Tag Archives: #leadership

The Global Achievement Gap – From Minnesota to Finland

This week’s post features guest blogger, Mr. Christian Skillings, a graduate student at Southwest Minnesota State University, who I have had the priviledge to serve as his advisor and chair his graduate work.  He is ready to change the world – and has been already.  There is so much more to share about this educational leader as he is on his way to great things… without further ado, Mr. Christian Skillings.

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Hi all,

My name is Christian Skillings and I am a graduate student at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). Currently, I am making the final revisions to my thesis and will be graduating this May with my Master of Science in Education, emphasis in TESL. Being so, I was approached to summarize my research and findings, which took place over the last year in both the United States and Finland.

The foundation of my study came after reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. If you have not had the chance to read this book, I strongly encourage all educators or aspiring teachers to do so. The critical point presented by Mr. Wagner is the undeniable statistics on the United States’ troublesome education system; namely, the widespread inadequate preparation of secondary students. Currently, the United States is experiencing a global achievement gap, which as stated by Wagner (2008/2014), is, “The gap between what even our best suburban, urban, and rural public schools are teaching and testing versus what all students will need to succeed as learners, workers, and citizens in today’s global knowledge economy” (p. 8). As a result of the global achievement gap, it has been found that high school graduates are unprepared for the rigors of higher education and the workforce. In a survey of 63,366 entering community college students, conducted by the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCSCE), the Center on Standards and Assessments Implementation (CSAI) (2016) found that 67% of high school graduates were required to take remedial courses upon entering community college.  Furthermore, Wagner (2010) found nearly 50% of employers, in a survey of more than 400, felt that individuals out of secondary school were “deficient” in preparation, in addition to the 65% of university professors that reported students as being unprepared for higher education. (Sorry for all the statistics and APA citations. This project has made me a bit of a nerd and APA prude).

So…… it is apparent learners are lacking the attributes needed to succeed, but what skills are exactly required? Wagner (2008/2014) termed the needed skills “Survival Skills, whereas others, such as Hilton (2015), coined these attributes “21st-century skills.” Regardless of the terminology, secondary school graduates must possess the ability to: think critically and problem solve, collaborate across networks and lead by influence, have agility and adaptability, demonstrate initiative and entrepreneurialism, effectively communicate, access and analyze information, inspire curiosity and imagination, and self-management. This is a long, but necessary set of attributes that are sought out in today’s knowledge economy.

Reflecting back on my own personal education experience, it became obviously that I was, and perhaps still am, a part of this achievement gap. Moreover, current reform measures in the United States and pedagogy in the classroom do not appear to be narrowing this global achievement gap. Thus, I looked internationally to find a nation that was succeeding in the world of education, in addition to equipping their students with the noted 21st-century skills, subsequently producing more college and career ready individuals. Finland, a small Nordic nation, against all odds, was a potential answer to my search. Perhaps I also just wanted to appease my insatiable appetite for travel! Nonetheless, I ventured across the Atlantic to study the Finnish education system.

Long story short; I won’t bore you with the minute research details, I studied two Finnish lower secondary schools (Grades 7-9) and two Minnesota middle schools (Grades 6-8), allowing me to make a comparative analysis of the two education systems. Specifically, I looked only at Grade 8 in Minnesota and Grade 9 in Finland. Why, you might ask, did I only study those two grades? Because research points to Grade 8 as being a tipping-point in college and career readiness (Doughtery, 2015; Royster, Gross, & Hochbein, 2015; Schaefer & Rivera, 2012). In Finland, Grade 9 is the year before secondary school, so for applicability reasons the 9th grade was studied. My research goal was to uncover 3-4 transferable aspects of the Finnish education system that better equip students with the noted 21st-century skills. Furthermore, I wished to take a more in-depth look at the ideological similarities and differences between students and educators in Minnesota and Finland.

