Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let's Get Pumped Up

Kids start next week (some districts they've already started), aren't you excited, I can't wait for them to arrive in our schools - let's get pumped up!

Maybe it's a video, check out three below!

Micheal Phelps pumps me up!

Kids look up to you, don't loose the love and get pumped up for them!

FLOTUS and Missy - who wants to sing!

Maybe it's a #KidsDeserveIt Canva, see a few below!

When I was a teacher I'd always watch Dead Poets Society the night before each school year. It reminded why I became a teacher, why I build those strong connections with kids and why I care about education so much!

I just want back through old photos I have with former students and letters they've written to me over the years. Remembering those kids, wondering where they are now and looking forward to building new relationships gets me excited to do this work.

What gets you pumped up for the school year? Share out on social media using the #KidsDeserveIt hashtag - and be awesome for kids!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Please Just Be Happy

Last night I was tweeting about my five year old daughter and how she's starting Kindergarten next Monday in our public schools for the first time. The last three years have been an awesome experience in pre-school. 

A wonderful school community, happy and loving teachers, everyone on campus made her feel welcome and special and like she belonged!

With only a few more days until she starts, I've done some deep thinking on what I really want for her experience to be. It has nothing to do with curriculum, GAFE, Chromebooks, math centers or even making friends. I simply want ALL the people who interact with her at school to be happy. 

I want them to smile. To say hello. To be interested in her. To ask questions. To support and encourage. My two children are a direct reflection of how my wife and I have raised them until this point. If they aren't respectful, if they don't follow directions, if they aren't positive members of the school community - it's our fault, not theirs. 

If you work with kids in a school setting, do not punish them for how they act. Work with them, guide them, support them - it's not their fault.

I've seen far to many teachers over the years who simply aren't happy - and kids deserve happy adults at school. If you're having a bad day, leave your problems in the car. Someone just last week told me a story about a few teachers who said they weren't going to smile for the first two months of school. They'd 'heard' the incoming class was naughty and a bunch of trouble makers. 

"If we don't smile they'll know who is in charge, that's what they need."

It is a child's civil right to have happy and nurturing adults at school that smile and show them they care! (Please feel free to Tweet that, I think it's the truth and very important!)

When I was a Principal there were a few times when I told one of my teachers they needed to smile more. Honesty has always been my goal, and especially when it comes to an adult who works with kids, it's even that much more important. 

Please smile, please be happy, please be genuine, if my daughter does something that makes you upset or isn't correct - please let my wife and I know so we can work on it together with you. Frowning, being grumpy, being mean, not being nice or simply just being standoffish is not okay - ever!

If you need a pick me up, Sesame Street always does the trick!

She's ready, and she deserves happy!

Pharrell Williams came out with a fun picture book called Happy last year which is definitely worth checking out! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Now What

My wife and I were on our first date and I can remember the moment well. We were walking up the stairs at SF Moma having a great conversation and she turns to me - "You're pretty passionate and intense aren't you?"

"Yes I am!"

We laugh about that now and at the time it wasn't a serious moment at all, and the truth is my wife is very much the same way. My wife has also diagnosed me with 'too much energy' and has fully embraced my internal pace that is constantly running and thinking and creating and pushing and moving and designing and writing and blogging and taking our two children on adventures!

I tell that story because I've always had the 'now what' mentality. You have an experience, you accomplish something and then that's it. There is always more, there has to be more.

Ten years ago I ran my first marathon. The longest training run I had was only nine miles, but I finished the race in under four hours. I crossed the line and my first thought was - "What would it be like to turn around and run back 26.2 miles?"

I was exhausted and honestly could barely walk, but that was the thought in my head.

About six months later I ran my first fifty, I had to see what it would be like!

Passion is my advantage. Hard work gets me there. There is always someone with more passion and hard work than me, I have to catch them. I constantly say to myself, now what?

Please don't ever settle, don't ever say 'good enough' for them, I'm too tired, the line is too long, they don't even speak english. 

