Monday, September 3, 2018

Hurry Up and...Fall Behind?

The last time I checked, it was 2018. If I hear “21st Century Teaching” or something similar again, I’ll probably choke. We’ve been in the Y2K game for nearly 20 years and while Google, Tesla, Apple, Amazon, Uber, Apps, CyberSecurity are zooming at Exabyte speed; Education for most of the US, is stuck in a Draconian factory model. You hear so much chatter and talk about New Zealand, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Finland and Norway as being the leaders in educational models and the frontrunners in preparing students for ANYTHING. Why then, do we still have so much outdated curriculum, rows of prison built desks, Teachers Unions holding on for dear life to save the educators that can’t teach, or teachers waiting 5 minutes for students to stand still in line and have gobs of homework in K-6 schools? What are we really doing here my friends? I read as many books as I can to learn from amazing educators such as; Sir Kenneth Robinson, Sal Khan, Clara Hemphill, Anant Agarwal, Anthony Cody, Linda Darling-Hammond...the list goes on and on. Yes! they are making a difference everyday, but is it enough? Can we catch up? Why do we still have students in some schools without internet access, or 5th Graders unable to read, or our at risk youth group growing ever so quickly? The lightspeed of change in which we live doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. The books on education are growing exponentially. The “We must do this” talk is hot and frequent. But, we are still drowning in our Horace Mann factory replicas! It must stop! In pockets of the US, where we have people like Hamish Brewer, Jimmy Casas, Tom Murray, Jon Corippo, Dave Burgess, Alice Keeler, Angela Maiers, Adam Welcome, Eric Sheninger, and George Couros (Canada/US) and an endless list of others that bring it every day. The many students, teachers, administrators and parents that are inspired daily and weekly by these phenomenal men and women who are bursting with ideas, thoughts, must do’s and energy filled ways to improve - are just not enough. It takes more. I reflect on my own impact as a Principal; 800 students in a TK-5 school. 35 Teachers. Where is my mark made really? We have district adopted curriculum - gotta use it.  We have a strong teachers union - gotta follow a contract. We have gone from Helicopter to Lawn Mower parents - my kid can’t fail or struggle. So, if my path, or ideas, or leadership style does not match those that I work with, then am I just a Compliance Manager? Get to school on time; don’t yell at the students; let students get up and move; be kind, no homework, behavior charts?, red dojo points...the list goes on and on. My rockstar teachers get it. Their students don’t want to go to recess, or home, and run back the next day. They are loved, treated with kindness, lead in the learning, move, play, are challenged and treated like individuals. So, I ask you this. What do we do with those educators, publishers, and leaders that aren’t malleable? It begins with our own Secretary of Education in my book. What are they doing in Washington D.C? We have too much disparity, too many withouts, not enough young passionate educators that make it through year 3 without burning out. Are our voices and actions enough?
I’m 53, I have a 4th Grade boy and an 8th Grade girl. When they graduate from HS, autonomous cars will be standard, AI, White collar automation - who knows?We need more Henry Fords, Steve Jobs, Marie Curie’s, Wright Brothers, Stephanie Kwolek’s in our educational space. How will we do this? What will it take? Keep pushing my friends. Every day. Every Child. Every Instant. Make a difference to more than 1 per day, and ask others to do the same. Maybe, then maybe, we can see a worldwide spark in every child at once.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Why I Tribe

Why I Tribe

Tribe: Noun - a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest.

While there are many definitions for the word Tribe, I prefer the one written above. To me, a Tribe is an imperative part of my DNA and world. Personally, Professionally, Socially, Chemically and all the other “ally’s” as well. After my #CompelledTribe leaders @Jennifer_Hogan, @Vroom6 (Craig Vroom), and @jon_wennstrom blogged about “Why I Tribe” recently, it got me thinking about my “why”.
To be honest, I don’t think I could live without “Tribing”. It is everything that keeps me ticking, in line, accountable, stoked, motivated and challenged. Sure, I #InstaGram, #FaceBook and some others, but my main source of "Tribing" is on #Twitter.

Common Character

If you follow me on @Twitter, you know that I am dedicated and committed to a few groups. #CelebratED, #JoyfulLeaders, #LeadLap, #Principalsinaction, #dadsaprincipals, #edchat, #BalanceLAP, #BeKindEDU and #Tlap to name a few. These are my peeps. My friends with common interests and character. The ones who I learn from, get challenged from, struggle with, look for support from, grow with and much more.


