Blog

The first 90 days: Getting off on the right foot

Leaders’ early actions, especially for those with more challenging leadership responsibilities, can often determine whether they succeed or fail. Harvard professor and leadership transition expert Michael Watkins writes in his best-selling book The first 90 days, that “When leaders derail, their problems can almost always be traced to vicious cycles that developed in the first few months on the job.” According to Watkins, what leaders do early on during a job transition is what matters most. Colleagues and others form opinions about them based on the limited information that they have available, and, once those opinions are formed, it can be quite difficult to change their minds in the months and even years that follow.

Read More

Being an abundant mentor

Mentoring programs typically fail because one or more positive ingredients listed above are missing. Without question, the mentor’s head has to be fully in the game. When I first began as a head of school, I was assigned an experienced mentor from a different school on the other side of the country. He agreed to help me as a favor, and, predictably, as the school year progressed and his schedule became increasingly more filled, our time together dwindled to the point that the relationship had practically ended on its own.

In addition, a mentor has to be able to earn the protégé’s trust. That is not as simple as it sounds. In addition to demonstrating capacity, effective mentors find ways to make their protégés genuinely feel that they have the mentor’s best interests in mind.

One great way by which to build such trust is to think in abundance. Abundance theory sees the world as offering infinite possibilities. It suggests that not only is there plenty to go around (the opposite of scarcity thinking) but it also posits that my helping others will help me, in terms of sharpening my skillset and building increased capacity and demand within the field.

Read More

Where did it all go? Thoughts about student memory and retention

Have you ever taught something and your class really seemed to get it, only to revisit the concept a short while later, and it’s as if they never heard of it? Better yet, have you patted yourself on the back after your students aced an exam only for you to ask a related question two days later and get back a class full of blank stares? It’s almost as if their minds were one big etch-a-sketch that had once memorized lots of information before being wiped clean.

If you’re like me, you’ve had that experience more than once. And we all know how it feels. It can be one of the most frustrating experiences for a teacher, seemingly invalidating all of the hard work — in terms of preparation, content delivery and reinforcement — of the past many weeks. Why does this happen and what can teachers do to ensure that students properly process and retain key information?

Read More