• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in growth mindset

Posted by on in School Culture

When you get a group of talented, enthusiastic, and passionate educators together to talk about school-wide positive behavior support in the summer, great and exciting things are bound to happen. And that is exactly what occurred the other day, a few weeks before the start of the 2018-2019 school year. 

I am fortunate enough to work along side these talented, enthusiastic, and passionate educators as principal, and when we sat down to discuss our goals for the year and how we would accomplish those goals, #bekindbeincredible was born.

Family Feud to Double Dare

As our school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) team began to plan our theme and what our kickoff assembly would be, we focused on the five pillars we have always focused on (being safe, here, accountable, responsible, and prepared), plus being kind. We discussed some ideas but wanted to ensure that we kept our ideas relevant for our learners. So we first came up with The Incredibles against another "family" in a Family Feud kickoff assembly. However as we thought about keeping our ideas relevant for our learners, we discussed the idea of Double Dare, since it made it a comeback this summer; long overdue I might add. This immediately clicked and we were quickly able to brainstorm the kickoff assembly. Now we had, The Incredibles, Double Dare, slime, and me, the principal, getting slimmed at the end. But we also had something far bigger. 

Be Kind 

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Education Technology

instant pot

The Instant Pot I received for Christmas this past year sat for a few months before I even thought about using it. My wife would remind me frequently we had it and that I should try it (I do all the cooking in the house. She does all the laundry. Fair trade-off). When she would encourage me to use our new cooking gadget, I looked at her and our Instant Pot with a little disdain. I felt my cooking was pretty good, and besides I already had my go to Pioneer Woman dinners that couldn't be beat. So I was always a bit insulted when the Instant Pot was referenced in my house, as I felt not only was my cooking being insulted but so was the Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond.

Then one night in late January it all started to change. I came home late from work to find my wife using the Instant Pot! I have to admit, the meal she cooked was pretty good, but secretively I was a little upset. I was not about to let her one-up me with the use of the Instant Pot, so I began searching for and trying out some recipes for it. I tried some baby back ribs, some roasts, some chicken and all were a complete disaster. I ruined the dinners and meat altogether and was disgusted with the Instant Pot, my dinners, and more than anything, myself. So I went back to my Pioneer Woman dinners.

Yet there was still that part of me that would not let me be one-upped by my wife and the Instant Pot itself. So I started reading the instruction manual more carefully and watching a few YouTube videos to find out where I was going wrong. It turned out that I was not letting the Instant Pot preheat enough for its timer to begin properly. I was using my own, separate timer. I didn't understand the preheating process enough or at all really, which lead to instant failures for my dinners. But once I figured out why I was failing, I started making some pretty terrific Instant Pot meals. My favorite so far has been the gumbo. Not too spicy, not too dull. And in the words of Mr. Food, "It's umm so good."

I look at my learning experiences/failures with the Instant Pot in a very similar way of being faced with something new in the classroom. At first, I might feel a little insulted, then when others begin and start to have some success, I feel some pressure not to be one-upped. So I try the new tool or technique out and it's pretty rough. Lessons don't go so well. So I go back to what has worked all along. But when I am honest with myself, I know those I'm "serving" want something new, even though they like my old stuff, they also want a little taste of something new. So because of them and my own desire to master that new tool or technique, I start to learn more about it and try it again until I have success.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Education Leadership

I recently prepared introductory remarks for our winter concert.  I used the same Microsoft Word document named “concert introductions” that I’ve used since I became a principal.  There are elements of these introductions that need to be repeated every year:  turn off your cell phone, don’t yell out your kids name, stay until the end of the concert, thanks to our dignitaries for attending.  So I cut and paste the previous year’s speech and then make revisions.   

