Congrats Class 2014…Switch…Prepping for Change

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Yesterday we wrapped up another school year at NAHS.  The class of 2014 exited our school district 12 days ago with an indoor graduation and five great speeches by our selected students, Principal, and Superintendent.  The class of 2014 was led by a strong set of class advisors and officers.  They had a fun and exciting senior week that I was fortunate to be a part of.  It was great to see the growth in students as people as they said thank you to their favorite teachers, coaches, or counselors during their last few days.  I was amazed at the strength of the Leibowitz family that were our guests at Awards Day to receive a yearbook that was dedicated to Joe, who we lost to Cystic Fibrosis almost two years ago.  Graduating seniors have a wonderful way of being able to reflect on their time during their final few weeks.  It’s always fun to take pictures for and with many students that I’ve spent time with over four years.  I often wonder if some of them will make it or if they will be ready academically and socially for the next stages of their lives.  I was proud to see a group of students that had grown as citizens walk across the stage and receive their diplomas.  They seem to have the foundation to be prepared for whatever changes they will encounter in their near and distant futures.

Change is constantly happening.  At North Andover Public Schools we are transitioning to a new administrative structure and welcoming two aspiring high school leaders as our K-12 Curriculum Coordinators for STEM and Humanities.  The move should give our teachers and schools some much needed support with vertical alignment, interpreting data for curriculum and instruction decisions, analysis, and continuing the proper focus on looking at student work during collaboration time.  With these additions we have a structural shift at our high school.  We are down one building administrator and we said goodbye to our last three department chair positions.  Over the next month, we will welcome five Facilitators of Collaborative Inquiry to our leadership team and continue preparation for next year.  Change, change, change.  It can be scary to lose great workers, friends, and leaders that you’ve been with for a number of years.  However, we must continue to stay focused on improving as administrative teams, collaborative cohorts, and as individuals so that the students can continue to achieve and become better citizens.

Supporting teachers and leaders while reshaping what our leadership teams will look like is very important. Fortunately a friend and colleague recommended a book called Switch How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath that has helped me continue to grow and improve.  The book was a quick read and focused on human behavior.  It gave some clear examples and strategies to help prepare and deal with change.  The book was very positive and I think about the strategies covered in the book often when making decisions at home and at work.  Here is a one page summary of the strategies from the book. As a leader, one of the biggest areas I can focus on with team members is eliminating the ambiguity in a change.  We have had a lot of ambiguity in our school over the last six months.  I find that people are always appreciative of colleagues taking the time to clear things up for them.  It also helps all of us see connections to visions, school improvement plans, and assists in answering why we make certain decisions.  The authors of Switch point out various things centered around ambiguity that makes sense and that I found helpful.  Here are a few of them:

 

What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
Ambiguity is exhausting to the Rider, because the Rider is tugging on the reins of the Elephant, trying to direct the Elephant down a new path. But when the road is uncertain, the Elephant will insist on taking the default path, the most familiar path. Why? Because uncertainty makes the Elephant anxious. (Think of how, in an unfamiliar place, you gravitate toward a familiar face.) And that’s why decision paralysis can be deadly for change-because the most familiar path is always the status quo.
Many leaders pride themselves on setting high-level direction: I’ll set the vision and stay out of the details. It’s true that a compelling vision is critical (as we’ll see in the next chapter). But it’s not enough. Big-picture, hands-off leadership isn’t likely to work in a change situation, because the hardest part of change-the paralyzing part-is precisely in the details  By helping to script the critical moves and by providing details within the vision (need to have a vision, should have a shared vision) we can allow people a chance to embrace the change.
Ambiguity is the enemy.  Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors.
-Switch How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath

As we prepare initiatives for strategic plans, identify focus areas, agree on team SMART Goals, and work to build from a group to a team I am planning on doing my best to eliminate the ambiguity with my colleagues and for our teachers, parents, and students.

I’m hoping for a great summer with colleagues, friends, and family.  I look forward to forming new relationships, enhancing existing relationships, reading, reflecting, and having fun.

 

Change on the Horizon

Significant change is upon us at NAHS as we prepare for the 2014-2015 school year.  The decision was made to reduce our high school by one full-time administrator while integrating a new curriculum structure that contains a focus on K-12 support and a new model for building support.

