What Every Principal Leader Ought to Know About Personal Development and the Power of A Mastermind Group

What Every Principal Leader Ought to Know About Personal Development and the Power of A Mastermind Group

Learn more about Danny Bauer

Daniel Bauer is an unorthodox Ruckus Maker who has mentored thousands of school leaders through his Better Leaders Better Schools blog, books, podcasts, and powerful coaching experiences. 

His new book, The Mastermind: Unlocking the Talent Within Every School Leader introduces a proprietary process called the ABCs of powerful professional development™ which is changing the landscape of how school leaders experience professional development. 

Key Thoughts from Our Interview with Danny Bauer

  • Danny wastes no time about the harsh reality that 90% of school leaders who leave their school, leave the profession. The cost of retention is too high, which is why joining a community of dedicated professionals is paramount.
  • Listen to Danny explore the imposter syndrome, how it limits our abilities, why it kicks in, and how we can push past our self-defeating behaviors when we are a part of the right community.
  • Danny shares a quote: What’s ordinary for you is extraordinary for me. ~ Derek Sivers. Check out entrepreneur and founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers, you won’t be disappointed.
  • A big part of the Mastermind process is the “hotseat” protocol. It’s where we challenge one another to do and be better. Listen to what Danny says about the collective IQ. 
  • What is Danny looking forward to? Eventually, he wants to serve 1200+ leaders in his Mastermind. This is where the interview gets very tangible, since Danny tells about what he learned from The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale.
  • Teaching others is what leads to his growth because it helps to make the learning stick. He is always looking for something that stretches his thinking. Check out the AltMBA, an investment that he made in his own leadership. 
  • Lastly, listen to what he says about “just cause.”

Let us know what you’re reading and who else you want us to bring on the show by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

The Number One Question Every Principal Leader Must Ask Before Spending ESSER Funds

The Number One Question Every Principal Leader Must Ask Before Spending ESSER Funds

Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are. ~ James W. Frick

Is Education Underfunded? 

This question is rhetorical. It’s a fun one to discuss for fireside chats and dinner table debates. On one side, we would argue that education is underfunded, making the case that teacher pay needs improvements and many schools need infrastructure repairs. On the other side, an argument might be made that such a large bureaucratic industrial complex has excess and waste where accountability should be improved, if not a systemic overhaul. 

This post isn’t intended to address the concern with educational funding formulas, although we wrote about the need for teacher salary changes in our newest book. The point here, rather, is to help leaders with decision-making about the funds they do have, including the new installments of ESSER money. School leaders must be good stewards and understand how to turn available resources into transformational change.  

The number one question that every leader must ask before spending any dollar in any school is this: how will this purchase build the capacity of the people to do the work in the future? 

One argument that we do make regarding education and spending is that we don’t always do the best job with sustainability, especially when our funding streams have expiration dates. Quick fixes that promise to make a difference or mend a gap are attractive. These promises, coupled with our deep desire to make things better, get us into trouble when we want to buy something that we can’t afford and sustain over the long haul. It’s why schools fall into what we call the Lilypad Effect–long-term visions supported by short-term solutions, where we jump from one initiative to the other as resources become available or a change in administration is rampant. This only results in initiative-fatigue and disillusionment with leadership at the school, district, state, and federal level. Now, with the initiation of ESSER funds, we have great potential to improve our schools, but we need to be careful about how we spend the money. There are many lessons we learned from No Child Left Behind and the installments of money that many schools received.The number one way that you can make sure that your ESSER funds are sustainable is to use them to build capacity.  

What is ESSER and How Will Funds Be Distributed?

The following excerpt was taken directly from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Congress set aside approximately $13.2 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). Signed into law on March 20, 2021, the Department awarded these grants ­to State educational agencies (SEAs) for the purpose of providing local educational agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the Nation.

https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/elementary-secondary-school-emergency-relief-fund/

You can get a state-by-state breakdown of the funding allocations from the National Conference of State Legislatures and a popular example of how funds are being distributed and reported upon can be found at the California Department of Education website. The bottom line is that the money is provided through a grant program, and as far as anyone can tell, the dollars run out after they’re spent over the next two year period. 

