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posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 9/17/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Welcome back! Hopefully this newsletter finds you happily and healthily into the start of another new year.

Isn’t it interesting that, as teachers, we get to experience two “new years”; we get the one in December that the rest of the world gets, and we also get this one, the one happening right now as the school year begins anew. And, although maybe not consciously, it could be argued that we bring many of the same traditions and feelings to the beginning of this “new year” that we do to that other new year.  Think about it…

We make resolutions:

This year I WILL grade and get all my papers back to students within the same week!

We see hope and possibility:

I can’t wait to meet all my new students this year and change their lives!

We celebrate:

Hey fellow staff members, let’s all go out to the coffee shop/bar and have a couple of lattes/tasty beverages to really start this year off right!

We look back on the year that has passed:

Holy cow, last year was amazing/terrifying. I hope this year is just as good/waaaay better.

Also similar to the other, more traditional New Year, it’s often difficult to find the necessary time to reflect on what the past year really meant for us. Often, we get busy right away declaring what we’re going to do in this upcoming year and/or reporting out what happened in the last year.  That can make it hard to find the time to think about the significance the last year held for us relative to our own growth, learning and personal “ah-ha” moments. We’re so focused on what the year was (Good? Bad? ) that we rarely ask ourselves What did I learn? or How did I grow?

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 8/20/2014 | Category: Inspiration

At Beverly Hills High School, they replaced their entire admin team except the principal this year. The only Link trained person in the building just got promoted to AP and they were scrambling at school start. How did they manage to have an incredibly successful Link program and school start? They relied on the Link Leaders.

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posted by: Becky Emmons 6/10/2014 | Category: Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the 2014 Link Crew Scholarship winners!

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 4/17/2014 | Category: Inspiration

According to Wikipedia (and we all know that is a completely valid source), there is a private initiative to have the third Thursday of April be recognized and celebrated as “National High Five Day”. We say, why not. It’s official from the Boomerang Project. Today, April 17, is National High Five Day!

It seems only natural that we would celebrate this day since the High Five seems to be the official Boomerang Project greeting. Think about the number of High Fives you got at your Basic Training. Those of you fellow High Fivers out there loved it. Those of you who don’t dig them…c’mon, even you got into the swing of the High Five during those three days. I bet that you even went back to school the next morning, started to high five someone and then realized you were back at school and maybe it wasn’t appropriate. Today we say loudly and clearly, it’s not just appropriate, it’s essential and awesome! You know you want to. Go ahead, do it!

The history of the High Five is imprecise at best.  Most of the legends associate it with sports, mostly from the late 70s to early 80s. Does it really matter if it was a couple of baseball players (the Dodgers’ Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke) or the University of Louisville Cardinals’ basketball team? All that we know is that life became more joyous, more celebratory and more fun with the invention of the High Five. No one person or small group of people needs credit for that. The legacy itself is their credit.

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 3/26/2014 | Category: Inspiration

We (Carolyn and Micah) are in the middle of our road warrior season. This is the season of Basic Trainings and Advanced Courses and we are hopeful we will get to see many of you!

Although we love what we do, I have to tell you, the road is a hard place to be sometimes. Long days of training and putting out lots of energy for educators are sometimes followed by lonely hotel room nights, long plane flights and deeply missing our loved ones back home. It can sometimes feel like we are alone, even when surrounded by people.

Does that every happen for you? You may not be on a plane, but springtime can often be lonely for teachers too. The endless winter, the kids who seem to stop working, the ever increasing demands from administration, parents, students, friends, family and ourselves can easily start to create a pocket of isolation where it can sometimes feel like we are alone.

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 2/12/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Getting through the world can sometimes feel hard. And then there it is. A reminder that is so simple. So obvious.

There is was. A gaggle of children (I’m guessing a second or third grade class) walking along the sidewalk probably on a small fieldtrip of some sort. As only 7-8 year olds can do, they were all over the place. With only one adult in the front and one adult in the rear, I wondered if they would all make the entire round trip without injury.

But then something happened. As they approached a busy intersection, they all formed up, two by two, grasped hands and settled into safely crossing the street. I giggled at the sight and as I looked in my rearview mirror I was struck by how much that brief moment is all we need to know to get through the world; and what WEB and Link Crew do for your school community.

So many thoughts ran through my head as I watched these little kids.

