Sunday, March 18, 2018

Free Download: Goal-Setting Guide

It's mid-March, and you still haven't done that thing that you said you would do. 

It's mid-March, and you don't have a way to track your progress on your way to reaching your goals. 

It's almost summer, another school year over, and you've given up on one (or a few) of your goals you set for yourself back in January. 

Can you relate to any of the sentences above?

With Spring Break around the corner, I wanted to share some inspiration and a FREE GIFT with you today. 

Feel free to print the images below for your classroom, office, car, or any other space where you need and want inspiration. Also, be sure to fill out the form below to get a copy of my FREE Goal-Setting Guide. I want you to ROCK YOUR GOALS this year, and it's not too late!

Just hover over each image and choose right-click and "save image as" to your computer. 

I created the Goal-Setting System to help me with my goals this year, and it has helped so much already this year that I wanted to turn it into a free download to help others, too.

Just fill in the blanks below and get a link sent to your Inbox for a FREE, instant download. 

Keep rockin'!

Sign up here to Rock Your Goals with Jennifer Hogan's Goal-Setting Guide.

* indicates required

After signing up, check your Inbox for an email from me with a link to the Goal-Setting Guide. Be sure to drop me a line and let me know how it's working for you!

Pin this to share with others!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Staying balanced in life

How are you doing at staying balanced in life?

Is it simply a work-life balance... creating an equal number of hours at home and at work? There's so much to juggle in life that we can't just talk about work-life balance.

A balanced life has many things to consider, such as
  • nutrition
  • emotional health
  • physical health
  • work
  • family
  • self-care
  • social 
  • productivity

In order to have balance, we have to be willing to pay attention, reassess, and recalibrate often. I can guess what you're thinking... How do I do these three things when I'm busy trying to keep everything balanced?

Have you ever heard someone say that they don't have time to meditate or exercise, but when they do it they feel so much better? There have many times in my life that I have scolded myself for not taking a walk, because I know that the benefits would far outweigh the sacrifice of time that I would have to make in order to take that walk. 

From the food we eat to the time we spend moving our body to the news we read, we must pay attention to how we feel and how what we do affects us. If you feel tired, stretched in too many directions, or overwhelmed, chances are that your life is out of balance. We must reassess our actions and how the choices we make are affecting our lives. 

To recalibrate, sometimes it means letting go. It means something that you thought you would do, you won't. Accepting that something else has to take front and center first. Sometimes it means re-writing your goals, or simply re-writing your timeline for your goals. Again, this will be different for each person. 

To help me with reaching my goals this year, I've done more writing down of my goals than in the past. To keep balance, I've made sure to use one specific method to keep myself from burning out and to make sure I reach them. I like having a visual map of where I'm going and what I need to do to get there. Also, using my quadrant system keeps my fire list all year long. 

Also.. here's the secret sauce that it's taken me 24 years as an educator to learn...

When life gets out of balance, don't hunker down. Reach out. Lean in. Lean on. Find a group of friends, colleagues, or family members that you can share your burdens with. I have learned this the hard way, and now I know the easier way. 

If you want coaching from me and how to keep all of the plates in the air while keeping your sanity, please contact me. I would love to be your coach.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Iron Sharpens Iron: The Importance of Mentoring

The importance of having a mentor is extremely important and often overlooked. 

Why is it overlooked? Here are a few reasons...
  • Fear holds us back from asking for help (afraid that others will think we're not capable), and sometimes we get messages in education that collaboration is not important. Those kinds of messages lead us to overlook the option of looking for and acquiring a mentor. 
  • Since education is a heart-based, service profession, some believe that mentors are necessary in the business world, but not in the education field. 
  • Someone may have been subjected to a "mentoring program" when first becoming a teacher and didn't find it to be impactful. If so, a person with that kind of experience is skeptical about having or being a mentor. 

Good mentors are inspiring, trustworthy, and nonjudgmental. They create a place where questions can be asked, ideas can be exchanged, and mistakes can become learning opportunities. They can stretch us to set goals that we may not otherwise set, and they give us the honest feedback that we may not get from our closest colleagues. 

