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ATA CP Students Visit Wounded Warriors At SAMMC

Thank you for allowing your children to accompany us to San Antonio last week. They were engaging, inquisitive, humble, respectful – wonderful ambassadors to the ATA community, and I was proud to be in their company.
Yesterday, Meghan, Ela, Synclair, Nick, Conor and Annika toured the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) facilities that help wounded warriors and their families. We learned an overwhelming amount of facts, figures, and history. We toured buildings, saw state-of-the art technology, and learned about medical advancements in areas like burn treatments, orthopedic medicine and prosthetics. It was impressive.
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What made our day profound, forever changing our hearts and our pers

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Parent Eduction

Why You Should Take the Blame

by Peter Bregman

I was at a party in Greenwich Village in New York City. It was crowded, with about twice as many people as the space comfortably fit. There was a dog in the mix too. But it was a casual event and we all spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning.

I was at the sink washing dishes when I heard the dog yelp behind me. I turned just in time to see a woman curse at the dog as it dashed out of the kitchen. She had obviously just stepped on his foot or tail.

“Watch out!” she shouted after the dog, then saw me looking at her and added, “He’s always in the way.”

Really? You step on a dog and then you blame the dog? Who does that?

Actually, a lot of us do.

We start blaming others at an early age, usually to escape parental anger and punishment, but also to preserve our own self-esteem and self-image. Then the behavior sticks, often well into our adulthood. I — and I am sure you — see people in organizations point fingers all the time.

Sometimes it’s at a departmental level: A struggling sales group blames a poor product, while the product people blame an ineffectual sales team or maybe lax manufacturing. Blaming a department or a product feels safer than blaming a person since it appears less personal, can pass as an attempt at organizational improvement, and might seem less defensive. But it’s counter-productive as the transparency of culpability betrays its disguises.
A few years ago I sat at a table with the leaders of a major stock exchange. They were struggling with setting goals for the year. The CEO, to whom they all reported, was not in the room.

I asked them what was getting in the way. “We need direction from senior leadership,” they answered in agreement.

“Seriously?” I was stunned. “Look around,” I said, raising my voice a little, “Everyone in the organization is looking for direction from you! You are senior leadership.”

“No,” the head of something answered with the others nodding, “The CEO isn’t here.”

I retorted: “You’re blaming the CEO? You’re waiting for him to tell you what to do? At your level? Really?”

An awkward silence followed. Then we got to work turning the company around.

Blaming others is a poor strategy. Not simply because everyone can see through it. Or because it’s dishonest. Or because it destroys relationships. Or even because, while trying to preserve our self-esteem, it actually weakens it. There’s a more essential reason why blame is a bad idea: Blame prevents learning.

If something isn’t your fault, then there’s no reason for you to do anything differently. Which means, in all probability, you’ll make the same mistake in the future. That will lead to more blame. It’s a cycle that almost always ends badly.

Recently, a CEO I work with fired Bill*, one of his portfolio managers. He didn’t fire him for poor results. He fired him for blaming his poor investment results on everything except himself. The CEO was only looking for one thing from Bill: Awareness of the mistakes he was making. But Bill continued to deny his role in his poorly performing portfolio.

The CEO was right to fire him. If Bill couldn’t admit to the mistakes he was making, why wouldn’t he make the same mistake tomorrow? Would you trust Bill with your money?
Thankfully there’s a simple solution: Take the blame for anything you’re even remotely responsible for.

This solution transforms all the negative consequences of blaming others into positive ones. It solidifies relationships, improves your credibility, makes you and others happy, reinforces transparency, improves self-esteem, increases learning, and solves problems. It’s as close as I’ve ever seen to a panacea.

Contrary to what you may feel in the moment, taking the blame is the power move, strengthening your position, not weakening it. First of all, because once you’ve taken responsibility for something, you can do something about it, which gives you strength.
But also because it takes courage to own your blame, and that shows strength. It immediately silences anyone who might try to blame you — what’s the point if you’ve already taken the blame? The “blame you” conversation is over. Now you can focus on solving problems.

Being defensive makes you slippery. Taking responsibility makes you trustworthy. You might think it puts you at risk because others may see an opening and jump on you. But that’s not what usually happens.

I was running a strategy offsite at a high technology company with a CEO and his direct reports. We were looking at some problematic numbers from the previous quarter. One by one each leader was trying to argue that he or she was not, ultimately, responsible for the issues, pointing to the other areas that contributed.

Then Dave, the head of sales spoke up. He proceeded to list the mistakes he felt he personally made and what he wanted to do differently in the future.

