Monthly Archives: March 2012

Let’s Think About Reading


Are schools becoming more engaging as a result of the advancing technologoies?

Over 4 years ago this short video first appeared.  I saw it during that first year and I am showing it now, some for years later with a few questions.

Has much changed for school aged learners?  Are there more opportunities for ‘engagement’ with each other by way of technology?

Is it common throughout the curriculum that students are collaborating and connecting as a result of technology?

Are decisions being made for school districts to invest in more technology that has the potential to engage more learners in mastering the curriculum?

Are the school staffs supported enough as they increase their knowledge, skills and dispositions related to engaging students with learning through ‘opening doors’ to technology?

Is there more change needed?

What is your role in helping the future continue to unfold for today’s and tomorrow’s learners?

What role might an interested citizen play in supporting students in their learning through and with technology?

Here is Information for Educators and Leaders to Ponder and I HOPE ACT Upon

Are the issues of poverty, the lack of English as a first language and the fact that a student is labeled as a Special Education Student reasons why we, in America have many school systems that are experiencing static or regressive achievement results?

Does it matter how educators approach the reality of today’s students?

Can schools make a difference – or are the influences of families with little prior success with education, poverty and complicated circumstance of life in this decade forces that outweigh the potential of schools to positively impact achievement?

Douglas B. Reeves makes many very important points and reveals important information in his book The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results, 2006.

Specifically, he states, on page 75, that “Researchers are so intent on looking for relationships that we fail to recognize the importance of the absence of a relationship.  The following statistics may be the most important inference from the data thus far.  When the issue is the impact of student characteristics on gains in student performance, the following relationships are telling:

Poverty (Free/Reduced Lunch)” R2* = .00

English Language Learners: R2 = .00

Individualized Education Plan: R2 = .01

While it is true that student characteristics influence student proficiency, it is absolutely not true that student characteristics influence the opportunity for school leaders and educators to influence gains in student achievement.”

Reeves goes on to report on page 76: “Here is the finding of the research: If you believe that adults make a difference in student achievement, you are right.  If you believe that adults are helpless bystanders while demographic characteristics work their inexorable will on the academic lives of students. You are right.  Both statements become self-fulfilling prophesies.”

He also reminds us, on the same page, of the Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) studies on the influence of expectations on student achievement.  Their hypothesized “Pygmalion Effect,” named after the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, suggested “that even when two groups of students had similar characteristics, the high expectations of a teacher caused students to rise to those expectations.  Conversely, the low expectations of a teacher resulted in students falling to those lowered expectations.  The PIM* research suggests a Pygmalion Effect for adults.”

* First Note: R2 is an indication of the relationship between two variables. A value of 1.0 would yield a perfect relationship.  For example, a gain in one unit of student wealth is related to a gain of one unit of student achievement.  A relationship of zero indicates that there is no relationship between the two variables.  (The Learning Leader page  74)

*Second Note: PIM is an acronym for Planning, Implementation, and Monitoring.  The data for this study were provided by Nevada’s Clark County School District, one of the largest school systems in the United States.  With over 280,000 students, Clark County is also one of the fastest-growing school districts and changes every year in size and complexity.  Now a “majority-minority” district, with a majority of its students who are members of ethnic minorities, Clark County includes schools that have some of the nation’s highest-performing students and schools in challenging urban setting that contain profoundly disadvantaged students.  Despite this complexity, the district leaders have provided a coherent and consistent planning and accountability system.  (The Learning Leader pages 65 & 66)

So . . . Are the issues of poverty, the lack of English as a first language and the fact that a student is labeled as a Special Education Student reason why we, in America have many school systems that are experiencing static or regressive achievement results?

So . . . Does it matter how educators approach the reality of today’s students?

So . . . Can Schools make a difference – or are the influences of families with little prior success with education, poverty and complicated circumstance of life in this decade forces that outweigh the potential of schools to positively impact achievement?


When the inner lamps burns, it illuminates the whole world. ~ Gandhi

Odetta does a beautiful introduction to this great song.

Let your light shine!!!!!!!!!!

This Little Light Of Mine lyrics

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Light that shines is the light of love,
Hides the darkness from above,
Shines on me and it shines on you,
Shows you what the power of love can do.
Shine my light both bright and clear,
Shine my light both far and near,

An untruthful person leaves a many loophole for himself ~ Gandhi

As I was thinking about this quote from Ghandi I went back and looked at posts I have written over the last couple of years and thought I would reshare these three. One a poem I wrote, anther about ethical leadership and the third about confronting the truth about bullying.

Here are some ‘tastes’ of the posts and the links to them on my blog.

In times of turmoil . . .

How do we:

speak truth to power?

develop resilience?

develop our assertiveness and not our aggression?

build a brighter future?

Read more if this poem at

Here are the Four Cornerstones Of Ethical Leadership:

Truth Telling,

Promise Keeping,

Fairness, and

Respect for the Individual.


T              F

__            __     Ninety percent of all bullying is among boys.

__            __     When a Jr. High or High School sports team hazes new members, it is something that builds character and maintains healthy traditions.

__           __      Foolish pranks (taunting, making fun, or ditching someone, etc.) directed at an individual or a specific group are just that “pranks” and something kids need to learn to live with.

__           __     Bullying is a school problem if it happens at school: thus, the community, clergy, law enforcement, local government officials, civic groups, parents groups, and/or any other out-of- school group has no role in helping to address the situation.



How are we going to be when we gather together?

Block asks the question, “How are we going to be when we gather together?”   This is a crucial question.  My answer is that adults need to intentionally develop abilities for thinking interdependently.  We must actively deploy these skills to effectively work, listen and think with each other.  It is our shared responsibility to engage with one another with the goal of producing positive change for the future.

