No Zombies: Stop Going Through the Motions and Live Life

Day 51 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Although when Theodore Roosevelt made his famous speech talking about “cold and timid souls” at the Sorbonne, I don’t think zombies were much discussed in pop culture.

We have too many zombies nowadays-

  • In schools, some are students but others are undead teachers. Teachers who aren’t retired but their practice isn’t alive either. They’re not working on making things better and improving.
  • Undead students who play video games all night and sleep in class all day.
  • Undead parents who would rather look at Facebook than pay attention to their child who needs help with their homework.
  • In businesses, some are employees who see a mess and wait for someone else to clean it up.
  • But sometimes they are zombie managers who complain about the work ethic of their employees while golfing every afternoon at two.

The undead are everywhere.

“I’m ready to retire” Or “I’m too old to change.” Are the battle cry of the complacent.

I promise one thing. If you’re waiting for a school or business or organization to change until you retire, people will applaud when you do.

A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you’re never going anywhere until you change it.

Then there are also zombies who insist they already know and do everything and have nothing to learn.

Be alive! Innovate. Create.

Make a difference.

Learn something new.

Have conversations.

Laugh at something.

Turn off the TV. Turn off the cell phone. Play a board game.

Turn off the electronic devices in the car and talk about history or the history of music. Have a conversation. Relate to the people you’re related to.

I wonder how many people will reach the end of their lives and wonder if they really were alive?

This post is day 51 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post No Zombies: Stop Going Through the Motions and Live Life appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/no-zombies-stop-going-motions-live-life/

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Happy Apples: Fun PD Subscription Boxes for Teachers Made By the District

Crystal Marshall-Krauss on episode 263 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Crystal Marshall-Krauss and her colleagues at the district office in Howard County, Maryland have created a fun way to excite teachers about professional development. They’ve created “Happy Apples” subscription boxes for their teachers around a variety of subjects. Learn about this innovative PD idea and how your district can craft these boxes for your teachers.

This week I’ll be sharing the 7 Pedagogical Shifts That Make Interactive Displays a Key to a Student-Centered Classroom on the Cool Cat Teacher blog sponsored by SMART Technologies. Shift #1 is that Students are collaborators. My interactive display is the common workspace for the whole class. I use it as a digital workspace, to display any screen for the whole class to see, as a large multi-touch drawing and brainstorming space and so much more. My interactive display is a must-have device. I wouldn’t want to teach without one. Recent research shows that large interactive displays are vital to the classroom ecosystem.

Listen Now

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6310163/height/90/theme/custom/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/2d568f/

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Enhanced Transcript

Happy Apples: FunPD Subscription Boxes for Teachers Made By the District

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e263
Date: February 28, 2018

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Crystal Marshall-Krauss @crystalmmarshal, Digital Learning Innovation and Design Resource Teacher from Maryland.

Now, Crystal, you and your team came up with this really cool subscription box type idea for PD for your teachers. You call it Happy Apples.

Tell us what this is.

Crystal: (laughs)

So we came up with this to kind of address a couple of needs.

We saw so many people getting excited about subscription boxes, so we thought, “How can we use that? How can we use learning in some way?”

People get excited about subscription boxes

So we started prototyping it, and tested it out on a few teachers. They all loved it.

What they get is an actual physical cardboard box like a catalog mailer. Inside they have tons of little goodies.

They will have a curated list of online and digital content. We call those their personalized learning “bytes.”

They get some books, a student activity, other articles or magazines that meet their needs.

We always like to add a few other kinds of fun things that they can do, so we have thank you cards with prompts to send thank you cards to parents, students or colleagues during the time that they get the box.

They get one delivered five times a year, and we sneak into their schools and put it in their teacher mailbox, (laughs) so they get a surprise when they come to their mailbox at the end of the day.

They seem to really be enjoying it.

Vicki: Now you’re using Canva to kind of even put, “Here’s some people to follow on this topic.”

What other kind of things are you designing for these boxes?

Crystal: We use Canva for a lot of our printed content. It’s an easy design tool to use.

What kind of things are you designing for these boxes?

We will create student activities. At the beginning of the year, one of the ones that pretty much all of the teachers who got it used it, was really a student interview guide. Sort of to come up with some questions and some guiding thoughts behind that about how to interview students to find out more about them, and to kind of get more of a one-on-one relationship with the student.

