Blog Archive

Saturday, March 31, 2018

If I Can't Be Batman, Then Who Can I BE???




Last week, I was talking to a 5th grade young man in front of my office door when he said to me, "Mr. Griffin everyone calls you Batman here at school. I do not want to sound racist (as he begins to loose eye contact with me, I encourage him to keep going), but... Batman is white in all of the movies, and well um, you are kinda not white, you're black!"

I smiled at the young man and shared with him that first and foremost, you are not a racist. You did not do anything to harm me, you did nothing to degrade me, or make me feel bad about who I am as a person. You are not racist, you just made an observation. Here is my question for you, what does Batman stand for as a symbol?

The young man stated that, "Batman stands for doing what is right. Batman protects others."

I said, "Exactly, and as a symbol, I do the same thing for each and every student and teacher in this building when it comes to education."

He stated that, "I guess you're right!"

There were many questions that entered my mind when I reflected on this conversation that included but were not limited too:

How many of my other students think this way (Honestly, I am surprised I have only had two conversations around this topic with students)?

What impact did my alter ego of Batman have on the way this young man viewed the world?

How do we continue to shift the paradigm of heroes in our world when kids aspire to be who they see through the media?

If I can't be Batman, then who can I be?

Colorblindness

The topic of colorblindness always baffled me for as long as I could remember. I am a huge comic book fan and an avid Saturday Morning Cartoon enthusiast. Growing up, I played with superhero toys and games and was always enamored with them. Around the second and third grade I realized that the characters did not look like me. On the occasion when I would see someone that looked like me they had a limited role or they played the villian. I recall asking my parents why didn't any of the superheroes look like me? To this day I can not remember their exact answer to that question, however, I remember them always telling me that I can be whatever I choose to be and that the color of my skin will not limit what I am destined to achieve. They definitely supported my aspirations and guided me with their wisdom, that included the fact that I will have to be two to three times better than my peers on my journey. This was because they knew there would be times when I would have to prove to others that I am more than the pigmentation of my skin.

At a young age, I was able to see the depictions of color through the media and of those around me. Guess what? My student did not use the barometer of occupation, wealth, status, political connections, or family to question my ability to serve as Batman. He did not even challenge the fact that Batman is a fictional character. He used the color of my skin. As adults we can no longer claim that we do not see the color of our students, our colleagues, or members of our community. The decision to not acknowledge the cultural differences of our community, is a decision that for far too long has cast fear and doubt into the hearts, minds, and spirits of our society. The lack of understanding has given life to stereotypes that live without substance due to an inability to become vulnerable and learn from one another.

Symbols

I am proud of the fact that I have established the relationship with this young man that he felt comfortable sharing his thoughts with me. A few of my colleagues shared with me the significance of my role as an African-American principal. Dennis, you have to understand there are many individuals that have never truly interacted with a person of color. The only thing that they have to go off of is the perception and stereotypes that the media portrays of people of color. Each and every day you prove that those stereotypes are not true. Not only are you challenging and shifting paradigms, you serve as an advocate for all students, especially your students of color. Dennis, you serve as a symbol of what students will aspire to become in the future.

I can only hope that I can live up to such an expectation as an #EduHero. I choose to wear the mask on this journey and that decision has often led me to be the only person in the room that looks like me. June 9th, 2017 I became Batman to more than 400 students. I can only hope that when the symbol of Batman is mentioned on their journey they will envision Bruce Wayne and Mr. Griffin; their African-American principal. In turn, my aspiration is that they will heed Dr. King's words, and look at the content of a person's character and not the color of their skin. This is how we pass the mantel of leadership to the next generation.



Monday, March 26, 2018

The Belief In Your Heart WILL EMPOWER Your Students


I strive to empower students in order to change the trajectory of their future outcomes. In order to empower anyone you must believe in them. Empowerment without belief is the equivalent of swinging at a baseball with an imaginary bat, you will never get a hit. This year will culminate with the graduation of the last class of students I served as an educator. I had the opportunity to serve these students for two consecutive years. My classroom was very diverse and was often lacking in confidence. My students came to me at various levels and with different abilities. This never mattered to me because my moral imperative aligned with the belief that education was about my students ability to overcome obstacles and participate in a democratic society thus proving the skeptics wrong in regard to their predetermined outcomes.

