- Lebanon Community School Corporation
- Thoughts for the Week
High 5: March 5Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 3/5/2021
Song on Repeat this Week.... "Change" - Charlie Puth (featuring James Taylor)
Quote I am thinking about... "Take inventory of your obligations from time to time. How many of these are self-imposed? How many of them are truly necessary? Are you as free as you think?" - Ryan Holiday
Thought I am pondering... I had the great pleasure of speaking to our boys basketball team on Monday evening prior to their first Sectional game. I shared something I found when re-reading a portion of the book Leading with the Heart by Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Dukes Men's Basketball Team.
He spoke about how hard it is to get a team to buy in, really buy in to the fact that when the tournament starts, the team's record is 0-0. Of course, all of the experiences and growth over the course of the season is important. It is that preparation that has built more physical strength and stamina, more mental acuity and focus, more understanding of each other, and more understanding of the game. But, at tournament time, it is the start of a new season. We are 0-0.
Perhaps we could have practiced a little harder at certain points.
Perhaps we let anger, jealously, or other issues divide our team and waste valuable time along the way.
Perhaps we could have _____. Perhaps we should have______.
But, we didn't.
We start a new season, where we are, with what we have.
It's a metaphor for life, both personal and professional.
We should not dwell on the could have or should have moments. We are where we are. We have another chance, we are 0-0.
I hope we remember that when we are self-assessing ourselves, and I hope we remember that when assessing a student or colleague. Can we start every day at 0-0?
I am thankful for ... our students.
It was so rewarding and fun to travel to all six schools this week and honor our student P.R.I.D.E. Champions. The Champions were, of course, grateful and respectful in their acceptance of the awards. But, even more rewarding to me was the response of their classmates. In more than one classroom the Champion's peers spontaneously erupted into applause for their friend.
It is hard to have bad day after an experience like that.
I am hopeful for...continued positive COVID-19 data trends.
There are continued concerns with our fight agains COVID-19 of course. I am so hopeful though that vaccines will continue to become available to more and more people. I am hopeful that our continued discipline in following guidelines, along with the improvements in treatment and numbers of vaccinations, will improve our condition and instill our confidence in a smart, steady, and lasting return to some form of normalcy.
If we stay #tigerstogether, we will be able to return next year with 100% in-person instruction for 100% of our students. This has been and continues to be our expectation.
Thank you for a great week. I spent time in all schools this week and continue to be impressed with your efforts.
Enjoy your weekend
High 5: February 26Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/26/2021
I've listened to Donavon Frankenreiter's music for years.... His music is always a pick me up. He's one of our favorite artists on our "Lake Mix." Songs like "Glow", "Free", "It Don't Matter", and "Heading Home" have helped me through over the years. "Heading Home" is a fun little tune that reminds us to stay within ourselves and to stay true to ourselves... Here's the lyrics:
Try to sell somethin' that just can't be bought
Said it's the latest and the greatest but i know that it's not
Be somebody you don't wanna be
Didn't even exist last year but now it's what we need
Oh no not me, oh no not meCuz i'm headin' home (2x)
Try to tell them somethin' that should never be taught
I guess it wont be great around here when they're born
Once it's really gone then it's really gone for good
Just because you can doesnt mean that you should
Oh no not here, oh no not now
Cuz i'm headin' home (2x)
Go somewhere ya never gone
Sing something that ya never sung
Think about something that ya never thought
And if you're gonna give, give everything you got
Oh yeah right here, oh yeah right now
I'm headin' home(4x)
Oh yeah right here, oh yeah right now
We're headin' home (4x)
Songwriters: Donavon Frankenreiter Heading Home lyrics © Swing On Down Publishing, Donavon Frankenreiter Dba Swing On Down Publishing
Quote I am thinking about... "You shouldn't give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don't care at all." -Marcus Aurelius
Thought I am pondering... I ran across this brief video from one on my Twitter follows. It reminds me of:
1. Rule #4 - No one can motivate you or make you feel anything. The way you feel and what you think is your decision; and
2. Rule #24 - You always take your own weather with you.
I sent it to my son with the following message: "A little morning motivation. If I feel like complaining today, I am going to rewatch this."
