Friday, May 19, 2023

Leadership Lessons from Brene Brown

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting

I'm a huge fan of Brene Brown. She's a researcher on shame, vulnerability, and courage. As an educator for almost 30 years and a person who is always trying to get and be better than before... I find that her lessons are extremely valuable and on point. I hope you enjoy this post and feel free to share your comments below about lessons you have learned from Brene Brown. 

Brene's book, Dare to Lead, is full of lessons for leaders. 

If you've been following this blog or me on twitter, you know that I believe that leadership is not a title. Leaders are leaders through their beliefs and actions, not because of a title or position. This book is for most everyone, and especially for those who lead others. 

Brene Brown defines a leader as "anyone who takes responsibility for finding potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential."

Courage is contagious.

Brene's research supports the idea that vulnerability is "the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure." 

Sometimes, people tend to see vulnerability and courage at opposite ends of a spectrum, but Brene defends that one cannot happen without the other. The other interesting component about vulnerability is that trust and vulnerability walk hand in hand. 

The best leaders understand that they don't have to wear a protective armor or be perfect to be considered effective or courageous, and they definitely know that perfection is not a building block of trust. Leaders provide psychological safety for their teams to be vulnerable with and in front of each other. Leadership creates a safe space that is an integral part of the work that teams must engage in. 

Clear is kind.

Leaders have to have courageous conversations with others. They have to share feedback with others, and leaders determine the tone, words, and emotions that will be used while giving feedback. 

Brene reminds us that when we give unclear feedback to try to "protect others' feelings", we're really just trying to make ourselves feel more comfortable. 

Brene shares this lesson: "In my research and in my life, I've found absolutely no benefit to pushing through a hard conversation unless there's an urgent, time-sensitive issue at hand." 

I once worked for a principal who demonstrated how to effectively "circle back" to a contentious issue at hand.

As leaders, we have to remember that clear feedback is HARD to hear sometimes. As leaders, we can't own the other person's emotions. They are going to be mad, hurt, surprised, and more. 

"We can't both serve people and try to control their feelings."  
- Brene Brown, Dare to Lead

Who we are is how we lead.

While it can be very hard to do, it's important for leaders to connect with our own emotions as well as the emotions of those we lead. 

Brene describes Armored Leadership vs Daring Leadership, which consists of dichotomies such as "Being a knower and being right vs. Being a learner and getting it right" and "Rewarding exhaustion as a status symbol and attaching productivity to self-worth vs Modeling rest, play, and recovery."  

While fear will always be present when we rumble with vulnerability, our response to fear will determine our success as a leader. 

On a personal note:
"Only God and the enemy" - as my friend Sarah Johnson says - know the struggles I've gone through with shame and how it has impacted my life. So when Brene speaks or writes, I take heed to the message she delivers.
I've carried a "bag of rocks" throughout my life that I've been able to reduce, pebble by pebble, because of the teachings and impact of people like Brene.  
Shame is a heavy burden. Through reflection, actions, introspection, and responding to feedback, shame can be lifted or reduced to a manageable amount. I encourage anyone who is dealing with shame to seek out help. Reading the works of Brene is an excellent start to a long but rewarding journey. 

Dare to Lead is full of practical ideas that are backed by research, and Brene's writing style is concise, real, and relatable. I encourage you to put this book on your reading list! 

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Thursday, May 11, 2023

How to find your Core Values

Our core values are the guiding principles that shape our beliefs, decisions, and actions. They are the deeply held beliefs that drive our behavior, influence our attitudes, and define who we are. 

Identifying our core values is an essential step in building a fulfilling life, a successful and rewarding career, and healthy relationships. 

But how do we find our core values?

In this post, I'll share some strategies to help you identify your core values.


How to find your Core Values


Self-reflection is a powerful tool to identify your core values. Take some time to reflect on your life experiences, your achievements, your failures, your relationships, and your goals. 

At a recent session of the Hope Leadership Academy led by Dr. Amy Johnston, she shared the following questions to help participants identify their own core values: 
1. When you were a child, what virtue did your parents most want to instill in you?
2. If you saw a "For Sale" sign in your neighbor's yard, what virtue do you hope the new neighbors have?
3. What virtues do you want to see in your co-workers?
4. What values do you hope to instill in your students?
5. At your funeral, what virtue do you hope is used to describe you in your eulogy? 

Look at your role models

Our role models can provide valuable insights into our core values. Think of the people you admire and respect. What qualities do they possess that you admire? What values do they represent? Look for commonalities between your role models and what they stand for. It can help you identify values that resonate with you.

Identify what triggers you emotionally

Our emotions can be powerful indicators of our core values. Think of the situations or events that evoke a strong emotional response from you. What is it about those situations that trigger your emotions? It could be a sense of injustice, fairness, or compassion. Whatever it is, it can give you clues about your values.

Assess your priorities

Our priorities reflect our values. Take a look at how you spend your time, energy, and resources. What do you prioritize in your life? Is it your family, career, hobbies, or social life? How do you balance these priorities? By analyzing your priorities, you can identify your values and what matters most to you. 

Where to look first? Your bank account and your calendar. The things that we make a priority will show up clearly in those two places.

| Related Post: Staying Balanced in Life

Take a values and/or strengths assessment

There are many values and strengths assessments available online that can help you identify your core values. These assessments usually involve answering a series of questions that measure your preferences and priorities. The results can help you identify your top values and how they influence your behavior. One popular (FREE!) values assessment is the VIA Inventory of Strengths

Seek feedback from others

Sometimes, it can be helpful to seek feedback from others to identify your core values. Ask your friends, family, or colleagues to describe your strengths and weaknesses. What values do they see in you? How do they perceive your behavior? Their feedback can provide valuable insights into your values and how your values are perceived by others.

