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Rebel with a Cause #BCSLearns

I love reading about leadership and the skills necessary today to be an effective leader.  Whether you are a principal, a teacher, in business, a parent or a student, we all have the capacity to lead.  In effect, each of us leads from where we stand!  The skills within Covey’s 7 Habits and Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership have been the foundation of whom I aspire to be as a leader. So when I read about Harvard Business Professor Francesca Gino’s outlook on leadership, it no doubt grabbed my attention. In her book Rebel Talent, Gino contends that companies should encourage rebellion in their workplaces.  Take a look at The 8 Principles of Rebel Leadership from her book, see how these skills fit for you as an educator, and how they align with the skills you want to nurture in the students you serve – or even your own children.

  1. Seek out the new: Routines and traditions are important, but find inspiration from novelty and newness.
  2. Encourage constructive dissent: Rebels fight the instinct to find opinions or thoughts that are familiar and similar to them and find ways to encourage divergent thinking.
  3. Open conversations, don’t close them: Keeping your mind open presuming positive intent and withholding judgement keeps thinking and dialogue going promoting innovative thinking.
  4. Reveal yourself—and reflect: “Rebel leaders focus on their strengths, but are honest about their weaknesses and make an effort to reflect on both.”
  5. Learn everything—then forget everything: “Successful rebels understand the importance of mastering the fundamentals of their trade or industry, but never let themselves become slaves to the rules.”
  6. Find freedom in constraints: Find inspiration from any job constraints you may feel get in your way.  In the article, an example of this is how Captain “Sully” used the Hudson River as a runway when needing to make an emergency landing after takeoff.
  7. Lead from the trenches: Rebel leaders refuse to say, “that’s not my job.”  They are willing to do whatever it takes and get their hands dirty.
  8. Foster happy accidents: This is a similar notion we have at BCS that we fail forward and use mistakes as opportunities to learn.  Rebels “believe in workspaces and teams that cross-pollinate” realizing “that a mistake may unlock a breakthrough.”  Let’s be sure to make mistakes our “happy accidents.”

So, what kind of leader are you?  Read about the Rebel Test in the below image, then click on the image to take the test yourself to see what kind of leader you are.  I’m a bit of a Traveler!  Who are you? A Guard, Traveler, Climber or Pirate? Enjoy…


Make Empathy Academic #BCSLearns

In a recent article by Naomi Priddy in ASCD, Empathy Is Academic: Lessons from Lotus Slippers, the author divides empathy “into three categories: historical empathy, pushing students outside presentism to understand people living in other times; cultural empathy, engaging with contemporary cultures outside of students’ experiences and challenging students’ cultural biases; and social empathy, building activities by which students learn to listen to one another’s perspectives and collaborate to build new learning.”  These three lessons, for me, broadened the scope and power of what empathy it.  We all know that empathy is a social-emotional lifeskill and its power in this category, but these three lenses helped me understand empathy as more than just social-emotional, but academic as well.

“The skills required for the three lenses of empathy overlap, and they also complement the critical thinking subskills of connecting, clarifying, comparing, evaluating, interpreting, questioning, and suspending judgment.”  As an academic skill, empathy can help us present paradoxes to students within the curriculum we teach.  Read the article for more details and specific examples of paradoxes presented to students.   The caution from Priddy in presenting paradoxes to students, she has “learned to bring cultural biases to the front of discussion and have students address them directly.”  In the end, practicing empathy allows us to find the The Hidden Story in each person with whom we come in contact.  Take a look at this short video called The Hidden Story by Franklin Covey on the importance of empathy and knowing a person’s story.   Click on the image below to view the video.

As cultural anthropologist Roberto Chene shared with me some 15 years ago, “you cannot hate someone’s whose story you know.”  Is this not the hallmark of empathy?



The Most Powerful Resolution #BCSLearns

It is that time when many of us will reflect upon what our New Year’s Resolution ought to be.  Those resolutions that first come to mind will revolve around diet, exercise, saving money, reading more, start a new hobby, learn a new skill, etc. according to  All worthy resolutions indeed.  Though as I reflect, I think of the most powerful word for me.  A word that is included in the title of this blog and encompasses how I aspire to lead my life – with LOVE.  I came across a brief video called Love Your People from, and the video describes the eight key ingredients to loving those around you:

1.      Contribute
2.      Be Kind
3.      Be Patient
4.      Be Honest
5.      Encourage People
6&7. Apologize & Forgive
8.      Thank People

The broad definition of love as a noun is that it is an intense feeling of deep affection.  It is a feeling that leads to a greater sense of value, gratitude and positivity in my life.  So, why is it so hard to find it sometimes.  For me, it’s simple, I look for it and discover it all around me.  Perhaps the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provides me motivation:  I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. 

So, my resolution for 2019 is love – both the verb and the noun.  I will love and I will look for love around me because gratitude and positivity become the byproducts and the emotions opposite to love feel downright awful.  I choose love, and may 2019 for all of you be filled with this powerful word as well!

What Will You Give this Holiday Season? #BCSLearns

Many of us this holiday season have been thinking about that perfect gift to give each of our loved ones.  Most often, our gift-giving mind goes to a material item such as jewelry, technology, clothing, games, toys, etc.  But what if we though about these 10 Gifts That Don’t Cost a Thing that finance journalist Deborah Jacobs contributed to Forbes Magazine:

  1. Say “thank you”
  2. Give out compliments
  3. Celebrate successes
  4. Share information
  5. Offer recommendations
  6. Show you care
  7. Be respectful
  8. Smile
  9. Make people laugh
  10. Pay attention

These gifts cost nothing and their impact can last a lifetime.  That said, if you do happen to select that perfect material gift, it has the potential to last a lifetime and be forever impactful.  If you don’t believe it, take a look at this video about a boy who was gifted a piano at a very young age.  “The Power of a Gift.”  Recognize him?

