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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Petty Politician or Public Principal?


     To be or not to be that is the question?  There is no denying that politics pervades every essence of our being to some degree.  My quandary over the last couple of decades always returns me to the present day.  As an administrator, educator, leader and  manager  I, like all of us in positions of power and authority, find ourselves having to make decisions constantly.  Often times in making our most important decisions with the intent of magnanimous outcomes, we find ourselves critiqued and crucified.  Our decisions, and those who want to extrapolate either openly or under their collective breaths and behind closed doors, opine, judge and view who you are and what you do constantly as being incorrect, inconsequential and even malicious by colleagues as well as outsiders.

     Regardless of the issue or topic, true servants and leaders are willing to step outside and beyond the realm of prevailing politics.  They are movers, shakers and risk takers.  They constantly dodge bullets and only pop their heads up over the trench line on occasion.  Make no mistake about it, as the Good Ole Boy Network is as alive and well as ever.  Their compromising of their ethics, morals and values super cede any idea or notion of remotely doing the right thing or making the right decision... 

     As for myself, with the knowledge that we all want to be a part of something in which has a sense of belonging and identity, one must stay true to their maxim.  Perhaps this is why some find themselves, leaders or others, aloof and outside the proverbial loop and entrenched within the "network" of whomever and whatever?   Whether providing commentary or opinion on any given subject or issue, there seems to always be two sides who compete for acceptance and acknowledgment versus steadfastness and conviction...  I have heard several times from so called leaders and professionals that the reason(s) why some are favored over others, and move forward and progress in their careers, are because they are able to blend in and don't speak out or offer opinions.

     Whether a leader of a country, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a high school principal, being a servant leader ought to be our calling and charge, no less our true mission and vision.  It should be the notion of doing what is right and what is in the best interests of humanity and nothing more!  Therefore, the question remains; why are there so many uncaring, unprofessional and unworthy would be leaders and petty politicians within our ranks?  "...and that's all I have to say about that..."  Forrest Gump  

 



    

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Tribute to a Titan


    

     Most of my knowledge and understanding of this small man in physical stature comes from listening and watching him as he lived and led the relatively small country of Jordan.  His ability to direct this small bastion of a country amidst the maze, and of the adjoining regional turmoil and violence, amazed me during his leadership. Although short in his physical stature, he stood figuratively as large, if not larger, than many other notable world leaders of the 20th century!  As a statesman and politician at the heart of his views and opinions can be read and appreciated closely at http://kinghussein.gov.jo/ .  Some of his more famous quotes are still being used today by ordinary people and world figures alike.

     Furthermore, as a human being, most of my appreciation and understanding of his ideology and persona came from within the text of the autobiography of his wife, Her Majesty Queen Noor.  In her autobiography entitled; A Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life. http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/14-non-fiction/541-leap-of-faith-queen-noor .  

 Front Cover       I highly recommed this read to any historian interested in Middle Eastern affairs.   Her captivating story of the real person behind the throne of Jordan revealed a man with a reverent sense of compassion not only for his own people, but for all others regardless of their color, ethnicity or race.  His understanding of the complexities and dynamics of the political and religious context and history  in which continues to engulf his region were second to none in being a mediator and negotiator while keeping his country for the most part neutral.  His willingness to compromise, yet maintain his resolve toward his beliefs and fellow countrymen and borders, spoke volumes to leaders throughout the entire world who both secretly and publicly called upon him to seek advice and direction.  All of this while the country of Jordan rests at the epicenter of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim birthplace, and is still in its relevant infancy of nationhood.

     My continued acknowledgement and growing respect for the late King Hussein I came from the people and words spoken by those who lived peacefully as his subjects within the country.  Their admiration and passion for their King was both evident and unrelenting.  They spoke of the aforementioned in which affirmed his character.  A great communicator, humanitarian and statesman were words most often repeated in characterizing him. He was a true servant leader.  He was the kind of leader that often times rarely comes around any given generation.  There a few countries who can attest their allegiance, appreciation and respect for their respective leaders past or present in the entire world.

     Having the opportunity to visit his country for an extended period of time I could see physical evidence still paying tribute to his legacy after his passing over a decade ago.  The character, convictions, kindness and humility of both his presence and leadership continues to be characterized today by the warm and friendly Jordanian people.  As his birthday is celebrated tomorrow throughout the Kingdom I am sure he looks upon his people with much pride and love as they continue to remain positive, flourish in harmony, peace and stability, and love their homeland as much as he still does.  Godspeed to this beautiful country with beautiful people! 