Final Thought

Should you live for your resume or your eulogy?

Identifying your core values is a process of self-discovery that requires self-reflection, introspection, and feedback from others. Your core values are unique to you, and they can change over time as you grow and evolve. By identifying your values, you can align your actions with your beliefs, make better decisions, and live a more fulfilling life. 

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Thursday, May 4, 2023

5 Reasons to Use Propello to Personalize Learning

Personalize Learning with Propello

My life’s mission has always been to empower others in their journey to becoming the best version of themselves, whether I was a teammate, coach, personal trainer, science teacher, high school administrator, or character coach. 

One of the key reasons I started The Compelled Educator long ago was to create a space where I could share resources, ideas, and successful practices with others. 

When I was a science teacher, my ultimate goal was to inspire creativity and curiosity in my students. I wanted them to walk away with a love for science! 

I used inquiry-based lessons as much as possible, because I knew that there would also be times when direct instruction would be necessary to help students “connect the dots” when it came to clarifying myths about science and explaining scientific concepts. 

I was always looking for lessons that were inquiry-based, aligned with standards, and taught my students to ask questions and investigate problems. Before the Internet came along, it was difficult to find resources to add to my teacher toolbox. This is one reason I’m thrilled to share Propello with you today!

This post is sponsored by Propello. All opinions are my own.

I discovered Propello at the 2023 ASCD Conference in Colorado. Propello is a FREE high-quality learning platform created by teachers, for teachers, and it’s evident when you visit the site that this platform is bold, innovative, and thoughtful in how it was created with the user in mind.

Personalize learning with Propello

Mission and Values

Propello has the potential to take a traditional classroom to a learning hub, and I believe it’s because of their mission and values that drive their work. 

From the Propello website: 

Learning for Everyone

We believe education is a right, not a privilege. By designing individualized learning solutions for every student, we are striving towards a more equitable future of education.

Spark Joy

Our goal is to create delight in every discovery. Designed to cultivate curiosity and inspire a lifelong love of learning in educators and students alike, our immersive curriculum helps knowledge take flight.

Challenge Convention

We're not afraid to break the mold. We see difficult conversations as opportunities to explore our potential, pushing us to create solutions that propel education upward.


Here are 5 reasons to use Propello: 

1. Quality

The curriculum is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS were created by states to improve science education for all K-12 students. Each state has its own unique standards, and Propello has reviewed the standards in each state to determine how the platform meets or supplements each state. Access to quality online learning helps every learner, no matter their zip code, to reach their full potential.

Personalize learning with Propello

2. Doing Science

Students can’t just learn ABOUT science, they need to DO science. Each of Propello’s units contain hands-on activities for students to learn concepts by investigating, reporting, and analyzing. Materials lists, instructions, and Teacher Tips are included for each activity to assist the teacher in managing the activities. (The Teacher Tips are great for brand new teachers! Did you just hire new science teachers? Share this platform with them!)

3. Customized delivery

Within the curriculum, Learning Paths can be created for students based on teacher choice. It can be created for an entire district, a single class, a specific group of students, or an individual student. (Think about sub days, students who miss class for several days, students in ISS, or student groups based on readiness!) After teaching Physical Science at the high school level for over 10 years, I knew the concepts that needed to be reinforced at the middle school level. Propello is an excellent resource for customized, vertical alignment between grade levels. 

Personalized Learning with Propello

4. Personalization 

Propello has embedded supports that include translations to 100+ languages, read aloud, a visual dictionary, text isolation, and more. By using Propello, the lessons become “rewindable,” and students are able to spend the time they need on the content. Additionally, using the online content allows students to read and work at their own pace, freeing up time for a teacher to hold individual student conferences while everyone else is working.

Personalize learning with Propello

5. Save time

Teachers already have too much on their plates, and trying to comb through the vast number of online resources can be daunting and time consuming. Propello's teacher- and expert-created curriculum with built-in labs, activities, exercises, and teacher support saves so much time. Also, Propello easily integrates into Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams. Having Propello as a resource cuts down on preparation time, saving teachers loads of time spent at home and on the weekends getting ready for a lesson!

Personalize learning with Propello

Differentiation and Extension

The four questions for Professional Learning Communities are 

1) What do we want students to know and be able to do?

2) How will we know if they learn it?

3) What will we do when they haven’t learned it?

4) How will we extend the learning when they already know it?

Many PLCs spend their time working through the first 3 questions and give little amount of attention to the 4th question. Propello assists teachers and PLCs in answering the critical fourth question. 

For many of the activities on the platform, Propello provides differentiation for students who need extra support as well as extensions for advanced learners.

Each unit also contains formative assessments throughout the reading assignments. This is helpful to the teacher to determine the level of readiness and comprehension of each student. 

| Sign up here and get started today |

Resources and Responsive Support

As I was navigating through Propello and wishing that this resource had been available when I was a classroom teacher, I found that I had a question that needed answering. It gave me the perfect opportunity to use the chat feature on the platform. 

Within an hour of asking my question about assigning Learning Paths to students and/or groups, I had a response from a team member. She also shared a link to another resource that she thought I may find helpful. The next day, I received a copy of the transcript from our chat via email!

Personalize learning with Propello

At Propello, you can find many teacher resources including articles and books about grading, standards, ChatGPT, science, and more. It truly is a space for student AND teacher learning!

Propello is in its early stages with plans to launch more subjects soon (English Language Arts in the fall of 2023). If you are or know a middle school science teacher, please share Propello with them!

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