After collecting all of the data, using the aid of a student survey, educator interviews, and classroom observations, it was time to see if distinguishments between the two education systems could be made and conclude on tangible elements of the Finnish education system that could be of use, here in Minnesota. Below are the most significant findings:

Unfortunately, it can be discerned that an apparent preparedness ideology gap exists among both Minnesota learners and educators. Taking the results of the student survey and educator interviews, nearly 100% of students (n = 201) and all educators in the studied Minnesota middle schools stated that their education was properly preparing students for higher education and the workforce. This, however, is simply not true if we look at the statistics of prior research.

Furthermore, in association with this preparedness ideology gap, based off of the results of the question; becoming college and career prepared needs to be achieved by the end of middle school (lower secondary school), it was found that only 41% of 8th grade students in Minnesota understood the urgency to become college and career ready. In addition, relating this student survey item to the educator interviews, the ideology held firm when speaking with teaching personnel. Based of the inquiry of whether or not educators in Minnesota viewed the 8th grade as a tipping point for college and career readiness, 0% of interviewees responded yes and 50% of Minnesota educators responded with skepticism by reporting yes and no. The results of Finland vastly differed, as over 85% of students felt the need to be prepared at this young age. Furthermore, an incredible 90% of Finnish educators viewed Grade 9 as a tipping point for future college and career readiness.

Okay, so it is now even more obvious that our education system needs a little help, both in practice and ideology, in order to better prepare student for life after secondary school. Compiling all of the data, four elements of the Finnish education system were noted as significant and transferable to the Minnesota education system. These items include:

  • Modeling Finland, Minnesota middle school students could benefit from increased college and workforce knowledge, in addition to explicitly attempting to equip students with 21st-century skills, that a curriculum-backed college and career readiness program can offer (Finland has a national requirement of 4-hours per week of college and career readiness courses). This college and career readiness program should be a part of the school curriculum and act as another year-long course.
  • In conjunction with the implementation of a formalized program, attempts to incorporate teach-by-topic/multidisciplinary teaching and learning should be made. Teach-by-topic is the current reform measure in Finland, and will be nation-wide by 2020.
  • Educators in Minnesota could assist students in meaningfully acquiring classroom skills and knowledge by increasing wait-time. This is something we have all been taught in theory, but it is not uniformly applied in all classrooms.
  • In association with increased wait-time, Finland’s education system places a high value on student autonomy. It is common for Finnish educators to consistently reiterate and explain to students that they are in charge of their own learning, academic success, and personal prosperity. The teacher merely acts as a guide to knowledge; with minimal lectures and just a few examples at the beginning of class. In Minnesota, learners are given less opportunity to work at their own pace and classes are much more teacher oriented.

Finally, we have come to the end of this rather long post. What I hope you take from this writing is the realization that we can easily implement many of the fruitful elements of the Finnish education system. Of course, an entire education system cannot be transferred over, but Finland could be used as a model.

As for me, I will be moving to Beijing, China, this summer to start my teaching career and continue my research. If you would like to further discuss my research, please do not hesitate to drop me a message: christian.skillings@smsu.edu  or simply stop by my office BA 119 (next to the wrestling room).

~Mr. Christian Skillings



Springtime is On Its Way…so is New Life and New Legislation


Springtime!  It’s almost here.  Can you feel it?  Okay – maybe not so much today since it is the coldest day since February 9th, 2017, but spring is indeed on its way. That means new life …and new legislation are on the way.  Hopefully writing this won’t turn away any of our blog fans (including Dr. Wendy), but it is purposeful.  It is meant to inform, which is part of our educonnections mission – “sharing about teaching, learning, leading, and life.” Eek! We can’t complain about laws and rules if we aren’t willing to be fully invested – to be engaged in our own story as it is being written. So here goes based on my humble understanding of government…

Currently, there are some legislative proposals that will impact educators.
A few highlights regarding MN legislation to consider:

There is a proposed change of governance in education. In the HF1079.0 Teacher Licensing and Standards bill in Article 1 Sec. 21 Transfer of Powers, “the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards board shall be considered a transfer by law of responsibilities of the Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education with respect to licensure and credentialing of teachers and school personnel to the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board for purposes of MN Statutes, section 15.039.” This is also in the Senate bill SCS0004A-4 Article 1, Section 19. MDE’s responsibilities regarding school administrators is to be transferred to the Board of School Administrators.

