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Video about the K12 Magnet School

I presented to the school board for the K12 magnet school I am working on.

The conversation was great, with really good questions from the board members and a request for more information from them, which is a positive next step.

It's still going to be a while before the doors open, if they do, but positive direction is a good thing.

Here's a video that I showed them to give a high-level overview. It's two minutes long.

Making assumptions

We all do it, even when we know it is wrong. We assume that we know why people are acting a certain way.

We spend time, energy, and effort on trying to know why people act the way they do.

And more often than not, our assumptions are negative.

It’s not worth it.

People act how they act. They have their own motivations.

What if we assumed they were doing the very best they could do each day?

What if we assumed that they had good intentions instead of seeing the worst in them?

What if we just didn’t assume anything?

Why Take Care of Yourself?

Don’t “take care of yourself so you can help others” Take care of yourself because you are a human being, and that is what responsible and capable human beings do!

I wrote this as I was planning my webinar on trauma-informed practices this morning.

All too often, in trainings and other places, we (educators) have heard that we need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. That's misguided. We need to take care of ourselves because we are human beings, and all humans deserve to be taken care of.

Top Ten Transformative Principal Episodes of 2018!

This was the best year ever for Transformative Principal content.

If you’ve been listening all year, you’ve heard amazing stories of schools that are doing incredible things throughout the world.

Here are the top ten podcasts from this year:

10: Formative Five with Tom Hoerr Transformative Principal 225 - In this podcast, I talk with Tom Hoerr about his book Formative Five, which highlights the five characteristics kids need to develop. I also make a bold claim that maybe that is all schools should teach!

9: How to have inclusive schools with Alysson Keelen Transformative Principal 238 - Alysson talks about the need for inclusive schools and inspires me. This conversation played a big role in our school having an inclusive approach.

8: Design39Campus School Visit Overview - This is a short podcast which is actually better as a video on YouTube. I took some pictures of a visit to Design39Campus in Poway, CA and it was awesome and inspiring.

7: Learner Centered Innovation with Katie Martin Transformative Principal 241 - While Katie and I talked briefly of her book of the same title, we talked mostly about how to do that actual work of being focused on learners, something many schools pretend to do, but don’t.

6: The First Days of School with Jethro Jones Transformative Principal 240 - I love these rare episodes where I talk about what I am actually doing at my school. It’s so much fun. I hope you enjoy it, too. We took a big step in being student-focused this year, and we are seeing some great results.

5: Finding Balance with Dr. Spike Cook Transformative Principal 220 - It’s always fun to talk with Spike, and this one was no different. Spike is so genuine with what he is learning about and how to make himself more impactful.

4: Can Do U with Jeff Becker Transformative Principal 232 - Jeff Becker has become a true friend after I met him on this interview. He is an awesome guy who is doing great work with kids. He came up and did a speech to students at a high school here in Fairbanks, and it was great to meet him in person, and hear his awesome speech. You know how high schoolers are sometimes too cool for whatever is in front of them, right? Well, there were certainly some kids who were acting that way, but then he reeled them into his story eventually, and it was powerful to see in person. You should totally reach out to him to have him speak to your kids.

3: Changing assessments with Melissa Emler Transformative Principal 1048 - This is a great interview with Melissa Emler about assessments. She is doing a lot of work with Modern Learners and we talk about assessments in this episode.

2: Results Matter with Karl Rectanus Transformative Principal 237 - Karl Rectanus founded LEARN to help schools streamline ed tech tools. We talk about how his company helps schools know if the technology they are thinking about purchasing.

And finally, the #1 downloaded podcast this year was:

1: Creating a Gradeless Math Classroom when grades are still required with Andrew Burnett Transformative Principal 231 - In this episode I interview Andrew about how he doesn’t use grades, even though they are still required in his district.

Two Fun Games for kids

Last night at youth activity at my church, we played a couple games. Here are the general rules:


Kids write down four things unique to them on different color note cards: 1st base: something easy to guess 2nd base: something more difficult to guess 3rd base: something few people know Homerun: something that almost nobody in the group knows.

Then, you divide the group into two teams. One person goes up and chooses a card that represents what base they want to get to.

Which cards?

  1. You can have each team choose their own teams' cards
  2. You can have each team choose the otehr teams' cards
  3. Or you can mix it up and have everyone's cards mixed together. (we did this one)

The team continues until there are three outs (three times they don't guess the right person). If they guess the right person, they go to the base indicated.

For example, I choose a 3rd base card. I read that card and it says, "I love to mountain bike". I guess that John loves to Mountain Bike, and he says that was his 3rd base card, so I move to third base. Michelle goes next and she chooses 3rd base, too. She gets it wrong, and we have one out.

Then Natalie goes and she says that she wants a home run card. It is "I won an award for something." She choose Katelyn. Katelyn says that was her card, and Natalie and I both go home, and we get two points.


In this game, there are chairs set out in the mostly empty room. One person is it, and stands, away from the chair. The goal of the group is to ensure that person doesn't get a chair.

Rules: You can't do something that would hurt someone. You can't move chairs.

This game took a couple minutes for them to figure out the strategy, but once they did, it was a lot of fun.

Yes, it got crazy. No, nobody got hurt. Yes, everyone enjoyed it.

I love games that allow people to define their own level of engagement.

The Three D's for Sustainable School Change

I have talked to a lot of school principals about how they do their work. I've figured out that it sustainable change that can be extended over years comes down to three things:

  • Data
  • Documentation
  • Demonstrations

With these three things, we get the what (the data), the hos (documentation), and the why (demonstrations or stories). The data is what we get from doing this work. The documentation allows us to onboard new people, and the stories motivate us to keep going, even when it is hard.


We all know that stories compell people to action and make us want to be part of something bigger. When we can find ways to demonstrate how lives are changed, it makes people willing to do the work needed.

The stories are the best, and we all love them.


This is certainly not a sexy part of the process, but if we want people to continue the work, we need to show the new people how to do it, and we need to remind ourselves of the right way to do it.


Unfortunately, in education, this is usually where we start. The data tells us what we are impacting. Most of us in schools use only quantitaitve data, but there is plenty of qualitative data we could use, too. Most importantly, this shows that what we are doing is actually working.