Regret Prevention

Think about the end of the year. You will have accomplished a great deal, and your students will have done the same. An entire school year provides so many opportunities for amazing things to happen.

But I’ve never had a school year go perfectly. Certainly there is plenty that can happen that is clearly out of our control. But there are always things that happens throughout a year that I have full control over and wish I could go back and change when the end of the year rolls around.

So I want to lay down a little challenge—both for you and for myself. What do you want to make sure you have no regrets about?

Is it connecting with one particular student?

Is it speaking up about something that’s been gnawing at you?

It is trying something new in your classroom?

Is it taking a different approach to discipline as an administrator?

Is it wrapped up in random acts of kindness?

Is it taking time to take care of yourself?

Is it finding someone you trust to share what you are really working through as a teacher?

Is it connecting with that colleague who never seems to be included?

What is it that you want to be sure you do not regret at the end of the year?

I want to end the year without any regrets. I want you to do the same. But that won’t happen by accident.

I love this quote that’s often attributed to Mark Twain:

What will you do during the remainder of the school year to make sure you finish the semester without any regrets about a missed opportunity this year?

If you like what you’re reading here, you might like my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth: 6 Truths That Will Help You THRIVE as an Educator. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator. Get the book on Amazon or read more about the book here.

3 Traps That Stall Innovation (and How You Can Avoid Them) #IMMOOC

“Change isn’t something that comes with a checklist.” – Dave Burgess, in the publisher’s foreword to The Innovator’s Mindset

I’d really like it if innovation were a cleaner process. One with less uncertainty. One will less failure. One with a clearer roadmap.

But that’s not what we sign up for when we set out to innovate.

Innovation is most certainly an adventure without a checklist. But even when you set out on an adventure that could go a thousand different ways, there are always a few pitfalls that you know you’ll want to avoid.

If you want to lead innovative change in your sphere of influence, then you have to avoid the pitfalls that sideline many attempts to create something new and different in education.

There are certainly others that could be included, but after thinking through three attempts to innovate over the past few years, I know that these three pitfalls can bring innovation to a halt in a hurry.

Trap #1: Innovation Replication
Innovation is tricky to replicate. A successful innovation provides a new and better solution to an existing problem. Certainly we can benefit from considering the solutions that others have identified, but just because we could implement their solution doesn’t mean we have to or need to. If we don’t have the same question they do, we don’t need try to implement the answer they’ve discovered.

What we can really benefit from is looking at the questions that others asked as they began to innovate. What drove the initial process and got their conversations off the ground? What rules did they choose to ignore? What constraints did they have to overcome?

A careful look at the path others traveled en route to innovation is more likely to benefit us than simply adopting their practice.

But we like continue to prefer solutions because we fear the unknown…

Trap #2: Fear of the Unknown
When we’re trying something new, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves in a bit of uncharted (or at least less charted) territory. While I would never advocate haphazardly jumping into the change process without a plan, I will say that most innovative change that I’ve experienced needs a different sort of planning norm. If you are making a new path, you will not walk on a nicely paved road. You will not be able to anticipate everything. You don’t even know all the obstacles in your path yet. Finding a balance between a comprehensive plan and one that you can actually bring working on is key.

While outcomes can be unpredictable, designing the process can allow you the freedom to focus on the real problem you are tackling. On the outset, identify the problem you are wanting to improve upon and honestly assess where you are at in your current reality. Then set a big goal for where you’d like to be and begin to backwards plan until you get to the actions you’d like to tackle this week. Set checkpoints for yourself, and find someone to help you out with the plan.

But don’t allow yourself to stay in planning mode forever. There’s some comfort in the planning process that you’ll need to step away from or you’ll never get started…

Trap #3: Not getting started
The problem—that area you know needs a touch of innovation—is not going to sort itself out. Your inertia will literally keep you where you are at forever unless an outside force disrupts the status quo (seriously… it’s a basic rule scientific rule). The problem you’ve identified needs an outside force to send it off its current trajectory and in a new direction. You can be that force, but you will be most effective if you don’t go it alone. After you’ve looked at the questions that inspired others to innovate and designed a process to enact a particular change, GET AFTER IT (but not on your own).

You Have a Choice to Make
Each of these traps can be avoided.

Instead of replicating answers, learn from their driving questions.

Instead of fearing the unknown journey ahead, set a goal and backwards plan toward it.

