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Being Intentional in Teacher/Staff Growth!

Teacher growth is closely related to pupil growth. Probably nothing within a school has more impact on students in terms of skills development, self-confidence or classroom behavior than the personal and professional growth of their teachers. – Richard Barth

This session will be centered around giving participants ideas to be “Intentional” in building teacher/staff growth, which plays into developing relationships! In today’s world of constant growth, we must be more intentional in making sure our teachers and staff understand their importance in modeling, leading and building relationships! As adults, we must model these skills before we can teach them.  How do we inspire and direct teachers to see themselves as constantly growing?  How can we change the culture of a school with teacher leadership?  …And then what does this do for our kids?

We must be “One-Team” where everyone in the organization is committed to the enterprise and to each other!We will be giving participants thoughts on how important it is to understand their culture and how to be intentional in improving it! This is a process not a program!


Intentional Leadership

We all have great intention’s but as soon as we go back to the “grind,” some of those intentions are forgotten. How do we become more “intentional” in what we do?

So far, this year we have been working with staff and students on being more intentional in our words and our actions! It has been a very interesting journey!

With kids, we have been giving them opportunities to “make a difference” in their schools, both as individuals and as a team. It has been so amazing what they have done! From starting positive twitter accounts where they recognize staff and students, to “no one sits alone,” to “positive peer pressure,” to “Paying it Forward” with Ty bands, and on and on! I believe the key of all of this is to get kids decide what they want to do, why they need to do it, not us telling them what they need to do!

I believe being intentional as a staff is where we are missing the boat. I want to share a quote with you: “Teacher growth is closely related to pupil growth. Probably nothing within a school has more impact on students in terms of skills development, self-confidence or classroom behavior, than the personal and professional growth of their teachers”-Richard Barth

So, simple but so tough! As we shared with the kids above, the key of getting the above quote with staff is to get them to decide what they want to do, why they need to do it, not telling them they need to do it! Once you get staff to recognize this and move forward is when we start getting better.

I am reading the book, “Above the Line,” by Coach Urban Meyer. He talks about the 10 – 80 – 10 principle. The top 10% of the people give all they’ve got, totally bought in. The 80% are just moving along and doing what they need to do, not a lot more, or a lot less. Finally, 10% are uninterested or defiant. The leadership challenge is to work to get more of the 80%’s to move up to the top 10% group.

Let’s get to work on this! How?

Lessons from the Northside

  1. Relationships – This is where it starts!
  2. Trust – years to build, seconds to lose!
  3. Selflessness in doing the extra!
  4. Have a passion for what you do, but understand your purpose!
  5. Grit – Number one predictor for success!
  6. Intentional – not intentions, but being intentional in what we do!

CLASS Leadership

I have truly been blessed to get to watch kids make such a difference in their schools! I have always said, “When you give kids an opportunity, tools, and time, it is amazing what they can accomplish!”

I have been working with kids in leadership for a very long time. Mostly through a process called “CLASS Leadership,” (Cooperative Leadership and Sharing Strategies). I put anywhere from 1 to 12 schools in a group and I meet with them 3 times a year. I teach things like empathy, accountability, building relationships, and first impressions. Learning and practicing these skills helps to make them “employable!” I have 62 schools and over 1100 kids and sponsors taking part in this program this school year!

In the first round with these students I ask them to work on three things individually and one thing as a school team. The three things to work on individually were:

  1. Work on one thing to make a better first impression.
  2. Intentionally recognize two students and one adult each week.
  3. Work on one thing to develop a “mindset in developing more grit.”

The school team project was centered on teaching “Empathy” in their school district!

In the second round with these kids, they have to share with the other kids what they have done as individuals and also what their team has done or is doing! And they chose one thing to “use moderation with technology.” The average teenager spends and average of 9 hours a day in front of a screen. We also worked on goals setting by using “SMART” goals!

In our third meeting the students will share what they chose in using moderation with technology and how they are doing with it. They also continued “intentionally recognizing” others! They worked on self-improvement on setting a specific goal in being a difference maker!

