The Fence Needs To Go

amplifi clarifi simplifi Nov 13, 2020

Do you know any well-intentioned leaders who come in with new initiatives without first removing tired practices from your current reality? Perhaps you've had change happen to you and it feels like change for the sake of change?

Decluttering and change are necessary and there shouldn't be tension between the two. Decluttering is always the ideal lead domino. An effective leader invites change with, "what can we do right now to make anything on our things-to-do lists easier or unnecessary?"

Of course, sometimes, potentially impactful new ideas reveal themselves. While new shiny toys are always captivating, we need to first ask how this might make any other practice or policy easier or unnecessary, and this habit quite naturally leads back to a little decluttering.

However, some have an itchy trigger finger and quickly declutter just because things feel messy. Discomfort isn't reason enough to hand out erasers and red pens.

Effective leaders understand it's impossible...

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How We Do One Thing Is How We Do Everything

amplifi clarifi simplifi Nov 07, 2020

Are there parts of your day, week, month, or year that you simply can't stand, but you tough it out for the greater good or the love of your job? 

When I was a principal, my introverted self hated parts of the job. Mostly, I winced at anything that required me to be the focal point.

My stomach twisted every year when asked to give a graduation address, but I refused to focus on the cringe of delivering a speech to a couple of thousand people. I was determined to make It the best speech ever and represent our school in a way that made everyone proud to be part of it.

I'd endure these moments.

Certainly, a less than a positive mindset until my eyes were widened with a more encouraging lens from Dean Graziosi, who articulated a new approach so clearly: how you do one thing is how you do everything.

As long as it doesn't violate our values, we should try to be the best in the world at it. No matter what we're doing, even...

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Silence Does the Heavy Lifting

amplifi Nov 07, 2020

Do you have anyone on your team or staff that always chooses negativity and loves to bring any room to the lowest common denominator? You know, the kind of person that you always love, but can be really challenging to like?

Trying times certainly lead to even more corrosive behaviors, but of course, we need to rise above the moment while exercising empathy for someone who is obviously struggling.

We have a lot of options when such a person isn't in-person, as we can more easily choose to walk away from an email or phone call before responding or even have tools like prewritten scripts to quickly employ.

But when someone is waiting and seemingly enjoying the negative spotlight, how do we respond? Sure, we know that arguing with a fool only makes two, but equally important guiding principles are if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything and what you tolerate sets the bar.

So what do we do while that person watches intently to see if we flinch?

...

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Beautifully Boring

amplifi Oct 10, 2020
It's trendy to say, "be a leader, not a manager."
 
It's meant well and we all understand the touch people before paper intent, but it's short-sighted. 
 
Given we help schools, districts, and organizations to simplify and clarify in order to amplify their cultures and leadership, management is foundational stuff. No one seems to care about verbal hugs, planting team trees, and new team shirts if their timetable is weeks late, the building isn't clean, the copier is always broken, and the wrong texts were ordered. 
 
Complexity results from a lack of managerial skills, as people begin to create their own well-intentioned procedures. Complexity is the enemy of execution and the best friend of frustration. 
 
Yes, we've all known a great many exceptional managers that, for one reason or another, just aren't very effective leaders, but have you ever known a strong leader who wasn't also...
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Home Base

amplifi clarifi simplifi Oct 02, 2020
We don't subscribe to playing armchair psychologist, but given our number one goal is to remove obstacles for aspiring leaders, we've seen patterns. We all know that our beliefs, worries, and everything that is swimming in our heads will generally dictate our actions. In Nohea, we operate under an assumption that we all have a home base, a place we usually return to when things get scary or go bad; some go to a working home base, many to a worrying space, others land in an angry place, and a few go to a determined mindset. 
 
We're optimistic around here and believe our home base or mindset is conditioned by experiences and quite malleable. We've found that one of the greatest obstacles to building a more positive mindset home base is a lack of clarity.
 
When times are tough, we need to simplify our problems, perceived or real, and find a clear pathway to move forward. Pathways give direction and hope....
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Teacher Evaluation in a Pandemic: 5 Ways to Make it Work

amplifi clarifi simplifi Oct 01, 2020

Teacher evaluation.

