Excuse me, but you are driving me CRAZY!

Excuse me, but you are driving me CRAZY!

She was getting on his nerves. She was moving after the school year ended, but mentally she may have already left. She was really quiet and hardly ever smiled anymore. The enthusiastic way she would share her ideas was a thing of the past. They still had two more months in the school year, he wasn’t sure either of them would make it at this rate.

He was being a know-it-all. It seemed like nothing she did or suggested was good enough. He always had the right answer. Just because she was leaving doesn’t mean that she became an incompetent teacher overnight. She was his teaching partner for two more months, not his assistant. How was she going to survive until the last day of school?

Two points of view. Who was right? Who was wrong?

What might happen if this teaching team continued as is for the next two months? How would it feel to students? Would the two colleagues be enjoying the last two months of a successful partnership, or suffering to make it through?

What might happen if he asked her what was going on? If he said, “You seem different. I know you have a lot on your mind, but there seems to be more to it than that. How can I help you?”

What might happen if she asked him what was going on? If she said, “It feels like my ideas aren’t important to you anymore, now that I am leaving. How can we make our last two months together as awesome as the past two years?”

The only wrong answer here is to not ask the question. Just one person needs to step up and make the first move. It is not easy, but it is fair. Making assumptions and passing inaccurate judgement is not fair.

You deserve better. So does your colleague. Just ask.

Image source HERE


These are my people.

These are my people.

These people.

They inspire me every day to try to become a better leader,

the leader they deserve.

They are brave.

They are creative.

They are smart.

They are skeptics.

They are hard workers.

They are crazy fun.

They are problem solvers.

Their smiles and good mornings

make every day the best day of the week.

They have the biggest heart for students.

I am so humbled that they chose me to be their principal.

They have given me wings,

they give each other wings,

and they give our students wings.

Thank you Q-Crew,

because with you by our side,

the sky is the limit.

Collaboration is not created by the arrangement of desks.

Collaboration is not created by the arrangement of desks.

Collaboration is not created by the arrangement of the desks.

When Doug Reeves made this statement at a Literacy Leadership Symposium I attended recently, I pictured one particular classroom in my mind. One where the desks are arranged in rows, yet I often walk in to find students with heads together in spots around the room, learning together.

Doug said that having classrooms arranged with desks in pods does not necessarily mean that collaboration is happening. Just like having desks arranged in rows does not necessarily mean that collaboration is not happening.

So, how do we create a culture of collaboration in a classroom? In a school?

Collaboration happens when

two or more people share ideas with each other and

build on their ideas and learning

based on what they hear from one another.

The little ideas they started with begin to grow

as they add to each other’s learning,

and before they know it,

their ideas are completely transformed

into something greater than they ever imagined.

Fake collaboration exists. It happens when we push desks together and call it collaboration. It happens when we change the name of our staff meeting to “Staff Collaboration Time” yet the leader still does all of the talking. It happens when one person dominates the conversation and others are not able to share ideas. It happens when we hand kids a worksheet and tell them they can work on it with a partner and call that collaboration.

Yet, real collaboration is alive and well in many schools and many classrooms.

What does it take to really collaborate?

  • Relationships, so there is trust and vulnerability
  • Valuing everyone’s ideas
  • Time together
  • The ability to NOT crawl up on the table with your idea
  • Transparency about the values and biases you bring to the group
  • An action plan for the next steps

Creating the conditions for collaboration takes modeling from the classroom or school leader and it takes a commitment from all group members. It is pretty easy to convince others that we are better together, but it does take some work to define how collaboration really happens. And then, once we create a culture of collaboration, we must constantly improve our work together because if we aren’t improving, we are declining.

Heads together excitedly sharing thoughts and ideas with an end result that surpasses expectations.

That is collaboration.

Want to see Quincy Elementary teachers collaboration in full creative force? Watch THIS

Image source HERE

Author’s note: Attending Adaptive Schools training has helped me reflect on my skills as a group member and as a group leader. Dr. Brandi-Lyn Mendham brought Adaptive Schools into our district and having this training together has set the stage for collaboration like we have never experienced before. To learn more, visit  http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/seminars/adaptive-schools-seminars/

Are you running on empty? Or, does your tank overflow?

