Sunday, September 25, 2016

#Encouragement #Teamwork #Positivity

Several of us on Twitter have been encouraging each other on a daily basis (during September) with our efforts in completing the #100milechallenge. What started out as a Twitter challenge morphed into practice for a race that took place on Saturday. It was at the race that I was able to meet someone that up until that point I had only interacted with on Twitter. Even though we had never met face to face before that moment we still had each other's backs and provided words of encouragement. ALL of us completed either our 5K or 10K and I can definitely say that through the encouragement, motivation, camaraderie, and support it was easier to complete and much more REWARDING.

It feels good to be part of something bigger than you could ever be alone. It is amazing to see people that you care about accomplish milestones in their lives. We can do so much through visualization and positive thinking. When we encourage one another and spread a positive message we become change agents.

Think about the amount of time you spend in your day focusing on negative thoughts. The more you dwell on negative thinking the more you will bring negativity into your life. Try to consciously focus on the positive things you want to have happen in your life. I remember a few years ago listening to Jack Canfield speak to us at an NEU conference. He spoke about the power of visualizing your goals and how that can help to make them even more achievable. Focus on the attributes you want to bring out of yourself or even out of  your co-workers. Spend time building and fostering those attributes. The more time you spend on the your goals and aspirations, the happier you will be and you will be able to attain your goals!!

I was reminded tonight about a group of local teens that are spreading a positive message and making life better for the less fortunate in our community. Skate for Change is a group of teens that go out and bring socks, water, and other essentials to the homeless and struggling members of our local community. These teens aren't looking for recognition for what they are doing; they do this to help those that are in need because they see it as the right thing to do.

Take some time to focus on your goal(s). Visualize yourself reaching your goal(s). See what steps you need to take and again visualize yourself making those steps a reality. Write it down, Tweet it, make your commitment! Then, each day continue to visualize your goal(s) and keep moving in the positive direction. As a #TEAM we must continue to #ENCOURAGE one another, spread #POSITIVITY, and provide #SUPPORT to each other to help everyone on our #TEAM be the strongest and best they can be. 

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!

"The quality of every human activity ultimately depends on our motivation." --Dalai Lama 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Mighty Redwood Trees

On a day trip this weekend we headed to Mendocino County and visited the Redwood grove that is home to the Chandelier Tree. A tree that stands 315 feet tall, has a diameter of 21 feet and is around 2,400 years old. The base of the tree has been cut into and now visitors are able to drive their cars through the center of the tree. Despite its age, size, and damage, it still lives and is as majestic as ever. We can learn a lot about perseverance from the Redwood trees.  They have survived through thousands of years, weathered many storms, and still remain MAGNIFICENT.

Our lives are much like the Redwood trees. We all have talents and amazing potential. We all have abilities and passions.  We often deal with challenges and struggles and yet we MUST continue to stand TALL.  Live your passion, live what you love. 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." --Marianne Williamson

"It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth." --Rocky Balboa

"What is the purpose of your life? What is your plan? Know what it is for you. That is what will give you the motivation, that will allow you to connect with others like never before." --Unknown

"He who says he can and he who says he can't are both usually right." --Confucius

"Break the rules, not the law, but the rules.  Trust yourself no matter what anyone else thinks. Don't be afraid to fail. Anything I have ever attempted I was always willing to fail. Keep pushing because you believe in yourself and your vision." --Arnold Shwarzenegger

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” --Les Brown

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!

Looking up while inside the Chandelier Tree

One of the may Redwood trees in the grove.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Next Generation High School Summit 2016

What an amazing few days I have had. I had the privilege of attending the Second Annual Next Generation High School Summit at the White House yesterday. Superintendent Corey and I arrived in Washington DC on the evening of September 11th and had some time to visit the memorials. I had never been to Washington DC before and it was both a beautiful and touching experience.  I was in awe of the beauty and magnificence of the buildings, memorials, and feeling of the city. I have always been a very PROUD American, but on Sunday, I felt an even deeper pride and compassion for all those that have laid the foundation for our great country.

Yesterday we participated in an all day Summit on Next Generation High Schools.  The Summit had representatives from states all across the country.  Here is the White House Fact Sheet on Next Generation High Schools.  Additionally, here is a document that describes strategies to take when creating a Next Generation High School: Using Evidence to Create Next Generation High Schools.

