Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Cheer for Children and Adults

Recently, a friend sent me the note below and this three-minute video. I watched it five times before stopping. When you watch it, you won't wonder why it has nearly 40M views to date.

     Here's something to brighten your holiday season. Turn the volume up.
     This looks like a normal grocery store, but when the lights go out? Awesome! It took a team of cashiers, 13 different hidden cameras, and a whole lot of holiday spirit to pull off this epic holiday surprise!
     Edeka, Germany's largest supermarket chain, decided to surprise its shoppers with a seasonal treat. In an attempt to liven up the otherwise boring chore of grocery shopping, these cashiers opted to delight their patient shoppers with a choreographed orchestra that beeped the holiday classic, "Jingle Bells."

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Joy . . . and Surprises of Reading to Children

Over a decade ago, I was enjoying one of my favorite activities—reading to children—when I was unexpectedly interrupted by one child. Here, see for yourself . . .

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Must Read if You're Working on College Placement

After listening to Frank Bruni speak at the Annual Head of School conference the beginning of November, I immediately grabbed a copy of his latest book Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania and read it immediately.

For parents, students, teachers, and placement officers as you wind your way through this year's college admissions process, you must be sure to read Bruni's book. It gives such good perspective. Here is one great quote from the book:

"Many people flourish in their careers and their relationships because of the buoyancy of their spirits, their talents for establishing a positive rapport with everyone around them and the emotional wisdom with which they separate what's vitally important from what's not."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Helping Class with Grace & Courtesy

I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to an eighth grade graduating class about how grace and courtesy can help them in life as they move on to their high school years. I was so inspired by the students I was talking to, I wrote an article about our experience, and . . . well, here is the article,  "Lead With Grace & Courtesy," if you want to learn more about helping a class with grace and courtesy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Energy Bus

Whether you are a student, teacher, or parent we all need to be positive for each other AND ourselves. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon is an easy read with lots of good advice. For example, here are five ways school leaders can care for their teachers and staff:

  1. Make time for them
  2. Listen to them
  3. Recognize them
  4. Serve them
  5. Bring out the best in them

And, you know, the best part of this approach is that students see and hear this behavior, and they will want to model the same when they get into leadership positions.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Case For Good Governance

For me, the most important committee on a nonprofit board is the governance committee — the committee that was was once known as the nominating committee or the committee on trustees.

It is the governance committee that is charged with taking care of a nonprofit board. There is lots more to tell you and it can be found in an article I wrote that was just published in Independent School magazine — "The Case For a Good Governance Committee."

See what you think.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Must Meeting Minders

When I speak to heads of school, I am not amazed when they tell me that their board meetings may go on for hours . . . and hours. Be they committee meetings or board meetings, volunteers' precious time at meetings should not last more than an hour and a half with the understanding that some designated meetings may need more time. Here is some sage advice on the structure of a meeting.

  • Recognize a quorum
  • Calling meeting to order
  • Approve the agenda and minutes
  • Communication and reports
  • Old/new/Other business
  • Close the meeting"

To read more on this important skill read the full article from BoardEffect.

Also, I recommend that all meeting goers read Patrick Lencioni's book Death by Meeting.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Emotional Intelligence — Importance & Resources

"The Emotion Revolution: Enhancing Social and Emotional Learning in School" by Marc Brackett in the summer 2016 issue of  Independent Teacher confirms all that I have been living and reading on emotional intelligence. From Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligence and book Frames of Mind, to John Mayer's work on personal intelligence and book Personal Intelligenceto Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence; and to Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry, emotional intelligence plays a significant role in our lives. Learn as much as you can.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Advice for Teachers

Excellent clip from the NAIS Bulletin 

"Three 2016 NAIS Annual Conference speakers share tips on connecting with students, teaching the class you wish you could take, and using technology in the classroom."

Friday, September 2, 2016

Doing Good Better -> A Clear Path to Good Governance

I have read many resources on good governance practices, and I recently stumbled upon one of the best. Best because it is very readable, easy to understand, provides several great resource documents, and is especially volunteer friendly to new board members.

