Skip to main content


Featured Post

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 t…
Recent posts

Project-Based Learning Provides Path For Increased Awareness of Self, Others and the World

Often in education, we are looking for the next great thing: curriculum, technology, program or even instructional approach. What’s problematic here is that we’re often not really invested. We pilot, and before we have any real implementation, something has changed. It might be due to leadership, other initiatives, the board, funding and so on, but the priorities have shifted and we’ve moved on to yet another thing.
     What’s very relevant to me about project-based learning is not only does it offer an instructional pedagogy that works, but it also addresses so many of our needs and does so in a way that is adaptive to our ever-changing environment, students and the world. I’ve been advocating for some time - whether it’s student engagement, deeper thinking and learning, collaboration, technology integration, relevance, real world application, career development or so many more - that project-based learning can really do it all. In addition to the aforementioned, it’s also the…

Four Big Ways PBL Prepares Students for the Future of Work

There are many reasons why project-based learning may be the best pedagogy for all students. Indeed, PBL is intended to be engaging, collaborative, tech-ready, student-owned and personalized. But, there may not be a better reason for PBL than that of preparing all students for a rapidly changing world - especially the future of work.      Whether we discuss the impact of globalization, the gig economy, artificial intelligence or new technologies, it seems that our students are entering an uncharted work world that will require them to be much more adaptive, creative, flexible, growth-oriented and skill-focused than any previous generations. I’d like to demonstrate that high quality project-based learning effectively advances our students’ core skills of the future. Here are four of them:
(1) Creativity Skills
This term is used so often it’s hard not to see it as a cliche. But it is a skill that is no longer reserved for certain professions. Whether it’s innovation, problem solving, …

3 Things Education Can Learn From The Craft Beer Phenomenon

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece called 5 Things That Schools Can Learn From the Food Truck Phenomenon. Some thought it was funny. Some thought it was pertinent. I thought it was appropriate. One, I am routinely advocating for education, as well as educators, to look outside the field of education for ideas and innovation. Two, I loved the inspiration, innovation, creativity and customization that the food trucks were offering and wanted education to be inspired to do the same.       Well now, I’m taking it one step further. I have been a craft beer lover for over 30 years. The huge and recent popularity of craft beer in America has motivated me to beg the question: What Can Education Learn From The Craft Beer Movement? Well, here are three main ideas:
Keep It Simple Smarty (I never liked the word ‘stupid’)
     Just like Food Trucks, Craft Beer establishments have moved in the direction of simplicity. They are about good and unique beers. They leave things like the food to o…

Modeling Lifelong Learning

If you ask educators about essential skills for all students, lifelong learning surely tops many lists. It has always been important, but it’s now a real expectation for all of us to stay employed, engaged and relevant.
Additionally, educators have always known that the true joy of learning is all about the ongoing journey of continual improvement. But talking about it is very different from living it. If we want our students to succeed, we, as leaders, need to model lifelong learning—for our students, teachers and communities. Here are a few areas in which we can do that: ReadingAlthough we require our students and teachers to read, it’s amazing how many leaders are not actively reading—for personal or professional purposes. And when reading professionally, we should be reading about education, as well as other forces and thinking in our universe, such as business, culture, entertainment, politics and more. With the number of reading opportunities offered by blogs, social media and new…

Shining A Light on Learning - Ella Baker Restores Faith in Education, Promise of America

Most schools make grand promises. They have mission and vision statements, slogans, banners, posters, quotes and much more. But how often are these just words and not really practices? In my experience, far too often. That’s why my recent visit to one elementary school in Redmond, WA was so special. The school is Ella Baker Elementary; a K-5 school in its very first year in the Lake Washington Unified School District. And not only did the restore my faith in the promise of education, but in the promise of America as well.      In an effort to be fully transparent, I was there to work with the teachers on project-based and service-based learning at the request of the principal - Kim Bilanko - a friend and colleague of mine.      In its first year, it’s obvious that Ella Baker Elementary is a special and unique place where the staff has bought into being a transformational experience for all of their students. Students and staff not only demonstrated the Four C’s (Collaboration, Comm…

Even More Ways Ed Leaders Can Truly Appreciate Teachers

If June is associated with the end of another school year, May is often associated with celebrations. One annual one that tends to get lots of attention is Teacher Appreciation. It used to be Teacher Appreciation Day, then week and now it’s the whole month of May. But in an era where we are desperately in need of recruiting more new teachers, as well as going through some of the most turbulent teacher labor issues, maybe we can’t have enough teacher appreciation.
     As a former site leader and activities director, I facilitated a great deal of teacher appreciation events. We did it all from breakfasts, lunches, dinners, raffle prizes, coffees, gifts, car washes and even massages. They were all fun and well deserved. And why these are fun and do offer some appreciation, especially if students are involved in teacher appreciation, I’m still challenged by the larger implications.
     Just like our other national holidays or celebrations – i.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentin…

5 Ways To Personalize Learning in PBL

Personalized Learning maybe one of the most widely used education catch phrases in an attempt to capture what is truly changing about what and how students can and could learn. The challenge is whether this is just another edu fad or something that will become foundational in the necessary transformation of future education.
The What
     Personalized learning is an educational approach that aims to customize learning for each student based on their respective interests, strengths, needs, skills, abilities, background and experiences. To go further, it’s also an effort to involve the learner in their own education. The more one feels invested in their own educational journey, the more likely they will be successful and learn at higher levels.

The Why
     It’s fairly safe to say that we are certainly living in unprecedented times. Whether it’s globalization, technology or colossal human challenges, the rapidity and radicalness of these changes are unheralded compared to previous e…