Monthly Archives: January 2019

Leadership Lessons from Snowshoeing

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As my husband, Dean, and I were out snowshoeing today, I began to think of the leadership lessons I was learning during our cold yet refreshing one hour adventure. There are commonalities among the two.  Let me share my thoughts on this, and then please share yours in the comments… 🙂

Leaders Offer Resources: I do not own a pair of long johns or a pair of wool socks. My hubby had extra of both and was willing to allow me to borrow them both so I could go snowshoeing in below zero wind chill temps. Employees don’t always have the necessary resources they need. Fabulous leaders offer the resources available that assist their people to become equipped to take on the task at hand and succeed. Great leaders offer their people essential resources.

Leaders Offer Support: My snowshoes were not fitting correctly. My husband showed me how to tighten the straps so the shoes wouldn’t fall off. He also showed me where the ball of my foot should hit when I’m walking, which I had no idea about even though I’ve been snowshoeing for years. He even told me WHY the ball of the foot is supposed to hit that certain spot.  I get confused about which foot goes on which shoe so Dean shared his secret to remembering which one goes on which foot. Dynamic leaders offer the same kind of support to their administrative team, their faculty, and their staff. Leaders demonstrate the HOW and the WHY to the people they lead. Leaders share ideas that have worked for them to become awesome so their people can also become awesome.

Leaders Offer Freedom: After my husband offered the support I needed, he gave me the freedom to ‘do my thing.’ He knew I had the skills and abilities and willingness to snowshoe, so he let me exercise those skills and abilities (and what revitalizing exercise it was). He trusted me to use my talents to do the best I could while snowshoeing. Superb leaders offer their people the freedom to put their best foot forward and trust them to use those skills and abilities for the greater good of the students.

Leaders Offer Safety: When we first started out, we were walking side by side. The deep fresh snow was difficult for me to walk in so I let my husband go ahead of me. The wind was strong, so after about 10 minutes of watching him lead, I decided to put my head down and just follow the trail he was making. 🌬❄ A few places were tougher because the snow was deeper, but by him going first, this made it more doable for me. I knew he would keep me safe from any treacherous terrain. Outstanding leaders earn the trust of their people by going forward first and breaking trail. Leaders take the safest route for their followers. Not the easiest, the safest. It’s easy to trust and follow the direction leaders are going when its evident they have our best interest in mind.

blog snowshoeing dean

Leaders Offer Reassurance: Since my husband was in the lead, he didn’t know if I was still following close to him or if I had fallen behind. On several occasions, he stopped and turned around to check on me. If I had lagged behind a little, he would wait for me to catch up and then turn back around and continue on. He didn’t have to say a word…he just turned around to make sure I was doing okay. I found this immensely reassuring, especially since it was now snowing and blowing. Caring leaders offer reassurance to those they lead. They will check in on their people often to make sure all is going well and to see if there is anything they can do to help; especially if times are tough for some reason.

Leaders Offer Do-Overs: If you know me at all, you know I love to take pictures. After we had been out for a little while, we stopped by an evergreen that would block the wind so I could take our picture. My glasses had steamed up and were full of ice so I had no idea if the picture turned out or not. We continued snowshoeing. At the end of our adventure, shortly before we reached our house, I asked if we could take one more picture just in case the first one didn’t turn out. My husband was a good sport and granted my do-over wish. Empathetic leaders offer do-overs to those they lead. There are many circumstances that can interfere with our ability to perform. Calling all leaders; whether you are a school board member, superintendent, principal, special education director, curriculum coordinator, instructional coach, teacher, volleyball/basketball/baseball coach, parent, grandparent, whomever you are; offer compassion and know we ALL want a second chance, we ALL want do-overs!

Regardless of the snow, wind, and cold, our snowshoeing adventure turned out to be invigorating! 🌨🌬❄☃ Leaders…want to revive and energize those you lead? Then offer them the resources, support, safety, freedom, reassurance, and do-overs they need to be revitalized. ☺💪👍🏂

blog snowshoeing us

Stay Calm & Go Snowshoeing!
Profs Dr. Wendy. & Dr. V.

Say Hello to POWERFUL Teaching

blog powerful teaching

We teach future teachers…those people who will positively or negatively influence YOUR children. We just want you to think for a minute of the impact that will have on thousands and thousands of kids throughout the world! No small task in that power!