    

Cell Phones in Class Create Community

     The debate over permitting cell phone and mobile technology continues to grow.  Why?  The answer is simple.  Current educational thought regarding their capabilities and potential as a valuable resource and supplement to traditional resources continues to gain momentum, and rightfully so.

     Within a recent article posted by US News & World Report http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2011/10/26/teachers-use-cell-phones-in-the-classroom is shared viewpoints from both advocates and proponents of their implementation in the classrooms, to those who still see them as both a distraction, nuisance and potential danger being allowed within school communities.

     The embracing of cellular technology in 21st century classrooms is becoming increasingly long overdue.  Statistics are abound referencing not only their availability to users, but also the amount of time on average used, students acumen regarding their usage, and the speed and efficiency in which children are able to operate them (even at very young ages). 

     Mobile technology is an outstanding kinesthetic manipulative and tool that engages all of the sense except for smell.  I heard a wonderful quote several months ago in which it was revealed that classrooms today literally slow children down due to mandates not allowing them this valuable resource and tool.  Isn't it part of our intent and goal to speed children up in their ability to think and push toward meta cognitive capabilities?  http://www.marketingcharts.com/interactive/cell-phones-key-to-teens-social-lives-47-can-text-with-eyes-closed-6126/ To imagine that children can and have been using and manipulating a cell phone to communicate, calculate, create, discover and organize are just a few reasons their absence from the classroom makes very little sense to me as an educator.  The cost effectiveness of incorporating them as part of the school norm and curriculum alone makes far too much sense for them to not have already been allowed...

     I recently came across a wonderfully comprehensive presentation regarding the delimma of whether or not to allow for their implementation;
 
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     If the video is not embedded for you to play, here is the link to the presentation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRTNnpV_79Y&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL4C16128D3E08F324  I would love to hear other educator's thoughts as to their stance on the issue.  Also, there are are many other clips to view regarding the issue in which are hilarious to say the least.  Enjoy.   Godspeed, and yours in the fight...



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Character Ed. Counts!

     As a building level administrator going on four years now, and having the opportunity to teach and coach in six different school systems along the east coast, one dynamic of public education that needs more attention if not improved is the notion of teaching and nurturing students to become not only life long learners but also quality human beings who CARE ABOUT OTHERS.

     All teachers will tell you that society continues to pressure the schools to be more than just educators.  To that end, it is possible that since many young people having been left to fend for themselves literally, individual schools and their staff can create a program and implement to their specific school needs in teaching the XYZ generation what seems to have been lost over the last quarter century, if not longer?

     Things that have come to matter most to me through my experiences are;

...using terms like please and thank you...
...picking up and cleaning up after yourself...
...opening and closing doors for one another...
...asking and seeing to it that other people who need help or assistance get it...
...showing compassion and care for one another as acquaintances through physical affection...
...different ethnicity's, races and cultures mingling with and hanging out with one another...
...realizing it is ok and acceptable to say Yes Sir and No Mam, etc...
...raising your hand regardless...
...using terminology like excuse me or beg your pardon...
...demonstrating respect and tolerance despite your disagreements...
...a profanity free school...

     These are just a few tidbits over the course of my career that come to mind initially.  I'd love to hear feedback from my colleagues.  I emphatically believe that creating both a culture and climate in which character takes the forefront alongside that of learning and high levels of engagement are the KEY in this transformation!  It must happen one school at a time, and with one leader focused and committed to such a vision and calling with their students.  Children need and want both care and compassion for themselves as well as others, yet it seems as though as they transition to middle school and ultimately high school, all the media and social blitz they have experienced in their short lives has brainwashed them to the point of no return.  Additionally, with the decay of the nuclear family and the rise in bullying and harassment, along with all the violence they are exposed to they are numb to what true character is and really means.  We, as administrators, need to promote, create and facilitate a community of mutual respect and tolerance to other's differences.  So much has been researched and written on the topic it seems infinite. 

     Am I the only one who thinks this transformation is needed?  I know from visiting elementary schools, teachers and leaders are doing a WONDERFUL job in this area, but what about other schools, demographics?  Feedback?  PEACE & GODSPEED.




Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reforming Education in the US...What is the answer?

     Came across an interesting article in PDF format the other night.  Although it is no secret there are school systems throughout the world who are doing the right things and making quality strides at improving their educational systems, I think the model in which the country of Finland provides is intriguing and provides substantive evidence its model is effective.  http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/summer2011/Sahlberg.pdf

    I think most educators across the board agree that by raising the level of respect for the teaching profession here in the US is a top priority.  The answer invariably comes back to raising teacher's salary's significantly to compare to that of other white collar workers and professions in business.  While I do think this would ultimately go along way to moving in that direction, it is unreasonable and not practical to think that US politicians and legislators will anytime soon reverse their current ideology and positions regarding the profession as demonstrated by their actions and lack of support in raising teacher's salaries to compare with their peers in similar industries.  In fact, many states have shown their continued propensity to continue to place education at the bottom of the list in funding and expenditure.  Even those states who are putting the vast majority of their budget toward education, data and statistics compiled still are not showing the achievement and success as rivaled by some of the other leading countries around the world.  Why?  To this end, I proclaim no knowledge of having the right answer(s).

     I do know that in the US, school districts continue to employ programs and policies that are supposedly termed as being best practices and current educational philosophy in the hopes that these are the right answers to move us in the right direction, or is it?  The model in which is currently being used in Finland, to me, shows promise.  Raising the standards for those who are entering the profession seem justifiable and a common sense approach in which I do not know whether it is realistic here in the US in regards to preparing and hiring only the best and brightest into the profession.  The standards in which they currently require would perhaps eliminate thousands of would be educators wanting to teach in the US.  Shortages across the nation are abundant already due to the lack of respect and pay that is being offered to those wanting to enter the profession.

     I do believe there is tremendous potential in allowing more local control of educating students at the Grassroots level, and allowing the teachers and administrators at this level to determine what should be learned and how it should be learned.  By raising the standards locally or by the individual states seems logical as a front end and rapid approach to raising the quality of the educational infrastructure of "a school" or school system.  The statistics are impressive as to what is taking place in Finland over the last quarter century, and does provide food for thought for those who are invested fully into education and the futures of our young people and society as a whole.

     Am I just the quintessential dreamer, or does some of this make blatantly simple and sound reasoning?  I look forward to opinons and thoughts as to these two reads.  Yours in the fight, and GODSPEED! 


       

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finding Time to Lead?



     Whether a high school football coach, a small business owner, a public school building administrator or a Fortune 500 CEO this is intriguing.   After reading and reviewing Lisa's blog http://www.lisapetrilli.com/2011/10/19/ceos-most-pressing-people-challenges/ and all the links provided, I found the energy and motivation to offer my two cents on the topic.

     Experienced leaders appreciate and realize the importance and value of the people who work for them, and seeing to their sustained growth within their chosen field or profession..  It is their charge to encourage, facilitate, motivate and nurture their colleagues in scope and substance so as to empower them to self actualization within their respective jobs, organizations and careers.  Attaining this level of leadership competency is much easier said and written about than it is done in reality.  It is just as applicable with five members or 5000.  If, and when  this level can either be approached or arguably accomplished, people and employees subsequently find and  see themselves as invaluable members of the team or organization.  Again the old axiom is there is no "I" in team. Their desire and motivation to be productive and successful comes from within, in the realization of what they do is appreciated, acknowledged and respected.  In summary, leading and being part of a successful organization or school or business is being proactive and accepting the challenge that a leader exists merely to act as a servant.  It is their calling to provide a platform and venue for other leaders to emerge to a position or status above that in which has been achieved by the original leader.  The organization, just like that of a smooth running automobile engine, works finely-tuned and congruent with one another.

     In my personal and professional quest over the last thirty years to be a competent and high quality leader, I constantly struggle with one obstacle.  I would tend to think that most people in similar positions might be inclined to agree?  With so much to be done and accomplished in terms of developing your staff and employees from a human resources standpoint, I would be remiss in not confessing to have failed miserably.  Simply, but often times merely misunderstood, "time" is the obstacle standing in the way in developing people to their maximum potential and their leadership capabilities.  The daily grind of taking care of deadlines, matters, issues and paperwork, etc... I know has prevented me from establishing, nurturing and maximizing the relationships and connections I know are huge!  In some instances I worry they are desperately needed for the people within my teams and organizations to realize their integral and significant role within the team and ultimately grow.  I leave with the original question.  I sincerely appreciate and welcome any and all feedback on Lisa's article as well as my take.  Godspeed and PEACE!   