I am thankful for ...50 degree weather!
I cannot overstate how uplifting it was to look out my office window this week and see PE students on the football field and track and field practicing outside.
I am fighting for...Public Education.
Last week we shared our response to the Governor's Next Level Teacher Compensation Report.
This week, we have published a brief Executive Summary. Both documents can be found here.
I encourage everyone to review the Executive Brief. It provides some quick talking points that are helpful when describing to non-educators the disparity in funding that is tilted in favor of private schools (with little to no accountability to the taxpayers) and public charter schools (often propped up through arrangements with for profit operators).
Public schools are the backbone of our the communities we serve.
While I support choice, I do not believe that a public service, being asked to serve the same percentage of students over time, should be defunded in order to provide it - especially when publicly funded private schools the schools Hoosier parents "choose" may reject enrollment to any student for any reason, or no reason at all. That is not my definition of choice.
We encourage you to share help our community stay informed.
High 5: February 19Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/19/2021
This has been on my playlist for a long time. It's a great song to relax to when floating on the water or at your favorite vacation spot. It's not only a song about how being on a boat takes you away from "reality," it's a song about self-care, about taking time to pause, for gratitude, and for yourself.
Quote I am thinking about... During a meeting with administrators this week, I shared the following quote that I ran across on Twitter from Jason Walker, @LeadershipCures
"The Great Leader: We felt happy when he entered, safe while he was here and sad when he left."
I challenged our administrators to visualize someone when they read this quote. I think all of us can call up in our memory someone who embodies this quote.
The exercise is a bit of educational neuroscience for ourselves. It's mindfulness. It's gratitude. I submit that it is impossible to read this quote, and think of someone who embodies this definition and not feel better.
Thought I am pondering... I must admit, I am jealous. The author, thought leader and speaker Simon Sinek has a way of taking many of the thoughts, observations, and messages that I have swirling in my head and presenting them in bite sized, approachable, meaningful, and impactful ways.
Our LCSC Administration has been embarking on a year-long study, working through the book "The Advantage" by Patrick Lencioni. Our goal: to uncover the core values that drive our work. And, to define our work in bite sized, approachable, meaningful, and impactful ways. We are excited over the coming months to share our discussions with all faculty and staff to help us continue to unify our efforts to support the emotional, physical, and academic needs of our students.
In a brief video tweet, Simon Sinek takes on a critical need not only for our companies and business, but I would suggest in some ways for our actual survival as a society.
In it, he "picks on" Generations Y and Z a little. Don't get lost in this. It is possible that Mr. Sinek is generalizing (perhaps too much) about the skills that these generations lack. Certainly, the lack of, and I believe the erosion of, the skills he talks about are not isolated to Generations Y and Z. I believe there has been a slow erosion over many decades.
I once worked for a boss who lacked these skills. The boss (in his 60's - now probably 70's) avoided the communications Simon Sinek points out are so important. He would either:
- When making an unpopular decision, send me or another principal to deliver the news, or;
- Strong arm the team into making an unpopular decision, then if he actually did deliver the news personally, when the blowback came, would say, "well, that was Dr. Milleman's decision."
This approach erodes trust. It is unhealthy. And, it is unsustainable.
So, when viewing this brief 2 minute and 41 second clip, don't get lost in who is to blame for the state of affairs. Don't worry about whose fault it is. Don’t worry about which generation is better or worse at it.
Focus on the skills he lists:
- Effective Communication
- How to give and receive feedback
- How to have difficult conversations
- And I will add to his list....empathy.
These are not just important skills for the success of an organization - they are survival skills. Without these skills, even the most profitable companies are miserable places to work.
What are we doing to grow these skills, in ourselves, in others, and in our students?
