Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's Not About Your Dream, It's About Your Grit

It’s Not About Your Dream, It’s About Your Grit

What do you dream to be? This is a question that I have asked my children and students countless times. It’s a good question, right? I think it is. However, in my reflection I realize that asking that question in isolation does not best serve our students. In order to better serve our students we should start asking, “What is your grit like?” Grit, as defined by Angela Duckworth, is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

If we really want every student reaching their dream, we need to find out about their grit. Anyone can share their dream with you, but what if we start asking this follow up question with our students and even our own children? “You have a great dream, now how are you going to get there?”  Let’s not sugarcoat this. Reaching your dream is hard work. There will be many obstacles along the way.

When I work with sports teams, I explain to them that there are three things that can hinder their success:  fear of failure, fear of criticism, and fear of hard work.
Gritty people embrace the challenge, accept feedback, and continually work very hard. Harvey Mackay said, “The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful
people do those things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do.” I feel that fear of criticism is the biggest obstacle for most adults and students. We are a society that loves to fling feedback, but are usually resistant to receive it. We need to teach our youth to have a growth mindset. Feedback should be for growing, not for groaning. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are times that the feedback is upsetting, but if we don’t reflect on what’s being said, true change can never occur. Without change a dream never becomes reality. If we are to provide our students with the tools to reach their dreams, we need to start teaching them to find their grit.

So, the next time you are speaking with someone about their dreams, don’t forget to ask them about their GRIT!!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Human Core vs. Common Core II

 

The Monday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I was presenting to a group of teachers in Garfield, NJ. I was presenting on classroom leadership and shared a story about a former student who had severe emotional issues. I explained that when I needed to suspend the student for some inappropriate behavior, I would always say, “When you return, we will still love you.” This statement rubbed one audience member (maybe more) the wrong way. I tried to explain that as much as I never condoned her behavior, that I felt it important that the child knew there was a place where people truly cared about her – especially since there was a strong possibility that my student didn’t feelunconditional love anywhere else. The audience member’s facial response was priceless. The presentation continued, but her response made me think of an old blog post I wrote titled, Human Core vs. Common Core.

 

At times, this profession can get very myopic as we (myself included) seek to invest our time in the Common CoreIf as educators, regardless of title, we invested in the human core the way we do everything else, imagine the extent of the possibilities. I am privileged and honored to work with teachers and staff who invest in the Human Core at Monmouth Regional. Here are just a few examples of that investment:

 

• So many teachers arrive to school earlier than contractually required to provide extra help
• An abundance of teachers stay later than required to provide extra help
• Volunteers run clubs because their students were passionate about creating a club
• Volunteers assist with sports teams to help athletes and their colleagues
• Countless teachers attend evening events on their own time because they know what it means to their students

 

I have stated publicly many times that a major reason I came to MRHS was that I saw first-hand the level of investment in the Human Core. Now, I get to see it every day. Every day I get to see how our staff and teachers: 

 

• make kids who have never felt special feel special
• make kids feel worthy when they themselves and others made them feel worthless
• 
make kids work hard while they’re not even aware of how hard they’re working
• make kids laugh at times when they need it the most
• make kids smile on their worst days
• love their students unconditionally

 

Nobody inside MRHS is discounting the importance of the curricula and our job of creating critical thinkers who will be ready for an ever-changing world. However, in the words of the late Rita Pierson, MRHS understands that, Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” This is why every day is a great day to be a Falcon!!

 

Cory Radisch

Proud Principal

 

 

 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Mindset Resolution

(Excerpt from my monthly article in The Today Paper)

The Mindset Resolution

Happy New Year!  With a new year usually comes resolutions. Many of these resolutions have to do with exercise, diet, finances and more. However, how often, when it comes to resolutions, do we think about mindset? Recently, I came across this infographic while participating in an educational Twitter chat.


This made me reflect on the difficulty in making resolutions about mindset. Too often, I hear students (and adults) say things like: this is too hard or I did enough. Many times it’s not that they don’t want to advance themselves, but it’s too difficult to leave their comfort zone. Let’s be honest, who likes change? Change can create fear. It creates the fear of failure, which causes us to retreat back into our comfort zone. Too often, we allow this fear to prevent us from reaching our greatness and allows us to reach our mediocrity. Worse, sometimes we will never know the greatness that lies in each of us because we won’t step outside the comfort zone.