Instead of letting inertia maintain the status quo, draft a plan that you will actually start.

Looking at someone else’s innovation can sometimes leave you feeling like others have the magic touch. They don’t. They just get started on the work.

I love this reminder from J.K. Rowling: “We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better.”

You have a choice to make: Innovate and improve the school experience for your students or let the status quo keep its hold.

Make the right choice.

If you like what you’re reading here, you should check out my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator, including one–Imagine it Better–that will challenge you to imagine better than the status quo for your students. Find the book on Amazon or read more about the book here.

What is Your Watch? #TeacherMyth

I started last school year with a watch that had a dead battery.

All day long, my watch showed it was 11:11.

I told myself I’d get it fixed. It wouldn’t take much time. It wouldn’t cost a lot of money. It’s not even terribly inconvenient. What would stop me from fixing that which I knew to be broken? 

I made plenty of trips to and from places that could have fixed my watch for me. And still my watch does not have a new battery. 

So why, a full year later, am I still looking at this watch that has yet to have a new battery installed?

In short–It’s a lot easier to realize something is broken than it is to change in response to that realization. (That’s even true with something as small as a watch battery.)

The watch isn’t the way I tell time anymore. I’m rarely away from my phone (that’s another post, but not the focus for today), and there are clocks in most every meeting room is be in otherwise. My watch no longer serves its original purpose.

It looks right, but it’s broken. I was able to wear my watch every single day for an entire school year without actually needing it. What’s more, nobody else noticed it was broken either. 


I wonder if there are other things like that for us. Things that look right, but with a closer look, might actually be broken. Maybe they don’t need to be tossed out, but they’re no longer serving they’re original purpose.

A few things spring to mind, but I’d love to hear from you: As you prepare for the new school year, ask yourself this: What isn’t serving its purpose anymore? When you have a few answers, what will you do with those things? What are the biggest changes you feel you can make in these areas?

(For this post, don’t say testing. There’s plenty to say about testing, but standardized testing is here for another year. It’s certainly something worth thinking through, but I don’t want us to miss the things that are closer to us, the things we have much more power to change.)


I’m still wearing my watch (and I still haven’t replaced the battery). Past the fact that it was a gift from my wife and I just like it, that watch has become a reminder for me of our need to be routinely reflecting on what’s working, what’s not, and what’s giving a false appearance that may be fooling us.

I’d like you to think through what your “watch” might be before you go. Think through these questions and consider what you can do to identify your watches as the new school year begins. 

  • Sometimes things look like they work until we take a closer look. What isn’t working like it should? Is there anything that is still taking up your time that no longer serves its purpose?
  • The routines we adopt as the year begins will stick with us throughout the year. What do you need to add to your routine to make this a great year? What needs to be removed from your routine? What do you need to keep telling yourself throughout the year? What do you need to stop telling yourself this year? Where is there rest built into your weekly school routine? 
  • We educate in a world that is rapidly changing. Norms from long ago are not always the norm today. What are you doing this year that you weren’t doing 5 years ago? 3 years ago? Last year? What are you doing to challenge yourself to move past what you’ve always done? 

I hope you spend a few minutes reflecting on your practice with these questions. I wish you nothing but the best of luck as you begin the new school year!

If you like what you’re reading here, consider checking out my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator, including one–Imagine It Better–that discusses how we can and should disrupt the status quo in education. Read more about the book here or find the book on Amazon

Top 10 Tips For Student Blogging (guest post by @mrodz308)

Near the end of the school year, I had the chance to see something amazing happening in one of the elementary schools in my school district. Marina Rodriguez (@mrodz308), a 4th grade dual language teacher at South Knoll Elementary, reached out to see if I would come by and participate in the “Hour of Blog”–a time she and her students use after school to explore all things blogging.

The experience was amazing.

She and her students, none of whom began the school year with any blogging experience, created hundreds of blog posts throughout their after school “Hour of Blog” they began together during the spring semester. Our time together went so quickly. The students asked wonderful questions and shared insights beyond their years.

A lot of people would look at the end product and want to replicate it, but not know where to get started. I asked if she would share about her experience. Marina was happy to share about the project and offer some tips for anyone who is interested in getting your students blogging. I also love the student and parent reflections she shares, too.

Enjoy this post from Marina Rodriguez, and get your students blogging!