A lot of teachers have a lot of students, so they were able to work in small groups and focus in on and learn some really interesting and new things about their students that they may not have had a chance to learn before.

We also create student handouts. We created a whole activity about listening to podcasts, with some sessions for some great podcasts, for students to be able to practice listening and getting their learning in a different way, and to be able to take notes. The great thing is that we have from K-8 teachers, so we have to differentiate a little bit for the different grade levels. It’s easy in Canva, because you can just make a copy, and kind of make those adjustments as appropriate.

Vicki: So how did you decide to customize these different boxes, because every teacher doesn’t get the same thing, do they?

Every teacher doesn’t get the same thing

Crystal: No, they don’t.

So it took a little bit of figuring that part out. We have a larger team, but there are a two of us that are really committed to this little side project that we came up with. The other (person) is a resource teacher in instructional technology, Karrie Truden.

So we had about ten topics that we felt we could probably get started with. We had enough information and knowledge and context to be able to pull together.

So we had the teachers choose between their top three out of those ten. We had hoped that several would pick the same three.

(laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

Crystal: But several of the same boxes did not turn out that way.

Vicki: (laughs) Oh my!

Crystal: So pretty much, everybody has a different combination of the three, or they’re at different grade levels, so they had to be changed a little bit anyway.

But that’s OK, so we kind of work on smaller pieces of information and content.

For instance, instructional technology is one item that I would say about 90% of our teachers were asking for.

So we create a couple of items or links to some articles, or find some magazines that we have articles that match up with their grade level. So we’ll kind of work on all of that.

Then when we put the boxes together, we take all the pieces and match them up for the individual teacher that we’re providing it for.

Vicki: So, tell us a story about one of the teachers that got this box, and it changed something in their classroom.

Crystal: So I would say that the biggest changes we’ve seen have really been in the student relationships.

The biggest changes we’ve seen have been in the teacher-student relationships

Seeing teachers say that they were really excited to have a new activity to try with their students. The student interview piece was a huge one that we got feedback on after the first box. The teachers were able to learn about different interests of the students, and then they created small group reading assignments around those interests for the students — which they may not have done before. That one was a huge thing for them.

We also have some specialists in the schools that are kind of on their own, They may not have another teacher in a similar role in the building. They really appreciated having things kind of customized just for them — the media specialist, the reading specialist, and that sort of thing.

Vicki: Wow. So you tried this with just a few teachers, and you’ve gotten some feedback now. What’s the feedback you’re getting, and how are you going to change this for the future?

Crystal: Our big goal is to double the number of teachers that we get for the last two boxes.

What’s the feedback you’re getting?

We met with a few of them to get some feedback, and they said, “We have so many colleagues that want one, too.”

One teacher said she ran down the hall, bringing everybody their boxes, saying, “We got our boxes!” (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

Crystal: So we plan to send an invitation in the box that’s going out this week. They’ll be able to invite a colleague to join the last two boxes for the school year.

We’re trying to include more of the student activities — really kind of branching out in that area where we can start to differentiate a little bit more, and really get down to things that they can use right away, while also providing some kind of stretch and reading content that they may not have seen before.

Vicki: So, there are a lot of folks out there listening to the show who design professional development for teachers.

Now this is not a company you bought this from. You’re actually making these boxes yourself.

So what is your advice to those who are listening to this, saying, “Hey, I want to do my own versions of “Happy Apples,” and make some kind of subscription box for my teacher?

What is your advice to those who want to make their own version of this?

Crystal: So my advice would be to make sure you have a team of people. (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

Crystal: And get really organized.

I think starting small — especially if you have the opportunity. You can get that feedback from them as you’re going, and figure out what’s really working, what do they want more of?

We keep asking them what they want us to change, and they keep saying they like everything.

Vicki: (laughs)

Crystal: It’s a really fun kind of thing. I think probably the most fun thing that we’ve learned about this is to look at the things that people get excited about, and see how you can bring that into professional learning for teachers

Vicki: Fun!

We will share the link in the Shownotes to the Happy Apples idea.

This is a fantastic idea for professional development.

I even wonder if we could figure out a way to use this with our students, because everybody likes to get — basically, it’s a prize box, which we used to use that even in the 1970’s and 1980’s when I was a kid in school.