We were able to hear how school districts are beginning to redesign their high schools to truly fit the needs and demands of our current student populations. Some redesign has been in the form of charter schools, some has been in the form of policy changes, and others have been districts committing to no longer maintaining the status quo. Our morning session was captured by the White House; see the Youtube video below.

There were student speakers as well that were able to speak about their journey through both traditional high schools and their most recent experiences in redesigned high schools. A major takeaway from all of the students was that their new experiences were much more relevant and engaging because they did not focus on content in isolation or through low rigor tasks. Instead these students spoke about their experiences in thematic schools and project based learning environments that are teaching them problem solving, questioning, and application of new ideas. 

We too can make these shifts and changes in our schools. We don't need to wait for mandates or directives. We need to really take a look at how we are guiding our teachers and supporting our students. Give your teachers freedom to present their content in meaningful contexts. Give your teachers the ability to take risks and venture out away from traditional approaches to the curriculum. If we want to ensure that our students obtain a high school diploma that truly means they are prepared for college and career, then we need to ENSURE that our students are not just merely turning in work and passing exams. We need to ENSURE that our students are developing skills that transcend the classroom and equip each of them with the ability to see a problem and devise a plausible and executable solution. And...we must continue to BUILD relationships. Each of the student speakers spoke about a pivotal and influential adult in their lives that have supported them on their journey and given them the strength to succeed. Examples were one student's foster mom, another was a  mentor from the community. 

It is imperative that we are telling EACH of our students they are valued and that they CAN and WILL be successful. It will not always be an easy road, but we must provide the supports and structures for our students to succeed. We CANNOT allow any student to fail in our school system. We CANNOT make excuses. We need to COMMIT and use our current resources in the most efficient manners possible. Don't be that leader or that teacher that does something day after day just because it is, "How it has always been done." Instead, be that leader or teacher that does something because you see that it will impact a student and provide a better experience for him/her than they had the day before. 

It is so important that each of you finds the strength inside of you to really see what is happening in your classrooms and on your campus.  Do you see a school where each of your students are excited to come to school and that you have 100% confidence that in each of your classrooms real learning is taking place?  If you need to make changes, then make them. Don't wait for someone else to do it. Be the VISIONARIES that I know you ARE!! 

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

#Motivation and #Challanege

I have to say that this weekend was a great one. For the first time in a long time I refrained from checking email, sending email, and doing any work related activities. I spent time with my family and I was truly present in the time I spent with them. It was a good reminder for me that keeping balance in our work and personal life will actually make us stronger in those areas! 

Now, for this week's blog focus; #motivation and #challenge. I see motivation and challenge as two key areas for success in our lives. Twitter is my go to for connecting with professionals and learning and sharing. But, most recently, it has also been the avenue for some #challenge and #motivation for me. Thanks to Principal Trotter who tweeted about the September #100milechallenge, I now feel more compelled to get out and run and to push myself harder than I had been. It is quite amazing how a few small words and some pictures can be so compelling to get someone to move, but it has. It is so encouraging and rewarding to see others partaking in the challenge and pushing themselves as well. We are supporting and motivating each other and it is making the challenge so much more doable. This can and is so easily transferable to the classroom as well.

Last week, Sherry McCormick, principal of Sem Yeto, shared with me some feedback from students and parents. Their words are a testament to the value of invested and motivating educators.  

Student A's dad: "My son came home and said he LIKES his teachers and they ACTUALLY help him.  My son has NEVER said almost brought me to tears. I feel like he can make it here."

Student B's  mom was crying in our meeting.  I asked the translator to ask mom why she  was sad.  Mom said, "I am not sad. I am happy.  Happy that my daughter likes school and wants to come to school. It is so nice to know she wants to come. I am so thankful we moved to this school."

Student B said, "I like it here.  I really like going to one class a lot." When asked which class she answered, "Photography."  "I don't feel as anxious about school since I came here. There aren't as many people."  Background on this young lady...SEVERE ANXIETY..NEVER went to school last year.

Remember how important your words and actions are on all those that you interact with! 

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!