This blog is about one young lady that would come to my class and say that she hated math. She would tell me that she was never going to be good in math and therefore she would never do any of the math work or participate in class. She even told me that, "she was not scared of me like these other kids." I shared with this particular student that, "she had no reason to be afraid of me, I care about you as a person and our classroom is built upon respect for one another." I saw the potential inside of her but rather than unleash her talent, she would attempt to have outbursts and disrupt the class in hopes that I would have her removed from class. She shared with me that I was not like her other teachers, because the other teachers would have kicked her out of class by now. I smiled and shared, "I never kick kids out of my class. It is my job to make sure you learn and I can not do that if you are not here. You are a part of my school community and I am responsible for your future. I have to make sure you are ready for college. I will never give up!" She replied, Mr. Griffin, I do not like school now, I will never go to college. I smiled and said we will see.

After the first month of school we came to an understanding and I started to see the changes within her. She would often tell me that I was doing too much by having high expectations for her and the quality of her work. I emphasized that there are no shortcuts. There was one occasion she voiced this phrase the week prior to to Spring Break by saying, "Mr. Griffin, you know you are like the only teacher in the building teaching, right? Everyone else is watching movies and having fun." Now, I know she did not literally mean this but you get the point. I shared with her, "remember I am preparing you for your future and I do not have a second to waste." After two years together, she made sure that I was the first person she took a picture with at the 8th Grade Celebration.

Fast Forward Four Years

My former student tracks me down three different ways (social media, email, and via phone). My secretary delivered a message from her and said she sounded very professional over the phone. It is important for me to note that I have not interacted with her in four years. I have not communicated with this particular student since the 8th Grade Celebration, and I am beginning to think that something is wrong. I call back and she says to me, "Mr. Griffin, I want to say thank you for never giving up on me. I wanted to let you know that I am graduating from high school this year and I am going to college. I have been accepted into three different colleges." Not only did she get accepted to college, she even received a scholarship. I heard her mom saying thank you in the background. I told her, "I promised you back then that we will always be connected and that we are on this journey together. Thank you for entrusting your daughter's education to me." My former student than said, "Mr. Griffin, my graduation is a big moment in my life, and I wanted to invite you to attend because you played a major role in my life. I wanted you to share this moment with me." 


Belief Plants The Seed

This is a special school year for me as it will culminate with the graduation of the last class that I had the honor to teach. I can not believe how fast time has past by. Every year, I take the time to reflect  about my former students and contemplate how they are progressing. I reflect on the lessons they taught me that made me the educator I am today. The number one lesson that my students taught me was to have an unwavering belief in their potential and more importantly, their futures. In our world, we have become so obsessed with immediate gratification that we have associated delayed gratification with a lack of progress. In the world of education, the fruits of our labor may not manifest for 10 - 15 years in the future. In the interim, as EDUCATORS, we must believe that our actions will empower our students to persevere in the face of adversity as they strive to become productive members of our democratic society. The task that we are charged with is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart. I believe with all of my heart serving our students is worth it.



Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Life's Most Persistent and Urgent Question Is: What Are You Doing For Others?" ~ Dr. King


"What are YOU doing for others?" Don't rush, take a couple of seconds to really reflect? Now that you have given it a little more thought, was your answer tied to your occupation? Was it tied to your vision of tomorrow? Please allow me to frame the question differently, "what are you sacrificing for others?" Do your answers still align? One element that is often overlooked in the conversation regarding servant leadership is that in order to serve others, you have to make a sacrifice in some capacity. The sacrifice may come in the form of resources, relationships, time with loved ones, criticism, imprisonment, and in some cases the ultimate sacrifice, your life. Dr. King endured each of these sacrifices. Have you ever thought about the toll that took on him? His family? What Dr. King did for others aligned with his sacrifices and enhanced his determination to walk in his purpose. The world has never and will never become a better place without the sacrifices of members of the human populace that look to facilitate change. What do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be doing for others today or should I say, What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrifice for others today? Would you follow him? If you were going to follow him, what sacrifices would you have to make?  


