Sunday, July 30, 2023

How Pace Benefits All Learners

When you think about how you learn best, what comes to mind? Your response most likely flies in the face of how you were taught, and the same could be said of students today. If all kids are doing the same thing, the same way, at the same time, the experience is more impersonal than personal. It might work for some, but definitely not all. Learning is a process, not an event. It is more about the experience as opposed to a single lesson, curriculum, or assessment. So, what does or can, this look and feel like? In Disruptive Thinking in Our Classrooms, I defined personalization as ALL learners getting what they need, when and where they need it, to succeed. Time is a critical element in this process. 

Pacing is an essential element of personalized learning because it allows all students to thrive. By enabling students to learn at their own pace, personalization ensures that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Pacing is critical when it comes to personalized pedagogy because it affects a number of factors that are essential for learning, including:

  • Students learn at different paces. Not all students learn at the same rate. Some students may need more time to process information, while others may be able to learn more quickly. 
  • Pacing can impact engagement. When students are able to learn at their own pace, they are more likely to be invested in the learning process. This is because they are not forced to keep up with a group that is moving too quickly for them or to wait for a group that is moving too slowly.
  • Pacing can affect understanding. When students are able to learn at their own pace, they are more likely to comprehend the material. This is because they have the time to process the information and to ask questions if they do not understand something.
  • Pacing can increase motivation. When students see they are making progress, they are more likely to be empowered to continue learning. This is because they feel like they are in control of their own learning and capable of succeeding, which is a crucial tenant of ownership.

In addition to these reasons, pacing is also vital for personalized learning because it allows students to focus on their strengths and interests. When students can learn at their own pace, they can spend more time on concepts they are interested in while concentrating more on areas of perceived difficulty. This can help them to develop essential competencies in those areas. Overall, pace is critical to personalized learning because it allows all students to succeed. 

There are a number of ways to implement pacing in personalized learning. One way is to use a variety of learning activities that allow students to learn at different levels and at different paces. For example, some students learn best by reading, while others learn best by listening to lectures or doing hands-on activities. By providing a variety of learning activities, teachers can ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn at their own pace.

Another way to implement pacing in personalized learning is to use technology. Several software programs allow teachers to create personalized learning plans for their students. These programs can track students' progress and adjust the pace of learning accordingly.

Here are some tips for pacing in personalized learning:

  • Start by assessing students' individual needs. This will help you to determine how much time each student needs to learn the material. Consider common formative assessments, routine benchmarks, or the regular use of adaptive learning tools to get and then act on quality data. With useable data at their fingertips, educators can group, regroup, differentiate, target instruction, and implement Response to Intervention (RTI) with fidelity based on need. 
  • Implement a variety of learning activities. This will allow students to learn at different levels and at different paces. Sound pedagogical strategies such as station rotation, choice activities, playlists, and flipped lessons can be leveraged. 
  • Be flexible. Be willing to adjust the pace of the learning as needed. Consider using timers during tier 1 instructional activities as well as more robust pedagogical tasks.
  • Provide regular feedback. This will help students to track their progress and to stay motivated.

Pace is a critical element of personalization because it allows students to exhibit more ownership of their learning. This is important because not all students learn at the same rate. Some students may need more time to process information, while others may be able to learn more quickly. By allowing students to learn at their own pace, personalized learning ensures that all students have the opportunity to succeed.

Keep these tips in mind so you can ensure that the pace of personalized learning is appropriate for your students and that they are able to learn effectively.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Magnitude of Follow-Through

"It's the follow-through that makes the great difference between success and failure, because it's so easy to stop." - Charles F. Kettering

Have you ever made a commitment to do something, only to find yourself needing to follow through? How about getting motivated at a conference or professional learning, only to keep everything the same once you are back in your classroom, school, or district? What about promising students assignments would be graded within a specific timeframe only to not deliver on that promise? If so, you're not alone. While I still struggle with visualizing new ideas and how they will play out when acted upon, I have made a great deal of progress. Truth be told, many people struggle with follow-through, but it's a vital competency to develop.

There are many reasons why following through is essential. First, it shows that you're reliable and trustworthy. People expect you to keep your word and take action when you make a commitment or bold proclamation. If you don't follow through, you'll damage your reputation and make it harder for people to trust you in the future. From an individual standpoint, it helps you achieve your goals. When you establish where you want to go, you're more likely to reach it if you're able to follow through on the steps necessary to achieve it. If you keep putting things off or giving up on your goals, it becomes much harder to reach your full potential. Following through builds self-confidence. When you're able to complete a task or achieve a goal, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel good about yourself. This can boost your self-confidence and make you more likely to take on new challenges.

Rina Koshkina shared the following advice:

There are many things in life that are out of our control, but you have full control over your ability to follow through. You are the only one who can choose to be consistent and proactive, creating the sense of accomplishment and closure for yourself and those around you.

