Season 4, Episode 12 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Douglas Reeves

by | Apr 17, 2023 | 0 comments

6 min read

Leading Fearlessly with Dr. Douglas Reeves 

This is Season 4, Episode 12 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Dr. Douglas Reeves. It was originally recorded live for a virtual audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware Academy for School Leadership, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Dr. Reeves says about leading in fear and how to avoid it, changing old practices (like grading)…and so much more.


Douglas Reeves Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Reeves is the author of more than 40 books and more than 100 articles on leadership and education. He has twice been named to the Harvard University Distinguished Authors Series and was named the Brock International Laureate for his contributions to education. 

His career of work in professional learning led to the Contribution to the Field Award from the National Staff Development Council, now Learning Forward. Doug has worked in 50 states and more than 40 countries. His volunteer activities include, providing free and non-commercial support for doctoral students, and The SNAFU Review, publishing the essays, poetry, stories, and artwork of disabled veterans. 

Doug lives in Boston. He Tweets @DouglasReeves, blogs at, and can be reached at 1.781.710.9633.

FocusED Show Notes with Dr. Douglas Reeves

We started with the concept of fear. Why so much fear in schools? Dr. Reeves makes it simple: if the only people talking are the ones who are volunteering or in charge, then we have a fear-filled environment. 

Joe highlights what Dr. Reeves says in the book about special education. Doug riffs on the fact that special education practices are just good teaching practices. 

One focus of the podcast was all about the need to take risks and not get things right the first time. 

T.J. asked Doug to talk about candor in schools and its importance of it. 

Joe mentions Atul Gawande’s video about feedback. Dr. Reeves follows up with the words of Howard Gardner and Richard Elmore and their sentiment about thinning–I used to think, and I don’t think anymore. 

You don’t want to miss what Doug says about “promises-made and promises-kept.” 

He talked about credibility and the strategies we can use to build our own credibility. 

What he says about decision-making and options is powerful. 

Doug mentioned Daniel Kahneman’s “sunk cost fallacy.” 

We asked Doug what would improve the student experience in every school, and he talked about grading and the use of the average. 

He calls for more non-fiction writing in all subjects. 

Doug mentions a book he read last week that he calls “the single best book on student discipline.” Changeable by Stuart Ablon

Joe asked about remembering facts and applying what you read, and Dr. Reeves promotes Zotero as a personal assistant of sorts.  

Doug gives some suggestions about how to use ChatGPT for secondary schools. The one we liked the best was to require ChatGPT as a first draft and then improve it through the revision process. 

Don’t miss what Dr. Reeves says about making a local impact with his work and measuring that.

Doug has a call to action for daily support for new teachers and the need for all of us to share as much as we can with each other about the difference that we all make as educators. 

Douglas Reeves Quotes from FocusED

When kids are afraid, they can’t learn. When adults are afraid, they can’t learn. ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves 

One of the biggest misunderstandings is that we build self-esteem with blanket affirmations. Not true. We need candor instead. ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves 

We have to quit doing what we’ve always done and expecting different results. ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves  

Related School Leadership Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Douglas Reeves Joins Joe and T.J. on the Leading Better & Growing Faster Podcast

Steven Covey Joins Joe and T.J. for a Conversation about Trust

Passionate Leadership


Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ where we publish free leadership content. Go to the site, subscribe, and you’ll get all of our content sent directly to your email. 


FocusED is your educational leadership podcast where our mission is to dissect a particular focus for teachers and school leaders so that you can learn to lead better and grow faster in your school or district. Let us know who you would like to hear from next.


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