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Archive for January, 2010

LiLTweeks: How to Create Success With Partners That Matter?


Are you surrounded with people just like you or do they compliment by connecting the dots and filling in the blanks?

The lesson I learned this week [LiLTweeks] was spotlighted by The Money Smart Guy Matthew Sapaula on his archived Blogtalkradio Show Making God First Monday | How to pick the right partners and avoid the wrong ones. Matthew Sapaula is one of those men of God I met through clicking on a Re-Tweeted Twitter link to his Chicago based blog, which was quickly added to my Google Reader and then connected on Facebook one year ago.

Three weeks into the New Year I find myself reviewing 2010 goals, celebrating my birthday this week, thinking through my journey from here, and seeking God’s wisdom for the people that will help me along the way. Even as I write this article, it becomes clear that many in my PLN (Personal Learning Network) have been God sent to assist in learning more about myself.

So I’m finally getting around to running one of my catch-up mini Blogtalkradio marathons of new podcast when Sapaula, with his Making God First Monday fellow host John Heerhold, discusses the ins and outs of how to create success with the help of mentors, coaches, and partners when I realized it was time for a reality check. We need an elite team of strategic partners that will help connect the dots and fill deficiencies with wise mortar for this next decade. For me, it’s going to be key to overcoming my own challenges from 2009 and beyond. The Money Smart Guy is quickly becoming one of my strategic partners.

Asking, “What is a strategic partner?” It’s a loaded question. Some key characteristics:

Is a partner that matters directly or indirectly.
Has expertise in the area you need.
Has a track record of success.
Shares your core values, beliefs, and actions.
Will correct you with dignity, but the reality of it maybe uncomfortable.

Some flexible benefits may be:

Can provide intellectual, emotional, or physical assistance to help you win.
Can be local or on the other side of the world.
Can have a high profile or be very important to you and a few others.
Can connect with and meet through social media or Meetup.
Communicate through videoconference, blogs, and smart phone applications.

Use your social media to connect with at least two new people every day that share your interest. Closely follow their content for a few days up front, subscribe to their newsletters and blogs, and monitor the result of hanging around them. Who knows, the connection may turn into a righteous partnership?

How to Contact Money Smart Radio or Matthew Sapaula
Financial Strategist / Speaker / Chicago Talk Radio Show Host / TV commentator

Stay focused. Stay confident. Be wise and keep partnering,
Carter | @laroncarter

LiLTweeks (Lessons I Learned This Week) is a weekly observation of some problems I’ve encountered and possible actions for resolve. If you have been inspired from this article please leave a comment and consider subscribing to the RSS (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader [look for Weekend Post].

Five Simple Steps to Making That Call Home to Parents

Photo Credit by Inno'vision

Far too often we rely on negative passed experiences to carry us through current situations and circumstances needing a different set of rules to play by. But, how do we get past a bad experience to create something new and exciting? How do we find gratification in something like calling parents to narc on a child that has is suspected to have stolen a purse or believed to be selling prescription meds from the parent’s supply cabinet? There’s a simple way – Don’t wait until you need to call before you have to call.

K – 12 Education: Stressed Out Series 6.3

Remember how Ms. Patroness’ emotional state changed after describing the humanitarian project her students were involved with one semester and how she felt great about making all those calls to coordinate the event. She was able to identify tremendous states of excitement in knowing the parent would welcome her calls. Ms. Patroness also believed she was not only leading a great campaign, but she was experiencing a measurable highlight in her career. I’m going to share how she pulled it off in five simple steps.

Step 1. Don’t wait to the last minute to call a parent. This is wrong on so many fronts [no pun intended]. Think about how you feel when a representative from the company you made your last purchase calls to congratulate you and hear from you how you rate the experience. You don’t have to be a school of choice to find value in servicing your customers this way.

Step 2. Create some sort of ongoing need to connect with your parents. In a recent blog I recommended taking camera phone pics of chalkboard assignments and sending it to your student’s parents by picture mail or Twitpic [http://twitpic.com] so that they can stay on top of things quickly (see Step 2 of 7 Steps to Becoming an Effective Teacher). This works especially well for parents with shared custody.

Step 3. Make it a rule to contact each parent on your roster at least twice with heart felt positive reports before having to rat a student out. Parents that get regular negative calls from school personnel are a little punchy when seeing the call come in on caller ID. By establishing a genuine service connection with parents, based on trust and credibility, you can easily recruit them as part of your classroom management and support team member for special events.

Step 4. Call your parents when you’re thinking of them. If you pass a location or reminded of a family event, follow up with a quick text or email particularly if you anticipate having to contact them about their child in the near future. It will soften the blow for the next time you call with bad news to report.

Step 5. When you need to clobber that little darling with a phone call home to his parents, spank his little behind. Only this time the stage has been set to operate as a genuine family ally instead of, “that guy.” The time needed to establish trust may vary between semesters and families, but staying focused on the goal to make partnerships that matter will give you the confidence to stick with it until you succeed.

P.S. If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

Why is it so difficult to contact my student’s parents?