Back in January of 2017, I decided to bring blogging into my 4th grade dual language classroom.  With state testing right around the corner, I wanted to offer my students something engaging they could experiment with, lead, and make their own.  I caught the name of a blogging website called Kidblog off a post on Twitter, and the only thing I knew for sure was that this blogsite was safe for kids.

My initial concerns were many… How would I introduce something I have never done before? When would we find the time to practice this unique genre?  Are my students mature enough to handle working independently online?  Will the novelty of trying something new fizzle out before we get anything valuable accomplished?  How would I make sure students practice good writing habits?  How would I manage it all for so many students, when they will have online access anywhere, anytime?  Is it crazy to try to do this on my own with 4th graders?

Even with the many concerns, blogging online seemed to carry possibilities that would excite our learning and launch us into something new and wonderful.  After talking with a small group of my students for some feedback, we decided to make it an experiment.  I decided to trust that my students would at the very least have fun trying something new.  I took a breath and we jumped into the digital world.

What happened in my classroom those next few months of school was nothing short of amazing.  My classroom shifted.  We went from a classroom to a community, from students to guides, from rule-followers to leaders… independent problem solvers, collaborators, creators, innovators, and explorers.  Learning became contagious.  Students kept a “Blogger’s Notebook” and worked hard to find reasons to write, and they wrote often.

During this process, I became a part of this magnificent shift in our learning environment.  I became a guide and an actively engaged learner.  I learned to trust myself as I pushed to learn more, just as I encourage my students to do the same. This adventure helped me to become a blogger.  I also discovered that my students, my bloggers… are some amazing human beings.  They ended the school year feeling like a part of the world around them, thinking beyond the walls of the classroom, and ready to make an impact.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for Student Blogging for teachers thinking about getting started…

Top 10 Tips for Student Blogging

  1. Why blog?

Let your students in on this secret… the more you write, the better you get at it.  Here are a few other reasons… to value student voice, to give students meaningful and purposeful reasons to write, to allow students to learn for themselves and learn from each other, to allow students to make an impact on the world, to connect with others and build relationships, to experience having an authentic audience, to struggle and reflect, to explore, to grow, to research, to collaborate, to problem solve, to create, to innovate, to practice critical thinking, to prepare for the future.  There are many other reasons why blogging can be powerful for students.  Blogging helps students learn, reflect, and grow.

Encouraging students to write what they want as much as possible is a powerful way to grow writers and critical thinkers.  When students have the freedom to lead their own learning, amazing things will happen.

  1. Make Expectations Crystal Clear

Making expectations crystal clear is key for just about anything.  Picture your ideal learning environment, then let students in on your vision.  Together, you can build towards that goal.  Teach mini-lesson, after mini-lesson, offer reminders, reviews, notes, etc., as much as you see is needed.  In an ideal learning environment, everyone is a learner, and everyone should develop the skill of guiding others to learn new things.

The goal is to have a room full of independent, critical thinkers, and creative problem solvers.  With the right guidance, a classroom can quickly become a place where both students and teacher carry the title of Guide, where everyone is able to offer what they know with respect and willing to help others in the process, not because it is a mandate, but because it’s the right thing to do.

  1. Begin with a Small Group

It is easier to manage things when you start small.  Begin with a group of 6-8 students who you think would not have issue with independently making decisions, setting goals, expectations, etc.  These students can be your mentors for the rest of the class.

Guide your small group in the right direction, but allow them the freedom to lead and make decisions.  Hold special blogging meetings during lunch or before school, to help launch and establish their special leadership positions.  Encourage a plan for everything, so they understand that things work best when planned.  This will give students ownership, and naturally allow them to develop the need to care and protect their work with great passion.  Students will often set the bar much higher than you expect, and will lead other students to do the same.

  1. Encourage Inquiry Projects

Inquiry learning is phenomenal.  Encourage students to use blogging to share what they learn.  When children begin school at the age of 4-5, they come in excited and ready to explore the world, often with spectacular curiosity.  They are typically ready to jump into learning and exploring with little fear or hesitation.  As the years in a classroom begin to lay its heavy hand on their curious minds, students become less of explorers and more rule followers.

Allow for natural curiosity and exploration to develop through student inquiry projects.  Blogging about an inquiry project is a fantastic way to bring back a student’s inner explorer.  Students practice developing a higher-level ability to think through what they want to learn and make good choices, not because “the teacher” told them so, but because true explorers and learners must make good decisions as they push to learn more.

