Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Compassion #KidsDeserveIt

The above two images appear at the beginning of Dan Tricarico's chapter titled, 'Compassion,' in his book The Zen Teacher. He then goes on to say:
"As teachers, we have ample opportunity to show compassion in every hour of every class of every day. More than that, we have a special, even sacred, obligation to express compassion. Not only do we enlighten, but we are also expected to uplift those around us and to ease their struggles."
How do we do that? How do we not just show compassion, but uplift those around us and ease their struggles? That is potentially a heavy burden. We have some students that come to us with some serious baggage that we don't know anything about. And on top of that we can't even relate to a lot of the struggles that a lot of our students are "dealing" with.

These are skills that they don't explicitly teach us in our teacher training programs.

So I return to my question, how do we do that?

I don't think that it has to be complicated. In fact, I think that the answers are really quite simple. We have to remember that these are just kids that we are working with. We have to remember to exhibit patience and remain calm. We have to remember to never take things personally. We have to remember that we chose this profession. We have to remember to enjoy the moment. We have to remember to talk to kids, ask them questions, make connections with them. We have to remember to smile. And we have to remember to give high fives...give lots of high fives!

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I love reading.

For as long as I can remember, I've loved reading. Growing up, I loved reading. I can vividly
remember reading R.L. Stine's Goosebumps, The Hardy Boys, and anything written by Matt Christopher.

As an adult, I continue to love reading. I enjoy reading for pleasure, and I enjoy reading to learn. And although finding the time to read has become increasingly difficult, it remains a priority.

Last week, we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday and Read Across America. Furthermore, I was inspired by blogs that were written on the topic of reading by Aaron Hogan, Pernille Ripp, and Adam Welcome.

And so here we are.

I want to share the most inspirational books that I've read as an educator:

  • Mindset by Carol S. Dweck - This is just an amazing book with amazing ideas. The first time that I read this book, I took more away from it as a parent than as an educator. Nonetheless, it has so many powerful implications for education.
  • Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci - Kind of a follow-up to Dweck's original work. I am especially fond of this book due to the book study blog that I'd done with staff and the interactions that we had with the author as a part of our blog.
  • Visible Learning by John Hattie - So I never actually read this book cover-to-cover. It is an amazing resource for educators. Know thy impact.
  • Focus by Mike Schmoker - The book talks about the value in a 'less is more' philosophy. We need to focus on three things - what we teach, how we teach, and incorporating authentic
    purposeful reading and writing throughout all content areas.
  • Better Than Carrots or Sticks by Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey - An amazing book that introduced me to the ideas of restorative justice.
  • No More Taking Away Recess by Gianna Cassetta and Brook Sawyer - I thought that I was going to be reading a book that would provide alternative consequences to taking away recess from kids. It was a book about the power of relationships. You just don't need as many consequences when relationships are established.
  • The Power of Branding by Tony Sinanis and Joseph Sanfelippo - I read this book in less than a couple of hours, last spring, in an airport. It's amazing. It serves as an almost how-to-guide for branding your school through the celebrations your school shares.
  • World Class Learners by Yong Zhao - My former superintendent gave me this book. It was my motivation to give our more of a voice students and establish student leadership teams, K-5, at our school.
  • Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen - This book references students of poverty in it's title, but the strategies that it mentions are not limited to them. These are strategies that are effective for all students, regardless of their income.

I wanted to share a few books that I have (or have ordered) that I am excited to read...potentially over spring break (which starts in a matter of minutes):

  • Fish by Stephen Lundin - The book claims to be about bringing energy, passion, and a positive attitude to work each day. Hamish Brewer recently recommended this book to me (who better to recommed a book about energy and passion? I don't know that anyone has more energy or passion than Hamish). And from what my phone tells me, Amazon has it waiting for me at my door step when I get home.
  • The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey - A book aimed at turning our students into leaders. Yes, please.
  • The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico - It's March. Schools can be a stressful place. Looking forward to sharing the learning from this book with the teachers at my school and my house (my wife is a teacher, too).
  • The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros - I was really inspired when I heard George speak at the Grant Wood Area Educational Agency, last year. His take on education is such a fresh perspective that has me excited to read his book.

And I wanted to share a few books that I can not wait to read, but have not yet been published/released:
  • Hacking Leadership by Tony Sinanis and Joseph Sanfelippo - I enjoyed the original Hacking Education book. And, as mentioned above, I loved Tony and Joe's first book. If their follow-up is half as good it will be awesome.
  • Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome - The message that these two are sharing with their Kids Deserve It stuff is second-to-none. It is truly an honor that I can mention each of them as being a part of my PLN. I can not wait to read their book, and see what they do next with Kids Deserve It.