• Pink and White Sherbet in a glass cup
    communication,  education,  leadership

    Sherbet, Speech, and Skills for Success

    This story is an excerpt from my book Vital Signs: Five Essential Skills Every Student Needs for Success in Education and in Life. Enjoy! I remember my first time meeting Janai. The shy little girl was gripping her mother’s skirt, hiding behind her back as we chatted. She only peeked out to say a quick “Hi” when prompted. Then she was right back in her hiding spot. When I first announced that I was starting a public speaking class, Janai’s parents signed her right up — to their daughter’s horror. I coached the timid girl for a year, watching her grow and grow and grow as she learned the foundational…

  • Woman Walking Outside
    communication,  education

    Getting Your Steps In

    As my two boys got older, they developed this amazing sixth sense about when to disappear. They could anticipate when my SUV would pull up the long driveway stocked with food and household supplies, and suddenly they were nowhere to be found. Getting groceries from the car into the kitchen begins with 2 flights of stairs. Sometimes putting items away means 2 flights up, then 2 flights down, then 2 flights back up. I used to get so frustrated. It was physically taxing, tedious work and foot travel between the car and the kitchen. And even when my boys grew up and moved out, I’d keep finding myself in that…

  • Connection is Key: Developing the Whole Student
    communication,  education,  faith

    Connection is Key:
    Developing the Whole Student

    In previous posts, we talked about how competence without character is dangerous, and character without competence is ineffective. Competence and character grow together. But in preparing the whole person for real life, there’s a third necessary area of development: connection. I’ve spent a lot of time coaching communicators. Often communication skills like public speaking are refined in competition — which is the fastest way up the learning curve. In these settings, competence and character are readily evident. And so is connection. Here’s a story of what happens when we don’t add in that third element of connection: Nathaniel was standing in front of me, ballots in hand. “These judges are…

  • All I Want is Character
    communication,  education,  faith

    All I Want is Character:
    Developing the Whole Student

    I had just finished speaking to a group of parent educators when a mom approached me. “I don’t think it really matters whether my children master any of their academics. My son isn’t very academically inclined. I’m mostly just interested in his character.” “How will you help them grow in character?” I asked, genuinely interested. “Well, uh, I’ll teach my son to be nice to his sister.” “Good start,” I replied. “What other character traits would you like to see him demonstrate as he grows up?” She thought a minute. “Well, perseverance…and follow through…and respect.” We continued talking. She began to see that every character trait that mattered to her…

  • The Dangers of Competence without Character
    communication,  education,  faith

    The Dangers of Competence without Character: Developing the Whole Student

    “You’re wrong. My daughter could never do something that dishonest. Have you seen her?” Malinda sat across from me in the small university room adjacent to tournament headquarters. Her voice shrieked and quavered. “Sylvia’s one of the most competent young ladies her age.” Sylvia’s competence was not in question. She had been disqualified by tournament officials for plagiarizing evidence in her national championship debate round. Sylvia denied it. Her teammate Missy was horrified — she had no idea what had happened. Still, the consequence was the same for both of them. The guilty and the innocent. Both extremely competent. Both disqualified and embarrassed. Both shedding lots of tears. They left…

  • What Story Will They Tell?
    communication,  education

    What Story Will They Tell?

    Originally published in Outcomes Magazine by the Christian Leadership Alliance. “Our board would like you to come fix our Millennials.” The administrator of a small nonprofit was on the phone explaining that her organization established a “junior board of Millennials” as part of their succession plan. The Board of Directors, composed of Baby Boomers and Traditionalists, wanted these Millennials “fixed” to embrace the organization’s mission and operational strategy their way. The catch: board members didn’t want to invest their own time or resources in the fix. You can guess what happened. Every invested Millennial volunteer left that organization – and they left with a story. What story do your team members…

  • Flooded with Fear; Faith for the Future
    education,  faith

    Flooded with Fear; Faith for the Future

    “You’ve successfully navigated 100% of your worst days.” Those words from a mentor struck a chord with me. I have. I’m still here. So what are those days? When I think of my worst days, one of the first events that springs to mind is back in 2010. Tennessee experienced what has been called the 500-year flood. During the torrential rains and subsequent flooding, my family lost 30% of our property – which serves both as our family’s home and a training center for leadership residencies in the nonprofit I founded, the Institute for Cultural Communicators. As the water levels continued to rise, our home began filling with standing water.…

  • When your Fifth Grader is the Teacher… - Dr. Teresa Moon Blog
    education

    When your Fifth Grader is the Teacher…

    Notes from Millennials on the Future of Education Author’s Note: This blog post was originally written in 2012. Since that time the research has confirmed still more of these insights and the foresight of the Millennials interviewed. It is reposted here with minor edits. The year 2025 is closer now, and providing a truly Christian educational option to families has never been more important – around the globe. “What do you want Christian teachers to know now to get ready for your children?” While sharing coffee and thoughtful dialogue with a table of 19- to 22-year-olds back in 2012, my perspective on education was broadened as these young adults shared…