Crystal: (laughs)

Vicki: So thanks, Crystal. I love this idea. We all need to be creative and get excited about learning.

Crystal: Great, thank you!

Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted


Crystal has been an educator in Howard County Maryland for 12 years and currently serves as the Digital Learning, Innovation, and Design Resource Teacher. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband, two children, and two dogs.

Twitter:@crystalmmarshal

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Happy Apples: Fun PD Subscription Boxes for Teachers Made By the District appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e263/

Success Truths: Great Leaders Have Harsh Critics

Day 50 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

While we see George Washington as a success, while he was alive, he had his critics. On the day that Washington’s successor, John Adams’ was inaugurated, a newspaper critic wrote about the departing President Washington:

“For the man who is now the source of all the misfortunes of our country is this day reduced to a level with his fellow-citizens, and is no longer possessed of power to multiple evils upon the United States. If there was ever a period of rejoicing, this is the moment.”

There were people in the United States who not only hated George Washington but rejoiced when he was out of office!

Usually, the only time any leader is beloved is when they are dead.

If you’re a living, breathing leader, I promise that you’re ticking somebody off.

Aristotle says:

“To avoid criticism: say nothing, do nothing be nothing.”

As Theodore Roosevelt spoke of in the Man in the Arena, excellent leaders “know great enthusiasms, the great devotions.”

But great leaders also know great critics.

They know the loneliness of seeing their name slandered in the paper. They know what it is like to be misquoted, misjudged, and misinterpreted.

They know what it is like to receive the chicken-hearted typed anonymous letter written by a cold soul who refuses to lead because they won’t even sign their name. (One rule for the anonymous letter – throw it away.)

Excellent leaders know what it is like to walk up to a group of people who suddenly go silent. They know betrayal.

While criticism does not mean you’re a great leader, if you are a great leader, you will be criticized.

We need more leaders

But let’s talk about what else great leaders know — that they make the world a better place. That leadership is hard.

They’ve long given up being beloved and popular by everyone because they know that leadership usually comes with a price.

In today’s world full of likes and loves and neon colored emojis, I don’t think we have room for Churchills and Lincolns and perhaps even Billy Grahams.

We don’t want the truth, we want to “like” stuff.

But the truth is that some of the greatest leaders tick us off and get us to do what we should do.

  • They tell us that we’re wasting our lives whining about our finances while we binge on Netflix when we should be figuring out how to make some extra money to pay off our debts.
  • They tell us to put our phones down and talk to the kids at the supper table.
  • They tell us that it is ok to have your child mad at you when you are the adult because kids are often selfish and don’t know that it is good for them to go to bed at 8 o’clock when they are four years old.
  • These are just a few…

Just Because We Have a Strong Opinion Doesn’t Mean We’re Right

Right now, most people just think the person with integrity is the one who agrees with them. Each person thinks they have a right to their opinion – well, we all have a right to our opinion but that doesn’t mean we have a right to be right. We can have a wrong opinion.

Today, I had a student ask me if I thought the world was flat. I said that whether I thought the earth was flat or not was irrelevant — what was the truth? Because the earth is round and whether I believe it to be round or not, it is basically round. In this case, the truth mattered more than my opinion.

And I refuse to get pulled into a mind-numbing hair pulling debate over whether water is wet. I mean, really? Let’s solve real problems for a change.

Just because I disbelieve gravity doesn’t void gravity. And just because I believe a person is not a great leader doesn’t mean that they are not one. And just because I think that debating whether water is wet is a good use of three hours doesn’t make it so.

Often in today’s world, we major on the minor and minor on the major.

And if we’re going to have leaders in this world gone awry, we’re going to have to have leaders who are ok with the fact that while they are alive, they will receive harsh criticism. And when they are praised, they won’t be there to hear it.

Such is the path of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.

So, don’t desire for leadership unless you’re willing to pay the price.

But, let me tell you a secret. Ticking people off is a small price to pay for leaving the world a better place when you’re gone.

This post is day 50 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post Success Truths: Great Leaders Have Harsh Critics appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/success-truths-great-leaders-harsh-critics/

Simple Steps to Teach Kids to Program

Episode 262 with Aditya Batura

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Teaching kids to code starts with helping them understand the concepts behind coding before you get into syntax. Aditya Batura, Programmer and Entrepreneur, talks today about the concept behind helping every student understand computational thinking.