His colleagues didn’t pile on. In fact, they did the opposite. They began to say things to dilute his blame. One by one, they started taking responsibility for their role in the challenges the company was facing.

Taking the blame serves as an example. When you take the blame, others get embarrassed about not taking the blame themselves. When they see you don’t get shot, they feel emboldened to take the risk.

And even if they don’t, you will now be able to avoid making the mistakes you’ve made in the past, which, ultimately, is the key to your success.

By taking the blame, Dave changed the course of that meeting and, as it turns out, the course of the company. He also got promoted.

There is one tricky part of this. To take the blame, you need to have confidence in yourself and your capability. You need the personal strength to accept failure. You need enough self-esteem to believe you can learn from your mistakes and succeed another day. You need to accept failure as part of life and not a final sentence on who you are as a person.

In other words, it’s OK to step on a dog. It happens. Just don’t blame the dog.

*Names have been changed.

http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2013/04/why-you-should-take-the-blame.html

PETER BREGMAN
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Weekly Wonder

Wayne Dyer, Get Inspired

There is a voice in the universe urging us to remember our purpose for being on this great Earth.  This is the voice of inspiration, which is within each and every one of us.          ~ Wayne Dyer, Get Inspired

The VISION of College Prep is to create a nurturing environment of community learning in which each member is empowered, encouraged and engaged – mind, body and spirit – in the process of learning and living with integrity and compassion.
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A Whirlwind in DC

I spent a few days with some of the greatest creative minds in education.  The 2013 Advanc-Ed Summit was held in Washington DC and the focus was Successful Learning in the Digital Age.  While I was really looking forward to the inspirational architecture, history and messaging intertwined throughout the sites of our nation’s capital, I was surprised to find just as much stimulating insight through the events and speakers at the Summit.

I was honored to meet Sir Ken Robinson, author, inspirational TedTalk speaker, advocate for education revolution, and the keynote speaker for the event.  He spoke about the immense opportunities to lead the changes for education out of the industrial age and into the digital age. Sir Ken’s School Kills Creativity is a favorite TedTalk of mine and his books – The Element, and Out of Our Minds – inspire us to demand creativity as the forefront of our education.

Next, I visited with Dr Steve Perry (on Oprah in July) who is an MLK style visionary implementing change as the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in addition to authoring, Push Has Come To Shove: Getting Our Kids The Education They Deserve – Even If It Means Picking A Fight.

I also heard from members of the teaching community of U Penn and Washington U, and had breakfast with Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President of Education.

Although many of the break out sessions still asked questions based on the old paradigm of education and one that still stems from an industrial age, many private and public schools are implementing dynamic changes, much like ATA College Prep.  However, it is clear to me that we are definitely on the cutting edge of where true education is headed.  All of the buzz phrases and ideas – blended learning, credit awarded for off-campus activities, rewarding performance instead of seat time, self-pacing, hiring experts over certified teachers – which were being thrown around in presentations and topical discussions are all things that we have been doing for years at CP, and even more years ago through small, focused, leadership and home education models.  You see, the goal of a broad liberal arts education strives to liberate the mind and free its creative nature, rather than fill it with a common list of skills deemed necessary to fit into the assembly line of workers.

The highlight of the Summit, the closing ceremony featured 3 students who are practicing owning the responsibility of education.  They have each created and developed their own start-ups, campaigns, or designed part of their course loads during the latter part of high school.  They shared personal stories of why schools have failed them, how they have been supported, and what can be done to improve education, as well as the impact of mentor relationships.  One young man is creating a template for high school students to defend their knowledge acquisition through unique and performance-based expert presentation options rather than standardized tests.

Out of the mouths (and minds) of babes come a great deal of wisdom… and we should listen!

At ATA CP, I am proud that we create mentoring relationships, stretch the mind, afford opportunity to grow in many directions… and that we strive to do it in creative and entertaining ways.  After all, isn’t that what learning is?  Loving to learn about who we are and who we are becoming in an ever-changing world of beauty.

Looking forward!  ~Carol
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In The Classroom

SOMOS ATA CP!

Check out this student created video.

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Alumni

 

Why You Should Take the Blame

by Peter Bregman

I was at a party in Greenwich Village in New York City. It was crowded, with about twice as many people as the space comfortably fit. There was a dog in the mix too. But it was a casual event and we all spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning.

I was at the sink washing dishes when I heard the dog yelp behind me. I turned just in time to see a woman curse at the dog as it dashed out of the kitchen. She had obviously just stepped on his foot or tail.

