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Good Morning <<First Name>>,

I have my own way of scientifically determining when summer turns into fall.  Now, some people will follow the calendar to determine the change of the season. Some people will start looking at the leaves on the trees to gain insight into the upcoming fall season. Me, I have a tried and true are welcome to use it if you want. 

I judge when the change from summer to fall is occurring in two ways.

The first way is what workout clothes I have to wear when I go for my bike rides.

The second, and more important, is I pay attention to what beer I am craving.

Well, this week I went for an early morning bike ride and it was 53 degrees so I had to wear a long sleeve shirt and cycling pants that covered my entire legs.

More importantly, this weekend I was walking through our grocery store's beer aisle and was craving Octoberfest and pumpkin spice beer. So, it's official...Autumn is on the way!

Have a great week!

P.S. Please take 10 seconds and complete the survey at the end of the newsletter. Your feedback helps me make the newsletter better!


Key Questions To Ask Your Staff

Last week I had in-depth conversations with three outstanding educators. Two of them are teachers, and one is a building principal. These people are the cream of the crop when it comes to educators. All of them have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place for the learners in the classrooms and buildings. None of them have a jaded attitude about the worth of their profession.

What all of them share is a foreboding sense of exhaustion. The pandemic is partly to blame for how they feel, but it is not the entire picture. Sure, the pandemic upended so many routines and put a lot of pressure on educators. Overall, they made it through that aspect of the pandemic.

What they are struggling with is the secondary effects of the pandemic. Namely, the change in attitude from the public toward their job and profession. More specifically, the way the learners, parents, and community members talk to them is often degrading and mean. These behaviors spiked during the last school year and show no sign of abating.

It's almost like frontline educators are taking the brunt of the frustration that people experience in our society about how they perceive their lives are going. People can't interact with the President, the Congressperson, or Senator...but they do see their school staff. As a matter of fact, they feel they can summon the school staff just to "give them a piece of my mind." They are taking their frustrations out on the closest person that represents what they are disagreeing with...and that happens to be a teacher or a school leader. 

This is a huge burden to bear and it is driving people out of our profession.

I have no answer or fix to this problem. However, as a school leader, there are a few things you can do to help people through this tough time.

1. Acknowledge to your staff that the behaviors directed at them are not their fault and you will support them. Oftentimes your staff just wants to know the boss knows (and appreciates) what they are going through.

2. Give time. Time is the most precious commodity to an educator. How can you give more time to your staff? Can you be creative and not assign a duty to them? Can you brainstorm how to figure out coverages when you can't find substitute teachers? Show grace when a staff member has to leave a few minutes early for an appointment. These are small things that prove your respect for your staff

3. Ask how you can help. use one or all of the following questions with at least some of your staff...every day
           -What can I do to make your life easier this week?
           -What can I take off your plate?
           -What is one thing that will make your job better?

I hope these are useful and that you use some of these strategies starting this week.

Interested Is Not Committed

I am adding this at the last minute from the Sunday Thinking newsletter I's too good not to share...

Ask yourself, are you truly committed or merely just interested?
  • When you are committed, you find a way. When you are interested, you find an excuse.
  • When you are committed, you do whatever it takes. When you are interested, you do what is convenient.
  • When you are committed, you do it consistently. When you are interested, you do it occasionally.
  • When you are committed, you take accountability. When you are interested, you cast blame.
  • A committed leader feels the truth helps. An interested leader feels the truth hurts.
  • A committed leader appreciates what they need to hear. An interested leader appreciates only what they want to hear.
Read The Entire Newsletter Here

What Are Your Parameters Of Possibility?

Okay, we know we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. A statement of fact: in the past two years we have experienced an exponential rise in VUCA. How can you make plans and reach for goals in a VUCA world?

For every project or goal figure out your parameters of possibility. Ask yourself this question: Under the conditions as they exist right now, what can I accomplish? Setting the parameters helps you stay focused on the task at hand.

One more thing: when thinking of the parameters of possibility, keep in mind you should always venture out of your comfort zone. You can easily box yourself in with parameters that are so "tight" that you never try anything new. ALWAYS live on the outskirts of your comfort zone so you can constantly grow.
Technology As A Tool
I came across this as I was wandering around my Evernote folders the other day and I thought I would share it with you.

What does the word "technology" mean to you? Is chalk and a chalkboard "technology?"

What role does "technology" have in bringing great instruction to every classroom...more than a glorified chalkboard I hope!

Think about what technology means to you as you digest this chart.

Pulling Back The Curtain
I have been asked a few times over the past month how I put together this newsletter every week. Well, today, I will briefly pull back the curtain and share with you the tools that help me write this newsletter every week.

I write the newsletter on Sunday afternoon. By that time, I have the newsletter planned out in my head because I have been saving interesting blogs and articles throughout the week.

I use Evernote to save interesting articles and blog posts. I also use Evernote to capture ideas for the newsletter as they come up throughout the day. I have been using Evernote for over 12 years and I like how it helps me organize my thoughts.

I am old school in how I follow blogs. I follow 16 bloggers and I use Diigo to help me organize them. I am not sure that I am using Diigo in the way it was intended, but it works for me!

I use my Gmail account to subscribe to over 20 email newsletters that hit my inbox every week. If I like something that was discussed in the newsletter, I email it to my Evernote account so I can save it for later.

I send the newsletter using Mailchimp. There are hundreds of different providers that can send mass emails out for you, but I chose Mailchimp because they have a good free option until you reach a certain number of emails sent. Since I am not close to that number, I am happy with Mailchimp. I am considering moving to another service but that won't happen for a few more months.

I use Grammarly to help with grammar and spell check. Actually, their AI is really good and it will suggest total rewrites of some of my sentences. You can set up Grammarly to match the type of writing you want to achieve. For example, I have mine set at "informal." If I were writing a dissertation, I would set it up as "formal."

I listen to 10-15 podcast episodes a week (I have a long commute to work!). I use Apple podcast and Spotify podcast to curate my podcasts. I primarily use Apple podcast and I follow 25 shows that come into my feed every week. I follow everything from education, philosophy, business, cycling, writing, and some true crime! I do not listen to all of the episodes every week, but I quickly read the descriptions and decide what to listen to.

Finally, I subscribe to Audible to listen to books. I used to listen to 70-80 books a year, but since I started listening to podcasts more, I probably only listen to 20-25 books a year. Remember, I have a minimum of 2 hours on the road for my commute every day so I have to fill that time with something useful!

If you have some tools that you use to help organize your day, please let me know! I am always looking for new tools to help me organize and write this newsletter!
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