Season 5, Episode 11 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Mitch Weathers

Season 5, Episode 11 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Mitch Weathers

Teaching Executive Functioning Skills to All Students with Mitch Weathers

This is Season 5, Episode 11 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Mitch Weathers. Mitch defines executive functioning skills, why they are so important to teach students in school, and how to do it in every classroom…and much more.

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Mitch Weathers Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Mitch Weathers became a gifted teacher because he was a mediocre student. Despite taking seven years to graduate college, he navigated the classroom with discomfort. 

This unique perspective fueled Mitch’s teaching approach. Recognizing the importance of laying a foundation for learning, he created Organized Binder. This research-backed strategy empowers teachers to impart executive functioning skills efficiently, preserving valuable instructional time. 

By establishing a predictable routine, Organized Binder fosters safer learning spaces, shaping Mitch’s journey from a struggling student to an innovative educator.

Mitch’s book helps educators understand and implement executive functioning skills in the classroom. It’s called Executive Functions for Every Classroom, Grades 3-12: Creating Safe and Predictable Learning Environments. You can find Mitch on X @organizedbinder. 

FocusED Show Notes with Mitch Weathers

Mitch talks about writing the book because not all teachers can access his company’s resources, Organized Binder, but they can design lessons that help students gain executive functioning skills. The book helps with that. 

Mitch says that we can’t hope that students will pick up executive functions (EF) skills by chance. 

Joe reminds listeners that we interviewed Curtiss Murphy, and we must assume confusion. With that in mind, Joe asks Mitch to define EF. 

Mitch said that one of the schools he works with calls EF skills “studentness.” The reason for this is that not all kids know how to “do school.” EF teaches how to do school well, and they translate to life skills. 

Don’t miss the 6 skills that Mitch says matter for all other skills to fall in place. 

We discuss predictable learning spaces and the need for the environment to be safe for risk-taking and other factors required for learning to take place. 

Mitch calls for more routines so that kids aren’t spending their cognitive load on processing the demands of the classroom and the teacher so that they can place that demand on the learning intentions. 

Don’t miss what he says about “shared routines” in schools and collective teacher efficacy. When we build shared routines, we’re also collectively rallying around something that we all care to deliver to kids. 

EF skills are not necessarily something that should just be taught in isolation, but rather they should be used in the context of all learning scenarios. 

Joe asks about the trouble with collective efficacy and why we don’t share practices for predictable learning environments. Mitch has a simple answer: too much isolation. 

The rhythm and routine of the day shouldn’t change. ~ Mitch Weathers 

Several times, Mitch mentions Visible Learning MetaX. All instructional leaders should know about this and how some strategies have larger effect sizes than others. 

You want to listen to Mitch describe the need for continuity in schools. 

Mitch says that when you pick a routine to implement, you should explore why. The rationale is as important as the strategy itself. 

Mitch mentions the following resources: Organized Binder and Teach Better’s Grid Method

Mitch talks about CTE being the future of secondary education. 

He tells us that too much of school is focused on content and teaching and not enough on the environment. 

Books that Mitch Weathers Mentions on FocusED

Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit 

Powerful Teaching by Patrice Bain and Pooja Agarwal 

Niche Down by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy

Related Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Our Leading Better and Growing Faster Podcast with Mitch Weathers

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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 10 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Suzanne Dailey

Season 5, Episode 10 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Suzanne Dailey

Teach Happier this School Year with Suzanne Dailey

This is Season 5, Episode 10 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Suzanne Dailey. Don’t miss what Suzanne has to say about teaching happier, gratitude, the brain, tons of book recommendations…and much more.

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Suzanne Dailey Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Suzanne Dailey has been a teacher for 22 years. She is currently an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District, where she has the honor and joy of working with over 500 elementary teachers and 8,000 students. 

She teaches model lessons, facilitates professional development sessions, and mentors teachers to be the best for the students in front of them. Suzanne is a Nationally Board Certified teacher, a fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a Masters’s Degree in Reading. 

She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher and presents these topics at the local, state, and national level. Suzanne is the author of Teach Happier this School Year: 40 Weeks of Inspiration & Reflection and the host of the popular weekly podcast, Teach Happier. You can follow Suzanne Dailey on X: @DaileySuzanne.

FocusED Show Notes with Suzanne Dailey

Suzanne starts off by defining that teaching happier is also coaching happier and leading happier. Happier is not about toxic positivity but rather contentment and alignment. 

When we feel happier as a person, we’re better coworkers, teachers, friends, etc. 

Suzanne talks about the research- behavioral psychology and neuroscience- and says that there are very specific strategies that we can use to be happier. 

Two practices she mentions early in the podcast are getting moving and practicing gratitude. 