It will look and feel different for our teachers and building come September of 2014.  We will be subtracting three department chairs (in addition to the two that were subtracted for this year) that have grown into essential instructional leaders over the last two years.  These positions were part time teaching positions with time allocated to manage and lead our five core departments.  Replacing the department chairs will be five full-time teachers with a stipend to be coordinators of curriculum and instruction for the building.  At the district level, we will have a K-12 Humanities and a K-12 STEM administrator that will report to the Assistant Superintendent.  The Art, Music, and Wellness department look to pick up much-needed K-12 stipend positions for assistance with curriculum.  The exact roles and responsibilities for all of these positions have yet to be communicated.  As a high school leadership team, we are meeting in three weeks to connect some puzzle pieces so we know what is expected of each other as we move forward.  If you can attempt to translate the puzzle above you should be able to conclude that will be several different parts (some bigger, some smaller, some district-wide and some building based) that will have to connect on a mutual goal for us to be successful.

I believe my challenge, as a leader is to ensure that our leadership team plans and communicates effectively to continually improve student learning and to remain a level one school based on our MCAS scores.  I cautiously look forward to the same challenge with a completely new look.  My role in the building looks to increase and look different for next year.  I don’t participate in any leadership challenge expecting to fail or planning to fail.  We will soon find out if the puzzle we are attempting to complete is a 20 pieces or 1000 pieces.  Either way it is our job to put everyone in position to succeed on behalf of our students. I look forward to being an active participant in the process while continuing to learn and improve each day.  I hope everyone else feels the same way.  Only time will tell.

Data Informed

As part of our shift to behaving more like a standards-based school, we have continued our work to dedicate a significant portion our professional development time to looking at student work (LASW) to improve our practice.  Part of improving our focus of LASW was to build into our district’s strategic improvement plan a strategic initiative around establishing a system of common assessments and student achievement data analysis.  Specifically, we have been working toward creating a system for collecting and analyzing data.

Analyzing data is not new to most teachers in MCAS subjects.  There is some familiarity to looking through item analysis and finding strengths and weaknesses in specific MCAS sorted standards.  However, the collecting portion of the exercise can be time consuming and stressful if it is not completed in an efficient way.  Over the last few weeks our teachers have been administering their common assessments and documenting results based on department specific focuses.  Some departments had one specific focus, for example, English focused on writing and Business focused on presentation skills.  Other departments focused on a specific assessment with a fixed number of questions sorted by the courses they taught.  Needless to say, this was the first time that every teacher would be collecting data for all four courses that they taught.

One of my goals was to ensure that the collection process was as easy as possible for the teachers that I work with.  As a leadership team, we shared ideas on what types of data to collect and specific departments were given flexibility to look at summary data or specific item analysis.  We decided that if teachers did not want their names attached to data to be shown to other members in their department that we would honor that request.  I had the pleasure of working with the English and Business departments to create spreadsheets for individual teachers and summary sheets for the departments as a whole based on the specific rubrics they had scored for the common assessment.  This process was about each individual teacher reviewing their data and possibly some summary data using a protocol to gather feedback from colleagues so that they can reflect on their teaching practice and make adjustments to improve.

As a leadership team, we decided that everyone would use the Looking at Data protocol with their departments as a whole during the first portion of our professional development time.  If time permitted (which it didn’t in most cases) different cohorts could choose between the Tuning protocol and the Looking at Patterns protocol to continue to LASW in smaller teams.  The protocols we use are from School Reform Initiative Incorporated.

The conversations that I had the opportunity to observe were excellent and focused on improvement.  Judith Warren Little’s Level-four collaboration is always a goal.  During and after the protocols, I observed teachers discussing strategies they could use to improve weaker areas and sharing ideas from colleagues that led to higher results.  Cohorts were able to leave with different strategies to improve the skills based on the data and the discussion around teaching practice.

The need to use time to discuss course recommendation practices, look at student work to norm our practice and use different types of formative assessments also came up.  The next step is to have conversations with cohorts and departments about having these discussions and LASW at times other than professional development.

We had a very successful day with the use of data to inform us so we can continue to make positive decisions within our practice.  I look forward to observing and participating in additional level-four collaboration with our teachers.  I also look forward to our next leadership meeting where we will get a chance to share the implementation of the other protocols and data that was presented.  We should be able to learn a lot from each other.  Isn’t that what it is all about?

Focus Areas for Teacher Success

As I finish my goals for this year, I wanted to share some focus areas that should allow teachers to have success.  I settled on these after conversations with other school leaders, reviewing my goals from last year and reflecting on my experiences from last year and this summer.

