Planning for Impact

planning for impact

The ability to have lasting impact almost seems to have mystic qualities. There seems to be certain people or organizations, that no matter what, find the secret sauce of creating lasting impact for others.

Parker Palmer, author and community thought-leader, comes to mind as someone who has done that either through his written word or presentations. Classic reads of his include: The Courage to Teach and Let Your Life Speak. All of them move quickly past the superficial, surface platitudes and take deep dives into the soul and spirit of our living and the work we commit our lives too.

Companies, such as Starbucks or Apple seem to relentlessly captivate the human spirit and find ways to impact our lives that no one would have dreamt possible before. These wide-flung impacts seem to come out of thin-air from nothing. Yet, these impacts did not occur by mistake. It is not some magical, unattainable quality, even us engaged in the craft of teaching and learning can capture it!

Each of the examples provided above were not by accident. They were intentional, purposeful. Planning for impact may seem straightforward enough, but do we honestly do it? What is the impact we hope our educational efforts will impart on our students, parents, and community-at-large? How are we engaging our full staff and community stakeholders in planning for that impact? Are we having broad community-building conversations about how our culture of learning in school can positively impact all persons within our community?

These answers will NEVER look the same from place to place and all the more better, and here is why:

  • Each community has specific needs that an educational partnership with the local schools can create Win-Win dynamics for ALL stakeholders.
  • The interpretation of impact varies from person-to-person, this adds meaning and buy-in, when these interpretations can be valued and expanded upon.
  • No process will ever be perfect, but a process built in tandem with the greater community will receive more grace and support than one held solely in the hands of those directly engaged inside our centers of learning.
  • Finally, our impact can be exponentially accelerated and deepened when we sign-on diverse partners in our work of teaching and learning. Others desire to have impact and if we can create a channel where their gifts can be used for that cause I can promise previous barriers will fall, and fall quickly.

The question becomes what will you do as we enter an exciting time to think about planning for long-term impact. The upcoming year is 2019. By December of 2019 we will be unveiling our 2020 Blue Valley Agricultural Education Vision, our vision will layout plans specifically for the next five years, but will broadly tackle questions of impact through 2050. I’ll be excited to share insights from the process and how we approached facilitating these broad community conversations.

If you were looking for an excuse to have conversations of long-term impact. Let me provide it! There is no better year to have those conversations than this year of 2019. I challenge each of my educator peers, no matter what role you play; whether as a principal, counselor, university professor, or K-12 classroom instructor. Layout a plan for the next five years for yourself personally, your family, and professionally. Finally, seek ways to have engaging conversations on the topics/questions forged above.

We are stronger together. Planning for lasting impact requires all stakeholders to be engaged, it won’t happen overnight, but we can be the spark! Cheers to a New Year and as always, thanks for reading!

Writer’s Note: Some exciting happenings in the world of Profiles in Learning are sailing down a river near you! First has to do with a few blog posts coming up! Roger W. Davis (who partners with me on designing beautiful graphics for the site) and I are cowriting a blog post about overcoming writer’s block as educators and why it makes a difference. We’ve all been there before, too much going on or the faucet of inspiration has run dry…maybe it is both! Hopefully though, we will provide the spark of motivation to see the value in breaking through! Expect that post sometime in January.

Next, I’m in the midst of working on a community blog post…what’s that you ask? It will be different from any post I’ve written thus far and it is stretching me (I’ve told myself this is a good thing!). It is an interview style blog post with five other outstanding educators from different fields and backgrounds. The topic for now is a secret and only the five select educators and my loyal cat Patches know it. 😉 I’ll be excited to share that post in January as well.

Finally, there are a few more tremendous updates and I’m horrible at keeping secrets, so this is killing me, but for now my lips are sealed. Stay tuned to Twitter and this blog for further updates through the New Year! Thanks for being educators of lasting, positive impact and above all thanks for being such good friends on this journey!

Perennial PD

perennial pd

One year ago today I started this blog. Since then I have published 82 posts….thank you to all those who have read and engaged with my writing! I’ve been so humbled and grateful from all your insights and growth you’ve caused in my own thinking and reflection.

