Friday, December 9, 2016

The Score Will Take Care of Itself

This weekend I read "The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to be a Great Teammate" by Jon Gordon. Here is a passage that was especially instructive:

Gordon wrote about the best team he'd ever been on: "Everyone focused on being a great teammate - not on winning - and we all changed. We became a united team: selfless, committed, united, hardworking, passionate, and relentless."

To a large extent, however unfortunate but no less a reality, state test scores have become the metric for a "winning" school. Regardless of any of our opinions on whether or not that is a good thing, the point is that focusing on test scores - on winning - is the wrong approach. What we should focus on is being a great teammate, building great relationships with students, teaching with our best effort and to the best of our ability, being enthusiastic and passionate about teaching ... EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. If we do that, the score will take care of itself.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

To the Parents of BBJH - 2016-2017 School Year

To the Parents of BBJH

Last year, I began this blog with the same post. And, because my thoughts on this matter haven't changed at all, I feel it is appropriate to begin the 2016-2017 school year with the same post (I just updated the dates). If you have a child returning to BBJH, I hope this still resonates with you, and if you have a child that is coming to BBJH for the first time, I hope this post gives you some insight into my philosophy as a principal and an educator...

"The first and most important goal for the faculty and staff of Bear Branch Junior High is to build meaningful relationships with our students. Sure, we have other goals; for instance, we want to help students to become more skilled writers, to be better listeners, to strengthen their numeracy, to be empathetic, and so on. But, the truth is these goals will never, ever be attained without positive, meaningful relationships with our students. We will greet students with handshakes and smiles; we will compliment them; we will make them feel welcome at our school, in our classrooms, and at school sponsored events; we will do all we can to ensure their success.

One reason for writing this blog is to connect with students and parents. I love my job, but, for me, one of the most difficult parts of being a principal is I don't have a classroom where I see my students everyday, where I get to spend hours each week learning and interacting with them. I see students in the hallways during passing periods, at lunch, and before and after school. It is hard to get to know students in 5 minute increments. So my hope is to connect with students and parents and to let them get to know me and to better understand BBJH through this blog. I'll write regularly (I hope!) on a number of different topics, but as with most things in my life, I'm sure I'll find a way to circle topics back to education, learning, and how to make BBJH a better place to go to school.

Enough with the introduction; let me leave you with the following thoughts - and this is directed at BBJH parents. I have a seven-year-old daughter that will start 2nd grade at Bear Branch Elementary on Monday. When I drop her off on the first day of school, I will literally be giving the faculty and staff at BBE the most important thing in my life. I could give the staff at BBE my car, and they wouldn't be getting my most important possession; I could give them my house, and they wouldn't be getting my most important thing; I could empty my bank accounts and give every cent to BBE, and, still, they wouldn't be getting what is most important to me. I am giving them my daughter, the most important thing in my life. So, yes, I have high expectations. I expect for my daughter to valued, challenged, comforted, respected, and to be held accountable - nothing special, just what every kid deserves. I have absolutely no doubt that the faculty and staff at BBE will meet my expectations. But, I'm writing this so that you, parents, understand that I know that when you drop your son or daughter off at BBJH, you are entrusting my staff and I with the most important thing in your life, your most prized possession, and we intend to treat them as such. We understand you have high expectations, and we want nothing more than to meet your expectations.

Please don't ever hesitate to contact us. I won't ever blame you for caring about your child. We'll need to work together to make sure your child gets the best possible education.

Check out this video for another glimpse into BBJH's philosophy on education:"

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The 40% Rule

Jesse Itzler is an entrepreneur, having led and sold a number of successful companies. Most recently, he wrote a book titled Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet. For a hobby, Itzler is an ultra-runner, someone that runs 100 mile races. At one of his races, he was inspired by a Navy SEAL that was also running in the race. According to Itzler, 70 miles into the run, the SEAL had broken all the small bones in his feet and his kidneys began to malfunction, but the SEAL still finished the race. Inspired by the performance, Itzler hired the SEAL to spend a month with him and his family; Itzler wanted to learn from the SEAL.

Among other things, the SEAL told Itzler that Navy SEALs have a 40% rule. Essentially, when we push ourselves, rather it be mentally or physically, our minds will tell us we have nothing left to give once we have given about 40% of what we actually have. This means that we have 60% left. The SEAL reminded Itzler to control his mind and to realize that the first few times his mind told him to quit and give up on a task, that he had much more left to give and to push through - DO. NOT. QUIT.

The 40% rule certainly applies to all of us professionally, if not personally. At some point, if it hasn't already occurred, your mind will tell you that you have nothing left to give to your family, friends, or job, or that you just can't put up with someone anymore, or that you've done everything you can for someone in your life and have nothing left to give. When this happens, remember the 40% rule. You still have much more to give.

For the video and transcript of Itzler's experience with the SEAL, click