Saturday, December 29, 2018

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018

I've spent the past few days reflecting on the past year... the challenges, the highs and lows, and of course, the celebrations. I like taking a few days at the close of the calendar year to disconnect and prepare for the new year ahead. As for me, I do a lot of visualizing, writing goals, and crafting my three words for the new year

Part of looking ahead for me is looking back. There are mistakes I want to avoid repeating, skills I want to continue to grow, and relationships I want to continue to cultivate. As a recovering perfectionist, my need to review events is becoming more about learning and less about judging. 

I'm so grateful for all of you who read and comment on my blog posts. I love being a part of the Compelled Bloggers Community, the community of bloggers that I lead along with Craig Vroom and Jon Wennstrom. I've learned so much from all of the interactions on twitter and through blogging with the community members as well as many other talented writers who push my thinking and contribute to my personal and professional growth.  

It's always exciting to do this year-end round up of the top 10 posts from the year. I always get caught up in reading and re-reading (and trying not to judge myself!) There are always one or two posts that surprise me in their rankings, and this year the surprise was that the top post has had over 34,000 views. (Don't skip ahead!)

Thank you for being a part of my 2018. I hope all of you have a wonderful new year!

If you're a blogger and write a Top Ten round up, please be sure to tag me on twitter!

Related Posts:
Best of 2017: Top Ten Blog Posts
Readers' Favorite Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Posts of 2015
Best of 2014: Top 10 Posts of the Year
Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013

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Monday, December 17, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 15 - Joy

Welcome to the final week of a 15-week series where I share quotes, examples, and/or stories about 15 of the characteristics that I believe are demonstrated by Compelled Educators everywhere. 

I hope you will share your favorite quote or story each week in the comments below. You can also leave a comment on the Compelled Educator Facebook page

I'm a huge fan of school. I loved all the schools I attended... elementary (I went to two elementary schools), junior high, and high schools (I went to two high schools). 

I had a rough time when my daughters got to middle school and high school, because they didn't enjoy school like I did. Actually, they didn't enjoy it very much at all. 

My youngest daughter disliked school the most, and much of why she didn't like school is because she didn't like having to "do school." 

She loves to learn and can tell me a lot about many subjects, but she definitely didn't like the school procedures and rote learning that she was required to do. 

Both daughters talked to me about their teachers and lessons in their classes. They both had a few classes that they enjoyed, and the common denominator in all of the classes is a teacher filled with joy. 

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. 
- Albert Einstein

These weren't the teachers who always made the classes "fun," but they were teachers who were excited about what they were teaching, who celebrated students and enjoyed the company of their students, and made their classrooms inviting.

These teachers loved to learn and loved when their students were learning. They believed in their students more than the students believed in themselves, and they encouraged their students to keep learning, growing, and striving for excellence. 

These teachers not only possessed joy, but they knew how to bring out the joy in the students and through their learning. 

In an article by Nancy Barile, Building a Joyful Classroom: Top 10 Strategies Based on Education in Finland, she shares tips for blending joy and learning in a classroom. 

Here are a few ideas from her article:

  • Know each child. Learn about their lives outside of the classroom. Greet them by name. Build strong relationships.
  • Provide choices that allow students to make connections between content and their personal interests and passions. 
  • Create assignments where students have to prove their learning. Have them to defend their choices and answers and "show their work." 

Previous posts in this series:

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

An Opportunity for Courageous Leadership

Courageous Leadership is not bravado. It’s leading from the heart, and aligning one’s actions with beliefs. It’s doing the hard stuff because it has to be done, and being truthful through the process. I believe it’s one of the most important qualities of a leader. 
                    ~ Jennifer Hogan, Handbook for Courageous Leadership

Below is a collaborative post from Dennis Griffin and me. Dennis reached out to me on Voxer after reading my e-book, and after a few conversations, we knew that we wanted to create an opportunity to collaborate with others around the action of facing our fears as we lean into courage in the new year. We hope you will join us!

