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The one conclusion I’ve drawn about standardized testing over the last several years is clear: no one really likes it. Students feel pressure to score well to get into the college they desire most; educators feel the pressure to ensure students do well, so they can get school funding; and parents feel the pressure because they believe high scores will lead to scholarship possibilities. The stakes are high for everyone.

Today, I’d like to discuss our assumptions about ACT and SAT testing.

For years, these tests have been filters to screen potential college students. A high SAT score, for instance, gave a higher probability for a student to get “accepted” into that elite school they admire. But is the SAT and ACT really a good vetting process for students? Are we testing the right subjects in the right way? Do the tests genuinely predict success for graduates?

Three researchers recently published the results from 28 colleges that made these tests optional for students. Eric Hoover, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, writes: “Their report, refreshingly light on sweeping statements, concludes that, yes, some institutions that have stopped requiring the ACT or the SAT have increased the diversity of their incoming classes. The report also confirms what many admissions officials have long known: High-school grades matter most in predicting success in college”—not SAT or ACT scores.

Three Shifts Away from Past Assumptions About Student Success

The truth is, students, educators and parents are all questioning what really matters for young people to be career ready. Maybe this is a good thing. Let me offer three shifts I’ve observed as trends in high school students today:

1. Students have begun to look at colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT scores.

For years, Millennials and their parents just assumed a student had to take the test and do well to get into a good school. Today, I see more students from Generation Z looking at schools that don’t require them. People are more pragmatic and don’t assume the current “system” is always right. They look at results and see there are better scorecards that predict future success in school.

2. Students now question if a four-year institution is even right for them.

More and more, students are ignoring the assumption that you have to graduate from a liberal arts university to get a good job. Many of the job markets that are hungry to hire young professionals care less about a college background and more about skill training. Technical schools for specific trades now look very attractive and more relevant to young adults. Once again, no SAT test required.

3. Students are less likely to take on student loan debt.

Generation Z students and their parents are acting more like “customers” when it comes to post-secondary education. By this I mean they weigh out all the options and often stay in the “driver’s seat” as a customer would before “buying” an education. They are more apt to avoid debt than Millennials and their parents were. If they don’t see a good R.O.I. (Return On Investment) from a school, they’ll look elsewhere.

Izzy (short for Israel) is a 19-year-old African-American male who works at a deli near our home. He is a case study of this new profile of student. He is passionate about moving forward in his career, but he is not attending a college. He told my wife the deli job is only a way to make money for him to invest, which he considers his “real job.” He is hacking his way through his early adult life and feels that merely taking more classes (after high school) won’t get him to where he wants to go. He’s found mentors who will coach him and open digital courses he can take on his terms. He is mixing and matching pieces of the puzzle to make it work for him. His growth menu is “a la carte” instead of the usual prescribed “combo.” You might say he is attending the “school of hard knocks.”

History tells us this usually turns out to be a great preparation for the future.

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  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Adopt strategies that engage (instead of bore) an “I” generation
  • Guide them toward real success instead of superficial “self-esteem”
  • Employ their strengths and work with their weaknesses on the job

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Not long ago, my teammate, Cody Braun, told me about the strategy the Philadelphia 76ers have used to get to where they are today. Years ago, they began playing for the future—not so much for the moment. They sacrificed wins at the time, losing many games during those seasons to earn a higher pick in the NBA draft. In other words, before they were very good (as they are today), they were very bad—just getting ready to make a run at the playoffs. They drafted young players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, who now lead their team. They understood that winning is a long-term strategy you work; it’s not just about purchasing talent from another team.

It seems to have worked.

They now have an incredible team that shoots lots of three-pointers, passes more than other teams and plays super fast on the court. They are fun to watch. Along the way, however, they’ve added one more item to their strategy.

It’s a four-point line.

Wait. What? Does a four-point line even exist? Well, no—only in Philadelphia. On their practice court, they’ve painted a light blue line, about five feet further away from the basket than the three-point line. It’s a tougher shot to make if you tried it, but this four-point line is about much more than making shots harder for players.

It makes the team better.

What’s Your Four-Point Line?

Below, I want to consider three benefits to having a “four-point line” for your team. You can actually create one, regardless of your sport. It can serve numerous purposes and can challenge your players to be better than they currently are today. Let me explain the benefits I see in a four-point line.

