Discuss. Decide. Do.

David Culberhouse wrote a great post this week about the importance of getting past trying to be perfect in the favor of just making progress.  I agree.  Here is a snippet of what he wrote, but do go read the whole post.

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David’s post reminds me of something that Tyler Gayheart recently shared with me and the other doctoral students in our cohort at the University of Kentucky’s School Technology Leadership program.  His encouragement to us was “Done is better than perfect.”

“Discuss. Decide. Do.” is a phrase that I first heard from Roger Fruit, who is a friend and my school district’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction.  He shares that educators, especially administrators, are great at the first two items, but need to focus more on the doing.  Discussing and deciding don’t amount to much if they don’t lead to well-intended action.

All of this talk about moving to action reminded me of Teddy Roosevelt’s quote below, which I turned into a slide.  (I love the new Keynote for iPad!)

Decisionslide

People make stuff up on the internet. Other people believe it.

Just last week I had a conversation with my 11-year-old son about a “fact” he had read on the internet.  He told me that after the movie “The Princess and the Frog” was released, more than 50 kids were sickened by salmonella and treated in hospitals after being inspired by the movie to kiss frogs.  I was quite skeptical when my son shared this so I asked him what site he read that on.  The site name was quite sketchy so we then had a good conversation about credible internet sources.  I told him that some people make things up on the internet just for the purpose of getting attention or even to have fun fooling others.

Then I had my own “frog kissing” moment today with a post I saw on Facebook about Pope Francis’ address to the Third Vatican Council.  The “article” shared how Pope Francis said that it is time to be tolerant of other religions, lifestyle choices, and be inclusive of everything and everyone under the sun.  I didn’t doubt the veracity of the post at all as I had recently read about Francis’ attempts to expand the reach of the Catholic Church and make it more relevant to modern times.  After reading this, I even spent a few minutes orally sharing it with my wife and other family members who were in the room at the time I read it.  “It’s about time we have more tolerance and acceptance in the world,” I declared, and then I went on to reshare and comment on the article on my own Facebook page (below).  Hook. Line. Sinker.

A short while after I shared the post, Josh Allen gave me a polite nudge to question the authenticity of the article.  A quick Google search confirmed that the story was false.  There has not been a Third Vatican Council. This speech wasn’t delivered anywhere.  I followed none of the advice I gave to my son last week. Didn’t check the source. Didn’t think it through before passing it on as truth.  The site hosting this article wasn’t trying to be sneaky.  Click on their “Disclaimer” page and it clearly states “The original content on this blog is largely satirical.”

So why was I so quick to believe it? A few things come to mind.  I wanted his words to be true as I do think we need more tolerance and love in the world.  I don’t know much about Catholicism or the Pope himself.  My own desires and ignorance did me in, and that recipe has been used to persuade people for as long as there have been people.

What did I learn? Take a few minutes to check sources. It’s that easy.  Just as important is how Josh politely prompted me to think about what I had shared.  He didn’t hammer me with my own ignorance and gullibility.  He offered me a path to find the truth and I took it.  I even came back to admit my error and maybe help others avoid similar issues.

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Should Schools Teach Social Media Skills? | MindShift

I work with elementary students, so I don’t think a lot about teaching them appropriate social media use.  We do focus on being good citizens, in a digital and virtual sense, but few of our students even have a social media presence (other than being featured in photos of their parents’ accounts).

Now that my oldest child is off to middle school and is starting to use social media, I’m glad to know that educators are recognizing that social media use is an important part of character education for our students.  I love the discussion of disinhibition in the post linked below.  Give it a read.

 

 

“You want the kids in the homerooms to start thinking about what it means to be disinhibited,” [Ian Enriquez] says. Disinhibition, for those who might not know, means acting impulsively, without showing due restraint, in a way that’s aggressive or plays up another personality trait. The teenagers get it right away.

via Should Schools Teach Social Media Skills? | MindShift.

Sunshine

I’ve been tagged a couple of times in this Sunshine Award blog challenge. My initial reaction was to ignore these requests, but as we get closer to Christmas, I am working hard to control my Scrooge-like tendencies.  I know Santa is watching.

Here are the rules:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

I was nominated by Ben Gilpin and Dave Meister.  Ben is a fantastic elementary school principal in Michigan and Dave is the head honcho of schools in Paris, IL.

11 random facts about me:

  1. I was born and raised in South Dakota.
  2. I have a tattoo that features the outline of South Dakota, a full moon, and a howling coyote.  It sounded like a great idea at the age of 19.
  3. The girl who convinced me to get the tattoo is now my wife of 18+ years.  She’s amazing.
  4. I have two kids, ages 7 and 11.
  5. I am an accomplished Rainbow Loomer, Nifty Knitter, and know how to crochet. Lots of quality time with my 7yo daughter.
  6. I once served pizza to Kevin Costner when he was in SD filming Dances with Wolves.
  7. I first used a computer as a 5th grader (1983ish), writing Logo code.
  8. I’m the oldest of 3 boys, all of us have first names starting with the letter C.
  9. I am great at falling asleep. Literally only takes me moments to sleep once the lights are out.
  10. I am a master at Trivial Pursuit.
  11. I’m half way done (credit wise) with a doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in School Technology Leadership.

