Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Lately I've been thinking a lot about gears.  You know, the idea that the gear teeth and rotation must be aligned for the mechanism to work properly.  If a tooth breaks it throws the whole thing off.  Or if a gear is trying to move the opposite direction the mechanism doesn't move at all.  Thus the importance of systems.

Each system within an organization needs to be in place and aligned in order to support the other systems in the organization.  If pieces of the organization act as silos the integration is lost and the system as a whole will come to a stop.

Think of it as systems within a system.

From a school district perspective the district is the overall system.  Within the larger system there are buildings that operate as systems.  We also have the business office, human resources, transportation, technology, etc. as smaller systems.  At the school building level we see grade level and departments as systems, as well as the individual classroom system.

In order to have a high functioning/performing district these systems need to be aligned and working together.  Technology has to support the classroom, elementary curriculum needs to flow into middle school curriculum, and so on.

Sometimes the gears are spinning nicely, but they are close enough together to enhance one another.  That is especially true in a silo-laden organization.

As leaders in an organization we must ensure that the gears are aligned, get the proper lubrication, and are moving in an efficient and effective manner to move the organization forward.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Evolution of a roll

Historically I was a canoe guy.  I liked the freedom of movement in a canoe and I could haul lots of gear.

One day, though, we were paddling on the Missouri River and it was windy.  I was on one side of the river getting blown around and my kayaking friend was hardly impacted by the wind.  At that point I decided I needed a kayak so I bought a Prijon Yukon.

Concerned that I would paddle a kayak the way I paddled a canoe I took a couple of kayak classes and even started working on a roll.  On a good day I could roll maybe 50% of the time. 

In the summer of 2014 Zack and I took a whitewater kayaking class at NOC.  After that I wanted a whitewater kayak, so I sold the Prijon and bought a Jackson Zen in early 2015.

Zack and I attended the Missouri Whitewater Association whitewater clinic in April of 2015, but by the summer of 2015 I had completely lost the ability to roll at all.  In the fall of 2015 I was in Charlotte for AASA meetings.  After we wrapped up I went out to the US National Whitewater Center for a couple of lessons.  By the end of the day I was doing only slightly better on the roll, but at least had a good understanding of where I was messing up.

So in the winter of 2016 it seemed appropriate to join in some pool kayaking to work on the roll.  I started out at 50% success or less.  You can see in the video below that I was bringing my head up too early.

After some practice I was getting the roll about 80% of the time, but if I brought my head up too early it was an epic fail.  Thankfully we caught a successful roll on video.


I had watched folks roll and some would bring their head up over the back deck of their boats.  That seemed awkward to me.  After a guy watched me a few times he mentioned that given my height and torso length I needed to bring my head up over the back deck.

With the help of Zack doing T-rescues I started to get the hang of this method.  After 8 weeks of being in the pool I finally think I've got it.  The last two weeks I didn't have any wet exits and my high brace is better. 

On the last night of pool time I was even rolling twice in a row.