When I became an administrator four years ago, I had an epiphany in regards to doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is really hard for many people. If you do not believe me think about the conversations that are currently occurring in the world of education around student achievement, especially for students of color. Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954. Brown v. Board II took place in 1955 because there was not a major shift towards desegregating schools. The Civil Rights Act of 1965 saw a shift in the desegregation of schools due to legislation that would have costs schools financially for failing to integrate. I say that to say this, without including the obstacles in educational attainment prior to 1954, sixty-four years have passed since the doctrine of separate but equal was struck down, yet and still the academic gaps have continued to grow in America despite our deeper understanding of researched-based pedagogy, influx of technology, and financial increases for students (in comparison to 1954). I wonder what Dr. King would think of the achievement gap? What would his message be to the nation? What would he be willing to sacrifice to ensure equity in education? More importantly, what is our message and what are we willing to sacrifice?


When the time comes for adults to make a sacrifice we ask; is it safe, politic, or popular versus if it is right. Humans do not have a desire to live in solitude. Due to this many, individuals will often follow the crowd rather than stand alone. We need to understand that our students are not just paying attention to our words, they are assessing if our words align with our actions. We encourage them to make a sacrifice for what is right at the possibility of losing a close friend. We tell them if they are really your friends they will support you. We tell them to stand alone for a just cause, because they will feel better in the morning. The way that we conceptualize making the sacrifice for righteousness is easy. On the contrary, making the decision to stand for righteousness is often met with a series of questions coupled with fear of isolation and ridicule. I think we encourage our students to sacrifice for righteousness because we often lack the courage to live by that creed. What role does sacrificing for righteousness play in the achievement gap, the Civil War of the 21st Century?


Now I am not here to say that I am perfect in regards to what is right, but I try my best to be guided by my moral imperative. I can honestly say that F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) has halted me in the past I came to regret my inaction. Along the journey, I have made concerted efforts to Face Everything And Rise. Initially, I was unaware of the sacrifices that I would have to make in my service and advocacy of others. I have lost a few friends. There were times when I had to stand alone on an issue or topic in a meeting. In complete transparency, there were a few times a bull's eye was painted on my back for doing what I believed was right. I was not expecting this. The bull's eye was not placed on my back because I was disrespectful, it was because I dissented from what was the popular opinion. I remember the first few times that I did this my colleagues would come into my room and share their frustrations with me. It was validating to hear them say; I am glad that you said that. I support you. In a conversation with my father, he shared with me, "anyone can support you behind closed doors, but I will ask you is that support?" As I continued to see my colleagues remain silent regarding their beliefs and watch what was happening to me, it dawned on me, if my colleagues truly supported me why did they support me after the meeting? They had the same opportunity to share their thoughts, yet they remained silent. The pain that I felt initially from being ostracized made me understand why they remained silent. They did not want to endure the criticism and isolation that came with taking a stand. Despite not liking the feeling of isolation, my resolve and moral imperative was strengthened to advocate for all students in and outside of the school edifice. 


In the Dark Knight, I recall Batman telling Commissioner Gordon that if the hero lives long enough, he will eventually become the villain. With pride we talk about how Dr. King helped to fight injustice in the name of nonviolence through boycotts, speeches, and organizing the masses. However, we do not spend extensive time discussing the duration of the struggle, the criticisms, unwarranted assaults, and unlawful imprisonments he sacrificed to end racial injustices in America. I would say that in Dr. Martin Luther King's case, one could make the argument that in some factions in society he was deemed the villain and is now immortalized as the hero and the epitome of servant leadership.

On January 15th, we paid homage to The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the most perplexing questions that have always been on my mind is why does it take time to bring about change when we know that something is a moral injustice? Yes, I agree. We do not create a world of enhanced chaos by not heeding strategic thinking, a magnitude of the change, and what are some of the intended and unintended consequences of the change. Far too often we do not quantify the amount of time the adaptive change necessitates, nor do we discuss the loss and sacrifice that the change will call for. We often substitute these intensive and critical conversations for quick solutions to appease the populace that change is occurring. We are  willing to use a technical change as a band-aid to the deep rooted ideologies that reside in the minds and sometimes the hearts of others. Time has concluded that technical changes do not solve adaptive problems. Is this the reason Dr. King stated, "the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically? Is this why he emphasized that intelligence plus character is the goal of true education? Thinking intensively and critically helps us to decipher our truth. It also helps us to have empathy and understand how our actions may impact our fellow man from various perspectives. I have found courage from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he found it in his moral imperative that "The time is always right to do what is right." 