Student teaching may look different. Year-long student teaching experiences are included in proposed legislation. This may create hardships for teacher candidates, however. The specific rules on the implementation of this would be set by the proposed PELSB – Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.

Tiered licensure is part of both bills. Both bills propose allowing untrained teachers in the classroom, which may address the teacher shortage, but may not provide the best education for our learners. Tiered Licensure begins at line 23.7 in the Senate bill.
Tiered Licensure begins at line 33.7 in the House bill.

There is much more to consider both at the state and national levels. This is just a short summary of MN proposed legislation. Find out what is happening in your state, your nation. Be informed. We will try to be.

The complete bills are located at:
Senate bill
House bill

Senator Eric Pratt, Chairperson of the Senate K-12 Education Policy committee and lead author of Senate File 04. Phone:
Email: sen.eric.pratt@senate.mn
Phone: 651-296-4123.

Representative Sondra Erickson, Chairperson of the House Education Innovation and Policy committee and lead author of House File 140.
Email: rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn
Phone: 651-296-6746.

Consider contacting your legislative representatives to share your support and concerns.

It is our responsibility to be engaged citizens. It is a choice, however, so you decide. Enjoy our freedom and make the most of it each day.

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


Teaching 101

So after 18 years in education, I attended “new teacher” workshops to start off my 19th year. You see I am on sabbatical this fall to rejuvenate, relearn, and renew. I am headed back to the classroom after almost seven years away to restock my teacher toolkit and soul. I will be an EL – English Learner teacher for the Marshall Public School district. I am so pumped up for this as I join this classy group of “new” teachers pictured here.

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So what is new or what is important to renew in the teacher toolkit? LOTS! You may find blog posts this fall to read somewhat like a journal entry in the life of a new teacher. 😉

First impressions are important. They can be lasting. If it bombs, however, it can be changed… but it is no longer a first impression of course. 😉 This summer I had the privilege of attending a session with Justin Patton. Incredible experience! If you ever have an opportunity to hear Justin speak or be coached by him, you will not regret it! Some takeaways to consider… We are all just people so we live and learn and sometimes change. We need to do our best to respect others and forgive them for messing up as we hope the favor is returned in kind. No matter if the first impression is stellar or not, communicate honestly and build authentic relationships with people as we are all on this adventure together. Make your presence count. One of my favorite quotes from Justin and now one of my own mantra phrases – “Take responsiblilty for the energy you show up with!” Okay – I am pretty fired up about Leading with Head & Heart so look for more on this in upcoming posts. I hope to share this with my students and fellow staff-mates. Now – back to school, folks…

The cycle of morale exists somewhat for all levels of experience in education and possibly other career fields, too. In the new teacher workshops, the Director of Teaching & Learning shared a great visual about the phases of the school year in the life of a teacher.

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When searching for the image, I stumbled across this one as well. Made me laugh out loud, which is good for the soul and morale.

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There are highs and lows in school and in life. Be there to support others and know that “this too shall pass” is a phrase to live by. Laughter is inexpensive medicine to cure the “common cold” in education, too.

Knowing the cycle – continue to learn and grow – and not because you are told to do so, but instead learn and grow because you know it makes you whole. Here is just one example… For any teachers out there who make it to MEA break, join this Pirate crew if you can!

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It’s critical to remember that we teach kids not content. As much as I love me some good content, it’s the kids who matter and will remember. I received two fabulous reminders of who great teachers are and what they do because they care.

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Thanks to Principal Darci Love for sharing “Great Teachers….” with me this week.