What if you want a mentor? I value the insights from Jon Mertz of Thin Difference, and he shares four ways to create a "mentor" if you don't have one. I also respect Jeff Goins and his work. I appreciate his post "How to find (and keep) a mentor in 10 not-so-easy steps. 

Tomorrow night (Monday, March 5), MENTORSHIP is the topic of the weekly Alabama education twitter chat (#ALedchat). Here are some questions to inspire your own thoughts about mentorship. The actual questions will be asked during the chat.
  • An effective mentor/mentee relationship _____________.
  • What have you mentored others on or what would you like to be mentored on? 
  • What do you picture when you read “effective mentor-mentee relationship”?
  • What are characteristics of an effective mentor?  
  • What does a mentor DO that makes them effective?
  • In what ways do you create a legacy by mentoring others?
  • What is the role of the mentee in an effective mentor/mentee relationship? 
  • Why is mentorship important for educators regardless of position and experience? 
  • In what ways could we build mentorship programs within our schools/communities?
  • What are the benefits for mentors in the mentoring relationship?
  • What (if any) is the difference between being a leader and a mentor?

Jodie Pierpoint of Dream Big Mentorship will be my co-host for #ALedchat. Jodie has created a national platform for aspiring leaders to connect virtually to mentors.

Everyone is welcome to join us Monday nights 9-10pmCST for #ALedchat. We value the insights, perspectives, and experiences of those in our PLN.

**Here’s a time converter to assist all of you around the globe in converting 9pm CST to your local time. 

TIP: If you have never done a twitter chat before, you may find it helpful to go to and enter the hashtag #ALedchat. Sign in with your twitter account. The website will "filter out" all of the other tweets except for the ones with the hashtag #ALedchat. The website will automatically add #ALedchat to your tweets, and you will see a scrolling list of tweets from the chat on the page. (P.S. The hashtags are NOT case-sensitive.)

I'm one of the founders and hosts of this chat. If you have any questions, feel free to email me

Everyone is welcome. I hope you will all join us Monday night for #ALedchat.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How to hold a data meeting at the high school level

I've been blessed with the opportunity to write collaborative blog posts here on The Compelled Educator with some incredible people and thought leaders.  One collaboration that I truly enjoyed was getting to work on a blog post with Texas A & M Women's Basketball Assistant Coach, Bob Starkey  (@CoachBobStarkey).

The blog post Coach Starkey and I wrote together, Why Data is Not the Villain, is one that I hope everyone will go back and read and re-read. Coach Starkey's team goes into great detail with their data (stats in basketball). They don't just keep stats like points scored, where the shots were taken, or what percentage of free throws were made... they keep stats to measure hustle - such as diving on the floor or taking charges. They create their own stats... for things that are important for the success of their team, such as the number of screens set to get a teammate open. 

If you don't understand the game of basketball, this may sound like Greek to you. But I think you get the point of it... those coaches subscribe to the philosophy of keeping data and using it to get better. Find the weak points and strengthen them. Find what's working and keep doing more of it. 

Coach Starkey makes a connection to teaching, which happens in the classroom and on the basketball court, too. 

     "Of course, stats alone can’t take the place of teaching itself.  But when properly utilized, I think they can help the teacher better pinpoint areas in which the student needs help.  We chart turnovers and we are specific.  So after a practice or a game, if we see Jill has 5 turnovers and 4 of them were bad passes into the low post (which would be on that stat sheet), we can then show her some video of her performing that particular pass — both successful and unsuccessfully — while outline teaching points...the next day in practice, we can have some drills to specifically work on that skill.  If we didn’t chart that area, we may not realize that she needs help."

I hope that you will go back and read the collaborative post I wrote with Coach Starkey before you keep reading on about our data meeting we had recently. Beliefs and mindset is important to me, and because I believe in the use of data as feedback, holding data meetings with our teachers is important to me. (And based on feedback from our teachers, they find it important, too.)