We Did Your School Funding Homework for You

At this point, you might be scratching your temple. Asking yourself: how do I build capacity for the sake of sustainability? It’s a great question. It’s why we break down school funding–all school funding–into three primary spending buckets. It doesn’t matter from which budget you’re spending, you should think of your pot of money in these three ways: 

Spend Your Money By Paying Your People

If you ask us what the best money spent on teaching and learning in schools is, we’ll always say “people” first. Whether it’s paying someone to run your after school programs or overtime for custodians to do a deeper clearing in the summer, your money is well spent on people. Here’s a tip: for the sake of sustainability, think about your people as builders. Even if you can’t buy a program in perpetuity, you can buy people on timesheets to build something (a program or resource) that can outlast any contractor you might be able to afford for the short term. 

Spend Your Money on Resources for Your People

One of the number one things that people cite as the reason they’re grumpy at work is that they don’t have the resources necessary to do their jobs well. If you’ve ever been in classroom where the teacher hung showerboard on the walls because she wanted white boards but the school couldn’t afford them, then you know what we’re talking about. It’s too common of a problem in education, but if you start to think about your budget as having only these three levers, you’ll put more money in this bucket then you might have before. Here’s a tip: when we say “resources,” we’re not necessarily talking about learning resources but the actual physical resources that teachers need to be at their best. 

Spend Your Money on Professional Learning Experiences for Your People

When budgets get tight, the first line item that districts look to cut is professional learning experiences. Bad idea and unnecessary. When budgets are tight, the best place to invest is in your people. In learning cultures, professional learning never gets cut; it might become creative, but it’s set as a core value rather than just a spending item. Growing people is the responsibility of the leader and that should always be a top priority. Professional learning experiences likely have the highest ROI for retention, capacity-building, and sustaining a positive school culture than any other item we can list. Here’s a tip: conduct a professional learning survey to find out the areas and aspects of each person’s role where they want to grow and become stronger in the next 3-5 years. 

The Top Five Ways to Spend Your ESSER Funds

All five of the following resources are investments in people so that your ESSER funds, even after they run out, are sustainable through the new and improved skills that staff will gain from implementation. Note: we are not currently sponsored nor do we accept direct payment from any of these sources. We believe in them as good decisions for where to spend money in education. 

Enroll Yourself or a School Leader Who You Support in a Mastermind Program 

When leaders get better, everyone they serve benefits. That’s the core tenet of Danny Bauer’s Mastermind in terms of a theory of action. Mastermind groups have been a way to sharpen skills through the use of like-minded yet diverse collection of leaders for centuries. These groups meet on a recurring and regular basis to learn from one another and present problems of practice that we either all have in common or that one or more people have already solved for themselves. Danny, who wrote Better Leaders Better Schools also just released Mastermind, which explains the ample rewards of being in a Mastermind. 

Consider using COVID19 relief funds to join a Mastermind group for professional learning for either yourself as a principal or a leader you support (principal or assistant principal). You can typically pay off a Mastermind in one chunk for the year versus a monthly fee so these funds, even though they expire, are a good way to invest in leadership. Making a leadership investment is sustainable, versus buying a program that you can’t afford when the money runs out, because your leadership growth will not expire. There are other groups besides Better Leaders Better Schools, but we like Danny’s model as an example of a Mastermind that we know works for school leaders. 

Support Teachers and Students as They Return to In-Person Instruction with Organized Binder

Organized Binder is a proven system that equips educators with a protocol to create predictable learning routines. From goal setting to retrieval practice, OB helps both teachers and students get and stay organized. OB is a tactile resource that supports all kinds of learning needs, including career and technical education, students with disabilities, core instruction, and the overall success of any student. We like it because it supports the research regarding cognitive science and self-efficacy (among other features), and it builds habits and routines that are transferable in any aspect of life where you need to use organization skills.

Organized Binder is a wonderful use of ESSER, ELO (if in CA), Title 1, and CTE funds. For reasons that include learning loss, when students return to school, parents will thank you if every student has an Organized Binder for each of their classes.

Enroll Your New Teachers in a New Teacher Mastermind 

For similar reasons as we mentioned above, enrolling new teachers into a Mastermind has tons of benefits. There may not be any more vulnerable group than teachers who started their careers just before, during, or right after the pandemic hit. Any teacher new to the profession was already susceptible to burnout, but being a new teacher during a crisis is a crisis. The solution is a new teacher Mastermind group where they won’t suffer from isolation and fear of not being good enough. 

We like the Teacher Off Duty model because we’ve seen it work. It’s all about getting new teachers together in a support group to solve problems and lean on one another when the going gets tough. We consider this a retention strategy as well as an acceleration strategy for new teachers’ skills. Whatever you do, consider using ESSER funds to support new teachers; they need our help, and we simply cannot afford to lose teachers over the next few years.  