I would like to share with you the things that all of these schools and kids are doing, but that would be a very long newsletter, so I will share what some of the schools and students are doing. Please understand that almost all of the other schools are doing something similar!

There were sixty-two schools that took part in “Empathy Projects” to make a difference! Here is an example of what two schools did:

Middle School

Our students at CT decided to develop an “Empathy Week”.

Each grade level (6,7,8) will be given a specific task.

6th graders – describe a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) that they have witnessed at CT or have completed themselves.  Record that RAK on a post-it note and turn it in to their bulldog teacher.

7th graders – write a note to an administrator or classified staff member thanking them for their work here at CT or for something kind the staff member has done for a specific student. Turn the note into their bulldog teacher.

8th graders – write a note of thanks to a teacher that has had a significant effect on their life. Turn the note into their bulldog teacher.

The C.L.A.S.S. Leadership students will visit bulldog classrooms on Tuesday. They will teach the students how to do the tasks above so they are respectful and then give the supplies to the bulldog teachers.

C.L.A.S.S. Leadership students read through the post-it notes and make sure they are appropriate to hang on the wall.  We will spell “Empathy” with the Post-its for a huge sign that will hang in our main hallway.

C.L.A.S.S. Leadership students deliver notes to staff member’s mailboxes.  The “Empathy” Banner will be hung in the main hallway after school so that it will be ready for Friday Morning.

We will have two assemblies in the auditorium during bulldog time.  During the assemblies students from our C.L.A.S.S. Leadership group will give short speeches informing the students about C.L.A.S.S. Leadership, defining “Empathy”, giving examples of what it looks like in our school and how we can work together to keep our school kind and safe for all students.

Our kids have put a lot of time and effort into this and I truly believe it is because CLASS Leadership has had a significant impact on them!

High School

For empathy, we have already done a random act of kindness wall, where kids or staff can write on a sticky note something kind someone else did for them.

We have also done a few mentoring activities, where we mentor the younger grades Pre-3, and still have one more planned. We plan to split up into groups of 2 or 3, and talk about empathy.

We will explain what empathy is, do an activity with them (such as read a book), and make a poster.

The poster we are planning to do with every class will be to make purple footprints, and hang them on a wall, sort of in a walking pattern. And put the saying “Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s shoes.”


Wow! We Get To Start Another School Year!


The excitement is growing as we are all getting ready to start another school year! I am so blessed to get to be a small part of several districts. They will be celebrating the opportunity to bring staff back and help them prepare for the up and coming school year. We all know there are certain things that you have to cover with your staff, but what else should we think about? An outstanding superintendent told me last year that he felt it was important to spend time at these back to school trainings to “build relationships” with all staff. Remind them of their “why” and let them know how important they are to their district! After doing this last year, he felt they had their best school year yet!

There are so many things you can do on your own! If you want or need some ideas, please get a hold of me! I will share! It is important to have your staff ready to go!

I am in the process of writing a book from my roots but also tying these thoughts into staff, student, and business trainings!

Lessons from the Northside Market

My parents told me that I was 3 years old when they bought the Northside Market. So I practically grew up in that grocery store because they ran it for 25 years. These were days before babysitters so I was just part of the store. You have to understand when they describe a grocery store as a mom and pop’s; the Northside Market was truly a mom and pops. My mom was the checker and the bookkeeper and my dad was the butcher and whatever else was needed. Most of the time we had one employee along with my brother Jerry, until he went to college. My brother was 7 years older than me, so I was left to work at the store after he left. We all just jumped in and helped! There were three grocery stores in a town of 1000 people.

Northside Market Mission Statement before Mission Statements!

  • A family that serves with a smile!

The book and trainings are going to be centered around “6 Lesson’s from the Northside Market!” I am going to share three of those lessons and a little bit about them! It is important to understand this is a process, not a program! A sustainable process! Here are 3 of the 6 lessons.

