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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 t…
Recent posts

Embracing Partners: 7 Human Resources of PBL

Successful project-based learning has many foundational elements. A few of these include student work going public, working to sustain the learners in deep inquiry, critique and revision, authenticity, and focusing on real-world challenges. And in a world that is rapidly becoming more tech-infused, globalized, and automated, there is one magic bullet that addresses the aforementioned PBL elements, as well as these evolutionary changes. It’s People: The Human Resources of Project-Based Learning. Here are seven types of potentially valuable partners that can increase the quality and reach of any project:

Student Peers
     Naturally, we need to begin with the most obvious and immediate people in any class or school. These are the learners’ peers. Student peers can serve as the first line of feedback in order to revise and improve work. What if older or more experienced students coached, advised, or were involved in student projects? Students can also serve various roles. For example,…

4 Ways To Support Higher Quality Student Presentations

Students have always given presentations in class. What started one time as book reports in elementary school have grown to full blown defenses of learning, portfolio presentations and other types of academic presentations. And with the advent of more deeper learning and project-based environments, the importance of the student presentation has never been more apparent. And while students are giving and teachers are facilitating more presentations than ever, we often do not teach learners how to improve their presentation skills. We may assess basics like eye contact and audience interaction, but do not necessarily teach how to design and deliver a professional presentation. So, how can we not only continue to increase the implementation of student presentations, but also help them master this as a core 21st century professional skill? Here are four ways that could make an impact:

Understand the WHY of Presentations      Sharing information with an audience via oral communication …

Bad Cops, Bad Teachers Represent Same Challenge: Professional Integrity, Policing Our Own

Educators, like everyone else, are trying to respond to the latest protests in our country due to police brutality. Black Lives Do Matter and many of us in education have long been disturbed by the policing issues in our country.
The Talk
     Years ago, I remember an African-American friend of mine, who grew up in Los Angeles, telling me that he was told by his father as a young man how to interact with the LAPD. He was advised early on, if ever pulled over for any reason, to get on the ground and assume the prone position. This was his dad’s version of ‘The Talk’ long before it had a name or I knew anything about it.

     These stories, along with the countless cases captured on video since the Rodney King case, have long informed all of us that we have a national policing crisis. I have long argued that our policing problem, bad or unfit officers, won’t be fixed until it’s fixed from the inside. In other words, the good cops, the assumed majority, need to stand up and demand chan…

The Hero's Journey Of The Educational Reformer

Many of us in education have always fashioned ourselves as change agents. We have spent our entire careers advocating for some very core concepts. They usually relate to relevance, agency and pedagogy. We have been excited at times about the changes occurring, while simultaneously being disappointed in the slow pace or missed opportunities. We love that we have such great education technology, but are also frustrated that too many are doing the same old worksheet digitally. We love that project-based learning is being done in some places, while surprised that others have yet to even attempt anything related to deeper learning. It’s this constant tug-o-war that often leaves us hopeful and inspired, while also exhausted and cynical.
     So, for any educators that feel this dilemma, I think I have yet another way to reflect and examine the situation. I believe that many of us are eternally part of a long admired literary model. Yes, we are smack dab in the middle of The Hero's J…

5 Ways School Leaders Can Create, Foster and Promote a PBL Culture, Environment

Project-based learning is becoming the way many educators and educational leaders are beginning to view the future of instructional pedagogy. Indeed, PBL addresses a litany of educational goals and needs including, but not limited to content standards, skill acquisition and growth, connections to career and community, integrated technology, collaboration, student agency and engagement.

     When teachers, leaders, schools and districts become more project-based focused, they often tend to aim their attention at many targets. They will often focus on professional learning, clear goals and objectives, technology, scheduling, how to cohort students and/or teachers, courses, graduate profiles and much more. These are all important. However, sometimes we forget that nothing is typically successful - or least optimized or maximized - unless there is an authentic culture to support it.

     In order for teachers to serve as facilitators of learning, while students own and lead their le…

iLEAD Schools Creating Authentic, High Quality Project-Based Learning Environments

As a longtime project-based learning (PBL) practitioner, facilitator and advocate, I am continually on the lookout for a school, or school system, that has not only embraced PBL as pedagogy but is truly making it a reality as a daily practice. Many educational systems are talking a big game of deeper and more personalized inquiry-based learning, but a visit will typically reveal that they often lack the culture, creativity, and commitment to necessary elements that facilitate high-quality PBL for all students.       As a writer and facilitator, I have been fortunate to visit places that are the real deal. They not only talk the talk but ultimately walk the walk. Some are known internationally such as High Tech High. Some are newer and lesser-known such as Ella Baker Elementary (I wrote about them last spring) However, after my most recent visit to iLEAD Schools, a network of several project-based charter schools in Southern California, I am convinced that they are taking inquiry…

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…