The meetings I led recently were mid-year data meetings for our teachers of 9th and 10th graders. These data meetings are new for me, so I'm going to share what we did because a) I think it went really well and b) I would love to hear your feedback on making it better. 

We've worked hard to share ownership for the data of our students, as all subject areas contribute to their growth and success as readers. Our 9th and 10th grade students are assessed three times during the year on reading and Algebra or Geometry. Also, in an effort to be transparent about our data, I did a sort of "State of the School, 9th and 10th Grade version."

At the mid-year data meeting, first, we CELEBRATED! Yes, we celebrated! For our Continuous Improvement Plan goal this year, it's written based on achievement as well as growth on the Scantron Assessment. 
For our growth goal, all but one area showed improvement. Reading 9 & 10 met the goal as well as Algebra. Even though Geometry didn't meet the 3% increase, their percentage compared to last year remained the same (so it didn't go down.)

For our Performance goal, we want to show a 2% decrease in students scoring Below Average from fall to spring in math and reading. I showed the teachers where we are at this mid-year checkpoint. In all areas except for Algebra, we are moving the needle in the right direction at the mid-year point. I'm looking forward to seeing how much of a decrease we can show by the spring assessment. 

Prior to the meeting, each teacher was to print a copy of their "Class Standard Detail Report" and discuss it in their PLC meeting. The report shows the number of students who attained or did not attain specific grade-level standards. These are THEIR students in their classrooms as a grade-level. Through the online assessment system, teachers can log in and see the performance and growth of each individual student that is in their classrooms. 

It is truly something new for us as a high school - to have this kind of data about our students. In fact, each math and English teacher gets an "On-Track" report that shows the percentage of students in their classes who are "on track" to make one year of growth by spring. I know elementary teachers are used to having and using this kind of data, but it can truly be intimidating for some teachers as we start on our data journey. 

I asked teachers to think about and discuss the following questions prior to our mid-year meeting. 

          -What factors led students to meet/not meet their gains targets?

          -What influence do I as a teacher have over these factors?

          -How do we ensure that students meet their goals/targets?

          -How do we continue to help students take ownership of the data?

After reviewing all of the data, I asked teachers to answer the questions above on sticky notes. After writing their answers, they posted their sticky notes on the corresponding posters at the back of the meeting room. 

The first data meeting of the day

After posting their sticky notes, I asked each teacher to get a pad of sticky notes and writing utensil and do a Gallery Walk. They were to read what was posted and to add another sticky note with an answer if anything they read prompted them to think of a different answer. 

By the end of the two days, we had 4 posters full of sticky notes and lots of good questions and suggestions to help us move forward. My next step is to consolidate all of the answers into a Google Doc and share it with the teachers. I also plan to conference with the Algebra teachers about our plans to improve student performance. 

I'm so proud of our teachers who are embracing the use of data as feedback to improve what they are doing in the classroom. John Hattie says, "The biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and students become their own teachers." It's time for all of us to become learners of our own teaching and have higher expectations for students than what they have for themselves.

What are the data meetings at your school like?
What suggestions would offer to improve the next meeting(s)?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How are YOU preparing students for the future? {+ book giveaway}

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive a small commission for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I highly recommend. 

In a recent post, I challenged the notion that relationships is the #1 important factor to being a good teacher in the classroom. The ideas from the post came from my being in the classroom for the past few weeks to assist in the transition from the former teacher to a new teacher. Since I have not been a classroom teacher for a few years (and even though I made a commitment when I became an administrator to never forget what it's like to be one...), it truly gave me a chance to become even more convicted about my beliefs. (If you missed the post, I hope you'll go back and read it.)

Being a part of the classroom experience + my own daughters who are college-aged + preparing for "testing season" at our school has me reflecting on the question, "Will our students be prepared for the future?"

David Geurin (@DavidGeurin), my friend and one of the 2017 NASSP Digital Principals of the Year, asks the question like this in his book, Future Driven
"Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?"