Are you running on empty? Or, does your tank overflow?

When I talk with people about TV series that I watch, I never get asked questions like:

“How do you have time to watch television?”

“You don’t get paid to watch TV, so why do you do it?”

Yet, when I talk with people about blogging, Twitter chats, the Facebook Live show my friend and I just started, etc. I am often met with questions like:

“How do you have time for writing and tweeting? I could never find time for that.”

“You don’t get paid to host a Facebook Live show or to write blog posts, so why do you do it?”

The other day, I watched this video adapted from Daniel Pink’s talk about motivation. This information about what really motivates people has so many implications, from helping me understand the methods behind my madness to helping all of us understand how to help students feel motivated to learn.

To explain my madness, let’s picture a big tank, like a propane tank. Except that it is not filled with propane, it is filled energy.

Everything you do adds to the tank or takes away from the tank.

The things you love to do, that you are passionate about, fill the tank. For me, things like getting creative, trying new things, making someone’s day, helping others, and being playful fill my tank.

The things you don’t like to do but feel like you have to do, take fuel out of your energy tank. For me, doing paperwork or the dishes, remembering the five thousand things I need to pack in the car before I leave the house, and dealing with selfishness are energy depleters.

How often do you fill your tank?

How often do you something you absolutely love to do?

How often do you pursue something with excited curiosity?

When you wish time would stop because you are having so much fun?

How often do you empty your tank?

How often do you plop down on the couch at the end of the day, bleary-eyed and feeling sad for no particular reason?

How often are you doing things you don’t like to do, rushing through the task as quickly as possible?

When you wish the minutes away instead of enjoying them?

Are you running on empty, or does your tank overfloweth?

What about our students?

How many opportunities do they have to fill their tanks? Things they explore with excited curiosity, where they want time to stop because they love it so much?

How many tank-depleting tasks does a typical student have to do in a day?

How does the fullness of their tank relate to their enjoyment of school?

What happens when a student’s tank runs out?

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.

-Yo Yo Ma

Check out my latest tank-filler, with my friend Jon Wennstrom: https://www.facebook.com/allyson.apsey/videos/176185766263933/


The Little Boy and the Tokens

The Little Boy and the Tokens

The little boy glanced up and saw an old lady struggling to juggle her two large bags of groceries. He looked at his momma, who nodded her head, then he rushed over to the lady and asked her if he could help.

“Why, thank you young man. What a sweet boy you are,” beamed the old lady.

After they put the grocery bags into her trunk, she turned to the little boy and said, “Your generosity and helpfulness have earned you this token. Come back and see me after you collect ten of these tokens and you will get a special prize.”

The little boy didn’t expect any sort of payment because his momma taught him to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. She said a smile from a grateful person is worth its weight in gold. However, he was delighted to get the token and daydreamed the whole way home about the prize that awaited him.

As the next couple weeks went by, he noticed that the people who carried tokens to give to helpful children wore a yellow flower pin on their collars. The pins were small, but the boy grew able to spot them a long distance away. He sprinted to be the first person to help someone with a yellow flower pin, whether he was again at the grocery store, at church, at school, or even walking down Main Street.

The little boy’s momma was pleased with her son’s helpfulness. Their family had always valued the Golden Rule of, “doing unto others as you would have done unto you.” She was hopeful that the tokens he treasured weren’t becoming the sole reason for his good deeds. Momma knew that her boy would not be given tokens for his good deeds when he was a grown up. She earns the same paycheck as her grumpy co-worker.

One day, the little boy counted up his tokens and was surprised to discover that he had collected nine. He needed just one more before he could turn them in for that long-awaited prize. Oh boy! He felt like he was going to burst with excitement.

That same day, he went to the grocery store with momma again. As they exited the store with their bags, the boy scanned the parking lot for yellow flower pins. There were two people heading to their cars. One was an old man who looked like he was about to drop one of his heavy bags. The other was a woman carrying just one bag. He didn’t even see the old man as he spotted the yellow pin on the woman. He knew today would be the day he got that tenth token.

