Friday, November 30, 2018

The 15 Days of Christmas

December is the perfect time to show teachers just how much they mean to you. With Christmas around the corner, teachers deserve to see, hear, and feel the Christmas spirit each and every day that they come to work. For the past few years, I have incorporated the 12 Days of Christmas into our daily work. CLICK HERE

How many days will your teachers come to school in December?  This year, our teachers will come
to school 15 days during December, and so that means we won’t celebrate the 12 days, but  the 15 Days of Christmas. It only makes sense. They give everything they have to kids everyday. The least we can do is give them everything we can during the season of giving. 

Each and every day of December teachers will receive big gifts, small gifts, yummy gifts or comfy gifts. The fact of the matter is this. Teachers have been giving their all for the first semester of school. They don’t need us to give them new initiatives, more stress, and less time to get their work done. They deserve appreciation everyday, but in December they deserve an abundance of it. 

December is here.  How many days will you use to show all teachers just how much they mean to you, the students and the school?  Your answer will reveal the value you place on the people who are adding the most value to your students. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Let's Thank Teachers for More than Teaching Kids

Teachers are the backbone of our democracy. Without them and their impact, students would not develop the knowledge and skills necessary to realize their God-given right to become productive contributors and ultimately protectors of the greatest republic in the history of mankind. Heck, you wouldn't be able to read this post if it weren't for them. If you consider the history of our nation, each generation has experienced an increasingly better life, and that in large part is due to the constantly improving education that our students receive from amazing teachers.
With that being said, the future of our nation is sitting in our classrooms today, and we possess an immense responsibility to meet the ever changing and sadly increasing needs of today’s students. Make no mistake, educators continue to create a more prepared workforce each and every year, but coming behind them are students who need teachers more than the generation that preceded them. Students depend on teachers more than ever to guarantee their future success. 
Today’s teachers are not just teachers. They counsel as well as console students with difficulties from home. They serve as mentors and occasionally parents to students who lack the proper training, manners, and etiquette to succeed as model citizens. They provide a shoulder to cry on and a high five to celebrate big and small wins each and every day. They share food when students are hungry and provide money out of their own pockets to buy clothes and school supplies for students in need. Yes, teachers do a whole lot more than teach.
Even though state and national mandates demand better results, higher scores, and more prepared students, the best in the profession shrug off the narrative and ignore the rhetoric. They know that what they do matters, and what they do is making a difference not only for a student’s present, but also for their future.  They understand that teaching is not about the work or even the recognition.  The only thing that matters is the impact they make on every student, every day.
Sure we should thank our teachers for all that they do to teach all kids, but we should give them a whole lot more thanks for the things they do for kids aside from teaching.  They instruct our students, and they inspire them to aspire for more.  They love our students, and they never give up on them.  The future of our country is in good hands thanks to teachers who go above and beyond each and every day for all kids, and we owe them our admiration and appreciation.  

Monday, November 19, 2018

Give Thanks for Complaints

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all of your blessings. It’s time to express how much you appreciate all that has been bestowed upon you. Did you notice that I didn’t say some of your blessings or some of the things you’ve received.

I said ALL!!!

All means all, and that includes things that maybe you aren't so thankful for, such as complaints.

It is tough to hear complaints.  They make you feel defensive.  Sometimes they hurt your  feelings, but the reason that they do that is because we all want to believe that we are giving our best.  In most cases, we are giving our best, but if we're honest, we're giving our best with the information or feedback that we currently have.

Complaints are feedback, nothing more, nothing less.  They don't represent the information we have, but the information we need.  They may come at us in hurtful manner, but the power within a complaint is that they reveal what we haven't seen yet, what we didn't know until now, or what we missed in our communication to those we serve.

What if instead of getting defensive at the emotion of the complaint, we actually heard the spirit of the complaint.  We would approach complaints with the mindset of "I still have more to learn", and then maybe we wouldn't be so resentful.  We wouldn't be so quick to provide a rebuttal, and we wouldn't be so annoyed.  We would in turn be appreciative.  We would grow.  We would make this world a better place, and we would build confidence in the people who felt compelled to tell us how they felt.  Maybe, just maybe, we would stop calling them complaints in the first place, and give thanks for the feedback.  

In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 10, 2018

4 Tips to Turn Negativity into Positive Change

Griping is inevitable in any organization. Complaints are a natural part of the daily work, and frustration abounds anytime organizations try to get better. Some leaders hate negativity so much that they demonize negativity and those who spew it. Here’s the cold hard truth. If leaders want things to get better, it won’t happen without negativity. Positivity affirms the present, but negativity yearns for an improved future.

Sadly, the elements of negativity are rarely leveraged to make things better for all.  Gripers don’t want to be ostracized with the label of being a whiner. Complainers stay silent out of fear of correction, and frustrated folks quietly accept their current reality as the status quo. When negativity is negated by the leader, the result is obvious, a toxic culture where no one has value, a voice, or a reason to commit to something besides their own survival. 

So how do Great Leaders Leverage Negativity?
First, great leaders don’t view negativity as a negative. They embrace negativity as an opportunity for constructive feedback, and they leverage it as a powerful tool to make things better for everyone. They don’t run from it; they run to it. 
  • When a frustration is identified, leaders determine how that feeling can be used to simplify a process. 
  • When a complaint surfaces, leaders look for a lack of communication, or a better way to improve systems of communication. 
  • When griping emerges, leaders explore opportunities to simplify the work and give a clearer purpose behind the work. 
  • When overwhelmingness overcomes, leaders analyze the volume of work that followers are assigned and determine which tasks must continue, which tasks must be improved, and which tasks must be removed. 
Negativity negatively impacts the organization when it decreases the value of the people in the organization. The solution to leveraging negativity is to bring it to light, to allow it to improve processes and systems, and to leverage it to make everyone more efficient and effective. When negativity is optimized, positive growth is unavoidable. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Painful Truth about Meaningful Change

This past weekend, we had our 2nd Annual Fall Festival, and boy was it a great event.  We had 2 gyms and a parking lot full of fun and games all in an effort to bring our community together.  It was awesome seeing our school and community united in partnership as a result of several people coming together and sacrificing of themselves to offer a truly meaningful event for the entire community.

One of the events we had was a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, and just like a mid-40's man that still thinks that he's still in his 30's, I joined the tournament.  Now I haven't played competitive sports in 10 years, and on Sunday morning, my aching back and legs reminded me of that.  While I had a great time participating, my body still reaped the consequences of that change.  All choices have consequences, and physical choices have even more painful consequences.

So What Does this Have to Do with Change?
Both of these events have one thing in common.  They both require work, which requires sacrifice, discomfort, and in some cases pain.  Without work, nothing changes, and therefore the status quo remains.  Change can't occur without some level of pain.

The Painful Secret about Meaningful Change
If we aspire to bring about meaningful change to our organizations then we must realize that it requires shaking things up a bit.  You'll have to do things in ways that haven't been done before.  It'll push resisters to whine a little more, and it may cause headaches that you had no idea you would create.

But isn't that what meaningful change does?  It elicits discomfort, albeit temporary, and many times the discomfort exists to ask you just how much the change really means to you.  If it means a lot, you'll push against the pushback, and you'll weather the whining.  If it doesn't mean a lot, then the safety of the status quo will temper your resolve, and soften your commitment.

The painful truth about meaningful change is that it causes pain, no doubt about it, but if you are committed to improving the organization as a whole, then you've already calculated the pain that it'll cause, and you've already set your course for change.  There may be frustration on the front end and blowback on the back end, but the secret to successful change is being steady and strong, for that is what'll ensure the change you bring about means the most to those who, in the end, matter the most.