Dr. Sanee Bell Discusses Being Excellent On Purpose in Educational Leadership — FocusED

Dr. Sanee Bell Discusses Being Excellent On Purpose in Educational Leadership — FocusED

This is Season 1, Episode 5 of FocusED, and it features guest, Sanee Bell. It was originally recorded live for a studio audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience for Delaware teachers and leaders. Don’t miss what Sanee says about being excellent on purpose in a practical way and holding that standard as a leader. Her interaction with the audience at the end was fun and inspiring…and wait to hear the blooper after the final music fades out. Enjoy. 

Dr. Sanee Bell Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Sanée Bell is the principal of Morton Ranch Junior High in Katy, TX. She has served as an administrator since 2005 at both the elementary and secondary levels. Sanée was recognized as the 2015 Katy ISD Elementary Principal of the Year. 

Prior to becoming an administrator, Sanée taught middle school and high school English and also coached girls basketball. She earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston Clear Lake. 

Sanée is passionate about authentic, purposeful learning for students and teachers, and also has a strong passion for leadership and its impact on teacher engagement, student learning, and school culture. Sanée recognizes her impact as a leader and uses her role to inspire, motivate, and empower others. 

Sanée serves as Future Ready Thought Partner on the Future Ready Schools project, and has contributed to several publications and podcasts focused on leadership and its impact on students and teachers.  

Sanée is co-author and co-editor of the Education Write Now Series, and she is featured in the book Dare to Lead authored by Brené Brown. Sanée is the author of Be Excellent on Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership. Follow Sanée at saneebell.com and via Twitter @SaneeBell.

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ theschoolhouse302.com. 

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 with more knowledge, better understanding, and clear direction on what to do next. 

This episode was brought to you by GhostBed, a family-owned business of sleep experts with 20+ years of experience. With 30K+ 5-star reviews, you can’t go wrong with GhostBed. Their mattresses are handcrafted, and they come with a 101-night-at-home-sleep trial. For a limited time, you can get 30% by using our code — SH302 — at checkout. And, even if you tell someone about GhostBed, you can earn a $100 referral reward. Go to Ghostbed.com today and use SH302 at checkout. 

And, let us know if you want to join our next MasterClass on Candid and Compassionate Feedback. If you want to see real growth in your school, click here to reserve your seat or here for more information. 

Lastly, join us in the Principals’ Club, designed to take your PLN to a PLC so that we can support one another in our growth as leaders. We hope to see you there. 

Innovation is Born in the Heart and Developed in the Mind: Embrace these 4 Proven Strategies from Top Female CEOs that Every Principal Leader Must Know

Innovation is Born in the Heart and Developed in the Mind: Embrace these 4 Proven Strategies from Top Female CEOs that Every Principal Leader Must Know

The Principal as an Innovative Leader 

In March we celebrated Women’s History Month, which gave us the backdrop and motivation to do a bit of research regarding women innovators from four very different industries but who any school principal should know about as a leader. There is no substitute for effective leadership and taking the time to read and learn from diverse people from all industries helps to expand a school principals’ ability to view complex issues through a broad yet critical lens.

We’ve discovered that schools often fail to innovate and employ a number of diverse practices from inclusion to blended learning because of the organization’s culture and not the people. In fact, it’s misleading, and somewhat of a leadership cop-out, to believe that the teachers and the staff in the organization are the ones thwarting or blocking new ideas. 

There’s only one person in an organization who can truly squash innovative thinking, and that one person is the leader. It’s only the principal, the chief officer, the managing supervisor, or anyone directly in charge of a group of people who can actually suppress innovation. 

We are not suggesting that there aren’t what we call roadblocks of resistance, but the leader is responsible for developing a culture where innovation is core value. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed how one department within a school can be cranking out new ideas all the time, working right alongside another department that is stifled and cannot make any forward progress. As John Maxwell says, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” 

The good news is that great leaders know how to create a culture where teams are working together, thinking together, and innovating together.

Two Elements of Leadership Success 

Tony Robbins, a success expert, once said that the only two things that matter in business are 1. Marketing, and 2. Innovation. He draws this conclusion for two reasons: 1. Regardless of how great the product or idea is, if you can’t market well and sell, it’s worthless. And, 2. Sometimes an innovation is so creative and so inspiring that it doesn’t really need marketing to sell. The product itself is so desired by the market that it moves all on its own. 

Although we are writing about school leadership, there are distinct parallels when developing a culture of success in any school. Any school leader must know how to effectively market ideas, changing priorities, new programs, and so on. They have to be able to communicate to many different stakeholders for successful implementation of any new change. On the other hand, effective leaders also need to move forward with innovative ideas that may put pressure in the system but that are fundamentally necessary to change processes and practices in a positive way.  

