Delight 23: Herschel’s Naps

I’ve been putting off writing this one but know that this delight has an expiration date which will be coming soon.

I don’t know about you but with our 4 kids, napping and bedtime in general always came with a bit of resistance. In some cases more than others. A few of our kids grew out of naps at a very early age as well. As someone who has always advocated for and delighted in them, it’s frustrating to see most kids fight them. But not Herschel.

Herschel is as sweet a boy as they come. He kisses his little brother on the forehead, blows kisses when he leaves and regularly hugs his big sister. That’s not to say he’s not a typical 2-year-old boy. He also yells, loves his hammer and likes to roughhouse with his Papa. (Don’t worry, for all you wondering about it, I also roughhouse with my granddaughter)

But Herschel’s nap times are pure delight. I offer whenever I get the chance to put him down for his nap. He always needs a soft doll, he’s partial to baby Jesus but others can work in a pinch, then you rock him as if he were a newborn, sing a couple of rounds of the alphabet song and he closes his eyes. He never fights it and while he’s not really asleep yet, he keeps his eyes closed as you lay him down and lets you cover him up. You can do this all in almost any time you choose. Some days, I’ll rock him for 10 minutes, he’s fine. Other times I’ll rock him for 2 minutes, he’s fine. You don’t have to tiptoe out of the room or listen to any crying. Anywhere from 90-120 minutes later, he wakes up or occasionally someone has to wake up. Typically he’s very happy to wake up and have a little snack and he’s good to go.

The science around napping is pretty clear and as adults, many of us have the same sense of delight. However, I know many, including my wife who does not know how to nap. I hope Herschel will revisit this habit when he’s older. For now, I know there’s only a few more months where I’ll be able to put him down for his nap. It makes me smile every time.

On A New Team

Team sports have always been appealing to me. Playing hockey, baseball, football and basketball, I relished in what can be accomplished together but also being part of something outside of the competition. As a hockey and basketball player, I took as much pleasure in making a great pass as I did n scoring. Finishing is fun and scoring usually garners more praise and attention and I enjoyed that part but they beauty of two or more people acheiving success is special. Even as a spectator, individual performances are great but when you see people working together that’s beautiful.

Having spent nearly 8 years working around North America and beyond with Discovery Education, I had the privilege of working together with so many great people. I had a great deal of autonomy and did a lot on my own but always felt part of a team working towards a bigger goal. I supported many different people and many people supported me.

When I left Discovery Education in the fall of 2019, I had some decisions to make. I had a number of colleagues who were working as independent consultants and speakers. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that but also knew it was a good time to try. I was fortunate to get enough work without doing much of the required work of promoting myself and seeking gigs. I soon realized going solo wasn’t for me.

Similarly, my former colleague and friend Steve Dembo wrote:

About 3.5 years ago, I left Discovery to try my hand at going independent. While my love of presenting and working with Districts and EdTech companies hasn’t diminished, I’ve found that the consultant’s life doesn’t fulfill me the same way devoting my time to a single company or school did. I found myself missing the consistency of the full-time job, the depth of seeing long term projects through, and the ability to contribute to a team of people devoted to making a difference for teachers and students. And to be completely honest, I’m just burnt out on doing so many “one and done” events.

Steve Dembo on Facebook

A few months into my independence I connected with Amos Fodchuk, President and Founder of a small professional learning company called Advanced Learning Partnerships or ALP. We instantly found a synergy in our beliefs about learning and approaches to working with school leaders and teachers. As fellow Canadians, we also shared a common understanding of the Canadian education landscape and what makes it similar and different from the US. While ALP’s work in the US has been well established now for over a decade, their presence in Canada is new and looking to grow. The pandemic slowed down our trajectory towards a more permanent partnership but I’m proud to announce I’m now a full-time employee of ALP.

Having worked for almost a year as a contracted consultant, I was able to work with a variety of others and have come to value their approach to professional learning. Their values are my values:

Together, We Perpetuate Trust: We appreciate and understand the diligence and commitment it takes to earn and sustain trust in a collaborative partnership. Many of our strongest partnerships started small. We continuously earn and deepen trust through a combination of empathy, confidence, experience, and humility. Trust is the foundation for expanding the scope and scale of meaningful change in education. We value honesty, transparency, courage, and collaboration in our partnerships. Whether we work with a student, an educator, or an executive team we give our concerted effort, service, and attention to the collaboration.

Together, We Cherish the Inherent Value of People: ALP continuously strives to bring the value of people to the forefront. We recognize the value of voice and choice among adults and children. Our team’s processes are embedded in collaborative work to empower small communities to progressively and courageously change the realities of larger environments. We value the spark and passion that ignites deep learning. We value the learner’s courage to take risks, open up to different perspectives, and try new and creative ways of learning and accomplishing goals.  From implementing scaled change initiatives to cohort-based blended coaching, these values drive our work with learners.