Dr. King stated that in the end, we would remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. This has resonated with me because I do not want to every question if I advocated for the futures of my students. When you decide to disrupt the status quo, you must expect resistance will ensue. Dr. King tried to prepare future advocates of truth for this when he stated, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." This statement brings us back to focusing on the most difficult question that we have to answer, is it right? The moment we answer this question we are called to action. If and when, we determine that an action is not right we have to overcome cowardice, expediency, and vanity as they will create fear that will lead us to accept the status quo. There will never be another Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With that being said, he left an example of service, advocacy, and leadership principles for us to follow to continue walking in his footsteps, a legacy personified by servant leadership due to his willingness to ask, "life's most persistent question: what are you doing (sacrificing) for others?"



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#OneWord: #FEAR



Fear. Yes, FEAR!!! Fear is the one word that we all have in common. Fear keeps us from accomplishing our goals. Fear keeps us from fighting the effects of the status quo. Fear causes us to hesitate. Fear causes us not to take action. Fear causes us to see the worst in a situation and doubt our human capacity before we even take a risk. Fear makes us see the version of ourselves that is not our best. Fear makes us think what will my family, friends, and people that do not even know me think of my decision. Truly, it is not the actual thought of FEAR that stifles humans; it is what the fear is connected to that chains our leadership and allows the status quo to disenfranchise our world when we decide not to take action. 






This blog stems from my reflection moderating the first #PLN365 #TwitterChat at the request of my good friend and fellow #EduGladiator #CoreWarrior Paul O'Neill entitled #FirstSteps. I have to let you know that Paul was relentless in making sure that I moderated this chat. Why did Paul have to be relentless you may ask, you said it, because of FEAR. After I accepted I began to say, "what have I gotten myself into?"

 (Tweets to Q2 Created the Themes for this Blog)


                                                                 

                                                                  Fear Of Capacity

When we begin our journey down a new path various questions enter our mind which include but are not limited too:

Am I good enough? 
Will I succeed?
What happens if I fail? 
How do I compare? 
Will I be alone? 
What other factors (race, gender, creed, etc.) will allow people to judge and/or stereotype me? 



Honestly, many of the same fears tried to manifest inside of me as the #PLN365 chat was approaching. Focusing on my fears had the potential to dilute the learning process of the journey. Understanding my purpose and the support of members of my #PLN reinforced that the only true barrier that can ever stop me, is me. More importantly, you never know who you may encourage and inspire to take their #FirstStep by walking in your purpose as you travel through the forest of fear. Your journey is not just about you. Your journey is about your service and ability to impact the lives of those around you. Too often, we feel that we do not have a voice that others will listen to when the reality is others are eager to learn and grow from our unique perspectives and experiences. 

Fear of Failure:

Patrick Newsome (@pn6609) shared a great point in regards to failure. When we fail at something, we do not feel good on the inside. We are concerned with how we are viewed, and let's be honest, we do not want to disappoint ourselves. If we are truly going to live the mantra of life-long learners, we must come to embrace dissonance and the correlation between learning and failure. I tell my students all of the time that if they knew how to do everything, there would be no reason for me to be here. We may not have enjoyed the process of failure but what we learned helped us become who we are today. 

Fear of Perception:

Kristin Jenkins (@PreK33) discussed the fear of perception that exists deep within our minds. We are often more concerned with how others are going to perceive us, and that halts our ability to act. This has happened to me on several occasions, and I hope to limit this in the future. The question that I posed to Kristin is, what if everyone was waiting for your leadership? When new teachers join our staff, I make it a point to tell them I do not want them to try to figure out the culture and acclimate to it. I want them to be engaged and let their talents show immediately. You are here to enhance our culture not adapt to it. 

Fear of Misunderstanding


Have you ever had a vision that was often misunderstood? This happens more often then what most people are willing to admit. The pain of misunderstanding has the ability to stop us on our journey. The pain comes from the criticism taking the form of personal attacks on the journey. The backlash that comes without having all of the facts has always been difficult for me. Too often we do not seek to understand and react without all of the facts. The reality is every leadership action will require you to overcome this fear as there will always be a percentage of the populace that will not agree with your vision. The good news is that it is YOUR VISION and you are obligated to see it through and to have great friends will empower you to, "GO FOR IT!"