“Watch out!” she shouted after the dog, then saw me looking at her and added, “He’s always in the way.”

Really? You step on a dog and then you blame the dog? Who does that?

Actually, a lot of us do.

We start blaming others at an early age, usually to escape parental anger and punishment, but also to preserve our own self-esteem and self-image. Then the behavior sticks, often well into our adulthood. I — and I am sure you — see people in organizations point fingers all the time.

Sometimes it’s at a departmental level: A struggling sales group blames a poor product, while the product people blame an ineffectual sales team or maybe lax manufacturing. Blaming a department or a product feels safer than blaming a person since it appears less personal, can pass as an attempt at organizational improvement, and might seem less defensive. But it’s counter-productive as the transparency of culpability betrays its disguises.
A few years ago I sat at a table with the leaders of a major stock exchange. They were struggling with setting goals for the year. The CEO, to whom they all reported, was not in the room.

I asked them what was getting in the way. “We need direction from senior leadership,” they answered in agreement.

“Seriously?” I was stunned. “Look around,” I said, raising my voice a little, “Everyone in the organization is looking for direction from you! You are senior leadership.”

“No,” the head of something answered with the others nodding, “The CEO isn’t here.”

I retorted: “You’re blaming the CEO? You’re waiting for him to tell you what to do? At your level? Really?”

An awkward silence followed. Then we got to work turning the company around.

Blaming others is a poor strategy. Not simply because everyone can see through it. Or because it’s dishonest. Or because it destroys relationships. Or even because, while trying to preserve our self-esteem, it actually weakens it. There’s a more essential reason why blame is a bad idea: Blame prevents learning.

If something isn’t your fault, then there’s no reason for you to do anything differently. Which means, in all probability, you’ll make the same mistake in the future. That will lead to more blame. It’s a cycle that almost always ends badly.

Recently, a CEO I work with fired Bill*, one of his portfolio managers. He didn’t fire him for poor results. He fired him for blaming his poor investment results on everything except himself. The CEO was only looking for one thing from Bill: Awareness of the mistakes he was making. But Bill continued to deny his role in his poorly performing portfolio.

The CEO was right to fire him. If Bill couldn’t admit to the mistakes he was making, why wouldn’t he make the same mistake tomorrow? Would you trust Bill with your money?
Thankfully there’s a simple solution: Take the blame for anything you’re even remotely responsible for.

This solution transforms all the negative consequences of blaming others into positive ones. It solidifies relationships, improves your credibility, makes you and others happy, reinforces transparency, improves self-esteem, increases learning, and solves problems. It’s as close as I’ve ever seen to a panacea.

Contrary to what you may feel in the moment, taking the blame is the power move, strengthening your position, not weakening it. First of all, because once you’ve taken responsibility for something, you can do something about it, which gives you strength.
But also because it takes courage to own your blame, and that shows strength. It immediately silences anyone who might try to blame you — what’s the point if you’ve already taken the blame? The “blame you” conversation is over. Now you can focus on solving problems.

Being defensive makes you slippery. Taking responsibility makes you trustworthy. You might think it puts you at risk because others may see an opening and jump on you. But that’s not what usually happens.

I was running a strategy offsite at a high technology company with a CEO and his direct reports. We were looking at some problematic numbers from the previous quarter. One by one each leader was trying to argue that he or she was not, ultimately, responsible for the issues, pointing to the other areas that contributed.

Then Dave, the head of sales spoke up. He proceeded to list the mistakes he felt he personally made and what he wanted to do differently in the future.

His colleagues didn’t pile on. In fact, they did the opposite. They began to say things to dilute his blame. One by one, they started taking responsibility for their role in the challenges the company was facing.

Taking the blame serves as an example. When you take the blame, others get embarrassed about not taking the blame themselves. When they see you don’t get shot, they feel emboldened to take the risk.

And even if they don’t, you will now be able to avoid making the mistakes you’ve made in the past, which, ultimately, is the key to your success.

By taking the blame, Dave changed the course of that meeting and, as it turns out, the course of the company. He also got promoted.

There is one tricky part of this. To take the blame, you need to have confidence in yourself and your capability. You need the personal strength to accept failure. You need enough self-esteem to believe you can learn from your mistakes and succeed another day. You need to accept failure as part of life and not a final sentence on who you are as a person.

In other words, it’s OK to step on a dog. It happens. Just don’t blame the dog.

*Names have been changed.

http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2013/04/why-you-should-take-the-blame.html

PETER BREGMAN

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