This new and improved 2015 paperback edition of  Edgar Stoesz's Doing Good Better has excellent reference as well. Much of Stoesz's knowledge comes from his many years working with non-profit boards.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Steve Silberman, author of the book NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity was interviewed yesterday on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth." The interview begins with a statistic from a CDC estimate that today 1 in 68 children has been identified as having fallen somewhere along the autism spectrum. In his book, Silberman is hopeful and looks at autism not as a pathology or disorder but as neurological diversity and calls for it to be recognized and respected as a social category.

Click here to hear "Neurotribes" the excellent and hopeful 14-minute interview.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Optical Illusions Revisited . . . Again

My last post on optical illusions was posted on December 19, 2014.

To those of you — and your students — who appreciate optical illusions, here's one for you. Be sure to watch it all the way to the end.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Power of Habit

If you have not read Duhigg's bestseller yet, find the time to read it or at least see the TEDx Teachers College talk below, which is taken from the appendix of the book. The book is an excellent read.

Here is a good synthesis from the author of the book:

"As a result, this book doesn't contain one prescription. Rather, I hoped to deliver something else: a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change. Some habits yield easily to analysis and influence. Others are more complex and obstinate, and require prolonged study. And for others, change is a process that never fully concludes." (pgs. 275-76)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Leadership in a Tweet

I had the pleasure last week to teach a class of heads of school and principals on leadership. When I asked them to tweet me what leadership means to them, here is what I received from several members of the class:
  • Being a value-based person with a clear direction willing to be joined by and support others.
  • The art of assisting others in developing and applying their skills for the good of others.
  • A proposed cycle: listen, observe, analyze, communicate, serve, empower, protect, host, nurture, encourage, rest, play and repeat.
  • Engaging others in the actualization of core values in the service of a higher purpose.
  • Attend. Listen. Observe. Consider. Connect. Engage. Decide. Inspire. Nudge. Assist. Reflect. Adjust. Celebrate. Translate. Share. Step aside
  • Inspiring others to do more and to be more.  A true leader leads by example and fosters leadership in others.
  • Serving others; taking responsibility for other’s well-being & growth; willing to learn from others; & having the courage to forge new path.
Such good tweets.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reading to Preschools — a Delight

While I was reading The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna to a class of preschoolers, I turned the last page, ended the book, and smiled at their joy of hearing this wonderful story.

Immediately, a five-year old child raised her hand and said, “It seems to me that there is one more page to the book.” I smiled and said, “Hmm, let’s check to see.” To everyone’s delight, I did forget to turn to the very last page, and we all had a good laugh.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Caring For the Head of a School

For those of you who are a head of school, trustee, teacher, or parent, you might be interested in reading about caring for the head of school. Here is an article I wrote, "Care of the Head" and below is a webinar, "Caring for Your Head." Both the article and webinar can be especially helpful to school boards and school owners.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Be it a family, a classroom, a school, or a larger community, Sebastian Junger's latest book Tribe has so much to say about building lasting, purposeful communities—small and large—and humanity. This is particularly important as we reflect on the shootings in Minnesota and Dallas.

One of my favorite excerpts from this short and powerful book is basic advice he quotes from the George Washington Law Review, a 2015 survey of more than 6,000 lawyers.

“. . . human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do, authentic in their lives, connected to others." (From pages 21-22)

Here is a seven minute interview with Junger on the PBS NewsHour:

Friday, July 1, 2016

Reading to Children is for the Child AND the Adult

Listening to Sherman Alexie's interview on Tuesday night's PBS News Hour, he talked about his newest book — a children's book — Thunder Boy Jr..

In the interview, he states "Well, the big thing is, you spend — probably you want the book to be about 70 percent for the kid and about 30 percent for the adult reading to the kid." I immediately thought of how the TV hit series The Simpsons is written to appeal to young people AND adults.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lessons in Grandparenting

Even though the title of Lesley Stahl's book is Becoming Grandma, grandpas will learn a lot from the wisdom, experience, interviews, and research presented by this charming, smart journalist . . . and grandma. Also, the parents of the grand children will learn lessons, especially the in-laws—mother-, father-, daughter-, and son-.

