STEAM/STEM Core Skills

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Developing STEM and STEAM programs (Science Technology Engineering/Art Mathematics) is very exciting, but I have noticed recently there is a lack of cohesive standards to measure progress.

Like many people, I am working on building a set of standards. Some are customized, and some are licensed.

In my research, and through various networking engagements, I have settled on a set of core skills that need to be incorporated throughout the STEAM environment. The standards are being built around these skills.

I have found more engagement among students if the skills are presented first. The skills tend to fuel the desire for hands on work. I also want students to not focus on grades and common rubric models. I want them to focus on creating and going through the design process.

These skills have been developed by the MIT FabLab Program. The FabLab has been operating for well over a decade, and many FabLab partners have developed programs for younger students as well.

The overall philosophy is to learn the skills at every level, but increase the difficulty and complexity within the projects as students gain experience.

The List

DIGITAL FABRICATION PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES
COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN, MANUFACTURING, AND MODELING
COMPUTER-CONTROLLED CUTTING / Drawing
ELECTRONICS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION
COMPUTER-CONTROLLED MACHINING
EMBEDDED PROGRAMMING
3D MOLDING AND CASTING
COLLABORATIVE TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
3D SCANNING AND PRINTING
SENSORS, ACTUATORS, AND DISPLAYS
INTERFACE AND APPLICATION PROGRAMMING
EMBEDDED NETWORKING AND COMMUNICATIONS
MACHINE DESIGN
DIGITAL FABRICATION APPLICATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
INVENTION, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND BUSINESS MODELS
DIGITAL FABRICATION PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Looking at this list, it might seem impossible to imagine a Grade 3 or even Grade 8 students accomplishing these in a meaningful way. I would argue that all are achievable at least at the planning and design thinking stage. Most of these are achievable with the correct level or equipment and/or some creative outsourcing.

The Game

Gamification has been a buzzword at conferences for some time. I have finally found an fairly universal way to “gamify” the list and formally track progress.

As students learn a core skill at different levels, their progress as a class or individual can be color coded.

Sample Using Colors

For better analysis, the color bands can also connect to numeric values. There are many ways to approach tracking. Even curriculum mapping systems can do this.

The best part about this structure, is each school can decide what their levels mean for their students.

I look at this as age independent. It is very possible for a grade 5 student to be a beginner in many skills, and have completed others at a level. It is also very likely that many older students who have never attempted STEAM topics, would fine they can quickly master Levels 1-3, while struggling with the final two levels.

As a student, I would like to see this type of grid and work towards being in the all green club :).

As a teacher, I would like to have students be all green, and after the smiles settle, add Level 6.

If you are inclined, share how you are measuring STEAM and STEM skills or standards. You can do this in the comments, or email me directly. I will post all ideas and give you full credit. ~ tony.deprato@gmail.com

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If you are going to be anything, be compassionate

Yesterday will go down as one of New Zealand’s darkest days.

My mother back in Christchurch messaged me to check the news. I had a hundred and one things to do at school that day, most of which remain on my to-do list. I was shocked and saddened by what had just happened in my hometown and my mind was elsewhere.

In an international community like the one I live and work in, on any one day someone in our community will be shocked and saddened by something that is happening in their home country. Yesterday was the turn of the New Zealanders and the way that it stopped my wife and I got me thinking. If we all took on each other’s shock and sadness, we would all be paralyzed and incapable of helping each other. And we need to help each other.

We need to act with compassion. Which I have learned is different from empathy which is different from sympathy.

Empathy means that you feel what a person is feeling and sympathy means that you can understand what the person is feeling. As much as it saddens me to think about those caught up in this nightmare, it is impossible for me feel their pain. And given that I have never had a loved one taken by an act of violence, been victimized for who I am or what I believe in, or had another person’s life in my hands, I do not think I can even begin to understand.

Compassion is the willingness to relieve the suffering of another person. You do not need to feel or even understand someone’s suffering to relieve them of it. In fact, in many cases, it would be better if you did not. If a psychiatrist felt the pain of each client, she would be of no use to anyone.

Because compassion does not rely on personal experience, we can develop it in a classroom. It is very important that we do so if we are to expect our children to confront the ecological, sociological and technological problems that threaten our very existence. The solutions to those problems call for people that are able to see beyond themselves and those like them. They call for people that are willing and able to support and be supported by others.

