Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rest...Like a PIRATE!

For the past six weeks, Shelley Burgess (@Burgess_Shelley) and I have been throwing out challenges for leaders to bring focus to our work with our staff and students through ANCHOR conversations. These challenges have asked us to:

  • Be intentional in showing appreciation of those we work with each day. 
  • Notice the impact of what the educators choose to implement with our students in classrooms. 
  • Have collaborative conversations after observations with more listening and less talking.
  • Honor voice and choice in ideas generated by teachers. 
  • Offer non-evaluative support to our staff as they try new strategies or take new risks.
  • Reflect daily on our practice so that we are always getting better at what we do.
It has been truly incredible to see the amazing things happening in schools through these weekly challenges. The dedication of the #LeadLAP community to our mission of creating schools that students and staff are running to get INTO rather than out is truly inspirational. The pictures, resources and ideas shared on the hashtag have been creative sparks to so many. Thank you so much for being relentless in your journey to excellence in education! 
You have been so busy leading, learning and teaching like PIRATEs, our challenge for this week is to take time to REST like a PIRATE! We PIRATE-types tend to never stop. We are on the go at all times, both our bodies and our brains. This week, we are challenging you to slow it down (a little) and shift your thoughts to YOU and your family instead of all the others you serve on a daily basis. Take a moment to invest in one or more of the following and tell us about it on the #LeadLAP hashtag. 

P is for Passion:  What is something you are personally passionate about? Your family? A hobby? Devote time to your personal passions this week. 
I is for Immersion: Immerse yourself in YOU! I know this sounds selfish, but take time for YOU instead of giving it all to others. Get that massage you've been putting off. Go watch a movie you've wanted to see. 
R is for Rapport: Connect with a family member or friend you've been missing. Take time to build rapport with someone you've neglected. And's okay if that person is YOU! 
A is for Ask and Analyze: Make a conscious effort to ask yourself each day if you've taken a few moments for you. Analyze the impact of what even 5 minutes of refocusing does for your practice. 
T is for Transformation: How can you transform your current schedule so that you are able to allow for more time recharging, relaxing and resting so you can be more effective as a leader? If you haven't read The Zen Teacher by my favorite #ZenPirate Dan Tricarico, it may be a good place to get ideas.
E is for Enthusiasm: How can you bring more enthusiasm to your life outside of school. This is a very personal goal for me. This year especially has required much longer hours at school. My own two boys tend to get what is left of me instead of the best of me. That has to change. They deserve as much if not more of my enthusiasm each and every day. For me, this means I am going to need to do a better job of eating right and exercising which always brings up my energy levels!

Leading like a PIRATE can be exhausting. Shelley and I can't wait to hear about how you are taking time for yourself this week. We've decided to hold off on a weekly chat time and do more of a slow chat all week long on the hashtag. Please post your ideas on how to Rest Like a PIRATE whenever it works for you throughout the week. The hashtag is also a great place to share resources, pictures and other ideas to support other educators. Thank YOU so much for all you do to make the world a better place! Have a FABULOUS week and a great Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week 4 #LeadLAP Challenge: Honor Voice and Choice and Offer Support

Week 4 #LeadLAP Challenge: Honor Voice and Choice and Offer Support

This week's challenge is definitely the one that I make an effort to improve upon each day; honoring voice and choice from others. As leaders, we are conditioned to believe that we have to immediately have the answers to the questions asked by students, teachers, parents and community members. We go into fix-mode instead of brainstorm-mode. As Shelley mentioned in our first challenge, 

"Too often observations and feedback come across as evaluative and judgmental leaving teachers with a feeling that we are in their classrooms to “fix” them as opposed to partnering with them on a continuous journey of learning and growth for all of us.  The overly judgmental “telling” conversations can temporarily lead to teacher compliance, but they rarely lead to a culture where everyone is committed to taking risks and trying new things and where people are hungry for feedback to help them learn and grow."

This week, we challenge you to take time to Honor the voice and choice of those that you lead and then Offer the support needed to make these ideas a reality. 

  1. Identify a teacher that has shown an interest in trying something new in his/her classroom from your collaborative conversation last week. 
  2. Drop the ANCHOR of appreciation and notice the Impact with the teacher.
  3. Honor the voice and choice of the idea that the teacher has generated.
  4. Offer your support and of course your PIRATE enthusiasm for the anticipation of what positive effect this could have on the learning of students. It's amazing how an idea mixed with the right amount of enthusiasm can literally cause a learning EXPLOSION! 
  5. Be sure that you also honor the voice and choice of what support is needed. Most often, the support needed is an extra hand in the classroom, a listening ear or a brainstorm buddy, but don't steamroll the teacher with your ideas. 
  6. Follow through with your support each day. 

For example, I have a math teacher that is wanting to explore differentiated instruction and assessment at a deeper level after our collaborative conversation last week. She has a few different strategies that she researched and now would like to try with students that are struggling to master grade level objectives. I have encouraged her to choose what she feels will best work with her students and to let me know how I can support her as she implements these strategies. She would like me to help identify resources to use and lend a hand in the classroom when she begins to implement these strategies with our students. I can't wait!!

Cannonballs to Avoid:

  • It is essential that when honoring voice and choice that the ideas are teacher-driven. It's okay to brainstorm together, but the ownership must be with the teacher.
  • When offering support, be sure that your classroom visits are non-evaluative. This is not the time for a formal observation. Teachers will not feel comfortable taking risks if we do not set up an environment that is safe.

PIRATE Disclaimer: 
Something we've been asked as we have gone through the weekly challenges is whether ANCHOR works for all conversations with staff. The answer to that is not always. There are times when the conversation must be centered differently due to specific, focused concerns. Don't worry though, we also have a tool that we will share soon to help support you with these conversations. You won't have to walk the PLANK alone!

Shelley and I look forward to hearing all about the great things happening in your schools! What an awesome opportunity as leaders to stay rooted in the classroom. Please share your story throughout the week on our #LeadLAP hashtag. We will also take time to reflect this Friday from 7:30-8:00 CST on our #LeadLAP chat. Have a great week! 

Check out past challenges at the following links:
A is for Appreciation
Shelley's Blog:

Beth's Blog: 

N is for Notice the Impact
Shelley's Blog: 

C is for Collaborative Conversations
Shelley's Blog:

Beth's Blog:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

C is for Collaborative Conversations

The past two weeks, the #LeadLAP challenges have helped me to slow down and analyze my actions as a leader. I have made a conscious effort take time to appreciate those around me and notice the impact of the work that is being done in our school. The choices we make each day continually affect the culture in our buildings. Our actions combined with body language, word choice, and presence truly makes a difference. 

Sometimes as leaders we get so busy trying to take care of everything happening in our buildings that we forget to truly sit down and listen from the experts right in front of us.  This week, Shelley Burgess (@Burgess_Shelley) and I continue our ANCHOR challenge with "C is for Collaborative Conversations." Shelley has done a beautiful job of outlining the challenge in her blog I extend the challenge to my PLN. You do not have to be in an administrative position to join us. This week's challenge could be especially powerful when conferencing with students. I'm actually challenging myself to have collaborative conversations not only a teachers, but also students this week. I can't wait to find out the similarities and differences between the two. I'll keep you posted throughout the week in our hashtag #LeadLAP.  Please share your stories as well. Shelley and I will cohost a 30 minute chat this Friday, November 6th from 7:30-8:00pm CST to reflect on the challenge. We would love to have you join us! 

C is for Collaborative Conversations Resources:

Click HERE for a Google Document that I designed from Shelley's blog that can be printed off as a guide as you are having the collaborative conversations. You can also print off the graphic below.