Monday, November 24, 2014

Engaging Your Sweet Spot #SAVMP

In my experience, I have found that 99% of the principals that I have worked with and for, have been  and are outstanding teachers (I've been quite blessed!).  The days of coaching (not that that is a bad thing, but you know what I mean) being the pipeline to administration are over.  For most districts and schools (especially those that are pushing the lines of innovation and challenging the status quo of education), the characteristics that George outlines in the post we are working through are musts!  This is a great thing for our schools, communities, parents and students,  but those are tall orders for a single individual.  When it comes to the instructional leadership portion, especially where we doing the teaching on campus, it is important we know our sweet spot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Your School's Story: Created with Intention

Back in high school, I was not a fan of the English classes.  Diagramming sentences, old &moldy literature (although, I do remember thoroughly enjoying Lord of the Flies my freshman year) and writing papers on who knows what did not hold my attention and interest.  The literature bothered me more than anything, especially when we talked of satire, foreshadowing, symbolism, etc. because that indicated design and an intentionality in the writing and I didn't believe that anything the likes of Jane Eyre was planned.  For whatever reason, I was operating under the delusion that all those great literary devices happened by chance!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Your School's Story

Why do we tell stories?  Story telling has been a practice for generations throughout history.  Sharing, teaching, entertaining.   We sit around the dinner table with family at Thanksgiving and reminisce stories of the past.  When buddies from college get together we retell stories and share the new life stories that have come.  With Veteran's Day having just past, I always enjoy listening to veterans share their stories and experiences.   They are often thrilling and scary, but make me more thankful in the telling!  In many cases, the is how history was passed down, via the spoken or written story!  Christ spent his ministry telling stories that gave examples, clarified understanding and challenged thinking.  Among other things, His stories are what brought people to him because it was understandable and relateable.  In every one of these examples, at the very heart of the act of story telling is opportunity and desire to connect!

The purpose of stories is to bring people into connection and community.  That is what we should desire for our school's story to be and/or become.  The fact of the matter is that we don't have a story to tell unless our students and families are not apart of what we do.  We're not learning, sharing, growing, etc.  That is the nature of our business.  The story we tell must be one that inspires our students and families to become a part of and take part in the telling!

What are the elements of your school's story that draw people into community and help them find connection?

Happy telling!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Your School's Story: Rooted in Truth

I love the word "story".  Over the next few weeks I'd like to explore the idea of story and story telling based on this Bernadette Jiwa post entitled The Characteristics of Great Brand Stories.  I want to take her insights and place them in the context of schools and what it means for us as we share and develop our own school stories that ring true to the identity we wish to create!

For me, it was a word that came up when I opened Timberview Middle with Carrie Jackson in 2010.  It was a rough road, as most openings tend to be, but this was different.  As I shared in this post, we sat in our leadership meeting with some district folks and we came to the conclusion that there was a group of passionate people out there that were telling our story and we had no voice in it.  We had begun a journey to transform teaching and learning, but that disruption to the norm was not taken well and there was a very negative and one-sided story being shared.  We needed to be more involved and it needed to be rooted in truth.  We knew we had to tell a story that was about the great things happening on campus and it had to be authentic and bring people on board!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Are We Paying for Voxer!? #SAVMP

I'm super cheap.  Paying for things that I can get for free or less is a "no, no" in my family of penny pinchers and Freddy frugals. I am especially this way when it comes to apps.  In most cases I can work with the free version of apps and if I purchase a "pro" version or a "full" version of an app, that is saying quite a bit about the app (or I got it free...).

I have not purchased the "pro" version of Voxer.  In all honesty, I only talk to Tom Whitford (@twhitford) on it semi-regularly because it is part of the #SAVMP cohort I'm a part of, and I've enjoyed that greatly so far!  But I don't need to pay extra for real walkie-talkie (that's what I though push talk kinda was), larger chats, never miss a vox, message forwarding, etc.  For the record, I will say the "pro" price seems pretty reasonable.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Feelings & Trust

Branding is not merely of differentiating products; it's about striking an emotional chord with consumers.  It is about cultivating identity, attachment and trust to inspire customer loyalty.   - Nirmalya Kumar
There is quite a bit to unpack here!  Maybe it is my nonbusiness brain, but I remember branding being a logo.  A graphic that identified who you are, creating an association between a symbol and what you do or sell.  Truly taking that ranching practice and making it work for whatever industry.  This quote as well as the writings of other marketing gurus makes branding almost necessary for schools.  Branding has moved quite a ways from the ranching practice to something very afftective in nature (which the cow would probably much prefer).