Fear of Success

Jeffrey Lahey (@MrJeffLahey) spoke to the fear of success. People may begin to look at you differently, depend on you, and expect more from you. More importantly, you begin to expect more from yourself. When you experience success, it does add to your plate as expectations are enhanced. The question becomes how do we create balance and what are we willing to let go of as we continue to evolve?


Fear of the First Step

The most powerful moments that were brought to life for me after the chat came in the form of the first steps of others that I had the opportunity to be part of. Laura Busch (@llbusch) (My First Step) and Jessica Stephens (@DrJStephens) (Love Works- Every Single Time) gave me the privilege of sharing their first blogs with me. It was an honor to read their stories. Jess' blog resonated with me when she stated, "This work is about the human condition, thus human connection." The passion in their writing helped ignite the fire to create and share this blog. I look forward to reading more of their work and the work of others in my #PLN. We have a unique opportunity to share our stories and empower each other with rich discourse, critical thinking, and feedback. Who else is better equipped to share your story than you? 

The Good News

Failure is not permanent, and fear is often a hallucination of your mind. Conquering your fear gives you the power to be limitless. The first step to conquering your fear is to acknowledge that you have them. 





When you acknowledge that you have fears, you can begin to strategically learn how to overcome the barriers that are in your way. When was the last time you learned something new? Were you an expert the moment you began? According to the research, it takes 10,000 hours of intentional practice to become an expert or a master of your craft. That is approximately 417 days, and unless you are a prodigy, you will experience failure. Jay explained that when we burst through a barrier, the joy of moving forward is invigorating. Think about the last time you overcame an obstacle. How did you feel afterward? Was it worth the endeavor? I guarantee you it was, and more importantly it prepared you for the next obstacle that you would face. The problem with the journey is not the destination it is the challenges that are present along the way. This would be a problem if you live in an isolated world, but I have news for you:


 YOU ARE

NOT


ALONE


 ON THIS





JOURNEY!!!


This is why my #PLN is My Justice League. If you do not have a #PLN, you can join mine. I can not think of a single reason why anyone should be restricted to the artificial barriers that create isolation, foster division, and devalues diversity. I am not encouraging anyone to choose FEAR for their one word.  However, I hope that your one word will help you Face Everything And Rise.

As always, thank you for reading this post. You can read more about the ability to Face Everything And Rise here: Green Lantern Corps: WillPower.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Bat-Signal Was Batman's Calling, What Is Yours?



The iconic Bat-Signal is a beacon of hope to the citizens of Gotham that Batman will be there in their time of need. We often discuss what the Bat Signal meant to the City of Gotham, but what did it mean for Batman? The simple answer would be that there was a problem, but I believe it is deeper than that. The Bat Signal provided Batman with PURPOSE!!! What separated Batman from the ordinary citizens of Gotham, was his commitment to bring about change in situations that appeared to be insurmountable. Batman chose to take action rather than admire the problem. Batman is a SUPERHERO due to his willingness to embrace his purpose of protecting the citizens of Gotham. What makes you an #EDUHERO is how you nurture and protect the academic, emotional, and social needs of your students. 
Purpose

In the world of education, we have all heard the outcry of too much test taking, not enough funding, not enough time, too strict or too loose curriculums, too many meetings, homework, grading, and the list goes on and on. When you entered education, how many of the aforementioned topics determined why you became an educator? Yes, the items above are concerns in our profession. However, they often become the grey clouds that begin to dim the light of the purpose for many of our colleagues. How do we navigate this ambiguity? Purpose allows us to be the lighthouse that safely leads the ships to harbor in tumultuous storms. This is what makes you a SUPERHERO or better yet an EDUHERO. You are a SUPERHERO/EDUHERO because you made a conscientious decision to take action in the ongoing Knowing-Doing gap that encompasses our future leaders and most valuable resources; our students. 

In my career as an educator, one of my strengths that I have always relied upon was keeping a focus on my purpose. I never viewed teaching as a job. To this day, I do not consider educating future leaders as a job. It is my purpose. Every day parents give me their most prized possessions to nurture, protect, and advance their academic outcomes and possibilities. We must find a way to prevent the confusion of our occupations with our purpose. There are times when I am called to perform as Bruce Wayne (occupation), and there are times when I am needed as Batman (purpose).

