Just Be Nice

Just Be Nice

Our end of year assemblies are a time when I have a captive audience as I share words of advice to our students as they head off to summer break. In years past I’ve kept my comments short and to the point and ho-hum we go about our business.

However, this year as I was reflecting on our year and brainstorming my thoughts in the days prior to the assemblies the same message kept coming back around as I wrote down these words – Just Be Nice.

Where I started was acknowledging the fact we were recognizing our students for a successful year. We have much to be thankful for and celebrate athletically and academically @CherokeeSPS as it was an amazing 16 – 17 school year. However, I knew and realized not every student was going to be highlighted during our three assemblies. For this I was sad as I know how disengaged and disinterested the majority of our students would be as they sat through the hour-long assembly watching a few of their friends and classmates be recognized.

So, I reminded the students they all had been successful this year. Just because they were not receiving an award it did not matter. Ten, 15, 25 or more years from now no one is going to remember who received what awards and who was recognized during our assembly.

I told them I was proud of the growth and accomplishments each of them had achieved this year and they should be proud. I also reminded them every day is a gift and an opportunity for a fresh start. With this I emphasized it was on them to make the decision to change and be better tomorrow than they were today. No one else could do that for them. Just them.

However, what I really wanted to drive home to our students on our final day together was this:

  1. What your classmates will remember about you is this – How you treated them and how you made them feel. I reminded them to Just Be Nice to one another. This is what will have the biggest impact on each of them as they move on in life. Being nice doesn’t cost a penny, but the return investment can last a lifetime and in many cases you may never know the impact it had on someone. Smile, say hello, include someone, but most of all Just Be Nice to those you come in contact with on a daily basis.
  2. My final point was to let each of them know they are loved! The end of April was a tough one for our community as we lost two young men to suicide. One student had attended our school a few years prior and the other was a former classmate & friend of several current students. Both of these young men had bright futures ahead of them, but for some unknown reason didn’t believe in themselves or believe their future was worth living. No one will ever know, but I assured our students that their families loved them, our staff loves them, and I loved them and we would always be here for them no matter how bad their life situation may seem.

My heart hurts as I see how some in our country believe it is ok to be hurtful, mean, and downright ugly to others. You see it on social media and in the mainstream. You see it on the local and national news. I don’t understand why people feel they must behave this way. . . .

As educators we make a difference and we must continue to do our best to be the light and live as positively as we can and work to Just Be Nice to those around us. Our students are watching and they need us more than ever.

 

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No Isn’t A Dirty Word

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No isn’t a dirty word.

Recently I had the opportunity to moderate #LeadupChat and our topic was ‘When No Is a Good Thing.’ You can revisit our discussion from 1/21/17 HERE.

To be completely honest there was a time I was afraid to say no. If, and when, I did say no I felt guilty for doing so. So, I have said yes when I didn’t want to. I felt I HAD to say yes. I believed I was doing what was best for myself.

That’s where I was wrong.

With age, wisdom, many great mentors, and my PLN I have learned it is ok to say no. A few of these instances are when It doesn’t fit with what I believe to be best for students or staff. It takes away from family time. I just can’t add one more thing to my to do list.

Ultimately I want to say yes when I believe it is what’s best for our students. It doesn’t interfere with family time. It fits within the parameters of my schedule without detracting from my other committments at work or home.

Remember, No ISN’T a dirty word. Give yourself permission to say no more often. You’ll be better for it and your family will appreciate it too!

So, why do you say no? Share below or tweet me @DrPowersCMS

Respectfully no,

Bill

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Together We Can!

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As the calendar flipped to 2017 the world of public education is under attack more than ever.  I fear for the future of public education and what the new administrations will bring both at the federal and state level.

I fear educational funding will be slashed even further.  I fear public education will be attacked at an all new high.

However, what I DO NOT fear is the fact those of us in the public education world will not falter.  We will continue to fight for our future.  We will continue to fight for the future of our students.  We will advocate.  We will guide our students to their futures.

I haven’t done the best job of telling our schools story for many reasons. . .that ends today.  It is imperative, now more than ever, that educators share their stories.

If you are already sharing your story please continue and provide support to those who haven’t begun their journey.

If you haven’t started telling your story use Twitter, Instagram, or any other medium you are comfortable using to share the amazing work happening in your classrooms, schools, and districts.

In the absence of communication others will tell a story.  We must tell the REAL story as we live it and breath it every day.

Please join me and hold me accountable as we share our stories together.

Together We Can,

Bill

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#OneWord2017 – SERVE

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On to year 3 of my #OneWord journey.

2014 = Patience. Still working on this one.

2015 = Empathy. Still working on that one too.

2016 = Serve. . . .to be continued…

Each of my words seem like no brainers, but the more I think, relfect, and observe I realize, yes these should be no brainers, but they are all areas of struggle for me.

So, with SERVE I promise to:

Serve my family – Dana and Seely first and foremost.

Serve our school, students, families, and staff to the best of my abilities.

Serve my Lord as he see fit for me to serve Him.

You may be asking ‘are you not already serving in these capacities?’

Yes, but not to the ability I could have or should have been.  To be completely honest I’ve been selfish.  I’ve struggled with balance and when push came to shove I chose me over we and what was best for those around me.