  • Teach to the standards that are now aligned to the common core and other national standards
  • Continue to develop, improve upon, and use common assessments to improve student learning
  • Share your practice with others
  • Be professional, show up on time, and be physically and emotionally present for meetings and collaboration
  • Try to get better everyday
  • Remember that it is okay to make mistakes and try new things

It is part of my job to help and support teachers.

I am here to be present and to provide you with the clarity, structure, resources, and ongoing support essential to your success.

A Time for Hope……My First Week with Staff at NAHS

A new look NAHS leadership team welcomed back our staff for three full days of professional development before an extended Labor Day weekend with students arriving on Tuesday.  A shortened summer packed with several overlapping vacations challenged our District Admin team as well as our NAHS Admin and Leadership teams to connect initiatives and to provide meaningful professional development for our teachers while allowing them to transition into the school year.

It was an extremely important three days for me to be present emotionally and physically while establishing relationships with teachers.  I wanted to be able to provide clarity, structure, resources, and support where needed.  These past three days sets the stage for all of our professional development going forward.  I have to be accountable if I expect the teachers under my care to be accountable.  I need to be able to bring back my observations to our leadership team and provide feedback to my principal.  We need to share our observations and be reflective in our practice to move forward with only the best ways to do things.  We are asking a lot of our teachers we need to ask a lot of ourselves as leaders.

In the spirit of sharing practice I would like to share some observations from the first week of school with staff.

Despite a smaller leadership team, it looks like we have quality teacher leaders working with us.  A crash course year of standards based education leadership has done our group well.  The department heads were full of energy and ideas.  We were able to come up with ideas for protocols and products from sessions that we can use going forward.  I have the pleasure of working with Mary Gregoire and Kara Larcome this year.  Mary and Kara are two great people with outstanding leadership skills that will do whatever it takes to lead their departments.

Every teacher that I encountered working in smaller groups (mixed or by department) was positive and engaged in collaborative work.  We always seemed to finish sessions ahead of schedule with everyone sharing responsibility and contributing.  Special thanks to Mike Ellison for giving me a copy of his presentation rubric that he tuned last year and letting me share it with the Business department.

Assistant Principal, Mike Grant’s work around the supervision and evaluation tool should be commended.  He gave a great presentation that was clear and delivered it with a calm and confident tone.  As I worked with the Business department on goals and observed the Science and English departments work on their goals there were very few questions about the expectation.  Most of my comments to people were yes you are doing it correct.

Principal, Carla Scuzzarella’s decision to celebrate the success of our staff and include examples from several different areas and departments.  It is something we did last year and as Math department chair Scott Young says “something we should do more of.”  We have great data.

Teachers are becoming more confident in google docs.  I can envision us with an environment where we are collaborating throughout the year and sharing practice.  Common Assessments, Lessons, Rubrics…etc

On Thursday, I was lucky to have the opportunity to observe teachers in the Business, English and Science departments.  Below are a few things that I observed:

  • Sharing SMART Goals and collaborating to create action items and benchmarks in large groups
  • Department chairs working with smaller groups and individuals on professional practice goals
  • Strategies to use Powerteacher for the Habits of Learning rubric and for “not counting” formative assessments towards a grade.
  • Several great ways to implement our Habits of Learning rubric to benefit our students.

I look forward to continuing to be reflective in my practice throughout the year and using my blog as a tool to make that happen.  I will probably have an action item in my SMART Goals to help make myself accountable to do it.

I am very excited to start the 2013-2014 season with our students on Tuesday.

Class of 2013

I needed to take a brief moment to recognize the North Andover High School Class of 2013.  Our graduating seniors have been a stabilizing force for the high school.  The senior leadership of all clubs, activities and athletics worked together with the underclassmen to compete at a high level, while showing respect for everyone and having fun.

I have been fortunate enough to see our music program soar to new heights.  Our drama program has continued to gain acclaim.  The athletic program has burst into the MVC and shown the community that we will compete with our neighboring schools at an extremely high level.  Our DECA program has increased in participation and has won an increased amount of awards.  The list could go on and on.  All of this has happened with consistent and dedicated leadership from members of the Class of 2013.

My memory of this year is that it became cool again to have fun at school.  There was no senior privilege and the Class of 2013 didn’t let that bother them.   The students decided to make a change.  Abby Murphy, Emma McQuade and other student council members became visible to students and worked to communicate with each other and the staff at NAHS.  Our student ambassadors continued to lead transition efforts with NAMS and they worked to create more opportunities with students in our district.  We played dodge ball, used chalk on the sidewalk, raised money for charities and most importantly we did it together.