For our children to be able to act intelligently, compassionately and with strength, we need to infuse academic challenges with the following global competencies:

  • the use of concepts, knowledge, skills and languages of various disciplines to research current global issues;
  • the understanding of economic, political, technological, environmental, and social systems worldwide;
  • the understanding of multiple perspectives; the valuing of diversity;
  • the ability to communicate with multilingual skills, through fluency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening and through the use of technologies;
  • engaging in responsible action and service to improve conditions both locally and globally; and
  • the ability to function effectively in an interdependent world.

We have high expectations of our students and they will achieve academically. And our message to them must be: If you are going to be a scientist, be a compassionate one. If you are going to be a lawyer, be a compassionate one. If you are going to be a soldier, be a compassionate one. If you are going to be a politician, be a compassionate one.

If you are going to be anything, be compassionate. Our future more than likely depends upon it.

Bloom, Paul. Against Empathy: the Case for Rational Compassion. Vintage, 2018.

WASC Focus on Learning International Edition

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Just wondering about PD booster shots

As we are planning for professional development opportunities for next year, here is one of my big take-aways. Sorry if it is too basic, but I am a firm believer that sometimes simple solutions can bring some meaningful changes. Schools spend lots of money on professional development and we constantly think of what are the best options to make the learning stick. Of course, schools may have some external requirements. For instance, IB schools have to train their Diploma teachers when the courses change. This is fair enough and schools have learned how to plan for those required costs that can represent a good chunk of their budget. But schools may also have the options to do some professional development with external consultants and with their in-house specialists. While those two ways of offering professional development represent drastic financial differences, we can note that both types need something absolutely crucial: the booster shots. When we work with consultants or in-house specialists, the one shot experience is usually not the best use of time and money. Schools who can afford it have modified their approach working with consultants for a few years now. They have internalised that flying in an external consultant for a few days to work with the learning community has limited long term learning impacts but it represents big sums of money. So, schools and consultants have developed long-term partnerships for more durable learning impacts. The financial and time commitment is usually bigger but the results are more long-lasting. Now that we have tools that allow us to connect with people everywhere in the world, the partnerships may include not only physical visits to schools but also video-conferencing, webinars and so forth.

For in-house professional development, it needs to be the same. In High School, this year, our goals are connected to three main concepts: collaboration, communication and instruction. Some of our targeted in-house professional development opportunities are about developing strategies to support our learners with specific needs and our English language learners. Of course, we started the year with professional development offered by our awesome in-house specialists, but it was crucial for us to think about ways for us to give them some more time. Some booster shots. To maintain the sense of urgency. To keep working together. To model this idea that we all learn every day. To confirm that, together, we are simply better than on our own. And, in fine, for all our learners to keep growing with our support. Therefore, this concept of booster shots is essential for all kinds of professional development and time must be allocated to do this regularly. Otherwise the good intentions and the benefits one time workshops may just get lost in the day-to-day school life.

For what it’s worth…

Posted in Frederic Bordaguibel-Labayle | Leave a comment

Connected, But Alone?

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other?

This is the question clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle asks in her book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, which is based on 30 years of her work studying the psychology of people’s relationships with technology. While she is not anti-technology, Turkle presents a compelling case that our current communication revolution is degrading the quality of human relationships.

Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and workplaces, Turkle argues that many of us, “would prefer to send an electronic message or mail than commit to a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call” (Turkle, 2015, p.3). Her concern is the cost associated with this new type of connection and how technology allows us to find ways around conversation. She argues that “face-to-face conversation is the most human – and humanizing – thing we do. Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy” (Turkle, 2015, p.3).

Reclaiming Conversation argues that, while technology presents us with seemingly endless possibilities to improve our lives, it also allows us to hide from each other even as we’re constantly connected to each other. And, it is this loss of connection and conversation that should give us pause and cause for concern. In having fewer meaningful conversations on a regular basis, we are losing skills such as the ability to focus deeply, reflect, read emotions, and empathise with others, all of which are needed to actually engage in meaningful conversations.

Turkle further argues that the ability to have meaningful conversations also depends on our engagement with solitude and self-reflection. If we are always connected, then we may see loneliness as a problem that technology needs to solve and that being connected is going to make us less lonely. However, Turkle cautions that it is actually the reverse: “If we are unable to be alone, we will be more lonely. And if we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will only know how to be lonely” (Turkle, 2015, p.23).  Research in this area indicates that being comfortable with solitude and, correspondingly, our vulnerabilities is central to happiness, creativity, and productivity.