I know many will say you must take care of yourself in order to serve others. I don’t disagree with this. However, I believe I will be better able to serve myself by serving others first.

Serving will no doubt be a struggle for me. It will require me to rely on my previous #OneWord Patience and Empathy as I strive to Serve each and every day.

Serving patiently and empathetically,

Bill

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Is it Optional to Grow?

I’ve shared the quote “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional” several times via Twitter. However, I struggle with the words and actions behind it.

Is growth really optional any longer? Can we expect to be better as educators without learning and growth?

The cliche you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink is very true. However, we can make them thirsty.

We can’t force people to grow, but we also can’t accept it when people refuse to grow.

So, I choose to grow. I choose to help those around me grow. I will do my best to lead people to the ‘water,’ but I won’t force them to drink. It is ultimately up to them. I will support those who choose to grow no matter how large or small the growth.

Growth is what’s best for us, our students, our schools, and our communities.

Growth really isn’t optional any longer.

Change is inevitable.

Growth is also inevitable.

Let’s Grow!

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February 27, 2016 · 1:28 pm

Empathy – My #OneWord

one-word-poster

Empathy – the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling.

Last year my one word was Patience.  I still have a lot of work to do in regards to patience, but with my focus during 2015 I have certainly made some headway.

My attention to Patience, as well as two events, have led me to empathy for this year.

  1. Becoming a parent and father almost 7 years ago has impacted me as an educator tremendously. I certainly see school and education through a very different lens now that our son Seely is a student in our district and will someday be a student where I currently serve as middle school principal. I see him as a learner and focus on what can we do to provide he and his classmates the greatest opportunities as learners, makers, and creators when they arrive in our school in just a few years.
  2. The second event occurred last month as I was Immersed for two days as a middle school student.  By placing myself in the shoes of today’s student and experiencing what they do on a hour by hour and day to day basis showed me just how much school doesn’t engage all our students and we must change for them.

Empathy will also serve me well as a leader when working with our staff and families.  I have struggled with empathy from when I was school age and continue to do so as an adult.  However, the two events above as well as my focus on becoming more empathetic this year I know will allow me to grow and strengthen this important skill.

I would greatly appreciate any tips, advice, or feedback on helping me with my 2016 journey.

Happy New Year!

Bill

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Immersed

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(Above) Immersed in my homework after classes on Tuesday as a middle school student.

“We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it.” – Dr. Prabhjot Singh

The above quote nailed it and I’m happy to have had the experience of the last two days as a middle school student.

Having been in middle schools as a teacher and administrator since 2001 I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Boy, was I wrong!

Yes,  times have changed from the 80’s, when I was first a middle school student, but some things have remained the same.

This isn’t a new idea – shadowing a student for the day – but for approximately 38 principals and teachers of Springfield it was the beginning of our Immersion process as we #ImagineSPS this week.

On Monday afternoon we went through a Design Thinking boot camp to get the creative juices flowing and our minds thinking. We were also given our backpacks, books, and schedules for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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I want to be very clear – None of the below is a dig on any school. This is a common theme throughout our district. If this wasn’t the case we wouldn’t have spent the last two days back in school.

Here are a few things I learned:

  1. School still looks much like it did when I was a student in the late 70’s and 80’s and it hasn’t changed much since I became an educator back in 2001.
  2. Kids are kids no matter where they live or go to school.
  3. 50 minute classes for 7 periods a day isn’t the answer. Neither is a 90 minute block.
  4. 3 minutes for passing period isn’t enough time either.
  5. Why can’t we have out our devices?
  6. A little more about planets, space, and the seasons.
  7. Students want to be active, hands on, collaborating, creating.
  8. Students want to be heard – not talked to all day long.
  9. What happened to my singing voice? I think I’m going through puberty again with the cracking voice.
  10. Batman or Superman is still a debatable topic.
  11. Reading Plus is a great tool for any level student.
  12. We have many, many, many great teachers who care about kids.
  13. The Diary of Anne Frank – still one of my favorites!
  14. Worksheets – no thanks.
  15. Have you tried to sit still for 50 minutes.
  16. School lunch is ok, but not to the point I’d eat it five days a week.
  17. I can still do math. I was a little rusty, but I remember y = mx + b and how to solve it.
  18. Restroom breaks? Yes, please. I’ll never question why a student has to go multiple times a day or why they don’t go during passing periods. See #4 above.
  19. When do we get to reflect, debrief, communicate?
  20. Going almost 8 hours without tweeting was painful!!
  21. Kids are accepting of most everyone. Thank you Boen, Mav, Tucker, Julie, Hope, Trinity, and Patricia for accepting me and helping me out the last two days. Being a student in a new school was tough, but you accepted me from the start.

Although this is the first time I’ve immersed myself in the life of a middle school student I have taken the time to visit with students in-depth many times in the past and blogged about it Three years ago  What Students Want.

The bottom line is there are pockets of greatness in every school. But, is it fair to students to have their educational careers play out like the lottery?

Our next steps are to storytell our experiences and celebrate. Ideate on what needs to change, how we can change it, and prototype. We will then take this to student focus groups on Friday to test our ideas and see what they think and want.

“We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it.” – Dr. Prabhjot Singh

I enjoyed my time as a learner crossing the bridge. Now it is time to rebuild it and continue to #ImagineSPS

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