Building Leaders

The National Association of Elementary School Principals recently published a great post from Sandra A. Trach on building leaders and investing in leadership.

The article, “Building Leaders“, highlights the role of the assistant principal and does a great job discussing how much they support the principal, staff, and the overall foundation of the school.  I love this quote that they highlighted:

“Assistant principals “lead from the middle” of the school, which allows them to work at a meaningful intersection of administration and leadership, and among faculty, staff, students, and parents. Assistant principals are key relationship-builders, becoming a bridge between the principal and faculty and staff, and aiding in the trust and transparency necessary for a successful school culture.” – Christopher Colwell in Impact: How Assistant Principals Can Be High Performing Leaders.

This is so true!  Often in this process I believe then their skill sets may not continue to grow in order for them to make the shift from the Assistant Principal to the Principal.  The post goes on to highlight the right strategy to bring principals along, tools for growth,  and highlights why investing in assistant principals is definitely worth it!

Reading this article I just LOVE the emphasis on leadership and investing in our people.  So much in education revolves around investing in our students (which obviously is a worthwhile investment) we also have to think about everyone else on the campus.  Investing in our staff to ensure that their voice is heard, they are supported, satisfied, have the resources that they need to be successful are all part of establishing strong school culture.

If your not sure, put out a survey to assess your leadership.  One of my favorite people to follow on twitter in the blogging world, Amber Teamann, did and was surprised by the results. (“MyBad” Podcast by Jon Harper has the story here)  Now she had two options, you know what they are, but she took the high road and now she has transformed her leadership.

So what if you are feeling like you do not do the best job?  I would instantly turn my attention to Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.  Not only is it a fun themed book that can easily transfer to your school, they provide real life examples of how to turn your school around.  You will be able to take lessons form their book and instantly start insert them into your leadership tomorrow.  They also joined my podcast Perspectives in Education (listen here) to discuss leadership and their book.  “We want to create schools where kids are knocking down the doors to get in but we also need to create schools where staff are knocking down the doors to get in.” – Shelley Burgess.

Well how do we do that?  I love this quote from Beth Houf that came from the podcast,  “We throw around the phrase whats best for kids a lot, we (Shelley and I) feel like our influence on doing whats best for kids relies solely on how we inspire and motivate and support the adults in our buildings.  If we do that, then the teachers and other educators can truly make an impact.”  She hits the nail on the head.

So back to my question from before, do you support your staff, encourage them, listen to their needs, and provide them all the resources they need to grow?

Your Guide to Running a School Like Disney World

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post from Lynn Colon via Edsurge!!

George Couros poses a question in the Innovators Mindset: Would you want to be a student in your class?  You can change that to would you want to be a teacher/student in your building?

Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess, in Lead Like a Pirate, talk about how you want to develop your campus to be one that teachers and students run to vs run away from.  (Hear more about this on our podcast: Perspectives in Education)

Well what better way to say YES to George’s question while also getting everyone to want to be a part of our schools than do run them like Disney World!

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality. ” —Walt Disney

 

In her post called “Your Guide to Running a School Like Disney World”, Lynn highlights 3 ways to do this:

  1. Focus on customer service
  2. Create magic through tech and relationships
  3. Parents: They are both guests and stakeholders

Don’t forget…relationships should include parents too! What do parents want from a principal?

I recently participated in #IMMOOC (Innovators Mindset Massive Online Book Course with hundreds of ed enthusiasts.  Today my featured post comes from one of the educators that I had to privilege to encounter.   Her name is Amber Teaman and she is principal of Whitt Elementary in Wylie ISD in Wylie, Texas.

Her post is fantastic and one of my all-time favorites!

In it she discusses what she would want her parents to know about her, her passion for education, and her passion to help their students be successful.  Before she releases these 5 heartfelt ideas she has one of her parents highlight the parent perspective.  What a parent would want from their principal.   Before I give away the details-take 10 minutes and read it now.  You will not be disappointed!

 

Should high school be more like the real world? These innovators think so

The USA Today recently shared a great post called “Should high school be more like the real world? These innovators think so“.  It highlights the work of Powderhouse Studios.