            There are many hurdles for those engaged in intentionally improving as an interdependent thinker. It is a challenge for many adults to move from independent to more interdependent thinking.  Adults intent on independence and faced with the fact that others think differently about a given problem often engage in aggressive or avoidance techniques, such as holding onto past thinking, refusing to interact with other thinkers, labeling other thinkers as the enemy, and jumping to conclusions.  The stability of a person’s status quo thinking is often very attractive.  It can be challenging to move into the instability and tentativeness of shared thinking.  Patterson and others explain that unpleasant endeavors “require a motivation that can come only from within.  People stimulate this internal motivation by investing themselves in an activity.  That is, they make the activity an issue of personal significance.  They set high standards of who they’ll be, high enough to create a worthy challenge, and then they work hard to become that very person”.   Being internally motivated to grow and develop as a person who thinks well with others is a value for the person and for the common good. 


As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008 page 10

 Patterson, Kerry, Grenny, Joseph, Maxfield, David, McMillan, Ron and Switzler, Al.  Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. New York, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008 page 93

Crucial Conversations ~ Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

In their book: Crucial Conversation: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler is a great book and I recommend it.  Here is a summary from Ann Anzalone.

Crucial Conversations occur when

opinions vary,

stakes are high

and emotions run strong

The core of every conversation is the free flow of relevant information in which participants express their opinions, share feelings and articulate theories. The conversation creates a pool of shared meaning. The pool is a measure of the group’s IQ. The larger the pool, the smarter the decisions.

When free flow sharing is blocked we avoid the conversation, handle the conversation poorly handle it well. When we avoid or handle the conversation poorly, the other person’s brain is in a flight or fight mode.

Start with heart.

What do I really want for myself? What do I really want for others? What do I really want for our relationship? How would I behave if I really wanted these results?

Find a way to get all of the relevant information out into the open.


Silence (withdrawing meaning from pool) masking, avoiding, withdrawing, fuming, sugar coating, couching, pouting

Violence (forcing meaning into pool) convincing, controlling, compelling others to your point of view, name calling, monologuing, making threatening, labeling, attacking, overstating facts, speaking in absolutes, changing subjects, using directive questions, belittling (is often preceded by a prolonged period of silence)

Speak openly and honestly


Communication Games that are not worth playing.  When you name the game, you can stop playing it. Here are the names of some games.

  • Salute and stay
  • Freeze
  • Withhold meaning
  • Verbal attacks
  • Borrowing power
  • Biased monologue
  •   Subtle manipulation: Hints
  • Sarcasm
  • Looks of disgust
  • Innuendo

In a failed conversation it is natural for us to want to

1. correct the facts, quibble over details and point out flaws; the goal changes from connecting with others to identifying mistakes to winning

2. seek revenge

3. use silence

4. use sucker’s choice: be honest and attack or be kind and withhold the truth using either/or thinking There is always a third choice: be honest and respectful

When moving toward silence and violence, stop and pay attention to your motives.

Note when conversations turn unhealthy: look for one of three conditions:

1. the moment the conversation turns crucial;

2. silence or violence

3. your own style under stress

When emotions heat up, key brain functions shut down. When others feel unsafe, they make fun of you, insult you or bowl you over with arguments

Restore emotional safety: look for ways that we are similar, sympathize or empathize, write goals emphasizing commonality, find mutual respect and purpose and apologize if warranted.

When the purpose of the conversation is at risk, we end up in debates, defensiveness, hidden agendas, accusations or circling back to the same topic.


Listen rather than act on feelings. AMPP

Ask to get things rolling

Mirror to confirm feelings

Paraphrase to acknowledge the story

Prime the pump by telling a story when it appears that you are getting nowhere


ABC’s    Agree     Build      Compare

Emotions don’t make you mad; you make you mad. You and only you can create your emotions. Once you have created them, you have two options: you can act on them or be acted on by them; master them or feel hostage to them. Feelings drive actions. If you don’t get at source of the feelings, you will suffer the effects of the feelings

Just after we observe something and just before we feel emotion we tell ourselves a story.

We add meaning to the action as well as motive and judgment. Based on your stories, our body responds with emotion. We can take control of our emotions by telling a different story. Our stories are our interpretation of the facts; they are our theories to explain how, why, what. It’s our stories that drive our emotions. If we always react, the story is hardwired.



1. notice behavior using silence or violence?

2. get in touch with feelings; what emotion encouraged the action

3. tell / analyze the story; what story created the emotions

4. see/hear get back to the facts What evidence supports the story?   separate facts from story by focusing on behavior


Clever stories – help us feel good about behaving badly; they match reality to get us off the hook; we tell a story when we feel the need to justify conscious act against our own sense of what’s right, we don’t admit errors; we look away; we are upset because we sold out; small sell outs are easy to overlook when we feel the need to justify conscious act against own sense of what’s right; we tell clever stories when want self-justification

Victim stories – it’s not our fault; we ignore the role we played in the problem; judiciously avoid the facts and whatever we’ve done to contribute to the problem

Villain stories – it’s all their fault; we tell evils of the other party; exaggerate our own innocence; overemphasize the other person’s guilt and assume the worst possible motives; labeling is commonly used

Helpless stories –There is nothing else we can do; we make ourselves self powerless; we like to explain why we can’t do anything to change the situation; it’s easy to act helpless when we turn other’s behavior into fixed and unchangeable traits


Start with heart: what do you really want

1. Share facts. Facts lay the groundwork for all delicate conversations

2. Tell your story.

3. Ask for other’s paths.

4. Talk tentatively. “I was wondering why…,” “Perhaps you are unaware…” “In my opinion…” “I’ve talked with three-four others…”

5. Encourage testing.