Thanks also goes to Director Amanda Granger, who shared about standards-based grading this week and reminded me it’s up to all of us to repair the broken…

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I could really jump on the soapbox here with grades, but I will hold off for another time to “fix” that. My teacher candidates have heard some ranting and raving about this before. I am passionate about kids and not grades, I guess. (I know there are some of you out there who cringe at the word “kids” so insert your own words; I like it.) Another saying that I really like was tweeted out by our very own Dr. Wendy this week. It is so, so true.

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So to recap because I lost track… kindness and communication matter, continuing to learn and grow matter, and having hope and spirit matter. So what else have I learned?
Take care… and take a nap. We should really be learning from our kids’ habits. They nap and are like the Energizer Bunny. Wherever, whenever (it is legal) – take a nap. There is no warrior badge for the teacher who goes without a nap, a message, leisure reading, … The list goes on and on. Teachers don’t keep up like the Energizer Bunny if they skip over enjoying some of that list. That list is actually called life. Teaching can consume the teacher, and what’s left isn’t a pretty picture. Love yourself so you can love others.

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This could go on and on but frankly, I’m exhausted from the week and all the adrenaline in this anticipation phase. My no-longer-21-year-old self can’t keep up quite the same as when I started almost two decades ago. But that’s okay because I love what I do, I love the people I serve… and I love a rare nap much more than I ever thought I could when I was forced to take them as a toddler.

Education related tag cloud illustration
Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Tweet, Meet, & Greet



We don’t know about you, but man oh man, we are tired!  Just returned from the annual ASCD conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where we met up with some fabulous peeps from all over the globe; the list is long, and maybe it included you!?

If you were able to join us at our session, Oh, the People You’ll Meet If Only You’ll Tweet on April 2, 2016, we promised to share our twitter resource highlight list.  Voila – here it is:



Just a few others we mentioned…and that you won’t be able to resist:



Some other conference highlights outside of our session:
(We know, hard to believe there were any, but it is true.)

@donwettrick – Shared his passion about Pure Genius.  #PureGenius

@manuelscott – Original Freedom Writer, who shared his life story to inspire us as educators to continue to be more and do more for others.  Scott challenges us to teach like someone else’s life depends on it because it does.

…Fast forward thru “unhandled” ASCD speakers…

What does it take to the best?  @ShannaPeeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, knows as she shared her stories, and expressed, “We are saved by what we create and who we love in a very real way.”

Wait!  The best is not over yet!  Best coffee shop encounter while in Atlanta – meeting two educators from the Netherlands, and having an unconference while soaking up the sun between sessions.  Join us in following these two Dutch teacher trainers:


Learning can happen with a variety of people and in a variety of places.  Follow these hashtags to take your Twitter PD to the next level:

#ascd16 – for highlights of the conference in Atlanta, GA


And last but certainly NOT least…


If you remember from our last blog, Dr. Wendy was hoping to meet one of her favorite tweeps – Ms. Stephanie Frosch @steph_frosch.  She accomplished her goal, and gave her a hug because their friendship started on Twitter and grew into a real flower. Peace out!


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Fabulous time!  But now we need a nap…  Zzzzzzzzz…

Stay Calm & Tweet On!
Profs Dr. C. &Dr. V.
@kiddielitprof  &  @drvteacher

Twitter Ya at ASCD


Did you hear the news?  We are excited to see you at the ASCD conference in Atlanta, Georgia this week.  Wait!  You aren’t going?  There is still time!  So maybe we are optimistic to a fault… If you can’t join us in person, join us on Twitter.

Our session, #1257 is titled “Oh, The People You’ll Meet If Only You’ll Tweet” and we present on Saturday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. in GWCC, Building B, Level 3, Room B310. Wow…if you see two people wandering around who happen to be wearing SMSU gear, please help us find our room. 🙂

Following the right folks on Twitter can help us become better leaders because of the dynamic ideas shared there. Our session will show you who to follow, and how to use social media tools to your professional development advantage. Some awesome folks that we have met are Dave Burgess, Todd and Beth Whitaker, Rick Wormeli, Peter DeWitt, George Couros, and others thanks to Twitter.