1. It stretches your ability beyond the current performance.

It’s like running at track and field practice with ankle weights on. As I teen I was a distance runner, and I often wore those weights in practice. Obviously, when I took them off, my legs felt so light. Much like a hitter who takes the donut off the bat before he steps up to the plate. The once heavy bat now feels easy to swing quickly. A “four-point” line is stretching, like a standard that beckons you to live at a higher level than everyone else. All other NBA teams practice taking 3-point shots. I bet few of them practice taking shots from further out. With a tougher goal, players are called to work harder and play smarter.

2. It opens up space for teammates to work inside.

One big reason Coach Brown added the four-point line to the court is to open up  the congestion that usually takes place inside the three-point line and even more, inside the key. It is easier for opposing players to double team your inside player and to thwart a play. When teammates take a spot five feet beyond the three-point line, there’s more real estate for your good players underneath, like Embiid. You may be tempted to watch Embiid with the ball. But look at Redick instead. He’s closer to the half-court line than the 3-point line. Or even a 4-point line. Redick isn’t bothered when his defender stalks him. He knows that he’s making it easier for Embiid to score. “I’m, like, ahhh, I’m doing my job,” he said. “It’s 4-on-4 now.”

“When you look at modern-day offense, and you try to play a style that I believe in and have for a while,” Coach Brett Brown said, “you have to space the floor, you have to shoot threes and you have to create room.”

3. It pushes you to envision a higher level than your competitors.

Not unlike my first reason above, this one is about enabling your players to perform at a higher level than their competition. But it goes further. When you add a four-point line, it impacts the mindset of the team. Everyone begins to see themselves living by higher standards, both on and off the court. Certainly, it pushes players even more because it challenges them to become accurate from a farther vantage-point than a three-point shot or a shot inside the paint. But it also embeds a mindset for conduct in interviews, public appearances, community service and leading their families. A four-point line becomes a metaphor for being a four-star human being, wherever you are.

So, my question for you is simple. What is your “four-point line” that your team embraces to nudge them to become better performers, teammates and people? Leaders set standards and expectations that affect everyone. What are yours?

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Reports have surfaced recently that some universities are disbanding “outdoor clubs” that have been going on for nearly a century. Why?

They are too unsafe.

For a century, these student-led outdoor clubs have enabled college students to get outside for hiking, biking, fishing and climbing. Today, however, all of these activities just seem…well, too risky.

University officials from one of the schools, Penn State University, told the club representatives it could re-organize if it focused more on safety. The Outing Club is one of three that will be disbanded from next semester’s activities, along with scuba diving and caving. They, too, were deemed unsafe.

What’s the Larger Narrative?

I love the people at Penn State University. I am friends with many from their staff and believe they lead students well there on campus. I have no doubt the officials who made the decision felt they had good reason for doing so, after reviewing a risk assessment. What I am concerned about is the larger narrative we’re creating when we disband clubs like this.

Are we now prioritizing “safety” above the gritty stuff that helps kids grow up?

The students are reacting to this decision, too. One wrote in saying, “Club Sports is treating students like children who cannot be trusted to even leave campus for a moment.” Another alum wrote in and said, “Leading and participating in student-led PSOC trips was one of the most valuable experiences of my time at Penn State, and the fact that students were given the responsibility made all the difference.”

University officials said their reason was student behavior on the trips, such as drinking alcohol. In response, however, Christina Platt, the incoming president of the Outing Club, said there were no alcohol related incidents or injuries that she is aware of on any of their trips.

The bottom line? It’s safer to make college a haven instead of a launching pad.

What Would Make a College Do This?

1. They actually believe the risk is too dangerous. They have rejected the entire notion of college being a preparation for adulthood and tough times.

2. They assume parents are potentially going to file lawsuits if their son or daughter is harmed while outdoors.

I recognize litigation is a gigantic issue today. Parents can be prone to sue an institution if something goes awry for their child at college. As far as I’m concerned, this is a tragic shift for us. Certainly, adult leaders must cultivate environments where students can learn and grow—but sometimes that requires risky contexts. Grant Schofield, Professor of Public Health at Auckland University of Technology and director of the university’s Human Potential Centre (HPC), said, “The great paradox of sheltering is that it’s more dangerous in the long run. Society’s obsession with protecting kids ignores the benefits of risk-taking. Children develop the frontal lobe of their brain when taking risks, meaning they work through consequences. You can’t teach them that. They have to learn risk on their own terms. It doesn’t develop by watching TV. They have to take a risk.”

If that’s true, we sure don’t act like it as we teach and parent our kids.

We are slowly removing the elements that mature them:

  • Practical experiences
  • Uncomfortable adult contexts
  • Environments where they learn to take risks
  • Activity that produces responsible decision-making

I’ve said this numerous times: One of the reasons so many graduates are unready for life is because we’ve done a much better job protecting them than preparing them.

