This summer immediately started with my family and me moving to the state of Arizona.
My wife was given the opportunity to move in her position to the Tempe office.
I wish I could say that when we learned of this opportunity for my wife, we jumped on it but I was scared.
I was scared of the possibility of not finding a teaching job.
I was scared of moving away from my home for a majority of my life and where my parents live.
I am scared for what this move will look like for my children.
I am scared about moving away from the relationships that I have been developing over the last six years of my adult life.
I am scared about moving away from my comfort zones.
I am learning again to embrace change.
Being here for almost a month now I have been able to accept a teaching position.
I have been able to find my CrossFit gym.
I have been able to spend time with my son golfing and swimming while waiting for our girls to join us.
I have been able to drive around and not have to use maps for every place I want to go.
This move has reminded me that change is not bad and is necessary to promote new growth and new thinking.
Living in a larger, more diverse area, I have a lot to learn.
I will embrace this new learning and I will embrace new experiences that lie ahead.
This is my first year teaching classes that are only one quarter, nine weeks, in length.
I value relationships and getting to know my students and then using that knowledge to help guide and facilitate learning throughout the year. With only having nine weeks I feel like I need to ramp up my relationship building!
The purpose of this blog is for you to get to know who I am. I am going to limit this to only five
(I -1, II - 2, III - 3, IV - 4, V - 5) areas.
I am a Christian. I follow Jesus' teachings that I need to love my God and others, equally. I will do whatever I can for you and not expect you to be perfect, because I am not. Every day I am trying to live this out in my personal life and as an educator.
I am a husband, father, son and brother. I love and value in my family. I am married to Whitney and I have three children, Trinity - 10, Kayleah - 9 and Dayton - 3. I love my parents, Duane and Bonnie, with all my heart. I have six siblings, two brothers and three sisters; Chet, Miranda, Tera, Tanner and Maggie. I love getting together with them over holidays and other family get togethers!
I am a learner. I love learning new things and finding new things to challenge myself.
Ways I Learn
i. Books - Ernest Hemingway is my favorite author!
ii. Blogs - Jennifer Gonzalez - Cult of Pedagogy
i. Film/Documentaries - 180° South, Living On One Dollar, Into the Wild
iii. Social Media - Twitter, Instagram
i. Podcasts - Dave Ramsey, The Minimalists
ii. Music - The Lumineers, John Mayer, Halsey
iii. Ted Talks
I am an athlete. I try to workout 4-6 times a week doing CrossFit. I try to get these workouts completed in the morning because after school I am super tired. I love playing sports specifically basketball, golf, softball and weightlifting. I love the discipline of trying to get better physically, mentally and emotionally. I coach the JV boys basketball team at St. Thomas More where I also graduated from.
I am passionate about empowering young people to use their voice for good.
I am an educator because I want to help you understand that you can make a difference in the world.
I am always trying to think of creative ways for you to be able to demonstrate your learning and why it is important to you.
I am excited to get to know you! Please leave a comment about something that you identify with that is also you!
If you have ever mentioned love to a room full of middle schoolers, you would know that more explanation is needed. I have learned that even with the best of intentions there are many people who do not know me or my passion for education and a future that involves everyone working together for the good of everyone.
Below is my explanation for how I am using #boldlylove for the 2018-2019 school year.
WE ALL NEED TO BE BOLD IN OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER.
I believe, in our world today, that we have moved away from civil discourse and a general love for other human beings that we should be engaged in daily. I see, as an educator, that we have too many students concerned about their world and making themselves feel happy and good and many times at the expense of others. We are all required to be at school, my requirement is for my career and students/parents are required by law, so building a common love for everyone is a way that I want to build culture with my students.
#boldlylove means that we do not have to all think the same, we do not all need to agree with everything that is happening in the world or how to fix it, but we do need to show others that we care about them, we will listen and engage in conversations and want good for others.
#boldlylove transcends any political party.
#boldlylove transcends any one religion.
#boldlylove means understanding, that at times, each of us will be alone or standing out from the crowd at some point in our lives. Framing this within #boldlylove means that I want my students to think about standing out, for good, in the way that they treat others.
Below are examples of what #boldlylove looks like in an educational setting for students;
befriending someone who does not have many friends,
standing up for someone who is being bullied,
working with others who you may disagree with,
accepting others the way they are,
forgiving others if you have been wronged in the classroom, hallways, lunchroom,
talking with others to help the group have success,
showing others you have empathy for what they have going on in their lives,
expressing a perspective that has not yet been expressed,
allowing classmates to get to know you through your expressed strengths, struggles, interests or passions,
listening to others and their ideas,
advocating for those who do not have a voice,
seeking solutions to community, city, state, national problems,
speaking out on issues that are relevant and important to young people's lives,
doing what is good and right when others are not stepping up to do it,
and living with personal values, beliefs, goals and wanting to do what is right.
Below are examples of what #boldlylove looks like for me as an educator;
treating each and every student as an individual,
listening to the concerns of all students and parents,
living with empathy for all students and what each student brings into the classroom,
allowing each student to have a fresh slate each and every day,
empowering students to use their voice for good,
giving opportunities for students to have voice and choice in the work they complete,
building positive relationships with all students,
recognizing the good that each student demonstrates throughout the day,
calling home with positives that are recognized with each student,
breaking down barriers for what is preventing students to be successful,
giving of any resources that I have access to for students to be successful in their work,
providing opportunities for students to stretch their comfort zones,
allowing for human dignity and allowing students to go to the bathroom without having to ask,
giving all students the opportunities to do real, authentic work,
demonstrating positive adult collaboration throughout the day,
trusting that all students are good people and want to do what is good and right,
assuming that students are doing the best they can,
instilling a positive growth mindsets,
correcting negative self-talk to help students understand that the most powerful words they say are the words they say to themselves,
celebrating student work in a public space that allows for parents and others to join in the celebration,
and providing opportunities for students to develop a positive social media presence.
