Innovation, Inspiration, Internet, Leadership

Follow Your Passion – If Tony can, so can you!

My motto, even though I never really said it, is “Follow Your Passion”.

-Tony Hawk

Even though our “Passions” unit has just come to an end, I am still eagerly gathering examples for next fall of what it means to follow your passion.  In this short video clip, Tony Hawk describes what it means to him to follow his passion.  He encourages us to embrace every part of our passion – even the parts we might not have thought were our passion when we began.  He cites the example of learning about the cut and sew clothing industry which is integral to his branding and merchandising, and nothing he ever thought he would be found spending his time on but it is something that has really helped him gain a fuller understanding of what he does, how best to do it and how it all works together.

I sent a survey out to our fifth grade parents to get their feedback on our Exhibition unit.  The final question asked:

Would you be interested in being part of a parent exhibition group that will start in the Fall? We will be meeting as a group to share our passions, check in and support each other, set goals, keep each other accountable and share in the journey together?

So far, of the six replies, four people are interested in more information about this group.  I love that!  My goal is to use this group of parents as a mentor group to the fifth graders when they begin their Exhibition in the Spring next year.  We will be using Seth Godin’s “Ship It” as our guide OR Zig Ziglar’s Pick Four.  I want the parents to try out one or both of these tools to see which one works best for them and so I can offer my students the same degree of choice next year.  I also hope that the parents will gain an appreciation for the inquiry process and a better understanding of what their child goes through on a daily basis as a student of an inquiry based curriculum.

I am excited to see parents interested in taking this leap.  I am excited to take the leap along with them.  Most of all, I am excited that together, we just might make school different.

  • What do you do in your school to build parent/teacher/student relationships?
  • How do you involve your parents as partners?
  • How often do you allow kids to see parents as teachers?
  • How often do you as a teacher, learn alongside your kids?

For more information and a download of Ship It in PDF format:

The ShipIt Journal, now in free PDF format

Free to print, free to share. Don’t sell or modify.Here’s the thing: If all you do is read this on the screen, IT WON’T WORK.I use all caps with care here. IT WILL NOT WORK.You need to print it and write in it.  Good luck. Go ship. Make something happen.

Download TheShipItJournal

If you do not live in Boise, but would be interested in being part of our Passion Group via long distance learning,we would love to have you join us!  Please contact me for more information or leave a comment below! 


The Power of Putting it Out There

I “finished” my first book about five days ago.  Then I let it sit. And sit.  And sit some more.  And I told myself:

“I’ll finish it on the weekend…”

“I need to illustrate it….”

“I want to think it over….”

And then I was a little more honest:

“What if people think it’s crazy?”

“What if no one likes it?”

“What if people criticize?”

So, after writing the foreword, afterword and bibliography I emailed it off to my inspiration, Seth Godin.  Then I went to bed. When I woke up, he had replied.  It wasn’t good or bad, it was….nice. Never before have I realized the blah-ness of the word “nice”. I didn’t want nice!  I wanted passion!  I wanted adoration or rebuke.  I wanted anything but lukewarm.  And then it hit me.  The only way to get what I wanted was to suck it up and put it out there!

So I did.

I still would like to make it into a physical book (who doesn’t love a square book?) and I still want to illustrate it (or have someone brilliant like Peter H. Reynolds illustrate it! (swoon!)  But I also know that this is not a book that needs to rest within my iPad any longer. So I put it out there.  I shipped it.

At the moment, you have the option of downloading the PDF of my book FOR FREE! Yes, the whole thing, online, downloadable and free!  Why free?  Because I read some wise words from, no surprise, Seth Godin (note:  I do read things that other people write as well, I just happen to be drawn to Seth – try him yourself, it’s addictive!).  Will it always be free?  Yes. Will it be available for purchase – I hope so!


In addition to being art, being a gift, this book is also a reflection of art and a reflection of a gift. The encouragement and support along the way, along with the critical, reflective feedback from trusted friends, helped to shape this book into what it is.  If you don’t have someone in your life who will give you 100% honest, thoughtful, reflective feedback – even when you are not going to want to hear it – you need to find that person.  And once you find that person for yourself, make sure to BE that person for someone else.  Not necessarily a reciprocal relationship but make sure you are putting yourself out there as a support for others too.

For me, “that person” is a friend and former colleague, Marina Gijzen.  Marina is a great teacher and an amazing person and I feel so fortunate to have worked with her in my career.  She is definitely one of those people who have moved me forward in my thinking, even when I didn’t want to move!

To all those who have left great comments, thank you!  I really, really appreciate it!  Today has been anything but lukewarm, and I thank you all for that!

Now, for book two…….

Creativity, Innovation, Inspiration

Putting It Out There

Recently a friend started a blog and I started a book.

For both of us, the idea of ‘putting ourselves out there’ is a scary one.  “What if….” thoughts run through our minds: what if no one reads it, no one likes it, no one cares?

So what?

As I have gotten further along with my book, quite a few people have asked me, “Who is your audience?” or “Who is your target market?”.  And I haven’t had a crystal clear picture.  I am sure there are a million reasons/blog posts out there that would tell me that finding my market should have been done before starting my book.  But I didn’t do that. What I have come to realize is that the person who I am writing this for is me.  I am choosing to respond to something I read that resonated LOUDLY with me.  It inspired me.  It moved me.  It has, daily, motivated me to be a better teacher and a better student AND a better advocate for change in the way we deliver education to kids.

Writing this book has clarified ideas. It is has made me articulate my thinking.  I have questioned my position and I have asserted my opinions.  I have thought creatively, collaboratively and independently.  I have tapped into prior knowledge and I have built new understandings. I have gathered a ton of knowledge.  A ton.

But as Tony Wagner so eloquently said:


What am I going to do with my knowledge? 

I am going to put it out there.

I don’t know how this will look just yet but I think it will be great – no, awesome. And if it is not?

My book is inspired by the work of Seth Godin – specifically his manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams. I therefore did not find it at all surprising that this morning, I was delivered a special message from Seth to me (ok, he sent it to all his blog followers, but I would like to think he knew what I needed to hear). And what did I hear?  That putting it out there is what matters.  Shipping it.  Committing.  Seeing it through.  Doing something with the information.  Finishing it.

As a teacher, I wondered how this applied to the work I ask kids to do? We are in the middle of our Exhibition and it is a big deal.  I have enjoyed sharing my journey with them so they can see that it really is true that it doesn’t end once you leave school.  That you might always be a little scared of putting yourself out there but the worst that can happen is that no one else applauds.  Feedback from our kids today was that hearing my journey, really helped to clarify how they are going to shape and share their own journey – fantastic!

I know there is more to this though. I have a whole lot of other information swimming around inside my head about effort and grading and rubrics and grading and how that links to putting it out there.  I know there is a connection, I just need to smooth it out a bit in my mind.  Ultimately, I want to focus on how I can support my kids in also choosing to put themselves out there.

What do you do?  How do you encourage them to take that leap?  Or do you?