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Let's All Be An Awesomizer This Week!

The idea of becoming an awesomizer in your school comes from Jimmy Casas. I spent some time with Jimmy last year as we worked together for a conference he was speaking at. I highly recommend his book Culturize. In the book, he discusses four principles to create an awesome culture.

Core Principle #1 Be a Champion for Students

Core Principle #2 Expect Excellence

Core Principle #3 Carry the Banner

Core Principle #4 Be a Merchant of Hope. 

You can learn more about these core principles by reading his book, or reading my blog post reviewing his book. 
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15 Ways To Learn From Someone You Disagree With

From the Mark Sanborn blog, 15 strategies to use to allow yourself the opportunity to learn from someone you disagree with. My personal top 5 are in bold. Which ones do you find useful? Contact me at and share! 

1. Jordan Peterson says it well, “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”
2. A close second: remember that nobody is always right or always wrong. We all have a mix of informed, uninformed and ill-informed opinions. Dropping the belief that you are always more right than others is an exercise in humility, and a reality check.
3. Understand why someone thinks differently than you, not just what they think differently about. You’ll learn much more from why they feel a certain way than just what they disagree about.
4.Treat the exchange like an inquiry, not an inquisition. When people feel challenged they usually get defensive.
5. Look for what you agree about and use that as a foundation. Build from whatever you can and do agree about.
6. Validate the other by expressing you hadn’t considered their point of view.
7. Ask them to explain why they disagree with what you are saying.
8. Appreciate that a difference of experience can easily create a difference of perspective.
9. Acknowledge that people draw different conclusions from the same experiences.
10. If you disagree, do it politely.
11. Don’t just disagree, but explain why.
12. Recap what you think the other person is saying to make sure you understand correctly.
13. Admit when you don’t have enough information to know if something is true or not.
14. Use the phrase, “In my experience.” Others can disagree with your conclusion but not what happened to you.
15. Thank the person for expanding your perspective (if you are truly appreciative).
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Never Walk Past A Mistake

From the CIO Insight Blog.
“Never walk past a mistake” is one of the first lessons taught to young leaders in the U.S. military, according to retired U.S. General and Secretary of State Colin Powell in his memoir, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership. Like a gifted teacher, Powell, with an able assist from coauthor Tony Koltz, reinforces the message of “Never walk past a mistake” by succinctly describing it a second way: “Make on-the-spot corrections.”

Powell expounds on the advantages of “Never walk past a mistake” by describing its five purposes. They are, in his words:

1. Correcting a mistake shows attention to detail and reinforces standards within an organization

2. It teaches aspiring leaders to have the moral courage to speak out when standards are not being met

3. It shows the followers that you care about them, the unit, and its mission

4. You set the example for all of your subordinate leaders to act in the same manner

5. It keeps mistakes and screw-ups from moving to another level or, even worse, propagating

I was told by one of my leadership mentors that the things that can cause you problems often start out as something you don't think of as a "problem". Small actions, decisions, or interactions if not understood in the context of the situation in which they occur, can "sneak up on you" and cause problems.

I have three rules to try to prevent small things from becoming big things.
  1. Be Aware Of Your Environment: I tell people that if I am walking down the hall or at a school event (like a sporting event), I will not answer a question that just "pops up". I tell people to email the question or set up a time to meet with me. Making a flippant decision or remark on the spur of the moment without thinking through the second or third order effects turns small problems into big problems.
  2. Take The First Opportunity To Have The Fierce Conversation: It can be easy to pass off the uncomfortable conversation until later in the day, week, or month. DON"T DO IT! If you think the conversation is going to be a difficult one, the person you are going to talk to probably has the same idea. Before they (and you) can build a false narrative about the conversation, just schedule the conversation and get it over with.
  3. Make the Phone Call: Emails, texts, and DM's make interacting with people quick, but not necessarily efficient. The power of picking up the phone and talking something through with someone is a better (and more efficient) way to communicate. Phone conversations are a great way to build trust with your staff, boss, and parents.
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What Is Workism?
Workism. Have you heard of it? If you haven't you probably have felt it.

Here is the definition of Workism: It is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.

As we reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, let's reflect on the past 16 months. Most of us have blown through any separation we tried to keep between a work and home life. Being forced to work from home only increased the number of hours we could work. Creating a home office in your home invites more work. Although I am sure all of us were doing critically important work...was it really more important than spending time with loved ones?

A topic that is closely related to workism is the idea of meritocracy. Meritocracy is the belief that those who work hard and perform the best are promoted at work and in society. We know that meritocracy is a myth and that the word was created to ridicule those people that believed anyone at any time could "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" and succeed.

From the Atlantic Article:
Hardworking outsiders no longer enjoy genuine opportunity. According to one study, only one out of every 100 children born into the poorest fifth of households, and fewer than one out of every 50 children born into the middle fifth, will join the top 5 percent. Absolute economic mobility is also declining—the odds that a middle-class child will outearn his parents have fallen by more than half since mid-century—and the drop is greater among the middle class than among the poor. Meritocracy frames this exclusion as a failure to measure up, adding a moral insult to economic injury.

Our society, however, has relegated workism and meritocracy to a status of a religion. This has resulted in two immediate problems for learner-centered leaders.
  1. Overreliance on Testing: If you believe someone deserves "merit", then you have to measure something to compare people. In education, we measure the worthiness and merit of learners, teachers, and schools through high-stakes testing. Once the results of the tests are known, the worthiness and merit of learners, teachers, and schools can be determined.
  2. Shame: Learners and teachers understand there is a value judgment being made when a test score is used to determine the worth of someone. The resulting shame that is inflicted on the 30%, 40%, 50%, or 60% of the people that don't "measure up" creates short-term problems for our schools, but (more importantly) long-term problems for the individual. 
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