We believe in preparing our teacher candidates to be POWERFUL teachers. We positively role model it every day, leading by example.  We build positive relationships with our teacher candidates so they know we sincerely care about them because “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~anonymous

We have passion and enthusiasm for this profession, and we bring our WOW game to work! We toss unexpected kindness around our department like pixie dust so our teacher candidates learn to soar as powerful teachers.

WE are POWERFUL teachers, and we facilitate our teacher candidates to become POWERFUL teachers too. They are sponges, wanting to absorb all our thoughts, stories, insights, and ideas on HOW to become a powerful teacher.

Our teacher candidates requested us to pencil these experiences into a book so they will have a reference to use when they finally get out into the real world and begin teaching. We have unconditional regard for our teacher candidates so we complied.

Our book was born. 🙂 Say hello to POWERFUL Teaching, which hit the bookshelf this week! Tangled author emotions abound. Excited to be published, hopeful it meets our teacher candidates’ expectations, fearful of being scrutinized. Squash that fear!!

You will find this book has a unique twist to it as each author has their own writing style. We believe you will find these varying styles intriguing while you read the book. Below are a few excerpts from POWERFUL Teaching. Enjoy!

Passion for education can be expressed in multiple ways. A voice that exudes contagious, excitement as it echoes through the building. While others are subtler, showing their love for the craft in more understated formats; that after class discussion which includes a nudge when needed, staying late, arriving early, never looking for recognition. No matter how it is illustrated, what is evident in those who are passionate about teaching is a deep love for the craft that is recognizable from the moment you encounter the person.” ~Dr. Mary Risacher, page 2.

Open-mindedness does not happen overnight. It is equivalent to exercise. We know it is good for us and we should do it as often as we can, but humans do best when they build slowly. So, think of it as an exercise for your brain and conditioning until it becomes more automatic; a sort of rewiring for your brain!” ~Dr. Mary Risacher, page 16.

“We write history together each day in our ordinary and extraordinary work. What story we create and tell together depends on the WOW-factor in our work and lives. Together we can do more, be more, wow more. Wow is our collective creativity. Be the WOW-factor in teaching and learning. This work is serious business. This work is seriously an art form. Wow brings joy into learning…” ~Dr. Sonya Vierstraete, page 31.

“If you plan to hang out with children all day you absolutely have got to go out and find yourself some serious enthusiasm! Enthusiasm simply means having intense interest or zeal for something, which in your case would be your teaching.” ~Dr. Sonya Vierstraete, page 46.

“Ongoing research from the Search Institute (2014) has shown that ‘young people…need people in their lives who challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities.’ Since many students spend more hours per day with their teachers than they do with parents/guardians or other adults, it becomes essential that teachers develop these types of positive relationships with their students.” ~Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter, page 65.

“To make your best first impression, make sure to use your best professional language—in writing (no texting abbreviations!) and speaking (avoid the use of slang as much as possible). Make sure to make contact with your mentor teacher as soon as you receive your placement, and respond to any questions your mentor may have in a timely manner.” ~Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter, page 84.

Unexpected kindness can happen anytime, anywhere, in any workplace. My husband came home from his office one day (he is a software developer for insurance companies) and told me they had had a fire drill. When the workers all got outside, there were ice cream treats waiting for all of them. An unexpected act of kindness in the business world…got to love that. Educators, it’s time to take a stand and BE kindness. When our students witness us giving unexpected kindness to others, they, too, will want to pass it on.” ~Dr. Wendy Schoolmeester, page 108.

“We have power to change our schools by being a positive example. Let’s put an educational twist on John F. Kennedy’s famous quote: ‘Don’t ask what your school can do for you; ask what you can do for your school.’ What can we do? We can be a positive role model for all to witness. Let’s become a conductor and orchestrate school improvement by being a positive example for others. Let’s become a quarterback and throw a touchdown for school successes by being a positive role model. Let’s become a chandelier and illuminate brightly for children and lead by example.” ~Dr. Wendy Schoolmeester, page 123 – 124.

powerful teaching meet the authors

Meet the POWERFUL Authors:

Dr. Mary Risacher, Dr. Sonya Vierstraete, Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter, & Dr. Wendy Schoolmeester

Stay Calm & Be POWERFUL!
Profs Dr. Wendy. & Dr. V.