Season 5, Episode 9 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera

Season 5, Episode 9 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera

Creating a Culture of Equity in Schools with Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera

This is Season 5, Episode 9 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera. Don’t miss what Dr. Buchanan-Rivera says about amplifying student voice, power and inequities in schools, making learning joyous…and much more.

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Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera has served as a teacher, principal of an international magnet school, director of curriculum, and director of equity and inclusion in her 17 years as an educator. 

She is currently a DEI project specialist and adjunct professor in the College of Education at Butler University and consults through her business, EBR Educational Consulting, LLC. 

Dr. Buchanan-Rivera’s research centers on identity-affirming environments. She completed a doctoral degree at Indiana State University in 2017, where she developed an instrument to measure inclusivity in classroom environments. She has written award-winning publications, and her work has been featured in Education Week, Edutopia, Educational Leadership Magazine (ASCD), K-12 Dive, educational journals, and national podcasts. 

In April 2020, she was recognized as the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Education at Butler University due to her contributions to the field on a local and national level. Her first book, Identity Affirming Classrooms: Spaces that Center Humanity has spread her reach and consulting work internationally. In 2023, she won the Arnold Mickens Black Excellence in Leadership Award, and we invite you to follow her on X @ericabrivera.

FocusED Show Notes with Erica Buchanan-Rivera

Erica started the conversation about her own experiences in school where the educators had good intentions, but those intentions didn’t result in an inclusive environment. In fact, none of her teachers or school leaders were people of color. 

She aims to amplify student voices, which she does throughout her text. Students don’t just talk about their trauma, but they identify opportunities to support all students in schools. In many cases, all we need to do is to listen to the students. 

Dr. Buchanan-Rivera breaks down what it means to talk about “culture” in schools. We’re talking about “the ways of being” in schools, which includes the roles of power and inequities that exist within schools. 

She says that there’s no real right or wrong way to amplify student voices but that the key is to ask students about their experiences in schools and the ways that we can improve the environment. Listen to what she says about her own listening tours. 

Once we listen to our students, we should build what they say into our strategic plans for school improvement. ~ Erica Buchanan-Rivera 

Joe asks about general threads in what Erica finds when she talks to students about their experiences in school. One common thread is that students want to know how they’re doing in school–they are curious to receive more feedback. 

Just like adults, kids want to know about their strengths and areas for improvement, and they often don’t get that from school. ~ Erica Buchanan-Rivera 

Erica tells us that we can drive change to a more joyous environment by unpacking our own belief systems. Do we truly embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in action? Do we believe that all students can learn? Are we treating students like humans? 

She calls for equity audits as a fresh set of eyes on what teaching and learning really feel like in our schools–tools that assess systems. 

As administrators, we often learn to manage dysfunction rather than learning to clean house. ~ Erica Buchanan-Rivera 

Don’t miss what she says about outcomes that indicate that our effort in this space is working. 

Erica says we need more support for administrators on leading change, having critical conversations, and growing as equity warriors. A needed book title: Navigating the DEI Space for School Leaders

Accountability should be seen as an act of love. ~ Erica Buchanan-Rivera  

Erica ended by talking about the areas in which she would like to grow as a school leader–helping principals navigate DEI successfully. 

Books that Erica Buchanan-Rivera Mentions on FocusED

Punished for Dreaming by Bettina Love

Leading Your School Toward Equity by Dwayne Chism 

All About Love by Bell Hooks 

 

Related Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Check out our very popular interview with Principal Kafele. 

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ dereka206.sg-host.com, 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. 

Demystifying Decision-Making: Exploring the Undercurrents Created By Our Choices

Demystifying Decision-Making: Exploring the Undercurrents Created By Our Choices

In this episode of Leading Better and Growing Faster for School Leaders, Joe, and T.J. discuss how school leaders must recognize how their decisions create undercurrents within the organization. 

Every decision you make at school, from offering certain foods in the cafeteria to the consequence a student receives for being late to school because they stopped for a chai latte, creates undercurrents that ripple throughout the school, like a rogue dodgeball during PE class. 

These undercurrents can have a more dramatic impact than you might think, potentially causing serious disruption. This is why we tell leaders to remember that the next time you’re faced with a school decision, tread mindfully and follow the suggestions in this episode. Your decisions can either steer the ship towards a calm and productive harbor of school pride and spirit or set sail for the unpredictable waters of confusion and disengagement.

Demystifying Decision-Making with Joe and T.J.