This is what #boldlylove means when I use it.
I want my classroom to be a micro-version of what the possibilities could be of the relationships inside and outside of school.
Living out #boldlylove will never be easy. If it was, this idea would not be a thing.
I believe each one of us plays a very important role building a better future and that starts with how we view and treat the people around us.
This is my goal for the 2018-2019 school year.
Midterms are due. Parent-Teacher Conferences are this week.
This means many, many, many, conversations about how the work of many students is C-Level or Average.
There are so many moving parts in evaluation, I believe facilitating and guiding the students in how to self-reflect and evaluate where they are is empowering our students to own their education. Here is a link to my 21st Century Skills Evaluation Forms that the students will use when they are evaluating their work.
I do not like the current conversation around grades.
I believe there has to be something better.
As a teacher, I believe we have a big problem. The problem sounds like this,
"My parents won't allow me to get anything other than an A."
"Student asking teacher if they are passing the class. Demonstrating the thinking that the teacher passes or fails the student and the student has to wait and see what the teacher is thinking or feeling."
"Parent seeing a C and parent thinking they are failing or that their student is doing something wrong."
"Teacher assigning the class to ask 5 questions, the student doing this and thinking they should get an A"
"My parents aren't going to be happy about this!"
"But I did everything you told me to do!"
So much of what education is for our students is doing exactly what the teacher says. No individual thinking. No assertiveness. No curiosity. Only doing exactly what the teacher says.
Doing exactly what the teacher says for every student to do, is absolutely AVERAGE.
I am in my second year of project-based learning (PBL) and with PBL, the traditional way of grading does not work. Students are developing questions, working with their teammates to break down the work needing to be done, being mindful of timelines and deadlines associated with the project, researching their questions and contacting professionals to be included in their work and going through processes of craftsmanship to give and get feedback on their projects; having all of this work come down to everyone getting an "A" dilutes all this really good work.
In life, everyone does not get an A. We know in our daily lives, there are people who are willing to go beyond the average and do more work, more detailed work, overall better work, these people are rewarded with more pay, more opportunities and/or bonuses. There has to be a way to differentiate between all the levels of work being completed in the classroom.
What makes this change even harder is that it cannot be because of luck or random actions. Students need to be aware of what actions they are taking to be successful. This means students need to be in constant reflection to identify what is working and what is not and continue to do what is working and stop or change what is not working. Once students identify what they are doing to be successful they need to be able to explain how it leads to a better product for their project.
In education circles we refer to Hattie when talking about what has the biggest impact on students and their education. According to Hattie, one of the areas (3rd place) that can have a lasting impact for students is the ability to self-report grades (1.33). This ability is developed through self-evaluation and being real about where they are in their learning process. The biggest impact on students is teachers estimates on student achievement (1.62). I believe students can blow this out of the water when they are giving no limits to what they can do to fulfill the projects. I believe I will see writing and overall projects that I could not dream up of assigning. Because I believe in our young people so much I am willing to challenge the status quo about grades and our work this year!
With writing this, I am not trying to say that I have solved this evaluation problem. I am saying that their has to be a better way to evaluate real work being done by the students. I cannot stand by and wait for someone else to do this meaningful work and hope change happens in the future. There are students doing this good work now that need a true evaluation process.
"There are two cultures in South Dakota, the white-northern European culture and the Oceti Sakowin culture. To only teach one, would give an incomplete picture of South Dakota/US history." - Gabriel Seeley
I had the awesome opportunity to attend the South Dakota Department of Education's 2018 Indian Education Summit over the last three days, Sept. 23-25, in Pierre, SD. Not only was I able to attend, I was able to present lesson plan ideas teaching the perspectives of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota.
Our district is doing some really good work in recognizing that we, collectively, native and non-native educators, need to be intentionally teaching all of our students, a complete view, of who they are and the history they are surrounded by.
We need to learn that Oceti Sakowin, Seven Council Fires, is the correct term to identify our indigenous people in the state of South Dakota. The Oceti Sakowin make up the populations of the nine Indian reservations we have located here in South Dakota.
1. Oglala Sioux
2. Yankton Sioux
3. Lower Brule
5. Cheyanne River
6. Crow Creek
7. Standing Rock
The indigenous people were thriving in North and South America before Columbus arrived. Since this arrival, the indigenous people have been intentionally treated in a way that would cause their culture and people to be erased from this land.
Fortunately, the government policies of removal and assimilation did not work and the indigenous people have their complex cultures that can teach many of us essential lessons about our connections with the land, our relationships with each other and how to live in peace.
I am so excited to start using my new learning I gained from the last three days to continue to erase racism, blatant and subtle, and build empathy and understanding of the tremendous fight our indigenous people have endured over the last 200+ years.
Ignorance is not an option.
Throughout this year, my goal is for all students to begin their journey to cultural proficiency with building understanding of the Oceti Sakowin and their rich history and culture, their collective fight to save their people and traditional land and how these peoples have so many valuable lessons to teach us today!
I have tried a new idea for me this year. My students and I just completed ten days of culture building in love, teamwork, establishing character strengths and working with the idea that we are family or tiospaye, Lakota for who you are with is family.
From my perspective, this was not easy. I would love to say that the students immediately jumped out of their seats and are running around loving each other and all they needed was me to put the idea in front of them. I would love to claim that it was a huge success.
I just do not know if it all will be a success.