I (Jennifer) used to think that courageous leadership meant being willing to make decisions that people wouldn’t like. Also, in my naivety, I thought that courage was something that had to be summoned up… called for, if you will, before doing the things that others didn’t want to do. Now, as I have grown in my leadership experience because of my connection with others via my online P²LN, I realize that courage is not the opposite of fear. 

We all have fears, and we can all be courageous. As I have explored the concept of being a courageous leader, I had to research fear and how fear drives many of the decisions we make as humans and social beings. Being able to share what I have learned through my writings and empower others through coaching to name, claim, and face their fears have been some of the most rewarding experiences of which I have been a part.

What is Courageous Leadership? 

I (Dennis) have to admit the media had greatly influenced what I thought Courageous Leadership was. Courageous Leadership had been depicted as the protagonist looking fear square in the eye and overcoming conflict that had a definitive right and wrong. Of course, in the movies, the protagonist was always on the side of righteousness. Our world has taught us that righteousness is not always the determining factor in what many deem as leadership. Power, privilege, and personal perspective have often dictated decisions that have not necessarily served the greater good. 

On my leadership journey I have questioned, how was it possible for so many individuals to take the same leadership classes, read the same leadership books, and turn around and allow so many injustices to go unaddressed and empower the status quo? 

Gus Lee, the author of Courage: The Backbone Of Leadership, may have summarized what stops courageous leadership when he stated, “being isolated in a relational society feels like death.” We live in a society where people want to belong to something. I can remember as a student there were times when I acted differently to be accepted by my peers. I am glad that I experienced that for now I truly appreciate being the authentic version of myself. 

Along with Jennifer and the book study group, I hope to answer this question: Is it possible that our ability to empower others (which I believe is the highest level of leadership) to make change is directly connected with our fears of how we think society will judge us?

We are cordially inviting you to come and learn with us during the month of January for the Courageous Leadership Book Study at the following times:

Sundays in January
7:30 - 8:00pm, CST
Week 1: Chapters 1-2  January 6
Week 2: Chapters 3-5  January 13
Week 3: Chapters 6-7   January 20
Week 4: Chapters 8-9  January 27

We have three primary goals for The Courageous Leadership Book Study:

  1. To create a space to learn and share about Courageous Leadership.
  2. To build our capacity as Courageous Leaders. 
  3. Develop a #PLN of Courageous Leaders to counter the effects of isolation.

One way or another, your leadership will make a difference by creating change or by reinforcing the systems that are currently operating and defining our world. 

Fear, doubt, and conflict will always be present as you begin to venture into the unknown; however, your Courageous Leadership is not just for you. Your Courageous Leadership can potentially create a life altering difference in the lives of those you serve on our journey to a better tomorrow.  

We hope you will join us as we kick off the new year facing our fears! 

Lee, G., & Elliott-Lee, D. (2006). Courage: the backbone of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hogan, J. (2016). Handbook for Courageous Leadership. Birmingham, AL: 

Monday, December 10, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 14 - Loyalty

Welcome to week 14 of a 15-week series where I share quotes, examples, and/or stories about 15 of the characteristics that I believe are demonstrated by Compelled Educators everywhere. 

I hope you will share your favorite quote or story each week in the comments below. You can also leave a comment on the Compelled Educator Facebook page

I really like this definition of LOYALTY on Urban Dictionary: (Words in italics are added by me.)

1. Making something or someone a priority and doing so in small and discrete but meaningful ways.
     As educators, we should be working to build positive relationships with students and others. These relationships take time and consistent effort on our part. 

2. Staying true to someone or something even when other things call attention.
     Being an educator is the best and hardest job in the world. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of our work, but loyal educators will keep the main thing the main thing. 

3. A way of showing support for a person or thing.
     While it's easy to show support for the easy-to-love, compelled educators find ways to support ALL students.

“If put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.” 
– Elbert Hubbard

Billionaire Sam Zell values loyalty and asks these questions:
  • Do you stick with your friend, colleague, or partner when it’s not easy? 
  • Do you consider their circumstances as much as you consider your own?

