First Day Failures and How to Function Better on Future First Days

Teaching with Technology vs. Traditionally


In college I remember vividly discussing and dreaming about my first day in my classroom.  The students would come in excited for the new year and it would be a magical first day for the students and myself (their teacher).  Maybe your first day as a teacher was different but as you can probably imagine my first day was far from this!

On my first day my kindergarten students walked into a class with perfectly laid out nametags, goodies on their desks, and supplies neatly in a row.  By the end of the day I quickly came to learn that I was not just teaching but teaching actual kids and that kindergarten students don’t always know their names.  By 4:00 pm their name tags were all over the classroom or on their new friends, supplies were all over the classroom, and by the way it’s NEVER a good idea to…

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The Trinity of Top-Notch Leadership

I saw a very inspiring leadership talk about a week ago that focused on the “Trinity of Top-Notch Leadership”.  The three characteristics that top-notch leaders have in common are:

-Self Awareness

-Learning Agility

-Emotional Intelligence

These three characteristics, when possessed by a leader, lead to more inspired teams, focused and engaged employees, and healthy organizations.

My own reflection during the message focused on self-awareness and learning agility.  As a SAM principal (, I have learned a great deal about the power of self-awareness.  We all have our own strengths and areas of improvement.  The top-notch leaders spend a great deal of time understanding their own areas of strength and the strengths of those on their team.  This awareness of self is critical for synergy to occur, taking the talents of those on a team and maximizing the learning, product, etc. of the team.

Learning agility is something I consider my strength.  The challenge for leaders is to continually grow, as organizations often only rise as high as the leader’s skills at leadership.  By purposely seeking out leadership growth opportunities (reading, leadership conferences, etc.), leaders of organizations can continually display the learning agility to lift their team to new heights.

Check this link if you are interested in hearing more about the trinity of top-notch leaders.

The Bucket of Vitality

Over the weekend I had a chance to hear a message about leadership at my church.

Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church presented the Bucket of Vitality.

The BoV is fairly simple to explain.

Leaders all have buckets of our energy and resources.

The BoV of a leader should be as close to full as possible in order for the leader to make wise decisions.

So, do this reflective activity.  Look at the picture of the bucket.  How full is your bucket of vitality-right now?

How many things are drawing from your bucket?  What punches holes in your bucket, draining your energy levels?

What would your leadership team say about the bucket?  Would they report high vitality levels?  Low?

The key to the activity is to identify the things that fill our bucket back up.  Think about what will revitalize you-family, friends, walks, reading, etc.

Who is responsible for refilling the bucket?  You!  Only you!  As a leader, make sure your bucket is filled with vitality and you will have the energy to take on the most demanding situations.  Lead with a bucket that is only half full or empty and you run the risk of making poor decisions, taking shortcuts, and leading ineffectively.

So, do the Bucket of Vitality activity on your own and with your leadership team.  Be sure you are leading with a full bucket!IMG_1775

Leadership Lessons

I just finished reading a pretty good article featuring 15 leadership lessons from Ronald Reagan.

Leadership Lessons from Ronald Reagan

The article has special meaning since we choose to name our youngest daughter after the Great Communicator.

I reflect on two of the lessons with special focus as a school leader-the importance of personnel and the idea that we all need to “study” our part.

First, the importance of hiring well in schools cannot be underestimated.  When we seek out the best and the brightest to work with our kids, great things follow!

Second, some many of us don’t take the time to study our part in the business of schools.  Andy Stanley said it best with these three questions:

What are we doing?

Why are we doing it?

How do I fit in?

The last question is key in terms of studying your part.  How did I fit in?  What is my role in the organization and what we are doing?

So, take a look at the leadership lessons and think about how they can play a role in terms of your own leadership.

A Writer’s Notebook

I had the opportunity to visit a LA classroom today that was engaged in creating writer’s notebooks.

In the event that you have not seen a notebook before, I have attached a few photos.  photo 1 (1)photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)

The idea behind a writer’s notebook is pretty simple-to have a place for creative writing that is personal.  The decorations on the cover are the personal feelings of our students, sharing a view into different experiences, interests, and possible ideas for creative writing.  

More about Writer’s Notebooks can be found in a variety of sources.  My personal favorite is Notebook KnowHow.

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