This week I’ll be sharing the 7 Pedagogical Shifts That Make Interactive Displays a Key to a Student-Centered Classroom on the Cool Cat Teacher blog sponsored by SMART Technologies. Shift #1 is that Students are collaborators. My interactive display is the common workspace for the whole class. I use it as a digital workspace, to display any screen for the whole class to see, as a large multi-touch drawing and brainstorming space and so much more. My interactive display is a must-have device. I wouldn’t want to teach without one. Recent research shows that large interactive displays are vital to the classroom ecosystem.

Listen Now

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6304995/height/90/theme/custom/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/2d568f/

***

Enhanced Transcript

Simple Steps to Teach Kids to Program

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e252

Date: February 27, 2018

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Aditya Batura @ohpotatopirates.

We’re talking about how to get people really excited about coding and interested in it.

So, Aditya, you are a cofounder of Potato Pirate, which basically teaches 10 hours of concepts in 30 minutes.

How can we condense down what we need to learn in coding to such a short period of time?

Aditya: Hi Vicki. So the whole point of learning programming — it just sounds so daunting because people have to understand the logic as well as the syntax.

Programming is daunting when you have to learn logic as well as syntax

The syntax is basically the makeup of the language. It’s the grammar behind it. Unfortunately, in programming, that’s just made up of mathematical jargon like parenthese, semi-colons, colons, brackets and a lot of different symbols. This gets overwhelming for people.

Most programmers who are just starting out, or anyone who is just jumping in to learn programming — this could be any age, from a 6-year-old onward up to an adult. The problem is that it’s way too overwhelming for someone to grapple with the syntax in order to enjoy the underlying logic behind it.

I’m a software developer by my formalized profession. Before I started doing all this, I’d say that I learned programming for the same reasons. And that’s the main problem that people face. So instead of overwhelming people or any student with both the logic and the syntax at the same time.

Mind you, syntax for every programming language is different, as it is for any spoken language.

Tip: Start with Computational Thinking Steps (And Leave Out Syntax)

Instead of overwhelming students with all of this at the same time, we break it down, and we just explain the computational thinking steps, which I think are universal across all languages.

Regardless of whatever you may be trying to program, you will have to understand the same computational thinking concepts, which is really the beauty behind programming. It’s the decomposition of your thoughts into lines of instruction.

2 Visual-Based Block-Based Learning Program That Teach Computational Thinking Without Syntax

Vicki: Yeah. Absolutely. I’ll tell you this. One of the introductory programming things that I do with my students is just basic HTML. And you know, so many of the kids struggle.

Like you said, syntax into spelling and that sort of thing. So how do you get past that? Is it more object oriented or are there challenges to do? How do we get past the syntax issue?

Aditya: Nowadays, kids have it really good because there are so many visual-based, block-based learning forms like Scratch and MIT’s App Inventor platform.

These basically allow you to build an entire program without actually having to write a single line of code or instruction.

You can drop all of it, and it fits in like a jigsaw, so firstly you will know what fits and what does not fit in a certain block.

Secondly, it’s color-coded.

Third, no syntax. So you don’t need to worry about any of that.

So a lot of block-based learning platforms for students — or anyone, for that matter — to jump into and just get their hands on, and just push buttons and see how things work without being overwhelmed.

This Method is Simpler Than How We Taught Programming Previously

Five or seven years ago, you had to start with the Command Line. If you missed a semi-colon, everything would just break.

(laughs)

You’d just get this long list of a failure message, and you wouldn’t know what it means.

Vicki: Yeah.

Aditya: (laughs) Right?

So instead of having to do all that, now there are so many visual and block based learning platforms.

Getting Started: You Don’t Have to Use the Computer

But even with that, it seems like sometimes it’s a bit disjointed, and people don’t really know what the starting point is.

And that really was the motivation and the premise behind Potato Pirates — to try and provide a universal first step into the world of programming without having educators have to set up an entire class’ infrastructure.

Or for any parent to get involved in their child’s learning, by just playing this game. So both the parent and the child can pick up computational thinking concepts.

This can take place in any setting, in a classroom or outside. So achieving all this without the use of a computer, that’s really what we were trying to do.

