How Can Schools Tap Into the Inherent Genius Within Every Student So They Change Our World?


Everyone has inherent genius! Teachers identify genius that presents itself in various forms such as intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, spiritual intelligence, or social intelligence when children enter school.  On the first day, great teachers will begin to identify every single child’s unique potential and reinforce these so clearly that the child believes these traits are truly endowed to him or her.  Teachers are like coaches helping every child reach the end goal!  Great principals constantly model and validate their teacher’s talents, as well!  This kind of energy empowers everyone in the school community to succeed, to create an entrepreneurial school of leaders!  Here are some powerful tools to ensure that positive and affirming energy enable success in our classrooms.

  1.  Eliminate negative behaviors and language by disallowing criticism and comparisons in any form.
  2. Alternatively, teach problem-solving tools so students know how to solve problems. Use affirming language.
  3.  Encourage children to compete against their last scores in contrast to comparing one student to another. Model and share methods that demonstrate how to improve performance.
  4.  Be sure to reinforce that success is connected to the choices that are made.  Our choices are the software that determine success.  In other words, our results are a product of our choices.
  5. Create engaging 21st Century projects where choice allows students to use their areas of expertise to find their voice.

What greater gift may we give to our children than acknowledging they can achieve anything they choose to do!  What a gift when they see that their learning is shifting from a level of teacher dependence to independent performance, and finally using their new learning to perform interdependently, just like an award-winning team? As Howard Garner explains, “Everyone has Multiple Intelligences.©”

Character building begins with helping every student develop an identity. Stephen R. Covey states, “Identity is Destiny.”  The “Leader in Me™” aligns staff, students, performance, language, actions, goals and beliefs to create a synergy that results in confident self-regulated  leaders!  One man can change the way we think, but an entire school can impact changes that reverberate throughout the world for a lifetime!

Educators, What is Your One Goal This Year?


Educators, what is your  number one goal this year?   This is a great question!  Helping teachers and students reach the highest peak of the summit is my number one goal!  Everyone matters-children and teachers!  Enable children, and teachers to use their strengths so their weaknesses are diminished. This takes teamwork with goals analyzed at regular checkpoints to improve success similar to mountain climbers!

Here are 5 key tenets I share with reference from the “Leader in Me”:

1.  Distributed leadership throughout the organization

2.  Co-create a quality culture through trusting relationships, a powerful vision, well-defined agreed upon organizational beliefs and emotional responsiveness

2.  Establish SMART goals, publicly display these goals and celebrate all success

3. Professional Learning Communities who use a guaranteed and viable curriculum

4.  PLC teams committed to reviewing formative assessments weekly, charting data, and sharing strategies that support individualized instruction to meet student  needs

5.   Administrators who support, model, guide and recognize success

How High is the Trust Quotient in Your Classroom?

10 Questions to Consider

 Trust is the greatest currency for classroom success. Strong teacher-to-student relationships correlate to a .72 effect size (Hattie, 2009). A normal year’s growth equates to .4.  Since, classrooms today consist of children from diverse backgrounds and experiences; building strong relationships requires teachers to teach them by modeling trustworthiness.  Consider this.

  1. How are you identifying children with a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset? Check out the diagram below.
  2. Are you creating a strong culture of collaboration?
  3. Are you teaching positive language for collaboration?
  4. Are you helping children to benchmark their progress against their own growth?
  5.  Do you clearly define the success criteria for each lesson so students can self-evaluate?
  6. How are you helping children to set challenging learning goals?
  7. What kind of immediate feedback are you providing?  Feedback has a huge 1.13 effect size.  Catch their succeses by offering explicit praise when the are successful!
  8. Most importantly, how do you help children celebrate their success?
  9. Are you explicitly reinforcing how errors help learning?
  10. How do you talk to parents about their aspirations for their children?

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What is the one shift that I can make this school year to create a phenomenal year of learning in my classroom?


Trust and empower students to own their behaviors and their learning!