Despite the “canned reminders” noted above, I always make different remarks as part of my introductions for a concert.  At this event I referenced a study done by the renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks about the effects on the brain that learning to play a musical instrument has.  Did you know that Duke Ellington’s brain looked completely different than Albert Einstein’s, but that Einstein’s brain probably looked mostly like yours and mine?  People who play a musical instrument have brains that are physically different than those who do not play.   My mentor taught me that any time you address a large gathering of people in your role as principal it is an opportunity to reinforce the vision and mission of the school.  This reference to Sacks’s research allowed me to remind the audience that everything we do at our school is about LEARNING.

Because there’s no podium in front of the stage, and it’s often dark, I make sure my remarks do not exceed a single page with large font.   When I pressed the button to print the speech, I made the mistake of not selecting the particular page that had my remarks for “Winter Concert 2017”.   Over 60 pages began streaming out of my printer.  That’s how many concert introductions I’ve done since I became principal.  I am in my 12th year as principal at my present school.  Add to that the five years I was principal at another school, that’s a lot of concerts.   

If you’re going to have a single job for a long time, the two jobs you would do well to consider are classroom teacher and middle school school principal.  Both of these are dynamic roles that are constantly challenging, you can never be bored.  The jobs of the principal or the teacher are wildly unpredictable.  It’s important to have a plan but don’t expect that you’ll be able to follow it. Because of the chaotic dynamism of these roles, there’s a tendency for some people to cling to consistency.   If it went okay last year, let’s just do it the same way again this year,  “Here comes Parent Teacher Conferences, Meet the Teacher Night, Graduation, or a Concert again, let’s trot out the same plan from last year.”   I call this attitude, “Good enough is good enough”.  I wrote about this in a previous post, and it’s not okay. 

Good enough is simply not good enough.  Despite how long we may have been doing our jobs, complacency will not help us to improve.   With the new year approaching, like many people, I have sought the one word that will represent my intention to grow.  I am committed to looking at every single thing I do with the purpose of improving and getting better.  To do this, I am going to focus on an important factor.   My one word resolution for the 2018 year is Feedback.  We cannot grow unless we hold up the mirror to our personal and professional practice.   

...
Last modified on
Posted by on in Leadership

 joshua-earle-234740.jpg

I have found my entrance into politics exciting, exhausting, and invigorating. I knew that this would be my most challenging endeavor yet, but this is on another level. This is hard and not just in the ways that one would think.

Now, I did not think that running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives was going to be an easy task. I was fully aware that this would be the most difficult journey I had ever embraced. It's not necessarily the tasks in front of me, but how they make me question myself and reflect incessantly.

It is so easy to lose sight of what put me on this path. Instead of focusing on being the agent of change that I have been throughout my life and educational career, I find myself painted into various boxes. Our national political climate is in a state of chaos. This includes attacks on the entire working class, notably all educators at all levels. These broad attacks require a response, and the flow is constant. Respond to this, respond to that. Comment here, comment there.

As an educator, whenever I find myself confined to a box or set of expectations, I reflect and take risks, implement new approaches, and break out. I encourage the students and staff that I work with to do the same exact thing. Now that I am here, I feel that I am not doing this enough.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in General

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_heroes4.jpg

Upstairs, with the door closed, a set of markers and a pad of paper. That is where my eleven-year old daughter goes to find privacy. Privacy from her five-year old brother who can adore and infuriate her, all within a span of thirty seconds. Her privacy is always short-lived though, because he will search the entire house until he finds her.

You see, she is his hero and she doesn’t even know it.

He watches her every move. He imitates her. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. She is the one that comes to his rescue when Mommy and Daddy need a break. She is his “sidekick” when he goes to fight the “bad guys”. Or, maybe he is hers. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. Either way, they are a formidable duo when properly motivated.

But sometimes, when she loses her temper. When she gets angry at him. When she is human. I tell her to remember that “she is his mirror”. Whatever he sees in her will be reflected back to him, and he will do the same. He looks up to her whether she likes it or not. It is a lot for an eleven year old to fully digest, but I think she gets it.

...
Last modified on