Friday, September 14, 2018

Choices On-Demand

I've got two young children. A seven year old, and a four year old. They each have their own iPad (please, no judgement). And what's the first thing that my kids do when they wake-up in the morning and before they get ready for bed, each night? They're on their iPads (again, please, no judgement). That's the reality in our house; we don't fight it...anymore.

Gone are the days of Saturday and/or Sunday morning cartoons in the traditional sense that we grew-up knowing. My kids don't need (or even want) the TV turned-on; they'd much prefer their devices. And YouTube or YouTube for Kids is their app of choice.

We, adults, parents, think that this is weird. I think that we think this because it's not something that we grew-up with. Seldom do I hear parents that are in my same generation complain about kids wasting time playing too many video games (I recall this being a common complaint when I was growing-up and earlier in my education career). Because we did that. The next generation of parents probably won't think that it's weird if their children consume YouTube for long stretches.

YouTube is great. I use it. I like it. It's a tool for learning, it's a tool for sharing, and it's a tool for entertaining. But I gives us A LOT of choice. A lot. AND not only is there initial choice...if the user doesn't like something what they chose, they simply try something new, and they do that again, and again, and again. There are an infinite number of choices to obtain and maintain their attention. It's highly competitive.

So what happens when these kids that have who have grown-up with so many choices come into our schools?  Where do kids get this level of choice and freedom in schools? Do they? Can they? Should they? What challenges does this present to us, as educators? What opportunities does this present to us, as educators?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Champion Mindset

Disclaimer: *I'm NOT an advocate for participation trophies.*

Please don't confuse this post with that philosophy. However, if what I'm about to write evokes an emotional reaction from you, I'd encourage you to push back; I'd welcome you to engage in a conversation with me. Growth comes when our thinking is challenged.

I believe trophies, rings, medals, and banners, etc. are to be earned. Period.

That being said, I don't equate being a champion with being THE winner.

Shaquem Griffin might not end his season holding the Vince Lombardi trophy (that's a football reference). You can't tell me that he isn't a champion. That's just one of countless examples of individuals who have not let their circumstances limit what they are able to accomplish and/or become.

Being a champion is a mindset.

It's a way you think. It's not allowing your thoughts to get in your way. It's training your brain to overcome self doubt. It's fueling yourself with positive vibes. As a result, you believe that anything is possible.
Which wolf do you feed?
It's a way you behave. It's how you prepare. It's how you compete. It's how you act. All. The. Time.

Effort and perseverance. That's what it takes. Always giving maximum effort. It's easy to put forth maximum effort when the stadium is lit and the crowd is cheering your name. But are you able to replicate that effort during practice? Are you able to replicate that effort when no one else is watching? Are you able to replicate that effort in your other endeavors? A champion mindset doesn't simply put forth maximum effort in one area of their life, they put forth maximum effort in ALL areas of their life.

And as Jimmy V famously said (in one of my all-time favorite speeches), "Don't give up...Don't ever give-up." Persevere. Keep going. Don't put limits on yourself. We're all capable of so much more. Too often we give up long before we reach our full potential. Keep going. Persevere.

Don't settle. Set your goals higher. Dream big.
Even if you know where you'll end-up.
It's not supposed to be easy. It's work. And defeat, failure, struggle, etc. are all a part of that process.  As I'm reminded by the American advocate, Wendell Phillips, in Ryan Holiday's book, The Obstacle is the Way:
"What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better."
You can't skip the process. Malcolm Gladwell told us that a precursor to success is 10,000 hours of work in that particular field. Break the rock.
I love the culture that the Iowa Hawkeyes football program preaches.
Give it your best. And then keep going. Effort plus perseverance. That's a champion mindset.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Teamwork, Competition, and Fun

On August 1st, I posed the following challenge to our teachers at Van Allen (via Flipgrid) - You've had some time away from school to relax, recharge, and enjoy yourself, your family, and your friends. What have you been doing? Share with us a highlight from your summer.

My response is linked (the password is BackToSchool).

My summer has been great. I'm beyond fortunate to have the opportunities that I have, and I don't ever take them for granted. Yet, of all the things that I experienced this summer, the highlight was traveling two hours west for my son's 7U State Baseball Tournament. Why?

I love sports. I've always loved sports. I'll always love sports.

One of the reasons that I love sports is for the role that I credit them playing in building my character. I love how sports teaches lessons that carry over into all walks of life and allow young people to grow, learn, and become successful adults.

But what is it about sports that brings out the best in people's character?

Teamwork - defines teamwork as, "cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause." In it's simplest form, teamwork is when we 'work together.'

Being able to be a part of something bigger than yourself is fulfilling. Being a part of something where everyone is committed to accomplishing the same thing is meaningful. Being a part of something where everyone needs you, just as much as you need everyone is motivating. Being a part of something where everyone has to work together in-order to accomplish your goals is fun.

This causes you to work a little bit harder when you know others are depending on you. And the bond that it creates within the members of the group is unbreakable. Your teammates become your best friends, they become your family.

Competition - When the competition starts, the only thing that matters is putting forth your very best effort. Your ability to focus is enhanced, exponentially. It's just you, your teammates, and the goal that you're working towards.. Goals are essential. There is no competition without goals. Goals are motivating. How often do we get to say that we experience this in our day-to-day lives. Life is complicated. Sports are simple. 

Having fun - Sports are games. You play them with your friends. There are bonds that develop (bonds that last) when you're competing, together.