Sunday, October 16, 2011

How Should Teachers Engage Student's Imagination?

     In regards to this recent Wall Street Journal article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203914304576631100415237430.html the question brings to focus not "if"  but "how to?"  I concur with most of what Mr. Murdoch commentates about yet one of the underlying issues or problems is that school districts, and ultimately the leadership of said, are moving too slowly and are content with the status quo.
     Many school district leaders and superintendents are too out of touch with their roots.  Most have worked their way into their current positions by serving in the schools as teachers and ultimately at building level administration and leadership, to where they are now.  There are many district leaders who have spent little time in the classrooms within the trenches, and likewise have served far too little time in building level leadership roles to have a firm grasp and understanding of the complexities and dynamics of what goes on in individual classrooms.  I am not here writing to stereotype or make any sweeping generalizations about educational leaders across the board. 
     A classroom, and ultimately individual schools, are so diverse, multi-faceted and fast moving that it is extremely hard to explain and comprehend if you are not, and have not been in education for quite some time.  I think those who know education realize, and if not should, that schools are ultimately communities.  As such, the happiest and most productive communities are those in which there are high levels and degrees of communication, openness, diversity, respect and tolerance.  There is also cooperative spirits and cultures of collaboration and compassion amongst its members.  Consequently, you have successful schools in which there are high levels of student achievement and little disruption and discipline issues. 
     In retrospect, I believe with some reservation, that schools and classrooms are in fact not doing enough (or perhaps taking the right initiatives or approaches through digital and technological means)to stir and engage student's imagination, thought and critical thinking skills.  Some of this is in fact due to lack of resources, yet I believe equally at cause here is teachers apprehension at moving forward in their thinking (and yes their imagination) and while making concerted efforts to "learn" thus testing and hopefully increasing their technological acumen and aptitude.  Teachers, with the staunchest of building level administration support, should be open to taking risks and thinking outside the box in their lessons (planning and preparation).  At the forefront of their minds they need to be asking themselves what and how am I going to keep my students engaged and spur their imaginations in my approach and pedagogy,  day in and day out in trying to create the perfect lesson plan?
     I adamantly believe that technology will not replace teachers, but when will teachers replace in many instances archaic ways of methodology with their one size fits all to instruction versus attempting to reach and make successful each child sitting in their classroom?  The answer therefore in my mind is to begin to look deep within themselves and begin modeling what coaching and facilitating is, versus working much too hard as an instructor in the traditional sense in the classroom.  I am a firm believer, and I think most quality educators will agree,  the best teachers are those who work harder in their planning and preparation stages.  Is this a difficult and daunting task?  By all means it certainly is.  However, if we want to encourage and engage imagination on behalf of our students, should we as teachers not do so first? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Don't People Matter?

     Recently came upon a tweet, and ultimately what I see as being a profound and far reaching blog, that made so much sense it reminded me of what not only I, but most people need all the time! Sadly however, it is so beyond the collective consciousness of most people that it makes too much sense to stop and think about it and put it into practice. http://www.angelamaiers.com/2011/09/what-if-you-knew-you-mattered.html
      I have known of the value and importance of speaking and listening to people with one's full attention for some time now, and likewise thanking people all the time. I continue to practice and reach toward perfecting these arguably instincts or skills if you will. Fortunately, in stumbling upon the aforementioned tweet and subsequent blog, this addendum to how I try and live both my personal and professional life will now be enhanced ten fold.
     Angela, I thank you for sharing with others. Beyond the two words "Thank You" it now seems to me by using the term "You Matter" can have an equally profound impact and effect on the quality of other people's lives as well. One comment shared in response to your article was equally profound as I continued to reflect on what all of the others said. This wise man suggested that humans perceive others as being either a problem, project or a person. These words do ring clearly in retrospect. Our goal as human beings should not be our concern for the superficial and perception of what others think of us but being true to ourselves in what we say and what we do regardless of the outcome or potential consequences. So why do we not practice what we preach ultimately is the definitive question, no? I can honestly say with all the hundreds, if not thousands of daily personal and professional interactions and conversations I have with all whom I encounter, I rarely ever here these two simple words uttered by anyone?