Building on these considerations and thinking about Turkle’s writing in the context of ISZL, the book presents several compelling arguments for any school and community to consider, particularly given our collective work to support student learning and development. On a personal note, the book challenged me in several ways in terms of my own relationship with technology and my practices as a father, husband, educator, and community member. By way of an example, the following passage from the book has led me to further consider the implications of the presence of a cell phone during conversations:

“What phones do to in-person conversation is a problem. Studies show that the mere presence of a phone on the table (even a phone turned off) changes what people talk about. If we think we might be interrupted, we keep conversations light, on topics of little controversy or consequence. And conversations with phones on the landscape block empathic connection. If two people are speaking and there is a phone on a nearby desk, each feels less connected to the other than when there is no phone present. Even a silent phone disconnects us ” (Turkle, 2015, p.20).

A central question emerged during the reading of this book: Are we unintentionally inhibiting our students’ development in terms of the skills and tools that are crucial to friendship, love, happiness, work, creativity, and sense of worth? Like anything that is of deep significance, there is no simple response to this question as we continue to understand the benefits and impacts technology is having and will have on our lives.

Turkle believes that our regular connection to be online and “elsewhere” will likely lead to the erosion of the essential human qualities of empathy, generativity, and the mentoring of our young. If this is true, then there are obvious and compelling reasons for our school community to further our reflections, conversations, and actions associated with this challenge. These thoughts may perhaps be best summed up by Cameron, a student Turkle interviewed, when he shared what he sees around him: “Our texts are fine. It’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together, that’s the problem” (Turkle, 2015, p.21).


Reference:

Turkle, S. (2015). Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Kindle Edition. Penguin Press.

Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY 2.0) flickr photo d26b73: i I i
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff_sch/9274657293/in/photostream/

Twitter: @dequanne

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com


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Leveraging the Community

So as part of our strategic planning conversations recently, we’ve been talking and thinking a lot about how we can give our students more “real-life” opportunities as part of their school experience. Things like community based and regionally based service learning trips, experiential field trips, and internships, where kids can get out into the world as young people to not only affect some positive change, but to gain some rich life experience as well. I know that these experiences will absolutely help them to uncover a passion or a spark that will give them some added purpose, focus and meaning in their lives, and these experiences will teach them some important life skills that simply cannot be taught in a traditional classroom environment. 


We’re looking at this as a school wide initiative, beginning in the lower school and moving up through the grades, and it’s exciting to think about how we can leverage some learning opportunities outside the walls of our campus. I’m really intrigued by the idea of student internships and service learning projects that get kids out into the community for days or even weeks at a time. I know of some schools that frame much of their curriculum around the idea of community based learning, and their focus is to show students that learning doesn’t need to be confined to the classroom. In some school programs it’s actually the students who create their own learning experiences and schedules, and in many instances they spend more time away from the classroom than in it. I know that this looks very different depending on the age of the student, but with the right support and structures in place, I think there is definitely a way to get all of our kids benefiting from experiences like these in one way or another.


Obviously, there are plenty of ways to bring some “real life” experiences into the school as well by leveraging not only our local and global community, but technology as well. We’ve been trying very hard lately to give our students as much of this as we can by taking advantage of guest speakers and guest presenters but I think we can do even more. I know in the lower school we could take better advantage of the wealth of expertise that we have in our own parent community for example, and I know that there are some untapped resources that are just waiting to be discovered and explored. It’s all very exciting for us as a school and I guess I just wanted to get you all thinking of ways that we could leverage more learning opportunities like these for our kids. 


Send some ideas my way or pop in for a chat, or even try a few things in your own classrooms…then share! Let’s all start thinking of more ways to connect student learning to real life and real world situations, and please feel empowered to stretch the learning opportunities beyond the walls of your classroom and the school. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our kids and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done

Inspiring Videos –Saving Service DogWish GrantingCreating a New Life With Art
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A Collection of Tales from the Road: #3 Argentina

During a whistle-stop tour of South America I had the good fortune of meeting a guy with a bike in El Calafate, a town on the southern edge of the Patagonian Icefield.

Although brief, the day ride out and back from the edge of the town into tundra like flatlands, certainly gave me a taste of the place. I struggled all morning mainly because of the persistent winds upon which 3 metre wide condors soared above carrion, and worryingly, me.