Here is part of the introduction:

“The high school, set to open in a repurposed former school building in Somerville, Mass., next year, won’t have grade levels or traditional classes. Instead, students will be immersed in interdisciplinary projects that tap into their interests and ambitions. They’ll divide their days between seminars and project-based work, meeting with faculty for guidance regularly. And students will go to school year-round from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., taking vacations based on their families’ schedules. Classrooms, lectures and lesson plans – the things traditional schools are built on – won’t be a big part of daily life at Powderhouse.

In short, Powderhouse will look more like a workplace than a high school.”

This piece is so powerful that it is a MUST READ.  These educators are taking innovation to the next step and taking a HUGE risk.   They are taking #placebaseded and #makerspaces to the next level.  I can’t wait to read about and see how successful this school is.  I believe they are on an amazing track for success.

4 Common Creativity-Killers + How to Avoid Them

Krista Gray highlights “4 Common Creativity-Killers + How to Avoid Them“.  Here is an excerpt from her article:

“Learning to channel your creativity to produce awesome work is one of the most valuable skills you can develop (and use to stay inspired!) this year. Not only will your ultra-original style set you apart, whether working on quick projects or making your wildest DIY dreams come true, but it can help you share all your feels for a happier, healthier you.”

This had me sold!  I am all about finding fast, efficient ways to make my life better and she comes up with 4 killer ideas AND provides us with an idea to solve them!!  Here the four but you will have to read the article for the details!

  1. Having Super-Specific Expectations
  2. Your Regular Old Routine
  3.  Insecurities of a Fear of Being Judged
  4. A Time Crunch (or a Hard Stop)

Featured image is borrowed from Studybay

The #1 Leadership Trait

Great leaders see the value in relationships, innovation, taking risks, supporting others, accountability, honesty, communication, the list goes on.   These traits can be debated over and over again but when you look at each trait, I feel that there is a larger trait that connects them all, humility.

“Humility is the number 1 trait that all leaders should strive to achieve.”

Think of a leader that you work(ed) with that was humble.  Answer these questions about that person (I’ll do the same):

  1. Were they trustworthy? (Me-yes)
  2. Were they good at building relationships? (Me-yes)
  3. Were they empathetic? (Me-yes)
  4. Were they open to others opinions? (Me-yes)
  5. Were they able to reflect? (Me-yes)
  6. Were they micro-managers? (Me-no)

This is an ideal leader!  If one is humble; they are empathetic, honest, and open-minded while also able to reflect, let people do their jobs, and accept ambiguity.  Who doesn’t want to work for a humble leader who:

  • Supports you in taking risks
  • Trusts your judgement
  • Accepts when you make mistakes
  • Admits when they make mistates
  • Listens and shows empathy
  • Encourages you to grow
  • Inspires you through modeling all of these

Not me!  Give me a leader who is humble all day because I know that they are that and more!

 

 

Leaders of 2017

One of my favorite things that Education Week does is it created the Education Week Leaders to Learn From.  It highlights Ed Leaders and then puts ALL of their success stories in 1 location!  Honestely it was part of the inspiration for me to start my website and my newsletter.  There are SO many resources available, and I value my time, so I wanted to find easy ways to share information with my peers that I found valuable.

The purpose of this post is to simply share the link to the Leaders of 2017!  This year has a list of 13 amazing educators and this link will provide you access to their amazing stories.

Image is borrowed from Education Week Leaders to Learn From

The Power of Family

How many of you have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of a “family”?  I use the quotations here because the term “family” has MANY variations.  Websters defines a family as: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.  In school this would have a different meaning.  As educators, I believe that if we lead our students as we would lead our own family, relationships will blossom!  James Comer summarizes how the power of relationships will impact learning.

Isn’t this worth investing time in!? I recently had a revelation about the power of family and how it has influenced me.

I am the oldest/2nd oldest, on either side of my family and growing up was taught to provide a great example for my younger family members.  On my dad’s side of the family we have “family dinner” at my grandmother’s house EVERY Sunday.  People miss here and for different reasons but the beauty of this was talking with them about how my week was, what’s new, having a group to support me, etc.

