"The Original" Mike Smith
DifferenceMakers, Ltd.
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"If Not Me, Then Who?" (Leadership Keynote)

MikeToo often young people run for a "title" and end up with a "responsibility" they may or may not be prepared to accept. Too often leadership is viewed as a task-oriented opportunity judged by how well an event or collection of activities is executed when the true test of a leader, according to President John F. Kennedy, is to LEAD. This presentation focuses on the responsibility leaders have to engage and grow those they lead. A definition of "service" is explored, along with the basic tools for helping others get involved. The presentation finally embraces the lead question, "If Not Me, Then Who?"

Personal Responsibility In Daily Effort (All-School Assembly)

MikeDr. Viktor Frankl wrote in his introduction to his book, Man's Search for Meaning, that we should consider building a statue to responsibility on the West coast of the United States to balance the Statue of Liberty on the East, thereby sandwiching America between her righs and her responsibilities. Mike could not agree more. Today we are redefining our roles in this culture and we need to be looking at them through eyes focused on our responsibilitites for the outcomes we desire. In this all-school assembly, Mike works with the audience to discover the tools of self-actualization— self-talk, habit formation, attitude adjustment and personal responsibility. From the first action-packed moment to the last "Oh, yes!", the audience is engaged. The foundation of anyone's success is accepting responsibility for outcomes, and personal responsibility is the foundation for developing character.

The Art of Teaching (Teacher/Staff Keynote)

MikeLately, too much has been made of the science of education. While science, best case practices, specific goals, and strategies are important to successful teaching, the "human" side of the process is vital. The Art of Teaching blends the necessary science with the human process of self-talk, self-respect, and self-realization that contribute to the motivation students need toand find in those teachers who invest themselves in the lives of their students. "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." Caring has specific actions and looks. The results and benefits of caring are immeasureable. Let's revisit what we know about people and motivation, and find ways to reach even the most difficult students. We cannot "give" them an education... but we can help them decide to want one.

The Three P's of Teaching (Teacher/Staff Keynote)

MikePreparation. Performance. Passion. The preparation part of this presentation seems obvious—a credential for teachers and training certificates for certified staff. But the real prepartion comes from life and life skills because we are teaching life, and it's good to reflect on that. The performance takes many forms and is usually not about "performing" as in acting or speaking. No, this performance is usually about using all your knowledge and skills to find what works for each student you face. It is a thankless job done alone because when you perform, it is always done through your students. Finally, passion. Without it, nothing happens. With it, the world changes. Where does it come from? Where does it go? And how do we get it back? Those are the final questions to be answered; Mike and his audience answer them together.

Unintended Consequences (Teacher/Staff Keynote)

MikeWe should never say, "We are going to give our children an education." It robs them of the responsibility for their own education and we cannot give them one that they do not want. The good news is that for the most part, we cannot keep them from getting the one they do want. Mike and his audience review what motivates humans and the processes we can emply to help them choose to get an education. Our most powerful tool is other students. Building a school community in an inclusive atmosphere is the key to engaging even the most reluctant students. By focusing on the words and the individual's personal responsibility, we can help them choose to succeed.

When X = Student Activities, Performance Follows!
(Faculty, Administrator and Parent Audiences)

Let X = Student ActivitiesMike has worked with the Alliance for Student Activities to create an engaging presentation that pulls together the most current research, dialogue and thinking about the impact of co-curricular activities on student performance. The evidence is overwhelming and quite compelling. Student Activities are the missing variable in too many educational reform equations. Whatever your desired educational, social or emotional outcome, student activities are the common denominator that drives student performance. Participation in student activities increases students' standardized test scores, GPAs, graduation rates, college acceptance rates and college success rates. It practically eliminates the likelihood that a student will choose to drop out of high school. Student activities develop core social and emotional skills while reducing high-risk behavioral problems and long term public assistance needs.

30 Minutes After School (Faculty Audience)

Mike is often asked to do "something" for and with the faculty after school for only about 30 minutes. Most of them have already seen Mike work with the entire student body in an all-school assembly setting. When that's the case, Mike takes the time to revisit the reasons most of us decided to engage young people in an educational setting. He quickly reviews the statistics on dropouts and the "unintended consequences" of our desire to give our students an education. Mike prefers more time to make the case, but he has often found these short wrap-ups to be very effective.

One-Hour Inservice (Faculty Audience)

When Mike is talking with teachers and staff and he only has an hour, he wants to connect on several levels—personally, professionally and passionately. He is genuine and shares openly. Mike knows they're concerned whether he knows anything at all worth sharing, and whether he can communicate with them in an effective enough way for them to grab what they want and share it with others. That is the passion exchange. Education, unlike any other profession, is driven by passion for making a difference in the lives of others. Mike's presentations to educators are about revisiting those things that inspired them to get involved in education in the first place.

Two-Plus Hours at an Inservice (Faculty Audience)

MikeWhen Mike is given two or more hours, he likes to help blend the individuals into a team working toward shared goals. Too often education communities are operating in "survival mode." Each component of the community works to secure their own area with little or no interaction with the components working around them. On too many campuses, each department or area of responsibility seems to function independent of any interaction with others, thereby missing the opportunity to utilize each other's strengths to better serve the entire community. By working through icebreakers and team building exercices, everyone develops a more "inclusive" approach to the challenges that face the community. This experience not only improves the relationships of the faculty, staff and involved parents, it also provides those participants a well-rounded review of the process and provides them with tools to use in their educational settings to improve the personal interaction of their students. This is a "win-win-win."