I am in my sixth year of teaching and I am hoping I am the best version of myself for this school year.
I want so badly to foster a culture of love and appreciation for the human beings that we are working with on a daily basis. I want the students to know each other and accept that we are all different and that those differences are not weaknesses but strengths.
I have never attempted ten days of putting abstract concepts into motion and I have never been so tired. I am aware of the saying there is no tired like teacher tired, and the past couple of days have been really really hard.
To put love into action each student "scheduled" another student in the class on their calendar so they know who they need to meet with. Each day there may be a different prompt, today was "If you could morph into any animal, yes, I know humans are animals, you cannot choose human, what would you choose?" The students then have an opportunity to talk to the "other" students that are not in their normal circle.
To put teamwork into motion the students completed the Marble Challenge. The point of this is to work with the other members of your group to complete tasks that become harder as you complete them and get a marble from one end of the group to the other. At first students were blaming the person who dropped the marble. Then they realized that does not help someone want to be successful and most of the time nobody intentionally wants to cause the group to fail. Eventually the language became more productive and all were included in the decision process.
To put character strengths in front of the students, we watched, The Science of Character, and then completed the VIA Institute on Character's 96 question survey for the students to find their top 24 strengths. We will use these throughout the year to have a lens to determine if their actions match with who they want to be and will it help them be their best versions of themselves.
To talk about family/tiospaye, we decided on the characteristics on family that they would want or have experienced to find a common understanding when we talk about being a family. The Lakota concept of tiospaye fits perfectly into this because it means where you are is family and blood relation is a factor. All of these characteristics can and will be reinforced in the classroom setting. This is where we have to be for the next nine months.
I hope that throughout this school year my students will #boldlylove one another in their actions and words.
I have felt so down and so defeated the past couple of days. I thank my crew for speaking love and strength into me! I will not cave to the idea that I will #boldlylove throughout this year. I cannot imagine being okay with the opposite of everything that we have been working on.
I do not want to be average. Average is going through your classes and not knowing the people at the other table. Average is being okay with not knowing the people that you will spend the next nine months with. Average is being okay with not capitalizing on the amazing strengths that each and every person brings into the classroom.
I will #boldlylove
Another book that I have read that I believe every educator should read. Start With Why has helped me establish my WHYs for what I do in the classroom for my students. I want to be a leader that inspires others to follow because everyone knows my WHY and not because of manipulations.
“Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility.” - Simon Sinek
I do not want to be a flash in the pan success for my students. I do not want to not replicate the meaningful learning that is happening for my students. I want to influence others and create a movement of empowered young people who use their voice to make an impact in their community. Knowing my WHY, I now have a tool of The Celery Test to make sure every decision I make, passes.
If you need to establish your passion, read this book. If you need to redefine why you are doing what you are doing, read this book. If you want to be a leader of a movement you believe in, read this book.
Start With Why
How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
By Simon Sinek (@simonsinek)
Part 1: A World That Doesn’t Start With Why
Chapter 1 - Assume You Know
Our behavior is affected by our assumptions.
Assumptions, even when based on sound research, can lead us astray.
Great leaders understand the value in the things we cannot see.
Chapter 2 - Carrots and Sticks
There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.
changing prices of products.
promotions that are complicated.
fear of something bad happening.
aspirations tempt us with the things we wish we had.
Peer pressure because we believe experts know more than we do.
Innovation is often confused with novelty
Not one manipulation breeds loyalty
Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces cost, it provides massive peace of mind.
When manipulations are the norm, no one wins.
Part 2: An Alternative Perspective
Chapter 3 - The Golden Circle
People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
I believe in young people and their abilities to challenge the status quo to make our world a better place.
I believe your voice has unbelievable power and that each and every young person has a purpose and job to make this world a better place.
I believe adults, including me, haven't done a good job of teaching young people to find their purpose and to expand on their talents so that every door will be open to your future.
Not the Only Way, Just One Way
“Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility.”
- Simon Sinek
Chapter 4 - This Is Not Opinion, This Is Biology
Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
“We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what the believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.” Pg 55
Gut Decisions Don’t Happen in Your Stomach
Limbic Brain controls feelings - trust and loyalty
Neocortex controls rational and analytical thought and language
Winning hearts and minds, not minds and heart - feelings then data
Great leaders and great organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see.
It’s What You Can’t See That Matters
Belonging to something bigger than you will drive people to make seeming irrational decisions
Chapter 5 - Clarity, Discipline and Consistency
It all starts with clarity.
If the leader (teacher) can not articulate WHY, why would anyone (students) know WHY
Discipline of HOW
HOWs are your values or principles that guide HOW to bring the cause to life
Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea
- Not integrity but “always do the right thing”
Consistency of WHAT
With consistency people will see and hear, without a shadow of a doubt, what you believe.
Golden Circle has to be balanced. Everything said and done has to be what you actually believe.
Authenticity is a requirement to sustained success.
The Right Order
“After you have clarity of WHY, are disciplined and accountable to your own values and guiding principles, and are consistent in all you say and do, the final step is to keep it all in the right order.” Pg 69
Starting with the WHY is what inspires people to act
If You Don’t Know WHY, You Can’t Know HOW
Differentiation happens in WHY and HOW you do something.
Manipulation and Inspiration Are Similar, but Not the Same
Both manipulation and inspiration get into the limbic brain and affect our emotions and feelings.
Doing Business Is Like Dating
Start with the WHY, and all the WHATs, the tangible benefits, serve as proof of the WHY
Three Degrees of Certainty
The ability to put WHY into words provides the emotional context for decisions.
When you know your WHY, the highest level of confidence you can offer is, “I know it’s right.”