Answering Ben’s questions:

1. Do you prefer to shop in stores or online?  I do like the hustle and bustle of real life stores.
2. How many pairs of shoes do you own?  I own about 10 pairs of shoes, but am not going to count them.
3. What is your favorite type of music? Favorite band or song?  I love indie and alt-rock.  My favorite music right now are remixes of Chet Faker and Alt-J on SoundCloud.
4. Cats or Dogs? Why…  My wife and son are very allergic to cats, so dogs it is.
5. What is your typical bedtime?  I like to read a bit in bed (no school email at all) before the lights go out.
6. Favorite twitter chat?  I don’t really like the live chats, but I do pay attention to #wischat.
7. Democrat/Republican/Other?   I tend to vote Democrat, but all politicians are annoying me in the past few years.
8. Best place you ever vacationed?  Ireland was fantastic, but I most enjoyed a drive from WI to Phoenix with lots of fun stops (SD, Denver, Durango, Grand Canyon) along the way.  It was a Griswold style vacation, minus pool time with Christie Brinkley.
9. Best book you’ve read in 2013?  The APA manual is my friend.
10. Favorite television show when you were growing up?  Probably Gilligan’s Island. It was made before I was born, but I loved the syndicated episodes.
11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of?  My wife is sincerely amazing.  She is fond of me, most days.
Dave’s questions:
1.  If you could solve any one problem permanently, what would it be?  World hunger.  Seriously, there is plenty of food in the world, but it just isn’t distributed appropriately.

2. What would you do over if you had a chance?  I would give up the light beer phase of my life.  Life is too short to drink bad beer.
3. What is your favorite desert?  Carrot cake
4. When did you know you wanted to be involved in education?  After visiting with two of my favorite teachers (Mr. Redlin and Mrs. Anderson) after my freshman year of college.
5. If you had a whole day to do just what you wanted to do, what would that be?  Sleep in (7 a.m. is sleeping in) go to breakfast with my family (eggs Benedict), go for a hike, prepare supper with my wife while listening to the Prairie Home Companion on the radio, watch a movie with the kids.
6. If you could meet anyone, at any time in history, who would it be?  I would loved to have met Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows.
7. What do you want to learn how to do?  I’d love to learn how to speak Hmong.
8. What is your favorite beverage?  Belgian trippel style beers
9. Who is your favorite artist/actor/performer?  Van Morrison
10. What was your best subject in school?  I was a good student in all subjects, but really loved American History.  Mr. Redlin was the best.
11. What is your favorite season of the year?  I absolutely love Fall, but Winter is a close second.

Techlandia 46 – Mad Men

Tim Lauer, Joe Sanfelippo, and Tony Sinanis recently were guests on Techlandia to talk about school branding, story telling, and promoting all that is positive in our schools. The Learnist board below has all the people and resources mentioned on this episode.

Thanks for listening to our podcast, the #1 K-12 podcast on Podomatic for the past month. 🙂

Leadership vs. Management: They aren’t opposites

Sam LeDeaux wrote a nice post over at Connected Principals about leaders and managers. In the post he compares leaders and managers and makes the case that being a leader is preferable to that of manager. Leaders bring progress, and managers stifle it.

Based on some reading I did for a graduate course I just finished in the University of Kentucky’s School Technology Leadership program, I disagree with saying that leadership is preferred to management. They are two different types of activities, and both serve a crucial need in our schools. Here is my response to Sam’s post:

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Sam,

Thanks for putting this post out there. It has caused some needed reflection and reaction for those of us who lead and manage. I agree with your point that there are heads of organizations who encourage growth and success, and there are those who discourage creativity and inhibit people from doing good work.

I would like to add to this discussion by sharing the work of Joseph Rost who examined a vast amount of literature on the topic of leadership. In his book “Leadership for the 21st Century,” he gave definition to the terms leadership and management that I think are very applicable to school leaders. He describes both as relationships. Leadership is (paraphrasing here) an influence relationship among leaders and followers for the purpose of causing real change in the world. Management is also a relationship but it is among managers and their subordinates for the purpose of coordinating their activities to create specific products. Management typically occurs along hierarchical lines in an organization and is often top-down. Leadership can occur among many different people in an organization and is multi-directional. No matter the titles of people in an organization, leadership can occur when one influences another to produce significant change.

Rost also cautioned readers to not put leadership and management opposite one another. Leadership is not the ideal state as compared to management. In the context of schools, we need good management (according to Rost’s definition) as part of leadership. Management activities produce schedules that work, rules that support our staff and students, bus routes that run on time, and pay checks to be accurate and timely. Effective management is important for a school to run well. Without management, can leadership (a relationship that leads to real change) really occur? Leadership is needed in our schools as we are asked to significantly change our practice. Leadership brings about mutual purpose and inspiration to allow change to happen. The conditions that allow leadership to occur are predicated on good management already being in place. Without good management, leadership just can’t happen. I certainly see leadership as key for school success in the 21st century, but it can’t happen without all that management brings.

Thanks for your thoughtful post.

Curt (school principal in Wisconsin)
@CurtRees