Consider the messages we may unwittingly be sending the next generation:

When We… We May Send the Message…
1. Obsess over safety 1. Don’t take any risks.
2. Show impatience over tedious realities 2. Life should be quick and easy.
3. Negotiate with educators/coaches 3. Push for your own rights and benefits.
4. Let them off the hook when careless 4. It’s OK to escape responsibilities.
5. Become angry when life is hard 5. We are entitled to ease and comfort.

Educators and parents need to meet at the beginning of each school year and look at the data. Then, both parties must agree that growth and maturation (in all areas) are the goal, which means both the school and the home will help students take appropriate risks and be allowed to fail along the way as they learn.

In just two short days, a petition to restore the Outing Club has received over 2,200 signatures from students and alumni at PSU. It seems they understand my point.

Invest in Yourself This Summer
with the Summer Reading Bundle

The Summer Reading Bundle helps leaders:

  • Guide unprepared adolescents and at-risk kids to productive adulthood
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Adopt strategies that engage (instead of bore) an “I” generation
  • Guide them toward real success instead of superficial “self-esteem”
  • Employ their strengths and work with their weaknesses on the job

Order now before this special ends Sunday, May 20th at midnight!

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The post Are We Sending Students the Wrong Message? appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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I recently witnessed a high school freshman “act out” in a gymnasium after an assembly. It was both sad and embarrassing for him. Everyone was stunned during that awkward moment and the student left absolutely humiliated.

Later that day, I got the serendipitous chance to interact with him. Perhaps because I was an outsider, he felt safe enough to open up to me. After some small talk, I asked if something was going on with him personally. What I discovered by his response was telling. He told me his parents were arguing. All the time. I could tell he felt ashamed by both his outburst that day and by their consistent conflict at home.

The arguments were getting to him.

How Arguments Affect Young People

Let me be clear, arguments between people—even parents and educators—are normal. Depending on the personalities of the people involved, they can be common. But they don’t need to be damaging.

My wife and I had a number of disagreements while our children were growing up. At first, we tried to make sure our kids never saw it firsthand. Later, however, it dawned on me that if our children never see us argue, they may not learn how to do it constructively. Imagine for a moment—parents begin to argue, and realize their kids are in the same room. They pause, walk into another room alone, and emerge later having resolved the problem. While resolution is good, their kids never witnessed how the parents resolved the conflict. They may assume one parent just overpowered the other. After all, that’s often how it happens in society today. The Washington Post says that one in five Americans have been involved in a protest over the last two years and sometimes their protests don’t get resolved.

People stay angry.

I actually believe that students need to see healthy, well-adjusted adults argue and resolve their conflict in a redemptive way. Civil discourse must first be practiced by parents, educators and coaches before the students will get it.

Research suggests that caregivers’ (parents’ and other adults’) relationship with each other plays a significant role in the child’s wellbeing, including mental health, academic success and future relationships.

Healthy arguments have little to no negative impact in kids. When parents get nasty, however, and shout at each other, attack character, give the silent treatment or withdraw, trouble can arise. Kids not only emulate it, but they internalize it.

One BBC report states that “Infants, children and adolescents can show signs of disrupted early brain development, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, conduct disorder and other serious problems as a result of living with severe or chronic inter-parental conflict.”  What’s more, the damage can vary depending on the gender. “Research suggests that boys and girls may also respond differently, with girls at greater risk of emotional problems, and boys at greater risk of behavioral problems.”

Many couples today experience divorce. While I don’t believe divorce is good, it’s usually the couple’s inability to resolve differences that lead to it. In fact, according to the BBC, “in some cases, it is now thought that it could be the arguments that take place between parents before, during and after a separation that do the damage, rather than the break-up itself.”

Six Steps We Can Take

1. Always attack the problem, not the person.
Kids need to see that both parties are attempting to solve a problem, and may have different perspectives, but they are not attacking each other. Big difference.

2. If debating in front of young people, be sure and state the problem.
Since kids can draw wrong conclusions about their own fault in the issue or even manipulate the issue in their favor, one of you needs to declare the real issue.

3. Lay out options for solutions and demonstrate compromise.
Especially if kids see the argument forming, someone needs to offer some options out loud, so they can hear potential answers and witness compromise and grace.

4. Be sure kids see forgiveness and restoration in action.
This isn’t always possible, but it should always be our goal. Kids need to see grown adults seek forgiveness for wrongdoings and extend forgiveness to each other.