The challenge is harnessing both–effective marketing and quick innovation–for maximum impact. This requires a style of thinking that great leaders innately possess and that principals can use in schools. Most leaders want this type of innovative thinking to permeate the organization and to spur change, but we know that it takes deliberate practice. At TheSchoolHouse302, we’ve uncovered four powerful strategies that any principal can use to create a school culture that is grounded in innovation.  

CHOOSE WHICHEVER PIC YOU LIKE

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4 Strategies to Drive Innovative Thinking in Schools: 

Strategy #1: Value New Ideas Over the Status-Quo

According to Megan Tull, “Risk taking is an increasingly critical element of leadership and essential for a leader’s effectiveness.” The schools and districts that capture our attention for innovation, such as High Tech High, didn’t become successful by playing it safe. To create system-wide organizational success, calculated risks must be taken and rewarded. Principals can’t expect teachers to try new tools or instructional strategies if they work in an evaluation-driven environment. There must be room for failure.  

The play-it-safe mentality in workers will always win-out over risk-taking when mistakes are seen as a performance problem. Risk-taking, of course, cannot become reckless, but the value of teamwork and employing great people has to be placed on idea-generation and trying something new. The culture has to be grounded in earning and exploring, not the status quo. This means that leaders have to place extreme value on a continual flow of ideas so that thinking is new and not stagnant. Complacency is the death of progress. 

So that principals can see this by example, we can’t think of a greater innovative leader for valuing ideas than Sarah Blakely.  

Sarah Blakely is Our First Innovator Spotlight: 

Sarah Blakely’s success and innovative thinking is downright jaw dropping. Why? She listened to herself, solved a problem, and then pursued her invention. Spanx was born. 

The Principal’s Leadership Lesson: 

We are constantly running into issues and obstacles in education. Rather than just tolerating them, like a pebble in our shoe, work to identify the issue and then solve the problem. Don’t jump to the solution without first analyzing the core of the issue. 

Strategy #2: Inspire Creativity by Creating Challenges 

In his book, Pure Genius, Don Wettrick outlines the fact that innovation is cultural and schools, classrooms, and organizations can all spark innovation through teaching the foundation of innovative thinking. It’s important for organizations to explicitly inspire people to take risks, to collaborate for synergy, to connect so that ideas are curated and then synthesized, to engage in a creative process that isn’t linear, and to always reflect on both the product and the journey in getting to it. Creativity is not a congenital trait but rather something that can be inculcated by culture and expectation. 

In a culture of innovation, the leader goes first and then expects others to innovate as well. Going beyond the status quo is not only the expectation, but sticking with old practices, especially when they’ve been recognized as ineffective, is met with disapproval. 

For our second spotlight innovator, we feature Jane Chen. 

Jane Chen is Our Second Innovator Spotlight: 

Jane Chen, a co-founder of Embrace Innovations, set lofty goals aimed at improving the quality of life for those in the developing world. The tagline says it all, healthtech with a heart. Their genius was born from a classroom challenge and evolved into an incredible purpose designed to help premature babies have a chance at life. 

The Principal’s Leadership Lesson: 

As detailed on their site, in one of their Stanford classes, they were “challenged to come up with an incubator that costs less than 1% the cost of a traditional incubator.” We want to recognize and honor the tremendous research and hard work this must have taken to discover and create, but we also want to direct principals towards the purity in that the team was explicitly charged with solving a problem. That works in schools as well. 

Strategy #3: Always Start with WHY 

As Simon Sinek explains in his book, Start with Why, great leaders know that inspiration comes from purpose, not from the product or process. The bottom line nature of profitability, following specific processes, and top-down management practices are just some of the reasons that contribute to an innovation void. These are put in place for a reason but also need to be challenged by going back to our purpose, choosing impact over compliance. 

When organizations have a clear set of communicated core values that drive shared decision-making, it allows for innovation to ensue because people are focused on the importance of the work and the mission at hand. This means that organizational culture has thinking and acting at its core rather than just following policies and gathering data. Great schools identify clear core values that serve as the filter for decision-making.

Our third spotlight is Grace Colon of Incarda Therapeutics. 

Grace E. Colon is Our Third Innovator Spotlight: 

Grace E. Colon is the CEO of Incarda Therapeutics. Dr. Colon earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT. One main reason for highlighting Incarda is their purpose: Committed to developing transformative therapies for cardiac conditions. Talk about a clear WHY.

The Principal’s Leadership Lesson: 

One thing that Incarda preaches as an organization is that their team members complement one another, demonstrating the power in hiring for innovation and other values. At TheSchoolHouse302, we often argue that filling vacancies goes well beyond the position itself. In education we are not looking for someone who can teach a subject but rather the right people to fully live out our core values. Read more by checking out our newest book

Strategy #4: Allow Innovation to be Incremental

Going back a couple years ago, we interviewed @dougtimm34, an elementary principal who values innovation and leadership and who believes in what he calls “incremental innovation.” Innovation doesn’t have to be a massive change. It can be iterative. Doug explained that innovative thinking doesn’t have to be about introducing something brand new but rather allowing yourself to have a process of revision where the end product is new and creative as a result of the effort to refine ideas over time. 

