Tag Archives: Leadership

What’s YOUR Super Hero Power?

camera crew

Every once in a while I find myself in the middle of something magical. It starts out like any other thing, but somehow all of the pieces click…and it’s a convergence that could never have been expected. I’m in the middle of one of those now.

Hero in the Mirror started as a research and writing project. My 5th graders were going to choose a hero, investigate her/his life and accomplishments and then write an informational piece. Of course that was too stale and inauthentic for me, so I added a twist…and a few hand-springs, and a cart-wheel.

Starting with the premise: Every person has Super Hero Power potential.


  • I invite ‘every day heroes’ into our classroom to talk about their work and life.
  • Have 5th graders interview, film, organize the visits.
  • To end the visit, interviewers ask each guest, “What is your super hero power?”
  • Kids reflect on that and connect how the guest uses that power In their work and in their life.
  • They put their reflections in writing and post them on their blogs.

The project is still evolving as I follow the kids in their discoveries, but in the end…I will be asking each 5th grader to find their own ‘Hero in the Mirror’ and claim their super hero power.

So what’s so magical you ask?

  1. Brave souls saying ‘yes’ to 10-11 year olds, despite their own fears.
  2. Seeing so many busy people choosing to be with us for those 20 minutes.
  3. Watching the struggle many go through to uncover their super hero power, and then claiming it.
  4. Knowing that those ‘super heroes’ will forever hold that power differently after their visit.
  5. Watching my class hold each guest and each super hero power in equal esteem…coming from a college student, a parent, a famous director, a fast food worker…they hold them in equal light.
  6. The gift I’m receiving to be able to witness humanity is such a beautiful way.
  7. Knowing that the 5th graders involved will see the world, and themselves…and their place in our world forever differently….just as I will.

Please check out our website. We are still in the middle of things, so check back!

kids cool


Surveys Should Never Replace Clear Leadership


Do Not Open Until 2018!


I came across a secret note in my classroom desk  from a student. She must have hidden it there at some point.  It was the typical style note you see in 5th grade, folded, stapled shut and written in red pen.  On the front it said:

Do Not Open Until May 2018!

Well, I did what any self-respecting adult would do; I opened it immediately. It had one simple line: Dear Mrs. Roman. Thank you. You have truly changed my life.  This got me thinking. Don’t we all change the lives of everyone we encounter? I can look back at seemingly insignificant interactions with people who totally changed the course of my life, sometimes in just a few words. “You’ll never go back to college. Once someone quits, they don’t go back,” from someone I only saw once when I was 19 years old in a group of us eating pizza at Joe’s Italian Foods in South Pasadena. I had quit school at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and moved to Los Angeles, every parent’s nightmare. Another time I recall was in a train station leaving on a trip with my then three-year-old daughter.  I was gripping her tiny hand and we were scurrying along in my usual hurried way when an older, gray-haired woman came up to me and kindly said, “That is an awfully quick pace for those little legs,” as she looked down and smiled at my daughter. As I sat on the 8-hour train ride, my anger at her rudeness in a matter that was none of her business melted away as I sat looking out the window at the blur of passing phone poles.

Scanning through interactions with people in my life that I can recall, some positive, some negative, most neutral, and surely millions gone from memory forever, I get the feeling that each one of those exchanges had the potential to impact my life or someone else’s in some way. Is it really important that we recognize each interaction that affects us or each time we have affected people we encounter? There are thousands of times this kind of thing happens in our weaving in and out of each other’s lives. Was it crucial that the guy in Joe’s know that he angered me enough to propel me back into college? And was it important that the woman in the train station realize that her comment pushed me to shift my way of being in the world in such a way that the quality of not only my life, but also the lives of my children, was significantly improved?

It would be nice to know those things, but in most cases we wont. That thought sure makes me see the every day in a different light.



Reposted from a year ago.

Leadership Focused on Climate Control from the Inside Out

flowering desert

From a teacher’s perspective, Ken Robinson’s words in his latest TED talk, How to Escape Education’s Death Valley, are obvious. So why are our education systems often going in the opposite direction? It is because as a system, we are looking at education from the outside in. If we as educational leaders (legislators, policy makers, school boards, administrators) continue to look from the outside in, we will move farther away from what we all want.

The answer lies in shifting the perspective: taking the lens from the observer (outside)…and moving it into the classroom (inside). From there we have possibilities for meaningful investment in terms of time, attention and focus. That investment has the ability to unleash the power of richly educated, motivated, and prepared citizens that go out into our world to create, innovate, and individually bloom in the way only they can.

