There is Power when we stand together

This morning I was working out when “Learning To Fly” by Foo Fighters came on my iPhone. It has always been a personal favorite and I was really getting into it (and reminding my self NOT to sing out loud in Planet Fitness). When I got home I was looking for their video on youtube  to send to a friend as my “song of the day”.

What I came across was this:

The Rockin’ 1000. 1000 musicians play Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters to ask Dave Grohl to come and play in Cesena, Italy.

The Rockin’ 1000 organized in Cesena Italy in 2015 as a stunt to get Foo Fighters to play a concert there.  They were originally organized in a crowdfunding effort by Fabio Zaffagnini. Their initial performance in 2015 was made under the direction of Marco Sabiu.[5]

In November of that 2015 Foo Fighters came in a played a concert there!

 

Lesson- If you stand together- you can do just about anything.

What Was The BEST Part of Your Day?

Those who have been to my house for dinner or those who have come to one of my camps or training camps know this familiar question.  “What was the BEST part of your day?”

It is a conversation starter. A chance at reflection about your day and a chance to share a moment with those around you. One person poses the question to someone who must answer and pass the question on.

You may not know it’s origin.

On September 11, 2001 my wife and I were on our way to the airport in Boston to begin a vacation in Italy. We were nervous leaving our two young children behind even though we had two great people at our house taking care of them.

We were at our gym, Atlantic Gymnastics, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Phones started ringing, we did not have a TV or radio in the building so parents were crowded around a car in the parking lot listening to the news. We were sickened, worried and frightened. The news, the lack of news, the speculation was over whelming.

We called the kids school to see if they were releasing the students early. The tearful secretary said, NO. The children didn’t know what was going on and that they were going to keep their schedule as normal as possible. She asked who was calling. I told her my name and she let out a sigh of relief. She knew our travel plans and was worried that we were on one of the highjacked planes.

We closed the gym early that day and headed home. I grew up in NY and had many friends and family who I could not get in touch with. The kids came home from school and immediately could tell something was wrong. Mom and Dad were home instead of on their way to Italy. There was a tension in the house. It was hard not to cry. All I wanted to do was HUG them. All they wanted to do was go outside and play.

When we all sat down for dinner, the four of us plus our two house sitters, our neighbors came over. They were worried that we were on one of the planes. When they saw all the cars in the driveway they thought the worst. Big tearful hugs.

The tension at dinner was intense. My wife looking for a way to break the stress asked, “What was the BEST part of your day?” . My face must have betrayed my surprise. I was thinking- “are you crazy, this is a TERRIBLE day.”  She said “Even on a hard day- there is one thing that happens that is good or great. So- WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?”

I cannot remember how I answered. I do remember what she said. Her reply was. “Today is my friend Joanne’s birthday! I am so thankful for her in my life”.

To this day- each night, either at dinner or as we are relaxing at the end of the day someone asks, “What was the BEST part of your day?”.

Today- start that tradition in your house, In your gym, at your school, at your place of work. Ask someone- WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?

And because you read this far- You might as well tell me in the comments section- What was the best part of YOUR day?

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Joann and Stephanie in Firenze

 

Schools CAN Keep Teachers Happy. If they try

It’s a nightmare workplace scenario: Your boss puts you in charge of training a new hire, but you don’t have adequate training materials, there’s no coordination or vision, and you get blamed when the trainee isn’t prepared.

That’s the situation America’s teachers often find themselves in as they prepare students to move to the next grade level. Thanks to underfunded reform mandates and the pressure of being blamed for the problems plaguing public education, teachers in the United States are stressed out—and they’re missing class or changing careers at high rates because of it. Now a new study provides some commonsense answers to the question of how to keep effective educators on the job.
The study, published in the October issue of the American Educational Research Journal, found that four main factors reduce high teacher turnover rates:

  • administrators who are committed to teachers’ professional development,
  • a safe school environment,
  • high expectations for students,
  • a sense of collaboration among teachers.

“We’ve been sort of consumed by the importance of the individual teacher’s role, either by strengthening their skills through professional development or exiting them and potentially hiring a better teacher,” Matthew Kraft, a professor at Brown University and the lead researcher on the study. “That has caused us to lose sight of the larger context in which the schooling takes place and the degree to which all teachers are holding students to high expectations.”

The researchers based their findings on results from the NYC School Survey from the 2008–2009 through 2012–13 school years, which was given to teachers, students, and parents in the district, as well as the city’s student assessment and administrative data. As opposed to more common one-school, onetime surveys, the five years of data covered middle schools representing a variety of socioeconomic situations, enabling the researchers to analyze why some schools improved while others got worse.

“What that allows us to do is compare this school to itself over time, with all the things that stay the same about the school: location, general student body, many other factors,” Kraft said. “Schools that experience improvement, as perceived by students and teachers in the school climate, also have corresponding decreases in turnover and increases in achievement.”

A working environment with effective leadership that fosters professional development opportunities for teachers to advance their careers was found to be among the more important factors for teachers remaining in positions. In the United States 200,000 educators, or 8 percent of the total workforce, leave the profession every year, according to the Learning Policy Institute. Kraft and his team found that quality management alone is associated with an 11 percent reduction of turnover. Schools with a strong sense of collaboration among teachers saw higher student achievement as well.

“A component of this is the quality of the professional development that the administration provides to teachers,” Kraft said. “When they have challenges or they’re looking for a unified approach across the school, do they perceive that the principal or the administration is capable of generating support across the workforce?”

Beyond the teachers and the administration, high academic expectations for students also play a major role in teacher retention. Maintaining a safe school environment for both students and teachers is also vital.
“Regardless of who’s teaching, if you’re in a school where a student is more focused on looking over their shoulder rather than the lesson, that’s a direct impact on the students,” Kraft said. “If the teachers are more consumed with managing behavior than they are in delivering instruction, then teachers are also less effective.”

Overall, the study suggests that teachers and students function best when the entire school acts as an ecosystem in which safety, collaboration, and high expectations are actively encouraged, as opposed to focusing on what may be wrong with one individual within the school.

“What we’re arguing here is that alone, improving these factors will help. It’s not a silver bullet, but the status quo is to sort of neglect these things,” Kraft said. “If we can help teachers to better support each other and their peers, that support may help them to feel more successful in the classroom, and it can impact student achievement by helping them to be more effective and reducing turnover.”