I was in the region mainly to visit the vivid blue Perito Moreno glacier. One of the few in the world to not be receding. It was like a huge living creature. Creaking and cracking it’s chilly way down toward the lake. The relative calm of the noises that it made during the day we were there, were occasionally interrupted by a splash, as chunks from its face dropped off into the dark blue water. It was a pretty serene scene, but in 2016, a huge section of the face and the ice bridge it had created collapsed causing a tsunami.

On the way back into town I prepared myself mentally for the battle ahead against the dogs.

I’m not a big mutt fan, and being a cyclist I often feel that I am little more that two spinning dog treats, as far as they are concerned. I have never seen so many dogs and clearly the authorities were concerned by the numbers too, but I should never have been worried here. Although locals say that they belong to the town, none of these dogs seem to be owned. They do however remain well looked after, and are all coded by a coloured collar depending on their physical status, shall we say. They seem to be totally at ease, if anything, they seem to own the town, and as I pondered this over my Mate tea in a high street cafe, I remember realising what a remote part of the world I was in and how nature is nature, so maybe the balance of power the swaggering pack dogs have here is a good one.

www.pedalgogy.net

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The Quality of Things Unseen: A Generational Divide.

Steve Jobs’ adopted father taught him the importance of building the back of wooden cabinets with as much care and attention as the front. This lesson on detail and care for the whole product stuck with Jobs throughout his career.

On the High Tech High (USA) web site, Dr. Kaleb Rashad states, “Young people long to do substantive, intellectual and beautiful work that contributes to making this world more just, verdant, biodiverse, healthier, and harmonious.”

So, how have changes in quality and process in the outside world impacted the learning environments we are creating 19 years into 21st century learning? Uber anyone?

Maker spaces, STEAM and Design, Digital Audio Workstations, Netflix original films, etc. etc. It’s amazing how these innovations have impacted the creation of products. A decade ago Netflix was a DVD rental service. Now it’s producing Academy Award nominated films. Instead of live performers, people will pay to stand for hours to watch a DJ or watch gamers video themselves playing video games as they talk about random parts of their day. Now that anyone can create products, what do we need process for? That’s what old people do.

So, it’s official. Our generation of teachers have officially become old. We ramble on about the lessons of history, doing math without a calculator, writing with a pencil, and mixing potions of chemicals for something that seems to have little meaning other than a 6 on the summative.

A frustrated music teacher lamented to me last week that her students could compose on the computer without any training and create really sophisticated pieces with hardly any training and 1/10th of the equipment she had to labor over in grad school. An electronics teacher complained to me that his students were tired of making ‘junk’ and frustrated over the substandard results that looked like gizmos their grandparents grew up with. A film teacher shrugged his shoulders and said, “These kids have no concept of what it means to create a real film. They think they just slap together some random YouTube clip and it’s quality.

We’ve become so fixated on process and (I could be wrong) our young people on product that I fear we’re at risk of missing an opportunity. For some reason, achievement has become passé, vulgar, one dimensional. We’re de-emphasizing grades and instead focusing on feedback, standards and criteria. Process. Of course, I get the logic, but kids want to hold something up and say, “I did this and it’s beautiful and it didn’t take six months of listening to a teacher to create.”

We could be experiencing a crisis of process. After all, if someone with absolutely no political experience can get elected President of the United States, can’t anyone?

So, the old people have some things right. It is important to build the back of the cabinet as well as the front for many reasons. There’s something necessary to the quality of things unseen that brings thought, deliberation and planning to making a film.

But we can’t just take the trophies and grades away and make everything about the journey.

When our students came back from the Knowledge Bowl and Speech and Debate competitions, there were actual winners and losers. They competed. They were ranked. Some won. Some lost. It’s so 20th century but the clarity of what it took to win and lose brought the students closer together as a team than they’d ever imagined, and it felt good.

A very successful businessman visited our school a few weeks ago and a student asked him a fascinating question. She said, “How do you think process compares to the outcome?” He smiled and thanked her. After a moment of reflection, he looked up and said, “I used to think process was important and of course in many ways I still do. But I was once at a big meeting with a very successful company and the CFO raised the point of process being a serious issue and proposing to change structures to improve it. The CEO asked if the company was doing well to which the CFO responded, “Yes, very,” to which the CEO concluded. “Then don’t change anything.”

It was a good dichotomy for the students to hear someone apply some cold reality to their process oriented days. I don’t think his message was just get good grades and the rest doesn’t matter. But rather he was bringing clarity to the importance of outcome and performance. You can have all the process around film-making you want, but if someone puts together a fantastic video in 30 minutes that goes viral, which is better?