Push harder than yesterday, commit to more than you did last week, put their future front and center. Accomplish a goal for kids and then find something else to go after!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Here's What I Would Do

Just because something has been handed to you a certain way - just because someone may not believe in you or your idea - just because you don't have enough money - just because the majority of kids at your school don't speak english - just because you have some teachers who 'think' it should be done a different way - just because everyone has always told you no, you're not good enough and you can't - just because you've dealt with rejection and failure  - just because your leader doesn't get it and maybe they never will - all that means, is you need to fight even harder and don't go down!

What would I do? 

Keep fighting. Don't listen to those people that say you can't. The people that are saying you can't probably want to but they're just scared to get out of their comfort zone. I've always been a firm believer in talking about your struggles, tell others what you're going through - you may just find some help.

Last year I was at an EdCamp and in a session with about thirty other educators. I can't exactly remember what the session was about, but our conversation turned to social media, access in schools and certain things being blocked. A teacher in the session was telling the group how Twitter was blocked in her school, she really wanted to use it as a resource for her learning, showing kids examples of how to be digital citizens, etc. 

"My Principal just says we can't unblock it."

I ask her what district she works in and wouldn't you know I'm connected with one of their Assistant Superintendents, and what she was saying just didn't add up. They're the kind of Assistant Superintendent that understands social media, understands relevant learning - can get stuff done! So why would everything be blocked?

It just so happens that I have their cell phone number as well, and dial them up right in the middle of the EdCamp session. They answer with - 

"What's up Adam, what's going on!"

I'm tell them the teachers story, ask a few questions and the truth comes out. The Principal has been giving mis-information. All those things the teacher wants to do can totally happen, the Principal just needs to give the thumbs up. On Monday morning they're going to make some phone calls and make some changes, the teacher in the EdCamp session is about to cry.

This is why we should tell others our stories, our struggles, our ideas, share our passions. You never know who is listening, who can help, who can pick up the phone and make things happen - that's just what I would do.

Our time with kids is too precious to have wasted potential, wasted opportunity, wasted moments. You are the solution, get rid of the problem and be part of the solution.

Nothing is ever perfect, there's always going to be some issues - start being part of the solution.

Refuse to go down - you got this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If You Think They Won't

If you think they won't, there is no way that they will.

If you think they might, then there's a chance. 

If you think they can, then go make it happen.

I believe they all can. I believe that it's inside all of them to do whatever they dream is possible. They may not be able to do something very well, but they need to at least try. We need to give them a start. We need to believe - think - encourage - push - train - prod - help - guide and think that all kids have amazing inside of them and can achieve.

There's the crutch I believe for most people, that first step. They're frozen - can't move - can't speak - can't think - they can't even get out of the dugout and onto the field. Please don't try and blame someone else, point a finger, make an excuse, call in sick, shift the blame, act like you don't know - or just simply not care. 

We don't have a choice, if you work in education it's our job. It's more than a job, it's a part of us. In my opinion, it's a civil right to have every adult at school believe in every single student. Adults shouldn't have the ability to give up, to say no, to say can't/wouldn't/shouldn't. 

For some of our students we're the only positive interaction in their life - so we better make it positive and encouraging.

Maybe you've had your fair share of disappointments, maybe you've been told no, maybe you've failed, maybe nobody has ever believed in you. You know what - if you still think you won't, there is never anyway you're going to make it happen.

Say it for kids - stand up for kids - be brave for kids - believe in kids. Remember, our kids have unlimited potential, it's usually the adults who put a cap on how high they can fly. How far they can go. How much fun they can have. How creative they can be. 

Let's think that ALL kids can - and they will. This is your chance to leave a trace. A trace of inspiration that all your students can follow back to you. Life will be hard for them, but they'll know where to go. They'll remember how you were. They'll remember your love. They'll remember you believed. Your inspiration. Your encouragement. That you knew they all could!

How many Kelvin's are out there right now, just waiting for someone to believe in them? Please go believe!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Valuable Lesson From jetBlue

I've flown quite a bit this summer and have had some great airline experiences. Across the Atlantic on Air France, and back over to California on KLM. Really great flights and I Tweeted both airlines with compliments.

Just yesterday I flew Long Beach to Oakland - funny thing is the flights down didn't work with my schedule as Long Beach is pretty small. So I flew Southwest one-way down, and jetBlue one way back up. Southwest is great, I've flown them a ton over the years. Friendly, on time, great value and I know a few of their pilots personally.

