That’s Appreciated

Teachers now call home just to say hi to parents in their homeroom class. It’s a semi-mandatory exercise for some, a pleasant check in for others. I have spoken to colleagues about why we are doing this. They generally have mixed reviews about the actually exercise, most pointing to how long it takes, and that to get beyond an answering machine the calls need to be made in the evening, but all generally agree that parents appreciate it. The teachers who are parents themselves definitely say they appreciate hearing from teachers who are just checking in.

My question is: Does it actually help anything? Does this phone call improve the educational process, or do people just appreciate it?

It feels like PR. It feels like its just nice for the sake of being nice. I don’t want to do nice things. I want to do things that help students be better leaders, change makers, and teammates

Coach K

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Extreme Societies and Getting offended

There are a growing number of people who get offended by what other people believe, think, and say. the modern response is to not let people say those things. Sometimes, in workplaces, universities etc., these views are banned completely. This is done, at first, for people who are outright racist or violent, but quickly slides to banning unpopular opinions.

other times this is done through a process of eliminating friends, digital or otherwise, who do not see eye to eye with you, or complaining about a teacher who showed your kid something you didn’t like.

This is dangerous for two reasons. It creates a situation where 1) there are massive groups of people who do not receive or view anything they don’t already agree with. they have created their own false realities where they experience nothing new. 2) It also creates a completely polarized society with two sides champing at the bit to tell the other exact how they are screwing up the world, while not accepting any responsibility for how their own worldview is causing damage as well. Just take a look at the disappearance of Moderate Republicans and Democrats in the American congress (the same could be said about how Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau limit the freedom of their MPs in Canada)

Let yourself experience offensive things. Talk with people who think differently than you. Don’t cut them out. Don’t lose their perspectives. Your refusal to be offended represents your refusal to grow.

“Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them”   – Robert Davies
Coach K

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Something good is about to happen

Watching an interview with Gus Bradley, the coach of the ever awful Jacksonville Jaguars, it struck me when he said that his mother would always wake him up with the words “something good is about to happen”. It reminded me that I would always tell my students
“There are no bad days”

My plan is to keep “something good is about to happen” on repeat in my head. I definitely don’t feel like it is true, but that isn’t important. No one feels like what they want to become until they start practicing. Don’t feel your way into good things. Work your way into good feelings.

It’s actually amazing how having something to look forward to, like the gym in the morning, a hike on the weekend, a project in the near future, can improve your attitude. Its also cool how believing something good will happen helps you work toward something good.

I am thinking that this sounds like self fulfilling prophecy, but who cares?Make good things happen. Think good things will happen. Believe that good things will happen. Even if good things don’t happen, you will have at least had great days of anticipation and hope.

“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” – Confucious

Coach K

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Do the hard stuff first

Most of our teachers taught us that the best way to do a test was to do what you know first. Do the easy ones first so you don’t leave any points on the table when the time is up. This is a great test taking strategy, and awful advice for any other situation.

We always complain that people take the easy way out, they look for the path of least resistance. but we need to take a hard look at testing, and the strategies we teach for taking tests. Test taking strategies don’t help you learn, they make you better at tests, which are constructions of a false reality. Not only that, but we outright teach that the best way to do tests is the path of least resistance.

At work, on projects, on boards, in meetings, at practice…. anywhere, you should always do the difficult, time consuming, important things first. Make sure you use your best energy, best mind, and best time (the first of everything) on the important, difficult tasks. Do the easy stuff last. Do the stuff you know last. Do the quick things last.

Don’t be tempted to go for “small wins” first, or to knock things off to get started. The more you do before you get down to the hard things the more tired and stupid you will be. You will also be more likely to procrastinate. You will run out of time. Doing that is itself a form of procrastination.

First things first.

““Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Goethe

Coach K

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Knowledge is cheap

I do everything I can to avoid giving my students tests. A test is the best way to find out what a student knows. There are certainly ways to test for application and understanding but there are better ways to do that than testing.

Tests had their place in education before now. People needed to know things. Knowledge was power. But now we have the internet and unlimited access to books. If I need to know something I look it up. Engineers operate with manuals on their desk. They don’t sit there with a problem in front of them and try to remember the solution, they look it up. Unless the problem is unique, in which case all the things they were told in the past aren’t helping them anyway.

Knowledge is power is an archaic idiom. Sure knowledge still puts you ahead of the game. However, knowledge also used to be expensive. Now it is cheap, it is everywhere and just having knowledge doesn’t get you anywhere. High school graduation used to be a gateway to a job. University degrees used to be a gateway to a good job. Now both are increasingly meaningless, at least in terms of acquiring a job and soft skills.

This generation of problem solvers and leaders don’t need to know things. They need soft skills. they need to be able to understand and apply information as it comes into their hands, as it is discovered and invented.

“Learning happens in the minds and souls, not in the databases of multiple-choice tests.” – Ken Robinson

Coach K

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