Encouraging the explorer part of a student’s brain is essential to having a student-centered learning environment.  Allow students to investigate, research, and write about the things they enjoy or find intriguing and/or interesting.  It can lead to some powerful learning.

  1. Share with Parents, Admin, and Others

Sharing student work with an authentic audience can make a powerful impact.  I still remember the look on my students faces, when we talked about having their parents and other teachers read their work.  They were both nervous, but incredibly excited.  These experiences help students truly own their work, and it helps them to understand the true purpose of this communication skill we call writing.  It’s more than developing a writer or blogger, it is showing students that their words have value and can cause impact.

Publishing for a target audience helps students understand that the value of their own voice.  Not only is it important for students to publish and publish often, but by focusing on specific audiences, students practice real-world communication skills.  Writing to specific audiences is a skill that students will use for the rest of their lives.

  1. Digital Citizenship vs. Being a Good Human

The best advice to give students is that they are responsible for being good humans, both inside the digital world and out in the real world.  The difference between having digital citizenship and being a good human is absolutely nothing. The sooner students understand that who they are online is who they are in real life, the better.

Technology is a part of our everyday lives, and students need us more than ever to help guide them into making good choices.  Trusting that students do the right thing may sound like a lot to ask, but it is well worth the investment when student-centered learning is the goal.  Most students would rather participate in the digital environment to learn, than to be denied that option for poor choices.

  1. Walk Them Through the First Blog

Guiding students through their first piece is important, because it sets the expectation.  Our 21st Century Students know a lot; however, they need our experience and our guidance now more than ever to help keep them on the right learning path.

Don’t expect perfection, expect their best work.  You may want to approve the first few blogs before they post to an audience, however, only a teacher knows when best to move a student on to what comes next.  Make sure to give them the freedom to write without your approval at some point, better sooner than later.  Try to read all of their work, as much as possible.  When students begin to write more than you can keep up with, you have succeeded in creating a group of students who are living as writers.

  1. Focus on the 4 C’s

According to the National Education Association (NEA), in order to prepare our 21st Century Students for a global society, we must help them develop four key components:

  1. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Creativity & Innovation

All four components can easily be embedded into blogging.  Making sure students understand why these components are important will help keep them focused on the big picture… their future.

  1. Teachers Can Be Bloggers Too

The best way to lead students into blogging is leading by example.  Diving into something new with your students is a priceless experience for both you and your students.  It turns everyone into a learner instantly, and allows both the teacher and students the opportunity to live as true explorers.  What an amazing experience to offer students!  Sharing experiences, good and bad, reduces the fear of making mistakes and builds an environment where students feel safe to learn, grow, take risks, and push forward to become life-long learners.

  1. Give It Time

Give yourself and your students time to develop.  Again, only the teacher knows when her class is ready for what comes next.  The use of a program that allows students to write electronically anywhere they have access to the internet is exciting.  They will develop quickly the need to write, and write often.  They will make mistakes, and you will need to help teach them how to pick up the pieces, how to make their writing stronger, fresh and fearless, or more impactful.  It will take time, but it will happen sooner than you think.

Technology is in integral part of the lives of our students.  Blogging is one way to help students maneuver in an environment that will continue to be an important part of their lives.  Preparing our 21st Century Students to become leaders in a world already at their fingertips is not only important, but necessary.


Comments from my 4th grade class of 2016-17 students and parents…

“I blog because it is fun and I love inspiring people. It helps them get through a problem.”  -Malichi, 4th Grade 

“I love blogging because it’s a way for me to express my writing in the form of technology, and I just love how blogging brought all of us together as a tiny community.”  -Mariana, 4th Grade

“I like blogging because it is challenging for me.”  -Juan, 4th Grade

“I like to blog about just about anything I can.  I like blogging because I like seeing other people’s perspectives on blogging and what they think about the different categories that you can blog about. I personally think it’s COOL to see what other people think about it.”  -Isaiah, 4th Grade

“I like to blog about things that would help you later in life. I also like to post quotes and poems.”        