Here are a few excerpts from among many, many lessons presented:

"In fact, it appears that we humans are at our unhappiest in our late thirties and forties. We bottom out in our early fifties, then keep getting happier through our sixties and seventies and even beyond, until disability kicks in."

"Relationships with grandfathers usually grow stronger as children age. Kids tend to prefer Gramma at first, but then things even out."

"It reminds me me of something Tom Brokaw said: 'For parents, bribery is a white-collar crime; for grandparents, it's a business plan!' "

"I used to think life had four necessities: food, oxygen, love and friendship. Now I know there's a fifth: purpose."

Here is the book trailer:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Independent Teacher - Latest Edition

Click over to the latest edition of NAIS's Independent Teacher online magazine — for teachers and by teachers.

From the Editor, Stan Izen

"We sometimes forget about the importance of allowing students to be themselves, that one of our primary jobs as teachers is to promote the development of individual personalities, to make space for idiosyncrasies. . ."

Friday, June 3, 2016

Great Grit Resources

Angela Duckworth has made a name for herself with one word: Grit. After reading her first book and seeing her TED Talk, I am convinced that she has been on to something for a long time. Here are two quotes from her book:

"Together, the research reveals the psychological assets that mature paragons of grit have in common. There are four. . . and they tend to develop over the years, in a particular order.
  • Interest
  • Practice
  • Purpose
  • Hope" (pg. 91)
"If you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals. Then ask yourself how likely it is that your approach to parenting encourages your child to emulate you. If the answer to the first question is 'a great deal,' and your answer to the second is 'very likely,' you're already parenting for grit." (pg. 216)

I highly recommend her book, and you may want to check out these recent gritty articles.

"Is Grit Overrated?" by Jerry Useem [The Atlantic]

"Is 'grit' overrated in explaining student success? Harvard researchers have a new theory." by Jeffrey J. Selingo [The Washington Post]

Friday, May 27, 2016

Consulteering — Kerry Hanon interviews Me for NYTimes

It all began when I was a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) planning committee for the June 29, 2015 workshop "What's Next" Retirement and Beyond For Educators. That's when I met our keynote speaker author Kerry Hannon. I presented a session at the workshop, "Transition II: Consulting and Volunteering" Kerry attended the session and asked if I might be interested in being interviewed for a future New York Times article. I could not say "Yes" fast enough. Well, here is the article Kerry wrote — "Work a Little, Play a Little: A New Retirement Strategy."

Click over to Kerry's website to see and hear the good work she is doing. Here are a few of her most recent books:
• What's Next? Updated: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties, and Beyond
Love Your Job: The New Rules for Job Happiness
Getting the Job You Want After 50 For Dummies

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to Make Stress Your Friend

Whether you are a teacher, student, or parent who has experienced stress at some point in your life, you will want to watch and hear Kelly McGonigal talk about how to make stress your friend.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Guiding Students Toward What They Might Like to Read

Found in this week's . . . 

“ 'Over my 40-year teaching career, I can vividly recollect three books that challenged my colleagues and me — Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy, and Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series — in three different schools, each 10 years apart.'

Former Head of School Dane Peters writes from experience about one of every educator’s greatest challenges: making book recommendations when you have to balance what students like, what’s popular, and what parents think is appropriate. Also featured in the current issue of the online Independent Teacher magazine is thoughtful coverage on everything from teaching world religions to using the Socratic method.”

The NAIS Bulletin delivers timely news and links to resources about major issues affecting the independent school community. If your colleagues would like to receive the Bulletin, please have them email

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Value of Education

Found on the Internet recently . . .

A father told his 3 sons when he sent them to the university: "I feel it's my duty to provide you with the best possible education and you do not owe me anything for that. However, I do want you to appreciate it. As a token, please each put $1,000 into my coffin when I die."

And so it happened. His sons became a doctor, a lawyer and a financial planner, each very successful financially. When their father’s time had come and they saw their father in the coffin, they remembered his wish. First, it was the doctor who put ten $100 bills onto the chest of the deceased. Then, came the financial planner who also put $1,000 there.  Finally, it was the heartbroken lawyer's turn.   He dipped into his pocket, took out his checkbook, wrote a check for $3,000, put it into his father's coffin and took the $2,000 cash. He later went on to become a member of Congress…