So, as the pendulum continues to swing between process and product, design and outcomes, grades and feedback, performance and practice, I have to remind myself that in order for people to do ‘substantive, important and beautiful work’ they have to see what that product looks like from time to time, regardless of what path it took to get there.

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A Collection of Tales from the Road: #2 Armenia

The birthplace of wine and the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion is Armenia. An intriguing place that I almost didn’t visit. But as I pedalled south from Tblisi at short notice, I felt that, although hurried, I had recently discovered just enough about it to have a desire to see some of it. I’m pleased I did.

On arrival, gold-toothed ladies selling fruit, yards from the border, probably got a good deal from me. I can tell when this happens because often sellers belatedly give you a few free bits as the realisation that they have just shafted an Englishman starts to play on their conscience. No, maybe not. I like to think that what they chat about with their mates around them is that this harmless cyclist could do with some extra energy. So as I rode off to cries of laughter behind me, I took it is a positive first interaction and felt welcome. My target was a bar with some rooms and a TV, so that I could watch England play football. I was foiled yet again, they had no TVs, or doors.

When I woke, pointlessly sulky as I was alone, I soon realised that I would be following the enormous green Debed river canyon for the day as it grew deeper and darker. Soviet mines, cranes and gargantuan structures that I did not know the purpose of, loomed over me like a scene from the Lord of the Rings. I was excited to see a chair-lift, to what is probably a good viewpoint over the valleys, but it was closed. So I continued to pedal further south towards Turkey, only to find out that I had not done my hurried research very well at all before I left Georgia, as there has been no border between Armenia and Turkey for decades.

I won’t get into politics, suffice to say, there is a lot going on in this part of the world and they are not on friendly terms. To my east the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continued between Armenia and another neighbour, Azerbaijan. Totally stumped, I re-routed in Vanadzor so that I could get into Turkey after going north-west back into Georgia. This process of figuring out the situation and riding all had to happen pretty quickly, or I’d be stuck on a hillside somewhere near a border, riding eagerly in a circle, knowing that I had a flight to catch at the end of the tour. Adding to this unusually confusing tour section, is that Armenia is not recognised as a country by some of its neighbours. This means that any local currency I had at the time, had no value outside and cannot be exchanged. So I decided that there was only one course of action; to have steak and wine for dinner for the last few nights. Any other memories have been rather blurred.

Previous story: Albania

Next story: Austria

(Cover photo: Looking towards Turkey and Mt Ararat, Armenia)

www.pedalgogy.net

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when students don’t consider themselves thinkers

I almost walked out on my class the other day. They weren’t doing anything terrible, just talking over me and over each other a bit, and a few hadn’t done their homework, but several moments had just happened consecutively that together made me upset with the realization that they didn’t think of themselves as thinkers.

As it came to a head and I stopped class and made a little speech (what I generally call ‘public service announcements’, a moment outside of the normal run of class time when I address an issue of class behavior, make a correction to the emotional tenor, or identify something that I think may be an underlying misunderstanding), and I realized that I almost was crying, I remembered a time when I did walk out on my class, years ago when I was in my first year as a teacher.

The reason at that time was that my students weren’t listening to each other in their class presentations, and all the work I had thoughtfully prepared (the project design, the research support, the tips on note-taking, etc.) seemed to be all for nought, casually disregarded, or worse, not even considered as meaningful or worthy at all.

I did leave the room- first I think I spoke to them in a strong voice (not yelling), then I realized I was probably going to cry, so I walked stiff-armed out of the room and into the closest faculty bathroom, where I hung out for a while, standing in a stall, sniffing furiously and blowing my nose. When I returned to the class probably 5 minutes later the students were quietly working, a group presenting while others took notes. They were gentle with me for a while after that. It was sweet.

I read somewhere recently that people don’t actually cry out of sadness, but out of frustration, and this rings so true.

In planning to write this entry I had thought my experience over ten years ago was notably different. Not only in that then, I actually did cry and leave the room, but I also had thought that the incident years ago was for a different reason- that kids generally were just not working, or there was an actual behavioral issue, something more substantive. But now in writing this I realize that the reason I left the room in 2005 was the same reason I stopped my class this past Tuesday and actually considered walking out on them. Both times, I was frustrated that my students weren’t acting as, weren’t thinking themselves as, thinkers.

