(#364) Your Legacy

May 14, 2017

Whatever you build, destroy, hand down, create, or undo will be your legacy.

Legacy: Something handed down from one generation to the next; from one person or group to another. Whether for good or ill someone or some entity passed something along. It can include a memory, an accomplishment, a deed, a message, a financial donation, or a physical resource.

A sports team, for instance, that wins a championship creates a legacy. No matter what follows, the team will always have the title of champion for that particular year.  I find it odd when I hear people say something like, “The Chicago Cubs will defend their championship this year.”

One defends something he or she may lose. The Cubs can NEVER lose the 2016 championship they won.  They may not repeat as champs, but they will always be 2016 World Series champions. No one can remove that distinction.

Every so often, I hear a report that so-and-so’s legacy will be eliminated.  I am not sure how that can happen.  The handoff occurred.  You cannot “unhand” it down.  If someone changes or eliminates a program or service, that becomes the legacy of the eliminator.  The person who created it will ALWAYS have the legacy of the creation.  Someone else can amend or end it but the previous act stands as part of history.

What you do today, tomorrow, or in ten years becomes part of your legacy. One experience, one dot, one moment, and one day at a time. You (and with whomever you collaborate) create a legacy. You can add texture and color to it. You cannot un-create it.

Whatever you build, destroy, hand down, create, or undo will be your legacy. What will your legacy be?


Video recommendation for the week.

Building and meaning of legacies. Check this view.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#332) 100 Years of Resilience

October 2, 2016

“Life is not about me, it’s about others.”
-Frances Bartlett Kinne-

It is 1917 and Oregon beats Pennsylvania (14-0) in the Rose Bowl.  German U-boats stalk international waters. The US Supreme Court upholds the 8-hour workday for railroad workers.  The United States officially enters World War I. Babe Ruth plays for the Red Sox—and pitches Boston to a victory over the New York Yankees.

And, a little girl was born to proud parents in Iowa.  She would grow into a woman whose influence, graciousness, and concern for others would leave a meaningful impact around the world.  We would come to know this young Iowa girl as Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne.

My introduction to Dr. Kinne came when I entered Jacksonville University as a young college freshman in August of 1971. At the time, she served as the college’s Dean of Fine Arts. Little did I know the reach and powerful influence she had and would have on so many people.

Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with this young-at-heart-and-in-mind centenarian to record a podcast conversation for The Growth and Resilience Network™.  (You can listen to the episode on November 15, 2016.)

Steve with Dr. Kinne

Steve with Dr. Kinne

Never did I think forty-five years ago that I would be sitting in her den listening and learning quite literally at the foot of a master. A master of music, education, and human relationships. And so much more.

I heard powerful wisdom humbly presented.

img_0718

She attributes her growth as an individual directly to her parents. In her autobiography Iowa Girl: The President Wears A Dress, she states,

“My parents always taught me to be independent,
and I had a general optimism about my capacity to live
unhampered
by doubt, hesitation or fear.”

A few of the lessons that jump from that quote:

  • The importance of family;
  • The significance of role models; and
  • The power of self-confidence and optimism.

Dr. Kinne’s life resonates with optimism, grit, and resilience. Her life personified a lesson from her father, “Life is a journey, not a guided tour.”  We have to seize (and many times, make) our opportunities as we move through life. Not just to add to our resume but, rather, to embrace a greater purpose beyond listing the things we accomplish.

During our conversation, she did not want to dwell on her “accomplishments.”  Rather, she told me, “My job is to help others. Life is not about me, it’s about others.”

I thought of how many people reverse that last sentence and live by “Life is not about others, it’s about me!”  You know the folks. Those who remind you at every turn just how great or renowned they are.

For Dr. Kinne, it cannot be about that. It has to be about the people in front of her. She treats them as if they are the thought leaders, the pioneers, the all-stars. She wants to help pave the way for them.  Effective teachers intuitively know this. Transformational leaders live it.  Dr. Kinne is both.

I asked her to leave our listeners with a Call-to-Action. What would she suggest we consider doing and being in order to live a life of resilience and service to others? She answered by turning the spotlight from her to me. She talked about openness and the power of thinking about others.

Inscription by Dr. Kinne for Steve.

Book inscription by Dr. Kinne for Steve.

When I had arrived at her home early that afternoon, I found her sitting in her parlor speaking with a former student—one of the thousands that still stay connected with this “Iowa Girl” who has made such a lasting impact on our world.

As we get ready for the day, week, and years ahead, we would all do well to remember her sage teaching (by way of her father): Life is a journey, not a guided tour. What legacy will we leave?


Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy a little bit of the musical talent of this gifted and classically trained pianist. And mark your calendar to tune in to our podcast on November 15, 2016.


