Tag Archives: 2011july


“Medical studies show that participation in community service increases people’s sense of well-being and even their health; their immune system are actually strengthened by volunteer service. Community service is a tremendous opportunity for personal renewal and it enhances the community.” ~ The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Guide to Positive Change by Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom, Second Edition, page 147.

When I think about this quote, I think about all of the needs that communities, cities, states, regions and countries have. In other words, I think about all the community service that is waiting to be done. And, I see it connect. I see that you and I can heighten our service to our communities and benefit in very tangible ways ourselves.

So, it sounds like a ‘win–win’ to me. What does sound like to you? Does it make sense that helping others can be good for you? Have you ever been involved in a meaningful community project that left you both feeling fulfilled and healthy?

What can you do with your reactions to the concept that community service increases people’s sense of well-being, their health and immune system? Are there actions you can deploy for the good of your communities and for others in the near future that will provide meaningful service?

Here is a question posed by the authors, Whitney and Trosten-Bloom (cited above) from the same source: “Dream into the future: your organization and your community have a wonderful mutual partnership.  What does this look like?  What three things might have been done to create this partnership?”

And here is a ‘dream’ question from me: Dream into the future and see yourself, your family, school and/or work place deeply connected to and committed to effectively servicing several community needs.  The outcomes are positive.  You, your family, school and/or work place are making a difference!  What does it feel like to be part of these positive outcomes?


Image by Hyrck via flickr.

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Read aloud to the children in your life

We are just getting back from family vaction.  I am a grandfather and uncle to the young people who where with us.  Books were an important part of the vacation and books where shared by many of us with others of us.

Here are some of the reading images from Big Bass Lake 2011!


And, while I am thinking about reading aloud, this is a great article about how E. B. White spun ‘Charlotte’s Web‘.  Charlotte’s Web is a family favorite.  

More reading aloud pictures from last week . . . 


Focusing on the Preferred Future

People usually have absolute clarity about what they do not want; the challenge of leadership is to help people define with precision and accuracy what they do want.  When we help others see what could be, we develop inspiration and aspiration that challenge and promotes breakthrough thinking and actions. ~ Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations (2002)

The above quote gets right to the challenge: many regional areas, communities, work places and even families find them selves in – focusing on the perceived problem or problems at the expense of focusing on the preferred future.

If we really want to make things better – then being a person with a clear, concise vision trumps being a ‘problem spotter’.  The future requires people willing to embrace it and it’s potential.

Image by sermon87 via flicker.


Transformational Change in Support of the Common Good

[Effective] “Leaders realize that humans grow intellectually through resolving differences, achieving consensus, and stretching to accommodate dissonance.  They realize there is greater possibility for making connections, stimulating creativity, and growing the capacity for complex problem solving when such differences are bridged.  Interdependent learning communities are built, not by obscuring diversity, but by valuing the friction those differences bring and resolving those differences in an atmosphere of trust and reciprocity.”~ Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick Learning and Leading with Habits of the Mind (2008)


As we embrace the challenges and opportunities of the future, we will encounter different opinions, different frames of reference and various levels of flexibility.  Yet, by not embracing the realities of creating a positive future and/or attempting to avoid the real work ahead then we will be – by default – holding onto the status quo.  Incremental change will not yield the transformative outcomes either.  So, steering clear of the real work (of resolving differences, achieving consensus, and stretching to accommodate dissonance) or by only taking very small steps in the direction of transformative change will keep us from achieving the opportunities the future holds.



My argument is that even though it will be difficult – each of us will benefit from being more committed to establishing a sense of our agreed upon “common good” and then working together to achieve it.  The way I see it, this is the only way to leave things better for the future generations.  We need to do this for our children, grand children and great grand children.



Our Conversations Invent Us

“Our conversations invent us.  Through our speech and our silence, we become smaller or larger selves.  Through our speech and our silence, we diminish or enhance the other person, and we narrow or expand the possibilities between us.  How we use our voice determines the quality of our relationships, who we are in the world, and what the world can be and might become.  Clearly, a lot is at stake here.”  ~ Harriet Lerner (2001 


Leaders who want to create a better future must be able to work with and think together with individuals and groups that could be considered to be ‘opponents’ or ‘adversaries’.  Avoiding this works leads to entrenchment: people talk or listen to those they agree with and not with those they don’t see eye to eye with and the status quo is maintained or incremental change creeps along.   


