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Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Sunday, October 30, 2022


Pursuing excellence is tricky business.

Many folks find the pursuit of excellence offensive. Here's why...
  • It requires deep thinking about an ambiguous future.
  • It produces as many questions as it does answers.
  • It challenges assumptions, encroaches on dogma.
  • It requires extra investments of effort and time.
  • It exposes mediocrity and averageness.
  • It means shaking up the status quo.
  • It requires continuous LEARNING.
  • It is extremely uncomfortable.
  • It is risky.
And yet, some folks pursue excellence anyway -- zealously.

Sign me up!

Monday, October 24, 2022


I recently read Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World? by David Geurin (2017).

This book was as much about pedagogy and engagement as it was about affecting future- and life-ready students. But, of course! Are those not inextricable entanglements?

My biggest takeaways:
·      NEVER………...delay gratitude.
·      In schools, desks in rows is “the cemetery effect.”
·      In learning task design, avoid the trash can finish.
·      Learning task designer is the teacher’s premier role.
·      If we can’t change our mind, we can’t change anything.
·      Could I sell tickets for my lessons? (Are they that good?)
·      Writing improves our thinking; thinking improves our writing.
·      Unless we can do something useful with our learning, it is meaningless.
·      People complain about two things: 1) The way things are, and 2) Change.
·      If everyone in my workplace had my attitude, what kind of place would it be?
·      Embed the standards in the learning; don’t let the standards BE the learning.
·      Charles Schultz: “Life is like a 10-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.”

My favorite quotes:
“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.” (p. 46)

“If our students master every standard but do not discover joy and passion in learning, we have failed them.” (p. 64)

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker (p. 65)

“We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey (p. 106)

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” —C.S. Lewis (p. 179)

A good read for educators. An excellent book for team studies.

Sunday, October 23, 2022


We -- all of us -- are connected, whether we want to admit it or not. 

Easily seen are the ecological connections of nature and the underlying interdependence that goes with them. Social versions of that same interconnectivity and interdependence also exist. We are inextricably connected. That is more the case now than ever in human history. 

Are we not richer, wiser, more understanding, when we consider the viewpoints, and the antecedents of those viewpoints, of others? 

Purposefully keeping our "connections" open, and expanding our network of connections is an excellent way to grow, and learn, and get better.

LISTENING is an excellent way to make others comfortable connecting with us. It's a learnable skill.

BONUS: Eric Bibb nicely captures our connectedness in his song you can listen to HERE.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Getting better. On purpose. Every day.

Easier said than done. But it always starts with reflection. It's hard to purposefully move toward improvement (either personal or collective) until/unless we turn the mirror on ourselves. That mirror-gazing is both a look at what exists in this moment, and a look over the shoulder at where we've been.

WHY - Why have we thought and acted as we have been? Are those moves in alignment to where we want to go and what we want to be in the future? 

WHAT - What needs to change today to bring us into that alignment? Some "stuff" likely needs to be halted, and other "stuff" needs to be ramped up.

HOW - Knowing the WHAT leads to the HOW. The required changes in habits don't occur on good intentions. Action of some kind is required. We need to be clear about how we intend to make those moves.

WHEN - We can't eat the whole elephant in one bite, but we can move the needle a little today (how's that for mixed metaphors?). NOW is the time.


(Tomorrow we can re-evaluate and revise as needed. It's sort of like continuous improvement.)

Sunday, October 16, 2022


When we create targets -- goals, outcomes, expectations -- in life or work, we are faced with a series of decisions about how to hit those targets.

Most of those decisions fall into one of two categories:

Speed -- How fast and with what intensity are we going to pursue those outcomes? 

Accuracy -- What variability in achievement/performance levels are we willing to tolerate?

Increased Speed almost always means decreased Accuracy. Increased Accuracy almost always translates into decreased Speed. 

Knowing WHY we have chosen the targets is the starting point. When we are very clear about WHY we are trying to achieve whatever it is we deem worthy of our time, effort, and resources, then it's easier to find the right balance between the Speed at which we pursue it and the Accuracy tolerances we are willing to accept.

If we don't know the WHY, then neither Speed nor Accuracy matter much -- unless all we're doing is checking off boxes and writing reports.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


Influencing others is tricky business. The late Dr. Phil Schlechty often reminded us that the members of our organizations are "volunteers." We must earn their engagement and effort (not demand it).

Leadership guru Dan Rockwell believes that winning over those volunteers boils down to two things that we must convincingly convey:

1. Warmth - Do others perceive us as kind, caring, friendly, honest, and service-minded?

2. Competence - Are others convinced that we are thoughtful, discerning, skillful, influential, and have sufficient positional power to deliver? 

Stakeholders (internal and external) are constantly judging us against those two standards (whether they know it or not). 

The number of "yes" responses we garner to each of those indicators in the two listings above is directly proportional to our effectiveness as leaders. 

Note: Warmth precedes Competence for good reason...

Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Rarely do I re-post a blog. This one from 2015 was on my mind today...


Trace Adkins recorded a song in 2011 titled "Just Fishin'."  

The song describes a father taking his young daughter fishing.  While she believes the experience is all about fishing, the father understands the experience to be intentionally multidimensional.

My younger years were filled with those experiences that I thought were simply "fishing trips."  Perhaps you also have benefited from the wisdom, the guidance, the mentoring, the relationship building, the solace, the teaching of a beloved parent/grandparent/great grandparent, embedded in the simple activity of fishing (or sewing or cooking or gardening or building stuff).

As time has passed, the shoe has increasingly been on the other foot.  More and more I find myself sharing important nuggets of life-wisdom through the profound acts of fishing or playing cards or gathering eggs or walking in the pasture.  Little do they suspect.  They think we're just fishin'.

Here's the song.  


Sunday, October 2, 2022


I used to believe in coincidences and random events. No longer. I have come to view the encounters I have with others, even in this space, as being Providentially directed. 

My clarity of understanding in that regard, though embarrassingly late arriving, triggers reflection on the subsequent responsibility I bear in these encounters. 

Here we are. It is no accident. Our minds and spirits are somehow, inexplicably, intertwined at this moment. 

How do/can I make your life and experience more positive as result? 

I'll do my best to bring blessings your way. (It runs both ways, you know.)

Feels like there might be magic on the other side of this Divine Appointment...