Purchase TeachFX for Your Schools to Improve Student Discourse  

TeachFX is a great resource for any size school or budget because their pricing isn’t fixed (meaning they’ll work with you on your specific needs), and they don’t just provide a tool; they offer professional development. If you don’t know about TeachFX, the simple explanation is that they invented a technology that tracks the percentages of classroom time dedicated to student versus teacher talk. In other words, the software, when used by a teacher, generates data regarding how much time students get to talk throughout a lesson. Used for everything from reflecting on the types of questions teachers are asking to the equity of the demographics of the learners who are doing most of the talking, we can’t say enough about the benefits of implementing TeachFX

ESSER funds are a perfect way to get started with TeachFX and getting kids talking in the classroom is going to be even harder after the pandemic when they may come back with a hint of shyness and in a time when teachers might feel like they need to “cover” so much unlearned content. TeachFX can give your staff the data to slow down, ask the right questions, provide needed think-time, and let the kids handle the rest. Let’s all work to give our students the voice they deserve in every classroom. If your school or district is talking about SEL and equity, like so many are around the country, take a look at this tool.  

Build a Brain-Based Teaching and Learning Library of Resources for Teachers 

We don’t believe that there is enough emphasis in education–from teacher prep to professional learning–on the concepts being studied by cognitive and neuro scientists. For students to truly retain what they’ve learned, teachers need to implement the strategies that the brain research indicates have the highest effect sizes on memory. With that said, schools shouldn’t wait to begin exploring the science by building a library of resources for teachers. “Learning loss” isn’t just mitigated by extra time programs and online platforms. A stronger, better equipped, teacher for every student when they return is a great place to invest. 

We recommend only the books that we curate from the lists we have in our own libraries. There are three titles that we believe all schools should be reading to support teacher development. 

Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning by Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain 

Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham 

Make It Stick by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel 

All three are fantastic books for educators. We listed them from most practical to most scientific. They all dive deep into the science of learning, but Powerful Teaching is very teacher-friendly, Why Don’t Students Like School? will challenge your conventions, and Make It Stick explains very complex research in a digestible way. Read them for different reasons, but read all three.  

The Next Big Thing with School Funding 

Consider multi-year contracts. Because ESSER funds are frontloaded and then expire, for the sake of sustainability, consider multi-year contracts for support and services. For example, you can buy slots for Mastermind groups and if you don’t use them, you can save them for future dates. You can also buy someone a Mastermind experience and pay for 24 months rather than 12. For a teacher who plans to use a class set of Organized Binder, consider buying 3 years worth of the materials. TeachFX can be purchased on a multi-year contract. Finally, and especially in this case, anywhere you plan to work with a trainer or consultant, consider stretching the contact out to gain access to their host of implementation strategies over a period of years rather than months. Sustainability is an issue in education because we think of money and spending in terms of fiscal years; it’s time for that to change and ESSER is the best place to start.

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. 
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.

Exploring the Work of John Dewey and How He Impacted the World in the Wake of Covid19

Exploring the Work of John Dewey and How He Impacted the World in the Wake of Covid19

The Information Age and Principal Leadership 

We live in a time that has been deemed the “information age.” Some argue that in the 21st Century we can be exposed to more information in one week than those who lived in the 17th Century would be exposed to in their entire lives. In many ways that makes our mere existence more challenging as we look to lead our schools effectively. We need discrete skills that enable us to process and filter an abundance of information. Knowing how to discern and weed through all of the channels in order to make sound decisions is a marquee skill of any effective principal. That skill needs to be coupled with another critical and complementary skill, which is knowing how to apply that knowledge in actionable and strategic ways. 

Who is John Dewey and How Did He Impact the World?

Effective principal leaders know how to synthesize information and apply it to the unique needs of their schools. 

This is what brought us back to the work of John Dewey this month. We wanted to study the claims that Dewey might have made about teaching and learning during COVID19. And, we explore this in our 302 Thoughts this month.

Taking what we’ve learned and experienced from the pandemic, we sought to embark on a tried and true classroom practice: problem based learning. We focus on the good that can come from such a tumultuous time in education. We wanted to add an abstract element to spark creativity, so we did our best to filter our ideas through the powerful lens of the great educational reformer, John Dewey.