Our goal is to share resources and connect people. And the most exciting news is that someone Wendy adores on Twitter is going to be at ASCD. We are hopeful that we will meet her there. Maybe she will stop by our session so we can give her a hug…and we can because we are friends on Twitter.

See you in Georgia!

Stay Calm & Tweet On!
Profs Dr. C. &Dr. V.

We ARE Better Together


We recently returned from Charleston, SC where we presented at the 2015 Center for Scholastic Inquiry’s International Academic Research Conference. We learned from and with some of the best of the best practitioners across the globe in the areas of education, business, and behavioral science. And, of course, we enjoyed a little pleasure and relaxation on top of it all.

Our research presentation was on Bloom’s Taxonomy mixed with Web 2.0 tools used in Higher Education. Besides the little bit of a technology glitch, our presentation went well. Better than we ever imagined. We’ll share why in a second.

We attended many sessions as well. We learned from experts – researchers and practitioners – in the areas of preparing candidates to teach English learners, Instagram use in education, bullying in the workplace, teacher candidate dispositions, and much more in fields of education, business, and behavioral sciences. Our lightbulb moment was realizing that we are not alone when it comes to dealing with some of these issues – and across various fields and workplaces.

Alone, we are smart, and we handle whatever issue may park itself in our departments. Together, with all these experts from varied disciplines and various locations across the globe, we discussed and brainstormed, and shared. Together we were brilliant and found solutions to these issues.

If you have not heard of this conference, we recommend you check it out. Hopefully next year we will get the privilege of learning with and from YOU in Scottsdale, AZ! Because as Steven Anderson noted, “Alone we are smart. Together, we are brilliant.”

Oh, yes, and about our session. We won the ‘Best Presentation’ award. Not bad for our first time being there! 🙂 It’s kind of like golf…you have that ONE good shot that keeps you coming back. We had that ONE good presentation that will keep us going back time and time again. (Thanks, Dr. Tanya Yerigan!).


Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

Are You An Abacus Leader?

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Technology is an amazing tool that we heavily rely on…maybe a bit too much. (Where’s my phone?? I can’t find my phone! I NEED my phone! Wait – my phone is in my hand. Yikes! Be honest – that has happened to you, too!) We have Smart phones, iPads, Nest thermostats. It’s hard to keep up.

The picture above was/is an amazing piece of technology in its day. For you young ones out there who don’t know what that is, it is an abacus. It is a piece of technology from years and years ago. It is a counting frame. Kind of like the number-line you might see in the front of an elementary classroom. It is used to count on. They say (whoever they are) that someone who is skilled with an abacus is faster than someone who is using a calculator.

I hadn’t thought about an abacus in a very long time until tonight when I sent my husband a text message asking him if he would please stop at the grocery store on his way home. Below is a picture of our short, but so sweet, text conversation…

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My husband’s text message got me thinking. All of us should be someone’s abacus. That one person who others can count on, rely on, trust in. We are all leaders, really, so whether we are school board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, cooks, custodians, parents…we MUST be an abacus leader for others. We must be someone who others can count on.

How can we do this? Below are just a few of our ideas, and we hope you add to this list in the comments section because it is nowhere near being complete:

~Follow through.

~Care for others.

~Listen to others.

~Forgive others.

~Trust others.

~Extend grace.

~Be patient.


Do your people see you as an abacus? No matter what your role is in life, we would like to encourage you to be an abacus leader, an abacus colleague, an abacus friend…you count the possibilities! Dear friends, be someone others can count on this year and always!