I have to say though, jetBlue was absolutely awesome yesterday, absolutely. It wasn't just the flight, it's totally obvious that everyone at jetBlue is a team. For some reason when I printed my boarding pass I didn't have a seat assignment. I totally didn't realize and they called me over the loudspeaker asking me to the gate. The attendant was so apologetic and handed it to me - wow, that was nice.

They also made an announcement that our plane was getting a new tire.

"If you look out the window right now you can see our ground maintenance crew changing it out. We're sorry but we can't have passengers load while our team is changing the tire, sorry for the inconvenience."

Love how they used the word team - wow again!

I'm getting ready to board, hand the attendant my pass and he uses my last name!

"Have a great flight Mr. Welcome!"

I can't remember the last time that's ever happened, if it ever has. #classy

Boarding was a snap, we get airborne, everyone on the plane is friendly. And then I realize because the Captain reminds us, they have FREE wi-fi on the plane. Sweet, because I had a blog post I was trying finish earlier in the day.

Wi-fi loads in a snap, I'm blogging and then decide to Tweet @JetBlue and they favorite my Tweet while we're flying - what!

Super smooth flight, we're at the gate in no time. I take my phone off airplane mode and send the Tweet below.

And @JetBlue responds with this!

It wasn't just the social media interaction that I enjoyed, it was seeing so many different members of the jetBlue team working together. We can all (especially schools and districts) take a lesson from jetBlue

When you work together as a team, a team that's in sync, with the same mission - you provide amazing service which makes people feel appreciated and wanting to come back again. I know I'll be flying them again soon - come March I'm headed east!

Thank you for a wonderful experience jetBlue - many kudos!

We Need To Back Off

Do your kids know what it’s like? Have they ever experienced it? Do they even know it exists?

How many kids have never experienced failure? Something really hard, that didn't come to them right away? How many adults? Our kids need to fail, which teaches them to learn, and regroup, process what they’ve done and how to come back next time in a different way. 

This happens all the time at my house....

"Dad, I can't do it"

At the park, in the backyard, riding their bike, unloading the dishwasher, brushing the dog. 

Lately it's been my daughter trying some new gymnastic moves. She's a stud athlete and was riding a bike at three years old, with no training wheels, ever. At four she was riding her bike ten miles next to me while I ran and she skies in Lake Tahoe.

But gymnastics is new and we've only really done some drop-in lessons at our local community center. She asks me to watch YouTube videos for examples, can I take pictures when she does a cartwheel. I LOVE that she wants to learn and get better, and I love that it's challenging for her and she's experiencing some level of failure and using the resources in her life to improve for next time! She has my wife and I for guidance, but she's doing much of it on her own, with her own ideas!

Failure throughout my life has made me stronger, helped me to reflect, analyze my preparation, purpose and what I can change for next time.

Two years ago I was in awesome running shape, probably the best of my life. I had a 50K on my schedule and really got in some long miles and was feeling good. Race day is always super exciting for me, getting up early, in the dark, checking my gear, what I'm going to eat, double checking, training is done - feeling positive.

Not so much. At mile 18 I started to vomit - had to walk. Ate a little food and felt better, more vomit at 19. At mile 20 I started feeling dizzy and my vision got blurry.


I was ready, I'd trained, eaten right - and I failed. At mile 22 I dropped out, first time I've ever pulled myself from a race.

I felt really bad, I was pissed off, angry, trying to figure out what happened. My wife was ecstatic. She was so happy I pulled myself from the race, it wasn't a doctor or race organizers, I was thinking about my health and family and not just finishing a race.

After processing my failed race, I learned so much. I'd trained really well but hadn't run enough hills. I started out too fast, there were a couple of guys who I was chatting with at the start and they went out faster than I usually do.

I should have backed off at the start - I think we need to back off with our kids as well. I'm reading a really interesting book right now about a woman who grew up in Finland and now lives in the United States. She says that kids in Finland are super independent, she didn't even talk with her parents about what major she was going to declare in college. I love that independence, she was given a long leash in her youth, explored on her own with direction from parents.

Our personalties are revealed during our most challenging times - let's back off, let our kids struggle a bit, see what they can do - and then see who they become!