I am a big fan of athletics and unfortunately did not make it to as many games as I used to.  However, I did get to see many of our teams, led by seniors have a great deal of success this year.  My 6-year old son, Jake got to see the boy’s and girl’s basketball teams led by two of his favorite players, Derek Collins and Morgan Lumb have great seasons.  One of favorite memories of this year was the return of our student section at events.  There was a nice article written in the Boston Globe that featured Jake MacLean and the Crosier Crazies.  I watched Dan Callagy work to organize fan buses to games in the fall and winter so that his classmates could have a safe ride to games.  He even tried to leave without us once…….For the most part, the cheers were respectful and focused on supporting our team in a positive way.  Students made positive choices and had fun while doing it.

I look forward to watching the senior class officers continue to work with Mr. Nugent and Mrs. Rasanen over the next few days.  They are a great group and deserve a wonderful prom and graduation for themselves and their classmates.  Please make sure you take several minutes to enjoy what you have helped to build.

I would like to thank the Class of 2013 for leaving a positive impact on the community and for making me smile when I think of you.

It’s Been a While….

Why do I get away from things that I know are important?

Why do I whine to others or to myself about things when I can be using that time to do the things that I know are important?

These are my guiding questions as I reflect upon a recent time period that has seen me get away from my blog and drift away from my vision.

I’m motivated to write by a couple of blog posts that I read this week on the need for principals and leaders.  The links are below.

http://sharingourblessings.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/why-we-need-principals/

http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/2013/04/we-need-leaders-cpchat.html

The reminder about what my job should entail was much needed.  Over the last few weeks, I had gotten away from my vision of providing educators with the clarity, structure, resources, and ongoing support essential to their success.  For the first time all year I missed being present at three of the four morning collaborations in a week (Both History and one Science).  I wasn’t sleeping in or checking my email during this time.  I was at two other meetings and having a conversation with my principal before going to another meeting.  These other meetings (maybe not the conversation with Carla) could have been done at another time and I allowed them to creep into my sacred time.

What did I miss?  I don’t know and that is the problem.

On Friday, when I returned to Science I observed a great collaboration on ungraded rubric from a common assessment.  The cohort planted the seeds for their focus for next school year, discussed the importance of skills and content versus the work habits and connected the rubric to their grading using the rubric for the remainder of the year.  One member mentioned the importance of an example from high school science in an upcoming article that we will be discussing at our next PD.  I was present and can now share what I observed with other teachers and administrators.  There was energy and focus from the teachers.  They used the tuning protocol to keep focus and to keep track of time.  I was able to hopefully add a little insight during the 25 minutes.  I know I learned a great deal about our students and our teachers by being there.  When I left the room there was no question that the Biology students in their classes would be learning more due to that collaboration.

Did I miss the opportunity to witness that type of collaboration the other three days because I couldn’t schedule properly?  Maybe.  Did I miss the opportunity to learn something different?  Yes. Was nothing going on because the teachers believed that no one cared about their work?  I hope not, but I don’t know.  Did I miss an opportunity to let a team of teachers know that I care about their work? YUP!  Lesson learned!  I’ll be returning to being present and returning to completing more walkthroughs so I am aware of the great work that is being done.

I am going to schedule it to ensure that I commit to it! Time to reconnect to my vision and to make sure that I am using my time for the purpose of improving student achievement.

On a side note, we met as a group of district administrators last week to get some much-needed Category B Training on the new MASS DESE Teacher Rubric.  We need to start to norm our practice.  I always leave those trainings amazed at how much I learn from the other administrators in my district.  The sharing of practice and the opportunity to reflect on it helps me improve.  We didn’t get to norming our practice but I hope we can reconvene a few more times before our next training in June.  Completing learning walks, non-evaluative walkthroughs, comparing write-ups of walkthroughs and discussing what is proficient will only make all of us better leader.  As a better leader, we should be able to set structures to improve teacher practice and increase student achievement.  We should work to get together more often for this purpose.