Critical Ideas from our 302 Thoughts: Student-Centered Learning  

  1. Students and teachers need support in multiple ways and beyond just learning in the classroom. As humans we are confronted with challenges that stifle and limit teaching and learning. Great principals need to understand, recognize, and build support for students and teachers.
    1. A Creative Way to Support Students
      1. Affinity Groups
    2. A Creative Way to Support Teachers
      1. Faculty-led before or after school wellness classes (such as yoga).  
  2. Engagement is everything. Students need to be engaged in the classroom and teachers need to be engaged in their departments and the school as a whole.
    1. A Creative Way to Engage Students
      1. Require students to create questions, not answers, on what is being learned. Stoke their creativity.
    2. A Creative Way to Engage Teachers
      1. Ask them to specifically identify the professional learning experiences that they want.
  3. Opportunities are found in the right mindset. Going through the last year and not learning from all of our trials would be an injustice to our school system.
    1. A Creative Way to Provide Opportunities for Students
      1. Continue to employ the various instructional tools and supports that helped students learn (stay tuned for our ESSER focused blog next month). 
    2. A Creative Way to Provide Opportunities for Teachers
      1. Create ad hoc groups to determine the aspects of hybrid and remote learning that should not be discontinued.

Ultimately, it is up to us to decide if we will learn from the great thinkers and reformers of the past and capitalize on the opportunities of today, no matter what form they take. COVID19 was completely unexpected, and it certainly upended our educational system. Let’s take advantage of what we accomplished and the lessons we learned thus far.

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. Next month, we go live with our first ever open audience 302 Thoughts; we hope to see you there.  

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. 

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. 

Mindset is Everything: How To Handle Every Student Support Challenge this Upcoming School Year w/ Guest LaVonna Roth

Mindset is Everything: How To Handle Every Student Support Challenge this Upcoming School Year w/ Guest LaVonna Roth

Learn More About LaVonna Roth

As a former elementary and secondary educator, keynote speaker, author, consultant and mom, LaVonna bridges her passion for how the brain learns with education and shows every individual how to S.H.I.N.E. through their mindset and social-emotional well-being so achievement soars for all. 

She has a Bachelor’s and two Master’s Degrees, taught at the elementary and secondary levels, author of 8 books (about to be 9), and has worked with educators in the U.S./Canada, Europe, South America and the Middle East.  She is the founder of the Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.® framework and creator of brain-powered learning.  To elevate educators further, LaVonna teaches educators how to get into educational consulting – part-time or full-time – through her Prime to S.H.I.N.E. consulting course and membership site. 

She will leave you inspired, remembering why you got into education, and how to create substantial change in your classroom, district or organization that is sustainable. She is here to serve you, so you can effectively serve your students through the lens of brain research, social-emotional needs and psychological safety. 

Key Thoughts from Our Interview with LaVonna Roth

  • LaVonna discussed how the pandemic didn’t come with a manual and how we should be careful with the language we use, such as lost year, lost learning. 
  • “We need to take a step back and understand what just happened over the last year and a half. We need to survive to thrive, and we need space to transition.” 
  • Don’t miss the key strategies she provides for when students return. This reminded us of Dan Sullivan’s book, Who Not How. LaVonna clearly establishes who should be at the table.
  • Lavonna talked about how educators need to have age appropriate conversations. Check out her free SEL resources
  • LaVonna uses a structured way to look at situations, and she asks very specific questions: “What was the lesson, benefit, or takeaway?” 
  • LaVonna talks about psychological sciences and cognitive psychology. She points to books from ASCD. We also recommend taking a look at Make It Stick, Powerful Teaching, and a company called TeachFX
  • Don’t miss LaVonna’s personal hacks for self-care. Become aware of your thoughts. Check out, also, a great book on this topic, Chatter, by Ethan Kross.
  • LaVonna wants to slow down a bit…listen to what she says about it. It reminded us of Essentialism
  • LaVonna combines learning with self-care to continue to grow as a leader. You’ll want to hear this. 
  • Her final segment was powerful, vulnerable, and relatable for those of us who struggle with imposter-syndrome and the value we seek to add. 

Let us know what you’re reading and who else you want us to bring on the show by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

PS — Sign up for our next Masterclass in Candid and Compassionate Feedback and our first ever Masterclass in Building a Winning Team. 

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. 

