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

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.

_________________________________________

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

_________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________

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

_________________________________________

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. 

Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe & TJ: Guest Curtiss Murphy Talks about What Makes Great Managers Great

Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe & TJ: Guest Curtiss Murphy Talks about What Makes Great Managers Great

About Curtiss Murphy

Curtiss Murphy has spent 32 years as a software engineer (20 of those years in games and gaming and twelve years building educational games. He spent 3 summers hosting the NSF’s Edugaming workshop and six years as a professor of game design at Laguna College of Art and Design (for their Game Design MFA program). 

He has a few dozen minor publications/chapters. He’s an award-winning speaker, author, and game designer. He’s been on 21 episodes of the podcast Game Design Zen. He’s currently the VP of Engineering at a Mobile Game Studio.

He is the recent author of What Makes Great Managers Great: How to Raise Engagement, Give Feedback, and Answer the Questions No One’s Asking.

What You’ll Find in this Episode with Curtiss Murphy

Curtiss starts by flipping the show back to Joe and T.J. with a question about why they would want to have an “outsider” from education on the show. Listen to hear about comfort zones, learn from new people, and seek alternative perspectives. That’s what Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and TJ is all about. 

Curtiss simply says it, many managers are doing it wrong. His story will resonate with you as he admits that he once was one as well. Don’t miss what he says about how it all changed for him.

You want to hear what he says about medical errors and deaths based on miscommunication. 

He talks about going from 5 people to 40 and what management practices have done to increase performance on his team. 

The number one premise to start with as a leader is that there’s confusion everywhere. ~ Curtiss Murphy 

Tune in to hear why we must always be clarifying expectations. 

Joe asks about “safety and making people feel safe at work.” 

Reminder for school leaders: Whatever we do impacts our employees. Don’t miss what Curtiss says about “not enough” in this category. 

Curtiss looks for inspiration from his wife (and he tells us that we can’t have her). 

He talks about being a nerd by trade and using the rules of improv (we wrote about this in 7 Mindshifts for School Leaders). Three rules: (1) accept everything, (2) use yes, and (3) make your co-workers and partners look good. 

Curtiss wants to learn to be calm, be in the moment, and slow down his sense of urgency. 

He focuses on praising people for supporting the behaviors that he wants them to repeat. 

Curtiss used to think that his job was just to empower people; he learned to empower the skill, not the person. 

His final thought: leadership = influencing others through trusting relationships.  

 

The Leading Better & Growing Faster with Joe & T.J. Show

Let us know if there’s a guest who you want us to have on the show by leaving a comment below or by contacting us at contact@dereka206.sg-host.com. And don’t miss our leadership content updates every week by subscribing to the site.

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J. 

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.

_________________________________________

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 

_________________________________________

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 5 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Don Parker

Season 5, Episode 5 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Don Parker

Be The Driving Force in Your School with Don Parker

This is Season 5, Episode 5 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Don Parker. 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 Don Parker says about being the driving force in your school, and so much more.

_________________________________________

Don Parker Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

 

Dr. Don Parker is a transformational keynote speaker and professional development provider. He specializes in SEL, supporting teachers to build trusting relationships with students, restorative practices, trauma-informed practices, and improving the culture and climate of schools to enhance students’ and teachers’ feelings of belonging.

Dr. Parker is a former principal and served at Posen School in Posen, IL, where he improved the school climate, staff collaboration, parent engagement, and student achievement. 

Before that, he was the principal of Lincoln Avenue School, a K-8 school in Dolton, IL, where he improved the culture, implemented a resilience program, managed the implementation of restorative justice, and increased attendance and student achievement. 

Dr. Parker has a strong belief in creating a school climate in which the entire staff strives for excellence to meet the academic and social emotional needs of each student. He has presented throughout the United States at distinguished educational conferences, including ASCD, the Every Student Succeeds Act Conference, the National Principals Conference, the Illinois Principals Conference, the Oklahoma Secondary and Elementary Conference, the Raising Student Achievement Conference, the Transforming School Culture Conference, the Innovative Schools Summit, just to name a few.

Dr. Parker is the author of the book Building Bridges: Engaging Students At-Risk Through the Power of Relationships and Be the Driving Force: Leading Your School on the Road to Equity. Follow Dr. Don Parker on Twitter: @DrDonParker1.

FocusED Show Notes with Don Parker

Don starts with the fact that equity issues aren’t new. The achievement gap has been static for too long. Don says that leaders are driving this work or pumping the brakes. 

Don says that equity work starts at the top. 

Don talks about the fact that people will follow a person before they follow a cause.  

Don’t miss what he says about sharing data to create a sense of urgency. We need to take an honest look at our practices and start the conversation with empathy. 

Don talked about the fact that 72% of students feel that they need social and emotional support but don’t get it. 

We need to take an inventory of our academic support to ensure that we’re reaching all students. 

Don says that we often make assumptions about the community and what they need, but the better strategy is to ask them. Are our family engagement and education strategies targeting what the community needs? 

Dr. Parker says that we need to use surveys more often to gather information about what our families want from the school, maybe there’s something they think we should be providing that we’re (even though we can). 

His story about a family who had a food deficit is inspirational. 

If Don could improve every school, he would make sure every student felt valued in the school environment. His water bottle analogy is incredible. 

Don talks about strategies to create belonging and says that it’s not rocket science. 

“99% of education is encouragement.” ~ Don Parker

Don tells our audience to listen to podcasts, go to conferences, and read books. He names Anthony Muhammad’s book, Transforming School Culture.  

Joe asked if anyone outside of education inspired Don, and he pointed to a touching story about his uncle. 

Don mentions the leadership of Barack Obama and overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. Find out what Don believes are the skills that Obama used to be successful. 

He wants to see more on the topic of educator empathy…how to be more empathetic for the sake of our students. We came up with this title for a future book, The Empathetic Educator

As final words, Don talked about the professional development that he’s doing around the country and how he helps educators to work better with students who have trauma in their lives.

Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

Two books that we recommend on the topic of social and emotional learning.

_________________________________________

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.