In Alabama, there has been a push to have every graduate college and career ready. The issue is this... we measure this by standardized test scores, career credentialing, and/or military enlistment. And I bet we all have examples of students who didn't make a benchmark on a standardized test who are thriving at "life," and other examples of students who scored well by don't have the skills they need to be successful in their future. 

Work Rules by Lazlo Bock
I'm currently reading a book shared with me by our school's principal called Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock. Mr. Bock worked at Google for over 10 years, and his book sheds light on the culture of Google that makes it one of the best places to work. In David's book, Future Driven, he shares this message from Lazlo Bock:
  • "GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless... We found that they don't predict anything.
  • Up to 14% of Google employees don't even have a college degree.
  • For every job, thought, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it's not I.Q. It's learning ability."

Now, I'm not saying that we need to prepare every student to work at Google, but what they're doing is working. I would like to see us look for ways to prepare students so that they have what Mr. Bock calls "high learning abilities." 

The video below is little controversial for some. As you watch it, try to imagine ALL types of students who enter school and exit as graduates.

I don't want this post to be just a rant about using standardized test scores to measure the preparedness of our schools. This post is also about challenging ourselves to reflect on what we're doing in order to prepare our students for THEIR futures. A future that is changing quickly that will require adaptable learners. A future that is globally connected that will require empathetic and engaged learners. A future that requires our students to be hopeful, connected, courageous, and ready.

If we are to graduate students who are adaptable, schools must be adaptable as well. David talks about two different types of teachers in his book - "time-capsule teachers" and "time-machine teachers." Time-capsule teachers hang onto the past while time-machine teachers are future-driven thinkers and doers who are always considering a better way to do things. 

As a closing thought, here's a quote from David's book:
"When things are changing so quickly, it's tough to predict what's next. The key is to  be looking forward and paying attention. Then, chart your course based on your best guess, and the best guesses of others. Consider all of the possibilities of what change might bring and position yourself as well as you can.  One thing is for sure, you can't be static and do nothing and let change happen to you. You have to be part of driving change. Do something even if it's wrong."

Personal testimonial: David's book reads like a Chicken Soup for the Soul. It's full of stories, short chapters, and ideas. It's also very easy to read. You'll feel like David is sitting next to you!

I have the privilege of getting to give away a copy of David's book, Future Driven!

How to enter: 1) Leave a comment below AND 2) share this post on twitter with the hashtag #FutureDriven.
One book ($22 value) will be given away to winner selected via Contest opens on February 18, 2018 and closes on February 25, 2018. Entrants must be over eighteen years of age in the United States. Winner will be announced February 26, 2018 via twitter.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to create your school's hashtag

This blog post is about a game-changer that every school leader who uses social media should know about. If you are a school leader, keep reading, and use the ideas in this post. If you're not a school leader, keep reading and share this post with your school leader. AND, offer to help. 

In my digital workbook, Telling your School's Story on Twitter, I go into detail about creating a school hashtag along with other ideas for how and when to tweet, ideas for creating graphics, along with connecting the school with the community. 

Not having and using a school hashtag is a missed opportunity.

It's something I notice when I'm connecting on twitter... I see a tweet about an event in a school somewhere, a celebration of students or staff... and there's no hashtag. Not using a school hashtag is a missed opportunity for connection.

School hashtags allow stakeholders to “find” tweets about your school by doing a search for your hashtag. They can click on the hashtag in the tweet and see all of the tweets containing that specific hashtag. Imagine what it would be like if parents, teachers, students, alumni, and other stakeholders all used the same hashtag when tweeting about the awesome things happening in a school. It's a powerful way to get a "big picture" about a school as well as keep parents informed about successes within the school that may not make it to the newspaper... things like a friendly librarian who makes kids want to visit the library and check out a book, a lunchroom worker who serves the kids and knows everyone by name, a lesson in class that results in excellent problem-solving practice.... I'm sure you can think of many more examples!

