Friday, January 25, 2019

Why You Have to Write this Down!!!

Rick Warren is one of the greatest influences on my life.  His words of inspiration guide my faith and
my work each time I listen to him on his daily podcast.    In one of his podcasts, he made a statement that is now seared into my brain.

"The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory."

Think about it.  It is hard to remember what we hear, and don't forget that we only retain 5% of what we hear for a long period of time.  In fact research on the retention of Sunday sermons indicates that we forget the majority of the preacher's message by Tuesday.  That's not good news if you're a preacher.

So how do we get kids to remember what we want them to learn?

The answer is to make them write it down.  Marzano's research proves that summarization and note-taking is the highest yield instructional strategy.  When students are writing down notes of their learning as you teach them, there is a much greater chance that they will retain that information in their memory, but even better, they have an artifact of their learning if they forget.

A strategy I use often is to frequently say the words, "Write this down"It tells kids, "Hey this is really important, and it's so important that I don't want you to forget it".

This week,
Ask these questions of yourself.

  1. How can you challenge your students to write more things down in their notes or journals?  
  2. What are all the different ways students can take meaningful notes of their learning?  
  3. How can you sell the importance of note-taking to your students.

The answers to these questions will increase engagement and learning retention simultaneously.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Key to Unlocking Student Engagement

Engagement means something different to just about everyone. What engages one student fails to engage the next student, and one teacher’s idea about optimal engagement varies from the teacher next door. So how do we know if we are truly engaging our students?

Before we get to that answer, I’d like to analyze engagement through the lens of student outcomes, and for learning that means retention. Engagement should lead to retention, and if students aren’t retaining what they’re exposed to, then can we say that they’re authentically engaged?  

Exam the graphic of learning retention by The Active Learners Institute. What’s interesting about this graphic is what happens when students start leading themselves in their learning.  Students retain 50% of the information through discussion with others.  Their retention increases to 75% when students practice by doing the work themselves, but they retain a whopping 90% of what they learn when students teach one another.  When we expect students to take more ownership of the work, learning retention increases exponentially.

As we reflect on our efforts to increase student engagement, let’s answer the following questions:
  • What are the predominant retention rate activities that students undertake in our classrooms?  
  • What activities are dependent on me and which ones push students to do the work?
  • How can I provide students more access to higher retention activities?  
  • How do I gauge students retention to determine the actual engagement in my classroom?
We learn best by doing, and we retain more information when we are more cognitively engaged in the learning. The key to student engagement is not busyness, and it’s not about flashy, aesthetically pleasing activities either.  Optimized engagement guarantees that all students retain as much as possible, and that happens when we evaluate the result of our efforts rather than intent of them. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

3 Ways Leaders Slow Down to Do More

In this fast-paced world, we have this constant urge to get more done. Complete more work, add more tasks, ensure more value is added to the organization.  This problem is this. All these things require one more thing, time that we don’t have. So In our effort to get more done, we sacrifice more and in turn do we achieve our intended results?

In the short term, we do, but in the long term we run the risk of burning out. So how do high-performers same to always succeed? The answer is that they slow down.

If we want to achieve more each and every day, then how do we slow down in order to get more done?

Three ways to slow down so you can get more done

The most productive people build in time to rest.  Creativity and productivity can only flourish when you are rested. Ensure that every week has one day that you break away from work.

Cell phones are the best example of recharging. They work very well until they run out of battery. That’s why we re-charge them. Your body is no different than your cell phone. It must be recharged, and that can only happen when you stop working.

It’s very important to re-focus on a regular basis. Part of the reason you get so overwhelmed is because you lose your focus and add more things to your workload that honestly don’t have much to do with making you better and more efficient at what you do. Each week take time to refocus by protecting the most important things you do and eliminating tasks that have nothing to do with your primary objective.

If we want to be our best, we have to rest. Slowing down does not lead to less productivity. It actually leads to more productivity. Taking a break on a weekly basis from work relaxes our minds, and it gives us a newly focused drive to accomplish even greater things that we had planned for in the first place. The key to accomplishing more is by doing less and getting rest. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

4 Steps Away from Transformational Leadership

Rick Warren‘s Daily Hope podcast is a powerful force in my life.  Each and every time I listen to it, I identify more things about myself that I can improve on both in my personal life and in my life as a leader.  The other day I listened to his podcast called “How to get Closer to God”, and in the podcast he referenced  the story of the prodigal son who transformed his life once he made the decision to come home to his father.  Click here if you would like to listen to this podcast.

In order to transform your life, Rick identified four steps each person must take. Today I would like to share his four steps, but I would like to link it to transformational leadership. Since that is something that everyone in a leadership position aspires to become, I thought I would take Rick’s four steps and apply them to leadership.

1.  Get fed up
In order to be a transformational leader, you first have to be tired of the way things are. Transformation can’t occur if you’re happy with the status quo. You must yearn for a better life before you can make it better.

2. Own up
In order to be transformational leader, you have to first own up to the fact that you’re part of the reason the status quo exists. Transformational leaders don’t blame others until they have owned up to the part that they play in the organization’s current reality. No sustainable transformation can occur until the leader takes ownership of his role in making the organization what it is today

3. Offer up
In order to transform an organization, it is not enough to own up to the current reality. You must offer a viable solutions for change. Transformational leaders not only offer up their strengths but their shortcomings so that they can seek support from others to make the organization a better place for everyone.

4. Lift up
Finally, transformational leaders lift others up instead of themselves. They are selfless in their dedication to others, and they don’t seek the spotlight. They seek to put shine the light on other leaders and leaders in the making. Their moral imperative is to elevate, celebrate, and motivate others to become leaders as well.

Five or six years ago I wrote this piece called 7 Traits of a Transformational Leader. Click here for link. As I ponder the seven traits of transformational leadership and the four steps to transformational leadership, there is one thought that  I believe permeates in the mind of a transformational leader.

Am I making this place a good place or a better place?

If leaders are making this a good place then they're just trying to establish a new status quo for the organization.  Conversely, if the leader is trying to make this place better, then he will never reach his goal. He will never find a permanent destination or even establish a new status quo because transformational leaders do not desire titles or accolades but a journey down the path of self-discovery, self-actualization, and continuous improvement.