Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” – Fred Rogers

Mr. Rogers“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” – Fred Rogers

Last year I had the opportunity to meet, converse, and share with members of the Apple Education Team regarding their hiring practices. I was intrigued that outside of the required technical competencies, Apple considers empathy and teamwork as essential to be part of the Apple Computer Family.  Apple intentionally interviews to gauge empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Developing empathy, striving to understand someone else and share real feelings, is missing in many stations of our lives today. For many, society today is about winning. For many, other people’s feelings, opinions, or beliefs are unimportant. Winning is when my beliefs and values are codified or institutionalized.

We must change this narrative. We must care for one another, expect empathy from each other, and embrace the struggle.

 

THIS WAS FIRST POSTED IN APRIL 2018

Learning During the COVID-19 Crisis – Every Student, Every Day

Where will our students be in the fall? How will schools close the gaps from remote learning? How far behind will these students be?

There are all relevant questions; we don’t know all the answers. I do know we will act with the best intentions, focus on students first, and continue to serve each student.

KindnessYes, there are going to be some gaps created by eLearning. Our teachers are doing their very best, but remote learning isn’t a replacement for face-to-face instruction. I’m confident our secondary students will be very close; our experience in Canvas and with iPads had these teachers and students prepared to respond to this crisis. We all have concerns with our elementary students; we have a lot of room for improvement. Nevertheless, all students will be in a similar situation. We will evaluate individual student progress and actively work to close the gaps. That’s what we do.

The focus now is to keep the learning going.  We aren’t going to punish students; we will lift them up.  Every student and every school will be in the same situation.  Our students going to college will be in the same situation as students already in college.  As a country, we need to have patience and be empathic.  Now isn’t the time to let fear or anger win; now is the time for our better angels to guide our actions.

Local Control in Education – An Opportunity to Demonstrate our Skill

It has been decades since local school districts have had this level of control over public education. School districts are operating without state assessment, without an absurd report card, and with the ability to determine if high school seniors are ready for graduation. In the face of a global pandemic, educators have an opportunity. We have a chance to get education right.FullSizeRender

Educators believe in accountability; we know there is a specific matrix for success that need to be measured. Teachers know that are fundamental skills required for success in life; we need to identify the base skills every child needs. Teacher know their students; during this crisis, teachers have stepped-up in the face of adversity to meet the needs of their students.

Now isn’t a time for minimum standards; now’s the time to define lofty expectations. Now isn’t the time for excuses; it’s the time for creative solutions. We also need to be prepared for the return to traditional classrooms. Education won’t, and shouldn’t, go back to where it was before this crisis. Our schools will be different. The skills we are utilizing during eLearning will serve us well to prepare students for future success.

Student Access during eLearning – Broadband Access Required

As a school leader, a significant concern with eLearning is the inherent inequities in the delivery model. As educators, during traditional school days, we know that every student’s home life is different. When students enter the schoolhouse door, their personal lives shape how they perform in school.

During remote learning, theWifi speed of internet access is a significant concern. Ohio, and the United States, struggle with providing broadband access to every home. Many believe, like me, that the Internet is a required public utility. Like electricity and water, I think every family should have access to connectivity. With access, remote learning can take place.

As we consider infrastructure legislation and future spending, we should make sure access to the Internet is available to every home, to every family. In times of crisis, we identify strength and opportunity. This crisis provides an opportunity for us to better society – to level the playing field for today and future students.

Parent Partnership and Communications are Key

The current COVID-19 crisis has changed our lives in countless ways. The shift to eLearning as part of our Stay at Home directive requires a different partnership between students, parents, and teachers. This partnership is only effective when the lines of communication are open.

Our talented teachers skillfully differentiate instruction in classrooms every day. When eLearning Pic 1face-to-face teachers adjust assignments, balance rigor with support, and implement individual interventions in real-time. With eLearning, or remote learning, teachers are developing lessons for an entire class without synchronous adjustments in the classroom.

Some students fly through the assignments; in these cases, parents are requesting additional tasks and extension activities. Other students are struggling to complete the work that is assigned. Parents are coming home from essential jobs, engaging with online lessons, and frustrated with the volume of work.

