EduQuote of the Week | 1.14.19

Make a difference, change the game for the better, leave a legacy, be a guide that someone else can follow and make better, and then someone else will follow that and make that better.

Carlos Wallace

Teach & Serve IV, No. 23 | Arrogance and Leadership

Teach & Serve IV, No. 23

Arrogance and Leadership

January 9, 2019

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are incompatible. They simply do not mix

The old adage “oil and water don’t mix” is demonstrably true. Head into your kitchen. Find some oil. Put the oil in some water. See what happens. Go ahead. I will wait.

See? What did I tell you?

Oil and water don’t mix. True. Got it.

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are, likewise, incompatible. They, too, do not mix.

Let us not confuse arrogance and confidence. Confidence is an important quality for a good leader. Good leaders possess confidence. Often the confidence of a good leader comes from experience, a record of good decision making and an understanding of what it means to serve a community. Confidence in effective leaders is founded. It is earned.

Arrogance is another story.

Leaders who are arrogant, who believe theirs is the only voice in the room which carries significant weight, are likely to run into problems. Arrogant leaders do not listen well. Good communication is not their default position and why should it be when they already believe they know what is best in most situations? They are less likely to compromise, to collaborate, to empower. Arrogant leaders believe they are the most critical piece in the school. They believe they have to have a hand in every decision and must be consulted and cow-towed to in every circumstance.

Arrogant leaders rarely succeed over the long term. They may have initial success, especially in schools that may need clarity established around procedures and rules and directions, but their arrogance typically hamstrings them sooner rather than later.

Arrogance and leadership do not mix.

Add it to your list of adages that make sense.

EduQuote of the Week | 1.7.19

The affects you will have on your students are infinite and currently unknown; you will possibly shape the way they proceed in their careers, the way they will vote, the way they will behave as partners and spouses, the way they will raise their kids.

Donna Quesada

Teach & Serve IV, No. 22 | Got to Begin Again – The Fresh Start Effect

Teach & Serve IV, No. 22

Got to Begin Again – The Fresh Start Effect

January 2, 2019

We have this opportunity – this fresh start. We can be mindful of it and all it suggests and all it could mean. We can embrace it with positivity and make it the beginning of something powerful and new.

In the approach to this school year, I wrote about Temporal Landmarks, a concept I first discovered upon reading Daniel H. Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing which I highly recommend. As we in the academic game see the end of Christmas Break coming and the resumption of the school year on the horizon, it is a very good time to analyze another point from Pink’s book: the Fresh Start Effect.

In his analysis of when people do things and when they have the most success doing them, Pink discovered that when we do things matters just as much as what we do. As we in education know, there are many, many whens. Pink recommends being conscious of the phenomenon of fresh starts. “Some days stand out,” he writes “when we want to open up a new ledger on ourselves and use them to construct better beginnings.”

Could there be a better lens through which to view the end of our holidays and the start of the next months of companionship with our colleagues and students?

I do not think so.

Let us begin this next part of our year opening the pages of a new ledger. We can do this. We can begin again and not just because the calendar forces us.

But because we want to.

We have this opportunity – this fresh start. We can be mindful of it and all it suggests and all it could mean. We can embrace it with positivity and make it the beginning of something powerful and new. What happened before break, happened. We cannot change it. We cannot go back and re-write it. Most of it was good and life affirming for us and our students. Those parts that were not are in the past. Let us move on from them and let them go.

Let us make a fresh start.

Let us begin again.

EduQuote of the Week | 12.31.18

Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Teach & Serve IV, No. 20 | The Gift of Our Work

Teach & Serve IV, No. 20

The Gift of Our Work

December 19, 2018

The work we do influences the world to come. It shapes society. It changes the world.

Changes. The. World.

That’s a gift worth receiving. It’s a gift worth sharing.

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We do not get tired of good Christmas songs. Well, I do not, anyway. I look forward to their repetition each year. When beginning to compose a post for the week before Christmas this year, I realized I had covered the themes I wanted to in last year’s Christmas post, so I will present it again here and plan to do so annually. I hope you enjoy it.

On many desks and in many inboxes this time of year, teachers and administrators find all manner of remembrances – cards and notes and gifts, tokens of affection and appreciation. Typically, these trinkets and notes do not fully express the gratitude of the students and staff we serve. They are lovely to receive. They are not always reflective of the appreciation our communities feel for us. Our communities typically love us and are grateful for our service.

And, while It is an appropriate time of year for students and staff to thank us, it is an equally appropriate time of year for us to be thankful.

As many of us finish our last-minute tasks, our baking and decorating and preparing, this is a great time of year to think about another great gift we in education are given: the gift of doing work that influences days to come.

Our work reaches beyond us. It reaches through time. It reaches into the future.

We most often do not see ready results. While some of us have been in this work for an extended period of time and we have been able to watch some of the seeds we have planted grow in the lives our students lead after they have left us, we are typically immersed in the day-to-day, the checklist of the moment, the class to come, the next paper to grade.

It is challenging, then, to remember that our reach exceeds our grasp, ever and always. The work we do influences the world to come. It shapes society. It changes the world.

Changes. The. World.

That’s a gift worth receiving. It’s a gift worth sharing.

Teach & Serve IV, No. 19 | Land the Plane

Teach & Serve IV, No. 19

Land the Plane

December 12, 2018

There are times we are so in the middle of things, in the moment and in the midst, that we forget that we have to wrap things up, we forget to find a stopping point, we forget to land the plane.

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We are coming in for a landing. It is just about time to put the tray tables in their upright and locked positions and to settle in for the remainder of the flight. It’s mid-December and our Christmas Breaks approach. For some of us, that means semester exams are in the offing. For some, it means we will not see our colleagues or students for a few weeks. For some it means a break in the midst of a trimester.

For all of us, it means we ought to consider how to mark the moment.

A friend of mine with whom I participated in a program of leadership training introduced me to the concept of “landing the plane.” I am not sure she originated it, but it is a compelling concept. There are times we are so in the middle of things, in moment and in the midst, that we forget that we have to wrap things up, we forget to find a stopping point, we forget to land the plane.

Surely, at this time of year, landing the plane – giving our staffs and students a definite line of demarcation between what we are doing and what we will do – is important. It is not particularly healthy to expect people to dangle in a state of pending-ness over the course of the next few weeks in some kind of suspended animation waiting for the other shoe to drop. In order to reduce stress and to provide a real break for our colleagues and kids, we ought to provide a clear stopping point so that, when we return, we can provide an obvious starting point.

My friend, however, also used this term to encourage me (or others around her) to get to the point, to find the end, to be succinct. She shared this phrase with appropriate razor-sharp intonation and intention. Get to it, she might say. Tie it off. Wrap it up.

Land the plane.

I like it.

As a person with a preference for extraversion, I often find myself talking to think. I typically start vocalizing before I know my conclusion and I have been known to keep chattering for quite a while. This is not a bad thing, per se, but it is a trait that can be trying for others, especially those who just want the conclusion, not everything leading up to it.

Landing the plane is an important concept for where we find ourselves in the calendar right now, yes, but also for us to be effective communicators.

Land the plane.

Good advice.