Quotes I love, thoughts, ideas, gratitude, etc.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vision as a Source of Inspiration

The question of motivation comes up frequently.  How do we expect teachers to turn in grades on time, report for lunch duty, supervise study hall, focus in faculty meetings, etc?  For me, one of the most important qualities a leader can possess is VISION.  I need to have a sense that we are headed in a certain direction.  I want to row the boat, but I also want to know that I'm not rowing south, while my teammate is rowing north.  I propose that a vision, coupled with a sense of what the team is doing is key to motivating.

Having said that, it is also essential that the vision be COMMUNICATED in a way that maximizes input from everyone involved. It would be a disaster to have a ship's captain who had a vision for a rowing expedition to the North Pole, while the rest of us had visions of warm Caribbean beaches.

We're back to a having the mindset and skill set to work with others to refine a vision, or having the ability to win other's over with fully-imagined and inspiring vision (even if it means colder waters).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Asking a Great Question

My best students (and best thinkers) have always been equipped to ask great questions.  I had one, Alex, who would email me a question each week, like: how is a peach's fuzz an evolutionary benefit?


Each day I send my daughter off to school and beg her to ask at least one question. 

I love asking questions.  It is an essential part trouble-shooting. When I'm building a cabinet or working through a disciplinary consequence,  that aspect of questioning plays a vital role.  What if I mount the screws this way?  Which side of this lumber is more pleasing to look at?  Does this student have a prior history?  How have we handled previous cases that are similar?  What are the parents going to think about this?  How can we support this teacher?

My friend and a source of great inspiration this past year, Sarah, sent me this blog post which speaks to me on many levels.  As a biologist, lover of innovation, Jefferson groupie, and political junkie.  The way we run school can be informed by the thinking that goes on here:

Enjoy: http://bit.ly/majjeZ

Monday, April 25, 2011


If you haven't seen this yet...it is worth the 11 minutes.  Dan Pink - RSA Animate

The book is pretty amazing.  Autonomy is one of the best reasons to teach at an independent school.  All of the standardizing that has taken place in the public schools has resulted in a great number of talented and self-motivated people leaving the profession to the detriment of our nation's children. 

I'm thinking that only the complete implosion of public schools will return us to a place where teachers love teaching and kids love learning.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


This has been a tough week.  Lots of things going on.  Senior week, discipline issues, a meeting with the Concord City Council, planning for a visit with Senator Richard Burr, and Representative Larry Kissel, and a nationally known motivational speaker.  Oh...and being a Dean of Students and a not-so-good AP Biology teacher.  Yesterday, I sent myself a voicemail that ordered me to be positive this week as I face the onslaught.  It is important to be upbeat, even if you feel beat up.  Frankly, it feels good to be positive when you are pushing your mental and physical limits.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Focus on the Problem NOT the People

Too many times this year (and others) I've heard a variation on a theme: This person is not the right fit.  I'd say that for a long time, I bought into that premise without questioning it.  Recently, I've begun to rethink that notion.  When dealing with people, I think it is essential to remove them from the equation and focus on a problem: kids not being challenged, tasks not being completed, parents not being communicated with, etc.  Too often, I think we see problems and turn the focus of the problems into a focus on the people involved.  Sure, removing or replacing people can "fix" a problem. But at what cost to the organization?  Is there a way to look at the problem, and work as a team with the people to make the situation better?  I hope so.  In the coming months, I'm going to explore this line of thought and see where it leads. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Leaders work with other leaders

So my Dad gave me a book, Minute Motivators for Leaders by Stan Toler, http://amzn.com/1589199839

It a simple, kind of daily reflection, quote, and 1 page piece of advice.  Last week it was: Leaders work with other leaders.  "I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow." -Woodrow Wilson. 

With this in mind, I invited all of the Deans in the area to go out for a get together.  They've accepted.

We'll see how it goes. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to Win Friends and Influence People

If you haven't read (or listened to) this book, and you manage people, you should.  While dated, the advice is pretty timeless.  Fun stories, practical, with almost no jargon.  Check it out: http://amzn.com/1439167346