These are the skills that are foundational for relationships. It's not about being our students' friend, or knowing every detail of our students' lives. It is engaging with them on a mature level (even our youngest students) in a way that says "I trust you to be able to listen, communicate effectively, give and receive feedback, and have difficult conversations." And, if you can't yet - I'll show you.
A team that has these skills embedded in its culture is - unstoppable.
I am thankful for ...firsts.
In going through some old photos recently and I ran across a couple of my "firsts"
My first guitar (check out the rockin' 1970's patterned shirt!)
We didn't have an XBox, or internet, or cell phones, or any of that stuff. I love this memory. I spent my time riding my 1970 Z50A Honda MiniTrail, throwing a rubber baseball against a barn door, fishing, hunting, or playing my guitar.
My first car.... A 1973 Luxury LeMans... vinyl seats, retread tires. I paid $1500 for her with money from the auction money I raised when selling my 4-H pigs, and money from working on the school farm and bailing hay from local farmers. I can remember crawling under the dashboard and into the trunk to install the Kenwood stereo and 6x9 speakers.. oh, and the added 8 Track player that I bolted underneath the glovebox.
If you want to make your heart smile, I suggest going through a box of old pictures this weekend.
I sure am glad I did.
I am concerned about... All public educators.
This was not a good week for public education in the state of Indiana.
In this Friday Five, we have included a lot of information about school funding - including our district's response to the state Teacher Pay Commission Report. It is lengthy - that is because:
- The recommendations are lengthy and;
- School funding and staff pay is are complex issues.
We have to study it - all of us. We have to know what has happened and what is happening. Be informed. Ask questions. Ask me questions.
I will continue to advocate for public education, for the public good that we provide, for the value we bring to our communities, and the students that only the public schools serve.
I love what I do. I do. I still do. It is a noble cause, public education. I am proud to be in this journey with you.
If we stick together, we will be ok.
High 5: February 12Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/12/2021
Song on repeat this week…. “Be Kind To Yourself” – Andrew Peterson
I am thankful for….Three day weekends.
I know we can all use a little break about now. Enjoy your three day weekend.
While enjoying the day on Monday, I challenge us to reflect on the holiday we use to honor past Presidents.
I am well aware that there are mixed emotions regarding this holiday – The presidency is a branch of our system of government after all. And with government and governing comes opinions, personal beliefs, and statements, speeches, and decisions that make up our country’s official record. Governing is a human endeavor. Humans are – well, human. Flawed and imperfect. Seems like a good reason to have a system of checks and balances.
Presidents Day, for me, is about more than one or two former Presidents. It is about the institution. It is about our system of government. It is a time to be thankful for Presidents who challenged us to be better as a country than we thought we could be, who shined a light on the good, and yes, who shined a light on the bad. We are all human too.
Quotes I am pondering…
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
I am melancholy about… the passing of Chick Corea.
I was so fortunate in middle school and high school that my band director, Bill Stultz, exposed us to incredible music and musicians. I can remember travelling to live concerts of Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson. We would sit around his office for hours listening to jazz greats like Bill Watrous, Stan Kenton, and ... Chick Corea. There are a few musicians in every genre who are transformative. Their music is timeless. They combine technique with emotion and there’s just “something” about their music that keeps you present. Chick Corea is one of those giants of jazz.
His discography is on Spotify. If you get a moment, click on a couple of his pieces this weekend. You won’t regret it.
I am concerned about…Snow.
We are potentially in the path of big snow event beginning Monday afternoon and evening. Weather models are confident that a large amount of snowfall will occur. Since it is about 90 hours away, the weather experts have less confidence, at the time I am writing this message, of the direction and distance of the storm’s path.
Stay alert. Be prepared. Stay safe!
High 5: February 5Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/5/2021
Song on Repeat this Week.... "The Longer I Run" - Peter Bradley Adams
Quote I am thinking about... "We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out." - Theodore Roosevelt
Thought I am pondering... Rule #4 from my 25 Rules and Observations of Life
"No one can motivate you or make you feel anything. The way you feel and what you think is your decision."