By changing the perspective, we can reduce the high margin of waste that we tolerate. That waste appears in the form of remedial intervention funding, incarceration costs, alternative schooling, drop-out rates, violence and instability…not to mention the enormous tolerance of waste that we have for the graying down of our population by allowing standardized test scores to dictate the wellbeing of schools. Should all schools, districts, locations…all of them, no matter what their complicating or propelling factors are…should they all really shoot for the middle and call it good? If we shift the focus to inside and look out…and embody and provide district cultures and teacher training that equip and empower educators to create rich classroom environments that in turn inspire and empower students…and shift away from systems that look from the outside in and focus on command and control, we can begin to create the change we all want.

To our policy/directive makers at every level… regularly spend time in the classroom. Pay attention to the conversation among educators online on Twitter, in webinars, on blogs…it is all spelled out and in action all over the country. Work to embody those cultures that stimulate and invest in continual learning on every level.

This process has already begun. Look at what Steve Hargadon, Ben Curran, Neal Wetherbee, Julie Lindsay, Vicki Davis, Lucy Gray, and hundreds of other educators, not to mention all  of the classroom teachers that are changing building culture by example ….the list could go on and on with professionally generous educators working out-loud from the inside out. This is a major shift in the past 5-10 years. Major…all from inside. When that is valued as the powerful process it is, and is harnessed by ‘those who decide’, I believe that we will see that a lot of the groundwork and foundation building has been done.

“The real role of leadership in education, and I think it’s true at the national level, the state level, at the school level… is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control. Praising a climate of possibility. If you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that that you completely did not anticipate and couldn’t have expected.

There’s a wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin. There are three sorts of people in the world, those who are immovable: the people who don’t get it…they don’t want to get it, and they aren’t going to learn about it. There are people who are movable: people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it, and there are people who move: people who make things happen, and if we can encourage more people… that will be a movement, and if the movement is strong enough that’s in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that’s what we need.”

Ken Robinsons’ entire talk here.

Ownership And Integrity by DCulberhouse

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Engaging in conversation around Education and Leadership

Sometimes you find a post that just resonates truth. Here are some great thoughts by DCulberhouse.

I LOVE the introduction:

“We create the culture of our organizations by what we feed them.  Organizational cultures don’t grow haphazardly, rather they are a reflection…of us and our priorities.  And like giant tree mulching machines, they devour what we throw into them and spit it back out at us…spraying it across the organizational landscape.” 

This post is worth reflecting on, no matter where we find ourselves in an organization.

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”  -Samuel Johnson

Read the rest of the post here. 

A Better You, 11 TED Talks

“Ready for a change? These well-researched (and heartfelt) talks offer ideas and inspiration for all aspects of your life, from creativity to vulnerability, from competitive sports to collaborative games.” And my favorite, mindfulness.

See all 11 HERE

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Now playing: 10. Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions.) About Andy Puddicombe

Curated by TED



Leading, Learning and Holding Down Success

Steve Hargadon of The Future of Education hosted another good session tonight with author Jay Cross who wrote Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance. The discussion was interesting, and his book sounds like a great read, but there was one particular thing that he said that stuck with me more than anything else. As he was talking about how most learning comes to us informally on the job or wherever…he said something about Google…and recognizing that some employees are worth 200 times more than the average employee. He wasn’t talking about money value, but in what they were able to accomplish. He talked about how they are the ones that should be invested in.

The type of person he was referring to shows up in the desks of our schools and classrooms. How do we as educators deal with kids like that? It seems to depend on each adult’s comfort level. And then if they survive to adulthood with those tendencies still intact, how does the workplace deal with that? Again, it depends on comfort level. How does a culture like the one he talks about, one that values high levels of creativity and enthusiasm….one that values great thinkers and vision makers…how does that exist and sustain itself? What does that take? And inversely, why are there some work/school environments that actually do everything they can to squelch those exact same qualities? What does that take? There’s a saying: Whatever you feed most gets the strongest. It seems to me that it is definitely a choice..a choice by each and every one participating.

By exploring our own comfort level and allowing our boundaries to soften and widen to include those things in people that make us feel a little out of control, a little uncomfortable…allowing room for people that may take up more space than the average student or employee…that not only encourages that kind of ability in a student, employee or co-worker, but it also increases that in ourselves.