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

Leadership Lessons from Geocaching

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Bending. Twisting. Feeling. EWWW—a spider! Searching, searching, and more searching. Forty-five minutes, two dirty hands and two scratched knees later, the treasure was found! Ahh…success! Oh, yes, we did the victory dance. 🙂

Geocaching. It gives us a sense of adventure. It can take us to some amazing and beautiful places. Or, it might just take us to whereabouts right in our own community that we haven’t been to before.

The geocaches can be all shapes, sizes, and can vary in difficulty. Depending on the difficulty of the cache, the location can challenge us mentally and/or physically.

The geocache app or the GPS will tell us where we need to go. Once we get there, we need to search with our eyes and our hands. Sometimes we will need to stop searching, step back and look at the area from different angles. We might even think to ourselves, where would I hide the geocache? Where is NOT the obvious?

And then…that glorious moment when the treasure is discovered. A moment of satisfaction and accomplishment. A moment to do a victory high-five. A moment to document our success. A moment to savor…until the excitement of finding the next cache and the adventure begins again!

Isn’t geocaching just like leadership?

  • Adventurous, taking us to remarkable places and teaching us life lessons that are brand new to us. Or discovering great things happening right in front of our noses.
  • Students and staff come in all shapes and sizes, some of them more difficult to manage than others. Some may challenge us mentally as we try our hardest to find what is best for our people.
  • The leaders’ GPS is knowing the goals we will want to accomplish throughout the year. Knowing where we want to go. We will need to search with our eyes and our ears and our hands and our hearts to find what is best for our districts. We may need to stop, step back and look at goals and problem solving from different angles. Look at situations with a different perspective. We leaders need to think what is NOT the obvious?
  • Those glorious moments when goals are met. When faculty, staff, and students experience success – yes! That moment to celebrate with a high-five – yes! That moment of accomplishment documented as a dynamic year – yes! Everyone— administrators, staff, faculty, students, parents, community—all savor the moment.

And then it begins all over again. In the fall. When school starts. The excitement returns. The new adventures begin. The hidden treasures are eventually found and shared.

Leaders…let’s navigate our upcoming school year, and succeed at finding those hidden riches within our buildings. Don’t let our best kept secrets go quietly into the night – or school year. We may have to experience dirty hands and scraped knees once in a while, maybe even a few spiders along the way. But when all is said and done…we will reap the rewards.

Happy hunting…

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Hidden treasure…in a corn field. 🙂

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

We Are Made To Be More

BLOG Whitney Burmeister
As we strive to do more each day in our careers and lives, we were recently reminded, what we really need to do – is to be more. We can allow our days to fly by with schedules full, but what does it mean if the days mean nothing at all but items to check off the list?

This past week the NSIC – Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference met for the summer annual meetings. We gather together to consider what has passed – to celebrate successes and to move forward together to strategically plan for future successes. We are an optimistic group! 🙂 By the way, it happens to be the best NCAA Division II conference…not that I am biased!

At the Honors banquet, we celebrated the Willis R. Kelly Award recipient, who is the top female scholar-athlete in the 16-school conference. This award is based on a combination of academic and athletic accomplishments. But really, it is so much more. The faculty athletics representatives in the conference highly consider leadership and community service attributes in this decision. Whitney Burmeister, who will be a senior at Southwest Minnesota State University this fall, was selected as this year’s Kelly award winner. When I asked Whitney to share about herself, one of the highlights for her was being a class notetaker for other students on campus. She shared “it may seem minimal to others, but I love that I can help someone by taking notes for them if they need assistance.” She is also actively involved in the “It’s A Slam Dunk, Don’t Drive Drunk” campaign on campus as well as serving as the SAAC – Student-Athletes Advisory Committee serving as the secretary and working for the IFO – Interfaculty Organization office. (Working with faculty across campus is no small undertaking!) Whitney excels in the classroom as an Exercise Science major and on the court as a key volleyball player. She grew up on the farm milking cows and knowing what work ethic truly is in life, sport, and school.

