Monday, September 24, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 3 - Overcomer

Compelled Educator
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As I started working on this 15-week series on characteristics of a compelled educator, I knew that I wanted the word "Failure" to be a part of it. However, framing a characteristic as simply "failure" was not exactly what I wanted to share. It's not the failure that defines us a compelled educators, it's really two things that are related to failure. 

First, we know that it is part of our journey. We accept it and learn from it. 

Second, it's what we do AFTER the failure that's important. 

So how do I say all of that (and more) in just one word. I chose overcomer as the characteristic for week 3. 

Maya Angelou goes on to say, "In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."

It's important that we separate our failure from who we are as a person. Maybe we didn't handle a situation the best that we should have. Maybe we tried a new activity in class and it bombed. Maybe we should have been kinder in the meeting. 

The more we try, the more we'll fail. But we can't forget that when we learn from our mistakes, we get better and make them less and less. 

"failure is an imperfect word"
- Brene Brown

Brene Brown was interviewed by Inc. a few years ago, and it was shared in an article titled, "3 Tips From Brene Brown About Failing Brilliantly." (Isn't that an incredible outlook? Failing brilliantly!)

She shared that when we learn from failure, it's no longer failure. It's a lesson. 

And as educators who understand the importance and value of failure, we don't just model recovery for our students, we let them fail, too!

Jessica Lahey wrote a great book called The Gift of Failure, and Betsy Lancy did an awesome job of summarizing Jessica's book and why failure is a good thing for teenagers. 

1) Failure increases intrinsic motivation and leads to greater academic success

2) Failure teaches students to become more organized and responsible

3) Failure helps teenagers become socially adept

4) Failure helps teenagers cope with the inevitable frustrations of life

“If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.”
- Ken Robinson

Previous posts:
COMPELLED: Week 1 - Humility
COMPELLED: Week 2 - Compassion

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Insights for ASPIRE: The Leadership Development Podcast

I was recently interviewed by Joshua Stamper for his podcast, ASPIRE: The Leadership Development Podcast. I'm so thankful to people like Joshua and my friend, Jodie Pierpoint, who are actively creating opportunities for mentoring and growth in aspiring school leaders. 

Below you can listen to the podcast as I share my thoughts about leadership, student voice, adult learners, and mentorship. 


0:46 - My personal leadership journey

"It's been more like a jungle gym than it has been a ladder."

3:29 - The biggest difference between the assistant principal job and the principal job

4:58 - My biggest misconception in transitioning from a teacher to an administrator

"When you're a teacher you worry about your classroom. When you're an administrator, you worry about everybody's classroom."

6:14 - As an administrator, what is the most difficult part of my job?

7:08 - As an instructional leader, how do I help teachers grow in their knowledge and instructional strategies?

"Sometimes that's hard because it means people have to get out of their comfort zones."

7:58 - What is PBIS (Positive Behavioral Support & Interventions) all about?

8:53 - Other than PBIS, how else are we creating a positive culture in our school?

9:57 - What 1 area in education do I want to change as an administrator?

"All kids really want to learn..."

10:40 - What characteristics should every leader have?

11:40 - Many administrators come from the coaching realm. What did I use as a coach that I use as an administrator?

12:35 - What do we do on our campus to increase student voice?

14:08 - How do I find my voice beyond the campus?

"Connecting with others through social media has been a game changer for me as a school leader."

16:16 - How can my e-book, "Handbook for Courageous Leadership," help aspiring leaders?

"It's a handbook for anyone who has inner struggles with fear."

16:51 - My advice for those just starting their leadership journey

18:09 - What is the most enjoyable aspect of leadership?

18:51 - Connect with me on social media, on twitter @Jennifer_Hogan or via my blog,

I hope you can relate to the podcast, whether you are a teacher, experienced leader, or aspiring leader. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to work with me as a district, school, or individual.

If you would like to order my e-book,  Handbook for Courageous Leadership, please click HERE.

Monday, September 17, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 2 - Compassion

Welcome to a new 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

Compassion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress with a desire to alleviate it." 

