All students will achieve their maximum potential by becoming responsible, productive citizens and life-long learners.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Present, Active, and Not Waiting

This message has a few additions to my normal message of Being Purposeful, Acting with Integrity, and Building Your Character. It came to me as I was thinking about the message I wanted to send to students today during an assembly. It was about expectations. Not just the expectations we as teachers and parents have for them, but those they have for themselves. In today's world of distractions it is becoming increasingly important for all of us to both model and stress the act of being present, active, and not waiting. In other words...

  • Be present. Put the phone away, enjoy the moment for what it is rather than worrying about tomorrow or yesterday. Enjoy the time you have.

  • Be active. You have to do more if you want to become more. Life is not about being static. It is about taking action and working with the consequences of that action. If you don't act; you will never have anything to move forward to and become stagnant. Mediocrity is another word for falling behind while remaining comfortable.

  • Don't wait. Do not hesitate if you ever have an opportunity to do something special that you have never tried before. You never know how great you can be until you get there. Many great people have looked back only to scratch their head at the thought they could have ever gotten there in the first place.

Check out the video, give it a listen, and ask your students about the film today. After all;, in the end, it is about them and if they decide to be a better version of themselves. Warriors...you know this to be true. Now make your decision and surprise yourself with the results.

Thanks for reading, watching and considering following!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Social Media and Self Confidence

Whether it is me, a few more than normal occurrences at school, or national news that has drawn attention to this topic is not the issue in the end. The issue is just that...THE END of going back and forth. Social media is a fantastic tool, but like every tool can be wielded with poor judgement that ends up damaging surrounding things. Digital citizenship and in the event it is not present, self confidence and resilience are key.

I wrote a few blog posts that go more in depth about this topic. One was titled: Media That Isn't So Social? and the other was Online, Underground, and In the Air: Connect to Disconnect. While they are focused on some deeper issues the same line of thought applies. A strong foundation in digital citizenship and responsibility is what is needed in an age where anonymity allows an increased sense of bravery, uncaring, and/or treachery.

Please take the time to discuss this with students. There will be times in their lives when individuals say things (often on social media) that hurt their feelings or embarrass them, are lies, or just plain make them mad. Responding in kind is not the answer. It does nothing but fuel the flames and let the offender know they have hit their mark. Doing nothing doesn’t work either and isn’t a realistic expectation on the part of adults.  Instead we need to have students ask an adult for help.  They need to let someone know what is happening so it can stop.  People who bully or harass others will not stop until someone who has the ability or authority to make them does just that.  Report things early and they stop early.  Inaction leads to larger problems further down the road.

Be Purposeful: Know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what the most likely outcome.

Act With Integrity: Seek to do the right thing. Interact with others in a respectful manner...always.

Build Your Character: Having someone slander or lie about you doesn't make it true or something to which you have to react. Be strong, know who you are, and be better for it.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Cost of Playing Up

How many times...

  • have we underachieved because we didn’t take advantage of an opportunity?
  • was it because we were afraid of failing?
  • was it because we thought we couldn’t?  
How many times...have we kept our children from succeeding because we were trying to protect (make it easier) them so that they could?

The cost of reaching higher than we thought we could reach is small compared to the cost of staying safe which results in more painful assurances of staying put in long term mediocrity.

While I am always considering how to push my sons to take chances and explore in an attempt to be better than if they had not, the thoughts for this post came to me as I sat contemplating two recent events with them.

First, we were happy that he had fun on the ropes course and surprised at how easily he moved through the second of three levels.  Then he came and asked to go on the third course.  My youngest son is 7 years old and fancies himself somewhat of a spider man clone.  I informed him the rule was that the third level was restricted to kids 13 and older.  He asked again so I told him I would ask.  The guide hesitated and after asking how he did (very well was my answer) on the second level, informed me that he would let him.  The only restriction was that the guide would stay right near him in the event he fell...which he did...twice...as many of us looked on from about 40 feet below!

Second, the decision came quickly.  Yes, we had thought and spoke about it for over a month, but when the time came it seemed as if we still rushed in.  The only somewhat saving grace was that he had made the final decision himself; just like we had been teaching him.  My 9yr. old son was now playing football a level up with the older (by two grades), bigger kids. His other choice was to take it easy for a year and play later. We were concerned about the contact with more developed kids, but stood by as he got knocked down and struggled to keep up in the drills.

Often, as parents we do our best to help our children succeed and excel at what they do.  That is only natural.  The part we miss is that often greater success lies just behind greater risk and fear.  This is easy to verbalize, but a whole lot harder to watch.  Especially with our own children.  

In this day and age when we have changed the label of helicopter to snowplow (or lawnmower) parents it is easy to say that resilience (or lack thereof) comes from parents protecting their students too much. I believe it may be linked to something deeper. How many of us teach children mental toughness and character by explaining to them that life is not about drifting to the end, but purposefully moving from accomplishment to accomplishment? How many of us teach our kids to play up?

Playing up means playing above your perceived skill level and taking chances that you are better than you believe. Everything in life comes with a cost. Especially playing up. We are consistently (or should be) telling our students and children that every action has a consequence (or costs something). The issue is that we may not be explaining it effectively. Its really as simple as every action gets a reaction. Sometimes the actions we take have good consequences. Sometimes they don't. Either way...there is a cost.

Unfortunately for those who struggle with delayed gratification, good decisions are not as appealing as the bad ones and while they do not seem to cost a lot in the present; the cost is huge in the future. These individuals need to identify a purpose that will drive them to push through setbacks and obstacles until they accomplish what they are striving for.

An acronym to think about:

You're going to run into failures. You're going to make mistakes. You're going to fall down.  The idea or path to success lies in the getting up.  You build your character in difficult times when you struggle.  There can be no learning without  the Ideas to build your character and get right backup
By playing up you create opportunities you never realized you would have. Remember the phrase “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  The willingness to work through difficult times leads to easier moments we used to think impossible.
No matter how a person measures success there is one thing that hold true; true success breeds success.  Once a person leaves their comfort zone, struggles, and succeeds, they realize that they never knew how far they could get until they got there.  If we teach students to be purposeful and persevere there is no limit to the amount of success they may achieve.
Acting purposefully and building character are two very difficult things to accomplish for many people; much less children.  But there is nothing that is a better teacher than experience.  The issue is lasting through that experience.  Once a person has met and pushed through hardship, there is a moment that they realize that they are more capable, tougher, stronger, braver, and deserving of whatever they wish to become.  That is character saying yes when other say no.

By the way...my youngest son finished that third level and continued to talk about how proud he was because he didn't think he could do it. He just kept going and repeating; “Don't look down, you can do this.” until he made it a reality.  My oldest? He kept getting up until he began keeping up in drills and knocking 6th graders down. His answer when asked by former teammates and friends which level be liked better? “I like playing up because I have to work harder or I won't do good. I feel like I'm getting better” was his reply though a pride filled grin.

Easy for a parent? No
Needed for the kid? At times
More beneficial to learn resilience, be purposeful, and build character than being safe? ABSOLUTELY!

Step back a little.  Let them play up. They may just surprise you...