Part 3: Leaders Need A Following
Chapter 6 - The Emergence of Trust
WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions —— All three in balance builds trust.
Culture is everyone working towards the same goal - all win or no one wins
The Only Difference Between You and a Caveman Is the Car You Drive
Different cultures aren’t good or bad, just different.
One place isn’t better or worse, just a better fit.
Culture is common beliefs and values.
Find people who have the same beliefs and values
Finding The People Who Believe What You Believe
“You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach the skills.” Herb Kelleher
Hire people who are already motivated and inspire them.
Give ‘Em a Cathedral
People working together with camaraderie and trust brings success.
These people all recognize they all need each other.
When Motivated by WHY, Success Just Happens
Story of the Wright Brothers and their belief in what flight would mean to all
Samuel Pierpont Langley had everything to be successful besides a WHY.
Innovation Happens at the Edges
“Great companies give their people a purpose or challenge around which to develop ideas rather than simply instruct them to make a better mousetrap.”
Companies[Teachers] with a clear sense of WHY tend to ignore the competition[naysayers], whereas those with a fuzzy sense of WHY are obsessed with what others are doing.
The Definition of Trust
The more trust the the more innovative someone would be willing to be especially with a safety net to fall back on
Real Trust Comes from the Things You Cannot See
Great leaders embody a sense of purpose that inspires those around them.
Trust comes when the values and beliefs are actively managed.
Passion comes from the feeling you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.
The Influence of Others
Opinions of people we trust matters.
Why should my students trust me?
Chapter 7 - How A Tipping Point Tips
Law of Diffusion of Innovations
- 2.5% innovators
- 13.5% early adopters
- 34% early majority
- 34% late majority
- 16% laggards
Goal is to find the influencers (innovators and early adopters) to help jump the chasm to the early majority
Refusing to Consider the Law of Diffusion Will Cost You
People will not buy the WHAT, they will buy the WHY.
Give Them Something to Believe In
It’s not the details of the plans that earn the right to lead, it’s the belief and the ability to communicate it clearly.
Give the people clarity, a way to explain how they feel.
Part 4: How To Rally Those Who Believe
Chapter 8 - Start With WHY, But Know HOW
Energy Excites. Charisma Inspires.
Energy is easy to see, easy to measure, and easy to copy.
Charisma is hard to define, impossible to measure, and too elusive to copy.
The Chosen Path
Regardless of WHAT we do in our lives, our WHY — our driving purpose never changes.
When the WHY is clear, more people will believe and raise their hands to declare, “I want to help!”
Amplify the Source of Inspiration
Flip the Golden Circle on its side to see it as three-dimensional
This structure can be seen in all individual levels - leadership, Middle management...
I Have a Dream (and He’s Got the Plan)
Attract the innovators and early adopters
Every tangible demonstration that the vision can in fact become reality, the more-practical minded majority starts to take interest
When a dream becomes provable and tangible reality...things really get moving
Those Who Know WHY Need Those Who Know HOW
Every WHY-type needs a HOW-type to be successful, it is not true the other way, HOW-types can be successful without a WHY-type
Vision statement - WHY
Mission statement - HOW
Build a Megaphone That Works
A microphone alone is only clutter
A message without a microphone will not have the impact on the audience needed
Need both the message to be heard by the ones who can have an impact on the movement.
Say It Only If You Believe It
Exploring your WHY and explaining it to others will put you in a position to be held to a high standard
Starting with the WHY will allow for repeated successes
All Movements Are Personal
Those who believe will keep the movement moving forward
Chapter 9 - Know WHY. Know HOW. Then What?
My WHY is to actively question the status quo and for empowering each individual
Tell people this.
Speak Clearly and Ye Shall Be Clearly Understood
The Limbic brain is the WHY and HOW, the Neocotex brain is the WHAT and what can be explained with words
Chapter 10 - Communication is Not About Speaking, It’s About Listening
A logo can take on a bigger personal meaning if it connects to the WHY
The Celery Test
Best practices are not always best.
Filtering your decisions through your WHY will allow you spending less time, money and stress when a decision needs to be made.
This test is to scale. Anyone making a decision needs to apply the Celery Test to make sure it shows the why.
The More Celery You Use, the More Trust You Earn
The more consistent the decisions made according to your WHY, the more trust others can have in your product/work.
In Violation of Celery
When a clear WHY is known, violations of the Celery Test will be easily seen and felt.
Part 5: The Biggest Challenge Is Success
Chapter 11 - When WHY Goes Fuzzy
Being Successful vs Feeling Successful
There is something to be said when you can reach your goals and become wildly successful yet feel like you have lost your WHY
Achievement vs Success
Achievement comes when we pursue and attain WHAT you want
Success comes when you know WHY you want it
Chapter 12 - Split Happens
Passion without structure will lead to failure
Structure needs passion to grow
The Biggest Challenge Is Success
The WHAT and WHY need to be parallel in order for everything to make sense
What Gets Measured, Gets Done
How do I incentivize pushing the status quo?
How do I incentivize taking creative risks?
How do I incentivize student responsibility?
Good Successions Keep the WHY Alive
Successors have to embody the WHY in order to carry on the vision
Apply the Celery Test to see if the WHAT and HOW match with the WHY
When the WHY Goes, WHAT Is All You’ll Have Left
When people are clear on your WHY they will understand and accept the decisions made if they pass the Celery Test.
What people perceive will drive the trust of those decisions
Part 6: Discover Why
Chapter 13 - The Origins of WHY
Challenging Question: How can you challenge the status quo to impact others in a positive way?
Essential Question: Is it right to challenge the status quo if you know people will be injured as a result of the challenge?