-Luke, 4th Grade 

“I like blogging about poems. I like blogging because it helps me interact with my friends.”  -Luis, 4th Grade

“I like to Blog about how to build character. Most of my Blogs are in the category of Building Character. I like to Blog because it is a great way to express your feelings for a certain topic. Blogging is a great experience!  I can’t wait to continue with it.”  -Sam, 4th Grade

“I like to blog about Star Wars, and science fiction.  I like to blog because I do not like to share my work a lot, but Kidblog makes it less scary.”  -Hudson, 4th Grade 

“I love to blog because other people can learn from my blogs and create more like mine, and just carry on the idea! I blog to change the world, and to follow my dreams! ( ; I like writing encouraging poems and also writing fictional stories.”  -Halle, 4th Grade

“I like to blog because it helps me with my learning and my writing skills.”  -Efrain, 4th Grade

“I like to blog about things like family. I also like it because you can learn from it, and you get to chat about the things that you are to do. You can learn from your mistakes, and that helps you get better, and you will love it even more. That is why I love blogging.” -Madison, 4th Grade

“It is fun and educational.”  -Nathanael, 4th Grade

“I like blogging what is in my mind. I think that blogging what is in my mind makes others think how I think about things around me.”  -Ashley, 4th Grade

“I like to blog, because you can interact with your friends, you can share your writing, and give your opinion about the writing.”  -Paloma, 4th Grade

“I like blogging, because the options to write about are endless…”  -Lily, 4th Grade 

“Blogging helped my daughter in so many ways with her attitude toward writing and her overall writing skills!  She would write short stories here and there at home prior to blogging. Once introduced to blogging, her short stories began to expand to include elaborate titles and chapters! She began writing stories!  She looked forward to being a part of the blogging group after school. She learned to express more of her thoughts on paper/computer.  Being shy, this provided an outlet for her. She found that writing can be fun! She would think of topics, plan ahead and write creatively.  We are grateful that she was introduced to blogging at SK by you!” -Parent

“So many positive changes in my son since he began the blogging class with you.  He has always been a voracious reader, this opened him up to the process of writing & not dreading writing assignments.  I even noticed improvement in his vocabulary & spelling habits.  For him being such an introvert, the most positive change I noticed was social.  He seemed to forge stronger friendships with his classmates as this was a fun bonding assignment outside of the normal classroom setting.  He corresponded via email with a classmate about topics & ideas for their blog, and spend lots of time brainstorming & collaborating with a friend.  Having a “special” time & fun activity outside of the traditional classroom structure was so beneficial for my son, as it gave him the opportunity to be creative & have complete control over his work product.  We are so thankful & appreciative for this opportunity, and… he thoroughly enjoyed staying after class each week to participate!” -Parent

“My son has grown immensely this year in his writing and I believe it is largely due in part to his blog experience.  I have seen him use his free time to write and blog, which is a big change from years past.  He enjoys brainstorming and coming up with new ideas for his writing… I wanted you to know how much you had an impact on him.” -Parent

“The blogging experience conducted by Mrs. Marina Rodriguez helped my daughter increase her interest and motivation in writing generally, and more specifically in writing poetry and even some ‘philosophical’ meditations about life and other essential topics. She became more aware of her spelling weaknesses and made the best of the opportunity to correct them. She also visualized (and still does) herself as a ‘blogger’ and, in many occasions, she has introduced herself to other people by using the expression: ‘I am a blogger.’ It clearly means that she has become more familiar with several contemporary media platforms that are now part of our daily technological experience. My daughter also had the opportunity to interact with some of her classmates’ blogging activities, exchanging therefore with them thoughts and getting in the know of their areas of interest or concern. That made her more aware of her circle of friends and contributed toward friendship and communication, and not the opposite. Also, she has kept her interest up projected to the future and plan to continuing her blogging activity despite the class is over.” -Parent

“We feel it is a wonderful example of using current technological resources to reach children academically… without them seeing it as work at all!  Well done!” – Parent

“Blogging created an excitement for writing for my son.  He was often eager to share what he had written with our family.  He also enjoyed reading others entries.  I felt like blogging was very helpful for his social and emotional well-being and helped him feel very connected with his classmates and wonderful teacher!  Thank you Sra. Rodriguez!” -Parent

“I feel that it helped my daughter become more expressive with her writing. This is obviously very subjective, but it seems that she started to see writing as more of a tool to initiate communication than simply something used to respond to others.” -Parent

Be sure to check out Marina’s blog ( and connect with her on Twitter (@mrodz308).