How to create your school's hashtag

There's no "rule" about what you can use or not use for a school hashtag. Keep it pretty short in length, because the characters in the hashtag take up some of the characters you can put in your tweet. Examples include #(schoolname)pride, #go(mascot), or #(schoolinitials)(mascot). This would look like #hixsonpride, #gospartans, #LHSCowboys. For other ideas, check out different school leaders to see what kind of hashtag they use to promote their schools. 

Before deciding on what you will claim as your school hashtag, check to make sure it's not already being used. You can do a search on twitter with the potential hashtag, and if it's not being used or was used only a few times a few years ago, GO FOR IT! 

Here are 7 places to share your school hashtag:
  • School marquee
  • Posters around school
  • Next to the copier
  • In your email signature
  • In your twitter profile
  • On the price board in the concession stand
  • Print and frame a sign for the front desk

Do you use this simple, yet effective, method of telling your school's story on twitter? I would love for you to share this post and tag it with YOUR school's hashtag! 

Pin this!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The #1 key for being a good teacher

This post may be controversial to you. It may challenge your beliefs, ruffle your feathers, or it may cause some of you say, "you're preachin' to the choir!" 

Good teaching is hard work. 

Just "being" a teacher in the room... well, it can be easy. Keeping students "comfortable," not confronting them with or coaching them to high standards, blaming students... all of those things are easier than the really tough job of good teachers. 

What does it take to be a good teacher?

I am going to share what I believe is the #1 requirement for a teacher to be good, successful, and happy in the classroom. 

Even before building relationships, it takes a positive mindset from the teacher. The teacher must 1) believe in him- or her- self, that he or she can build a positive relationship with student and make a difference, and 2) love ALL kids. 

In what feels like long ago, I attend a wonderful PLC conference where I got to hear from Rick and Becky DuFour and others. I will always remember the four kinds of schools that Rick named and described.
- The Charles Darwin School where they maintain, “All kids can learn based on their ability.” 
- The Pontius Pilate School that believes “all kids can learn, if they take advantage of the opportunity we give to them.” 
- The Chicago Cub Fan School where “all kids can learn something, and they help all students experience academic growth in a warm, nurturing environment.” 
- The Henry Higgins School, where they believe “all kids can learn and they work to help all students achieve high standards of learning.”
Henry Higgins was the professor in My Fair Lady who turned Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney working-class girl, into someone who can pass for a cultured member of high society. At the PLC conference, Rick DuFour reminded us that Henry Higgins had more confidence in his own abilities than in Eliza, which was how he was able to relentlessly help her to rise to his expectations. 

Teachers must believe that they can and will make a difference. Teachers must have confidence in their abilities to help students meet their expectations. They must also have confidence in their abilities to adapt, build relationships, use the tools in their toolbox, and lean on others when they need help. This is not easy. This takes a certain mindset. 

Part of this positive mindset is a love for students. Really think about this sentence. Don't gloss over it like a prospective teacher in an interview for his or her first job.... "I want to be a teacher because I love kids." 
Do you love the kids who dress in all black and wear fingerless gloves every day? 
Do you love the kids who don't sit down when you tell them to? 
Do you love the kids who roll their eyes when you tell them it's time to get to work on their assignment? 
Do you love the kids that have to be redirected from _________ (talking to their neighbor, looking at their phone, opening a new tab on their Chromebook, drawing anime pictures...) 
Do you love the kids who don't say hello back to you when you say hello to them?
Even before trying to build relationships, a good teacher loves ALL kids. 

Kids are going to 
  • check boundaries, 
  • make sure that you mean what you say and your word is good, 
  • find out if you can think on your feet, 
  • ask you a question just to see what the answer will be,
  • watch to make sure you're fair,
  • see if they can find out what it takes for you to give up on them.
We know this about kids. And when we love them we accept that this is part of who they are. When we LOVE others, we make a commitment to them. We make a commitment to listen, forgive, care, and accept. 

It takes this kind of mindset PRIOR to trying to build relationships. It takes a recognition of where kids are developmentally, accepting each and every one where they are on their journey, and doing everything you can to help them to be successful. 