It was here, in these moments, where I always wanted to have something great to say that would make me look good, feel good, but most importantly not disappoint anyone.  I was pretty good at being a role model, I believe, up until I started to disconnect myself from my family.  After college I got married which quickly turned into a divorce.  Suddenly I was no longer confident in my answers to how was your week, what’s new, etc.  I fell into a dark place for almost two years and always found salvation in teaching and my classroom family but was uncomfortable to share with my real family.

Then I met my wife, reconnected with family, created a family of my own (we have 3 beautiful girls), and have a job that I am passionate about.  It has completely restored my drive and desire to be a role model, leader, father, and husband.  I feel like I did when I was 18 but now have weathered some storms and feel stronger in my own skin that I ever have before.  I rediscovered who I am.

“Sooooooooo Justin, great story of redemption but what does this have to do with education?”

I believe that if we build families at school then our students will grow and behave similar to how I do with my own family.  If we want to significantly help our students grow and learn, this occurs with significant relationships.  As teachers, we have the ability to develop a family within our classrooms.  My goal as a teacher was to create an environment where my kids felt safe, appreciated, and most importantly, loved.  In Episode 1 of my podcast Perspectives in Education, I talk with a former student of mine and she reflects on what it was like to be a part of my “family” at school.   It takes time but the benefits are priceless.

I found that my students started to act like me when I was around my family.  They knew that each day I was there to greet them, be there for them, support them, but at the end of the day I was going to ask them how their day was.  They did not want to disappoint me so slowly I started to see growing as they learned more about themselves.  They were taking control of their lives in school, I feel, because of the power of family.  They wanted to share positive stories, try new things, and grow into someone that I and their classmates respected.

This is the power of family.  It is developing a group of people that support, love, believe, and listen to you.  Through these powerful relationships, your students can change, evolve, and grow.  Think back to a teacher that influenced you the most.  What did you love about them?  Did you ever want to disappoint them with behavior, not completing homework, or failing tests?  Odds are you did the best in those classes because of the relationship you built with them.  Don’t you want to be the one that your students still talk about 10, 20, 50 years from now?

Bottom Line

This is your chance!  Cultivate and plant family atmosphere with your students, water them daily with love, empathy, grace, and understanding, provide them a voice, and most importantly LISTEN, and watch your family grow!  It will change your life and the life of your students.  I am confident in it because of seen in first hand and also because family changed mine.

 

 

TEDx Talk – I’m 17

“A world of creative collaboration between adults and students” – Kate Simonds

Have you ever sat down with a student and they express some very powerful feelings and you respond with, “Your only _____ (a kid, 17, a child, in high school, middle school, etc.) , you don’t understand”

I know I have and the funny thing is I remember being told that when I was young and I did not take to it nicely, yet still, I did it to my students.  “Treat others as you wish to be treated” applies to not just current, real world scenarios but also to experiences that we have already gone through.

Take 13 minutes and 38 seconds to watch Kate Simonds provide a TEDx talk in Boise, Idaho and it might change your perspective.  She blew me away.  You can feel her passion, the anxiety of being a teenager on such a big stage, and she absolutely kills it!!

Hats off to you Kate!  I hope to get you on my podcast, Perspectives in Education soon because your perspective is important and needs to be recycled through the ed world!

Featured image is borrowed from Idaho News

Leadership is a Choice

Eric Sheninger has an amazing blog called A Principal’s Reflections.  One of this posts resonated with me and I am just getting to share it with out all now, “Leadership is a Choice“.

Throughout my career as a child, teenager, student, athlete I was looked at as being a “leader” or having the characteristics of one.  The best part about this post is how Eric highlights that just because you have the characteristics to be a leader, you still have to CHOOSE to do so!

“Everyone has the ability to lead and our schools need more educators to embrace this challenge. Never underestimate your own unique talents and abilities that can help shape the future of our schools to create a better learning culture that students deserve. Some of our best leaders are right under our nose – our teachers and students.  Great leaders not only understand this, but also help these key stakeholders make the choice to lead. ”