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Lead Like A Punk Rocker

(Inspired by and dedicated to #LeadWild, David Theriault, David Culberhouse, Jon Corippo, Dr. Brad Gustafson, Tom Whitford, Ken Durham, The Ramones, Bad Religion, The Clash, X and many others.)
“PUNK IS: the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions.” - Greg Graffin, Bad Religion
“The thread of culture that runs through the entire history of punk is also a dedication to challenging the authoritarian.” - Greg Graffin, Bad Religion
     You can’t peruse social media, even for a minute, without coming across another book, blog post or quote about LEADERSHIP. But, here I go anyway. Leadership, and leadership theory, are applicable to all industries, endeavors and human interactions. And no doubt that leadership, and our leaders, are going through major transformations as our entire global society questions traditional approaches and yearns for more meaningful and empowering ones.      With that i…
Recent posts

Understanding Why We Work Should Inform Education

“Get to work!”      “Back to work!”      “Start working!”      “You need to work harder!”      “Johnny needs to work more!”      “Kids need to have a better work ethic!”    These are just a sample of expressions that most teachers have uttered repeatedly throughout their years in our universal respective classrooms.      Regardless of instructional approach, subject, grade level or any other factor, teachers are ultimately faced with the task of getting students to work. Indeed, probably since the first teacher and student interaction occurred, teachers have often tried to figure out how to get their students to both work, as well as work at high levels.      Traditionally, our students have worked for a variety of reasons - grades, approval, compliance, fear and future success. In terms of motivation, we have tried many things including, but not limited to incentives, choices, punishment, relationships, technology and more. However, how often have educators studied, or tried to …

Mid-Year Reflections - Redos, Reboots and Restarts

As a new calendar year approaches, many of us will participate in new year’s resolutions - that time-honored cultural tradition in which we collectively and individually resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve our lives.
     In schools, we tend to do similar annual cathartic activities in the summer. Educators typically take the summer to expand their professional skills, make new plans, pilot new technologies or resources - ultimately embark on a reflective journey about making the next school year more creative, engaging and successful.
     What if we combined the annual reflective journey of summer with the resolutions associated with the new calendar year? This would become a mid-year reboot, restart, redo or redesign? Instead of waiting until next summer, let’s in January (or even before Winter Break here at the end of 2018), one could implement a new strategy, tool or idea. This could be a classroom redesign, a la…

PBL Educates The Heart, Mind and the Whole Student

Project-based learning has been touted as the pedagogical cure-all for many things. Indeed, I have long argued it’s the ultimate instructional response to the need for real world relevance and application, problem solving, collaboration, student engagement, presentation skills, mentors and even tech integration. It’s the pedagogical glue if you will.
     But one area that is maybe not mentioned as often is its connection to Social-Emotional Learning. Indeed, PBL may not just be the best academic answer, but also the best cultural answer. Project-based learning, through it’s diverse and varied experiences, allows students multiple opportunities to engage with others, as well as themselves, in new and more personalized ways. By contributing to something larger than themselves, i.e. a real world project, they begin to see themselves as contributors and advocates who have self-worth, a voice and a real role in the world at large.
     Here are just a few areas where PBL can begin to …

Cultivating the Culture of Creativity

Ever since the Partnership for 21st Century Skills introduced the Four C’s into the education vernacular, we have been trying to define, and maybe most importantly, actually implement Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking into our instructional practices.
     One of the Four C’s that is routinely referenced and seen as foundational to our students’ future success is creativity. Most see it as essential to innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and to solve our many global challenges.
     But as foundational as we collectively view creativity, it is also elusive in terms of common understanding and implementation. We can point to the word on a presentation slide, but often find it difficult to identify in the real world, let alone how to teach it, grow it and enhance it. So, let’s see if we can identify some elements that would help to create and cultivate a culture of creativity. As educators, how can we help all of our students tap into and optimize t…

School Should Be About Limitless Possibilities; Not Limits and Liabilities

In all my years of education, one essential question always seems to return to me. What if school was about what we ‘could’ do instead of what we ‘can’t’ do?      As millions of school-aged students return to their classrooms this year, many, if not the majority, will be greeted by rules, policies, expectations, syllabi, homework, calendars and schedules. Very few will learn about what the possibilities could be. Very few will find school inspiring, motivation or engaging.       Obviously, this is not a brand new topic or issue for us edu Insurgents. Indeed, at every school I’ve worked, I’ve questioned and worked to redesign the on-boarding experiences for all students. I’ve shared the idea of school being more about ‘no’ than ‘yes.’      How can we transform schools into environments that communicate to students that these are place of limitless possibilities instead of learned limited liabilities? Here are some things that could help assist in this transformation:
Create a Truly…

Smart Start Your School

Jim George’s now infamous quote - “It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish” - has been lauded by many as almost a foundational philosophy for life. However, for those of us who are responsible for starting the school year each year for millions of students, we may want to flip that line of thinking on its ear. Seems that how we start the school year might have more to do with how we finish than anything else.
     In all my years as a classroom teacher, program advisor and site leader, I worked hard to make the first day and week of school was engaging, inspirational and motivational as possible. But no matter how hard I, and many of my colleagues, tried, it seems that the institutional expectations took over and the emphasis became less about student engagement and more about rules, expectations, syllabi, policies, contracts, books and academics. That’s right. After all, does it seem reasonable that the earlier we start academics, the more academic success w…