What are the sacrifices that will need to be made to be successful?
The Why Come From Looking Back
I need to move 180 degrees back to find my WHY, it comes from upbringing and experiences.
I Am A Failure
When there is a split between the WHY and the WHAT, a feeling of failure will happen
To Inspire People to Do the Things That Inspire Them
“If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford
Starting with the WHY doesn’t make you smarter, more connected...it’s gives you a balance and sets you apart from those around you.
Chapter 14 - The New Competition
If You Follow Your WHY, Then Others Will Follow You
When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. When you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.
Every educator that is searching for a process that would allow for student voice and choice should read this book! A.J. Juliani (@ajjuliani) and John Spencer (@spencerideas) provide the "how" that is often fleeting but is necessary for more educators to make a meaningful jump in their educational practices.
My mission is to empower students to use their voice and to show their creativity and passions in their work. LAUNCH presents a format in student friendly language that will allow for students to use design thinking in order to answer a challenging question. If you are searching for something to re-energize your practices for students, A.J. and John provide a process, that is flexible, that you will flip your role in the classroom to now be able to mentor, guide, and facilitate students in doing meaningful work that will impact their community.
Using Design Thinking To Boost Creativity and To Bring Out The Maker In Every Student
By John Spencer and A.J. Juliani
We Believe/I Believe
I believe every student is naturally creative and every classroom should be filled with creativity and wonder.
I believe all kids are unique, authentic and destined to be original.
I believe my role is to empower kids to make an impact on the world around them and fully believe in themselves.
Chapter 1 - We Need Creative Classrooms
“The new digital divide is less about access and all about creative opportunities.” Pg. 16
Would you rather have a disengaged trained test-taker or a fully engaged creative thinker?
Design thinking is not a separate subject, it’s a different way of doing things.
I will fail. The only way to blaze a trail is by taking risks and failing forward.
Creativity is for all of us, not a select few.
Creativity is a process that requires structure.
I have everything I need to unleash the creative potential of my students.
I want my students to think of themselves as makers and creators.
Chapter 2 - Finding Your Creative Approach
- Loves creating from scratch
- Why not reinvent the wheel?
- View creativity as natural, messy, and inherently, well, normal
- Data is cold and sterile compared to the vibrant stories of learning
- fascinated by ideas and constantly working to tweak things
- Thinks systems and structures are fascinating
- Sees value in creating order from chaos
- Can remind others sometimes creativity happens through systems and structures
- enjoys designing and developing new systems from scratch
- Masters at getting other creative types to work collaboratively by designing the invisible system
- tends to focus on fixing problems
- Always on the search for a better solution
- More interested in how things work instead of why things work
- Creativity is practical and hands-on
- subversive, actively working to tear down a broken system in order to create something better
- Often attuned to the quiet injustices kids face
- Can be considered a rebel who arbitrarily disobeys the rules
- Adept at keeping things fresh and pushing innovation in unexpected places
The Point Guard
- Make experiences rather than product
- Ability to see potential outcomes and patterns in various situations
- Ability to think differently in the moment
- Looks effortless but it isn’t
Schools need to embrace all types of creatives.
I believe I am part Hacker, Artist, and Point Guard creative.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts; each individual’s tasks, roles and accomplishments, coming together, can do exceptional work.
Chapter 3 - The Launch Cycle
Look, Listen, and Learn
Ask Lots of Questions
Understand the Problem or Process
Highlight What’s Working and Failing
Get ready to Launch!
Phase 1 - Look, Listen, and Learn
Phase 2 - Ask Lots of Questions
Individually and collaboratively
Individual first, the group brainstorm.
Sentence starters may be needed.
Phase 3 - Understand the Problem or Process
Gather as much information as possible.
This is an essential aspect of project-based learning because the depth of this phase will truly impact the rest of the process.
Phase 4 - Navigate Ideas
“Whiteboarding” - navigate multiple ideas until a general plan can be formed
Loose, chaotic, and open until zeroing in on a specific concept and shaping it into a specific idea
Phase 5 - Create
In my experience students will want to skip the first four phases and jump right to this phase. Structure or foundation essential for focused process.
Phase 6 - Highlight What’s Working and Failing
Students determine what works and what doesn’t and work out the glitches.
Need to have a clear vision on what quality looks like and how to assess it.
Stanford d.school - “Our bias is toward action, followed by reflection on personal discoveries about process.
The seven stages take time initially but will eventually save time.
Design thinking can work in all subjects with creativity.
Design thinking will work with any aged student.
When making actual products.
When there is significant time to go through the entire process.
When I have the freedom to do this work.
With standards-based grading where students can continue to work towards mastery.
When the specific problem is important to the student(s).
Without a Launch, the audience of one, will be lonely.
Chapter 4 - Look, Listen, and Learn
“Don’t seek to be the best, seek to do your best.” Sarah Thomas
Start with awareness.
7 Ways to Tap Into Student Awareness
1. Start with the observation of a phenomenon
- pg. 71
2. Tap into natural wonder
- pg. 73
3. Start with awareness about a specific issue
- pg. 74-75
4. Start with empathy towards a specific group
- pg. 77
5. Start with a specific problem that needs to be solved
- pg. 79
6. Start with a product idea
- pg. 81
7. Start with a geeky interest
- pg. 83
Action Plan Template - the launchcycle.com/action
Chapter 5 - Ask Tons of Questions
“Every child is born with a natural curiosity. It would s not something we have to teach, but it is something we must cultivate and nurture.” - pg. 94
It all begins with wonder.
Students should ask as many questions as they answer.
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask a question.
