The Giving Tree, Read by Shel Silverstein

I’ve always enjoyed this story, especially in the classroom because although students tend to pick up pretty quickly the sweet relationship between the tree and the boy, they also feel the pang of selfishness that the boy exudes. “This story is kinda sad,” they say. Or, “He only thinks of himself.” And they’re right. Which leads into the essential question, “What is life all about?”

The discussions that ensue are brilliant.

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December 4, 2018 Balance Like a Pirate : Going beyond Work-life Balance to Ignite Passion and Thrive as an Educator


For any educator, this is worth reading. It’s an easy read and can easily be accomplished over a break or long weekend, with the potential to help change life and the lives of those you serve.

Here is a brief snapshot.


“When we talk about personal balance, we are referencing everything that really makes you who you are - what are the “titles” outside of your job, and how do you cultivate them” (pg xxi)?

Positional balance . . . Whatever you do that earns income or provides you financial stability . . .” (pg xxi).

Professional balance is just that - how are you continuing to learn, grow, and enhance your knowledge and understanding of your role” (pg xxi)?

Passions: What I would do for free (pg xxii).

Five Favorite Quotes:

“We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience” (pg 35).

“Leisure is only possible when we are at one with ourselves, We tend to overwork as a means of self-escape, as a way of trying to justify our existence” (pg 74).

“Each person has special talents - the things you enjoy doing when they are away from school. Making intentional time to cultivate your dream and following through with courage and discipline is important not only for you, but for the students you serve. So don’t hide it from your students! You strive to find out as much as you can about their passions, but how often do you share your passions with them?” - “Identity Day”, a school day devoted to students AND teachers sharing on thing they are passionate about (pg 106)

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” - Lau Tzu (pg 115).

“The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it” - The Law of Diminishing Intent (pg 124).

For more favorite quotes click here.

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Reading Log 2017  :  Reading Log 2018

Post-it: A Perfect Mistake

“Spencer Silver, the scientist who is partially credited with the creation of the Post-it,” Sinek writes, “was working in his lab at the Minnesota-based company, actually trying to develop a very strong adhesive. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful. What he accidentally made was a very weak adhesive” (pg 168).

Instead of throwing away his mistake, he passed it around throughout the company, “just in case someone else could figure out a way to use it.”

A few years later, a fellow scientist was in church choir practice, “getting frustrated that he couldn’t get his bookmark to stay in place.” It kept falling to the floor. Until he remembered Silver’s “weak adhesive.” It would make for the perfect bookmark.

That mistake is now “one of the best-recognized brands in history, with four thousand varieties sold in over a hundred countries” (pg 169).

Instead of seeing his mistake as a failure, Spencer Silver saw it as a “Not yet.” He also saw that he didn’t have the solution, that he needed a fresh set of eyes to look at the problem. He understood that he needed help. Which is exactly why he chose to work for 3m.

3M “knows that people do their best work when they work together, share their ideas and comfortably borrow each other’s work for their own projects.” There is “no notion of “‘mine’”, which is why, at 3m, more than 80 percent of their patents “have more than one inventor.” It’s also why, in 2009, “when other companies were slashing their R&D budgets to save money, 3M still managed to release over a thousand new products” (pg 170), because “they have a corporate culture that encourages and rewards people for helping each other and sharing everything they learn.”

Rather than serving and celebrating the individual, they consider the group and others above themselves. They stick together, just like the adhesive Spencer Silver attempted to develop in the beginning. (I know, my brilliant display of a word play amazes me too.)

“Successful failure,” my son says, reading over my shoulder, and he’s right. Perfectly so. Because in a society that considers others above themselves, failure is not something to be feared. It is something to be embraced, shared, and endured.

Imagine what our homes, schools, and communities would look like if we lived with a similar approach. Imagine the bruises and the failures. The freedom. The healing. And the beautiful success we would experience. Together.

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-N- Stuff  :  Education  :  On Living