 

A Salute and Some Ramblings

We are very fortunate to have had a great man lead our basketball program at NAHS for the last 31-years.  Coach Mike McVeigh announced his retirement with his family nearby after he led the Knights to the North Sectional Final on Saturday 3/9/13.  Coach McVeigh retired with 497 wins and touched the lives of thousands of people within the North Andover community.  For all the basketball knowledge that he has passed on during his time as head basketball coach, he will be remembered as an even better person.  Watching him share his final moments as head coach with his wonderful family brought tears to my eyes.  My middle son, Jake is now 5-years old.  I have had a great time watching NAHS basketball with him the last couple of years.  As a father it was awesome to see the pride in Coach McVeigh’s eyes as he looked over to his great family.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Coach McVeigh as I started my basketball-coaching career as a naïve, wide-eyed 28-year old at Greater Lawrence Tech.  Coach McVeigh was one of the few coaches that took the time to come over and say hello and strike up a conversation at our annual Christmas Tournament Luncheon.  He made it a point to come over and say congratulations after a strong effort by our team (win or lose) when North Andover was playing next.  As I transitioned to Assistant Principal at NAHS I have had a close look at how our student athletes learn life and basketball from their basketball coach.  His basketball players are not always perfect and guess what none of us are.  They do work to be respectful and to become better people everyday.  The bond within the basketball program is very strong.  I believe it is strong because of the values and the character of the coach.  I look forward to sitting with him on the second Saturday in March with my son nearby watching hoops and sharing stories.  It will be fun to pickup some life lessons.

During his retirement speech Coach McVeigh mentioned two very important qualities that he instills in all of his teams.  They are accountability and work ethic.  These are two qualities that we should all work to demonstrate.

Speaking of accountability……A few additional thoughts:

We have become aware of more alcohol related incidents over the past couple of weeks with our students.  Including a serious car accident where we were fortunate to not lose anyone.  The choices students make during unstructured time continues to be a concern in our community and probably every community in the commonwealth.  My children are 8, 6 and 2.  I hope we are teaching them the right values.  I hope the Thomson schoolteachers and their friends’ parents share those same values.  I hope they are prepared to live their lives and make the correct decisions when they become teenagers (since I can’t keep freeze them in time).

As parents, we need to hold our children accountable and provide a drug and alcohol free environment for them.

We should not allow our kids to drink in our homes or to ignore what a group of teenagers may be doing in certain area of a home.

We should not get in a car with anyone who has been drinking.

In an accident or situation where there is a concern for anyone’s safety we should always make sure everyone is safe first and call for help if help is needed.

A car can be fixed, cuts can heal but a life cannot be replaced.

On a positive note, we had a very successful junior prom on Saturday night where the students were transported on buses to the Granite Rose.  It was nice to see the students dressed up and enjoying themselves dancing.

 

A Reason To Celebrate Our NAHS Teachers

During this past summer I committed myself to a goal setting process in an attempt to have more focus and more planning to my job.  One of the items that I created was a personal vision.  I used language from a text we had been reading called Leaders of Learning by DuFour and Marzanno.

A vision is designed to answer the question what.  In this case what must I become to accomplish our purpose?  My vision is to provide educators with the clarity, structure, resources, and ongoing support essential to their success.  Our purpose as a district is to cultivate a respectful community of engaged learners, insightful thinkers, and effective communicators.  As educators we want to cultivate an environment that allows teachers to improve practice to raise student achievement.  I chose my vision to support our purpose.

The biggest shift for me this year was to commit to being present to support our collaboration work.  Being present has allowed me to support the requests of teachers, attempt to remove obstacles, identify potential challenges, and create opportunities for improvement.  Being present and listening has allowed me to learn a great deal from my colleagues and build trust that has not been there in the past.

The best part about being present at different cohort meetings is the chance to highlight the progress we have made in shifting toward a standards-based system.  In reviewing the DESE teacher rubric of effective teaching practice I noticed there are several areas that our collaboration time has allowed teachers the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency.  These areas may include: I-A-1 Subject Matter Knowledge, I-A-3 Rigorous Standards-Based Unit Design, I-B-1 Variety of Assessment Methods, I-B-2 Adjustment to Practice, I-C-I Analysis and Conclusions, 1-C-2 Sharing Conclusions With Colleagues, II-A-1 Quality of Effort and Work, II-D-1 Clear Expectations, III-B-1 Learning Expectations, III-B-2 Curriculum Support, IV-A-1 Reflective Practice, IV-A-2 Goal Setting, IV-C-1 Professional Learning and Growth, IV-C-1 Professional Collaboration and IV-D-1 Decision-Making.

Our teachers have at least an hour every week to demonstrate proficiency in many of these areas as part of their workday.  If we did not have this time as part of the workday I don’t know when the teachers at our school would have time to demonstrate proficiency in many of these areas.  Teachers at our elementary schools use a lot of their own time with our limited professional development time.  I would hope that many of our teachers are finding the time useful.

I am proud to say that over the last eight morning collaborations I have observed all six professional learning cohorts in Science and History (including one cohort twice) look at student work to improve practice by using a tuning protocol.  The goals of our protocol are to build shared expectations for teacher performance and to experience collaborative learning and reflective practice.  The teachers have committed to these goals and have built those shared expectations.