Two passages I read this week brought this home. In one, Brian Trace in the book Eat That Frog said he had fallen into the mental trap of assuming that people who are doing better than him were actually better than him. What he (thankfully) learning was that this was not necessarily true. They were just doing things differently, and what they had learned to do, within reason, he could learn as well.
In another, from Ryan Holiday's The Daily Stoic he shares the tremendous quote from Epictetus: "Who then is invincible? The one who can not be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice."
I am thankful for and excited about... Stakeholder meetings that we are beginning next week to discuss future capital planning and school funding goals for LCSC. Our communications efforts in launching these stakeholder meetings was put on hold due to COVID-19 but we are beginning to engage our community in this important work. We have a great story to tell in LCSC and I am excited to share it with others.
I am concerned about... Cold weather.
The midwest is bracing for a shot of cold air over the next several days. Temperatures and wind chills may dip dangerously low. We have no way of knowing exactly how cold it will be or of predicting how the temps will affect our school operations. We will communicate as soon as we can based on our confidence in forecasts and current conditions.
Make sure you are planning ahead and planning to add some more time in the mornings to travel to school. This weekend would be a good time to check your car battery.
As a reminder, we have a description of our process for determining delays and cancellations on our website.
High 5: January 29Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/29/2021
Song on Repeat this Week.... "Smoke Clears" by Gabe Dixon
What I am reading....and Thought I am Pondering... I am reading the The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday It contains 365 short thoughts and meditations to help ground the reader daily in the four Stoic virtues of Courage, Temperance, Justice, and Wisdom.
The thought that is sticking with me this week is from the Monday, January 25th entry. In this entry, Holiday shares his observations of a few wealthy and from a social status definition, successful people (Warren Buffet, Kawhi Leonard, John Urschel). Each of these examples are extremely wealthy but choose a modest lifestyle. The passage describes the importance of knowing what is important, and staying true to those values. When we do, we are not easily rattled because we are not consumed with the act of comparing ourselves to someone else's standards. Here is the passage that continues to ring in my ears:
"The more things we desire, and the more we have to do to earn or attain those achievements, the less we actually enjoy our lives - - and the less free we are."
My Current Personal Goal... to exercise six days per week.
I am thankful for and excited about... Student accomplishments.
Despite all of the challenges this pandemic has placed on us, our students have managed to win a girls state wresting championship, advance almost 30 participants to the state level competition for DECA, win boys and girls conference swim championships, prepare for solo and ensemble contests, create beautiful art pieces, write impressive essays, participate in robotics clubs, raise money for charities, and mentor younger peers (to name a few things).
It is literally physically taking a toll on me some days, not being able to be in settings with our students as much as I love to right now. But, I see you. I see the students' accomplishments but I also see the leadership our faculty, staff, and administration provides in order to make those accomplishments possible. Bravo.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Make sure you have your snowblower gassed up and ready to go... (for some that may mean make sure you have some hot cocoa for your kids when they come back in from you making them shovel snow!).
High 5: January 22Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/22/2021
Song on repeat this week... "A Little More" - Cody Fry
Fantastic melody and lyrics. The former American Idol and now solo artist recorded this song in 2017 - three years before the artist could know how timely the words would be in 2021. Enjoy.
I have always struggled with procrastination. I have spoken on this topic throughout my career as part of leadership workshops, seminars, and speeches. I have handed out small "frogs" for participants to keep on our desks as a reminder to to follow the Eat That Frog story and apply it to our daily prioritization of tasks (both professional and personal).
One word I am working On... For the past few years, I have also processed through the One Word That Will Change Your Life action plan from the book of the same name authored by Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, and Jon Gordon. The premise of the One Word plan is to focus on one word that describes your aspirations for personal growth for the upcoming year. One Word is based on the idea that focusing on One Word for the year - a word that defines the ideals and goals we set for ourselves - is better than trying to live up to a long list of New Year's resolutions that can get lost and cast aside quickly. The One Word can be shared with friends so they help us stay accountable. the One Word can be placed on our computer and phone wallpaper for constant reminders. We have a visible and daily target.