Trusting relationships are the key to great learning. Make every child feel important!  The first twenty days are critical to your success!   Kids close down  learning when they feel their teacher does not care about them or they are fearful. I do not mean to become their friend, nor do I mean having a weird relationship like we read about in the newspapers. I mean it is important to create a caring respectful relationship. You are your student’s role model and mentor. When kids know they can trust you and that you genuinely care about their well-being, they will open their minds to learning. However, there is usually at least one outlier who may need more than just you to develop an open mind. You may need help from your Principal or counselor or a team of educators to unlock this child’s mind to learning. Fortunately, this is only a limited number of students!

So here is my advice from 37 years in school!

  1. Entering the classroom on that first day, kids need to feel that this is the greatest place to learn and work! Meet them at the door every morning and welcome them with a “hello” and talk to them about their interests, etc. Tell them how glad you are to see them daily! And close the day on a positive note!


  1. Find out their strengths and their area (s) they are experts.  Create a class chart of this so that students know whom they can go to for help.


  1. Co-create a classroom mission statement that everyone in the class repeats daily so they can live this mission.  Have every child create a  personal mission statement for this year.  This could be just 4-5 adjectives that they illustrate and energizes them each morning.


  1. Co-create a classroom code of cooperation together. This becomes a set of actions that everyone agrees to follow so that they have a great year. Have the class sign this poster and review it regularly. Remember respect is an integral part of this code. Remember to teach each action, how it looks, and how it sounds, how it does not look and how it does not sound. When someone does not follow the code you have written together, individually RETEACH! Do not humiliate or offend children. Just reteach so they know how to live together successfully. Reteaching is the key to a positive culture.


  1. Reinforce your students’ strengths regularly so vividly that they see themselves as learners having great strengths. How many teachers recognized your talents when you were growing up? I wish every child had this type of support.


You are on the road to a fabulous year! Stay tuned for more tips next week.














Growth Mindset (or lack thereof) – finding humor and human in a difficult situation

School Teacher Superhero

We have a special code at my house for “good job”. Step in the doorwith a high grade, a win, or any other action worthy of commendation, and you’ll receive the exclamation “Bad Addis!” (I’m sure you get the euphemism). But it didn’t start that way. When I first heard “Bad Addis” it really meant, “You’ve done a badjob Mrs. Addis”.

Beginner's Mind Pin

During my decade-plusas a special education teacher I had the fortune of working with teenagers, many of whom communicated in their own ways. Some used their words, some used their drawings, and some used their bodies. Throughout the year I wouldbecome attuned to their modes of expression. And along the way I would discover both who my students were, and who I was. I would also discoverthat mistakes aren’t the end, they are the beginning(@34:19).

The event that sparked our family saying involved an angry, frustrated student…

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Celebrating Students’ Leadership with the Theme “If I Could Change the World”

All of our students are involved in this event. Guests learn from our children as they explain their leadership habits to the community. The results are that students have a voice and their voices are heard! They are changing their world. Common Core State Standards expect students to develop 21st Century Skills.  What better venue than inviting community leaders to the school to hear their voices?IMG_9340   IMG_9343 IMG_9354 IMG_9356

What if every child could be publicly celebrated for their successes?

What if every child could be celebrated for their successes? When children are celebrated for their work, they have a public victory. The world is a rainbow of beautiful opportunities for them. “Celebration of Learning” is about children. They celebrate their year of learning; sharing their portfolios, their art, and their music! What if every child worldwide could receive this kind of individual recognition? Visit our gallery of student masterpieces.

Quote: From Ken Robinson

“Education doesn’t need to be reformed—it needs to be transformed. The key is not to standardize education but to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” Ken Robinson

From my perspective…
The key to success is to help children overcome their fear of failure or fear of giving their best efforts while feeling that they belong to a community of learners.  Glaser believes that the key attributes are belonging, competence, fun, and freedom.  The question is how to figure out what each student needs so we can help them develop intrinsic motivation and drive. “We need to become the change we wish to see in the world,” said Gandhi.  We want children to belong to a community of learners where their needs are met.  We want them to have a growth mindset and understand that their brain is like a muscle. The more effort they provide, the stronger their brain, and the more learning occurs. Everyone can learn. It is up to the school community to develop those relationships to uncover children’s needs, while providing the type of classroom where trust, relationships, community, choice and fun prevail.  Every child is wired to achieve! It is all about the “See, Do, Get” paradigm!  How do you see your role as an educator?