We decided to dive into Start. Right. Now.: Teach and Lead for Excellence: Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas because one of the authors, Jimmy Casas, will be the opening Keynote speaker for our district's 3rd annual, iEngage-Berwyn Conference in 3.5 short weeks! Get your tickets here - http://www.iengage-berwyn.com/tickets.html - space is limited to see students in action and teachers share their best practices!
Chapter 3: Show the Way
Ok so now let's get to the chapter I am covering today - Part 2 of Chapter 3 (we are so eager to participate that we split Chapter 3 into two parts!) Check out Chapter 1's kickoff from the lovely +Kristin Richey , Chapter 2's post from the reflective +Jen Lehotsky and Part 1 of Chapter 3 from the fearless leader +Sue Butler. We all reflect in different ways and I have decided to chunk each section and focus on my biggest takeaways.
Sharing Our Stories
"Excellent educators are masterful storytellers"
I wish I could remember who said it (if you do, tell me!) but they said "If you aren't telling your story, who is?"
This quote resonated with me as I read this portion. Often times, educators look at sharing successes or stories as bragging. But in this chapter, the authors outline how storytelling can help guide you in the right direction, drive your purpose and make your work worthwhile. With all of today's social media tools, you have the ability to tell your story through a multitude of ways! You can choose to build a brand for your district, communicate the vision for your district, or even share stories of the happenings in your very own classrooms. Story creation has never been so simple! Rather than looking at it as bragging, look at it as sharing. In schools today, we are promoting the 4Cs: creation, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration as a way to prep for 21st century skills. Often times, diving into the skills means connecting with a global audience. This is so key for us as educators to remember of ourselves to.o In previous chapters, they have focused on how modeling is an instrumental part of teaching (leadership) and the same goes for modeling storytelling! They refer to a book called: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, which coincidentally is a book that our iCoach department is rotating to gather advice on how to collectively share visions for a better future. The book breaks down the six qualities for effective communication = SUCCESs: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Story. This portion made me reflect and think: what story are you sharing?
Create, Don’t Critique
"The difference between amazing educators and average ones lies in their response to criticism, reluctance, resistance, or indifference."
STOP! Now re-read that quote a couple of times before you continue and let it sink in. Guys, this is hard stuff that is so powerful. When we work together to create rather than criticize, imagine what can we accomplish! A coach on our team, +Annie Forest reminded me that it takes as much energy (if not more) to complain as it does to find a solution. As the authors referred to in Chapter 2, we all have the same amount of time but it is a matter of how we use it. (Which then of course reminded me of the TED Talk: Laura Vanderkam: How to gain control of your free time - TED.com) This portion continues on to talk about the importance of sharing our joyful, passionate, energetic, and positive attitudes on a daily basis...consistently! They suggest putting joy into more of your work and approaching it with this joyful attitude, even if it is not particularly joyful. "When faced with negativity, though, they (teachers/leaders/students) avoid responding in kind and treat these opportunities to create joy, curiosity, and dreams."
On a side note, I was indulging in my guilty pleasure of listening to the Modern Love Podcast a couple of weeks ago on my way home from work. The essay spotlighted was about an individual who was seriously ill and given a few years to live. It highlighted how he had taken this prognosis and began living his life in the "Act as if" mentality. The idea is that you act as you want to live and your positivity allows you to embody what you desire. As in, "Act as if...I am always going to be healthy/live a long life/overcome my illness." (He has lived 20+ years and is still alive today!).
So let's take his advice and "Act as if...we are joyful!"
"Master educators are not afraid to leverage their natural intuition"
This portion is simple and sweet - always allow yourself to hone in on your inner-self and trust your instinct. From classroom management, to parent meetings, to a staff conversation, it is always important to also rely on your moral compass. Remember to speak up, share what you feel strongly about and as they mention in Chapter 2 - always ask 'what's best for kids?'
Our former Superintendent shared two things with me that I will never forget and they help guide me as a learner, leader, and educator:
1. When you walk out of a meeting, make sure you don't regret not saying something.
2. Don't be afraid to speak up if it is best for the kids.
Teach 4, Lead 4, Learn 4
I love the way they have the last portion of their chapter set up. It is all about connecting you to real life educators in the field who are accomplishing the very practices that are being explained and then resources at how to begin on your own. Check out the resources from this chapter below to feel inspired!
1. @Glennr1809 (I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at #SXSWedu on making a Genius Hour schedule in Middle School -be sure to pick his brain about this!)
3. Create a school or classroom vision statement.
Be sure to follow the fabulous coach and teacher, Amy on http://grammarmamma.blogspot.com as she shares her reflections from Chapter 4!
Thank you for reading and we hope to see you at iEngage on April 28 + 29!