Our journey through eLearning is just beginning; we will get better together. The most critical factor of improvement is communication. If your child needs more work – please email your teacher. If a student is overwhelmed – please email your teacher. The differentiation which takes place in traditional classrooms will still take place, but with time, communication, and grace. We work together; we partner to keep the learning going.

It’s Our Time

My grandfather is 98 years old.

William Lauter is a WWII Naval Veteran. He served on the USS Ray, a Gato-class attack submarine, in the Pacific Theater. My grandfather, like many of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, is part of what Tom Brokaw deemed “the Greatest Generation.”

IMG_0925The Greatest Generation defeated the Axis powers, built an economic superpower, and ended global isolationism. The men and women of the Greatest Generation sacrificed when necessary and dreamed of the world we have today.

Today, Grandpa lives on Long Island, not far from Levittown, the birthplace of suburban housing developments. Growing up on Long Island, my grandparent’s home was where we had Sunday dinners. Grandpa’s work ethic and approach to life shaped who I am today. His faith, patriotism, and commitment to the family were evident in all aspects of his life. More recently, as an adult, hearing him recount his life before and after the war added a narrative to history. Life wasn’t easy, but life had a purpose.

It is our time to defeat a generational challenge. We aren’t facing warring nations or an evil dictator; we are facing a global virus. Just like our grandparents and great-grandparents, we must come together to win this war. As a country, we must marshal our inner angles to create a better future. We will act with discipline, selfless behavior, and a commitment to the greater good.

Innovation and creativity are born in times of crisis. We will stand-strong as Ohioans to curb the spread of this virus. Our economy will, in time, recover. Our education system will continue to prepare students for the future. We will be inconvenienced; any self-sacrifice demands a level of sacrifice. Saving lives, flattening the spread of this virus, will not be quick or easy. Our generation must do what’s required of us.

I can’t help but ask the question, “what will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren think of us as a result of this crisis?” This is our time to rise-up; this is our generation’s challenge. While there will never be another “Greatest Generation,” this is our time to come together.  Our response to this crisis will be our legacy.

Scripture says, “joy cometh in the morning.” The sun will rise; joy will be part of our lives. I pray for strength and wisdom in the face of challenges and crises. Regardless of faith, have hope and confidence that we will defeat this enemy and set an example for future generations.

2020 & Discipline

As we tear-off the last calendar page of 2019, the final page of the decade, we look forward with anticipation of a new year.  

Discipline Stairs

While a new year provides opportunities for new-starts and resolutions, our success will ultimately be determined by our actions.  It’s easy to set lofty goals and aspirational resolutions.  It takes discipline to follow-through and to act with purpose.

 

Discipline is the bridge between our goals and accomplishments; discipline is the bridge between our resolutions and success in 2020.  It begins with an inner fire.  Your fire on the inside must be greater than past habits and negative self-talk. 

My primary goal for 2020 is to be more disciplined.  2020 will provide many Defining Moments – situations that reveal my character and training.  I live our culture; I practice R-Factors Skills.  My repeated actions over time prepare me with a pattern of thinking and acting.

What is your primary goal?  Do you have the discipline and skill to be successful in 2020?

With technology and over-scheduling, we are forgetting to invest time in simple connective moments with others. – Michelle Gielan

We are all social creatures. We need connections; we build relationships.

The technology in our lives – the alerts, tones, and vibrations from the myriad of devices – interrupts real connections. The ability to schedule meetings and work at any time blurs the lines between work and play, between professional and family.

We must be intentional in our behavior; take time to disconnect from the digital and connect to the personal.

Stop asking people to change; show them how. – Tim Kight

There is little argument against the need for change in public education. As an educational leader, I am guilty of asking for change, but not showing what is needed. It’s easy to say “we need to change,” but the real work is walking together on the change journey.

The fear, the discomfort of change is real. When we don’t know what’s required of us, when we haven’t developed the skills needed to move forward, resistance is natural. Leadership is modeling what’s needed; it’s creating opportunities for growth and improvement.

Our daily decisions and habits have a huge impact on both our levels of happiness and success. – Shawn Achor

We can’t control the events in our lives. We can’t control the behavior and actions of others.

We can control how we respond; we can control our behavior. Through our response, we decide to be happy or to be negative.

When we make happiness a habit, when we make lifting up those around our practice, it directly impacts our success. Cultivate healthy habits for yourself; make daily decisions that spark happiness in you. Happiness is a choice – make it every day.