Thank you, Dr. Kinne.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/podcasts).

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

 


(#303) Give Your All Stars the Spotlight

March 13, 2016

Find a way to let your colleagues share what
they are proud of and how they do it.

At times, the execution of appropriate recognition can move from the sublime to the ridiculous.  I remember years ago sitting in a school auditorium during a student awards assembly that dragged on and on and on.  It seemed everyone got an award for something.  I remember a colleague turning to me and wondering when we would start calling people in from the streets for special recognition.

You probably have seen or heard of endless compliments and praise given for even the tiniest deeds (or misdeeds). Everyone is special and everything deserves special recognition.

Social media sites give “badges.”

Ridiculous? Possibly. I don’t think it’s sublime.

On the other extreme we can find the total lack of recognition. There are managers (definitely not leaders) who don’t take the time or don’t see the need to give a shout-out to their people.  Ridiculous—and worse.

Every workplace has All Stars. I don’t mean the egocentric-look-at-me-strut All Stars. I mean those who go about their calling with meaning, authenticity, and caring.  They make a difference in their work space and for the people they work for or with in that space. They lead the way. How do we recognize these folks—and share their strategies and achievements? How do we recognize these folks?

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

When I have the chance to work with an audience, I have the fortunate opportunity to stand in front of an auditorium full of people and “show my stuff.” I, also, like to share that opportunity with the audience in front of me. Each time I do it I am amazed (but not surprised) at what happens. Take my recent keynote on reflective practice to the faculty at Wake Technical Community College.

The organizers of the event requested I end my presentation with a fifteen minute Q + A.  I suggested to make it a Q + A + S session. Question + Answer + Sharing. I would gladly entertain any questions the audience had and I would also open the floor to the audience to share how they already incorporate reflective practice strategies in their classes. What occurred was energizing and validating. In the fifteen minutes (that could have easily gone longer), everyone who stood up in the audience shared their bright spots. Proud and full of energy they had the spotlight in front of their colleagues.  Unscripted. Unrehearsed. Unabashed. Proud! They represented the All Stars in that room.

David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have done this elsewhere as part of training programs. Department Chairs identified their All Stars. I then incorporated them into a small piece of the program. In an upcoming program for a corporate audience I will facilitate a similar exchange.

Leaders can set aside time for their All Stars to deliver an Ignite Session. Five minutes. Quick. Poignant. Team member affirming. Team building. I saw students do this effectively at a faculty convocation in Virginia.

And if you work for a manager rather than a true leader—someone who does not get the importance of this type of genuine and authentic recognition and professional development-then do it yourself. Hold teaching circles, clearness committees, or Ignite Sessions. Tony Hsieh of Zappos speaks of encouraging collisions to foster innovation.

Video recommendation of the week: Tony Hsieh encourages “collisions” to spark innovation.

Find a way to let your colleagues share what they are proud of and how they do it. They want to hear from you as well. Time for you and your colleagues to shine and grow.

Now, that’s sublime.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#294) Benefits Of Remaining A Continual Learner

January 10, 2016

It can help us fill in gaps between assumptions and realities.

A few months ago on this blog I posed the question, “Do we take time to experience what our customer, client, or student is experiencing?” Regardless of your profession or calling, do you remain a constant learner from the perspective of the people you are serving?

We have all heard (what can become) the cliché about the importance of “life-long learning.” At one level, that can mean staying current with reading, new trends, and updated content in your calling. Important for sure.

I’d like to dig down a little deeper on this; go beyond “staying current” by reading an article or two. Let’s move to learning from the perspective of the people you are serving.

Stephen Brookfield puts forth a simple reminder in his book Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

brookfield

Teachers need to remember what it is like to be a learner in a “foreign” (read: unknown; difficult; demanding; uninteresting to them) field.  One way for those of us in “front of the class” to stay in touch with our inner learner is to take a course in a “foreign” field. Perhaps a history instructor enrolls in a chemistry class or the English teacher signs up for Algebra.  I did this sort of learning when I participated in an 8-week improv workshop this past summer. I’m doing it now as I participate in an online writing Master Class by James Patterson.  Experiences such as these can bring us face-to-face with feelings of anxiety, boredom, irrelevance, and vulnerability—just like a student has to do when sitting in a required core class.   It can help us fill in gaps between assumptions and realities.

Ph.D. candidates may face the same feelings as they complete the required coursework for the degree. I know I did when I had to take M.Ed. and M.A. classes that I had absolutely zero interest in taking. I had to find ways to soldier through—and that kept me in touch with my students.

Video recommendation for the week:

Brookfield aptly points out that when teachers, in particular, take on the role of a student in an area/class in which they have no or limited skill/knowledge they will have a better chance of understanding the trepidation that their students have in front of them.