As a former elite athlete, swim coach and current educator, this is pretty much the group of people I am “Tribing” with. I strive to continue a healthy lifestyle and fitness way of life - just follow my peeps @richroll, @jennifer_burdis, and @mradamwelcome to name a few. This occupation keeps me in check, focused on my mind, body, spirit and soul. Swimming, and all things water have been in my genetic code since day 1 and my tribe is hundreds of water nuts too; swimmers, surfers, divers, you name it - my team. As an educator, I focus on following, not followers. If I can’t learn something from someone, why follow? We all value our time, focus on the growth and push to be better, not see bigger numbers that follow you. There are too many amazing people that mean so much to me. Who make me better. Smarter. More kind. More aware of others. These people are my Tribe. And this my friends, is just a sampling of Why I Tribe.

Peace yo!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

You Win! - I mean it, you really do.

You Win!

I mean it, you really do! If you are an educator, and you are reading this post, You. Are. The. Winner! You GET the chance to amaze kids for another year! It is YOUR opportunity to help them shine. There is NO obligation, Have to’s, Got to’s, or drats, need to’s. It is an honor for you to walk this mission of preparing kids for the mighty unknown. We don’t know where we’ll be in 5 years, but YOU have the amazing invitation to the party of the future! It is YOUR time to shine for them! Let every child know that THEY are the #1 most important being during your day. Smile, Laugh, Cry, Connect, Hug and bust your tail feathers to empower the heck out of them. Go to College? Yeah, maybe for some. Trades? Ok path for others. Small Biz owner? Cool, why not. Crusader of Peace? Sweetness. Whatever it is that they are preparing for, make it count! Show them it is ok to push hard, lose, fail, be frustrated, but remember; Do Not Give Up! If we give up, then they will give up. Build their #Resilience #Grit #Empowerment #Toughness #Empathy #Compassion #Kindness and #Love of learning. One of my Heroes is Shawn Achor, of The Happiness Advantage. While Shawn has so many amazing and motivational quotes, there are several that JUST. STICK. “Without action, knowledge is often meaningless.” Think about it. If we are not giving our best to every child, every day, and are being passive information robots, then what good is knowledge? We must combine the motivation with the excitement and passion to want more information, to eat more ways of innovation, and to have the hunger for the unknown! 
“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.” – Shawn Achor
     Remember this; You GET to be an educator. You HAVE options. Start blasting positive messages about returning to school. Bleed your passion. Wear your Happiness and love on your sleeve. If you have one doubt, hesitation, or negative thought about the end of summer and the return to school - you are taking the chance of creating a permanent scar in the path to excellence in a child. Just one, is all it takes. Be the overly ripe tomato of education. Drip your happiness juice to all those around you! YOU. WIN, My friends. You Win! Let our students know that you are proud and honored to be a part of their day. You Win! We get one go round in this adventure called life. Make it a lottery moment, not an endless list of Cinderella’s chores.

Image result for shawn achor quotes
“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter,

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Let's put YOU, before ME

It seems to me these days that our society has become very"ME" driven. People on their devices all the time, focused on what latest gadget, car, trip, or quest they've completed. Look or listen to News about Hollywood stars getting this car, outfit, trip, or jewelry ( and most of it GIVEN to them..really?). Our politicians just ripping each other in
public, the name calling, the excuses, the "I've done this" motto. Imagine what goes on behind closed doors...yikes! Image result for politicians saying "Look at me"
Get this, just today, my buddy Roman Nowak Tweeted a great post and quoted the wonderful Mother Teresa. Someone had the nerve to harshly respond to his Tweet, calling Mother T a "C" Word! What? What a minute! Did that make the "ME" in you feel better Mr. Meany pants?
Come on people, when we have our top Gov't officials, (none to be excluded), constantly tooting their own horns, for their own agendas (NRA anyone?), what message does that send to the rest of us?
Sports stars, who many consider them idols, heroes and role models, are spouting off how great this deal was, or that they are the best at this, or showing off their 7 houses, 9 cars, planes, yachts and material goods in all the magazines and ads.
Image result for mother teresaWhen will it end? As an educator, and a father, I try my best (fail more than not) to teach my kids to always lead with their heart and put others first. To practice kindness daily. I try to show them that it makes the "ME" feel instantly better, when we put the "YOU" first. Imagine if we all were more like Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and the nameless and countless others that are constantly producing random acts of kindness. We'd have very different problems to deal with in our daily lives!
Follow some of my #Kindness Educator friends and see what they are doing to put others first. Tamara Letter, Roman (mentioned above), Melanie Korach,  Eli Casaus, Kristen Nan, Bethany Hill and Beth Frates MD, just to name a few. Read their posts, follow their words, quotes and pictures.
Start putting the "YOU" before the "ME" and let's show each other what we can do to make each other's lives more amazing.
Image result for rachel scottGo ahead, try it now. If we can make this a part of our DNA, our children's, student's and friends too....we'd be starting another Kindness Revolution.
Remember Rachel Scott? Our lovely young heroine who lost her life in the Columbine shooting? One Rachel's most famous quotes "People will never know how far a little kindness can go". Let's be more like Rachel and continue her quest for the "Chain Reaction" of kindness.
Let's all put "YOU" before "ME", for even a day, and see what happens.
You in?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Disconnect - to - Reconnect

