Thursday, January 15, 2015

My 5th Graders Reflect on Leadership

Writing gives every student a voice. As a writing teacher, it's vital that I read, respond, and share my students' work. Reading and sharing each other's work motivates writers more than any bit of red ink on a page.

Today, my students wrote private responses to a quote by Truett Cathy on motivation as part of their morning work. I read the responses tonight and selected my favorite parts of their writing. In essence, I quoted each of my students'work.

Tomorrow, my students will read their quotes as part of their morning work, choose the one that speaks to them the most, and write a response to that quote. Finally, we will share as a class why that quote was meaningful to them personally before we begin our day.

My hope is that my class is inspired by each other, and grow together as writers.

"You need to be a good example, because people are watching you, and are depending on you." ~Amy

"If you set a good example, and are kind, people will follow you--instead of you following them."~Preston

"If a person who helps others, says he is a follower. I would say, "No, you are a leader.'"~Erin

"You have to push yourself and try, but you also have to help in the right ways." ~ Daniel

"You need to inspire yourself, and push yourself." ~Anya

"Optimism means to not give up. To strive, To persevere. And to help others do the same." ~Garrett

"You have to motivate people--like, LeBron James. He elevated his teammates' skills."~Aleczander

"Keep trying and don't give up in what you do, and tell others to not give up in what they do." ~Annissa

"You have to reach your goals in order to succeed!" ~ Daniel

"Little kids look up to us. We are leaders to them." ~Chase

"Don't follow the wrong people. Just because they look nice doesn't mean they are nice."~Grace

"Be a leader, not a follower." ~Eva

"If you do something good for someone, something good will happen to you." ~Gunner

"Do your best, and help others to do their best." ~Logan

"You have to push yourself to do great. You can't just think about yourself either, sometimes we have to motivate others. But, remember only they can make themselves do something. So do your best and strive." ~Mackenzie

"We need to know how to self motivate and tell others WE CAN DO IT!" ~Demetria

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reflection: Creating a Culture of Excellence

The following is from a training on culture given by a local Chick-fil-A operator in my community. Throughout the session my fellow teachers and I received wonderful insights into creating a strong culture within an organization. I took copious notes, and am now going to extend this learning to you as the reader. I hope you gain as much strength from the following lesson as I did listening to it.

My hope is to extend these values to all stakeholders within my own school as this school year continues.

**Proverbs 22:1**
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

**Value brings honor, dignity, and respect to others!**

How do you get there?
1. Honest Evaluation- Tell yourself the truth, hear the truth from others, humility
2. What type of person are you? 
     - Pay Grade Person: Extract value from the business. Do the least amount that is expected to receive the pay check.
     - Value Grade Person: You come early and stay late, not worrying over paycheck, but more about how you affect others.
3. Humility launches us to seek the truth.

Look at your team. What needs to be changed to make it work?
(Although impossible to have all value-grade people, the goal is to have more value-grade people then pay-grade people.)
1. Don't compare yourselves to others, which distorts the truth. 
2. Excellence comes from being the best person that you can be against your own personal standards, not other people. 
3. Be solution oriented: Ask the right questions. 
    **Bad questions=pointing fingers**
    **Good questions= creating solutions**
As a result, change begins to happen, which in turn creates synergy or unity. Teachers begin to say, "Hey, maybe we can do this...or what about that idea?" This enhances value creation. 

1. Believe the best in each other!
2. Want the best for each other!
3. (Most Importantly) Expect the best from each other!

++The team must know what the EXPECTATIONS are from the bottom to the top and from the top to the bottom++

To achieve unity, reflect on, "Where am I failing, and how can I take control of my circumstances?"

++ Task: Write things down that are bothering you, or stressing you, and those are your areas of failure.++

Also, reflect on your areas of strength, In this sense ask yourself, "How can I leverage my strengths to add value to others and my organization?" 

For school leaders, "How can I leverage the strengths of people on my team to compensate for my own personal weaknesses?" For example, if I struggle with developing organizational systems, then put together a team of teachers that can carry out this vision. Delegate to the right people to ensure goals are met. Then, inspect for growth.

All of this will translate into a strong culture. 

++The opposite of unity or a bad culture is the result of rationalization of poor behavior among team members, which creates alienation and non-engaged employees.++

!!Create Raving Fans!!

The definition of raving fans are people who are willing to serve your entire school. 

Be "REMARK"able

1. Execute Operational Excellence: This must be here first!

Example: Student Safety, Respect for all stakeholders, Communication w/stakeholders
Others: High Contact, Smile, Enthusiasm, Speak to Guests

2. Deliver: Go the second mile! Do things that people don't expect. Be Genuine.

Examples: Greet kids and shake hands in the morning/throughout the day, Support students at sporting events, look out for student/family needs, take care of employees, learn people's names, be proactive-anticipate needs of others (be a lady/be a gentleman).

3. Emotional Connections: Find ways to make emotional connections.
Example: Write uplifting personalized notes to teachers, students, or families. 

Remember: Everyone is a LEADER!!

++What Happens When Everything Goes Wrong?++

Implement the H.E.A.R.D. principle.

Hear the person's uninterrupted story.
Empathize with the person.
Resolve quickly. Speed is critical and gives power to your people. 
Diagnose. Seek perfection- settle for excellence. Remove any personal guilt, and examine the process that led to the failure.

How can you as a leader one up the problem? Solve and then one up. How can you go the second mile?

Remember Matthew 5:41 "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles."

Character+Development= Personal Growth

Serve others and enrich other people's lives.

Summary or take away from this training: Strive always to be a value grade person, go the second mile for others because it is the right thing to do, look for opportunities to serve those around you, and have the courage and strength to do it no matter what, be objective--don't take things personally, take actionable steps to correct areas of failure, create a unified team- expect the best from yourself first, but also expect the best from those on your team (hold each other accountable).

Excellence takes humility, honesty, and above all--accountability.