6 Lessons from the Northside

  1. Have a passion for what you do, but understand your purpose!
  1. Understanding your culture.
    1. How we learn to survive, one generation passing down what it has learned to the next!
    2. Unwritten rules!
  • Is it something we can predict and control, or does it control us?
  1. What is your “Purpose?”
  2. How do your values play into your purpose!
    1. Your -“Why?”
  1. It all starts with trust!
  1. Trust starts with building relationships – and building relationships is spelled “Time!”
  2. Slow down in order to speed up!
  3. Listen, don’t just hear!
  4. See don’t just look!
  5. Intentional Recognition. (Not going to happen unless you do something intentional to make it happen)
    1. List who you are going to recognize this week and how!
    2. Accountability partner! (Two heads are better than one!)
  • Make it a habit.
  1. Take advantage of every moment and be early!
  1. If you are early, you are never late!
  2. Take the time to do it right!
  3. Customer time.
    1. Be available when they need you the most.
  4. Get something done early!

For information or to get a hold of me please check out



Lessons From Those In The Trenches!

As I continue reading about what the Legislature did and did not do on the last day of the legislative session, the school finance standoff, and the state’s newest budget crisis, the more I believe we have lost the common sense of “what is best for our kids and their future.”

I have recently had the privilege to work with 33 educators from 14 different schools in summer workshops! Yes, they are discouraged with what is going on with our legislation but each and every one were so eager to get back with their students this fall and to help make a difference.

I look at it like carpenters who have a passion to build an outstanding house! They dream, they plan, and they are motivated to work really hard to make the best house they can possibly build. But, without a hammer, a saw, and other tools, they cannot build the house the way they want! Teachers are the same. They dream, plan, and are so motivated to build the best students they possibly can, but the tools they need are not being provided. Decisions are being made by people that are not in the trenches of education! Teachers know what is best! Please listen to them! Research tells us that the “single” most important factor in your child’s learning is their “teacher!”

Let’s get away from all this “standoff” for school budgets and help get these carpenters (teachers) the tools they need to make our schools the best they can be! (Please pass this on or contact the people making these decisions.)


Another School Year Has Passed!

Many schools are finishing up the school year earlier in May than usual. It is time to close out another school year and get ready for the end of the year activities. Wasn’t it August just a few days ago?

I think it is important to take a deep breath and reflect! Think about all of the special things that went on this year both professionally and personally!

We get so busy that we don’t take time to enjoy all of the positive things that we accomplished! We all have some of these times! Many more than we realize! That is why it is so important to take some time after school is out and reflect on all of the special events in your life!

Next, I think it is important to come up with one or two things that you might want to do a little bit differently this next school year! I always told my basketball team, “If you are not trying to get better, you are getting worse!” I just don’t believe we can stand still!

The “buzz word” in Kansas education is “Social and Emotional Learning!” This summer we are offering a “common sense” workshop on this. I want to give you the definition of “Social and Emotional Learning” and see how we are going to break it down to what most of you are already doing but just need to emphasize a little more:

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to:

  • Understand and manage emotions
  • Set and achieve positive goals
  • Feel and show empathy for others
  • Establish and maintain positive relationships
  • Make responsible decisions.

If you are not available to take part in this workshop, please contact me and I will send you some information you can use in your classroom!

Have a great summer!



Kansas Schools

My name is Joe Coles and I’ve been in the education business most of my life. My current job as a consultant allows me to be in many schools across the state of Kansas and beyond. I need to share the following thoughts:

Kansas’ schools can no longer do what is best for staff and students in our schools. We do the best we can with what we can afford! I have not visited with a single taxpayer that wants a “cheap education” for our kids. I know my parents didn’t want one for me and I didn’t want one for my kids. They want the “best education” at an affordable price. Schools have cut their calendars to go fewer days and longer days, to help meet budgets. Research will tell you that this is not what is best for kids! Teachers are paying for things out of their own pockets. Most teachers are making less money than they were five years ago because of increasing health insurance rates. We are asking schools to do more with less!

Please take the politics out of education, and let’s get back to “what is right” for all schools, kids, and staff! I am asking you to please put the “common sense” back into education! Visit with your legislators, your school board, or whomever you think will help us! Please pass this on to anyone you would like.

Kansas’s education is important to all of us and we need to speak loudly to do what we can to get our schools back on track!