July 11, 2019

Summer Series...5 Things YOU can do to get ready for school

Like most people, I love lists. Who does not have a legal pad by their desk with lists of things to be marked off. Mine rarely get marked off but it is a fun exercise right??

This list is different. It is actionable and if you are in the world of education, or even if you are not, this list is for you.

Summer for educators (even those who have 12 month contracts) is a time for rejuvenation and preparation for the upcoming year. There are some specific things YOU can do to help this cause.

Here are five that I am sharing...


I read all of the time and my books vary from educational, leadership, fitness, history or anything else that catches my eye. My collection is diverse and sometimes eclectic. For instance, I am reading Simon Sinek's Start with Why which really puts in to perspective on how we should go about our goals and plans. However, I also just finished reading the Butchering Art. This is a fascinating book on 19th century surgery and how one doctor pioneered the concept of germs and the use of antiseptic. I am also reading a book about a U.S. Marine squad and their experiences in Ramadi during the Iraq War called Joker One...I would say that book collection is pretty diverse.

The point is, I read because I enjoy it. I do not know many educators who do not like to read something, even if it is a sports magazine or a comic book. No matter what, reading is great for the mind. Sure you can read things that specifically prepare you for the upcoming year but you can also read for the satisfaction of reading. Do not read that book if it is not enjoyable or you do not feel like it is beneficial. I used to trudge through every book with a feeling of guilt if I had to put it down. That is the opposite effect you want. It is OK to put it down. That does not mean you cannot pick it up later. Who knows, in a different setting it might be what you need.

2. Goals

You can make goals for the entire year but that is not necessarily what I am getting at. Think about this week. Get a little Field Notes journal or a legal pad for that matter and jot down some things YOU want to complete this week.

This is similar to the list making I mentioned earlier but focus on things you want to do, not have to do.

For example:
Week of July 14th
-Work on concrete table top
-Make hot sauce with fresh peppers

...you get the idea

You can even use technology, like Google Keep. Here is a screenshot of one of my goal lists for the week.

Sure you can start listing some goals for the upcoming year, that is probably a good idea. But, do not overwhelm yourself with those goals. Keep it to about three specific ones that you would like to do in the first few weeks and do it. Oh, it also helps if you share it with your significant other, kids, dog or whomever else who might help hold you accountable. If you are not into goals then just write or journal about what you are doing. Jot down those things you have accomplished or things you have learned. You might even want to start a blog so other people can see what you are thinking.

3. Exercise

This is a good one and a difficult one for many. In reality, it is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes I have to force myself but when I do, I always feel better. Jocko Willink, one of my favorite motivators, talks about how discipline equals freedom. He gets up every day at 4:30 and works out. I am not suggesting that but hey, if you can, go for it. If you are on Twitter, I recommend following #FitLeaders as well as Ryan Jackson. He does a great job of motivating and emphasizing the importance of taking care of you. It does not have to be weights or running marathons. Go for a walk, a swim or even go out in the driveway and shoot some hoops...whatever it takes. While we are on self care...get some sleep too. Even though it is summer, you still need those Zzzz'z.

4. and 5. - RELAX

Yes, I put 4 and 5 together because it is the most important and probably most neglected. YOU do not have to go to your classroom or your building. I know you will but do not put that on yourself all of the time. I find that soaking in the pool or hanging out in my hammock with a good book (see number 1) can be the best relaxation for me. If I get a chance a little beach therapy is also good but it is not a requirement. There are plenty of things that lead to relaxation.

Have you ever set up chairs in your driveway and rolled a TV (or a bed sheet and projector) and watched a movie with family and friends?? Sure sitting in your recliner can have a similar impact but there is something about that camaraderie and fellowship, along with some popcorn, your favorite beverage and a bunch of people, that can put you in a deep state of relaxation.

If you struggle with any ideas on how to relax, send me a tweet and I will be happy to brainstorm with you.

I know, I know...this is nothing you did not already know. But, I bet it did get you thinking about those things and some of those activities that will contribute to your summer preparation and rejuvenation.

I got a great idea...send me a Tweet @mickshuran and let me know what YOU are doing to prepare and rejuvenate.

Enjoy your summer!

Go check out my previous Summer Series Posts...Why We Do What We Do and Do Not Be Afraid.

June 25, 2019

Summer Series...Do Not Be Afraid

Over the years I have presented at many conferences and workshops. Many have been technology related and others have leaned more towards leadership. The theme has ALWAYS been the same...there is a real barrier to integrating technology into life...a mindset.

I have mentioned before my summer class on technology from a couple of years ago. I aptly named it "Not So Scary World of Technology." I realized quickly that to my students, that was opposite of the truth.

They were scared.

Generational thinking does have something to do with it. Folks older than me talk about the days of pushing a button or typing something in and completely ruining their computer. I get that. But, that world has changed dramatically. Don't get me wrong, those pieces of equipment still exist. But with the availability of user-friendly technology, one can easily avoid that pitfall.

Still, the fear exists.

One of the common statements I heard was, "I did not have technology growing up." Or, "this wasn't around for me to learn on when I was younger." I always agreed but responded readily with the statement..."neither did I!"

My first TV was black and white. I had a TRS-80 computer that, other than games and little programming book we had, did absolutely nothing. We didn't even hook it up all of the time. I had rotary phones and even had to rent a VCR one time...yeah, you could rent a VCR! My first email account was a free one that you got when you signed up at Blockbuster Video (remember that place??). And...I did not have a cell phone or internet until college.

So...I did not grow up with the type of technology that we are seeing today either.

I will be honest though, technology is growing so fast that some of it does scare me as well. It could be those darn Terminator movies I watched when I did not have internet. I really do have a healthy fear that SkyNet could take over the world at anytime.

What does save me though...I am not afraid to explore. I have a mindset that allows me to tinker and problem-solve and learn these "new-fangled thingies." The good news, you can have this too!

Sugata Mitra conducted experiments in India in the early 2000s. Long story short, he set up computers in places he knew kids had not be exposed. Guess what...in short time they figured those suckers out. He replicated this experiment over and over with similar results.

Watch this Ted Talk for more detail about his experiments.

Interestingly enough, he said the kids would slow down or stop when the adults showed up...why is that?

Is it because the adults do not speak their language?

Is it because the adults do not have the same curiosity?

Probably a little of both.

At some point in our lives that curiosity starts to fade. It could have something to do with careers, families or a combination of many things. But, it is true. A vast majority of us lose that love of learning and that no fear mindset of trying new things as we get older. We need to GET THAT BACK!

How does that happen?

If you are a leader, you should rethink the things you or your culture may be doing to stifle creativity. Ever heard of the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule?? This could be helpful in prioritizing your workload and life.

If you are in the trenches, are you afraid because of your culture? If you are a leader are you contributing to that culture?

The fact is, the world is changing...FAST! The way we educate (both kids and adults) has to change as well. We talk a great deal about personalized learning for students but what about adults too. Personally, it is imperative that our focus on our education be something that is directly related to what we need to learn. The result of that, preparing young learners to also personalize and be responsible for his or her learning as well.

So, a call to action...find something that intrigues you in the world of technology integration and get better at it. Do not try to master everything that comes across your blog feed or Twitter account, you will end up not mastering anything. Choose what is important, what is going to make the biggest impact in your learning and GO WITH IT!

Happy Tinkering!


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