Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This is What Leadership Sounds Like

I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.

What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.

We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself, the land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal, the land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause, and from the bottom of your class to your party’s nomination for president.

We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.

I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have served America’s cause — the cause of our security and the security of our friends, the cause of freedom and equal justice — all my adult life. I haven’t always served it well. I haven’t even always appreciated what I was serving. But among the few compensations of old age is the acuity of hindsight. I see now that I was part of something important that drew me along in its wake even when I was diverted by other interests. I was, knowingly or not, along for the ride as America made the future better than the past.

And I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me. I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.

May God bless them. May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve.

-Senator John McCain

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn...


  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote)
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Critical Writing... How Much is Enough

When I present to teachers I am often asked, “How often should I have my students engage in Critical Writing?”

The short answer is... Every period. Every day.

The long answer is slightly more nuanced.  In the typical classroom, critical writing occurs around 4% of the time.  That is not a typo and that includes reading and writing classrooms. And 4% is not a LYS finding. Mike Schmoker (one of the REALLY big brains in education) was the first to point this out.  Others have since documented similar findings.  So, we will accept 4% as typical.

At the best Fundamental 5 campuses, Critical Writing is observed 15 to 20% of the time.  So, it still does not occur all the time, but look at it this way, 20% is just a 400% improvement over the typical classroom.  That is significant.  But I also think it is reasonable. 

Let’s break this down to make the practice a little more actionable.  If we were to assume that the typical class period is 60 minutes long, then 20% of class time would be 12 minutes. Which means that I believe a reasonable goal in any core content classroom would be to embed a minimum of 8 to 12 minutes of Critical Writing in every lesson.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn...



  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, October 16, 2017

Top LYS Tweets from the Week of October 8, 2017

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of October 8, 2017 when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list.

1. Congratulations to LYSer, Dr. Doug Killian on his appointment to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance! No pressure, but we’re counting on you. (By @LYSNation)

2. Best practice doesn’t solve all your problems. Best practice reduces your problems to a manageable level. (By @LYSNation)

3. The mission of schools and teachers is to develop an understanding of all that is true, good and beautiful. (By @Pontifex)

4. Imagine a culture where educators vote - a game changer in politics. (By @SchoolPriority)

5. Do the right things for the right reasons long enough and you’ll collect haters. Why? Cuz haters gotta hate. (By @LYSNation)

6. Positivity and negativity are both contagious. Which one will you spread? (By @gcouros)

7. When you punish responsible failure, people stop bringing their best. (By @Leadershipfreak)

8. Super bosses are leaders who create other leaders. –S. Finkelstein (By @Leadershipfreak)

9. Interested in a big return on investment? Look no further than Pre-K. (By @RYHTexas)

10. America is now almost a week late renewing children's insurance payments. We're officially a dead beat dad. (By @ASlavitt)

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn...



  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook