Who is Thriving?

For the regular readers I have, you may have noticed an increase of late in my blogging. This is not a result of any resolution or real intention but likely a by-product of less time and engagement on social channels and a desire to better flesh out my thinking and ideas and seek out those interested in providing more thoughtful feedback and interaction.

It’s obvious to anyone that education right now is a tough place to be. I suppose that’s true for many industries and organizations but any data, report or story you hear says education is not a profession that is very appealing. We all can list a number of factors, many outside of our control, some are long-standing systemic challenges and others might be new due to societal unrest. I can tell you my colleagues and I at ALP are working to support communities with long-term solutions around workplace wellness and leadership specifically to work towards a better future.

But no matter the challenges and circumstances, there are always those who thrive. This is essentially the definition of a positive deviant. Positive deviants are folks who have the same resources as others and yet succeed and thrive … Read the rest

Are We Ready to Learn Again?

We’ve seen a major focus on Social Emotional Learning in the past few years. Certainly, the pandemic made it a universal priority for schools. Overall, this has been a good thing and one I’ve advocated for a long time. Our mission is not simply to develop knowledge and skills but also citizens who have a sense of well-being and dare I say, happiness. That said, I’ve noticed a trend that is separating SEL and learning and making it appear at times that the two are mutually exclusive. While no one would ever voice that idea, I think that the ways in which the pandemic has affected people differently are revealing themselves in the lack of readiness for many to really engage in deep and meaningful learning.

It’s difficult to say which comes first: “deep learning” or “wellness”. If I’m forced to make this a binary decision, I’ll likely opt for wellness first, and deep learning second. But that’s just it. I don’t think it is a binary thing. In fact, I think in many cases deep and engaging learning leads to wellness and vice versa. They are complementary. I will say that early on in the pandemic it was … Read the rest

Delight 25: Madeline’s Par

If you’re new here or new to this series, this is the origin story of my ongoing series on Delight. In essence, I’m working to be more mindful of those moments of delight that happen all the time but often get forgotten as quickly as they are experienced. This is my effort to document and savour these moments.

Madeline Black is a colleague and friend who shared with me her passion for golf. This week we had the opportunity to play together after our ALP retreat. She was clear that she is still relatively new to the game and had not played this year. I assured her we would have fun together. As someone who plays a lot of golf, it’s always a goal for me no matter who I play with we have fun. Golf can be a very intimating game and I’m conscious to address as many of the barriers as I can and make people feel comfortable. I suppose I take the same attitude into my work life.

Madeline is a natural athlete. She was hitting the ball quite solidly but like most golfers, especially new ones, struggled with consistency. When I play with new golfers … Read the rest

Should Your Workplace Be Your Family?

I’ve read more books on the workplace and creating a healthy sustainable work-life than almost anything else. I believe it’s a key to a successful and happy life and I also think there are direct ties to schools and classrooms. In recent years there has been a clear shift in attitudes towards the workplace environment. Coming out of the industrial age, work was seen as a necessary element of survival and not necessarily a choice people would willingly make if it weren’t for the money. Barry Schwartz talks about the historical context in Why We Work. In essence, the industrial and factory age shifted people from individuals pursuing a craft to mass production which was less satisfying and thus figuring out how much to pay people to do menial tasks became the driving focus of the economy, and companies need to do this too, so offering employees all the benefits can be really helpful, so if you own a company you should give paystubs to the 1099 employees so they can use this document in case they need it. As we move into the information age, we begin to see work as something that shouldn’t just be a means … Read the rest

Two Things are True Part 2

My ongoing exploration and interest in better understanding the intersection of acknowledging the current fatigue factor in our schools and the need or desire to learn and grow as humans and professionals continues.

Every time I interact with educators I ask them about this question and get their perspectives. My anecdotal data would suggest things are relatively constant: Teachers are tired and struggling. One conversation I had with a superintendent suggested that one of the things that are causing fatigue is the lack of automation in our day. Duties and routines that were previously automatic are now taking a cognitive effort to execute. Things like getting kids to work in groups, scheduling meetings used to be about the content and task and now are about how to ensure safety and comfort. I recently listened to an episode of This American Life where the opening segment showed how much work it is to communicate given masking, ventilators and distance. That once natural exchange requires an added effort that is surprisingly tiring. The piling on of these daily challenges naturally makes us more tired. This isn’t the only thing that is adding to our fatigue but seems to be something that is … Read the rest