You can do a few things to improve your willingness to follow through:

  1. Breaking down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps is important. This will make them seem less daunting and more achievable.
  2. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them. I can speak to how this dramatically helps me stay on track and avoid procrastination when writing, preparing presentations, and mapping out model lessons to facilitate when coaching.
  3. Find a way to stay motivated. Consider setting alarms on your phone, putting reminders into an online calendar, finding a colleague to work with, developing rewards for yourself, or simply reminding yourself why you want to achieve your goal.

Following through is a skill that takes practice, but it's worth it. When you can follow through on your commitments, you'll be more successful in both your personal and professional life. You'll also build stronger relationships and gain a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy. So, if you want to improve your follow-through skills, start by breaking down your goals into smaller steps, setting deadlines, and finding a way to stay motivated. With a bit of practice, you'll be able to follow through on your commitments and achieve your goals.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, following through can also help you to:

  • Develop discipline
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Build resilience
  • Gain a sense of control over your professional life

If you want to be successful in life, it's crucial to be able to follow through on your goals, responsibilities, and any other commitments. By following the suggestions in this post, you can achieve your goals while improving relationships in the process.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Leaders

You would be hard-pressed not to have heard how AI is evolving at such a fast rate. Tools like ChatGBT and Google Bard weren’t even a thing before 2023. With any innovation, there is both excitement and fear. While there is room for caution, leaders can tap into the power of AI. As I shared in Digital Leadership, evolving technology enables and empowers leaders to seize the moment and look for ways to fundamentally improve teaching, learning, and leadership.

Peer-reviewed research

Educators want a compelling why that imparts value when it comes to change. Look no further than using AI to conduct queries on any aspect of educational practice, such as grading, pedagogy, professional learning communities, virtual learning, or the use of technology. Be sure to specify that you are looking for peer-reviewed research that supports the practice you are trying to implement or change.

Observation comment library

Writing up observations can be a tedious process. To ease the burden as a principal, I would spend my summers developing a document containing concise commentary on virtually every strategy addressed in our observation and evaluation tool. I would then reference this when it was time to write everything up before the post-conference. AI can be used to create short narratives on any practice that you are evaluating your staff on, many of which are showcased in Disruptive Thinking in Our Classrooms. For example, you can ask why cooperative learning is a sound strategy and how to implement it correctly. 

Streamline communication

Artificial intelligence (AI) can streamline communication and collaboration among leaders and their respective staff. For example, you can use it to:

  • Schedule meetings: AI can automatically suggest meeting times that work for building or district teams, all staff, departments, or PLCs. This saves time and hassle and helps ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Assign tasks: AI can automatically assign tasks within your leadership team based on their skills and availability. This helps ensure that tasks are completed on time and that everyone is contributing to the task(s) at hand.
  • Provide updates on change efforts: AI can automatically generate progress reports related to strategic planning, implementation of initiatives, professional learning, and facilities updates. This can help all leaders stay on top of their work and identify potential problems.

Tools like Bard and ChatGBT can be invaluable as part of your leadership toolbox. They can help save time, reduce errors, and ensure everyone is working towards the same goals. AI-powered chatbots can be used to answer questions, provide information, and resolve problems. This can free up people to focus on more complex tasks. Project-management tools with embedded AI can help to track progress, manage tasks, and collaborate on documents. This can help to improve efficiency and coordination. Finally, AI can provide a boost to analytics that can be used to track communication patterns, identify areas for improvement, and make recommendations.

Personalized feedback

AI can generate human-like responses tailored to individuals' specific needs and preferences. This can lead to increased engagement and satisfaction among your leadership team and staff, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. Here are some ways it can personalize the feedback process.

  • Provide tailored responses: AI can analyze someone’s work and provide feedback tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. This can help people improve their performance and to feel more supported.
  • Suggest resources: AI can suggest resources relevant to someone’s interests or needs. This can help team members learn new skills, stay current on education trends, and find solutions to problems.
  • Resolve issues: AI can be used to resolve issues between staff members. This can improve communication and collaboration and create a more positive work environment.

By providing personalized feedback, suggesting resources, and resolving issues, AI can help educators feel more supported and valued. This can lead to increased productivity and efficiency, benefiting the entire organization.

While AI has potential pitfalls, leaders can harness its power to become more effective and efficient. It can improve communication, lead to a reduced sense of stress by taking routine tasks off your plate, and help to build trust with staff. With AI as a leadership tool, time will be freed up so you can be more human.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

The Essence of Being a Leader

What is the essence of leadership? How do leaders effectively implement, sustain, and scale change? There is no shortage of responses regarding the topic, which is why questions are more important than answers. Narrowing down the most critical competencies can take time and effort. However, let’s look at it from the perspective of debunking what authentic leadership is, not to get at the heart of what it really is when it comes to agents of change.

The word "leader" is often paired with "follower." However, leadership is not about attracting others to follow. In fact, I think that this definition of leadership is outdated and limiting. Leadership is about inspiring others to take action. It's about creating a shared vision and then working together to achieve it. It's about empowering others to reach their full potential. Leadership is not about power, authority, or control. It's about collaboration, trust, and respect. It's about creating a sense of community and belonging.