Maybe the college administrator teaches a full semester course (not just one or two sessions) to acquaint (or re-acquaint) herself with what it’s like to be the classroom teacher who has to, each semester, “learn” the dynamics of a particular class/group of students. This includes facing these students each class day of the semester and dealing with the human drama that comes in the door.  That is a lot different from reading the latest research about a pedagogical breakthrough.  And the experience can remind the administrator of the joys and frustrations of teaching.  A similar argument can be made for a teacher participating in an administrative training class.

I had a colleague who taught French. During the summer, he would immerse himself in learning a new language. I seem to remember Chinese was one summer’s undertaking. This could help the teacher see the perspective of an online student.

Another example. I have been regularly working with a trainer in the gym over the last eight months.  Each session, I’m a learner as I pay attention to form, reps, weight and sets. And each session I come up short on some routines; and I excel on others. I am reminded about the need to be fully present in the class (my training) and do my “homework” in between sessions.

Besides staying in touch with the student’s, client’s or customer’s perspective, I think this type of intentionality helps to build resilience. Placing oneself in a difficult or vulnerable to failure position (not unsafe or unhealthy), requires and develops a certain amount of flexibility.

Where can you become a neophyte over the coming months? How can you better understand the perspective of those you serve?

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#274) Igniting Passion: Seven Superlative Student Stars

August 23, 2015

They spoke directly to the power of teaching
and the importance of relationships in life. 

This past Thursday I had the honor to deliver the keynote address for the annual faculty convocation at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). The organizers put together a well-orchestrated and choreographed program that included a faculty spotlights and seven student spotlights.

(NOVA. Annandale Campus)

(NOVA. Annandale Campus)

Each student developed and delivered an Ignite Session. These are rapid-fire 20-slide presentations. The slides are on auto advance, changing every 15 seconds, for a total five-minute high energy message. The umbrella topic: “Igniting My Passion for Student Success.”

While I was familiar with the format having delivered a Pecha Kucha presentation earlier this year, I did not expect the level of polish and focus on message that the NOVA students presented.

Seven presentations. Seven reminders of the power of the student-teacher relationship.

I have to give a tip of the hat to NOVA for going beyond just talking about the importance of student success. They actually gave students prime time at convocation. I’ve seen convocations where student groups (like the chorale or dance troupe) took the stage to sing or otherwise perform.  This was refreshingly different.   Forty minutes were turned over so that seven students could stand alone (one at a time) on the stage and tell their inspirational stories.

Heartfelt stories of struggle, commitment, encouragement, and passion. They spoke directly to the power of teaching—and the importance of relationships in life.  Among the lessons they emphasized:

  • It only takes one teacher to make a difference; to get a student to believe in himself/herself; to change a life. This was a recurrent theme in the student messages.
  • Struggle leads to strength. One student shared the quote “I am not what I have done. I am what I overcome.”
  • Another of the students who is a model of resilience in the face of overwhelming odds, flashed these poignant words (attributed to Hellen Keller) on the screen, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
  • We all have stories. Understand them. Share them. Learn from them. Teach from them.

The standing ovation these young scholars received at the end of their part of the program proves they ignited hearts and minds in that auditorium.

Thank you NOVA for your hospitality, but more so, thank you for sharing the collective wisdom of those Seven Superlative Student Stars.  You demonstrated the power of the inextricable bond between teaching and learning.  Thank you to the faculty and staff for continuing to nurture those connections. And, mostly, I have a debt of gratitude to the students for reminding us just how important authentic relationships can be in our community.

Video recommendation for the week:

I’ll leave you this week with a song from my first CD. Enjoy!

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#257) Sunsets and Sunrises

April 26, 2015

“You are where I was. And I am where you will be.”

This week represents a major life demarcation for me.  After 33 years of classroom teaching, I will be retiring from my college. I am not retiring, however, from my calling to education.

For me, so-called retirement represents a time of re-purposing, renewing, re-calibrating, re-energizing and resilience.

I will still provide targeted facilitation programs nationwide (I am working on engagements for 2016) and work on a diversity of writing projects (textbook development, two novels, and one screenplay).  I will be even more involved in higher education than I had been—just on a different level and schedule.

Video recommendation for the week:

As I get ready to lock up my office door and head down the hallway for one final time this coming week, I want to say thank you to all of my colleagues for the years of camaraderie, friendship, and mentoring.  And I want to share a few parting thoughts.