What do you think? Is a positive mindset the #1 requirement of being a good teacher? Please leave a comment below or connect with me on twitter

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

50 blog post ideas for educators

Sometimes it can be tough to come up with ideas on what to blog about. As a regular blogger, I get asked the question alot... "What should/will I blog about?" Here's a list of 50 blog post ideas for educators. Be sure to share in the comments the ones that you haven't done and have put next on your blogging list to write about!  

1. Your favorite classroom hack
2. Interview a teacher in your school who does ______ really well
3. Write a letter to you in your first year in your current role.

4. Challenge yourself and share the process
5. Write about the day in the life of YOU (3rd grade teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, district administrator, etc.)

6. Share an article or book that changed your practice as an educator
7. Do a Q & A with someone whose opinion/work you really value

8. Share your ideal wish list for your classroom/school/district
9. Do a “how to” post
10. Write an open letter to someone about an issue that’s important to you

11. Share your top 3 tech tools you use and how you use them
12. Share a successful lesson or activity you did with your students

13. Write a post called, “If I were a baseball player, my walk-up song would be ______” and share the song and why (a walk-up song is the song that plays when the batter “walks up” to the batter’s box for his turn at bat)

14. Share the books that are on your “To-read” list
15. Ask someone to co-write a blog post with you on a common topic
16. Share a time-management or organization tip you use daily

17. Read a children’s book and make connections between the message in the book to your role as an educator
18. Create a screencast tutorial and embed it in your blog post

19. Write a “What I learned from ___________” (sports, cross country travel, playing the guitar, etc.) 
20. Create an infographic and share

21. Read an article on a business outside of education and how you can apply the lessons to what you do
22. Share your favorite blogs and bloggers in a post
23. Write a post about a failure and how you responded to it

24. Write a post about where you get your inspiration.
25. What would you share with someone who is in their first year in the role that you are in?

26. Share how you stay on track when trying to reach your goals
27. What are questions that you get asked frequently in your role?

28. Share a “best of” post where you share your most popular blog posts
29. Write a “round up” post of articles and posts that you read during the past week or month
30. Write a post on WHY you do what you do

31. Share your best classroom management strategy
32. Write a post about how you balance life and work
33. Share your notes from a conference or workshop you attend

34. Share a “cheat sheet” for using a tech tool or app
35. Share a story about one of your school’s traditions

36. Curate the research about a topic and summarize it (and include links to research) 
37. Create a collection of inspiring posts
38. Share your take-aways from a twitter chat
39. Write your “Educator’s Bucket List” 

40. Innovative ideas that you want to see in your school
41. Emerging tech trends in education
42. A round-up of motivational videos to show to students and/or staff

43. What you’ve learned about yourself through blogging
44. Make a list of things to avoid in education
45. Highlight your, your students’, or your school’s milestones and/or tradition(s)

46. Write a review of a product you use often
47. Ask your readers for feedback on a dilemma or question
48. Share the best and/or worst advice you’ve ever gotten
49. Share a project you’re currently working on

50. Share your mission statement and your process for writing it

Use one of these ideas? Be sure to share on twitter and tag me when you do! 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why we need to be more like the 6-year old dancing girl in the viral video

Have you seen the viral video of 6-year-old Loren Patterson in Dickson, Tennessee, as she rocks out in the church choir? The video was shared on facebook by Loren's mom, Jennifer Patterson, and it has been shared by hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook.

When you watch the video, you can't help but feel joyful and encouraged as you watch Loren's passion and enthusiasm come through as she performs. That little girl is having a good time!

It got me reflecting on the question, "Do others see that kind of joy in me?"  

Which led me to another question (a What If? question, of course!)...

What if every staff member in our school displayed this kind of joy? 

One of my 3 words for 2018 is LIFT. I want to lift up others as much as possible throughout the year. To accomplish this, I must lift up myself first, and have a joyous heart. Finding joy, or at least hope, in every situation is part of who I am. 