However, nothing great in history has happened from people staying inside their comfort zone. What if Dr. Martin Luther King decided to stay in his comfort zone? What if Marie Curie followed the easy path? Or Rosa Parks? Abraham Lincoln?

These are just a few examples. As we turn the page to 2017, I present this challenge to our students: Step out of your comfort zone to:
  • Spend an extra day preparing for an assessment
  • Stay for extra help even though your friends are asking you to go to D&D
  • Push your off-season training as an athlete
  • Consider moving to honors or AP next year
  • Stand up for someone who may struggle to stand up for themselves

Regardless of what you choose; and it may not be on this list, realize that stepping out of your comfort zone even once makes it easier to do it again. You will be less and less afraid of failure because you will appreciate the attempt, not the result. So, as you consider your resolutions, don’t be afraid to adjust your mindset. You never know, by stepping out of your comfort zone you just may make history!

Happy New Year and all the best to everyone in 2017!

Cory Radisch 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Open Letter to Our Candidates




Dear Candidates,

Hi, my name is Cory Radisch and I am the principal of what I think is the best high school in NJ - Monmouth Regional High School.  I write this open letter to you both because I and other educators need your help. I have watched your campaigns and debates very closely. Therefore, I am sure that I speak for many educators (and parents) by asking you both:
  • How do you expect us to instill respect in young people, when the both of you can't demonstrate it on a regular basis?
  • How can we hold students accountable for actions, when you both are not held accountable for yours?
  • How we can tell students to follow the example of our leaders, when our leaders are not setting a good example?
  • How do we tell students to engage in respectful debate and discourse, when the two of you can't?
  • How can we get young people to value each other, when our presidential candidates don't value each other?
  • How would you want us to handle a young person saying derogatory things to their classmates, should we dismiss it as locker room banter?
  • How would you want us to handle it when a young person lies to their teacher or administrator?
We need to be able to look to our leaders for guidance, mentorship, and most of all to set the right example. Thankfully, at MRHS we don’t have to rely on the both of you because we have passionate adults who model positive leadership with our students. Our teachers and staff demonstrate the expected behaviors we want from our students. They do this not because they want votes, but because they understand that investing in our students yields better results. We do this not only to impact learning, but to foster unity. Focusing solely on results causes you to lose sight of your “why”.  At MRHS, we focus on our “why” (our students) first, believing it will yield great results. So, whomever is fortunate to win this election, I hope you can take a page from #1FalconNation’s playbook and be sure to focus on the “why”, so that we the people can come together to form a more perfect union.

Regards,

Cory Radisch

Principal

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

FALCON NATION: An Example to America


This is my monthly article for our local Today Paper: 

As it seems with all of my entries for the Today Paper, I have an idea and then an experience strikes me and I have to start over. The deadline for this article was Friday, September 23, 2016. That was the day of our pep rally and another indication that MRHS and its diverse student population are a shining example that the rest of society should mimic.  Every once in awhile, there is a video on Facebook, that reminds us of the humanity in people. However, once we turn on the news, we are reminded that we are currently living in a country where adults would rather throw insults, versus inspire; condemn, versus comfort; isolate, versus collaborate; politicize, versus prioritize; diminish our country, versus lift it; and disunite, versus unify.

I ask you this: What would schools look like if these were the actions of our students? What would the adult reaction be? This brings me back to our pep rally – an ultimate snapshot of America, right in the bleachers of MRHS.  A student body consisting of all different races, religions, native languages, sexual orientation, and body types unifying to support each other. A population of over 1,000 students, each doing the right thing, getting along, and naturally uniting as #1FalconNation. The pep rally is just a large-scale example of what happens daily at our school. Please don’t mistake this article to opine that we are perfect. Then again, what family is?
    
             I do know that each day our school is made up of outstanding adults and students who demonstrate the character and resolve to appreciate the differences in each other because at the end of the day we are all Falcons. Having never been one to set small goals, I declare we are the example for our country’s adults, exhibiting that we can be different and have differences, but still be #1FalconNation. Imagine if the people in the news and in the public’s eye set that same example. It is said that children will follow your (adults’) example. No thanks! I would much rather the adults follow the children of MRHS’ example.