She truly is an outstanding student and outstanding athlete. Moreover, she is so much more. We share this today because our goal for all of us – is to be so much more. We aren’t “just” this or that. Collectively, when we care for others, we are more.

With the recent death of my nephew, Carter, we learned as tough as days can be, the road would be so much more challenging if we didn’t have “more” from others. The outpouring of community support from family, friends, and strangers has been overwhelming. People truly are so much more. ~SV

Our goal is that we continue to move forward and pay it forward. Let us consider this example and Whitney’s example of how we can be more for others. It isn’t who you are or what you do… but what more you do that counts. As teachers, leaders, citizens, it is our responsibility to be more.

Be more.

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

What We Learned about Leadership from Chef Alton Brown

Argus Leader
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Food Network star, celebrity chef, and bestselling author, Alton Brown is the infamous host of Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen. His humorous commentary will cause several occasions of LOLs throughout these shows. Last night, those LOLs echoed throughout the Sioux Falls pavilion as Alton nailed his performance Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour.

Throughout his performance, Alton Brown entertained all of us with his storytelling, his quick wit, his demonstrations, his inventiveness, and his passion. We see how these qualities apply to all educational leaders. And seriously…aren’t we educators prone to entertainment and performance these days? Below we share our insights on these six entertaining talents needed for leaders:

Performance: Educational leaders perform every day…in the classrooms, in the office, in the boardroom, in the decisions we make. When you think about it, every single one of us is a performer each and every day. Great performers include their audiences, and Alton did just that. He talked with us; he asked for volunteers; he included us. Educational leaders: don’t go at your performance alone; involve your people. Are you acting solo?

Storytelling: Alton had our laughing muscles hurting as he told stories from his first time on Iron Chef Japan. We were captivated by his recreation of the time he had to eat trout ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly…trout ice cream! Ice cream that contained not just trout pieces, but the WHOLE fish. Educational leaders need to be storytellers. We must capture the positive happenings in our schools. We can share these stories with the community through social media and other appropriate means. If we don’t tell our school’s story, someone else will. Who is telling your story?

Humor: We laughed so hard we cried. Alton can get his audience laughing through his stories, his facial expressions, and the sometimes pun that he used. Educational leaders can do the same. Laughing with your people daily will build respect among your people, and will ease frustration and uncertainty. Young and old alike remember the educational leader who could make them laugh. Get a dose of some daily humor by checking out some educational puns. Who did you share a laugh with today?

Demonstrations: Alton created an ice cream maker using a fire extinguisher. A VERY LARGE fire extinguisher. He demonstrated for the audience on how this ice cream maker works. Alton asked his volunteer to put on safety glasses to ensure protection just in case something blew up. Educational leaders need to demonstrate protection for their people; to not just tell the “how” of a situation but also the “why.” This will earn trust and respect, which will protect educational leaders from those possible blow-ups in school. Did you remember to put on your safety goggles today?

Argus Leader
                       Argus Leader

Inventiveness: Easy Bake Oven…Alton wanted one of those when he was a kid. He took care of that desire by inventing his own version of the Easy Bake Oven. Alton’s assistant rolled it out onto the stage, and voila, Alton unveiled his Mega Oven. Alton’s assistant didn’t know how to flip a pizza. Alton taught her. Educational leaders need to be inventive by creating new ideas within the four walls of the school. If the people they lead are unsure, then the educational leader must teach them. Include them in the inventive brainstorming. What did you bake today?

Argus Leader
                    Argus Leader

Passion: For two hours and 45 minutes, Alton had the attention of the audience. How does a person engage the audience for that long without boredom setting in? Passion. Alton was very passionate about what he did. His voice was enthusiastic; his actions were enthusiastic. It was obvious he was on an adventure with us, and he was filled to the brim with passion. Educational leaders need to lead with this same sense of passion and share that passion with your people – students, staff, stakeholders. What are you passionate about?

Stay Calm & Lead On!

Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.