Some of the positives I have observed included the following:

  • A cohort reviewed a rubric for accuracy and determined that an adjustment of the rubric would be needed to eliminate the need for a 0.5 on a 4-point rubric.
  • A cohort presented a writing prompt and rubric to determine if students are meeting the goals of the assessment.  They found the need to adjust the rubric to add specifics in a column and to adjust the question.
  •  A cohort presented a piece of student work and feedback was given on the structure of the question on the paper and discussed ways to improve learning around structure and function.
  • A cohort presented a piece of student work and feedback was given on a variety of areas.  A previous change in the rubric on historically accuracy was noted as being clear.  Resources and additional texts that could be used for instruction were shared at the end of the protocol.
  • A cohort presented a piece of student work for a short free response.  The teachers examined two pieces of “low” work and one “high” work.  The pair of teachers were focused on examining a piece of “low” work that is historically low and talked about strategies of improvement.  Strategies during the review process, preparation and labeling tactics were discussed.  They concluded that the use of vocabulary and time management for students could improve.
  • A cohort presented a piece of student work and feedback was given on the importance of note-taking as a skill that leads to conversation, highlighting & annotating texts the correct way and the use of graphic organizers.
  • A cohort presented pieces of ungraded work and feedback was given to determine if the teachers would assess the work in a consistent way.  The teachers were very consistent with the three rows of the rubric.  At the end of the protocol they determined a willingness to adjust the structure of the assessment to have important information stand out for the students.

Judith Warren Little is a professor at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, who has researched teacher practice, especially the concept of collegiality, for over 25 years.  Her work has been put into a rubric to capture the ongoing research on teacher collaboration.  The highest level of teacher practice that she references is Joint Work.  One of our working assumptions and norms as part of our tuning protocol is that the examining of teacher practice is about level-4 Joint Work Collaboration.

During the collaborations focused on looking at student work I have observed indicators of Joint Work.  They have included a strong sense of interdependence, shared responsibility, critical review, collective commitment to improvement and probing questions or feedback intended to cause colleagues to reflect on their practice.

I am very proud of the work that our teachers and teacher leaders have done over the last several weeks.  They have truly committed to the shift needed to become a standards-based school.  I hope they all have a restful and enjoyable vacation next week.

 

Thoughts on Lance and Happy MLK JR Day!

To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

Happy Martin Luther King, Junior Day!  I’m thankful that he worked and sacrificed to give me an opportunity to lead and be heard.

I have been very intrigued by the Lance Armstrong story.  As noted by a number of news outlets he bullied and harassed a number of people over the last 16 years.  He conned a lot of people and used to be one of America’s most inspirational stories.  What bothers me the most is how selfish and how much of a control freak he still is.  He is still trying to control every outcome.  Lance lacks two important qualities of decent human beings humility and empathy.  He refuses to be modest and respectful to all the people that try and do things the right way with the right motivation.  Lance needed to and still needs to apologize to everyone individually instead of just blaming himself.

In our school district, empathy is one of our social expectations of all students.  We expect that our students will be aware of and consider another person’s situation, feelings or motives before speaking or taking action.  Stories like Lance Armstrong allow us to make connections to students and focus on social values and expectations.  We focus a lot on academic expectations in school.  Everyone needs to revisit their social values and ensure that they are being good people.  Lance needed to have empathy before he knowingly attacked Betsy Andreu, Mike Anderson, Emma O’Reilly, Greg LeMond, David Walsh, and many others. Is it more important to win or to be a good person?

I didn’t watch much of Lance on Oprah.  The few things I saw were sad.  Lance’s motivation seems to be selfish and may include the opportunity to compete in a sanctioned triathlon when he is 50.  I think the perfect punishment for Lance is to run, bike, and swim by himself where he is left with nothing but his own thoughts.  Maybe he will see that he needs to dedicate his time and energy to his children’s life and to being a better person.  I hope he is reading the great coverage by si.com, TJ Quinn, Bonnie Ford, and Dan Wetzel.  Lance can learn what true courage is like.  There are many great stories about how the Andreu’s, O’Reilly, LeMond’s, and Walsh all stood up to the big, bad, controlling bully and showed great courage.  My advice is to not waste your time watching Oprah and risk being conned again by the control freak.  Use it to read the better humanitarian stories out there.  If you have time to read only one article on Lance I recommend this piece by Bonnie Ford of ESPN.