How do the questions above translate to what we do as educators? We must be loyal to students' needs and circumstances, doing all that we can to support their work and dreams. Additionally, we must be loyal to ourselves, making sure that we are our best selves for others. 

“I don’t care a damn about men who are loyal to the people who pay them.” 
– Graham Greene

In what other ways do educators show loyalty?
What other questions would you add to Sam's that are listed above?

Previous posts in this series:

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Monday, December 3, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 13 - Enthusiasm

Welcome to week 13 of a 15-week series where I share quotes, examples, and/or stories about 15 of the characteristics that I believe are demonstrated by Compelled Educators everywhere. 

I hope you will share your favorite quote or story each week in the comments below. You can also leave a comment on the Compelled Educator Facebook page

Enthusiasm as an educator is passion that grows from deeply connecting with one’s work. Enthusiasm for a subject matter is not enough, and enthusiasm for students is not enough (in my opinion.) There must be enthusiasm for students, content, and for connecting the two through engaging lessons. 

There is much research that points to the positive effects of a teacher's enthusiasm, especially towards the intrinsic motivation of a student. A teacher's enthusiasm is contagious and social, and students are more likely to be curious and interested. 

Here are some reflective questions to ask yourself about enthusiasm:

  • How do people stay enthusiastic during adversity?
  • What behaviors must be modeled to demonstrate enthusiasm?
  • What do great leaders do to build enthusiasm?
  • What leadership mistakes dampen enthusiasm?
  • How does perfectionism impact enthusiasm?
  • The opposite of enthusiasm is _______. Why? 
  • How do you sustain enthusiasm?
  • How does being enthusiastic help you? Others?
  • What would you say to someone who thinks that being enthusiastic is just too much trouble?

Want to be more enthusiastic? Here are three ideas that are simple, but not necessarily easy. 

1. To become more enthusiastic, act more enthusiastic. This was the number one rule from former baseball player turned salesman, Frank Bettger. He wrote the book, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.

2. Avoid negative people and negative thoughts. Enthusiasm is contagious. A person's energy shows up before he even speaks. Curb negative thoughts by choosing not to dwell on things that can't be changed, and choose to forgive yourself when you make a mistake.

3. Take care of your physical health. This includes diet and exercise. Avoid too many sugary and fat-laden foods, and be sure to stay active. 

If you find these suggestions to be hard to do, enlist an accountability partner or coach to help you. Reach out to me on twitter, and/or share your journey with the hashtag #CompelledEd.

"Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do."  
- Norman Vincent Peale

Previous posts in this series:

Monday, November 26, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 12 - Gratitude

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In this 12th week of the 15-week series on characteristics of compelled educators, I'm excited to share one of my favorite authors and bloggers with you. Ann Voskamp was one of the first bloggers I followed. It's from her that I learned more about grace and gratitude. Her first book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, shows us the power of gratitude, reflection, and pause. (Her book is much like her blog style... poetic and flowing... almost like free writing at times, and choppy in other places. It's not an "easy" read, but it's well worth the effort and pause and space it forces us to create when reading it.)

What if... you kept a running list of the things for which you are grateful? Would you have 1,000 by the end of the school year?

What if... we asked our students to collaborate each day and record things for which they are grateful. How many gifts would there be on the list by the end of the year? One thousand? More?

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” 
― Ann Voskamp

As educators, we not only understand the importance of practicing gratitude ourselves, but we also understand the importance of cultivating gratitude in our students. 

How can we cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" in ourselves and with our community of students?