The refinement process includes feedback from others and is used in top creative organizations like Pixar and Disney Animation where everything from the storyline to the characters of a film go under extensive review by teams of people before accepting a new product for development. Tiny tweaks are always at the core of great change. 

For principals to understand this in action, we introduce our fourth spotlight, Lynn Le. 

Lynn Le is Our Fourth Innovator Spotlight: 

Lynn Le is the founder of Society Nine, which centers on boxing and sports apparel for female users. The company champions the uniqueness of women and the original product-line offered women’s boxing gloves that were really non-existent before they brought them to market. This demonstrates the effectiveness in taking something that exists and putting a completely new spin on it. 

The Principal’s Leadership Lesson: 

Pay keen attention to how and why things are changing. Always work to ensure that you are representing all students. Boxing gloves have been around for over a century but were designed for men. As the boxing and mixed martial arts world evolved, with more and more women competing, the equipment and structures that support it must also change. Think about this in terms of curriculum, school calendars, grading, and other aspects of schooling that haven’t undergone enough scrutiny and change. 

We challenge principals to use these four strategies in your school so that you can create a culture of innovation where new ideas are paramount to the fabric of what you expect as a contribution from everyone on your team. These strategies are complex by the nature of doing business with people but they are not complicated. Any school principal can put them into place with thoughtful consideration and focus. 

Stay tuned for more nuggets of wisdom, podcasts, books to read, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster in schools. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our content each month. Send this to a friend. 

As always, let us know what you think of this with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCloud. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J. 

Read This to Become A More Effective Principal: Is My School A Better School BECAUSE I Lead It by Baruti Kafele — Get Your Copy Today

Read This to Become A More Effective Principal: Is My School A Better School BECAUSE I Lead It by Baruti Kafele — Get Your Copy Today

Don’t miss this vblog on YouTube or catch our Read This segment of our One Thing Series podcast–books you need to read to lead better and grow faster. 

Featured Author: Baruti Kafele 

Featured Book: Is My School Better BECAUSE I Lead It?

YoutTube: https://youtu.be/Aoz7k7DFkJY

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/servant-leadership-success-as-principal-social-justice/id1316161350?i=1000512840352

SoundCloud: 

Here’s Why Every Principal Should Read This ASCD Book by Principal Kafele:

  • Similar to other Principal Kafele books, he starts with the power of questions. If you read this book through the lens of self-development, not only will you understand yourself better, you’ll also continue on the great and challenging journey of leadership growth. 
  • Principal Kafele is comfortable with the uncomfortable. As humans, we don’t always like to confront the brutal reality, but growth occurs in the space where we willingly uncover our areas of weakness. A must read. 

Buy Is My School A Better School BECAUSE I Lead It? on Amazon

Don’t miss our One Thing Series podcast interview with Baruti Kafele where we dive into the servant leadership, social justice, and so much more. 

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

PS — If you have a topic you want us to cover or need recommendations on books to read in a particular area of leadership, just send us a tweet or an email. 

This episode was brought to you by GhostBed, a family-owned business of sleep experts with 20+ years of experience. With 30K+ 5-star reviews, you can’t go wrong with GhostBed. Their mattresses are handcrafted, and they come with a 101-night-at-home-sleep trial. For a limited time, you can get 30% by using our code — SH302 — at checkout. And, even if you tell someone about GhostBed, you can earn a $100 referral reward. Go to Ghostbed.com today and use SH302 at checkout. 

And, let us know if you want to join our next MasterClass on Candid and Compassionate Feedback. If you want to see real growth in your school, click here to reserve your seat or here for more information. 

Lastly, join us in the Principals’ Club, designed to take your PLN to a PLC so that we can support one another in our growth as leaders. We hope to see you there. 

Build a Better & Stronger School Community: An Inside Look On How to Implement the 4 Ps of Service-Oriented Principal Leadership

Build a Better & Stronger School Community: An Inside Look On How to Implement the 4 Ps of Service-Oriented Principal Leadership

Servant and Service Leadership: Harmony Between the Two for Superior Principal Leadership

Servant leadership is touted and recognized as an effective way to lead. Principals who embrace servant leadership build their winning team by empowering their school community at all levels. This month, we draw a simple distinction between servant leadership and service leadership. We contend that service leadership is the actionable aspect of effective leadership that goes beyond the general duties of the job. Service leaders provide something special and unique for each person on the team or for the community at large. They don’t just empower, they provide. 