5. Show your relationship to the other adult is still strong and healthy afterwards.
Kids are harmed emotionally if they think conflict leaves a relationship permanently damaged. They must learn that resolved conflict makes people stronger.

6. Process the argument with them afterwards, when possible.
Kids can draw wrong conclusions, sometimes believing they are at fault for the conflict. If possible, explain why you disagreed and how you resolved it.

Here’s to civil conflict that leads to teachable moments for students.

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Growing Leaders by Cody Braun - 1w ago

I recently spoke to an employer who hired several recent college graduates. After 90 days, he met with each of the new team members to assess how they were doing. In a meeting with a 23-year-old young man, the employer reviewed his positive qualities, then proceeded to challenge him to shoot for a higher level of excellence. The employee wasn’t measuring up to some of the company’s standards. It was at this point, the young team member interrupted him, and it got awkward.

The team member told the employer he wasn’t being empathetic.

I happen to know this organization very well—and that employer is extremely empathetic and caring toward his team. The problem was, the young team member has a different understanding of the word. In fact, he may have forgotten what genuine empathy really is. Seventy years ago, the word could scarcely be found anywhere. In today’s world, however, where empathy is a rare commodity, we’ve begun to search for it everywhere, and we have distorted the notion of how to lead a team, teach a class or parent a child with authentic empathy. Let me explain.

What Is Empathy?

One simple definition of empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Based on this definition, it is actually impossible to have too much empathy. It is possible, however, to allow your empathy (whether it is high or low) to become an obstacle to effectively teach, parent or manage young people.

To some leaders, empathy seems “soft” or wimpy. To others, empathy has become an excuse for not holding students or employees accountable to a standard. After all, we rationalize by thinking, “Look what they’ve gone through.” We assume if we just used nicer, gentler approaches to leadership, things would work out fine. Neither of these two perspectives is accurate.

In fact, consultant Andrew Oxley calls this the “corruption of empathy.” I agree wholeheartedly. When we don’t understand empathetic leadership, we assume it’s soft, nice and even wimpy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Empathy does take into account the emotions of another, but it also demonstrates care by being truthful—even when it hurts in the moment. It frequently involves frank and honest conversations about how to improve. It may mean challenging someone to a better performance because you believe it’s in them. It is speaking the truth with love.

Someone who appears to be empathetic may only be self-serving “people-pleasers.” They don’t want to do or say anything that would make someone else dislike them, so they simply communicate sentiments that mirror the other person.

So How Do We Lead with Empathy?

Let me suggest some counter-intuitive examples that illustrate empathy:

For Teachers:  “I know this assignment was hard and you don’t think you can write a better paper, but I’ve seen your writing and it’s good. Really good. I believe you can improve on this project and do something that makes me want to read every word.”

For Employers: “I appreciate the effort you gave on the proposal. I also realize it took more time than you expected. Believe it or not, it still needs some more work before we can send it to our client. I thought about letting Heather take a stab at it, but I actually believe you’re the right person for this task. I want you to try again and give it everything you’ve got.”

For Parents: “I’m sorry you feel stressed out right now. But even though you feel like you’ve worked hard, I still need you to take out the trash. You may not realize it until later, but just doing this chore will give your brain a break by doing something totally different than homework. We all pitch in with chores as a family, and it actually develops us into well-rounded people.”

For Coaches: “It always feels good to win. I’m proud of you as a team for what you accomplished in our last game. But even though the score was in our favor, I care too much to let you play the way you did. I did not see the best version of you on that field last week. We’re going to practice on the drills that will strengthen us in our weak spots. When we’re done, you are going to love who you’ve become.”

The truth is—genuine empathy is both caring and challenging to students. It believes the best about them and because it cares for the young person’s future, it shows up most vividly when it beckons them to live their best life.

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From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:

  • Inspire students to own their education and their future
  • Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and mentally, through their teenage years
  • Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
  • Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z
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You don’t have to be a professor or a student affairs director to observe that the world of higher education is shifting. Like it or not, the data is in.

I fact-checked a report recently and found eye-opening research to confirm what I’ve been saying for years now. Colleges and universities are separating into successes and failures in terms of enrollment, retention and finances.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a report. “According to an analysis of 20 years of freshman-enrollment data at 1,040 of the 1,052 schools listed in The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking, U.S. not-for-profit colleges and universities are segregating into winners and losers—with winners growing and expanding and losers seeing the first signs of a death spiral.”

Why is this happening now?