T.J. reminds us that our decisions are either rippling toward success or triggering negative waves of dissent. Check the books that Joe and T.J. recently recommended to school leaders

This concept reminds leaders to maintain the Power of Perception and to be mindful and aware of the present versus constantly thinking about the past or the future.

Joe outlines several initiatives that could breathe new life into schools, but they also carry the potential to fall short and leave our good intentions floundering.

T.J. dives into the Initiative Implementation Chart and quickly goes through the 7 areas and their importance. 

Last but not least, T.J. and Joe underscore the critical role of key decision-makers, including individual staff members in addition to school leadership, in making impactful choices for the success of the school and its students.

Let us know what you think by contacting us at contact@dereka206.sg-host.com. And don’t miss our leadership newsletter every week by subscribing on the site. 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

Demystifying Decision-Making: Exploring the Undercurrents Created By Our Choices

Mindset and Management: Two Must Reads for School Leaders Who Want to Manage the Impossible

Joe and T.J. Recommend that School Leaders Read The Following Two Books

 

 

Unlocking Excellence: Read to Lead Better, Learn to Grow Faster

In this episode, Joe and T.J. introduce two books that they know will make a difference in your life as a leader. Kotler’s book is about operating in a state of flow for improved focus and productivity. Who couldn’t benefit from learning more about flow and how we can get into a flow state?  

Murphy’s book is basically a “how-to” on management. Very practical with specific suggestions to improve your skills. There are also some ideas and thoughts that will challenge your current thinking about managing people. The author is clear that many management principles simply don’t work

Why Joe and T.J. Recommend The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler and What Makes Great Managers Great by Curtiss Murphy

T.J. kicks off by explaining that when we don’t believe something or can’t imagine accomplishing it, we are limiting ourselves. We can’t do what we don’t think is possible. 

He reminds us of Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile barrier, which seemed like an impossible feat. In fact, scientists deemed it physically impossible for humans to do so. 

T.J. tells listeners how the book moves through the key concepts of peak performance: motivation, learning, creativity, and flow. 

One major feature that makes this book a critical read for leaders is that it has research and data, along with various stories, to back up the assertions that the author makes. 

T.J. calls The Art of Impossible his favorite book of 2023. Bold statement!

Joe starts by letting the audience know that What Makes Great Managers Great has stories that accompany the management principles being described. This is a great feature because, too often, when reading books that are designed to improve our skill set, we don’t necessarily understand the full context. 

This book’s table of contents is organized so that you understand precisely what management principle is going to be covered. One principle that really resonated and challenged Joe was to assume confusion is everywhere. Listen to Murphy describe that himself on our podcast episode with him

Another great facet of this book is the focus on the power of praise. Similar to what we’ve described in the past, this book emphasizes the need for the praise to be specific and focused. 

T.J.’s Reading Tip: Set specific reading goals, which are essentially learning goals. Along with your goal, develop a list of books that you want to read. Don’t leave your reading habit and growth to chance. Too many of us finish books and don’t start another one right away. With your list in hand, that won’t ever happen again. 

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at contact@dereka206.sg-host.com. And don’t miss our leadership newsletter every week by subscribing to the site. 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

Season 5, Episode 8 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Meghan Lawson

Season 5, Episode 8 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Meghan Lawson

Teaching for a Lasting Impact with Meghan Lawson

This is Season 5, Episode 8 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Meghan Lawson. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Meghan Lawson says about teaching for a lasting impact, creating a legacy of learning…and much more.

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Meghan Lawson Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Meghan Lawson is a thought leader who studies and implements the conditions and systems needed for transformational change. A lover of learning who believes in the goodness of people, Meghan works to cultivate spaces that honor the humanity of all people. 

She promotes storytelling, the exchange of ideas, and risk-taking. She is passionate about disrupting the status quo and creating kinder, forward-thinking communities of action. 

Meghan is also intensely curious about how to enhance the customer experience in schools. Meghan began her career in the English Language Arts classroom. So, inevitably, her mantra is “Words matter.” She has worked in all levels of K -12 education as a teacher, school administrator, district administrator, and educational consultant. She’s the author of Legacy of Learning: Teaching for Lasting Impact, and you can follow her on X: @meghan_lawson.

FocusED Show Notes with Meghan Lawson

Meghan wrote her book because she’s finding educators all over the place who say things like, “I wish the work was fun again.” 

Meghan says that the stories in the book are authentic, real, and feel like “coffee conversations.” 

Joe asks what it means to “have fun at work.” Meghan talks about positive psychology research. 

Don’t miss what she says about what it means to talk to ourselves. 

When we can create environments where dopamine is high, we can be at our best. 