Proud Principal
Cory Radisch


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One Year Later: Perception is Reality


                It has been almost one year since I was granted the privilege to lead #1FalconNation. As I have stated many times, I am very humbled to serve the faculty, staff, and especially the students of Monmouth Regional. One of the priorities I shared throughout the interview process was to work diligently to brand Monmouth Regional so that those of us on the inside would control the perception of our outstanding high school. Business Writer James Heaton describes branding:

Branding is not push, but a pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.

Back in the November edition of the Today Paper, a local paper where I write a monthly article, I wrote: “For too long, the perception of our school has been controlled from the outside in, instead of from the inside out. For too long, those people who don’t embrace our diversity have been in control of creating the perception. For too long, those who don’t send their children to our school are the loudest voices.”

What a difference a year makes. The staff, faculty, and especially our students conveyed the vision of openly sharing the characteristics, values, and attributes that reveal the true perception of Monmouth Regional. Our use of social media has eliminated the walls of our high school and has pulled the community inside sometimes without even stepping foot into our halls.  The conversation no longer revolves around conjecture based on the outside perspective. I’m not approached with statements of misinformed speculation, such as hopefully, you can turn that place around. Instead, people can see for themselves and read about the prominence of MRHS. Today when I see people around town, we talk about the great things that they are able to see on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook or read in The Today Paper.

So, what are they seeing and reading? They see that we are a learning community that cares about their students, provides rigorous instruction and extra-curricular opportunities, prepares our students for life after high school, but more importantly, exudes a palpable spirit of unity and kindness. The character of our young people is often on display with their charitable endeavors or their willingness to embrace the diversity that makes Monmouth so special. This couldn’t have been more conspicuous than at our commencement ceremony on June 17, 2016. One of our inspirational students, Vizmay Gadgil, whose motor difficulties make it necessary for him to walk with a cane, decided he would walk across stage to receive his diploma versus the diploma being delivered to his front row seat. Upon seeing their classmate make the very proud walk, the graduates all spontaneously rose to provide Vizmay with a decibel-shattering standing ovation. This prompted the adults in the audience to do the same. This one act is just a sample of the greatness that permeates throughout the grounds of MRHS. Greatness not measured by a test score or college acceptance!

                        Just like any organization, there is still work to do and improvements to be made. We are proud of who we are, but you have my word that we will continue to work hard and challenge ourselves to continuously get better. However, based upon the conversations that we are having one year later, the perception of Monmouth is reality. And that reality is that we are a comprehensive high school that values each other, promotes greatness, prepares students for college or the workforce, but most importantly, demonstrates kindness. 

                      Lastly, the reality is that we are unified as #1FalconNation.

                                                                            

Cory Radisch

Proud Lead Learner of MRHS

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tragedy Shouldn’t Be Our Reminder



The following is an open letter to our students prompted by the unbelievable tragedy to the Robbinsville Superintendent, Dr. Steven Mayer as well as the 17 year old young lady driving the car last Tuesday, April 19th. I had the good fortune of working with Dr. Mayer as he was my Superintendent during my last year in Robbinsville.

Dear Students,

I hope that you realize that no matter what troubles you endure, every day is a gift. One of my former mentors once told me, “When you think you have it bad just know that somewhere in the world, somebody has it worse.”  It shouldn’t be tragedy that reminds us of how lucky we truly are. It shouldn’t be tragedy that makes us appreciate the little things. Too often, it is a tragedy that prompts us to change our thinking. However, as time moves on we tend to revert back to our old way of thinking.

Too often (myself included) we get caught up in being so busy that we forget to love life. We tend to focus on our hardships, schedules, and inconveniences all the while forgetting to be grateful for all we truly have. We tend to focus on the things we don’t have, instead of loving and appreciating the things we do. In addition and more importantly, we forget to appreciate the relationships of those people who are so important to us. We think there will always be time to say thank you or I love you.

So Falcons, I implore you not to let tragedy be your reminder to love life. I challenge you each day to:
·         Tell your parents/guardians you love them
·         Tell someone who has made impact on your life: Thank you!
·         Believe you have what it takes to make a difference in the world
·         Be kind to people outside your circle
·         Embrace the things you have and work hard for the things you don’t
·         Appreciate every day; even the bad ones
·         Motivate and inspire others
·         Live with love and love life

Lastly, when someone asks me, How are you doing? My answer from now on will be, “Loving life.” I am married to an incredible woman, have four beautiful daughters and every day get to work with a great staff and incredible students. So, why would I answer any other way?

Your Proud Principal

Mr. Radisch