When I visit universities, it’s relatively easy to observe which ones are still flourishing and which ones are on the decline. I see it in the new buildings; the crowded rooms; and the morale on campus. For fifteen years, even mediocre colleges were doing well, simply for two reasons: (1) the Millennials made up a gigantic population of prospects—80 million strong and (2) the availability of generous student loans. Today, both the teens and the economy are different. Generation Z makes up a smaller population of teens and they’re less OK with debt. Times are changing.

What Is the Big Secret Behind Schools that Grow?

So, what’s the secret to the schools that keep thriving, building, growing and attracting students to the campus?

Believe it or not—it’s the ones who prepare graduates for careers after school.

What a practical piece of data to examine.

“The Journal ranking, which includes with more than 1,000 students, focused. The analysis found that the closer to the bottom of the ranking a school was, the more likely its enrollment was shrinking.”

The closer to the top of the ranking, the more that school accomplished outcomes that prepared students for careers, family and leadership. You can call this a coincidence, but I think both parents and kids figure this out and are pragmatic.

Two Case Studies

For example, two schools cited in the WSJ report are both in South Carolina:

  • Concord University
  • Clemson University

Clemson scores high on preparing graduates for life. The research-based school brought in its largest freshmen class in 2017 and is expanding its campus by adding an $87 million building for the college of business. Concord, on the other hand, is a mid-size liberal arts school that has seen its freshmen enrollment drop 19 percent in the last five years. According to the report, it has used up its $12 million dollar surplus, and it can’t afford to tear down two empty residential halls. Both schools attempt to attract Generation Z, but growth costs more now than it did 15 years ago.

The Bottom Line

To be blunt, if we teach literature, science and math—without making practical connections to life after gradation—we have failed. If we neglect to demonstrate how the course prepares students to be contributing adults, it doesn’t do the trick. If we offer classes—but no first-hand experiences—they’ll choose to go elsewhere.

“In the same way the bookstores fell when Amazon took over, now it’s higher education’s turn and it’s been coming for a while,” said Charles Becker, Concord’s Vice President for business and finance. “The shake-out is coming. It’s already here.”

Richard Vedder, Director of Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says: “You’re going to see, over the next five years, a real increase in the number of schools in serious trouble. A degree from a top school is still a pretty good signaling device (to employers). But a degree from one of these lower schools doesn’t mean much of anything.”

The winds are, indeed, changing.

“The birthrate fell, the pay advantage for college graduates over high-school graduates declined, states cut $9 billion in funding to public colleges and student debt soared. Competition from Silicon Valley in the form of technical schools that offer faster, cheaper credentials is rising,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

I am certainly not the only voice on this topic, but I believe that parents and students are yearning for practical skills and insights, in addition to research-based classes. Schools can be both academic and practical at the same time. They’re not mutually exclusive, unless professors have long forgotten the trades they’re teaching, and it’s all become theoretical. In 1825 Horace Mann called the institutions in his public-school reform: The Normal Schools—because they prepared kids for the norms of society. That was the goal of a school.

This is still the need of the hour: Career Ready Students—for their sake and ours.

Order Now: Marching Off the Map
Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World

Our new book is now available! Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country with old maps that don’t work. Understanding and connecting with the generation in this land is often times frustrating and draining. We need new strategies on how to march off our old maps and create new ones.

From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:

  • Inspire students to own their education and their future
  • Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and mentally, through their teenage years
  • Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
  • Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z
Order Here

The post One Top Priority for Colleges to Retain Students appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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I’m not sure if you’ve heard the rumblings, but people in almost every context are demanding a new kind of leader. I see it in our homes, in our schools, in government, in non-profit work and in the marketplace.

In 2001, I began speaking on this “new kind of leader.” I saw it even then, as we marched into the 21st century and our society seemed to be shifting.

How Have We Changed?

Over the last 60 years, we’ve seen an evolution of “leadership styles” that have been common and acceptable. In each era, the typical kind of leader was different, based on the cultural realities of the time. In other words, our leadership style not only reflects the personality we have, as leaders, but the demands of culture around us. Let me offer a quick example.

1950s – The Military Commander 

Sixty-plus years ago, a command and control style was popular in most venues. People expected leaders to be strong and authoritative. It was a top-down style, regardless of the context. Even our U.S. presidents then came out of the military, including Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy. They expected loyalty from people.

1960s and 70s – The CEO

Due to a televised war in Vietnam and a Watergate scandal at home, people stopped blindly trusting leaders. We moved to a visionary style I call a CEO style. Even if they didn’t like a leader, people may like the leader’s vision. They expected productivity.

1980s – The Entrepreneur

In this period, innovation was king. New technology was introduced to the market and what people valued was a “cutting edge” leader. People wanted to be the first to market, even if things got messy. The leader and team both expected innovation.