Photo Credit by marcalandavis.

Have you reached a point in your career where identifying what’s most important for you to help your specific group of students to achieve individual academic success based on their particular circumstances and skill sets, is what matters most?

K – 12 Education: Stressed Out Series 6.2

Identifying what’s most important or prioritizing what gets your attention is a huge undertaking to address in a blog. I’ll approach the process of determining importance by taking on different aspects of training sessions teachers have struggled with over the years.

One repeated theme of importance for educators is parental involvement. Many schools across the country have engaged parents at the kitchen table during homework, actively participating in PTA, and volunteering on fieldtrips. Not to be unrecognized, in many other schools across America, is a lack of parent presence at sporting events and parent teacher conferences.

Family Overlaod

They are often working more than one job that takes them away from peak academic hours and still fall short trying to fund school projects. Transportation maybe an overwhelming challenge when having to visit several schools at the same time.

These are genuinely complex circumstances needing simple solutions where possible. That’s one of the reasons I addressed measurable goals (V2.5, p. 32) in my Guide to Having Your Best Year Teaching With Smart K12 Methods. You’re are going to have to take bolder leadership measures to inspire all parents and guardians to make radical changes in how they get involved with what is most important for your student’s success.

Fearing Paternal Hostility

A teacher in one of my training sessions said she found it extremely difficult to connect with her student’s parents. I asked, Ms. Patroness, if she could explain how it felt when she knew she was going to have contact a parent? She said she could imagine the parents getting hostile and paternally protective with their child. This was probably created out of a past experience that anchored to her memory in a negative way. So, I asked if there was ever a time when she had a great experience calling a parent?

Almost immediately Ms. Patroness perked up and began telling me stories of when her class was chosen to be a part of a nationally televised news piece showcasing a humanitarian project her students were involved with one semester. And how there was an exchange of phone calls between her and the kid’s parents for permission slips, coordinating volunteer support groups, and designating drivers. Now all we had to do was connect those feelings [felt at that time] to picking up the phone and calling parents for a parent-teacher conference. (To be continued)

P.S. If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

LilTweeks: Facebook Rave, Rut, or Roam Part 2



Continued from previous weekend post.

The second Facebook lesson I learned this week [LiLTweeks] came when I was trying to jump into a mini rave happening on one of my old friend’s status update questions. You know the ones that bait you into commenting for the sake of discretely engaging support on a personal issue, but the comment thread takes on a life of its own, yeah, that one.

The discussion was already 10 minutes in by the time I posted my first comment, even then I had two or three comments in between my update and the last time I saw the live feed, which sort of looks like a chatroom thread because the conversation looses its linear continuity and can be slightly confusing. At least for a guy lacking multiple simultaneous conversation skills like me.

There lies the problem, because, the dialog gets out of sequence like a third text message that is read before the second one posted because both of you are typing so fast in between taking a few seconds to think.

The feeds were pouring in and I could see the commentator getting frustrated because his FB (Facebook) friends weren’t playing by his rules of engagement. People were trying their best to understand his original question before jumping into a potentially emotional topic and the moderator took it as an avoidance tactic, which I didn’t understand (people were in the conversation and trying to speak out). Others were making effort to contribute in ways they best understood the content, which as you know can take FB conversation treads into uncharted territory.

From it, I walked away realizing that rather than getting stressed over a thread [or content] not producing the results hoped for, allowing social media to be organic has tremendous value in a supplemental sort of way. Maybe it’s best to post, try your best to keep the feed live, be the best spokesman you can be for yourself, and let the power of the written word live on its own while you wonder over to another conversation on the other side of the room without having to actually say, “It’s a joke.”

Wow! Time fly’s. Lets bounce over to the Motherland and see if we can catch Tevin Campbell before loosing my WiFi.

“Faceboo Rave, Rut, or Roam Part 1” can be found here.

Stay focused. Stay confident, live a little, and love even more,
Carter | @laroncarter

P.S. LiLTweeks is a weekly observation of some problems I’ve encountered and possible actions for resolve. If you have been inspired from this article please leave a comment and consider subscribing to the RSS (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader [look for Weekend Post].

Five Simple Steps to Eliminate Classroom Pencil Sharpening Distractions

Photo Credit by Ela Plante


Have you been overwhelmed with the process of building a system that works for managing student behaviors? Are those student behaviors costing your student achievement levels to drop?


K – 12 Education: Stressed Out Series 6.1

Last year I worked with a teacher I called Ms. Ann. She described her out of control classroom as the group of students that were constantly getting out of their seats, talking with each other during her lessons, and texting when they were suppose to be working.

I was able to help clearly identify some of Ms. Ann’s immediate problems for paving her classroom potholes, which were things like the noise of a pencil sharpener at inappropriate times during her lesson. Can we take a look at that for a minute? Ms. Ann discovered she didn’t have a process for eliminating the problem. The students would enter the room and take their seats, but never really seem to settle down. Her students would also begin sharpening pencils non-stop even though they knew she didn’t allow it.