Text    Ask students to send a Thank You Text to someone for whom they are grateful. (Educators: Get out those cell phones and model a positive use for digital devices!) 
#Gratefulstreak    For ____ number of days in a row, have students to answer the journal prompt, "What are you grateful for today?" Ask students to see how many days in a row they can keep their streak!  (Educators: When kids write, you write. Model persistence as well as gratitude.)
"Three Good Things"    Create a bulletin board titled "Three Good Things." Have students to write 3 things for which they are grateful on a sticky note and post on the bulletin board. (Educators: Be sure to include your 3 things on a sticky note right in the center so that students can find it easily!)
Write a Letter of Gratitude    Ask students to use letter writing skills to write a letter to someone for whom they have never adequately thanked. (Educators: Do this, too, and model gratitude for your students.)
Gratitude Walk   I recently read about Jon Gordon's Thank You Walks. This could be used in PE classes, during recess, or even encouraging older students to think of 3 things for which they are grateful during class change while they walk to their next classes. (Educators: Take a Gratitude Walk during your planning period, do a lap around the hallways before or after school, or try it at home.)


Want to make gratitude a habit the easy way? 

Connect expressing your gratitude with another daily task, such as brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, or cooking/eating dinner. 

If it's hard for you to carve out quiet time for yourself during the day, start expressing gratitude OUT LOUD while you are doing something that you already do during your day. 

Say 3 things you're grateful for out loud while you're doing your daily sit-ups, while you're driving to work, or while you're making your bed (or any other daily task.) 

Do this for 21 days in a row, then let me know how it's going. (If you miss a day, start back over at Day 1.) 

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The Compelled Educator @Jennifer_Hogan

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Classroom Conversation Starters {Free Printables}

I love classroom hacks, especially when they have to do with building community in the classroom. 

Probably because I was so shy when I was a kid, I really love "Conversation Starters" because they provide prompts to students and give them something concrete to talk about. Making small talk was something that I struggled with as a kid. I would have SO appreciated if a teacher had used something like these to create community in our classrooms. 

The questions are also appropriate to be used at home. Dinnertime can be transformed into quality family time by building conversations around the prompts on the Classroom Conversation Starters. 

I originally created New Year's Conversation Starters, then a last week I shared the Gratitude Conversation Starters on Twitter. Chaunte Garett was excited about them, and she asked if I knew of any for Integrity. Since I wasn't aware of any, I decided to create some. 

Thinking ahead to upcoming holidays and seasons, I also created some "Joy Conversation Starters." 

If you are a classroom teacher, I highly recommend that you don't ask the questions on the slips of paper to the class as a whole and ask for students to respond to you.

Here are several ways I encourage you to use the Classroom Conversation Starters: 

     -Have them in a basket and ask a student to draw a question for the class.  Then have students to turn and share their answer with a neighbor.

     -You, the teacher, draw a question from the basket and share the prompt with the class. Ask students to share their answers with two people near them. 

     -Make several copies of the prompts and have a couple of questions on each desk. If your students' desks are in pods or groups, have a few questions per group. Ask students to choose one conversation starter to answer with a group member. 

     -Use one starter per day as a journal writing prompt. At the end of the week, ask students to choose one from the week to share with a friend in the class.

What other ways would you use the Classroom Conversation Starters? Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter. 

All of the Classroom Conversation Starters can be downloaded below 
by clicking on each picture.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 11 - Empathy

Having empathy is an extremely important people skill. Empathy drives design thinking and helps build positive relationships and connections. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is not always easy, but it’s valuable as an educator because of the diverse backgrounds in which our students are being raised. Kids don't care how much we know until they know we care. Empathy is the driver of building relationships where we show we care. 

In an article by MindTools, they suggest several ways to use empathy effectively, and most importantly, how to do it through listening. When students want to talk, or when we ask a question of a student, it’s important that we stop what we’re doing and really listen. 
  • Listen with your ears – what is being said, and what tone is being used?
  • Listen with your eyes – what is the person doing with his or her body while speaking?
  • Listen with your instincts – do you sense that the person is not communicating something important?
  • Listen with your heart – what do you think the other person feels?

If you can't play the video above on your device, click HERE.

Four qualities of empathy as shared by Brene Brown, about Theresa Wiseman’s work:

   1. To see the world as others see it
   2. Stay out of judgment
   3. Understand another person’s feelings
   4. Communicate others’ feelings and validate them

Helping kids to feel heard and truly connected takes empathy. Empathy is skill that improves with practice, so let’s share a listening, caring ear and get to practicing!

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