1990s – The Coach

This style emerged when Gen X hit the workforce. They didn’t want a leader who sat in an ivory tower and barked orders. They requested a coaching style that was more relational, practical and genuine. The leader expected teamwork and camaraderie.

2000s – The Connector

By the turn of the century, we got connected. The Internet was already a reality, but social media became the game changer. We began to see it brought both positive and negative outcomes. Leaders needed to be connectors who redeemed the possibilities.

Today

We are experiencing a new day that requires a new kind of leader. Both kids and adults want it. Both volunteers and paid staff want it. Both old and young want it. It’s not just servant-leadership, although that term helps describe it. Service is certainly the beginning, but it goes beyond service:

  • We live in a day that is less formal—more authentic.
  • We live in a day where people long for the rare commodity of relationships.
  • We live in a day where good leadership is about empowerment, not power.
  • In our day, folks want to improve the world—not just generate revenue.

This new kind of leader is life-giving. Their very style breathes life on others by the way they perceive the reality in front of them; by the way they encourage and inspire others; by the way they furnish energy to conversations and projects; by how they spot solutions (not just problems), and how they motivate others through gratitude—not guilt.

An Invitation

At Growing Leaders, we decided to host an educator’s roundtable, to talk about this new kind of leader. It will take place on June 21-22, 2018 in Atlanta. In this forum, we will workshop the best ways to become life-giving leaders and create life-giving cultures in our schools. Our space is limited to the first 150 who register.

We’ve put together a line-up of “TED Talk” type of presenters who’ll interact with attendees, answer questions and help us to create a game plan as we return home:

  • Author Daniel Pink
  • Author Will Parker
  • Author Dee Ann Turner
  • Author Tim Elmore (yours truly)
  • A Panel of Educators from various schools in our country.

If you are a leader in a secondary school (middle or high school administrator, curriculum leader, or student council advisor), I am cordially inviting you to join us.

FOR INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE.

Your School Is Invited to Join Dan Pink at
The 2018 RoundTable for Principals

Dr. Tim Elmore and our team invite your school to attend the 2018 RoundTable for Principals, an event for educational leaders who work in middle and high schools.

When you attend the 2018 RoundTable for Principals, you’ll get the key to:

  • Develop an action plan for creating a school culture.
  • Learn how to answer a never-ending stream of “when” questions to time decisions well.
  • Build healthy relationships on campus that set everyone up for success.
  • Leverage the unique strengths of each faculty and staff member to create a life-giving school culture.
  • Gain buy in from faculty, staff and students.

This unique RoundTable is limited to 150 secondary school leaders and is offered on a first come, first serve basis.

Learn More Here

The post What Does It Mean To Be a Life-Giving Leader? appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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Well, ‘tis the season. Graduation is here for seniors at high schools and colleges. It’s that time when we celebrate the milestone of completing a phase of life requiring both performance and consistency—from faculty, staff and students.

But what does our celebration reveal about us?

We live in a day of “feast or famine.” Some of our parent population over-celebrate too many things, including graduation from kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school and college. We give them ribbons and trophies for participation on teams and tell them they’re amazing for putting their spoon in the dishwasher. While I love celebrating kids, sometimes it can backfire.

When adults over-celebrate everything, the meaning of the milestone evaporates. If we use the word “awesome” for everything, somehow the few things in life that are truly awesome to experience, require outright hyperbole. Plus, the few milestones in life that genuinely deserve our celebration get lost in the crowd.

What if this year, we determined to celebrate the stuff that really matters: the grit our students showed in order to graduate; the marriage that made ten years—not just the wedding; the parenting that went into a successful student—not just the birth of a baby. We must never stop celebrating … but let’s celebrate the right stuff.

Help This Year’s Graduates Transition
with Habitudes for the Journey

Habitudes for the Journey helps students:

  • Master the transitions from school to college and college to career.
  • Create language to talk about real life issues in a safe and authentic way.
  • Make wise decisions that keep them in school and out of trouble.
  • Capitalize on personal strengths to be career-ready upon graduation.

Over your Habitudes for the Journey workbooks for only $9 each before this special ends Sunday, May 6th at midnight!

Save Over 40% Here

The post The Unfortunate Result of Some Graduations appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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Years ago, I began listening to my children. I mean—really listening. As they grew up, I began noticing the language they’d use and observing what it taught me about their learning preferences. As a teacher, I began applying this to the students in my classroom and saw the same positive results. Once I modified my teaching style to accommodate the young people in front of me, I saw measurable results.

I am now a fan of listening and observing.