So just the basic, fundamental computational thinking concepts that don’t hold you down to any language.

Once you’ve played the game, you proceed onto learning any different thing of your choice.

Our statistics show that we see a 78% increase in interest and an 85% increase in confidence of anyone who has played the game. Our sample size currently is about 400 K-12 students.

We see a 78% increase in interest and an 85% increase in confidence

So far the response has been pretty good.

So that’s really what we’re trying to do.

Vicki: So this really fits with, “If you can teach them the concepts, you can come back and teach the concept.”

It’s funny. I recall a conversation that I had. This has been several years back.

I had a friend from the very early days of computing. He was a bit older than me, and he actually learned how to program in 1’s and 0’s. He programmed a machine language.

Aditya: (laughs)

Vicki: And you know, he looked down upon what he called the “modern programmer” — you know, we’re talking 1990’s here — with arrogance. He said, “You guys aren’t real programmers. The real programs are written in 1’s and 0s.”

We must understand that teaching programming changes and can get easier so more can learn it

Are there programmers who have been taught classically with brackets and all the syntax who look at these easy entry type of programs with a little bit of disdain and arrogance, and claim that this is not to be introducing computer science.

Have you heard that?

Aditya: Oh, definitely.

I think there are always going to be proponents of both these views.

But what I think, I guess… Some people will always say that. What we’re trying to do is introduce it to larger group of people. We’re trying to achieve breadth instead of depth, if you know what I mean.

We’re trying to achieve breadth instead of depth

At this point in time, I think every student, regardless of their background wherever they are in the world, needs to at least have the basic computational thinking concepts and needs to have a basic understanding of what this programming means.

The generation before doesn’t really have that, and they didn’t need to have that. So you definitely get those naysayers, people who look at it with disdain because you’re really dumbing it down.

Most of these people who say that have been, like you said, doing it for years and years. For them, they really had to battle the good battle. In fact, even for programmer today, you don’t have to go down into the 1’s and 0’s…

Vicki: No… (laughs)

Aditya: Which is unfortunate, actually. You know, I’ve never programmed in a machine language. The lowest language I’ve ever gone is like C or something, you know?

Vicki: Yeah.

Aditya: So I personally find a beauty in learning computer architecture from the ground up, which I have done.

But most programmers nowadays don’t practice that.

Vicki: We’re also talking about teaching kids in elementary, middle, and high school.

Aditya: Exactly, exactly.

Vicki: And personally, as a computer science teacher, I see that when I start with Scratch — or even when I have my older students help younger kids in “Hour of Code,” I guess it becomes “stickier”… It becomes easier to learn when I do introduce those concepts, just because they understand what they’re trying to do, so then they’ve got to do it.

Aditya: Objectives here are pretty different.

At this point in time, I think what we want is to get all kids excited about learning how to code, and getting buy in from the students.

So if you gamify the whole process and make it look less mundane, that really achieves that much better.

I’m sure you must have noticed that in your classes also.

Getting buy in from students, getting them excited to want to learn more — that’s deep learning, right? That’s more conducive, which inspires students to want to learn more beyond the classroom.

Deep learning is more conducive

These tools, like gamification and all of that, really achieve that, especially for the younger students.

  • Note from Research Assistant, Dr. Lisa Durff: Research has shown that technology engages and increases academic achievement of students. Recently, Hamari et al. (2016) found in their study of high school students who were involved in gamification that flow and engagement had a positive association with learning.
    • Reference: Hamari, J., Shernoff, D. J., Rowe, E., Coller, B., Asbell-Clarke, J., & Edwards, T. (2016). Challenging games help students learn: An empirical study on engagement, flow and immersion in game-based learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 170-179.

Vicki: OK. Teachers, so we’ve really dug into how to teach code to younger students, and really focusing on the logic instead of the grammar and syntax.

The name of the game is Potato Pirate. I’ll include the link in the Shownotes as well.

I think this is an important conversation to have, but I also smile thinking of my friend who was looking down on the rest of the world because he programmed in binary.

Aditya: (laughs)

Vicki: We have to be careful, as professionals, not to think that the way we learned is not the way that anybody else has to learn. If we can improve the learning process, by all means, we should!

The way we learned is not the way that anybody else has to learn

Aditya: Yes, I certainly agree with that.

So that’s really the premise of introducing tech literacy nowadays.