To better understand how to be a service leader, we offer the 4 Ps of Service Leadership, which we breakdown in this month’s 302 Thoughts. This component of our One Thing Series podcast, takes a deep dive into this month’s topic so that anyone in an educational leadership position–district leaders, principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, and teacher leaders–all see how they can uniquely support a learning environment throughout the entire school community. 

The Four Ps Model of Service Leadership

Topics We Cover Regarding Service Leadership:

  • We discuss how service leadership is the engine behind servant leadership. Essentially, the way we empower others impacts how they can serve in their roles. 
  • We break down the 4 P model and how it can guide our daily work.
  • We emphasize the power of a positive attitude and how it really is a choice.
  • We talk about turning pride into something of virtue rather than voice.

We hope you like this month’s 302 Thoughts as we continue to discuss leadership and the impact that you can have on your community. 

Stay tuned for more nuggets of wisdom, podcasts, books to read, reflection sessions, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster in schools. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our content each month. Send this to a friend. 

As always, let us know what you think of this with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCloud. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.
Joe & T.J.

Servant Leadership, Success as a Principal, Social Justice in Schools, and More w/ ASCD Best Selling Author Principal Baruti Kafele

Servant Leadership, Success as a Principal, Social Justice in Schools, and More w/ ASCD Best Selling Author Principal Baruti Kafele

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, he was a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist, and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the turnaround of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after school leadership experts and education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered over two thousand conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 34 years of public speaking. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined as the “Attitude Gap.”

A prolific writer, Principal Kafele has written extensively on professional development strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk students, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom, and school leadership practices for inspiring schoolwide excellence. In addition to writing several professional articles for popular education journals, he has authored eleven books, including his six ASCD best sellers — Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life, Closing the Attitude Gap, The Teacher 50, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?, The Principal 50, and The Assistant Principal 50. He is also the author of the ASCD book, The Aspiring Principal 50. His next book – The Equity and Social Justice Education 50 will be released in May, 2021.

Key Thoughts from Our Interview w/ Principal Kafele:

Principal Kafele dives deep into how principals can best support their teachers to create an award winning school. He also delves into the topic of social justice and how every listener can better understand what this means to reimagine our schools for the future.

  • Listen to how Principal Kafele shielded his teachers, allowing them to focus on their classroom and their students.
  • Principal Kafele describes his philosophy regarding lesson planning and the power of only planning one week at a time. “If you’re not planning, you’re winging it.”
  • He describes what supportive leadership really is and what it looks like in practice. Don’t miss the story he tells about challenging his superintendent.  
  • Principal Kafele identifies Frank Mickens and his success as a principal as instrumental in his own development.
  • You don’t want to miss his advice on how to regain your purpose and stay true to your why. His own why: “I want to build men out of boys.”
  • Similar to other guests, Principal Kafele describes his desire to jump from an airplane. He already knows how to fly one. 
  • Several times, Principal Kafele described “holes” in our current conversations about equity in schools. He lists 4 books that everyone should read to have an understanding of race, racism, and social justice in America.
  • Listen to how Principal Kafele’s views have changed on teachers and what makes the difference in the lives of children. “We need solid people who can take care of business and who will learn what they don’t know.” 

Principal Kafele’s interview is a powerful testimony of someone who has successfully led award-winning schools amid incredibly challenging circumstances. We are grateful that he discussed how social justice can be reflected throughout the curriculum and what we can do to better prepare ourselves as educational leaders. It was an awesome follow-up to our latest blogpost on service leadership

We hope to hear from you about your favorite parts of both the blog and the interview. Please comment below. 

Please follow, like, and share. Use #onethingseries and #SH302 so that we can find you. For more great leadership content, follow theschoolhouse302.com

Joe & T.J.

Also, on April, 15th, we begin our Second Masterclass on Candid and Compassionate Feedback. Request info by emailing contact@theschoolhouse302.com. Or, reserve your seat here. Or, read more about how it works here. Don’t miss out early bird pricing. 

 

This episode was brought to you by GhostBed, a family-owned business of sleep experts with 20+ years of experience. With 30K+ 5-star reviews, you can’t go wrong with GhostBed. Their mattresses are handcrafted, and they come with a 101-night-at-home-sleep trial. For a limited time, you can get 30% by using our code — SH302 — at checkout. And, even if you tell someone about GhostBed, you can earn a $100 referral reward. Go to Ghostbed.com today and use SH302 at checkout. 

Claim Your FREE Copy to Our Praise Practice- Practical Praise Giving Tips for Principals

Claim Your FREE Copy to Our Praise Practice- Practical Praise Giving Tips for Principals

Learn how you can give practical praise each day as you lead your school to develop a better and more positive culture through this complimentary eBook we use in our workshops to help principals all over the nation and subscribe for more resources like this one delivered to your inbox. 

Congratulations on claiming your copy - you may download it here: https://theschoolhouse302.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Technical-Tip-Praise-Practice-A-Model-for-Specific-Praise.pdf