My One Word for 2021 - "Now"
- Act when my thoughts are current and present - (send the note, make the call, write it down)
- Live in the present
- Appreciate and take time for gratitude for the present
Quote I am pondering... "Somehow we have weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished." -Amanda Gorman, Poet Laureate for the Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, from her poem “The Hill We Climb,” recited at the January 20, 2021 Presidential Inauguration
I am thankful for... Laughter.
There has been a lot going on in our nation and and our midst recently that does not lead to laughter. If we let ourselves focus only on those dark and troubling things, this could be said all of the time.
Rule #11 is "clichés become clichés because they're true" And as the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. While hard lately, I have sought out videos, articles, and other media that makes me laugh. Whether it's a video of a standup comic or seeing the hilarious memes based on Senator Bernie Sanders where he is pictured seated at the Presidential Inauguration is photoshopped into a variety of settings --- it's just good to laugh. It is the best medicine. Find some time this weekend to let yourself go with a little laughter.
Thank you for another week serving our students and families. Have a great weekend.
High 5: January 8Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/8/2021
Song on Repeat this Week.... "Cry Over Nothing" - The Wood Brothers
The lyrics to this song are pretty timely this week.
Thought I am Pondering.... "Relationships"
That term, in education is being used almost as a "wonder drug."
We hear "it's all about the relationships" all of the time. We often use the term without really defining it. Of course relationships are important. But, what does the term mean?
When we hear that relationships are important in the classroom, or in sports, or activities people process the term and hear different things:
- I have to be their friend
- I have to be funny
- I have to "perform" for my students
- I have to know every like, dislike and interest of every student
- I have to be immersed in the student's culture knowing all about their relationships with family and friends outside of schoool.
I suppose some of these could be applied to the term. And, if we know our students on a deeper level, I see no downside to this. Just the opposite, the more we know about a person the more we can cultivate a meaningful and productive relationship that is mutually beneficial.
Recently, author, Dan Rockwell shared a list of characteristics of strong relationships.
- Fuel great results
- Smooth the way for tough conversations.
- Prevent negative speculations.
- Lower Stress
- Elevate Trust
- Encourage Commitment.
Notice Rockwell's list did not list many of the things we often hear when we are told "it's all about relationships." I don't know, maybe we need a new word that describes "relationships" in a school setting with our students. Maybe it is better defined as a "shared understanding" or "mutual understanding " or "shared goals."
How awesome would it be if, taking Rockwell's list and applying to the classroom we would listen to students say...
Insert your name into each of the following statements:
- Fuel Great Results - __________ expects a lot from me and my class because he thinks we can [high expectations]
- Smooth the way for tough conversations - I can have opinions in __________'s class and I don't feel like they are stupid opinions. [seek to understand, then to be understood]
- Prevent negative speculations - __________ doesn't judge us.
- Lower Stress - When I get upset in __________'s class, he/she gives me a chance to cool off and gives me some time. His class feel safe.
- Elevate Trust - I know __________ knows I am trying, even when I'm having a bad day.
- Encourage Commitment - I don't want to let __________ down. He/she's trying hard for us, so I try hard for him/her.
There are several other ways Rockwell's list could be interpreted. Suffice to say, relationships or the definition of relationships is complex. The more we know about how the brain learns (Educational Neuroscience) and approach our craft as educators as a doctor would a patient - assess, prescribe and treat, monitor, adjust treatment, repeat - the more this term "relationship" fades into the background and success as a result of a strong organizational culture emerges as just "the way it is."
Quote I am Pondering.... From the movie Facing the Giants:
"Matt, you can’t judge your father by his actions and then judge yourself by your intentions. It doesn’t work that way. You’re not responsible for him. You’re responsible for you."