I shared the tweet below just this week... 
And today, as I watch sweet Loren Patterson, I'm motivated to be sure that when I choose joy, I make sure that my actions show others that I am joyful. 

If you found this post to be inspiring, I hope that you will share it and spread the joy! 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Leadership lessons from Morris Jackson and Chick-Fil-A

I love the opportunity to get to hear keynote speakers or read good motivational or leadership books. This week, I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Morris Jackson, a Chick-fil-A franchise operator for over 40 years in the Birmingham area.

Mr. Jackson worked alongside Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, for over 40 years, and has extensive knowledge about leadership, customer service, and team building. It was my pleasure to get to hear him speak about the lessons he has learned along the way. 

He told the story about a woman in an airport. She had a few hours until her flight, so she stopped by the bookstore and purchased a book and a bag of cookies and found a place to sit and read while waiting on her flight. 

While she was reading, she noticed that there was a man sitting next to her, and he reached inside her bag of cookies and took out a cookie or two. She tried to ignore him so that she didn't cause a great scene in the airport. 

Every time she took out a cookie, he took one, too. This went on until there was only one cookie left. He took it out of the bag, broke it in half, popped half in his mouth and gave her the other half. She snatched it from him as he got up to go catch his flight, leaving her fuming about his boldness to take her cookies.

Finally, her flight number was called and she boarded the plane, still angry about the "nerve of that guy" who took her cookies. As she was seated, she opened her bag to get her book out, and she saw HER bag of cookies that she had purchased earlier at the bookstore! SHE was the Cookie Thief!

This week, Mr. Jackson was using the story to make a point about assumptions. The lady assumed that the bag was hers. She assumed that the man was taking her cookies. She assumed that he was a thief. As a leader, it's important that we question our assumptions before making a judgment or come to a conclusion too quickly.

Leader check-in: How many times do assume things that cause conflict in our lives? Are there things that we assume that we should question?

Begin challenging your own assumptions.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world.
Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.
~ Alan Alda
The second lesson Mr. Jackson shared had to do with clarity of your message. He shared how he had learned this from Truett Cathy. Mr. Cathy had a speech impediment, so he learned to have a simple and clear message. Over the years, Mr. Jackson had come to realize the power in using simple language. In The Speed of Teacher Trust, I share the 13 behaviors that Stephen Covey says are necessary for leadership success. Covey says we need to talk straight, create transparency, and clarify expectations. 

Hearing this message from Mr. Jackson reinforced everything I had seen modeled by my dad growing up. My dad is from the deep south of Alabama, raised on a farm and started working for the railroad at age 18. My dad is also extremely smart, and retired as an executive on the railroad after 38 years. I tell you this only to say that he started with very humble beginnings, and he taught me exactly what Mr. Jackson shared. A clear message in simple terms is usually better. The clearest message in simple terms that I heard was, "treat everyone the same but different." (If I heard that phrase one, I heard it a thousand times growing up!)
If we present in sophisticated language, the sophisticated understands us. If we speak in simple language, everyone understands us.                              ~Morris Jackson

Mr. Jackson also talked about how we are perceived as leaders when others need help from us. Mr. Jackson said that he listened to Truett Cathy because he knew that Mr. Cathy cared

According to Mr. Jackson, there are 3 questions people ask themselves when they go to a person for help:

     1 - Can you help?

     2 - Do you care?

     3 - Can I trust you?

Mr. Jackson knew that the answers to these questions were YES when he thought about Truett Cathy.

Leader check-in: Question your assumptions. How would others answer these questions if they were directed at you?

To wrap up his keynote, Mr. Jackson gave us a challenge. 

1) He wanted us to send a hand written note to someone that needs our encouragement,
2) He asked us to do something extraordinary for someone where we go out of our way to serve them.

Leader check-in: WHAT IF you did these two simple things each and every week?

Have you learned these same lessons in your leadership journey?
Is simple language okay, or should it be more formal with sophisticated language? I can't wait to get your responses to this one! 


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