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Personal Development/Podcast Episodes

Episode 4: Self-Confidence in Education

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Episode 4: Self-Confidence in Education

Superintendent of Schools for Community ISD, Dr. Roosevelt Nivens, highlighted his personal story of triumph.  During this episode, Dr. Nivens shared a truly inspiring story of overcoming as his father, friends, and teachers supporting him along his journey from a poor illiterate child, to an NFL football player, and ultimately to becoming a school superintendent.  He also discussed how he developed self-confidence and how he is driven to foster the right confidence in those he serves and impacts every day.

Personal Development

A New Year is Here, So Now What?

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A New Year is Here, So Now What?

SOURCE: Unsplash - Daria Nepriakhina

It is nearly impossible to welcome a new calendar year without thinking about what is to come. The pressure to set new goals, make new plans, and start anew is brought on by the constant reminders from our friends, social networks, and media of all types. Essentially, you would have to be living under a rock not to be bombarded with the expectations of setting new year resolutions. Well, this year I asked myself, what if we saw the new year’s resolution craze for what it really was, an arbitrary point in time in the dead of winter that is marketed as a reset button. Upon further reflection, I believe that we are easily charmed by this idea of a ‘do-over’ because we fundamentally lack stick-to-itiveness for many of our challenging goals in life. I say this not as a pessimist, rather, as a realist that aims to focus on the bigger issue to actually achieve real change. After all, isn’t that what we all really want in the new year, change? So to do this, I will embark on the following alternative plan of action for 2019 and suggest you do the same.

  1. Count your blessings and answered prayers for the year.
    Make this a practical exercise by listing out as many blessings you can think of in 5 minutes for each month of the year. You could start with the December and work your way backward to January. Also, if you have not already done so, commit to keeping a blessings/answered prayer log this year to help you with this process in the future. The best way to put the year in perspective is to review your blessings.
  2. Take time to clarify what is most important to you.
    It is so easy to fill our lives with things that really don’t matter. We are so busy with life’s distractions, influences, and entertainment competing for our emotions, energy, and commitment that we can become a magnet for trivial pursuits. To counter this, we have to focus and refocus on ‘the main thing continually’. Try putting your ideas on paper with a simple table using columns for spiritual desires, family desires, health desires, personal desires, and professional desires. I suggest these categories because most people usually end up pursuing things related to them, but feel free to make columns for the things that you tend to commit time and effort. Then list your most desired outcomes for each. I recommend adding results to help you clarify what goal obtainment would look like and to encourage action toward each area. Keep refining your list until you have one for each category. Once complete, your table should contain what matters most to you. As your life changes adjust, but always revisit before establishing a new goal and committing your time.
  3. Recognize what is driving you to make a goal.
    This is probably the most troubling aspect of making new year’s resolutions. Far too often we go with the flow without asking the question, ‘where is this coming from?’ before taking action. Are we being inspired by someone else’s success, the fear of missing out, a clever marketing campaign, or are we merely avoiding a more significant issue altogether? The best way to accomplish this is, to be honest with yourself and ask why five times to get to the heart of what is behind our desires to take action. Getting a handle on our motivations will always result in making better choices.
  4. Drop any dead weight – things that are not working need to go.
    This is easier said than done. You may even say this is harder than starting something new because our human nature and tendency to hold on to things that we have attached emotion or affixed meaning. Unfortunately, the reality is, we all tend to hesitate when it comes to confronting failures. Maybe that is because we are so used to seeing failures as negatives. Don’t get me wrong, I like to succeed as the next person, but the older I get, the more I appreciate learning – that is learning what works and what doesn’t work. We have to work at framing failures like a researcher developing prototypes. Every day we get the chance to make a new and improved version of ourselves, and this innovative mindset should lead us to scrutinize results frequently and make decisions to stop pursuing the things that don’t work. If you really feel the urge to start something new for 2019, how about starting the year with less – no more time wasters!
  5. Make a plan to review the progress of your goals at the beginning of each season – Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
    Yes, the need to review and revise is real, and I am not suggesting that we run from it. Instead, I am recommending that we put it in perspective. If we had a regular routine of goal evaluation throughout the year, we might find ourselves obtaining more goals and achieving what matters most in life. This is what led to my efforts to turn these steps into a practical exercise every quarter. Developing the right habits of mind toward continuous improvement and establishing practical steps for realizing success in life are always more important than following fads, trends, and emotional rollercoasters that end in failure and the need to reset every year.

So here’s to a year filled with daily renewals and not another once a year shot in the arm with the urge to set new goals.