Creative classrooms are the ones where students are able to question answers as often as they answer questions.
How Do We Help Students Ask Better Questions?
* I will be getting these 14 tips hung up in the classroom
1. Question Everything
2. Do Wonder Days
3. Give feedback on questions
4. Model the process
5. Practice it often
6. Spend more time playing
7. Provide support
8. Explain and model the different types of questions
9. Embrace student choice
10. Use multiple grouping options
11. Slow down
12. Follow rabbit trails
13. Share your own questions
14. Reduce the fear
Example - look up Anastasia Academy in Denver, CO
Chapter 6 - Understanding the Information
Research isn’t about reading, it’s about learning.
Understanding Your Questions Criteria
- The questions should connect to the main topic
- The questions should be specific
- The questions should be object- and fact-based
- The questions should ultimately lead to research that will help students find solutions and create products
1. Make the research process flexible
2. Pay attention to bias
3. Start early in the year to get more practice
4. Expand your definition of sources
5. Provide scaffolding...but not too much
Broader Definition of Research
1. Research Through Reading
2. Multimedia Research
3. Exploring Data
5. Hands-On Research
The research and understanding phase can be fun. The goal is to their research to the larger problem they are trying to solve.
Chapter 7 - Navigating Ideas
Ideating - wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint or make a meal from scratch and not think about the ingredients
Pump the breaks and have the students make a plan, not jump right into creating.
- Hold the students to this because it will get out of control if the students are allowed time to move forward without a plan and then the frustrations will be too great for all parties
Part One - Brainstorming
Brainstorm in isolation first - allows introverts time to process
Group storming - number students - threes find a different group
Add Bad ideas
Combine two or three unrelated ideas
Have a firm rule that there are no dumb ideas in the brainstorm phase
Experiment with group structure
Round-robin - one by one
Sharing ideas on one digital document
Be clear on specific topic of a brainstorm
Be intentional about the physical space of a brainstorming session
Create breaks for individual reflection
How can you build on someone else’s idea?
Have a brainstorm leader whose job it is to write down the ideas and guide the brainstorm.
Move students around.
Try multiple visual methods.
Don’t use a timer.
Part Two - Choosing An Idea
Plenty of debate and discussion
Step 1: Adding Details
What is missing?
Step 2: Consolidating Ideas
What trends do you see?
Step 3: Setting Up Criteria
What are you looking for in your design?
What do we want to accomplish?
Step 4: Narrow Down the Best Ideas
Top two or three
Which ideas are the most original? Most realistic?
Step 5: Choose the Idea
Which idea solve the problem best? Why?
Which idea fits with the skills of our group?
Part Three - Figuring Out the PARTS
Product Idea - What it is? How it works?What resources are needed?
Audience - Who is the intended audience?
Roles - How will members communicate? What are the different roles?
Tasks - Due? Stages? Materials? Pg. 144 Example Chart
Solution - What are the problems this solves?
Biography of the idea - not celebrating the person, but how the idea morphed and with collaboration was able to be successful
* I love this idea of having students research an idea instead of a person
Chapter 8 - Creating
“The classroom should reflect the world for which we are preparing our students. If we are asking them to create, innovate, and be outstanding as graduates, then our classrooms should be creative, innovative, and outstanding places to learn.” - Jenny Magiera, author of Courageous Adventures
This phase is where the students will have the most fun, at first, and then may experience “project fatigue.”
The “Houston, we have a problem” moment in each process will define me as a creative teacher.
If there is not a problem that needs to be thought around, under, and through, "we" are not being innovative enough and taking the risks necessary to advance our learning to its greatest potential!
Every roadblock is a chance to solve a problem.
It Takes Time
- need to give students time to experience this phase
- could provide templates, tutorials or one-on-one time
It Feels Scary
- share your own fear as a maker
- Promote growth mindset with students
- Encourage risk-taking as part of your classroom culture
- Switch to standards-based grading
- Keep the creative work meaningful to students
- Fear festers when it is hidden
Classroom Management Issues
- What procedures and expectations need to be taught ahead of time
Not Enough Resources
- prototyping is about imagination, dreaming and working with your hands to create something
- Forty-five minute design challenges
- Sometimes, it’s about re-purposing the box
It Gets Boring
- It’s hard as the teacher to step back and let students endure their boredom
- A common trait of all creative people is they work
- Boredom is a choice
- Learn to distinguish between boredom and confusion
- Keep working, no matter how you feel
- Remember what’s important
- Cultivate creative habits rather than simply winging it
It Doesn’t Have Meaning
- Cannot be about grades for students
- Cannot be about money for teachers
- Take notice of what you do when no one is “telling what to do.”
- Take notice of what you do when you are “suppose to be doing something else.”
- What types of information do you read and watch
- Create your own “March Madness Interests” bracket
- Give yourself a trial period
- Get started - purpose gives you the “Why?”
Chapter 9 - Highlight and Improve the Product
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
- Elon Musk
Ongoing mini-cycle of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the product and then improving it based upon that feedback.
Failing sucks. Failing isn’t fun. Failing is infuriating.
- Each mistake is critical towards the final product.
Embrace the journey. When I create a safe place for my students to face their fears, I am allowing the students to develop character.
Peer Feedback Process - 20 min. - pg. 182
To keep testing and revision interesting...
1. Change up the grouping
2. Help the students become better critics
3. Emphasize all great products went through multiple iterations
4. Break it up into small revisions
5. Create the right environment for revision
6. Devote more time to revision
7. Use student conferencing
Chapter 10 - It’s Time to Launch!
