10 Student Guidelines for Creating Awesome Projects

Student-created stained glass artwork project after reading The Alchemist

A stained-glass depiction of a scene from The Alchemist. The student who created this “always wanted to create a stained-glass” and worked with her dad to learn how.

1. You get what you put into this. If your goal is an A, you’ll completely miss the point.

2. If your goal is to be creative and really push yourself, you’ll probably have an awesome project that will obviously get an A.

3. If you don’t mess up, fail, or get frustrated at least 5 times, you’re not trying hard enough. Keep going.

4. If you try to find a “safe” project, it won’t be that great. If you attempt a “risky” project, it could potentially be great. Take the risk.

5. The second you begin to think of grand ideas and then start saying, “Yeah, but…”– keep going. You’re heading in the right direction.

6. This could be the coolest thing you’ve ever done or you could look for the easy way out. It’s your call. That’s how life works. If you want to be average and always wonder “What if” then go the easy way. If you want to be extraordinary, you could do that as well. Average people look for the easy way; awesome people try to make everything the coolest thing they’ve ever done. That’s life.

7. Many of your classmates will hold back and not take the extra step. Their projects will be OK, but they’ll be lacking something– you’ll know it and (more importantly) they’ll know it, too. Don’t be like them. Stand out. Take a risk.

8. If most of your friends think your project sounds great, it probably isn’t. If most of your friends think your project sounds too crazy or too difficult or too far out there, it’s probably an awesome idea! Do the latter.

9. Have fun.

10. Don’t focus on the grade. Focus on being awesome. The grade will be a bi-product.

Grades are communication, not compensation



It’s easy to get this backwards.

We get this backwards when we give a student an A for working hard regardless of content mastery.

We get this backwards when we pad a student’s grade with multiple assignments regardless of rigor and relevance.

We get this backwards when we assign and grade busywork.

We get this backwards when we rely on the gradebook to communicate with parents instead of taking the time to conference in person.

We get this backwards when we don’t post relevant grades in a timely manner.

We get this backwards when a student turns in an assignment late and points are deducted.

We get this backwards when a student doesn’t do an assignment and we assign a zero and move on.

We get this backwards when we don’t allow a student to make-up or redo an assignment.

We get this backwards when a student fails anything and we fail to remediate.

We get this backwards when we allow students to be more concerned about the grade than the learning.

We get this backwards when we count “did-you-do-it?” grades.

We get this backwards when we enter grades for the sake of entering grades.

We get this backwards when we give participation points.

We get this backwards when we give bonus points for bringing in classroom supplies.

We get this backwards when we use a student’s grade as leverage for compliance.

The bottoms line:  Grades should communicate content mastery— that’s it.

15 Things I’ve Learned As a New Administrator

1. Whatever the situation, write it down.

2. What gets scheduled gets done.

3. Everyone’s lives are messy, busy, or both.

4. Want to frustrate some people? Make a decision. Want to frustrate everyone? Don’t make a decision.

5. Not everyone sees the big picture.

6. Everyone wants to be the exception to the rule.

7. People who say, “I normally don’t bring up things like this” usually always do.

8. For some, teaching is just a job. For others, it’s a calling. Both teachers are easy to spot.

9. It’s easy to stay busy, but that’s not my job. My job is to do only what I can do. Learning to delegate is a must.

10. Creating culture takes time, a clear vision, and persistence.

11. Never determine my hourly rate– it’s depressing and it doesn’t matter.

12. Do not have impromptu conferences with parents in public. Boundaries are essential. Schedule a time to meet to discuss private matters.

13. If we don’t tell our school’s story, someone else will.

14. Don’t take things personally. Some people are just negative.

15. No matter what happened today, tomorrow will be completely different.