There is a theory in psychology called Fundamental Attribution Error. This is the phenomenon that happens (too often in my case) when a person under-emphasizes situational explanations for another person's behavior while over-emphasizing situational explanations for the observer's own behavior.
An example is when we make an assumption that a person doesn't care enough about our meeting, or members of the group to get to the meeting on time - "she's always late", "she doesn't care enough to prioritize our team", "she's lazy." But, if we are late to a meeting, it is because we couldn't end an important phone call, there were three people at our door we had to meet with before the meeting with urgent matters to address. There are many examples. Fundamental Attribution Error means we tend to make assumptions abut the person's motives rather than considering there may have been circumstances that caused the behavior. The Facing the Giants quote reminded me that I am responsible for me, and you are responsible for you - and I need to give you a little grace about that.
I am hopeful... for a miracle this weekend and the Bears will beat the Saints in the Wildcard round of the NFL playoffs.
I am thankful... for a successful return from Winter Break. We continue to have challenges but our students, families, and most certainly you as our faculty, staff, and administration are meeting those challenges in impressive ways.
Thanks for a good week.
High 5: December 18Posted by Jennifer Todderud on 12/18/2020
I am watching and thinking about... This brief clip of a talk given by the author and thought leader, Simon Sinek. It is a eloquent and powerful description of Rule #1 from Dr. M's Rules, Principles, and Observations of Life 3.0: "Greatness is a product of serving others"
Quote I am pondering... “It is essential that we not respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it is easier to maintain control.” — Epictetus, Enchiridion, 20
I am working on... Rule #3: You cannot Tweet, Facebook, email, or text your way to success. Write a note (hand written), pick up the phone, or better yet, see the person in person.
Rule #13: Think quickly. Talk slowly.
I am hopeful for.... A white Christmas - not a blizzard or anything... just some snow on the ground and maybe some gentle snowfall on Christmas morning as I sit in a quiet house while everyone else is still asleep.
High 5: December 11Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 12/11/2020
Song on repeat this week… This week marked the 40th anniversary of the tragic assassination of John Lennon. While he of course had an incredible impact on our culture (both musically and societally) in his solo recording history with Yoko Ono, I connect him most as a member of the Beatles.
When I think of the Beatles, I think of my favorite Beatles melody, the melody in the song, My Guitar Gently Weeps. For me, it is one of the greatest haunting melodies ever recorded. What is even more cool about this song is that it is not a McCartney or Lennon composition. It is a song written by George Harrison.
Not only is this song a great melody, the history of it being recorded is a good lesson in organizational culture, and of humility, and of acceptance. Eric Clapton (another of my top three artists) played on the original recording. You don’t have to be too much of a music historian to know about the interesting history between Eric Clapton and George Harrison (see Layla, see Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton). So, when George strolled passed his bandmates on the way to the studio with Eric Clapton to begin recording, needless to say, he got the band’s attention.
Below is a link to the song performed at A Concert For George. It features Eric Clapton on guitar, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and Harrison’s son Dhani. It’s an incredible performance.
Below that is a little history about how the song came to be.
I am watching and thinking about... The Sundance Film Festival documentary Alive Inside. Many of you may have already watched it but it is worth viewing again. It is humbling. It is reflective.
It is culturally responsive teaching at its core. It is a powerful reminder of Educational Neuroscience and how emotion and personal connection are bridges to recall and understanding.
The culture, music, art, emotional connections we use to connect students to the curriculum create their habits of mind. These habits form the basis of all recall and the meaning we attach to the content is real, emotional, and powerful.
Our classroom and school routines matter.
Quote I am pondering... “If someone's ungrateful and you tell him he's ungrateful, okay, you've called him a name. You haven't solved anything.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
I am working on... Keeping an open mind, listening, and looking for the good in every situation.
I am grateful for... The hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff and administration.
I am grateful for our local Boone County Health Department – they have been incredible partners with us since the pandemic has begun.