to our mission, school, district? 

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Posted by on in Blended Learning

"Do you make lesson recap videos? You should."

Those words, spoken years ago by Chris Aviles at EdCamp New Jersey, punctured my belief I was rocking technology integration in my classroom. As Chris correctly argued, lesson recap videos would give students what all humans need: multiple opportunities to learn. I had the technology but I was not delivering for my students. It was time to get to work.

A Brief Argument for Becoming a YouTube "Star" Instead of Using Google Drive

I suggest putting your lesson videos on YouTube. There, the whole world can benefit from your work. If a video is meant to give instructions to a specific class, there is no need to post to YouTube. However, if anyone beyond your classroom walls can benefit from your teaching, let them! Besides, YouTube lets you choose and upload your own custom thumbnails. Google Drive does not. For example:

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Excited child

After hearing of Bev Bos’s passing earlier this year, I spent a couple of days reviewing and reflecting on her writing. A 1995 article called "JOY in Early Childhood Programs" particularly spoke to me, as it has so often in the last 20 years. Bev wrote that, sadly, joy is not often a consideration for people who are talking about and planning programs and experiences for young children. She reminded us that “because learning always involves feelings, we must protect the right of all children to have a hallelujah kind of childhood.” 

I’ll say it again, because the words thrill me to my very soul: WE MUST PROTECT THE RIGHT OF ALL CHILDREN TO HAVE A HALLELUJAH KIND OF CHILDHOOD.

That means we must be active, intentional, self aware and reflective. Protecting children’s rights does not happen accidentally.

That means we do this for the child whose mom drives you crazy, the child who hits and kicks when you are trying to get him to settled down for rest time, the child whose nose is constantly oozing and who slobbers on her chin. All children means ALL children.

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Tagged in: early childhood Joy play