As I’ve written over this past year it has not always been easy to sit down and write. Sometimes it felt that the mounting task list needed to always take priority. Sometimes it was that eating sense of guilt I felt from “neglecting” my other duties while writing. Sometimes it felt that my voice wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) matter, so why bother?

The greatest wins of 2018 for me have been successfully fighting back against those doubts, fears, and limiting perspectives! This blogging journey has laid the foundation for lasting professional and personal growth. A concept I have been wrestling with for over a year has been how can I be a ‘perennial’ force both in the classroom and at home. Questions such as: How do I last and not burnout? How can I sow the seeds of lasting, positive change? How can I provide vision and act towards long-term goals in teaching and raising a family?

These are not easy questions and ones I still do not have solid answers for, but I do know that my roots of understanding have grown deeper and my trunk of discipline has grown stronger. I’ll be around for another season and many more I can assure you! 😉

When thinking about Perennial PD it’s important to realize that it should not be seen as a one-time event or an occasional feel-good conference…it should be continuous, a way of life. Below are just a few thoughts to begin planting for us in the seed bed of 2019 as we pursue Perennial PD:

  • First, how do we engage in professional/personal development that prepares us to be lasting agents of positive influence in our schools, communities, and families?
  • Secondly, how can we chart a path forward that replaces short-term outlooks in all various aspects of our lives and ensures we are truly putting ‘First Things (Really) First’?
  • Finally, how do we provide time and safe spaces for healthy, sincere conversations about holistically balancing our calling in education with our personal/family needs?

Being ‘Perennial’ requires courage, integrity, and above all belief. A belief that we are committing to work and to a life that matters. A belief that we are making a positive difference in the lives of others. A belief that we will continue growing; while also maintaining a love for who we are and who we are becoming.

Next year I look forward with great excitement to see the growth we will all experience on our respective journeys! Let’s enjoy and cherish another holiday season with close family and friends! May this Christmas season be filled with many joys and blessings!

Finally, with great love, thank you for joining me on a year of growth and reflection. As always thanks for reading and inspiring my growth!

Deck the Halls

deck the halls

As a #CompelledTribe we write monthly community blog posts and this month is centered around the traditions within our holidays! As I reflected on this topic so many directions came to mind, but I’ll start with Grandpa Bruce and I.

You see Grandpa Bruce and I’s relationship goes way back…. I’ll still never forget helping Grandpa remove a whole stone retaining wall and then replacing it stone by stone to ensure it was straight and true. Yet, one of my favorite memories of us working together was a couple years back.

It has been a family tradition for Grandpa to put up Christmas lights at the house for at least a few decades. Yet, with Grandpa not getting any younger we discussed as a family that it may be time to help because he was still bound and determined to walk the roof line and put them up. So, that is where this story finds me. Discovering 24 feet off the ground that I have a very real fear of heights as I’m peering over the gutters.

Trying to steady my hands as I reached out over nothingness to grab hold of the next string of lights. Clip. Clip. Clip. What a joyous sound! I kept telling myself…one more string of lights closer to being done with this dreadful project! Who on earth could find any pleasure in doing this I thought. To pass the time and calm my nerves I kept replaying (quietly humming) the song Deck the Halls.

After about an hour more Grandpa ready to plug in the lights turns and says, “Okay, Anthony moment of truth.” I was too busy blessing the solid, unelevated ground to look up. That’s when I heard Grandpa give a disapproving chuckle, “Well, I guess we should have checked the lights before we strung them up.” Head shooting up I saw a few bulbs were out and a couple of strings were only half-lit. “Looks like we’ll need to take some down,” Grandpa said as he grabbed the ladder…rehashing the same fearful process I helped bring down the lights we had just placed!! Next we spent the majority of the afternoon replacing bulbs and checking, then rechecking light strings.

