Have fun, learn a lot, and be kind to everyone!

 

These are the words I say to my soon to be second-grade son, Seely, every day before school. This isn’t a prophetic, or even an earth-shattering statement by any means, but I believe it deeply and I hope he continues to embody these simple words to lead to simple actions well into his adulthood.

 

Have fun!

 

Having fun and learning should go hand in hand for our students and the adults in our learning system.

 

How many of you remember that engaging, relevant, and personal worksheet packet? (Crickets) Me either!

 

Whether our students are pursuing their passion through #GeniusHour or teachers are personalizing student learning through meaningful projects to enhance and engage with our communities – learning should be fun.

 

I have seen genius hour be very successful with both Seely and students at our school. Over the last three years, the projects have grown in depth and breadth the public audience became larger each year. Students want to impress their parents and teachers. However, when we invited the community and their classmates many students stepped up their game. The level of engagement, the public speaking skills, and the variety of projects has grown from students doing basic research on a topic three years ago to now students are creating video games, action movies, studying MRI’s, building skateboards, and so on.

 

When students have a voice and choice in their learning they both have fun and learn a lot.

 

The same can be said for the adults in our learning system. Giving our staff choice and voice can be a struggle, at times, due to ‘mandates’ and initiatives. However, I, and many of you, find our voice and choice through Twitter chats and hashtags, Voxer groups, and Edcamps.

 

My goal as a leader is to build and share these opportunities more often with the adults in our system.

 

Learn a lot!

 

Learning a lot. . . what does this mean? I know it is a simple phrase with simple words. I believe it should be a simple action as well.

 

I want Seely, and our students, to remain curious, question, and create. Through this process, I believe our students will learn a lot. Settling for what’s in a textbook, when we know the printed word is most likely out of date when it reaches the classroom, should become obsolete. With the power of technology, learning with and from experts in the field and connecting with other learners around the globe should be more common place.

 

Simon Sinek’s quote, “What good is a good idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world,” embodies what I envision for Seely and our students. If we base every lesson around this quote what would happen in our schools?

Simon-Sinek-quotes-famous-change-the-world

I believe this ties back to genius hour and projects engaging students in our communities.

This ties directly back to Twitter, Voxer, and Edcamp for adults as well. When we are engaged in Twitter chats and following specific hashtags we are seeking out the topics we are passionate about and more deeply engaged in our learning. I have found Voxer takes this learning to another level by engaging more directly with other passionate educators.

 

Be kind to everyone!

 

Another simple statement but one in which it seems many in the public eye have a hard time putting into practice.

 

Follow the political world and it is full of pure disdain for being kind to anyone. It seems politico’s are trying to ‘get a leg up’ by putting everyone down. Rather than focusing on the issues and problems in our society the politicians are looking for any way possible to discredit the other.

 

It is a simple statement – Be kind to everyone – yet those seeking to become the leaders of our country can’t put it into action.

 

I’ll step down from my soapbox now. . .

I remind Seely to be kind each day because he is now finding that some of his friends aren’t always kind in their actions or with their words. He truly is kind to everyone, shows empathy, and is a people pleaser. For this I am very thankful.

 

As adults, it tends to be a bit easier to remove ourselves from these situations in most situations. However, as educators, we sometimes receive negativity from students, families, colleagues, and other stakeholders when situations don’t work the way they had hoped. When this happens it is very easy to take it personally and sometimes question what we have done or said to cause this backlash.

 

I have had several conversations this past year with adults and students about what we can control when faced with adversity. Thanks to this graphic and the work of Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11) it has helped me better handle these situations personally and professionally.

gordonimage

 

We can’t control others actions, opinions, mistakes, or feelings. We can control our attitude, effort, behavior, and actions.

 

If we focus more on what we can control we will be better able to lead ourselves and one another. And if we have fun, learn a lot, and be kind to everyone these simple words and simple actions can lead us all to greatness.

 


Bill Powers is a lead learner and Middle School principal in Springfield Missouri. Additionally, he is a proud husband and parent to Seely! 

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