“The currency of the future is Ideas.” - Sabba Quidwai
Students need to sell their work to their audience - marketing
“If you have an idea, a product, a service, or an event that you care about, you [the student] ultimately want it to reach an audience.” Pg 196
7 Reasons Why Kids Should Learn Marketing
1. Marketing is a vital life skill
2. Children need an ethical foundation to marketing
3. Students learn about rejection
4. Students develop courage
5. Students grow in their creative confidence.
6. Students become critical consumers of information
7. Students become more apathetic
Should contact with audience happen throughout to get their feedback to make revisions to first iteration?
Part One - Clarify Audience -
What beliefs, values, or attitudes does your audience have?
Part Two - Figuring Out Your Methods -
What platforms will you use to share your work?
Part Three - Convincing People to Buy In -
How will you persuade your audience without being deceptive?
Part Four - Launching
How will you release your product?
“When we talk about design thinking, creativity, innovation and the maker movement, we can’t forget what’s most important: giving students the opportunity to make an impact right now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not when they graduate. Right now.” - A.J. Juliani
Action Plan - launchcycle.com/action
Anastasia Academy in Denver, CO
There is too much happening in education to do it alone. There is too much happening in education to do it without Passion, Immersion into the process, Rapport building, Asking and Analyzing, Transformation and Enthusiasm in the process. The status quo will not continue to work. There are very intentional ways to build up what is happening in the classroom to engage students in a culture that celebrates the learning process. Mr. Burgess encourages "lighting a fire of passion and not to worry if it's not a controlled burn!" We need educators who are bringing to life the possibilities to the learning process.
Avast Ye! Get on Cap'n Burgess' ship, matey!
Teach Like a Pirate
- love teaching the Civil War, the Constitution, Civil Rights Movement
- incorporate life-changing lessons (LCLs)
- growth mindset
- Project-Based Learning
- web design
- Twitter - social media
“Light yourself on fire with passion...and don’t worry if it’s not a controlled burn.” Pg. 12
“It is far more powerful to “swim” with your students. They need the benefit of your complete immersion.” Pg. 15
I notice too many adults that are acting like lifeguards, high above, watching, instead of being the swim instructors in the pool.
“Building rapport is all about interacting with your students as fellow human beings,not just as subordinates.” Pg. 21
Day 1 - play-doh activity - names
Day 2 - crashed on an island - helicopter can only take 5 of the 10 people - collaboration
Day 3 - sales pitch why this class will be different and the students will be successful
Ask and Analyze
The types of questions we ask ourselves determine the types of answers we receive.
Being creative is not having it or not having it. Being creative takes practice and asking the right questions.
Create a vision. Define the goals. Start working for them.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy
Creative Alchemy - do hobbies, bucket list items, passions and surround yourself with new information
“Standing out from the crowd is the only way to guarantee your message is received in a culture that is increasingly distracted and where attention spans are plummeting.” Dave Burgess
“Act as if” principle
Change what you focus on
“Light yourself on fire with passion...and don’t worry if it’s not a controlled burn.” Dave Burgess
“Swim” with the students and their work!
Relationships with the students as learners not people that need to be controlled.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy
“Standing out from the crowd is the only way to guarantee your message is received in a culture that is increasingly distracted and where attention spans are plummeting.” Dave Burgess
Crafting Engaging Lessons
The Third Circle
Too often time is spent on content and techniques, not enough time is spent on presentation.
“There is no content standard more important than nurturing and building a love for learning.” Dave Burgess - Pg 78
A Crash Course In Presentation Hooks
“I Like to Move It, Move It”
- How can I incorporate movement into this lesson?
The Safari Hook
- How can I get my class outside my four walls for this lesson?
“Long Live The Arts”
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows us.”
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein
The Picasso Hook
- How can I include art into this lesson?
The Mozart Hook
- How can I use music to aid my presentation?
The Dance and Drama Hook
- Can I provide the opportunity for my students to do skits or appear in videos related to what we are learning?
The Craft Store Hook
- How can I incorporate a craft into this lesson?
“What’s In It For Me?”
The Student Hobby Hook
- How can I incorporate the hobbies and outside interests of my students into this material?
The Real-World Application Hook
- How can students apply this to their life?
The Life-Changing Lesson Hook
- How can I use this lesson to deliver an inspirational message?
The Student-Directed Hook
- How can I provide opportunities for students to have autonomy and choice?
The Opportunistic Hook
- What current events are related to this lesson?
Building capacity of the students to take ownership of their learning and their demonstration of their learning would take care of most of these areas.
Does Project-Based Learning best provide these opportunities?
- The lessons then throughout the unit will include the inspirational messages and challenging what the students have long held as school.
All the World is the Stage
The Interior Design Hook
- Can I change the lighting for mood?
The Board Message Hook
- How can I write on my board or have projected on my screen that will immediately spark curiosity?
The Costume Hook
- What can I wear as an outfit or costume for this lesson?
The Props Hook
- What physical item can I bring in to add to my presentation?
The Involved Audience Hook
- How can I keep the audience consistently involved?
The Mystery Bag Hook
- How can I openly hide something to gain engagement?
Stand and Deliver
The Storytelling Hook
- Can I create a high interest story to fit this lesson?
The Swimming with the Sharks Hook
- Can I participate in the activity?
The Taboo Hook
- How can I position my topic so that it seems like a little-known secret?
The Mime Hook
- How can I use the mesmerizing power of silence to spark interest?
The Teaser Hook
- Can I spark interest in this lesson by promoting it ahead of time?
The Backwards Hook
- How can I gain an advantage or increase interest by presenting this material out of sequence?
The Mission Impossible Hook
- How can I design my lesson so that students are trying to unravel and solve a mystery?