Release Human Potential: Miracles Can Happen #BCSLearns

Sean Covey’s keynote address at this week’s MEMSPA conference opened with a reference to his father, Stephen, sharing that when his father decided he wanted to become a teacher rather than going into the family business, he told his father, “I want to release human potential.”  Sean is working to continue his father’s legacy and this purpose in his work today.  To get specific toward this purpose of releasing human potential (or organizational potential) he outlined to us these 4 Disciplines of Execution.

Image result for 4 disciplines of execution

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

  • Focus on the Wildly Important
    • Good is the enemy of great
    • “There will always be more good ideas that there is capacity to execute.”  We sometimes have to say no to good ideas.
  • Act on the Lead Measures
    • Have a disproportionate focus on the key outcomes
    • If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority
  • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
    • People play differently when they are keeping score.  There is something compelling about a public scoreboard.
  • Create a Cadence of Accountability
    • Make sure you have an “accountabili-buddy” or an accountability buddy
    • Cheering Works and the proof is in the short “Cheering Works” video below…

Covey closes referencing Roland Barth’s famous quote, “culture eats strategies for breakfast.”  Check out the summary video below of the 4 Disciplines of Execution, and, most importantly in the paradigm of change, Covey wants us to remember that “All change starts with me…and believe every child is a genius.”

Sean Covey’s co-author of  The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChesney, presents a 6-minute summary of the concepts in his book in the below video.

Something to Get Emotional About #BCSLearns

As educators at BCS with a commitment to inquiry and discovery based learning, we understand the importance of hands-on learning and having students inquire, design, create and iterate.  But, how important is this notion?  In the article The Brain Science of Making written for School Library Journal by educational consultant and author Conn McQuinn who outlines how and why “neuroscience gives us some pretty good reasons for supporting these efforts, and can help guide us as we provide these exciting opportunities for our students.” He denotes the following Brain Facts to prove this point:

  • Brain Fact #1: Your brain thinks your hands are the most important part of your body.
  • Brain Fact #2: Learning is a physical change in the brain that is enhanced by practice and repetition.
  • Brain Fact #3: Children involved in unstructured play, experimentation, and tinkering are practicing executive function skills.
  • Brain Fact #4: It is literally neurologically impossible to learn deeply about something you don’t care about according to Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
  • Brain Fact #5: Stress and fear impede learning

These are the brain facts he lists in his article, and, while the words he writes are compelling, the images he includes provide a visual enhancing his arguments and the importance of creating and “making.”  He summarized the research by suggesting that “making and makerspaces are popular for very good reasons. They align powerfully with what neuroscience tells us about how the brain works! In summary:

  • Making reflects the neurological primacy of our hands
  • Making provides opportunities for students to develop executive function abilities, such as self-direction, decision making, focus, planning, and reflection
  • Making provides opportunities to for deeper learning through focused, extended work and tapping into intrinsic interests and curiosity
  • Making provides opportunities for developing growth mindset and persistence in an environment of design, test, feedback, and revision”

Want more? In the YouTube video below, the cognitive neuroscientist and educational psychologist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, quoted and linked above, “who studies the brain bases of emotion, social interaction and culture” gives an overview of her research and its implication on our teaching in the following 5-minute video

Let’s Be Irreplaceable #BCSLearns

An article from Forbes by contributing editor Nina Angelovska, an e-commerce CEO, was shared with me by a mentor of mine that provided me with a great deal of self-reflection.  The article, These 15 Behaviors Will Make You Almost Irreplaceable At Your Workplace, provoked the question for me, based on the noted behaviors, am I irreplaceable?  Which of these behaviors do I consistently demonstrate?  Which do I fall short on or could I model more frequently?  Additionally, this list had me thinking about Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and how each of the 15 behaviors can be attached to one of Covey’s Habits.

After each of the behaviors noted in Angelovska’s list (see below), I share my thinking of where the behavior lives in Covey’s Habits.  These people who are “almost irreplaceable,” according to Angelovska…

  1. do more than asked (Covey’s Habit 4: Think Win-Win)
  2. have exceptional communication skills (Covey’s Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood)
  3. are one-step ahead (Covey’s Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind)
  4. are good listeners and observers (Covey’s Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood)
  5. are trustworthy, accountable and reliable (Covey’s Habit 4: Think Win-Win)
  6. initiate (Covey’s Habit 1: Be Proactive)
  7. fill the room with good energy (Covey’s Habit 4: Think Win-Win)
  8. are adaptable (Covey’s Habit 6: Synergize)
  9. are problem solvers, not complainers (Covey’s Habit 6: Synergize)
  10. are self-motivated and can motivate others (Covey’s Habit 1: Be Proactive)
  11. don’t need to be micromanaged (Covey’s Habit 3: Put First Things First)
  12. embrace new challenges (Covey’s Habit 4: Think Win-Win)
  13. are fast learners and fast thinkers (Covey’s Habit 1: Be Proactive)
  14. love their job (Covey’s Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw)
  15. are well organized and efficient (Covey’s Habit 3: Put First Things First)

Feel free to view one or both of videos below both giving an overview of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Each one is about 7 minutes.  The first overview is presented by the founder himself, Stephen Covey, and the second, is an animated review of the 7 Habits.  Have a look and listen!