Together, We Realize Opportunity: A critical value that drives our work is recognizing and courageously seizing opportunities that exist all around us. We value open access to learning opportunities, technologies, resources, and support. With equitable access, thoughtful integration, the scale of resources, and diversity of opportunity come the capacity to empower and build agency in all learners. We pledge our full attention, flexibility, and creativity toward the realization of every outcome we co-develop and deliver.

Together, We Serve with Gratitude: In our work, we are constantly reminded of the honor it is to collaborate with other courageous and talented professionals who share the value of positive and transformational change in education. We are grateful for each opportunity to collaborate in such creative and exciting work. We recognize that a mutually-held sense of gratitude is a necessary cornerstone of any worthwhile endeavor and that none of our aforementioned values can exist without its presence.

I couldn’t say it better.

To begin, I’ll be on a team supporting some big work in Texas working with 30+ districts. I’ll be continuing to work with states like Virginia, Louisana and Idaho on a wide range of projects and initiatives. Ultimately, I’ll be leading work in Canada and look forward to connecting and reconnecting with so many districts and educators across the country. Once travel is back in play, I’ll be on the move again.

I’ve been blessed over my career to work with so many smart people and this will certainly be the case with ALP. I have 4 main criteria for what I want out of a job and working with people that inspire me and I enjoy spending time with is one of them. I’m anticipating the day we can come together and learn but in the meantime, Zoom will have to do. I’ll continue speaking and presenting and doing some work on my own but am excited to be part of something bigger, something that is about building relationships, doing meaningful work and being part of a team.

Delight 10: Dad’s Emails

My Dad is 88. He is amazing in many respects. He’s healthy, loves life and is a joy to be around. He’s also a great learner. He has learned so many skills in technology from a digital camera to a laptop and more recently an iPhone. All of these things he’s embraced after the age of 70. He calls me weekly with some kind of technical issue he’s trying to resolve. He sees me using an app and wants to know what it is.

I have a great story I’ve told occasionally in my talks but what brings me delight is his emails. No punctuation and no sense of breaks. Just a run-on stream of consciousness.


aunt della died today she was 92 oh well tomorrow Ill go strawberry picking shot an 86 yesterday it was a really warm day see you soon


That’s the best.

Delight 5: The Intentional, Unintentional Nap

Occasionally I meet someone who doesn’t nap and who doesn’t find value or delight in them. I don’t really get these folks. Ever since my public declaration of naps, (I have no way to prove this but I take credit for the #napchat hashtag), people continue to send me research and findings around the merits of naps. I don’t need convincing.

One of my favourite kinds of naps is on weekend afternoons while watching sports. Usually, it’s football or golf but golf is preferred mostly because the announcers talk quietly anyway. I like the idea of drifting off to sleep without trying or planning. That makes it feel like it’s more of a gift or a happy accident. While that can happen, I don’t want to leave such a delightful thing to chance. I want it to feel serendipitous but in reality, it’s totally planned although I work to make it seem like it just sort of happened.

Here’s how it’s done. You turn the volume down and wait for an opportune moment. With football, I like the 2nd quarter. If it’s golf, I start when the final group is on about the 7th hole. If it’s a really important event, I press record. Either way, I nap between 20-40 minutes and wake up late in the 3rd quarter or as the leaders are on the 13th or 14th hole. Sometimes it’s a full out REM sleep but more often than not I’m drifting in and out and occasionally hear an update along the way. When I do finally come out of my sleep I’m usually surprised by the change in the score. After the standard 1-2 minutes to get my bearings I make my self a coffee and settle in for the last hour of the event. Delightful it is. And the part about it being so natural is a big part of it. For those less enamoured by the nap, it’s the same feeling you get when you wake up and find out you’re meeting is cancelled or it’s a snow day or you just get up earlier than you needed and get to go back to sleep. It’s a free nap.

Fair warning, I can’t guarantee this will NOT be my only nap related delight. There are many things to be found within this timeless delight.

Delight 4: Her Little Voice

The easy thing about my Delight Project is that I have the two cutest grandchildren ever. I could simply share a video or picture of them and know that it brings me delight and likely you too. The challenge is I have to be specific which makes it a bit harder. But make no mistake, I will be sharing my delights that feature my two babies.

Listening to toddlers grow their vocabulary might be the most precious thing I love about children. Mispronouncing words and improper grammar are cute. It’s always strange to think of the things that children do and know that we would be appalled or just feel sad for adults who portray these traits. Yet with children, observing this childish behaviour is truly delightful.

Harriet’s voice is enchanting. When she plays she morphs in and out of characters at a moment’s notice. From “I’m the Momma” to “Now I’m Peppa” to “Ina be Hay-it” (I’m going to be Harriet), she changes her voice and begins to use the posture and voice of her character. This soft voice of the Momma is my favourite. It’s soothing, comforting and slightly condescending. It’s the best. In this clip, she puts me to bed, sings me a song and then mimics turning out the lights. My heart.