The boy didn’t look for his mom’s permission before running over to the lady. He asked her if she needed help, and she shrugged her shoulders and handed the boy her bag. After the bag was placed in her car, she thanked the little boy and got in her car and left. He stood there in disbelief.

He couldn’t believe that he didn’t get anything for his helpfulness. He scowled and kicked at the ground as he went back to his mother. He never looked up to see that the old man who was struggling with his bags had actually dropped one of them, spilling groceries, cans rolling all over the parking lot.

The boy wouldn’t give up his quest for his tenth token, and he did receive it that week. In anticipation he could barely contain, he gathered up his tokens and headed to the house of the old woman.

The old woman greeted him at the door with a smile and led him to a wooden chest. The boy was wide-eyed as she opened it. However, his grin turned into a frown quickly as he looked over the prizes. These were just trinkets, silly little toys that he could get from the dentist after getting his teeth cleaned. He had waited all this time and helped all those people for this junk?

He was too polite to say any of this to the woman, so he took one of the trinkets and walked home discouraged.

“I am never ever gonna help anyone again if all I get as a reward is junk!” the boy said to himself as he threw his prize on the table in his own house.

Momma saw his discouragement and anger and went to stand next to her little man, wrapping her arm around his shoulders. She whispered in his ear something he will never forget.

“The swell of joy in your heart as your kindness spreads a smile across someone’s face is the best reward in the world. It beats any trinket or even any paycheck. Kindness freely given builds people up and creates bridges across continents of sadness. Yours is a kind soul, and you need no prize other than the pride you feel by making someone’s day.”

Image source: HERE



There is an Ugly Green Monster Under My Bed

There is an Ugly Green Monster Under My Bed

When I was younger, there were times when I was jealous of someone’s success. Oh, I would try to disguise my jealousy in the form of criticism usually. In my head, I would poke holes in the person’s success. I would feel bad because I knew I wasn’t being nice. When I peeled the layers away to try to figure out what was going on, I recognized the green ugly monster that was residing within me. I was plain ol’ jealous. But, that was a long time ago. I have completely buried that monster.

If we consider yesterday a long time ago.

It happens all the time. Why are we so scared of others’ strengths?

I know why I am.

I am scared of the successes of another because I am insecure. I am not sure if I can keep up with them, I am not sure I even want to. When I see someone else doing something great, but it is something I am uncertain I can do, it is much easier on my psyche to criticize and judge them and to trivialize their successes than to accept my own weaknesses.

Yet, there are these beautiful people who float around and seem genuinely happy for others’ successes. I love these people. They have a light, airiness about them and they exude joy. They must have defeated their ugly green monsters in a skipping contest. Or, maybe they never had a monster at all. But, man, their smiles and enthusiasm for the hard work of others is a joyful sight.

They even want to share the successes of others, to shout them from the rooftops. Those monster-free people don’t seem to be worried about themselves at all as they celebrate the gifts bestowed upon someone else.

Are these people anomalies of nature, or can anyone rid themselves of the constraints of jealousy? I am asking for a friend…

If I were to create a recipe for a jealousy-free life, I might mix in the following:

  1. Love for others
  2. Love for yourself
  3. Humility
  4. Selflessness
  5. Acceptance

Stir twice and sprinkle over your green monster as needed.

The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.

-William Penn

Image source:  HERE

Why Don’t You Cry Anymore, Student of Mine?

Why Don’t You Cry Anymore, Student of Mine?

Why don’t you cry anymore, student of mine?

You looked so scared that first day of school.

I didn’t know how to help you.

So I started with a side hug and

I told you how glad I am that you are in our class.

When you wouldn’t talk to me or join the group,

I knew you needed time to learn to trust me, to trust us.

You didn’t smile

When I shared about my family

And my fascination with funny cat videos.

You did smile

When I held your hand on the slide.

You started to feel better after you made a friend

And then another.

I told you about all the good things you were doing.

I ignored many of the other things you did,

Because I know you behave that way

For a reason.

You didn’t cry the second day.

And by the third day,

You looked up at me,

Your grin going from ear to ear,

And handed me a note.

It said, “I love you.”

I think that means that

You know that

I love you too.