I had a professor in college who talked to us, future teachers, about having "with-it-ness." She meant that when we were in the classroom, we needed to be aware of everything... the talking in the back of the room, the passing of notes, the students who were wrestling with the content, and basically all of the actions and feelings that were happening in the room. I define that as BEING PRESENT. 

As educators who are compelled to do what we do, we have a greater purpose than just teaching content to our students. We have systems created for efficiency and we manage our classrooms, but greater than all of that, we teach the student about life. We pay attention to their needs, we notice when they're having an "off day." And we are fixers. We understand that our content is just the vehicle for us to be a part of our students' lives and to do what we can to help that student in whatever way we can at that juncture. 

We don't look ahead and talk about the future that is to come. We are PRESENT in the present. Kids come to us as kids with bigger issues than we had when we were their age. When we model and demonstrate compassion, kids know it. They see it and feel it. 

Don't underestimate the power of compassion. 

In an article in Education World, they share 10 ways to show active compassion. Here are my top three favorites from the article:

  •  Cultivate a deep appreciation of others by taking time to get to know them, asking carefully thought-out questions, and listening carefully to their answers. Develop the ability to sense how others are feeling by closely studying body language.
  • Maintain your temper and a calmness of mind even when faced with chaos or an explosive situation.
  • Keep an eye out for anyone who seems to be suffering in any way, perhaps a student looking unhappy or a colleague looking stressed. Try to help, perhaps by being an active listener.

The third item in the list above is extremely important to me. I made the difference for one of my students who was planning to kill himself. It was a moment that changed my life. 

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.   
-Leo Buscaglia

Share your stories of compassion in the comments below or connect with me on twitter

In case you missed it:
COMPELLED - Week 1 - Humility

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Five resources for teaching vocabulary

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I'm passionate about TEACHING vocabulary and not just assigning it. 

I have to admit that I, too, have just assigned words in the past. My biggest "aha" moment was when I was a young teacher and I had a student in my class who was from Russia. I gave the students a homework assignment to copy the vocabulary words from the chapter and copy the definitions from the back of the book. When the student turned in his work, he had used the Spanish glossary at the back of the book. At that moment, the light bulb went off and I realized just how ineffective my assignment was.

The problem wasn't that I didn't WANT to teach vocabulary, it's just that I really didn't know how to teach it. Over the years I have read and learned as much as I can about teaching vocabulary, and I share what I have learned with the teachers at our school and with the readers of my blog. 

Before I share my new resource with you, I want to recap four resources I've written about previously. 

If you click the image above, you can read about a specific technique that teachers can use with any grade level to teach vocabulary. If you're a parent, I challenge you to try it this summer with your own children. You can also go ahead and download or print the PDF that's linked in the post and tuck it away with your plans for the next school year. 


A resource that you can use with staff members can be found in the post, How to help struggling readers. It helps to create the WHY around teaching vocabulary. While it's technically not a teaching strategy, it is powerful and reminds us of the role of vocabulary in reading comprehension.


Looking for an awesome book on how to help teenagers to read? This one is packed with practical strategies that can be implemented in a classroom. After you read what I highlighted from the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on them. 

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"For vocabulary instruction to be effective, students need to have numerous opportunities to use words and to receive feedback about how well they are doing their word usage.”

That strategy was definitely NOT on my radar when I assigned the vocabulary list to my students long ago! I just keep thinking of what Maya Angelou says... when we know better, we have to do better. 


Kids love video. They watch it, they record themselves, they share their videos. 

I've found that in class, they are very hesitant at first to do an academic recording. Has this been your experience, too?

Recap is a great resource to use for short videos (See what one of our math teachers did with Recap), and Flipgrid is another terrific and easy-to-use resource for learning about vocabulary. 


A new resource that I learned about this week is a person. Her name is Vocab Gal. (Don't you just love it?!)

The image above is linked to her blog (Sponsored by Sadlier). There you will find some VERY creative ways to teach vocabulary! For you Pinterest fans, you can also follow her board on Pinterest. And finally, if you like to keep up on Facebook, you can follow her page on Facebook

Do you or someone you know have a strategy for teaching vocabulary that works? I would love to hear it! Please shoot me an email (click the icon on the top right of the page) or connect on twitter. I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Can leaders have favorites?