Have you ever tried to imagine your life without your education? How different would your life be? Would the difference impact your livelihood? Your family? Was the purpose of your education to memorize facts? Was it to get an A on the test? For me, the purpose is to ensure that every student no matter the school they attend, has the opportunity to assess the resources needed to become productive members of society. (I can write another blog defining what productive members of society means to me, but I will save that for another day). Unfortunately, many of our students expected outcomes are predetermined through a systemic cycle that my PURPOSE wants me to break.

Two months ago, one of my former students reached out to me on Twitter. The next day, my secretary gave me a message that she called me. When I checked my email, I had an email from her. I was impressed because one of the lessons I try to teach my students is persistence. She is a senior in high school and wanted to invite me to her graduation. She shared with me that she has been accepted to two colleges and is eager to attend. She stated to me that her graduation was a significant moment in her life and she wanted me to share that moment with her because I believed in her and helped her reach this accomplishment. It would be safe to say that initially, our relationship began with a rocky start. This young lady did not like school when we were together. She swore that she would never attend college. Initially, she did not want to participate in class or engage in her learning activities. This made me more diligent. Why you may ask? Her education aligned with my purpose. When I am working with students, I do not always see them for who they are at that moment; I see them for who they can become. I feel obligated to leave no stone unturned to ensure the success of all students that are under my care. Every student wants to go to the board, they just lost their way, and it is an honor to help get them back on the right path. I have not had any correspondence with this young woman, but our collective purpose kept us connected. I shared this story with my staff to let them know that often in our lives as educators we do not feel the sensation that comes with immediate gratification. However, if we are led by our purpose, the fruits of our labor will manifest in time, and it hardly aligns with a test score.

Purpose Is Always Supported By Personal Reflection

Every SUPERHERO has a moment of reflection that made them stare at themselves in the mirror and they knew that their lives and the lives of others would be forever changed by what they decided to do or not do. Yes, there is always the initial "this will help the world be a better place." Yes, there is the "I know that I can make a difference." If you continue to peel back the layers, you will find other reasons that enhance the commitment to their purpose. Batman had the experience of seeing his parents murdered. Batman did not want anyone else to experience the pain of loss that he felt. I had labels placed upon me when I was a student that were often unwarranted, and I wanted to prove everyone wrong. One of the reasons for this was my parents. They were very open and direct about the challenges that I would encounter due to various stereotypes that run rampant in our society. My parents made many sacrifices for me, and I refused to allow those sacrifices to be made in vain. In my mind, the only way I could pay them back was to ensure that I overcame the obstacles and stereotypes that people tried to attach to me. I believe that education is a fundamental right of the populace. The cycles of poverty and crime that were perpetuated when educational opportunities were not equitably accessible became very clear to me prior to becoming an educator. Not only were they perpetuated, I wanted to make sure that they were not self-fulling. I never wanted a student to leave me thinking that the paradigms of the world had absolute control over their reality. 

Answering The Call Is Not Easy

Answering the initial call is exciting, and we are often full of glee. To this day I still remember my reaction when I received the phone call four years ago, that informed me that I was going to be a principal. There were many things that I was unaware of when I entered this role that presented a wealth of new challenges for me. (I will share those in a later blog). What we need to remember is that finding your purpose is a gift. Many people do not accept their calling due to the criticism and critiques that could potentially come from family, friends, and members of our society. Answering the call might result in a change to oneself and challenging the status quo. For some reason, we believe that when we find our purpose, our lives will become more comfortable. I would argue the opposite. When you identify your purpose, you experience life beyond your wildest dreams, and you will also encounter challenges that you could have never imagined. With that being said, you must have faith that following your purpose will make a difference. If you do not believe that you can make a difference following your purpose it will not happen. 


Every signal and every call is not intended for every person. Purpose orders your steps, keeps you up at night, and makes you restless. You begin to feel that there is something more for you to complete. You want to take action. You are eager to learn. It feels like the box that you currently occupy is going to burst because it can no longer contain your growth. Purpose connects you with people that you were destined to meet at precisely the right time. Many people have tried to assign purpose to others, but unfortunately, that can never happen. We can place expectations, aspirations, and high hopes on others, but we can never assign their purpose. Purpose lays at the center of our hearts and minds.Batman always answered the Bat-Signal because it was not just about protecting others, he was fulfilling his purpose. Will you answer your calling?


