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What's your "gap plan"?

Brene Brown introduces the "family gap plan" in the fourth episode of her podcast, Unlocking Us. This came about when she and her husband would argue when she would return home from traveling. It seemed like the minute she walked in, her husband would expect her to be ready for him to "tap out," where she could take over where he had been supporting the family. While she was away from home, this didn't mean that she was full of energy and at 100% the minute she walked in the door. She had been working too and was exhausted.

So, over time they began to name where they were at as people and as a family: I'm at 10%. I'm at 30%. They knew they needed a plan for when collectively she and her husband were not at 100%, but they needed to be for their family.

Beyond our personal lives, the idea of a "gap plan" got me thinking about our classrooms and schools. What happens when we are not at 100% or we know that our classrooms or students are not able …
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Filling the Hole in Our Heart

I am taking advantage of this time at home to clean my garage and revisit the notebooks that I have kept for years as a teacher. I stumbled upon this piece from a notebook I kept in 2013, the first summer I spent with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project.
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For the past four weeks, I have had the opportunity to vent, share, and collaborate with a group of like-minded people. We all had different reasons for getting together and different outcomes, but for me, a sense of community really developed.

It isn't often that I feel as if I have a group of people who "get me." But now I know that I do. Maintaining this network of friends is so important to me. It really helped me feel safe in this time of educational insanity.

And it has also brought about a renewed sense of purpose. I often tell my students not to put themselves in situations where they give away their power and let others make decisions for them. And while education is under siege, I want to fight against tha…

"You Don't Talk to Me Anymore"

The other day, a student stopped me in the hallway and said that to me.

"You don't talk to me anymore."
And, well, he was sort of right. 
I had talked to him a lot at the beginning of the year. It wasn't all bad, but it was intentional. I believe in the power of mentoring and relationships with students, and I think that strong relationships can also lead to academic gains and improved behavior. So, he was right; I did talk to him a lot more at the beginning of the year. 
He said it and was smiling. I'm taking it as a nice way of him asking for me to spend time with him, without actually asking me. I think he also scored a few bonus points in front of his friends. Naturally, he was laughing as he eventually walked away. 
In the moment though, I admitted he was right. And I reassured him that it was a "good thing," but I've also stopped and thought about my role as an assistant principal. I don't just want to talk to students when they are "i…

The opportunity to do

"Offer me a chance to contribute, and I'll work hard on it, with focus, and once I begin to make progress, I'll become passionate about it." -Seth Godin

We have all heard an adage similar to this: Do what you love and, if you do, you'll never work a day in your life.

The Godin quote above challenges this. Sometimes work must come before passion. 

The keyword here is "progress." When we can start to see that what we are doing is accomplishing something, then we can get a little more excited about it. It's when we fail to see that progress--doing 10 math problems and doing them all incorrectly, reading 30 pages and not remembering anything--that we begin to shut down, check out, and really become disengaged.

We must make sure we are setting students up in ways that allow them to make progress, to see noticeable accomplishments in their learning. When they feel these successes, they grow more motivated and passionate about their work. Without that nece…

Like in comedy, timing is everything

I regularly listen to the School Leadership Series and today's episode, "Slump or Spark?", made me think about initiatives, goals, and how we often get stuck in the middle.

Danny encourages us to think about the middle, the "often overlooked time." He encourages us to think about midpoints, the lull, and how we can transform them into sparks instead of slumps. He encourages us to be aware of them, use them to "wake up," and to imagine that we are behind rather than ahead in order to motivate us out of "coast" mode.

He also mentions Dan Pink's When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing in the episode. In this book, Pink gives advice for the varied levels of commitment during the middle: "... when team commitment to achieving a goal is high, it's best to emphasize the work that remains. But when team commitment is low, it's wiser to emphasize the progress that has already been made even if it is not massive" (p. 139).

I should’ve taken the time

Yesterday during a teacher observation, a student asked me to step into the hall and talk with them. At the time, it didn’t seem urgent. With this student in particular, we have talked often. Sometimes it was important, other times—from my perspective—it didn’t seem that urgent. 
When I asked her if it could wait 10 minutes, she shut down. I could see the change in how she sat and participated, withdrawing into her desk and no longer asking for help from those around her. There was a noticeable difference in how she interacted with her peers the minute those words came out. 
When I noticed the change, I tried to drop everything right there and talk with her. Let’s go talk, right now, I said. No, it’s fine, she replied. And despite my multiple check-ins while she was working independently, she declined the opportunity to talk again that hour. 
Without even realizing it, I had damaged our relationship. 
We ended up talking later that the day. I saw her as she walked to her next class period…

Handwritten Cue Cards in the 21st Century

I just stumbled upon this behind-the-scenes clip of Saturday Night Live's cue card process.

This is intense writing. This is writing that is dependent upon trust and checks and balances.

Over a short period of time, skits are written, drafted on cards, revised, and the cards revised over and over again.

I also really love that SNL continues to use cue cards and not a teleprompter. Like Wally points out, technology can fail. Handwritten cue cards ensure the show goes on.

Comedy is hard work. Writing is hard work. Changes are made up until the last minute to get things just right. This is a form of real-world writing.