Are your students curious, exploring ideas or questions on their own? Or do they sigh with relief and go back to sports or social media or other pastimes once the bell rings? Yes we all need downtime, but look at…
I’ve been writing about how effort and perseverance without capacity and readiness simply aren’t enough. (Check out my past posts on grit and effort.) They’re all interdependent. Ignore either side and you simply won’t get where you want to go.…
In a previous post, I wrote about “satisficing”—putting in just the right amount of effort. Whether you’re hearing, “These employees simply need to do more with less” or “We need to teach students to have grit”, the implication is that…
I was only about a half-mile into my run when my legs began whispering, Wouldn’t this be a great day for a walk? But I persevered, finishing my regular loop around the park and back home. As I ran, this…
How often does this happen? You see headlines, within days of each other, one reporting that research shows using/eating/practicing X lets you leap tall building with a single bound, and the other, research shows X will crush you faster than…
Recently I stumbled on a blog that told only half the truth about school leadership. I’m not going to link to it—it wasn’t a bad blog, but when we over-focus on some aspects of leadership we ignore equally important responsibilities that end up undermining what we were trying to accomplish in the first place. Let me show you what I mean.
- Of course leaders need to be visionary, but not at the expense of reality checks. There are limits to time, dollars, the cognitive load involved in juggling various initiatives, and to energy available for different efforts.
- Of course leaders need to be flexible, but not at the expense of planning. In fact, great leaders build checkpoints into plans to ensure they are remembering to evaluate whether the plan needs to change!
- Of course leaders need to communicate, but they also need to listen. The latter is so uncommon in school leaders that a principal who is also Native American told me his new staff didn’t believe him when he said at the start of his first year, “My goal is to listen and learn from you this year—what is working, what the students need, what you need. Then we’ll plan our strategies together.” His staff accused him of hidden agendas, sure he had his big initiatives waiting in the wings like every other principal they’d worked for.
- Of course leaders need to use their strengths, but they also need to manage related weaknesses so they don’t undermine their own good works.
- Of course leaders need to give clear-cut directives and make decisions, yet allowing room for individual pathways to the same goals and for creativity is essential for innovation.
“Get the resisters on board–that’s why we’re bringing you in” is what I often hear from leaders when change processes aren’t going smoothly. In most cases, though, a few simple yet profound changes in leadership attitudes and practices are what is really needed. Here are three mind shifts I’ve seen in effective leaders:
1. Instead of Leading, Think Leading and Listening
As a school leader I know stepped into a new principalship, he told the staff, “I’ll be spending this first year listening, watching and dialoguing with you to understand the strengths and needs of this particular community of learners.”
No one believed him.
A school leader recently asked me, "Is it easier for students with some personality types, or cognitive processes, to develop a growth mindset than for others?" The idea of a growth mindset comes from the research of Carol Dweck, captured in…
First grade students show improved performance with a reading intervention. But what about their enthusiasm for reading? And, have they improved on isolated skills or on being able to comprehend, analyze and use/appreciate the information?
Fifth grade students taught with a new mathematics curriculum show better ability to multiply and divide fractions. But do they understand the concepts? Can they come up with real-world illustrations of what 3 1/2 / 4/5 really means?
Eighth grade students show mastery of more science concepts when online teaching modules are used to supplement curriculum. But are they developing curiosity, a necessity for great scientists? Are they learning the lab techniques necessary for meaningful research? What about measures of their creativity? Are they increasing or decreasing?
Right now I’m seeing a great deal of research showing improvements that are:
According to goodreads.com (join me there—it’s great for keeping track of what you’ve read) I finished 117 books in 2013. I read just about anything, for if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that ideas, and new knowledge, and “aha’s”, and creativity, and laughter, and profound insights, can come from the strangest places. Here are five books that kept me thinking long after I closed the covers.
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. The author, a pottery artist, traces the history of Chinese figurines he inherited from an uncle, and thus learns of his Jewish ancestors’ rise to the very top of Parisian and Viennese society, their fates during World War II, and how they rebuilt their lives. I constantly found myself thinking, “How would I have handled both the triumphs and the tragedies? How would my family talk about it all?” If you decide to read it, I’d suggest