Sunday, December 31, 2017

I'm Batman

I'm Batman!!!!

Ok, maybe not. I am Dennis Griffin Jr., an elementary school principal. To be honest, I would prefer to be the Incredible Hulk, but we can save that for another time. Do you know the real reason why people are enamored with superheroes? Everyone always thinks it has something to do with their powers. Their individual powers are cool, but they have a power that is often overlooked. The most tremendous powers that superheroes possess are the symbolic representations of hope and belief that they will overcome any obstacle and save the day no matter what the cost (notice I did not say “can”, I said “will”). Conflict is inevitable and superheroes take it upon themselves to protect and serve those that cannot do for themselves. The legendary superheroes inspire others to become the next generation of heroes. The city could be your school or classroom. The conflict could be fear of relationships or finding the slope of a line. As #EduGladiators, we are telling the world that we have taken the charge of ensuring that every kid will be prepared to overcome obstacles to obtain their goals and dreams on this journey called life. This cannot happen without a strong relationship, which Rita Pearson can tell you all about.

Understand that our parents give us their most prized possessions. How would you want someone to treat your most prized possession? Would you want it nurtured? Protected? Valued? Prized possessions indicate the immeasurable value that each and every kid in our schools possess. I make it a point to eliminate human nature to judge and I refuse to let any kid feel they get “on my nerves”. They can't, because of how I value them. They did not create their circumstances. I am here to serve them and meet their needs. How can a kid with unlimited potential and value get on your proverbial nerve or feel unwanted? How can they not experience success and growth? This is impossible to me because as superheroes we defy the odds. Our belief in them gives them the courage to cross the bridge of hope to their future. This is our superpower. I also remember that I was a kid once and I made numerous mistakes. What about you?

At the end of your senior year, you have a moment of reflection (at least I did) and you think about all of the educators that prepared you for this challenging world. There were certain educators that stood out more than others for various reasons. I vowed (and I told this to my students) that when it is all said and done, they would consider me to be one of their top three educators of all time. I say top three because honestly, it is hard for me to compete with any kindergarten educators. I made it a point to give each and every student that crossed my path a reason to go home and talk about school on their own accord (you would be surprised how many kids go home and do not talk about school after 8 hours of school). After 10 years in education the age of my students is quite diverse; however, when I run into my students, there is one consistent theme that is shared, “Thank you Mr. Griffin! You were one of the few teachers that really made an impact on my life!" Notice they did not just say EDUCATION, they said LIFE!!! They talk to me about the obstacles they were faced with and how they overcame them.
  
I always asked myself, “what if our kids truly saw what I saw deep within them and the unlimited potential of their future to change the world?”  More importantly, what if they saw it within themselves and believed it? I believe in them. We have prepared for the conflict that undoubtedly will present itself and they have the courage to persevere. I know my impact exceeds the one to two years that I have the honor of educating them in my classroom/school. I have the superpower to impact the rest of their lives. Insert Uncle Ben telling Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility!" When my kids leave me I willingly give them a piece of me to let them know they will never be alone because I am with them. I decided to make this my gift to ALL students. Together we WILL accomplish our goals. We WILL change the world. Upon deeper reflection, my students give me a piece of them that allows me to persevere and make sure that we are successful, because I know what their futures may hold if I fail; therefore, failure is not an option for any student. My success is predicated on their success now and in the future. We will be forever linked with a common bond; change. They are on a mission to pay it forward as they mature and take the mantel to become the next generation of superheroes. As #EduGladiators and #EduHeroes you become part of something greater than yourself. 

Do you care to join us on our mission to save the world against insurmountable odds?

I'm Batman was released on July 11th, 2017 at EduGladiators.com

Green Lantern Corps

Green Lantern Corps
There are times that even superheroes have to be cautious; however, we should not be cautious to the point where we become paralyzed to take action in our quest to serve others.