4 Questions to Help You Actually Create Change #TeacherMyth

Before Roger Bannister ran the first mile under four minutes, it was thought to be impossible. Not only that, if you talked to a medical professional about the idea of running a mile in less than four minutes at the time Bannister was chasing that mark, he or she would have likely told you that there were serious health risks associated with even attempting such a feat.

Last month (June 2017), the tenth high school student recorded a sub 4 minute mile. Think about that. 65 years ago, common thought among medical professionals was that this would be seriously risky for your health, but here we are with a new understanding of what is possible because someone dared to push back on an established idea.

Sometimes it feels like we might need more than we feel we have to offer to create meaningful change. Maybe we feel need more courage or different ideas. Maybe it’s that we simply lack confidence. Maybe fear keeps us in our place, or perhaps it’s simply our own inertia that keeps us from moving forward.

In her 2008 Harvard commencement speech, J.K. Rowling reminded graduates that they did “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

I agree with her wholeheartedly. We have the power to imagine better, but I often find myself doing the same old things. Making a plan won’t create the change we want to see, but we will not break out of our old routines and practices without a plan.


What do you want to change next year?

Go ahead and think big here. (Of course you don’t need my permission, but a little encouragement never hurt, right?) What is it that you would most like to see change in the next school year? What would you like to change in your classroom?

Why are you in education? What made this sound like a worthwhile career to invest yourself into when you began? Don’t just think about that–write it down.

Now compare that to what your day to day looks like. How will this change bring you back to your why?

What are your current obstacles?

One of the trickiest things about creating change is the dynamic landscape we are often working within. No two schools are exactly alike, and although many are similar, we have to be careful about broad stroke comments about how to actually create change on the ground in schools.

Think about your situation. What are the obstacles that you can already see coming? Anticipating those road blocks (because there will most certainly be road blocks) will allow you to avoid some of the frustration that comes with those interactions with those who do not share your perspective. Will it make it easy? No. Will it help you feel like you are the one continuing to drive this movement forward? Absolutely.

Who will help you create this change?

For this to become a movement (that’s what you want, right–not just you toiling away on your own trying to make a difference), you need to make sure you’re not going to take this journey alone.

Successful change happens when passionate people do what others believe is impossible. What you hope to change is going to make a difference, and that’s why people are in education: to make a difference.

You need a few people around you to help you refine your idea and help you identify those early obstacles mentioned earlier. You also need them as a sounding board for when you begin to get feedback (because as someone who is about to stir things up and create change for good, you will get feedback).

Two things will happen when you begin to get some movement: People will love it, and people will hate it.

Don’t move forward without at least two people you can count on to support and challenge you throughout this process.

Change calls people out of their comfortable routines. Some are going to see what you are doing and be invigorated to make their own change. Some will want to join your cause. And some will not be happy with you. Be prepared for that. Don’t give in to that feedback. I’d shy away from completely dismissing it, but take it in, determine if there’s any validity to the critique, and move past it. You have work to do and only so much energy to spend doing it.

What time & energy can you commit to this change?

You cannot continue to pile more things onto your plate forever. You are not limitless. You cannot do everything. (Yes, I’m talking to you, too, if you just responded, “Yes I can” to that claim.) We have a finite amount of energy, and that’s ok.

You cannot give more than all you have to give.

But that reality is hard to swallow because the common narrative is that the best are the ones who can keep going forever, the Energizer Bunnies who never seem to stop, never seem to waver, and always accomplish their goals beautifully. I’m tempted to say, “That’s great if you can pull it off,” but I am really coming to believe that nobody can pull that off. At least I can’t, so I’m trying to dedicate my available time to the goals that matter most to me (more on that as the school year approaches).

If you give everything you have at school, you likely won’t have enough for your family and yourself when you get home. (I know I’ve heard Jimmy Casas share about the difficulty of balancing an emotionally draining job with the desire to be fully present at home when you’re there. I feel like I’ve heard others share a similar sentiment. If there’s a chance I heard that from you or you recognize where I should give other credit, please let me know so I can give credit where it’s due.) Certainly there are days like this. Things come up, the reality of serving others is that it can be simultaneously live giving and incredibly draining all at once. I’m not exactly sure how, but that’s my lived experience. What I’m saying is that we cannot schedule ourselves to that point. We have to keep something in the tank for the others in our lives and for ourselves.