Ugh.

The term evokes so many mixed emotions. Teachers often find them useless at best and fear-inducting at worst. And principals often see them as just another item to check off a list.  

In my work with leaders during this challenging time, many are wondering how they will fulfill this essential job function in these new and strange times.  Some feel the pressure from their state or district to get a required number of evaluations completed by a certain date. Some wonder if they should just stop altogether for at least the time being. 

Now, of course, there’s another layer of complexity as teaching and learning takes place with cameras, in Google Meets or Zoom rooms or with some hybrid approach. Teachers are understandably nervous about observations–especially if they haven’t seen any benefit to the process before we entered this new reality.

So, the principal who wants to create or maintain a culture of deep and joyful...

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Amplify

amplifi Aug 24, 2020

I was recently asked to participate in a chat that asked how I could amplify my small voice in regards to speaking up and out about beginning to integrate anti-racism, inclusion, and equity issues into my classroom and expand that to the local community. Seemed like an easy inquiry to answer as I had always thought to “amplify” meant to speak louder and to be bolder.

 

But it wasn’t.

 

It seemed a bit too easy and shallow to offer up a pat answer that I could give to satisfy the question without any real thought.

 

One thing I love about the neurological complexity of the brain is that it senses when basic information is just not enough to satisfy the deeper thinking core of our humanness. It is often what drives us into that slow, rational, deliberate, and often reflective way to respond. I decided to take each letter of this word and see if I could create a more multifaceted definition on my own. What I discovered was that “amplify”...

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The School Traffic Controller

amplifi Aug 01, 2020
School Traffic Controller
Buses, cars, and vans all funneling into designated routes for departures and arrivals. Passengers lugging backpacks, instrument cases, lunch boxes, and more. Announcements. Commotion. People moving faster than the average person can jog, with fixed stares. Others chatting and laughing loudly. Numerically labeled entrances. Queues of people.
 
Some move nervously. Others seem at ease.
 
Mrs. Sanchez is the former, and she looks so lost.
 
The school office administrator, Carla, spots that look as easy as middle schoolers find free wifi. Carla walks up to her, smiles, and offers some soothing words. Mrs. Sanchez gives her son a big hug and as she leaves, she looks over her shoulder and mouths, “thank you” to Carla.
 
Most of the school community is used to Carla’s warmth and calm presence; these habits are well-practiced and very intentional. Carla, herself, has been a parent in a new school and the empathy...
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Being Dr. Suess

amplifi Jul 24, 2020

I can’t connect right through Zoom or Meet or Teams or …

There isn’t enough budget …

We lost half of our team …

My supervisor is a cold fish … 

 

Yes, this all sucks. Are these really problems or is it time to accept these limits as facts of life? There is a distinct difference between dwelling on a problem and accepting a fact of life. 

 

Dwelling on a negative fact of life is an energy vampire.

 

The clock doesn’t stop ticking and the kids and staff don’t stop needing us no matter how many mental calories we burn in frustration. 

 

Dr. Suess wrote The Cat in the Hat using only 256 different words. His editor responded by betting him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 words. The result? Green Eggs and Ham. 

 

Oh, you’re like us and you want the 50 words? Here they are in alphabetical order: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox,...

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Professional Learning Menus: What Will You Be Having?

clarifi May 22, 2020
Amanda
Amanda’s grade 7’s are keeping her on her toes. She’s feeling pretty good about the start to her school year and would like to add a few tools to her teaching toolkit to keep up with her middle school changes.
 
After six years of teaching in grade 3, the change has been good for her, but Amanda wants the change to be good for the students, too. She has heard many times that she can access Mike, an instructional coach, and begins to search for his email, but stops short of connecting.
 
Amanda remembers meeting Mike briefly last month, and he certainly seemed nice. But what would she ask of him? "He's probably incredibly busy and it really isn't an emergency," she convinces herself as she starts packing up to leave.
 
Mike
Mike walks by the new teacher’s room. He had met Amanda and hoped she would contact him. In Hopeful School District, instructional coaching relationships are initiated by teachers, and coaches connect by...
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