The definition and perception of leadership need to change. We must move away from the traditional view of leadership as a top-down hierarchy and embrace a more collaborative and inclusive approach. We need leaders willing to listen to others, learn from their mistakes, and share power. We need leaders passionate about their vision and ready to inspire others to join them in making a difference.

Influential leaders don't tell people what to do. Instead, they take them where they need to be to succeed. They don't need to create a harem of followers or disciples because they know that their success depends on the team's success. True leaders understand that one person cannot win a war, election, or football game. It takes a team effort. Each person has an important role to play. The same principle applies to businesses, schools, and districts.

Leadership is not about position. It's about action. Great leaders are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They are willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their team members. They are also willing to take risks and make mistakes. Leadership is about creating a better future for everyone. It's about making a difference in the world. Great leaders are not afraid to dream big. They are also fearless in putting in the hard work necessary to make their dreams a reality.

In Learning Transformed, Tom Murray and I developed an acronym that speaks to the essence of being a leader. The best leaders do the following consistently:









Effective leaders understand that learning is an ongoing process. They know there is no such thing as perfection and can constantly improve their skills and knowledge to develop vital competencies. They make time to learn new things daily and share their learning with others. Leaders who love their work are always learning. They are curious about the world around them and always look for ways to improve their skills and knowledge. They are also willing to take risks and try new things.


Empowering others is a key element of effective leadership. It involves giving people the freedom to take risks, promoting a mantra of failing forward and granting them autonomy to innovate. When people feel empowered, they are more likely to find greater value in their work. This leads to respect and trust, which builds powerful relationships where everyone is focused on achieving shared goals. Here are some specific ways that leaders can empower others:

  • Promote consensus. Give people the opportunity to influence decisions and take ownership of their work.
  • Provide feedback. Let people know how they are doing and offer suggestions for improvement.
  • Celebrate successes. When people do a good job, make sure to recognize their efforts.
  • Create a safe environment. Make sure that people feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes.

Empowering others can be challenging. It requires leaders to be willing to let go of some control and trust that their team members will often do the right thing. The benefits of empowerment are worth the effort. When people feel empowered, they are more likely to be engaged, productive, and creative. This can lead to significant improvements in the performance of any district, organization, or school.


The world is constantly changing, and leaders must be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to these changes to succeed. This means being flexible and open to change, as well as being able to adapt to different situations, challenges, and pressures. Consider the following:

  • Be willing to change your plans. Things don't always go according to plan, so it's essential to be ready to pivot or shift as needed.
  • Be open to new ideas. Feel free to try new things, listen to different perspectives, and move beyond your comfort zone.
  • Be able to think outside the box. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to look at things through a different lens.
  • Be able to learn from your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is important to learn from them and avoid making the same mistake twice.

Adaptable leaders are more likely to be successful in the long run as they are more in tune with the ever-changing needs of their organizations. They are also more likely to be able to solve problems and overcome challenges. Adaptability is a crucial competency for leaders in today's world. Leaders who can adapt will be more likely to lead their organizations to success.


Delegating tasks and responsibilities is not a sign of weakness. This is a common misconception. Some people think that delegating tasks means the leader is incapable of doing them themselves. It is actually a sign of strength as it shows that the leader is confident in their ability to lead others while freeing up the leader's time so that they can focus on the most critical tasks. This could include strategic planning, getting in classrooms, providing feedback, or building relationships with key stakeholders. When leaders delegate tasks, they are allowing others to develop their leadership competencies, and this, in turn, builds capacity.


Information is king in the sharing economy, which is our current reality. Leaders who understand this fact develop strategies to authentically engage their stakeholders through multi-dimensional communications, public relations, and brand building. They meet stakeholders where they are, encourage two-way communication, and become the storyteller-in-chief


Great leaders always reflect on their work, which is essential for learning and growth. When leaders reflect on their work, they can identify what they did well, what they could have done better, and what they need to learn in the future. In the digital age, there are many ways to reflect, and doing so can lead to greater transparency. However, what matters most is that leaders make a consistent effort to reflect on their actions and decisions.


Servant leaders put the needs of others first. They are not focused on their own personal goals or objectives but rather on the success of their staff or team. Those who put serving above all else are not motivated by power or prestige but rather by a desire to help others and make a difference in the world. This type of leadership style can create a more collaborative and supportive environment where employees feel valued and heard.

Leading change in any organization is a difficult task. Be true to yourself and others. When you fail (and you will), showcasing your vulnerable side will only help to strengthen the bonds with those you work with. Being human is more important than being right all the time. You will never have all the answers or solutions needed to move significant change efforts forward. Look to others for answers to questions and help you achieve your change goals. Continue to improve in ways that push you outside your comfort zone. With authenticity on your side, finding success will be much easier.