It’s becoming like learning English in the 20th century. It’s become like a basic necessity of educators to include their classrooms.

So like I said, we’re trying to achieve different objectives — like getting people to understand it from the fundamentals (like the machine code) — but what we’re trying to do is introduce it to a wider spectrum of people who have different learning capabilities and different inclinations and aptitudes.

So we’re trying to provide a learning experience that most of these types of students would appreciate.

Vicki: (agrees)

Very well said, Aditya.

Aditya: Thank you so much.

Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted


Aditya is CEO of Codomo, a Singapore-based ed-tech startup and is also one of the creators of Potato Pirates, a tabletop card game that teaches 10 hours worth of programming in 30 minutes all without any computers. Potato Pirates raised over a quarter million on Kickstarter and has been translated into 20 different languages already.

Blog: Potato Pirates: The Tastiest Coding Card Game

Twitter: @ohpotatopirates

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Simple Steps to Teach Kids to Program appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e262/

Success Secrets: Avoid Fake Elvis Syndrome and Dare to Be Original

Day 49 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

I was in the Memphis airport rushing to get to the plane. As I went through the security screening area, I saw a jeweled hand reach to help me with my bag and hear – no kidding – Elvis Presley say,

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Except it wasn’t Elvis. It was a TSA guard with an Elvis pompadour and Elvis glasses! No kidding!

I grabbed my stuff and incredulously hustled to my gate. As I sat down, I began asking myself a few rhetorical questions:

  • I wonder how many great singers went undiscovered because they chose to be an Elvis impersonator?
  • I wonder what Elvis would have done if he had decided to remain a sub-par carpenter? (Where he started his career.)

Don’t Imitate, Emulate

There is a big difference between emulation and interpretation. For example, I examine what Michael Hyatt does with his blog and podcast. I look at the code on the page to see what apps he’s using. I read his books. I listen to his podcast. I don’t imitate him, I emulate him. I take things that will work for me and try them out.

But I don’t want to BE Michael Hyatt. Michael Hyatt was the former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers and has done some cool things, but I’m a teacher. I’m uniquely positioned to be me. You are uniquely positioned to be you.

Be Uniquely You

There’s a fantastic book called Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Make Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant that talks about defining your own market. I live and follow that. I’m going to be uniquely what I can be that no one else can copy.

Here’s something to remember: Excellent individuals find people to emulate but are careful to be original. You can emulate without becoming a silly imitation. Be a unique you.

Kurt Cobain said,

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.”

Jim Morrison said,

“where’s your will to be weird?”

Ok, both of these men were strange to many but certainly they were authentic.

The world is full of anonymous people not brave enough to be who they are. Being boldly you takes courage.

For example, it takes courage to write anything about the Christian side of my life. But it is who I am. I can’t lie and be a fake. You’ll know it.

If I said, “I go home and meditate and do yoga when I’m stressed,” I might be saying something less offensive but it would be a lie. And honestly, I’d rather have an offensive truth-teller than a lying fit-inner any time.

At least you know where you stand with someone who tells the truth! Truth and trust go hand in hand. If someone always agrees with you, one of you is lying.

I went through a stage where I felt like that my middle-aged body and un-cool clothes were going to hurt me with kids. But even as a high schooler, I wore skirts and dressed up. I didn’t fit in then, so why do I care now?

So, I wear scarves. Almost every day. Last week a teacher said, “Scarves are your signature” and I said – well, I guess they kinda are. I wear them because I like them whether the fashion runway tells me to or not. I’m the kind of person who dresses up to teach school. That is who I am.

You be you. I’ll be me. There’s a place for both of us.

You don’t have to be somebody you’re not.

“Let him run his race,”

said the coach about Secretariat, the greatest racehorse of all time.

Secretariat liked to start at the back of the pack and then gain speed, usually surpassing all rivals by a lap or more.

This is my big issue with the “on the same page” movement that has every single teacher in a department doing the same thing every day. As long as the content is covered, does it matter if they are on the same page?

Some teachers are thoroughbreds, others are Secretariat and others (like me, I think 😉 are mules who plod ahead every day.

As long as their classes get to the finish line, I don’t know why they should be forced to run neck and neck.

Unique interests and passion make us uniquely suited to be exciting to those around us.

You can start today.