The Reality TV Hook
- How can I design my lesson to take advantage of the popularity of reality tv?
The Techno Whiz Hook
- How can I tap into the technological prowess of my students?
Around the Edges
The Contest Hook
- How can I include a contest in this lesson to build excitement and motivation?
The Magic and the Amazing Hook
- What amazing principle can I demonstrate as part of this lesson?
The Chef Hook
- How can I advance this lesson by adding food or drinks?
The Mnemonic Hook
- Is there a pattern to point out?
The Extra-Credit Challenge Hook
- What High-interest and motivating challenges can I create that relate to this unit?
“Rising up to and overcoming challenges, building lifetime relationships, and forging positive connections to school won’t directly result in better test scores. It will result in better people.” Dave Burgess
Building a Better Pirate
The Awkward Question
Do you want to be great?
- This answer is not egotistical or selfish
“...your greatness in the classroom doesn’t negatively impact or inhibit anyone else’s opportunity to be great. This isn’t a zero sum game. The pie is infinitely huge. In fact, your greatness only enhances the opportunities and possibilities for others.” Pg 145
“A rising tide lifts all ships.”
Mediocrity Doesn’t Motivate
Seeking greatness can ignite, stoke, and continuously fuel a raging inferno.
The Mighty Purpose
Our purpose is too mighty for anything other than our best!
Forget about the things you can’t control and play your drum to the best of your abilities!
Where Do I Start?
The first step is the hardest...
Five Most Common Reasons For What’s Holding People Back
1. The Fear of Failure - life is not 100% or failure
2. Believing you have to figure it all out before you begin - nobody has it all figured out
3. Perfectionism - perfection is an impossible goal
4. Lack of Focus - when you say yes to something, you say no to something else
5. Fear of criticism or ridicule - it’s coming...if you are trying new ideas and being proactive instead of reactive, criticism and ridicule will happen
The only part of “rigor” I want is ‘challenging’ not severity or cruelty.
When In Doubt, Take Action
Get rolling 60mph towards your goal and any obstacles will be steamrolled!
Find A Crew
You can’t sail, navigate and fight battles all on your own.
No one style will solve every issue. Learn from as many sources as possible to enrich your craft.
This would be one of my first pieces of advice to any teacher at any experience level. Find your crew. Surround yourself with people that challenge your thinking, support your questioning and bring joy to your teaching.
Positive culture does not happen by accident. Culture will not turn positive when ignored. We have choices to make each and every day to be the leaders building the culture we want in our school buildings. Mr. Casas lays out four principles that when practiced with intentionality, will lead to the development of a positive school culture. As educators, we have to take ownership in our current roles as leaders that can either building a culture that celebrates failures and finds joy in others' successes or we can be building a negative culture full of awfulizers. What we do matters, no matter our current position. Students need us to be our greatness to push them to heights unknown in their learning.
Culturize is a must read for anyone working in education!
Just Talk To Me
“As school teachers and leaders, it is our responsibility to prohibit average from becoming standard.” Pg. 4
Ineffective leadership is the number one issue public education.
- Leadership includes teachers and school leaders
- Everyone has the capacity to lead, and everyone is responsible for culture and climate
4 Core Principles
“Three most important characteristics of an amazing educator are compassion, passion, and knowledge. In that exact order.” - Nicholas Ferroni
Champion for ALL students.
Get to know interests, fears and talents will develop positive relationships.
Relationships. Relationships. Relationships.
Inhibited by the 3Cs - students labeled lazy, apathetic, “reluctant learners”
“When asking students to write, we need to provide structure, specific strategies, quality feedback, direction, support and modeling on a consistent basis.” Pg. 41
Leaders build confidence.
Leaders influence new thinking.
Leaders change behaviors.
Leaders disrupt the status quo.
Leaders do not need a title.
Leaders are not constantly asking for permission.
Build a resume of failures.
- “Failure should not bring us shame; it helps us grow!”
Leaders aren’t afraid to say no.
- Be aware of how it is said and follow up - it’s okay to change a “no” to a “yes”
Leaders should not play the “gotcha” game.
- Catch people doing positive actions
Leaders will experience pushback.
- Challenging the status quo and having change will happen
Leaders value communication.
- I need to be a better communicator with parents.
Leaders own their morale.
- I can change the world!
Carry the Banner
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
What we model is what we get.
I get to choose in every interaction if I am an awfulizer or an awesomizer!
“...the goal should be to empower your students to achieve their peak level of performance—not just in the heat of the moment, but every day.”
Carry the Banner
“It is important to take time to surround yourself with others who keep you focused on the things that matter, who energize you, and give you hope!” Jimmy Casas
If I am not spreading the positive about what is happening in our school, who is? Others need to hear the stories and events that are good and not only hear what is wrong with education.
Be a Merchant of Hope
“It’s one thing to say we have high expectations for kids...but another to say I will be here to help you...no matter your struggles!” - Salome Thomas-EL
Summer home visits? Building a culture that is based on relationships.
After disciplinary discussions...
Do you feel I treated you fairly?
Do you think I care about you?
We have the power to choose
It’s Your Choice
I wish I knew then what I know now...
Focus on experiences
Take time to invest in self
Show others what is needed
Give all staff the opportunity to build leadership skills
Process should be democratic, implementation must become autocratic
Spend time trying to be significant in others lives
Differentiate for staff
Manage own emotions first to improve relationships
Focus on skill sets rather than knowledge
Apologize and accept an apology
Own your professional growth
Believe you can make an impact
Lead with passion.
Live with purpose.
Love with pride.
It’s your choice how you want to live each day!
Mr. Dylan Wince
I am not a writer but I am writing. I have learned too much to not share my journey.