Personal Development/Podcast Episodes

Episode 3: Finding Your Voice

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Episode 3: Finding Your Voice

Educator and Psychotherapist, Dr. Tracey Brown, shared advice on how to find your voice and work through challenges to achieve personal confidence.  During this episode, Dr. Brown shares the following resources, experiences, and strategies to help others find their voice:

– Recognizing the need for help
Giving yourself permission to succeed
Listening to the right voices for guidance
Continuing to learn and stay unboxed
Knowing your source of inspiration
Strategies for staying focused

Personal Development

Learning anything this summer?

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Learning anything this summer?

sandy island

Summer is in full effect.  Swimming, family trips, and other leisure activities are also in full effect.  As a result, I am sure that professional learning is not ranked very high on the summer fun list for most teachers.  The funny thing is the summer presents the most optimal time for exploring very meaningful professional development ideas.  I have come to understand the value of the of a well-timed summer professional learning task, and I would like to solicit other educators for their ideas for teachers of various levels of experience.  Please comment below with a professional learning idea that you have benefited from and would like to share with others.

Personal Development

The Art of Reflective Feedback

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The Art of Reflective Feedback

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

I have come to learn that reflective feedback plays a major role in learning.  The key to opening up more opportunities for learning for teachers is to utilize the appropriate form of reflective feedback.  According to a study done by Costa & Garmston, feedback usually is given in the following forms:

Options for reflective feedback

  1. Clarifying questions or statements for better understanding
  2. Feedback statements that identify value or value potential
  3. Feedback to mediate thinking through the use of reflective questions for possibilities

Another necessary part of providing reflective feedback questions should be to presume positive intent.  Whenever you presume reflective thinking on the part of educators you run the risk of causing a teacher to withdraw.  Once the language of positive presupposition is a part of one’s natural way of speaking and thinking, the use of reflective questions is as natural and easy as finding a word dictionary.

Questioning with Positive Presupposition

Examples Non-Examples

As you examine the data, what are some of your findings?

Did you look at the data?

When you think about your students’ needs, what strategies might be most appropriate?

Do you know what your students need?

While you monitor student learning, what are some indicators of success you look for?

Are you planning to assess student learning in this lesson?

In considering multiple instructional strategies, how did you decide cooperative learning was best for this lesson?

Did you think cooperative learning was the best strategy for this lesson?

Action Items

Try these strategies next time you work with teachers as you refine your art of reflective feedback.

  • Use positive presuppositions that presume a person has capacity, positive intention, desire, and prior and ongoing consideration.
  • Honor the speaker by demonstrating belief or trust in the speaker.
  • Model acceptance and respect
Personal Development

Implementing Traffic Light Reflection

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Implementing Traffic Light Reflection

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In a world of ever-increasing productivity, it is easy to feel the pressure to do more. I know many educators, including myself, have been forced to learn how to do more with less in this down economy and diminishing education budgets. I, in fact, have been reflecting more on my current realities and have been trying out different strategies for increasing my teachers’ effectiveness. So far one of the most effective strategies has been helping teachers establish and follow through with a traffic light reflection.  If you work in a coaching role with teachers, try these three strategies for helping increase teacher effectiveness.

educator

1. Examine your practice. When I work with educators, I constantly try to help them make connections between their efforts and their desired results.  Well, that involves two important steps: understand clearly what you are trying to achieve and recognize the actions you are taking to accomplish your goals. I believe it is essential that a coach have clarity in both before successfully helping an educator reach his goals. Basic questions like, what evidence should you see to inform you that you are reaching your goals, what would success look like for you, or what moves have you made as a result of these on to the next challenge, should become a regular part of a teacher’s reflection and should be answered with clear measurable steps or actions for the coach.

2. Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light. In everything, a coach should strive to help a teacher take a structured approach toward  reflection.  As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get into the routine of adding on more things to do or taking on more responsibilities.  In my work I have found that more attention should be given to identifying the actions that are contributing to the goal as well as those that are not contributing.  To do this I recommend using what I call a traffic light approach to reviewing action.  If followed one should look at the actions that should be started – the “green light”, the actions that should be continued – the “yellow light”, as well as the actions that should be stopped – the “red light”.  I have personally found it easier to find the green and yellow light tasks that should be added or continued, while the red light tasks that need to be discontinued are sometimes less obvious.

3. Take a 30 day challenge.  This step is simple.  Now that you have clearly articulated the end goal and have applied a traffic light reflection to your actions, make a concerted effort to keep track of your efforts for 30 days.  I have found that making this short-term goal allows you to ease into the new reflection habit while giving you enough time to measure a change in your effectiveness.  With a new year right around the corner this could be a perfect fit.

Try this traffic light reflection strategy and let me know what you think.