Meghan calls for teachers to do an inventory of what they can and cannot control and then focus on the controllable aspects of the work. 

She talks about the typical teacher’s perfectionistic personality and what to do about it. 

Small moves done consistently over time can leave a big impact. ~ Meghan Lawson 

If everyone contributes to growing by 1% each day, imagine what can happen. ~ Meghan Lawson 

Joe brings up the Pareto principle and the focus we need on the 20% of our work that leads to 80% of the results. 

Meghan says that one way to use the triangle in her book is to reflect on it in the aftermath of a mistake. 

She says that all students deserve hope and that hope is a stronger predictor of success than any other measure. Hope, belonging, and engagement work together; when one goes up, the other two do as well. 

Meghan calls out the fact that kids can go through the whole day at school (maybe weak) without anyone saying their name. 

She says that she wants to do work she enjoys with people she likes to be around. 

Meghan hopes that all of the unwritten books will get written. People need the confidence to write their stories. 

Life is too short to read books that you’re not getting much out of. ~ Meghan Lawson 

Don’t miss some of the strategies that she uses for reading. 

Meghan ends by genuinely thanking educators for what they do. 

Books that Meghan Lawson Mentions on FocusED

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor 

Finish by John Acuff

Better Days by Neil Allen

 

Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

A Three-Pronged Approach to Building an Environment that Attracts and Retains Talented Teachers

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ dereka206.sg-host.com, 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. 

Season 5, Episode 7 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Luke Roberts

Season 5, Episode 7 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Luke Roberts

Systems Thinking for School Leadership and Educational Reform with Luke Roberts

This is Season 5, Episode 7 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Luke Roberts. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Luke Roberts says about systems thinking in schools and how the next phase of our leadership approach to change should not be linear in nature…and much more.

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Luke Roberts Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Luke Roberts has worked in education in the UK for over 20 years to address issues of conflict, bullying, and educational opportunities. He worked on the national evaluation of restorative justice in schools before becoming a practitioner and trainer. 

He became increasingly concerned that the whole school approach was not working and did an MBA and M.Ed. before completing his Ph.D. exploring schools as complex adaptive systems. This reframing of schools is central to his book and seeks to address the challenge of why innovation does not last in educational settings. 

He has also worked in communities and prison settings to promote conflict resolution. He joined Highfive in the USA as Chief Innovation Officer to promote sustainable solutions to educational challenges. 

He also advises government departments on system approaches and is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Arts. His recent book is called Leading Schools and Sustaining Innovation. You can follow Dr. Luke Roberts on X: @LukeshRoberts.

FocusED Show Notes with Luke Roberts

Following his PhD, Luke wrote this book to make sure leaders can understand complexity without being too challenged by academic literature. 

Luke wants leaders to have a usable framework for sustaining innovation. 

Luke says schools are much more like beehives than machines. In machines, you can take parts out, but beehives are much more interconnected. 

He talked about the hub and spoke model of school leadership whereby all of the spokes are centered on the leader. Then, when the leader leaves, the innovations die. Dr. Roberts tells a real story about this happening. 

One problem that we discuss is that humans like power and actually like the fact that the system revolves around them. 

Listen to what he says about being in a production mind versus being a gardener. This requires an identity shift for the school leader. 

The conversation about the network effect in schools is fascinating, especially since it deviates from the traditional hub and spoke model.

Joe asked about the next steps that leaders can take to work toward the networked model. 

No one perspective is going to solve the problem. 

Don’t miss what he says about zooming out and validating history before moving forward. 

Systems thinking is much different than change theory, which Luke says is part of the problem. Change theory is often linear and “beehives” are not linear organizations.    

Luke calls for a greater focus on young people’s futures and schools that spend time on students’ sense of identity and how they will interact with society in the future. 

Joe underscores the fact school is often something that is done to students rather than for them. 

Dr. Roberts talks about injecting creativity into the system so that more educators are working in a safe space where they can be creative in the way they think about changing their schools. 

We need the ability to play with boundaries, including time and the way the day unfolds. The structures of the day can limit people’s ability to think creatively and change the future of the environment. 

Luke says that once you start to see systems, it’s so hard to unsee them. He references Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a systems thinker. 

Luke asks the audience to ponder how we think about change, not reduce but increase what we should do. 

Books that Luke Roberts Mentions on FocusED

The Grasshopper by Bernard Suits 

 

Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

Season 4, Episode 14 with Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts

Leading Better and Growing Faster with Guest Nathan Maynard

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ dereka206.sg-host.com, 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.