When my daughter, Bethany, wanted to engage in learning, she’d say things like:

  • “Can I talk to you?”
  • “Can I say one more thing?”
  • “Listen to this…”
  • “Let me just tell you something.”

She would drop hints that she was an auditory learner. She liked to talk, and that was her preferred manner of learning something new. My son, Jonathan, was a bit different. He’d engage with a subject by dropping different hints:

  • “Can I see that?”
  • “Can I show you something?”
  • “Would you look at this?”
  • “I just don’t see what you mean…”

He was dropping clear hints that he was a visual learner. Although the subject may be the same, my two kids learned better through different means.

Learning Preferences for Memory

Thanks to educational researchers like Howard Gardener, parents and teachers have known about the variety of learning styles in kids for more than thirty years. Our assumptions, however, about the three most common learning preferences have hindered us from leveraging them to help students remember. We have assumed:

  1. Auditory Learners – Learn best through hearing our words.
  2. Visual Learners – Learn best through our visual aids.
  3. Kinesthetic Learners – Learn best through experiences.

While those three descriptions are true to a degree, they are incomplete. If we want students to remember what we’ve taught, we must take it a step further. Over the years, I’ve tweaked my conversations with students as I perceived there was more to these learning styles than my superficial understanding. If they were going to remember my instruction, I had to adjust my approach:

1. Auditory – They need to talk, not just listen to my words.

While they do like your words more than kinesthetic learners do, they like their own words even more. Teachers and parents often shush these kids for talking so much, but the kids are usually not trying to be annoying. They just need to process what they’re learning out loud. I had a student tell me once, “I actually understand what I think by hearing myself talk.” Believe it or not, these kids actually engage better and more deeply when leaders offer them a chance to do so. If the teacher is also auditory, this can lead to a showdown. Both of them want to talk. For instance, a teacher might announce the subject for class today is about animals and how they reproduce. An auditory student immediately tells whoever is next to her that her dog just had puppies. She’s excited. The teacher quiets her down because she doesn’t have time for everyone to talk about their love of animals, but this student will actually have a difficult time listening because her puppies have just bubbled to the surface of her brain, and there is not room for anything else until she talks about them. At some point, we must find time to let these auditory learners process their thoughts out loud.

2. Visual – They need to picture something, not just see my pictures.

While these learners do like the visual aids you offer, the key is for them to lock the images into their own minds. This can take some time. You can accelerate this by utilizing pictures on a screen, but don’t assume that is all that’s needed. For example, let’s say you ask your child to run downstairs and grab the plate of small tools on the counter and take it out to the garage for Dad to use to fix the lawnmower. Simple instructions, right? A visual learner will run downstairs, but if you relayed your directions too quickly, he didn’t have time to envision each step along the way. He doesn’t want to ask you to repeat them because he feels dumb doing that, but he’s now laboring to remember what he’s supposed to do. What if you had said, “Do you remember that blue plate in the kitchen, the one with a seahorse on it? (Pause and let your kid picture it.) It’s on the corner of our kitchen counter. (Pause.) Will you please grab it, take it out to the garage (Pause) and set it next to the lawnmower for dad to use when he’s working on it? By slowing down, visual kids can picture exactly what you’re saying and see themselves following through.

3. Kinesthetic – They need to move, not just see activity.

These learners are all about movement, not just observing movement. So, while videos and experiential learning are superior, what makes them even more valuable is to leverage them to get students moving themselves. Kinesthetic learners are often the most annoying to adults, because they have a tough time sitting still. What if you let students stand or move around (as long as they’re not disturbing others), while they are learning a concept? What if you went outside and shot some hoops with your kid as they review their math equations? What if they climbed up and down the stairs as they memorized spelling words? What if you simply drove with them in the car as they spouted off what they learned for tomorrow’s test? This activity can ignite metacognition in students where they begin to “own” the subject because they are not passive but active. For many of the kids who are under our influence, student engagement may begin with student movement. Activity equals engagement.

Mark Ellis Ph.D. said, “When students are given an opportunity to think about and attempt a problem, they have greater ability to make connections and develop greater conceptual understanding. Through student-led discourse, students become active thinkers and learners.”

Help This Year’s Graduates Transition
with Habitudes for the Journey

Habitudes for the Journey helps students:

  • Master the transitions from school to college and college to career.
  • Create language to talk about real life issues in a safe and authentic way.
  • Make wise decisions that keep them in school and out of trouble.
  • Capitalize on personal strengths to be career-ready upon graduation.

Over your Habitudes for the Journey workbooks for only $9 each before this special ends Sunday, May 6th at midnight!