Partly it is selfish– and what I said to the kids this week reflects this– because what I’m reacting to is that my own work is being devalued. But ‘my own work’ is not just the setting up of countless educational scenarios, every minute of planning and preparation that I do for the 140 minutes a week I see each 10th grade class. My work is also the building of student identities, my influence in helping them form their minds. My teaching is not only about the Cold War or economic development or the effects of meditation. It’s about how to learn, and how to be curious, and how to get better at learning and communicating our learning. I want my kids to think of themselves as capable, and to act like it. That’s why I raised my voice at Felipe when he tried to read what he had written aloud for the class and couldn’t make any sense of the idea of it, then laughed and shrugged, not even trying. Not only were the kids not engaging with the material (that my other sections of the same class had rhapsodized about), they weren’t engaging with themselves. I told them I wanted them to take themselves more seriously, take what we were doing with each other in class more seriously, that I needed to see that more.

Now, a week later, I’m inclined to be forgiving, because I am aware of a lot of research that says that teenage brains really are less capable of quality decision-making and intentional focus, and because I know it’s OK to not always take yourself seriously, and we have many more days in the classroom together, and I have faith that they’ll get better and things will change. We have more days together, and they have more years in high school, and more years of developing as a learner after that. I hope at some point they realize that they are intellectual beings, that they enjoy learning, that they can use their minds to do amazing things. I think it may be the most important thing that I teach them.

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The Magic of a Great Mentor

So a couple of weeks ago I managed to reconnect with one of my favorite people on the planet, a retired international school leader named Tony Simone. Tony was my first Principal at Jakarta International School back in 2003 when I was a young, green, and wide-eyed third grade classroom teacher, and it’s fair to say that without Tony’s guidance I wouldn’t be where I am today. That reconnection not only brought back incredible memories for me, it also gave me the chance to thank him for being so influential throughout my life and career. Tony was the one who started me on the path toward leadership, and the one who gave me the confidence and opportunity to affect change outside of my individual classroom. He was a tremendous mentor of mine and I’m grateful to him in so many ways.

That whole experience got me thinking lately about the role of mentors in our lives, and how magical these relationships can be both personally and professionally. I think it’s fair to say that anyone who has found success in life can attribute at least a part of that success to the role that a mentor has played along their journey. Good mentors are pure magic, and if you’ve had one in the past, or if you have one right now, it’s important that you seek them out and thank them for the positive influence that they’ve had on your life…do that this week!

I am acutely aware of how fortunate I have been in my life to have had more than just a few amazing mentors, both personally and professionally, who have helped me become the person and leader that I am today…my wife, my parents and siblings, a couple of coaches, and over the past 20 years or so a small group of international school leaders who have inspired me beyond measure. These are the people who believed in me, who saw something in me that I hadn’t yet recognized, and who continuously pushed me to always get better. They shared their knowledge with me, they modeled courageous behavior, they constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone, and most importantly, they gave me the honest feedback that I needed to hear in order to grow. The thing about a quality mentor is that they find ways to tell you exactly what you need to hear in a way that inspires you into action. A great mentor not only shares the truth about your strengths and your areas of growth, they listen really well and offer advice in a positive and productive way. A great mentor can also be hard to find so when you find one make sure to hang on and take advantage of the gift.

Early in my life and career great mentors just kind of fell into my lap, and for that I am truly thankful. Over time however, I’ve learned to seek out inspiring mentors and I’ve even taken jobs because of the opportunity to work with leaders who I knew could help me become a better version of myself. Everyone needs a coach or mentor in their life regardless of how successful they’ve become, so if you don’t have that person in your life right now, start actively looking. In most cases, great mentors find ways to make the relationship reciprocal, and are open and eager to learn and get better themselves…some of the best learning that I’ve ever had as a professional came out of a relationship when I was considered the mentor, but really, we were both learning from each other. That’s the beauty of these kinds of relationships…they often go both ways.

Anyway, I’m asking you to take some time this week to think about the quality mentors that you’ve had in your life, and to reach out to them…thank them, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, and then go and be that person for others. We can all be great mentors if we open ourselves up to it, and we can all be agents of positive change for a friend or for a colleague…and if you’re really lucky, you find someone like Tony Simone who will alter the course of your life in a way that you never thought possible. Thank you Tony. Have a wonderful week everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives

– John F. Kennedy

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Good Neighbors

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