If you agree with Harriet Lerner when she says: “Our conversations invent us” and you want to impact the common good as a contributor rather than a detractor then you will need to be intentional about listening and ‘seeking first to understand’ so you don’t end up inventing or perpetuating an ‘us’ verses ‘them’ mentality.  Or a: ‘we are right and they are wrong’ mentality 


We all need to get very good a civil, productive conversations.  We need to do this as we talk about how to use our resources and how to plan for our futures.


Innovation>status quo Change takes time, but that should NOT keep us from deliberately working for change!

In the 1840’s Dr. Ignatz Semmelweiss found that deaths in maternity wards dropped to near zero when all medical personal washed their hands.  Yet, it took 30 for the medical community to take note, by responding to Louis Pasteur’s endorsement of the hand washing procedure.  And even after his endorsement it took thirty more years for the practice to become widespread.

Change can be (and often is) very slow. Even with science on your side. Change threatens the status quo.  That means it threatens the “power, habits and values” of the current reality and all of the people that are benefiting form that reality.

Being willing to innovate and strive for new beginnings means there will be resistance.  There will be a status quo that is threatened.  Thus, the innovation must be seen to be of greater over all value and potentential impact than the status quo, or the status quo will be maintained.  

New beginnings can be difficult.   A major reality for those challenging the status quo is the potential lack of receptivity toward new beginnings.

All of this is true; it doesn’t change the NEED for change.  Hands needed to be washed in the maternity wards.  It was a life and death issue.  Yet, it took a lot of time to happen.

Change isn’t easy.  But, it is worth working toward in education, governance, social justice and in many other ways!

And remember: Innovation>status quo

PS:  Once the medical community got its arms around the need for hand washing in the maternity ward, they the started to apply that knowledge in other medical settings.  So, thank goodness for Semmelweiss and Pasteur for hanging in there and for finally getting the practice accepted.

Note: The information regarding Semmelweiss and Pastuer can be found on page 120 of The Innovator’s Way by Peter J. Denning and Rovert Dunham (2010) the MIT Press.

Where Do You Line Up With These Beliefs About Reading?

Do you agree with these statements?

  • Reading involves “figuring out” and “remembering” as each reader makes sense of print.
  • Teachers and schools are absolutely crucial in developing and expanding each student’s ability to become a reader who “figures out” and “remembers” as well as makes sense of print at higher and higher levels of proficiency.
  • Language is instinctual for humans – reading is a component of language. Reading can be learned by all.
  • Language always occurs in a situation and situations are critical to comprehension. Thus, reading comprehension is not exact, but situational. Each person activates their own specific prior knowledge base as they build meaning for the text.
  • Teachers of reading must engage each student in a classroom. By developing and enhancing each student’s abilities as a reader, that teacher will stimulate productive thinking and brain activity within each student.
  • Teachers and administrators need to come together and develop or adopt a clearly defined, developmentally appropriate, reading curriculum for the district. The curriculum then must become the shared focus of the instructional staff as they go about the professional work of expanding and developing reading independence within the students they serve.
  • Children improve their reading ability by reading a lot. Reading achievement is directly related to the amount of reading children do in school and outside of school. Teachers must be focused, not only on instruction, but also on the application of reading abilities in real reading experiences.
  • A student’s reading development is significantly enhanced by frequent “want to” reading of meaningful print.
  • Reading development happens one person at a time. It is important to understand that the actual specific developmental path for one individual will not exactly mirror the developmental path of another individual.
  • Teachers are absolutely key if a district is to meet a goal of raising reading achievement for all students. It is not about the district buying the prefect reading program or set of materials. Programs and/or materials don’t teach. Teachers teach. Investing in their development and monitoring their growth and ability to apply their learning will lead to student achievement.

I believe all of the above statements. Our beliefs influence our dreams. My dream is for every child to be literate!!!! Dreams are important! They drive outcomes!

What do you believe about reading?