Just a broken window but then…

This post originally appeared on Dan Miller’s 48 Days Weekly Newsletter.

There’s a concept in criminal thinking known as the broken window theory.  Introduced in 1982 by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an article titled “Broken Windows” it included the following example:

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”

old abandoned car

A Stanford psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, arranged an experiment testing the broken-window theoryback in 1969. He arranged for an automobile with no license plates and the hood up to be parked idle in a Bronx neighborhood. The car was attacked by “vandals” within minutes of its “abandonment”. Zimbardo noted that the first “vandals” to arrive were a family – a father, mother and a young son – who removed the radiator and battery. Within twenty four hours of its abandonment, everything of value had been stripped from the vehicle. After that, the car’s windows were smashed in, parts torn, upholstery ripped, and children were using the car as a playground.

So how does this relate to success in our lives?

I think we respond in the same way.  If our broken window is being late for work each day, allowing email to pile up, clutter to accumulate on our desk, or procrastinating on important tasks, those small indicators of disorder will signal that things are out of control. And we begin to rationalize bigger issues of allowing our life to be out of control.  Those little things undermine our goals because they give us a sense of chaos – that we are victims of circumstances.  Now I can’t break my sales record this month, I can’t get that new car and I can’t prepare for that triathlon. 

Here are other signs you may have a broken window

  • It snowed today so I can’t get to the interview I had scheduled
  • I lost money on my last business deal so I’m going to just settle for the job I have now
  • I failed one class so I’m just going to forget about getting that degree
  • I ate two desserts last night so I’m going to just give up on my goal of losing 20 pounds this year
  • The stain on my shirt is not a big deal – I’m sure no one will notice anyway

But we can break that pattern by fixing the little cracks in our windows:  cleaning up our email, leaving 10 minutes early for work, making sure we look as sharp as possible, and turning in important projects a day before the deadline.  Those little steps will give us a feeling of being in control – I can make my life work.

What “broken window” can you fix today?

View the original post at: http://www.48days.com/just-a-broken-window-but-then/.

What Problems Do you Want to Solve?

This is a re-blog from the ReigningIt blog:

“Did you catch the mindshift in education recently? It started when a casappicture from a conference where Google Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casapspoke.

“Rather than, What do you want to be when you grow up? Let’s ask, What problem do you want to solve? … This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.”

Mind blown.

Educators, parents, those working in corporate all united in a wave of re-tweets, FB re-posts, and re-sharing on Google+. Everytime I saw this quote, I flashed back to my childhood when adults would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Once I gave a standard response (librarian was my dream job, in case you are wondering), the conversation ended. As a school counselor, I am guilty of asking that same question to my students as I get to know them. Each time I read that quote, I feel an inner voice telling me that I can and MUST do better for my students.

A few days ago I was meeting with a student for the first time. We chatted easily, but I couldn’t shake the sense that she heard my voice as the adult Snip20151203_8voice in the Peanuts cartoon: “Wah wah wah.” Before I knew it, the question came out of my mouth. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Ugh. I cringed inside.

“An astronaut,” the student replied quickly. Clearly this question had been asked before. I paused for a moment, thinking of how to phrase my next question.

“What unresolved questions about space or problems do you want to solve as an astronaut?” I asked. She opened her mouth to respond and then hesitated. Silence ensued as I watched her think about her response for the first time since we met.

“We’ve only just begun to explore what life forms exist on Mars,” she began. “I am curious to know what types of microorganisms live there and how they have evolved to withstand the climate. I also want to marslearn more about life on other planets and how those organisms have evolved.”
I was stunned by the response. Oh, did I mention this is an eleven-year-old? I literally felt chills as I listened to this student talk about excitedly about space exploration. I felt honored to listen to her articulate questions she never realized she had about our universe. I held back tears, thinking to myself, “This conversation would have happened had I not learned to reframe a question I’ve asked hundreds of times.””

See the original post at: https://reigningit.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/what-problems-do-you-want-to-solve/ 

Is it time we stop ‘averaging’ grades?

This post is from the “Life of an Educator” blog:

“What message are we sending to students when we average grades over a quarter or a semester?
This is definitely a hot topic question for those who are involved in work around grading and assessment.
What about the statement below?

‘When we average grades over time, we are basically saying that our teaching doesn’t have any impact on student learning.’ via @leeannjung

That’s a pretty powerful and bold statement!
Also, consider this image of seven students and their performance over a period of time:
Do we really feel each student is at the same place in regard to their learning?
Do we really feel each student is receiving a grade that most accurately reflects their current level of mastery?
image via @tguskey
Next, consider the football team in preparation for the game on Friday night (thanks for this great example @mctownsley…)
Team A: Works extremely hard all week at practice and has done everything possible to prepare for the game on Friday night.
Team B: Takes it easy at practice all week and really didn’t put forth a lot of commitment to prepare for the game on Friday night.
The reality is that both teams will start the game on Friday night with zero points. The team that worked hard doesn’t get an advantage from the start and the team that didn’t work hard doesn’t start off with a disadvantage. Grades are about what kids know at that given point in time… same thing as on the football field.
Last thought… do we really want the initial learning students do in the beginning (when the skills and/or content are brand new) to affect a student’s grade later on down the road? Should students be able to escape the mistakes and roadblocks they faced in the beginning or should these mistakes haunt them the entire grading period?
So, is it time to stop averaging grades?”
Have a great week!

Goodbye 2015… Hello 2016!!!


This was a New Year’s message from my good friend at ACT, Inc., Carl Forbes:

“As much as we grew attached to it, 2015 has passed on. Let’s take a few moments to contemplate it’s passing. It is time to learn from and let go of our past and embrace our newest addition, 2016.

Whether you make New Year resolutions or not, I urge you to join me in choosing to make 2016 even better than this past year. Choose to make something special happen in the year to come.

Consider completing a project long overdue. Make that transition you’ve been contemplating. Sell that house. Get that new job. Find that new companion. Make that long paper…

Come on. Let’s do it. The time is right.

2016 is here …. Celebrate.

Happy New Year!”

Carl Forbes