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 1/22/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Seems like all around me people are trying to make some tough decisions. I was speaking with a Link Coordinator recently who is trying to decide where to go with her career. She is in a graduate program and it looks like, at her current pace, it will take several years to complete. She is trying to decide whether or not to take a year’s leave of absence to become a full time student. That would allow her to essentially complete her master’s in just over a year and a half. Or should she stay with the school she loves, in the programs she has created and just tough it out?

Another WEB Coordinator I spoke with recently is trying to decide whether to stay in teaching at all. With a department chair working to actively undermine her, a principal who, while supportive, continues to pile on additional responsibilities and a workload that is preventing genuine connection to family and self, she is wondering whether it is all worth it.

We have spoken with people who are in the middle of family crisis, overwhelmed by work, consumed by health challenges and any number of other major decisions. It seems as if every coordinator we talk to is trying to work through where their WEB or Link program should go.

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posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 12/11/2013 | Category: Inspiration

I heard a story on NPR recently that bares some thought. There is a giant sequoia here in California that used to be one of the world’s tallest trees. It has been alive for over 2000 years and in 1999 stood 254 feet tall. Out of the hundreds of sequoia’s growing in Kings Canyon National Park, this tree stood out. It was so distinguished that it was named, “The Washington Tree”. 

Over the last few years, the Washington tree has changed quite a bit; it is now a mere 115 feet tall with most of its upper canopy fallen and its trunk completely hollow.

What really caught my attention with this story, beyond the sadness of it, was the concluding statement of one of the park naturalists. With a kind of poetic insight, the naturalist remarked that although the tree had been stunning, the loss of its crown has allowed a new generation of giant sequoia to grow in its new, smaller shadow, whereas before, it was so massive that nothing below it could sustain for lack of light. 

For our work in building exemplary transition programs, there are two salient points. The first is the notion of growing so tall that you are named. We see over and over that the very best programs are the result of a professional determined to be tall on their campus. In order for your program to thrive and become sustainable, it requires a champion, someone who understands the impact of a powerful program and continues to stand up for its success.

The same can be said for all great achievements. . . .

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 9/18/2013 | Category: Inspiration

Orientation was amazing, right? You organized and trained and watched and communicated and, although there were hiccups along the way, you still had massive success.

Great job!

Now what?

If your program is only an orientation then you are not making the kind of impact that you want to! Now is the time to stoke the flames you created at Orientation and keep the momentum going. Your leaders are ready to be engaged. 

We have been thrilled to see how many programs are already doing some amazing things around the country.  Here is just a small sample, taken from over 30 responses to our FaceBook post asking schools what they have already done:

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 8/15/2013 | Category: Inspiration

The process of learning a new language is not easy. Many of us can remember the struggle of learning even the basic vocabulary of a second language and/or watching students struggle as they learn English as their second language.

Learning the language of Leadership is not very different. While often we think that leadership is something that someone is either born with or not, that just is simply not true. It can be taught. It can be learned. And it all starts with the language.

Let’s first take a look at the basic language learning process.

When we start the process, we are enthusiastic and ready to dive in.

As we begin to pick up the core pieces of the system, we typically meet a fair level of confusion. It’s easy to lose heart and simply stop. But we have to keep going. Confusion is just part of the process.

When we start to more fully understand all of the parts and pieces of the system, confusion starts to diminish.

At this point, it is common to have a “Click” moment when the language comes together.

But this is just the beginning of the process. Now comes the harder part of internalizing the system. We have to incorporate structural exercises and immersive activities to internalize the patterns.

At this point we can start to use the language effectively. It is not uncommon, though, to experience an ongoing cycle of frustration and breakthrough. We might experience mental fatigue and want to give up on learning the language.

But if we can continue to practice, we will experience reinvigoration and renewed enthusiasm. By going beyond this point, we ensure we have the content and processes in place to reach fluency over time.

With the core mastered, it is a matter of remaining consistent in the content and processes until we have reached our desired level of competence and fluency.

Now let’s take that same process of learning a language and lay it over the language of Leadership for our WEB and Link Crew Leaders.

Enthusiastic and ready to dive in: When your Leaders came to training and orientation, both you and they were stoked! Let’s do this thing! Let’s be awesome! Let’s change lives!

Confusioneasy to lose heart and simply stop: Then things didn’t go exactly as planned…it never does. Maybe a freshman was resistant or a parent wouldn’t leave . . . .

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