Johnny Cash sings in his song, Hurt,

“If I could start again a million miles away, I would keep myself, I would find a way.”

So, today, excellent friend -have you kept yourself?

The world has already seen Elvis – anyone else who tries to be just like him is just a cheap wannabe.

Are you an imitation or an original? Being original doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be famous, but I can promise you that if you’re not an original, you have no hope of being memorable. There’s no such thing as a famous Elvis impersonator.

Be an original you or be a forgettable imitation of someone who was original.

This post is day 49 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post Success Secrets: Avoid Fake Elvis Syndrome and Dare to Be Original appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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5 Great Questions from One of the Best Bosses My Husband Ever Had

Day 48 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Kip and I were talking about the best bosses we’ve ever had. Kip shared something that one of his, Mr. Joe Morris Palmer, president and founder of an engineering company, did that really brought out the best in him.

Kip said that every day he was in town, Mr. Joe Morris would come by his desk and ask the following five questions:

(Note to grammarians, these are the questions, forgive the prepositions at the end of sentences and go with it!)

1. How are you?

Kip said that this amazing man always started with him as a person. Every day, Kip knew that Mr. Joe Morris cared. And because he asked it every day, it would be shorter and shorter every day unless there was something big. Kip knew that as a person, he was important to the president of the company.

2. What are you working on?

Then, they discussed Kip’s current projects. Kip would share what he was doing and could ask any questions.

3. Why do you need my help with?

Rather than being to do list items, Kip says he was always looking for a coachable moment with this question. When Kip stated problems or issues, Mr. Joe Morris would tell him who to talk to, mention resources, or point to jobs that had been done before that he could review. It was rare that Mr. Joe Morris left with a to do item on his own list because he showed Kip how to get answers, where to go, or answered a question on the spot.

4. Is anything holding you back?

Again, he was looking for a coachable moment. If the person was a City Manager or politician, again, Joe Morris would tell Kip who to call or give him tips on dealing with that person. If it was a frustration of some kind, then he would coach there too. It was all coaching.

5. What can I do for you?

Finally, he would end with focusing on Kip again. If Kip was hoping to take him to lunch, Kip would ask. If Kip needed to ask for a time to go to school function in the next few weeks, he could mention that.

How long did this take?

Kip said that this rarely took more than 10 minutes. It was quick, it was efficient, but it was a game-changing moment every day or so.

Now, this CEO had quite a few engineers and I’m not sure if he had to spend that long with every one but he definitely did with the new ones. Tragically, Mr. Joe Morris died in a car wreck after Kip had been at his company just a few years. He and Mrs. Jean were truly treasured friends and family members and the world was a sadder place when we lost them.

But Mr. Joe Morris’ legacy of masterful leadership lives on in our lives.

What can we learn from this?

If we’re working with people, it is important to connect. In Kip’s last job, he had more than 30 direct reports and couldn’t have this 10 minute conversation every day. Now, he has less and tries to do it every two days since his employees are spread throughout a large property.

But it starts with being interested in people.

I work hard to apply this with my students. If I see a student struggling, first I ask how they are. Then, we get down to business.

You have to relate before you educate.

You have to relate before you innovate.

You have to relate before you collaborate.

Your world will rise and fall upon the relationships you build and the bridges you burn. Work hard to to build relationships. Work hard to put out sparks before bridges catch fire. These are both hallmarks of excellence.

This post is day 48 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post 5 Great Questions from One of the Best Bosses My Husband Ever Had appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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Dreams Are Your Precious Treasure

Day 47 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Sometimes we write things as teenagers that we need to remember as adults. This double form poem I wrote at Governor’s Honors when I was 17 is one such poem. Here’s the thing, I didn’t keep this because I liked it, I remember keeping this because of the note a 40-something-year-old teacher at GHP wrote on the poem.

Childhood dreaming

Transforms into adulthood goals

Those dreams are the things you must never lose track of

When everything flees and nothing remains, these dreams are always your

Precious Treasure.

And thus, sometimes we have to help children and teens understand what is important.

And likewise, sometimes, we get a smack from the past to remind us who we want to be.  We can remember that our dreams are a precious treasure. I have goals written at age twelve. One of them? To be an author and to write poetry.

Little did I know.

This post is day 47 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post Dreams Are Your Precious Treasure appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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