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The Learner-Centered Leader: Reflect and Renew
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Let's Not Hurry!

Today, Mother's Day, I found myself at a greenhouse buying a hanging basket for my wife. I am not saying that I did not plan for mother's day, but I did need to go to the greenhouse "just in case!" ;) The greenhouse was very busy (I noticed there was a large proportion of males in line...just saying...) and the checkout line was over 14 people deep. Enough people for me to realize I was going to wait in line for at least 20 minutes.

Now, I could have become frustrated or angry at the long wait, but I remembered a blog post I read this week and I found myself calmly waiting for my turn at the cash register. The blog post is a summary of the book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. The book provides strategies, and a mindset, to help people avoid being distracted and always in a hurry.

Here are three lessons from the book (My thoughts are in italics).

1. You have to set aside time each day for the kind of silence and solitude that brings peace. I have suggested something like this many times to people. I believe I have even discussed it in this newsletter and I'll say it again. Place in your schedule at least two 10-minute blocks where you turn off all notifications, shut the door and work uninterrupted on something. I am currently writing another book and I use this 10-minute method to write as many words as I can in 10 minutes. Sometimes it's a few hundred words, other times less than 50. The point is that I am uninterrupted! 

2. Taking a day off each week for rest isn’t such a bad idea, it can greatly improve your productivity and happiness. This is hard for educators...especially since the pandemic. I think we have started a new habit of working 7 days a week because the pandemic was so intense for such a long time. Take a day of the week, more than likely Saturday or Sunday, and do not do any "school" work. Work on a hobby, read a book, go out with friends, or just do nothing! Try it.

3. To become more mindful, take pleasure in slowing down your life by allowing moments of inefficiency. This is where my greenhouse story comes into play. It is easy to become frustrated at the “inefficiency” of only one checkout person, but I turned that on its head and reveled in being there, on a beautiful day, buying something that I knew my wife would appreciate.

Try any or all of these strategies this week.
Read The Blog Post

Learner-Centered Leader Definition

The definition of a Learner-Centered Leader: A mindset a leader has that always considers the best interest of a learner when making decisions.

I am starting to become a little frustrated with the term "learner-centered leader.” I started using the term 8 years ago before it became a "fashionable" term. Now that it is "fashionable", the term is being used to justify a lot of different policies and strategies of leadership.

One area that I am particularly concerned about is the perspective (see last week's newsletter) people use to define learner-centered leadership for themselves.

I believe with all of my heart that a learner-centered leader MUST keep learners that are disadvantaged (for whatever reason) at the top of everything they do. 

When I was in graduate school to become a counselor, we were taught that is always easy to work with articulate, not smelly, clean, clients. I see some people hanging their hats on "learner-centered leadership" by talking about the kids that are easy to work with...middle and upper-class kids from supportive families.

Generally speaking, these kids are "easy" to work with. If this cohort of kids becomes the overall target for learner-centered leaders, then the potential impact for learner-centered leadership will be diminished.

Let's not let that happen!
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Put Hope In Your Goals For Your School
This is a great article from The Harvard Business Review.

The topic is hope, and it comes from a research perspective. Here is my review of the article.

Definition of hope: “the belief that the future will be better than the present, coupled with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”  Notice the personal ownership an individual has in this definition.

The importance of imagining a better future: "If you cannot imagine a better future, hope is impossible. What we imagine impacts us emotionally and physically. Athletes experience meaningful benefits to their physical performance from repeatedly and vividly imagining themselves performing well. Conversely, when we repeatedly and vividly imagine a bleak future, it impacts our performance, mood, and even physiology. A lack of positive future imagery is associated with depression, and the intrusion of strong negative imagery is associated with PTSD. We pay an emotional and physical price for a future that may not even arrive." In the world today where people fight for your attention by perseverating on a topic by claiming the world will end if "a" happens or because "b" will happen, we must be on guard against the lack of hope ingrained in this type of dialogue.

One quick activity to help you project hope into your future.

First, imagine things have gone well for you over the next two years and write a postcard to yourself from that future.

Second, stand in that future. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in that future. What are you doing? What are those around you doing? How do you feel?

Third, identify the next best action (no matter how small) you need to do to make your hopeful future happen. Here is a visual to help you with this concept. Place your goal in the upper right hand corner of a piece of paper. In the lower left write “where I am now.” Then start working backward from your goal, placing milestones necessary for you to achieve to reach your goal. Once the milestones are put in, you go back to where you are now and start writing actions you need to do to reach the first milestone. Your first action is called “your next best thing” to do. Have the mindset that there will always be a ‘next best thing to do.”

Read The Article
Book Of The Week
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