Every good teacher sees the person behind the student. ~ Suzanne Dailey 

Don’t miss what Suzanne says about a leader’s ability to discern how each person is motivated. We were thrilled to hear her mention energy as something we need to manage. 

Suzanne talks about her work in the 4th largest school district in Pennsylvania and a document that the superintendent uses to celebrate staff. This is practical and can be used by anyone. 

She describes the book as broken into 40 small parts to be able to read a quick 2-3 pages per day and set goals. What are your weekly wins? Based on your reading, what will be your next right thing–2 degree shift in your thoughts, language, or actions? 

Teach Happier This School Year is now an ASCD bestseller. 

If you want to take care of the students, take care of the teachers. ~ Suzanne Dailey 

Because Suzanne mentions so many books and research, Joe asks about how she digests books to become practical in her life. Listen to her strategies. 

Suzanne calls for more books about people who work in spaces that care for others. She calls them “caregiving professions.” We can learn so much from people in these callings, and she says that the only way forward is to learn from them. 

Joe catches a nuance that Suzanne is an instructional coach, but she also works at the cabinet level in her district. 

Suzanne ends with her favorite impact, which is working with new teachers. 

Books that Suzanne Dailey Mentions on FocusED

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor 

Big Potential by Shawn Achor 

Atomic Habits by James Clear 

Strive: for Happiness in Education by Robert Dunlop

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown 

Related Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Learning to Lead Like a Teacher with Miriam Plotinsky

Inspiring Educators to Enjoy the Job They Once Loved with Debbie Silver

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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 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. 

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. 

Season 5, Episode 6 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Lee Roland

Season 5, Episode 6 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Lee Roland

Failure is Not an Option with Lee Roland

This is Season 5, Episode 6 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Lee Roland. 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 Lee Roland says about his journey as a school leader and radical change in schools.

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Lee Roland Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

 

Lee Roland has been a leader in education and the community for more than 35 years. He has served as a teacher, administrator, Board member, principal, Executive Director, and pastor. 

Lee is a passionate speaker, practical trainer, and dedicated advocate for a better future for all. His book, Fantastic Voyage, chronicles his journey of leadership and radical change at Tulakes Elementary. 

Voyage Consulting was born out of a desire to inspire, equip, and empower others to believe, pursue, and achieve equity and success for all individuals, especially children, in our community.

FocusED Show Notes with Lee Roland

Lee starts by talking about his own confidence with writing a book and the encouragement he got from others when they visited his school and wanted him to document what he was doing so that others could replicate it. 

Lee wants readers to take his content and make it their own. “Take what he says, personalize it, put your name on it,” he says. We have to borrow from one another. 

Joe asks a direct question about imposter syndrome and Lee’s thoughts about writing and publishing a book. 

Lee jumps into the need for a growth mindset. “We can build anything.” 

Lee talked about his early years, and that failure was never an option. People always have looked to him for inspiration, and he has embraced the charge. 

He talks about how the staff and community are looking to school leaders for hope. 

Lee isn’t shy to point out that there’s often an elephant in the room…race and poverty are two that we have to face. 

Wearing uniforms made a difference in a school where many of the students didn’t have regular outfits. This created a team feel.

Lee addressed the thoughts and motivation that come from fear…the fear of change. He encourages school leaders to work with “designated leaders” as well as “undesignated leaders.” 

Don’t miss what he says about building relationships. “We’ve heard it said, but we have to make deposits with people.” ~ Lee Roland 

One sentiment that we take away from his message is that we have to lead with our hearts. People can feel it, and it’s contagious. 

Joe underscores that fear presents itself, but it’s often not real. 

Lee encourages the concept of “collaborative leadership.” What he says reminds of the “shirtless dancing guy video.” 

You’ll want to hear what he says about the fact that educators often return to schools to work in a scene of a “non-crime” but the community is often returning to school as a “scene of a crime” that they remember when they were in school.    

Listen to what Lee says about being intentional with every single event that the school hosts. 

Lee says that we make things too complicated. Just think about a student who doesn’t come to school regularly and what can happen if we get them to come to school 5 more days this year than last. 

Students at Lee’s school received an effort grade every day. This was born out of a desperate love for them and making sure that everyone worked toward excellence. 

Teach them well from bell-to-bell. ~ Lee Roland 

Lee wants to see a whole-child approach to learning (some call it social and emotional learning), but Lee says that we need to address trauma. Plus, he wants the energy in a school to be about the students. Every Student: “I am the agenda.” 

He points to Ron Edmonds’ work.  

As a final point, he tells listeners to “lead with love.” No one can follow if you don’t lead first. 

Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

Black Students. Middle Class Teachers by Jawanza Kunjufu 

Balancing Care and High Expectations with Guest Joy Kelly 

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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.