Do you have willpower? If so, when and how does your willpower manifest in your leadership? Willpower is the source of the Green Lantern Corps Power. The Green Lantern Corps have the power to construct the mental images in their minds to help them succeed in their battle to protect the innocent. The stronger their WILLPOWER, the stronger the CONSTRUCT!!! The Green Lanterns real power has never fully manifested in the DC comic universe, and when you take the time to think about it, it makes perfectly good sense. Who would be able to defeat a unified team that had the willpower to overcome any obstacle?  What would happen if our willpower was strong enough to bring the constructs of our mind to reality as educators?


Willpower is synonymous with heart, a power source we tap to enhance our emotional intelligence and increases our capacity to build relationships and inspire others. As a society, willpower is often manifested and glorified in the sports arenas when an injured player decides to play and makes an outstanding play to win the game. For the past ten years, I have had the unwavering willpower that all of my students will succeed. It did not matter if they did not believe it or if someone else doubted them. Why you may ask because I had enough willpower (heart) for everyone until they believed in themselves. I know that my students are who I believe they will be and therefore, I would never doubt their abilities for a second because they are the epitome of greatness. Consider it the Pygmalion Effect. Our words power our hearts that create the constructs of our minds.

The antagonist of willpower is doubt better known as fear. Human nature causes us to have willpower in areas that we are comfortable in and doubt when we are on the verge of a new endeavor that will ask us to leave the safe confines of our comfort zone. I can relate to this situation with my first Blog post, “I Am Batman.”

Would anyone read it?
Who cares what I have to say?
Who am I to write anything?
What if nobody likes it?
I am not ready (which translates into, what will happen if I fail?)



I have delayed sharing any of my thoughts through writing for years not because I was cautious, but because...I WAS AFRAID TO FAIL! Rather than fail, I decided to make excuses to pacify my mind. Maybe you have experienced similar internal conversations regarding your capacity.  

The phrase 'I am not ready' presented the greatest challenge to my willpower.  Often, it is not the challenge of the new responsibility that we question, rather it is what will happen if we fail or even fall short of the expectations that we have set for ourselves? How will others view me and more importantly how will I see myself? Once again, False Expectations Appearing Real, better known as F.E.A.R. reared its ugly head.


 Willpower would challenge this line of thinking through the belief that our one action might ignite the passion that helps bring change to a person’s life, community, even the world. This is why we need WILLPOWER (HEART) to overcome the fear (doubt) of the world. Our willpower has to be greater than the sum doubt of any entity that would paralyze us to respond to our call to action. When you are confronted with F.E.A.R. you ultimately have two choices, Forget Everything And Run or  Face Everything And Rise. Your choice will ultimately determine your capacity to be a SUPERhero. I know As members of my PLN, I have found strength in the willpower you have in yourselves and in, me. The consistent nudging of @literacyloverPT, @jodiepierpoint, and @mgrosstaylor helped me shine my light in the sphere of F.E.A.R. that encompassed me. I hope that one day I will be able to be that light for all of you as well. The worst feeling in the world is not necessarily failure. It is allowing years to pass and living with the uncertainty of not knowing what could have happened if you would have attempted to step outside of your comfort zone to impact change.



There is one last thing that I need to let you know about the Green Lantern Corps, and it is critical that I share this with you. You can not choose to be a member of the Green Lantern Corps. When a Green Lantern ceases their role, the ring chooses the next bearer based on their willpower. In the current age of education, it is often said that we made a choice to be educators. I disagree. I believe you answered your calling to be an educator to serve the members of our society and bring about the change our world needs through enlightened minds.

At the end of my podcast on the EduGladiators You Tube Channel, I shared that I had a challenge for everyone.  The Green Lantern’s mantra is utilized throughout the galaxy as it enhances their collective willpower to eliminate the doubt within their minds. What false evidence appearing real are you challenged with for the 2017-2018 school year? Is it a student that you heard negative reports about? Maybe you are transitioning to a different grade level or school. 

So the challenge is enhancing our collective willpower to ensure we Face Everything And Rise so we make the positive constructs of our minds a reality for the students and families that we serve.  What is our mantra that will be the light that shines and eliminates the educational darkness that attempts to enshrouds our world?


Thank you for reading my blog post and supporting me. This experience has stretched my thinking in ways that you can not even imagine. 

Batman signing off.

Green Lantern Corps was first released August 4, 2017 at EduGladiators.com.