Save Over 40% Here

The post How to Teach the Way Students Learn and Remember appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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We all heard about the Southwest Airlines, Flight 1380—the flight that had an engine fail two weeks ago and was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. One woman was killed as shrapnel flew through a window into the plane after the engine exploded. It had to be a terrifying experience for everyone onboard. Several others were injured before the plane finally touched ground again.

I would like to focus on a little-known fact about this flight.

As passengers took selfies to send to loved ones, we see that many—perhaps most—of the passengers didn’t place their oxygen mask on themselves properly. As the plane descended, oxygen masks dropped from overhead just like they’re suppose to. But photos and videos from the flight show their confusion in this moment of crisis.

They acted like they didn’t quite know what to do.

Wait a Minute. Didn’t Those Passengers Receive Instructions?

Marty Martinez, via Associated Press

In the pre-flight instructions made on a video, airline passengers on every flight hear about what to do in case of emergency. As the video explains the steps to take if the cabin pressure drops, everyone is told that the oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. One script reads this way: “If the airplane loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop automatically. The yellow cup goes around your mouth and nose.”

Most passengers, however, were puzzled about how to put them on correctly.

Why?

Who pays attention to that little speech as the plane taxis out to the runway?

What Does This Have to Do with You and Me?

I have long believed that little pre-flight speech is a picture of you and me with our students. Parents, teachers and coaches are lecturing kids on what to do and how to do it all the time. Our problem is—students don’t feel it’s a relevant message for them. The chances of them needing our instructions are remote. Blah, blah, blah.

Our speeches are “just in case”—not—“just in time.”

The fact is, students learn on a need to know basis. It’s not that they don’t appreciate our efforts. They merely feel it’s a hypothetical situation, rather than a real one. Just like that little flight video is highly unlikely to be needed, and most passengers have heard the little speech many times, so it is with our words. We talk from past experiences the students feel are antiquated. We talk from textbooks they feel are irrelevant. We talk from history they feel is not a picture of the future. Our story, they feel, is different from theirs. Just like the safety video that’s shown on flights, passengers read, they watch shows, talk to their seatmate or stare at their phone screen throughout that little speech. Does this sound familiar?

  • Fasten your seatbelts. I don’t need that info. I know how to do that already.
  • The flight will provide snacks and drinks. I know; you’ll bring them to me.
  • The oxygen masks will drop in emergencies. Right. That’ll never happen.

These are the same responses disengaged students have for our typical “lectures.” They assume we are unnecessary because we don’t understand their life, or we aren’t saying anything fresh and relevant. We are redundant and irrelevant.

  • I already know what you’re telling me.
  • You’ll make sure I have what I need.
  • I’ll never face that emergency, but thanks for letting me know anyway.

So, what if we changed our communication?

Moving from Hypothetical to Hyper-Interesting

Since students are like flight passengers, learning on a need to know basis, we must create the need to know. Effective teachers and communicators move rapidly from virtual to real when they speak. Effective math teachers may toss the story problems aside and discuss a real arithmetic issue in the community. Great literature teachers may push pause before the class reads the next novel and offer real-life scenarios. Engaging history teachers may wait to open the textbook until they introduce someone to speak to the class—someone who’s lived through a particular era. They toss out the hypothetical. Below are some simple suggestions to become “real” for your students:

  1. Open your session with a current event, including commentary in real time.
  2. Introduce outsiders to students who’ve lived through a similar scenario.
  3. Utilize a popular show on Netflix or Hulu that addresses your topic.
  4. Go outside and have them do something as you talk about your subject.
  5. Leverage a touring exhibit in town to underscore your topic.
  6. Invite students to get involved in solving a familiar classmate’s problem.
  7. Show students today’s news headlines and ask how they would handle a current problem if they were in charge.

When my kids were young, I would have them watch the news on TV with me from time to time. I’d ask them to choose one problem reported on that broadcast (either local or global) and then work together to come up with a plan on how to address the issue if they were the leader who had to fix it. Were their plans brilliant? Not always. But we never had a boring conversation about a real-world problem.

And I made no flight attendant speeches at all.

This Week Only:
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These graduation gifts help young adults:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative to achieve their goals.
  • Choose their own set of core values for making wise decisions in life.
  • Create an ongoing plan for personal growth outside the classroom.
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image.
  • Master the transitions from school to college or college to career.
  • . . . and many more!

Special Ends: Sunday, April 29th at midnight.

Order Here

The post A Lesson on Engaging Students from Southwest Flight 1380 appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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