Try to imagine a span of time that is 5 years, 4 months long. Got it? Ok. Now, with that in mind, imagine all of the cool things you could do in that time if you had ONE wish! For me, so many fun ideas come to mind: Travel, Scuba, Dude Ranch, Safari, Sleep, Inventing, Playing, my list goes on. But current research is showing that...hold on...yes...the average person as of 2018 will spend that amount of time - minimally - on SOCIAL MEDIA! Almost 5 and a half years! WHAAAAAT?
Wow! it may seem shocking, but my recent family trip to Maui sure solidified it. I spent two wonderful weeks with my wife, two kids and my in laws on the beautiful Garden Isle. While I was not disconnected the whole time, I worked hard to focus on family, fun, being present and breaking my terrible iPhone addiction to Social Media and more!
This pattern of device connectedness has become our habit, our addiction, our sense of self worth, our way of life.  Just a tap, swipe, look, peak, peer and engagement to the almighty digital screen.
A 2016 study found that the typical cellphone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times every day, according to a study by research firm Dscout. But that's just the average user: The study found that extreme cellphone users — meaning the top 10% — touch their phones more than 5,400 times daily. I know, mind blowing isn’t it?
I know we are a busy culture: Working, Commuting, Educating, Parenting, Laboring, Living. But please don’t miss out on what is happening around you!Check this out - while I was beachin, chillin, family’in, sippin, swimmin and walking (would have been a much more active trip for me, but I am only 8 weeks post spine surgery), I began to notice something. Everywhere I went, people were attached to a device. On the beautiful white sand beaches, at Luau’s, in the middle of romantic/quiet restaurants, at pools, on jungle hikes and especially walking on paths!  Yes, I know many people were taking photos, but as I took my daily 4-5 mile walks, I became lost in the jungle of “DeviceVille”. People were constantly bumping into me, not looking where they were headed or where they were. There is so much amazingness out there to see and experience Every. Single. Day. My friends! Just look around you! The ocean was epic. The waves - spectacular. The waterfalls - glorious. The food and drink - superb. The sharks, turtles and fish - mind blowing. And of course, the smiles and laughter that erupted from my children from 6am to 9pm was not only precious, but mood altering and completely life changing.
I’m not trying to preach here my friends, just making a point. 5 years is a long time to spend when we get only 1 go at it. Our children won’t be around forever, nor will we. How will you choose to spend it? Toward the end of our trip, my son Braden had an idea. “Dad, let’s play Hawaiian bird sounds and set up a feeding station for them”. Dude. Seriously? I was on it. Boom - Braden had the rice crackers, I cranked out the bird tunes, and within seconds,I felt like I was in the Costa Rican Rainforest. Birds of all kinds, were everywhere! Just because my epic lil 9 year old had an idea - and I was actually tuned in to hearing it! Reconnecting with my family was not only amazing, but necessary. My kids are young only once, as are we. When we have the eyes, hearts and attention of our loved ones at home, school, or anywhere else - how do we want them to see us? “Dad, get OFF your phone!” Is not not a mantra I want to own any longer. I need to own it. Remember that “Busy” is a choice on how we want to spend our time. It is really a decision of “I don’t have time for you, something is more important right now”.

Connect my friends. Live life. Smell the ocean. Watch the waves. Listen to the birds. Look at someone’s beautiful face while chatting. Use “Airplane Mode” ( My man Adam Welcome's go to). Hold hands. Bump into less people while walking.
Try it yo!
For me. It was THE. Best. Thing. Ever!

#dadsasprincipals #momsasprincipals #CelebratEd #JoyfulLeaders #LeadLap #Tlap #prinicpalsinaction

Monday, February 19, 2018

What if?

