Every year, I have the most amazing journeys between mid-February and early April. I travel I-80 weekly and witness the wild migrating cranes, flocking to Nebraska. An estimated 90% of the world’s Sandhill cranes visit the Midwest along the Nebraska Platte River. They arrive during the heart of the winter months and huddle like a team to stay warm.
In mid-February, the skies are seasoned with gliding cranes, necks outstretched as they visualize the next habitual destination. Every year I watch them glide with alignment, flying in a V or J formation, using extended legs and wings for a gentle landing in the fields. Cranes rest, beef up, and gain energy while visiting Nebraska.
In the fields, cranes communicate with a chorus of many purposeful cries; moans, hissing, snoring and goose-like honks. They leap, run, and dance as they probe for food in the fields and river beds: rodents, snakes, snails, frogs, fish, insects, berries and plants. Twenty-nine days along the Platte adds about a pound of fat to help with the remaining migrations and initiate nesting.
In early April, the cranes leap up like small jets taking off in a cornfield runway. They continue their journey to find warmer weather. The crane leaders and the followers team together whether they are in the fields or skies.
While they are beautiful, I think they also demonstrate important lessons for leaders.
Flock as leaders and followers.
Be instinctive and visionary for basic and futuristic needs
Communicate with purpose
Be habitually goal oriented
Choose resiliency and know how to survive the toughest of time
Foster an environment for future generations flourish
There is always something we can learn from observing nature and its interesting inhabitants.
Take the time to slow down and discover what is out in the world beyond your screen—you may be surprised by the things you can learn.
St. Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration on March 17. What began as a commemoration of the patron saint of Ireland has become a fun-filled celebration of all things Irish.
Not Irish? It does not matter!
At celebrations throughout the world, you will be informed that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! You will see green clothing, green hair and green shamrocks. The city of Chicago even dyes the river green. You will hear St. Patrick’s Day expressions such as “Erin Go Bragh,” “Kiss the Blarney Stone” and my personal favorite “Luck of the Irish to You!”
“Luck of the Irish!” I love this expression because for years I misunderstood it. I believed it meant something like extreme good fortune. But an Irish-American friend explained that it really encompasses the sense of luck that you make yourself through your own positive outlook and determination. I liked that meaning so much better!
While I enjoy the idea of luck—wishes on a falling star, crossing my fingers—I believe in being positive and being prepared. Whether facing an exam, hoping for an opportunity or approaching a challenge in your life, it’s fun to make a wish, but you are more likely to find the luck you need when you put forth effort and have a positive attitude.
So when I wish you the “Luck of the Irish,” I really wish you the happiness and good fortune that comes from knowing that you have prepared yourself for the good things you want to come your way.
It has been estimated that teachers ask between 300 and 400 questions per day and that as many as 120 might be posed in a single hour! I remember my cooperating teacher asking me to audio-tape—remember those?—five minutes of one of my lessons. When I then listened to it, I counted 20 questions in a minute—it was awful and painful to listen to myself. I violated all types of rules such as “wait time” and a lack of variety of bloom’s taxonomy level questions. It was an important lesson.
Asking good questions is a craft that many of us have to practice. Wiggins and Wilbur (2013) wrote that essential questions rarely arise in a first draft and that writing and rewriting helps craft them. “Essential questions” stir inquiries, discussion and reflections to help students find meaning in their learning and achieve deeper thought and higher quality work. Criteria for making essential questions includes:
Stimulate ongoing thinking and inquiry.
Arguable, with multiple plausible answers.
Raise further questions.
Spark discussion and debate.
Demand evidence and reasoning because varying answers exist.
Point to big ideas and pressing issues.
Fruitfully recur throughout the unit or year.
Answers proposed are tentative and may change in light of new experiences and deepening understanding.
As we teach students in the online format, we consider the value of creating and presenting some questions within our feedback to inspire deeper thinking.
I also encourage you to keep practicing your question-making,
whether it is in the classroom, online or with your friends and family.
Fundamentals are the basic skills, techniques, etc. that serve as the foundation of any system. Being fundamentally sound is an essential if you want to be successful at something.
Throughout my years of coaching football, the team that was the most successful was usually the team that did the best in the basic fundamentals of blocking and tackling. Most football coaches plan to spend a significant part of their practice time developing or enhancing these essential skills with their players. If you are not fundamentally sound at blocking and tackling in football, you are going to struggle.
How are you in the basic fundamentals of being a good student?
Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are three standard fundamentals that can help lead you to academic success:
A regular study schedule or routine
A study environment that has minimal distractions
Completing all required homework and assigned readings
Just as there are many additional skills in football besides blocking and tackling (i.e. passing the ball, catching the ball, rushing the passer, causing turnovers, etc.) there are also many other important skills in your development as a student: writing, reading and test taking to name a few.
After you set the foundation with the basic fundamentals, you can start working on these additional skills.
What academic fundamentals do you need to work on to help you be the best student you can be?