Step 1. What we did first was to address the process of entering her classroom. There wasn’t any consistent structure for the intro of her lesson. So, we designed a routine were the students entered the room, took their assigned seats, glanced at the board specifically sectioned to post assignment/homework instructions, and the students understood they were to begin immediately while she took attendance, walking the floor plan, and engaging her students.

Step 2. We invested in pencils. She purchased a couple of small cases of pencils for under $5 to get started.

Step 3.
Ms. Ann hooked up with the custodians and asked if she could have any pencils picked up during their daily cleaning rounds.

Step 4. She made it know that if there was any students needing to work off detention or community services that she had plenty of pencils needing to be sharpened before and after school. Now the stage was set for eliminating the pencil sharpening issue.

Step 5. Her students were expected to be responsible for bringing necessary supplies, but throughout the lesson students were allowed to swap a limit of two broken pencils in exchange for sharpened pencils. She didn’t create more stress by making the process all strict or complicated for everyone. She supplied the pencil cup and the kids swapped pencils.

The transition was so productive that she was no longer up tight about a student or two not coming to class with something to write with. As a result her students were ever more willing to share their supplies because of their own changed perceptions of being in control.

What processes have you put into place for creating a better quality of community in your classroom?

P.S. If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

Are you stressed from an out of control classroom?

Photo Credit by Jim Sneddon


The process of building a personal system that consistently produces student achievement may take a minute to manufacture, but for the sake of reducing stress, getting the boss off our back, or saving our weekends for a ‘life’, we’re in a constant search for better ways to make the process less stressful. In short we are simply too invested with all the other things of our life to afford not having students learning. We need to be leaders more than ever before.


K – 12 Education: Stressed Out Series 6.0

For now, lets take a look at how you might go through the process of regaining an out of control classroom. However, before doing that, may I ask you a question? What exactly would you call out of control? This is important, because, defining control will determine the process of establishing a classroom community with limited conflicts.

Last year I worked with a teacher that described her out of control classroom as the group that she wasn’t able to keep from repeatedly getting out of their seats, talking with each other during her lessons, and texting when they were suppose to be working. Does any of that sound familiar?

This teacher, lets call her Ms. Ann, was feeling the pressures of fitting into the title of being highly qualified and was associating low student achievement with her inability to limit distractions. Once we were able to identify her stressors we looked at two things. First, was if these occurrences alone caused students to fail. Secondly, was it causing her to loose focus of the learning process?

What we discovered was that her true source of stress with students getting out of their seats was that the noise of the pencil sharpener (she was fortunate to have one that worked) threw off her concentration. It throws mine off to, but I also believe pencil sharpening noise is probably more of a distraction for me coming from a culture of quiet libraries and neat rows of orderly students than it is discomforting for my 21st century learners.

You see by separating her perception of how learning should go down, from how the learner learns best, helped us to enhance her quality as a teacher. Once we clearly identified Ms. Ann’s problems, we were able to create actions in her daily process of managing her management verses managing her classroom’s behaviors.

What actions do you take for reducing the loss of valuable learning time?

P.S. If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

LiLTweeks: Facebook Rave, Rut, or Roam Part 1

Do we really have the luxury of allowing social media connections [named friends] dictate how we express our core values?

The lesson I learned this week [LiLTweeks] was developed between two Facebook feeds. First, one of my celebrity friends posted a passionately well-written Note (Get excited with me about being able to leverage Facebook and Twitter for getting around office secretaries to make some amazing personal connections).

I wasn’t familiar with the incident he wrote about, but I did recognize his range of emotions expressed in the text and they were heated. This was one of those social media threads you follow from the bleachers because you’re either not part of the sub-community or you couldn’t speak intelligently on the subject without doing some background investigation at the expense of sounding like the dog ate your homework.

Both celebrity and content created a mini rave for his Note (more than 35 individual comments in minutes) and the discussion was bringing out the best and worst in participants. But, the problem I had didn’t occur until one or two of those emotionally driven comments triggered my man [and I say that sincerely] to anguish over how he might have offended someone or had been misunderstood to the point of posting a revised version of an already well-written op-ed.

Now, I’m hardly a savvy PR guy or a seasoned English major for that matter. I didn’t read above sixth grade level until nearly thirty years old. So I don’t claim to professionally understand how content, celebrity, and spin work together for creating a worldwide rave. But, you better believe I’ve been around the block enough to know when I see a bully and how to deal with them. Note, my actions taken seem to be under ongoing construction, however, the foundation of taking a stance to defend my core values do not have the luxury of allowing social media connections dictate how I express them, especially if I have labored over my content long and hard enough to have modeled an officer and gentleman’s temperance within my original publication, they’re too valuable.

Look at the time. We can still make it over to Vegas and crash another social media party before the Internet shuts down. (To be continued)

Stay focused. Stay confident, live a little, and love a lot,
Carter | @laroncarter

P.S. LiLTweeks is a weekly observation of some problems I’ve encountered and possible actions for resolve. If you have been inspired from this article please leave a comment and consider subscribing to the RSS (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader [look for Weekend Post].