     As a coach, facilitator, father, husband, leader and professional, I think this will be part of my continued calling to help bring understanding and hope for all the people I regularly interact with each day within both the remote and happenstance, as well as part of my intimate and required forums; "You Matter!" and "Do you know and realize that You Matter?"... Beyond all my experiences, beyond all my travels, beyond all that I have witnessed and taken part in over the years, all the education that I have been exposed, these two words are prophetic in their potential to impact the quality of life for others while offering endless volumes to educate and empower one person, one at a time.
      One wise man put the complexities of life into a simple few cliches; be passionate about what it is you do, and have compassion for all others. Likewise, take care of little people, take care of the elderly and take care of all the animals.

     I suppose in contributing to a bolder and greater world for what little time we have left here on this huge earth, these few thoughts as expounded on above certainly couldn't hurt the ills and instability that seems to prevail within the context of the larger picture of all that goes round in the world...

Peace to all my brothers and sisters, and Godspeed

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Technology Doubters Take Note

Just  as I have known and suspected for years now, not only is digital learning increasing ten fold yet it actually is turning out to be more cost effective.   As supply and demand continues to drive down  prices, schools, districts and business wanting to be at the forefront of effective and efficient operations and learning by implementing 21st century tools within their organizations, are the ones achieving results and being productive.  By no means am I suggesting that the computer will ever replace teachers (the human factor) but it is very difficult to argue with the details and statistics in this infographic.  This is a must see!

http://www.knewton.com/digital-education/  

Anyone wanting to chime in on these statistics or graphic?  Your insights, knowledge and thoughts are always welcome and appreciated...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Similar gesture to share?

I cannot even begin to imagine a salary of six figures.  Certainly not in public education.  With this said, it is fairly common knowledge that many in or at the administrative level do in fact make in excess of 100k.  I suppose it is very well deserved and earned, yet the deplorable pay that exists today for those starting out in the profession just validates the theory that education continues to no longer be valued or held to the esteem that it may have in the past.
 
Surely, along with those who agree with me, there are equally as many who disagree.  I think most people would dismiss the notion of pay and salary as it is more important to have job satisfaction and love what you do.  I concur.  However, realistically people do have to make a living, and there was a time in our country when hard work and a college degree would provide for a comfortable life.  This is not the case any longer in the America of haves and have nots. 


Larry Powell is a true hero indeed. I must say the article made me appreciate his journey and thus gave me overwhelming feelings of humility and pride in the actions that he took regarding my profession!  Just think how much better off our country and world would be if ALL the people who have been blessed with this financially fortuity would give more of what they had gained?  He bluntly yet eloquently put things in perspective in two ways;  first, by acknowledging how much money or material worth is enough?  Secondly, and in the way I envisioned my career to progress and unfold, he credited all the other people who contributed toward his success on his pathway through life.  This, along with his motivation, perseverance and willingness to reach and grow to his potential are fundamental to gaining success.  For him to have to battle and  despite the presence of a debilitating disease he was afflicted with at such a young age should be an inspiration to all.

His story should be just another small example of the potential of the human spirit.

Social Networking does work!


I am having success on Twitter! After a week of spending a couple hours or so on Twitter nightly, I have developed several new contacts, networks and leads. I met an individual there who was able to put my better half in touch with a long lost friend over half way around the world. They met one another just today after not having seen or spoken to one another in almost 30 years. Fascinating isn't it? The results ultimately are yet to be realized but it certainly is not hurting. I have also created a readers list of other bloggers (three to this point).
I came across another individual who put me onto an application through my Linked In account in which has a user interface with the ability to make your resume a visual presentation versus just text.  It is called vizualize.me/   I encourage those that come across my Blog here at  bill.horniak.blogspot.com/ or Website at www.youthcoachinginfo.com  my CV/resume to join in, as there will be many more posts of interest, as well as controversy, regarding a myriad of issues and topics in which I am knowledgeable, passionate and outspoken about.  Till then good reading and "follow me." 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trying Twitter

I have had a Twitter account for a couple of years yet have not been very active with it.  I am resorting to it more so lately in hopes that I can continue to expand my networking capabilities in marketing my publications and advancing my career aspirations.  Please comment as to whether or not you use Twtitter for the aforementioned reasons, and your success or lack thereof.  I look forward to hearing your comments.