Each week, I pose a question to our Women in Education Leadership Voxer group. This summer, we discussed the question, Can leaders have favorites?

The question was prompted from a session I attended on Crisis Management Training, where the presenter asked us to think about a person who - when we seen them coming - makes us happy. Someone we look forward to interacting with. Someone who makes us smile when we see them. (Are you thinking of that person now?)

As humans, we experience this. There are people with whom we naturally get along better than others. There are people who share our beliefs, values, and experiences that create bonds with us. 

As leaders, it is important that we recognize these tendencies in ourselves so that we don't extend privileges to those who are our favorites. 

In a study done by Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and research firm Penn Schoen Berland, they interviewed 303 senior business executives at U.S. companies with at least 1,000 employees.  A whopping 84% of those surveyed said favoritism takes place at their organizations, while only 23% admitted that they practice favoritism. 

What does showing favoritism look like?

--When a person is selected for a task, committee, or award because of anything other than the fact that he or she is the best person for the job or acknowledgement

--Spending more time with certain people at functions, during meetings and breaks, and after hours

--Giving better schedules to some employees than others

--Overlooking mistakes or rule-bending for some employees and not others

How does showing favoritism affect culture?

--Career Coach Ryan Kahn of The Hired Group  told Forbes, "By not treating everyone equally, a manager is fostering a sense of resentment and separation that can de-motivate employees and damage team unity. Also, by focusing attention on particular employees, it’s easy to overlook growth opportunities and unique skill sets offered by others."

--When employees don't believe that their work will be recognized and valued, it will cause them to feel resentful and unmotivated to achieve excellence.  At the end of the day, everyone in the organization must be working towards a common goal. Favoritism by a leader is a quick way to derail employees from their mission.

How do we keep from showing favoritism?

--Use meetings as an opportunity to be transparent about why certain employees are chosen for certain responsibilities. Talk openly about decisions and the criteria for selection. 

--Hold all employees accountable to the same standards. Keep track of leave, absenteeism, tardiness, and share these with employees frequently so that everyone knows where he or she stands. 

--See the good in everyone, and don't avoid employees who don't perform or who are not "favorites." As the leader, take the responsibility for reaching out and going more than halfway to make a connection with each employee. 

--To minimize perceived favoritism, create a feedback loop where employees can share situations where they perceive that favoritism is shown.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 1 - Humility

Welcome to a new 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

Have you ever been around a person who is not humble? I once knew a school principal who was not. Because of this, he didn't delegate well.  1) He thought he could do it better, and 2) he wanted to take the credit for almost everything that worked or was a positive for the school. Rarely did he talk about the team, and often he took credit for it being his idea. 

I also once knew of a superintendent who was not humble. When something good happened, she would credit herself and the team, but when something not so positive happened she would recognize the individual "responsible" - not making herself a part of the "team" in those instances. 

"The fullest and best ears of corn hang lowest to the ground."  
-Bishop Reynolds

I've also been around people who displayed false humility, and it is something I struggled with when I was younger. I felt it was prideful to accept compliments, always shrugging them off while belittling myself inside my head. As I have grown older I've learned more about myself, about shame, and the difference between true humility and false humility. (This chart is a great tool for comparison.)

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach, wrote a great article called "Humility People Skills: 10 Ways to Stay Humble in Success." 

Here are my three favorite suggestions from her list, as I can personally relate to these three more than the others:

1. Once a week, have someone teach you something they do well that you don’t.  Being a willing student helps you stay humble.

2. See those who live with a severe chronic illness and still give generously of themselves.  Humility redefines struggle and strength.

3. Become and stay curious with others. Ask one question each day to expand the mind and humbly learn from different views. Humility can be intensely interesting and enjoyable.  Curiosity sparks humility.

(What is your favorite suggestion from Kate's list? Leave me a comment!)

Humility magnifies other positive characteristics, and I'll soon be leading a twitter chat on how humility shows up in leadership. I hope you can join #APchat on September 30, 2018 at 8pmCST and contribute to the conversation. 

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; 
it is thinking of yourself less. 
-C.S. Lewis

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