Right Now. Here we are. In the moment. Doing. Moving. Breathing. Living our life.
And then it happens. Something we don’t want, but now, we have come to expect. A tragedy.
Lives are disrupted, lost and memorialized. We wonder why. What happened? What could have
gone wrong? When will things change?
Then it hits us. The Anger. The Rage. The Pain. The Fear. The Anguish. And The Hate.
When will it end? When will things improve? Why can’t we get this thing called Kindness, Love,
Empathy and Togetherness right?
It seems so simple; we teach Preschool kiddos and older to be kind, use nice words, actions and
gestures. “Think of others first” we say to them; because we know they are young, malleable,
impressionable and sweet. We KNOW they can do better than we did. We KNOW they can help
us to
improve our world. We KNOW they are the only ones we can count on to be what we aren’t.
But, for some reason, it isn’t working. It is broken, and so are we.
Why can’t we get this right? The hatred. The fury. The disgust. The judgement. The ignorance. The
inability to reflect, stop and think.
Not a day goes by in this amazing country that we don’t relive Normandy, Vietnam, Selma, 9/11,
Holocaust, Columbine, Boston Marathon Bombings; need I list more? No. We know them all, or at
least most of them. They just repeat with a theme; Racism, Hate, War, Mental Illness,
Misunderstandings, Ignorance and Lack of Empathy.
Who are we, my friends? Have we lost our minds? Why can’t we get it right? We have a leader in
Washington DC that seems to think draining the swamp means to eradicate all the good. We have
members of Congress that can’t see past the money they get from the NRA, Pharma, Amazon,
Exxon-Mobil, AT&T and so many more; that they can’t see straight.
In 2018, we have more hate groups in the US now, than ever ( 917 see map HERE ). What is
wrong with us? Why is #Kindness so difficult? We just had the movie Wonder come out with the
#ChooseKind movement. The Olympics are going on; time to move away from sport and politics,
right? It is time my friends. Now.
What if we decided to be kind everyday?
What if our students had the consistent message that they count and matter?
What if all Americans could have affordable Health Care, both Physical and Mental when they
needed it?
What if we only used guns for protection, hunting and sporting, and like many of the safest countries
in the world, we did not allow semi and automatic weapons?
What if All students had a say in his/her education?
What if all Black, White, Brown, and every other color person actually got along because they cared,
not because they looked, dressed, talked, or acted different?
What if the President and Congress actually worked for the People of the United States? Not for
Special Interests?
What if we all just did better. A little at a time. Every day.

I’m willing to try. Are you?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My #OneWord2018 - #Faith

    As I jump in on the #Reflection2017 train, I feel like my brain is overloaded with a spaghetti filled array of memories.

To begin, my #OneWord2017 was #Advocate; I believe I nailed this the best I could. Not only was this my mantra in work and at school, but in my family life as well. Whether it be a student in need of services, a teacher wanting a letter of rec, my own kids needing support at school, or my father needing more help because of his physical and mental decline. I was an advocate for helping others get what they not only needed, but deserved.
    It was an emotional and busy year.  I moved my family back from WA to be closer to my Alzheimer’s suffering father in CA. We left a cute private school and headed to Davis, CA. New home. New schools. New friends. New adventures. New fears. New life.
    The #Advocate word came into full gear this fall. My daughter was at a new Jr. High School, and had a teacher who thought homework was the most important aspect of life. After many emails, phone calls and ranting, I got her moved to a new class. My boy (3rd Grade) was being harassed at his school by another new student. The teacher, bless her soul did what she could, but again, many emails to the Principal, and we had it solved. To let you know of my son’s soul, he invited this boy who bothered him to his birthday party, as he wanted to help him become a friend!
    While my experience at the private school in Washington wasn’t super amazing, it was an incredible growth opportunity. I give a ton of credit to Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess and the Lead Like a Pirate Book. It changed my life. My leadership style. My focus and my intentions. I joined some great groups and chats on @Twitter and @Voxer, which really opened up my connections to some amazing educators; teachers, admin, techies, librarians and more. I’ve dealt with physical pain of Sciatica and a pinched nerve in my back that has become so problematic and painful that it has adversely impacted my entire life, but I have faith, it will be restored.
    I began working at a new school this fall. The district; Fairfield-Suisun Unified was familiar to me, as I had been there before, but I was now working at a new site. Without the #Leadlap mojo, I think the first five months would not have been as productive. Don’t get me wrong, there have been an immense amount of wins and challenges, but overseeing 805 students, 50 staff members, and about 1300 parents was a daunting task! The staff is moving in the right direction, and I’m constantly trying to coach, lead, facilitate, support and #Advocate for all members of our amazing community, each and everyday.
   So, where am I today? Well, I’ve learned, failed, tried, laughed, cried, bled, grown and #Advocated. After following Jon Gordon’s #OneWord plan, I’ve come up with my own for 2018. It wasn’t easy, I tell you. Seeing things like More, Relentless, Possible, Reflect and others, my mind was wrestling until it became clear with #Faith. While I am a Christian and do have #Faith in God and the church, my #OneWord2018 is much deeper than that. My faith is much more extensive than that.
Faith, that our public schools will get the help we need to support ALL Students.
Faith, in our students, that they CAN achieve greatness.
Faith, in our teachers. For they will be able to understand, connect and love every child in his/her classroom, regardless of how they behave.
Faith, in myself as a father, husband, and Principal to do what I can and believe.
Faith, in our students, parents, community and country that we will do whatever it takes for our next generation to thrive and crush it.
And lastly, Faith in all people that Kindness will be a way of life. Every word, action, movement and gesture will be in the best interest of all, and that we will look to treat each other with love, generosity, gratitude and non-judgement.
Let’s do this in 2018 my friends, thank you to my #PLN and all those who have pushed me to become better. Every. Single. Day