Giving every last bit of energy you have to your work is not a healthy long term solution. Figure out what you have to give and go full throttle into giving that amount. Be dialed in, focused, and determined to drain every ounce of that dedicated time to create change, but be willing to give yourself the white space to recharge afterward.

Achieving the Impossible

Bannister’s record breaking run in 1954 changed the landscape of track and field. The next runner to break the “impossible” four minute barrier did so just two months later. Hundreds have done it since. Last month, the tenth high school student broke the four minute barrier. Some runners have finished a mile under four minutes more than 100 times.

The impossible is happening.

I’m excited for you and for your future. The changes you make this year will have an impact far greater than you are likely to every know. But they won’t happen without someone like you getting back to the reason you got into education and pushing your reality back toward that original motivation.

Where will you upset the status quo?

If you like what you’re reading here, consider checking out my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator, including one–Imagine It Better–that discusses how we can and should disrupt the status quo in education. Read more about the book here or find the book on Amazon

Making the Most of Summer #TeacherMyth

Summer is such a gift. That opportunity to reset, to relax, to engage in other passions and hobbies. It’s great. But only if we use it well.

In the past, I’ve found myself frustrated because I’m not making the most of my break. (I know, big problem, right?)

But here’s the thing: I hate wasting a break.

No, I don’t end every break rethinking how I should have done things, but I know that a passive approach rarely yields desired results.

This week is my first week of summer, and I’m determined to figure out a way to make this summer a great one. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? I’ve spent some time thinking through what I can control to help this summer be a great one. Here are a few of the guidelines I plan to use to keep me focused throughout the summer of 2017.

Actually take a break

(This one is really easy and really tough. I’m putting it first because it’s the one I’m most likely to forget this summer.)

Slow down. Slow way down. Do something that has nothing to do with your work. Read a book. Sit by the pool. Enjoy time with friends and family. Press into a hobby that the school year keeps you from. It will make you better at your work when you return. You’ll have experiences that you can pull from and stories to tell. Both make you a better educator.

Challenge yourself as an educator

There are so many ways to grow yourself over the summer. Jump into a Twitter chat, read a book (maybe even one just for fun), join a Voxer group, attend a conference or visit an EdCamp. Whatever it is, find something to push your thinking this summer. We so rarely have a chance to pull back from the busy nature of the school year. Don’t miss the opportunity to do something great with the gift of time we have over the summer.

Establish a new habit

Making the choice to do something different and actually developing the habit of doing something different are totally different practices and experiences. Summer provides enough margin for most educators that we should take advantage of the time and use it to our advantage. What do you want to work into your daily routines that isn’t there now?

Invest at home

For me, this is a big one. The school year is something that I love, but it really takes it out of me at times. We get overextended for all sorts of reasons throughout the school year. To say the least, our work in education is tough. And we’re not wired up with infinite energy. We absolutely have limits to what we can give. Probably the most challenging tweet I saw last year asked, “Are you giving so much at school that you don’t have anything left to give when you get home?” I can’t recall where I came across it, but I’ll never forget that idea.

During the summer, I don’t have to balance that. I can be fully present, but I have to choose to do that. So here’s my little pep talk for myself: Ignore your work email for a bit. Maybe go a whole day or two without even checking it. Whatever you do, do something with the people who matter most to you. Then, do more with them. They’re what matter most. /PepTalk

Create a plan for disrupting the status quo next year

I love that we get that new year feel twice a year in education–once in August and again in January. Just like a new year’s resolution, any change we want to make next year isn’t likely to be the result of a simple choice or two. It’s within reach, but it’s going to take a plan. More than a resolution, I hope you take next year head on. What is it that you want to reimagine about the school experience you provide for others? Do you want to drop grades and give students better feedback? Trade status quo faculty meetings for personalized PD? Have kids show up to a classroom that doesn’t look at all like what they expect and gets them excited about learning next year? I hope your last school year was incredible, but I hope that 17-18 is even more amazing! Don’t wait to see if your August PD is going to set you on a course for an amazing school year.

What else do you do to make summer great? If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

I hope you have a wonderful summer!

If you like what you’re reading here, consider checking out my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator, including one–Imagine It Better–that discusses how we can and should disrupt the status quo in education. Read more about the book here or find the book on Amazon