  • When Derek Jeter announced his retirement from the New York Yankees last year, he said, “I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets. Now it is time for the next chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges.”
  • I feel the same way. Now is my time to move to the next chapter.  I have gotten so much from teaching students for the last three-plus decades.  I have learned even more from those same students and my colleagues.  And it is time to dig deeper in other parts of life.
  • I was told a few years back by someone in the publishing industry that if I were not in the classroom that I would lose credibility in the publishing or educational world.  I do NOT believe that for a moment.  With reflection and application, those 33 years of experience will geometrically expand.
  • A dear mentor many years ago reminded me that our lives can be roughly divided into three parts. The first third is about knowing. The second third about doing. And the last third is about being.  I am looking forward to taking much more time to reflect on what I have accomplished—and what I still can do for students and my colleagues across this nation.

   Rather than a time of sunset, the sun is most definitely rising.

Image by: Steve Piscitelli

Image by: Steve Piscitelli

  • A long time ago I read that the three important components in life are people, place, and purpose.  When we are with people we love, in a place we love, pursuing a purpose we love, we have a better chance of leading a fulfilled and contented life.  I found that purpose in the classrooms, in the hallways, and around the campus.  Even the trying times–especially the trying times–helped make me who I am.
  • What I have really loved about teaching was that it allowed me to take and make the opportunities to constantly re-discover myself. Rediscover my purpose. I urge my colleagues to do the same; constantly rediscover.  Forget about flying under the radar. Forget about perfection. Just go out and do it.  Do it and make sure you are living the life and the purpose you are intended to live.  Continue to make a difference for your students and your community.
  • And finally, I remember what an octogenarian shared with me one morning as he was—interestingly enough—going through his morning workout at the gym.  “You are where I was. And I am where you will be.”

We all travel the journey. The sun rises and sets each day. And then rises again.

We can learn from one another. Thank you for allowing me to learn from you.

Until we meet online or somewhere around this great nation, may your sunsets be beautiful and your sunrises glorious.

Make it a great life. And H.T.R.B. as needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#255) Did You Make A Difference? How Do You Know?

April 12, 2015

While this blog post speaks specifically to my teaching colleagues,
we can all draw inspiration and clarification
when we stop and examine what we do.

On my campus, we have two weeks of classes and a week of final exams in front of us.  The semester is quickly winding down.  Some of my colleagues are laser focused on finishing the course material. Others prepare their final assessments.  And still others, may simply be limping to the finish line, tired after a semester of grading, committee work, mandates, and student challenges.

Image: StuartMiles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: StuartMiles/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While the natural tendency might be to rush to the end of the semester and the beginning of the summer,  this time of year affords a wonderful time to reflect on where we have been and, more importantly, where we would like to go with the next semester.  Toward that end, my blog readers who are teachers may find the following three exercises compelling.  If you are NOT a teacher, pass this along to one you know.

  1. Your Syllabus. For this reflective exercise, have a copy of your most recent syllabus in front of you. A typical review could include a look at your pacing (did you stay on target?) and your assignments/assessments (did they do what you had thought they would?). For this exercise, dig a bit deeper.Flip through the pages of your syllabus. Pause and observe the structure, the emphases, the length, recurring themes, the detail, and the appearance. Answer the following questions.
  • What theme(s) resonated throughout your syllabus?
  • What does your syllabus say about you as a teacher?
  • If this is the only thing a student had to form an opinion about you, what would that opinion be?
  • How do you know your syllabus is effective?
  • How could it be more effective?
  • How do you know?
  • What will you definitely keep for the next time around—and what will you consider revising or eliminating?
  1. Your Calling. The exercise above (Your Syllabus) focuses on a specific tool of your profession.  This exercise asks you to take a 30,000 foot view.  Think of your calling (teaching) from when you entered it until now. Reflect on the ideas and conceptions you brought to your calling.  Consider how you have grown into (or out of) the calling. Think about the significant people you have mentored or who have mentored you.
  • Based on your experiences what and who have been instructive and meaningful in your calling?
  • How have you come to know this? That is, what are you using for game film?
  • Who/What has helped you to come to this conclusion?
  • Is your passion as stronger, stronger, or weaker, than when you entered your calling?
  • Add anything else you believe would be helpful to your reflection.
  1. Difference Maker. Describe a situation in which you made a difference as a teacher—a real difference in someone’s life. It could be a student or a colleague.
  • Again, start with identifying your game film. What did you use to gather your reflections?
  • Describe the circumstances of this difference making situation.
  • What did you do?
  • Why did you do it?
  • What specific difference did you make?
  • Why do you consider this a difference maker in the person’s life?
  • How does this connect with your reasons for choosing your calling?

Video recommendation for the week:

Socrates is said to have reminded us that the unexamined life is not worth living.  Take time to day and make Socrates proud—and do yourself and those around you the service of quiet reflection.

While this blog post speaks specifically to my teaching colleagues, we can all draw inspiration and clarification when we stop and examine what we do.

Make it a great week. And H.T.R.B. as needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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