Thursday, August 25, 2016

Does your Attire Inspire?

There's nothing I like more than dressing comfortably. I'll take cargo shorts and flip flops any day over a suit and tie.  Yes, dressing up can appear to be a trivial or even an unimportant part of any job, but it is important to remember why the way you dress is essential to your performance and your influence.

Does your Attire Inspire?

When deciding what to wear, the decision shouldn't be about you or even your comfort.  It should be about the role that your attire plays in motivating kids to learn, inviting your parents to be a powerful partner, and inspiring your colleagues to strive for excellence.  Think of your dress as your secret weapon.  It is your tool of influence.  It matters to kids and parents, and it matters an awful lot.  If you don't believe me, ask those around you if an educator's attire can raise the bar for students.

Here is a little poll that I did the other night to prove my point, and out of 67 random responses, the answer was pretty clear.

Whether you like it or not, your attire can elevate the expectations for your students. It can inspire kids to aspire for more.  It can influence parents to be your partner in learning.  Impressions matter and for some kids they matter more than you know.  For your struggling students, the way you present yourself may just be the one thing that convinces kids to stay in the game, and isn't that worth it.

Your influence starts with your appearance.  The better you look, the better you feel.  And the better you feel, the better you can appeal to your clients.  And when we appeal to our clients, they will buy the learning that we are selling each and every day.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

6 Tricks to Build Confidence in your Kids before School Starts

School is almost here, and that means one thing.  Kids are excited and stressed all at the same time.  They're excited about the newness that school has to offer and anxious about making sure they find the place where they fit in.  For new students, the stress, many times, outweighs the excitement.  For struggling kids, stress evolves into apathy, so we mustn't overlook students who seem disinterested in our school.  It may be just a front.

If we want all kids to learn at high levels, then we must remember that a sense of belonging precedes a desire to learn.

Before kids can find relevance and eventually rigor, they must have the right relationships with their teachers as well as their peers.  In order to do that, we must create schools and learning environments where they can leave behind their baggage of insecurities.  The statistics of adolescent stress point to a sad reality that learning and growth will always inhibited by insecurity.

This SoulPancake video illustrates what I mean.

6 Tricks to Build Confidence in your Students before School Starts
In order to help your kids learn at high levels, we must know students as people first and learners second.  Here are 6 things you can research to help your kids find their sense of belonging before school begins.
  1. Find out what strengths they have.
  2. Identify their areas for growth. (Weaknesses are areas for growth)
  3. Discover strategies that helped kids learn or behave last year.
  4. Avoid triggers that shut individual students down.
  5. Engage parents to determine the level of home support students will have.
  6. Verify which adults have significant relationships with individual students

If you took time to truly research your students in this way, there is a strong chance that you would have the information you need to start their year off with a sense of belonging but more importantly a sense of hope about their future.  If we want kids to grow in their learning, they must know, see, hear and feel that they matter.  We are the catalyst for that to occur.  Let's make the extra effort to build confidence in every kid this year, and let's start this process before the kids return to school.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

8 Ideas to Bring Teacher Joy "Back to School"

If you haven't hear Dean Shareski speak, you are missing probably one of the most powerful experiences in your life. Not only is he hilarious, but he surpasses the educational warm fuzzies with a practical ideas and a meaningful challenge to all educators to bring Joy back to school.

Bringing joy to kids begins with bringing joy to the adults in the building. 

Here are a few questions to make you think about bringing joy to the adults in your school?

  • How important is joy to the learning process?
  • What are you doing to bring joy to your staff?  
  • What are you doing to model joy as an essential part of professional development and adult learning?  
  • Does your "back to school" message start with joy or even include it at all?

Joy Accelerates Learning! 
If we want students to grow, it starts with making learning a joyful process for our teachers first. If teachers don't view their learning as a fun, interactive and exhilarating experience, there is a strong chance that the kids won't either. It is important to remember that student growth will only come with teacher growth; thus student joy comes with teacher joy. Furthermore we must always remember the following.

No teacher joy = No student joy. 
No teacher learning = No student learning. 

Bring Joy back to your "Back to School"
Here are a few suggestions to bring fun back into your "back to school" routine. 

  • Spice up your staff development with goofy competitions
  • Roll out the Red Carpet at Registration and get lots of pictures of teachers interacting with parents and students. 
  • Make music a part of your school. Pick positive and uplifting music and play it in the classrooms and in the hallways. 
  • Make an effort to give every teacher several fist bumps every day. 
  • Tweet out pictures of your teachers working together. 
  • Periscope professional learning and collaboration. 
  • Celebrate teachers who have gone above and beyond in their learning this summer. 
  • Lift up educators who have overcome obstacles or difficult situations. 
If we want learning to be a joyful experience for our kids, then it starts by making learning and working together a joyful experience for our teachers and staff.  Let's do it for them and in turn we will do it for the kids when they come back in the following weeks.