During the process, Grandpa and I got to do a lot of visiting. Reliving some of his special Christmas memories as a child from the Depression and Dust Bowl. The time seemed to fly by too soon. What had been an arduous process just hours previously became a completely enrapturing time as he shared stories I’d never heard. When we had successfully strung all the Christmas lights, we stood back and took stock of our work. Grandpa simply said, “Thanks Anthony for spending the day with me it was fun.”

Like a load of bricks it finally hit me…yeah traditions like “decking” out the edge of the house line with lights may seem like a fruitless adventure, but it wasn’t the act of putting up the lights, it was who I was spending time with, that mattered. What makes the time I spend with Grandpa Bruce so special is that I lost my last biological grandparent when I was nine years old. Marrying into the family made no difference for Bruce as he embraced and has loved me as one of his very own grandchildren. These will be memories I remember and cherish the rest of my life.

As we celebrate the traditions in our holidays be sure to look around and see how your life is “decked” out with those who are sources of love and support. It is less important to think about having the perfect tradition, rather let us focus on appreciating how traditions are a conduit in building relationships across generations and distance. Hope everyone has a wonderfully blessed Holiday season!!

Writer’s Note: I apologize for my recent lack of posting, as I tie up some loose ends for the holiday season I’ve got some posts coming up on the docket I’ll be excited to share with you all! Safe travels and as always thanks for reading!

Our Tenacity Stat

our tenacity stat

As I began writing this post I was sitting in the San Antonio Airport watching the Big 12 Championship between Texas and Oklahoma. As a Kansas State fan, won’t lie it was a hard game to watch. Yet, all these championship and college bowl football games mark the start of basketball season!

I’ve got a long connection with basketball. Starting from playing pick-up games as a kid while living in Puerto Rico. I was then a coach my second year of teaching and deeply valued that opportunity.

As a coach and now an avid spectator, I’m always tracking rebounds. I consider it one of those key stats that demonstrate evidence of tenacity by the players and team. Successful rebounding is all about presence and awareness on the court.

Sure points are important, but sometimes it’s possible to play the better game and still “lose”. Evidence of the better game is the scrappiness displayed when players get on the floor for a ball, jump higher for the ball, turning a miss into an unexpected opportunity. It’s exciting, makes the fans go wild and can create momentum for the next big play.

Tenacity in the classroom is embodied by grit and determination. How do you have students display it? How does it show up in your facilitation of learning?

I was thinking about this as Annelle and I watched the K-State Women’s basketball game this past weekend. What are my tenacity stats in and outside the classroom? Two thoughts came to mind:

In the Classroom

  • Asking Right Questions vs. Giving Right Answers: It seems easier to just “tell” the student the answer to their question, right? I mean there is only a limited amount of time in the hour so let’s get on with it. Yet, what if I was present enough in the moment to ask the right questions that would engage the student in ownership of their own learning? Harder…yes. Requiring greater levels of mental grit and endurance…you bet. Yet, the payoffs for student learning can be tremendous. Especially, if we make it a consistent habit. Honing our mental muscles to respond to student questions with our own questions that can guide deeper student understanding, resulting in greater understanding.

Outside the Classroom

  • Planning Two Weeks in Advance: This year I have been applying several habits from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit 3 ‘Putting First Things First’ really spoke to me and I’ve been keeping a priority planner which includes spending Sunday afternoon planning for not the immediate week ahead, but the week following. This has been a difficult mindset shift, but has helped me increase my personal effectiveness both personally and professionally.

We can start helping students build their personal tenacity and grit only by modeling it ourselves and experiencing struggle. If we are living and teaching with tenacity, it will allow us to relate with empathy towards the struggles that our students are facing in learning a new concept and give us insight into why some students would rather just give up. Let’s be honest it is the easier option and often the safer option. These classroom moments can become powerful coaching opportunities, to help guide students through those emotions and successfully overcome the struggle.

Again living and teaching with tenacity is crucial. So, what are your tenacity stats?

Writer Note: Huge thanks to Roger Davis for creating the beautiful graphic for this post! I’m excited to partner with him on future blog post graphics! You can follow him on Twitter via @rwdavis_edu. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!