Support, Opportunities, and Engagement: 3 Claims that John Dewey Would Make About Learning During the Covid-19, 2020-2021 School Year

Support, Opportunities, and Engagement: 3 Claims that John Dewey Would Make About Learning During the Covid-19, 2020-2021 School Year

Looking at Learning through A John Dewey Lens 

Such happiness as life is capable of comes from the full participation of all our powers in the endeavor to wrest from each changing situation of experience its own full and unique meaning. ~ John Dewey

When many educators hear the words: reformer, progressive, whole child, etc. their minds are immediately drawn to the profound work of John Dewey, Columbia University Philosophy Professor. A cofounder of pragmatism, a philosophy that embraced utility and action, Dewey’s thoughts on education centered on engagement and interaction for both the teacher and the student. This post focuses on what we believe Dewey would glean from this incredible school year to advance teaching and learning in a post-pandemic era. 

Our Favorite John Dewey Quote 

The quote above centers on the happiness that is found when we uncover “unique meaning” in what we experience, no matter how challenging. His claim is that if we are fully invested in what is occurring and we “wrest” from the changes and challenges, we will learn and grow. In fact, we will be happy. It is actually our struggle during times of change and the outcomes thereafter that lead to our contentment. The paradox is that many believe that happiness is a derivative of comfort, and the opposite is true. 

Can We Find Happiness Because of What We Learned During Covid19?

Over the past school year, two words that we have not often heard associated with one another are Covid and happiness. And, although we won’t follow Alice down the rabbit hole regarding the meaning and history of happiness, we do want to identify that happiness, in this context, is a state of being that occurs when someone experiences meaningfulness and worthy contribution. 

For more on the concept of happiness, visit the Greater Good Magazine for tons of information and resources.

Now that we are emerging from Covid19 in a post-vaccinated society, we wanted to reflect on the past school year through the lens of a renowned education reformer, John Dewey. Our hope is that we can find happiness and success from what we’ve learned. If we can, then we will make significant strides in education. 

Forced Change Due to a Crisis 

This year was challenging on many levels. Covid19 either disrupted your life, or worse yet, imposed devastating outcomes. As for the educational workforce, everyone within the system experienced significant challenges through forced change. At TheSchoolHouse302, we consider forced change to be beyond the realm of our control and something that we must respond to  accordingly using resilience and flexibility. 

Forced change is beyond the realm of our control; we must respond and adapt to it in order to continue to effectively teach and learn. ~ TheSchoolHouse302 @TSH302 Click To Tweet

Change happens all the time. It can be foreseeable or not, welcome or forced. Changes in education often come from the Federal Government or from an outside interest group. But a change due to a pandemic is something that no one expects or sees coming. The bottom line is that regardless of where the change comes from, schools and school personnel must change to the degree equivalent to the strength and potency of the change itself. The problem with Covid and the educational community is the degree of change that is required. The difficulty of this school year wasn’t due to another change initiative but to the dominance that Covid possessed. We aren’t talking about new standards or legislation on high quality early learning services, we were, and still are, dealing with a complete upheaval to how we traditionally operate schooling. 

Educators worked hard through the end of the 2019/2020 school year in the best possible way to educate students to the best of our ability given the unprecedented worldwide reaction to the virus. But, once teachers and leaders realized that there was a strong possibility of not returning to in-person learning in 2020/2021, mindsets had to shift to embrace the virtual learning reality.

As the primary place where students learn became off limits because of social distancing, whether completely, partially, or intermittently, school buildings were no longer the center of where learning needed to take place. This forced change had incredible ramifications, many of which were cause for absenteeism, increased rates of failure, and learning loss. However, amid the challenges of the forced change, there exists the triumph of a year whereby many of the educational values that John Dewey espoused were put into place and embraced faster than had we not experienced a crisis.  

Let’s be clear, we could all easily fall back into our traditional way of doing things if we are not intentional or if we fail to reflect on what we’ve learned during these trying times. We look to the educational vision of a man who was born in 1859, but that vision, albeit more than a century old, is often absent from today’s student experience. We are now able to ask ourselves: what are the claims that John Dewey would make about the post-pandemic educational system that we should embrace for the advancement of teaching and learning? 

3 Claims that John Dewey Would Likely Make About Teaching and Learning as the Result of Covid19

John Dewey Claim #1: 21st Century Schools are the Central Hubs of Our Community

One glaring truth that emerged from Covid19 is that schools are the centers of our communities. We could argue that churches and other organizations were once a central space to reach the community, but, throughout Covid19, schools were the community institutions that were used to reach, communicate, support, feed, and aid our students and families. 

This is primarily due to the simple ease of connection that schools have with every child. The incredible community centers and outreach programs throughout Covid often needed a place to reach the greater community, and one way to quickly get in touch with people was through school communication systems all the way down to teacher rosters and district pupil services.  

Dewey claimed that a critical responsibility of education is to provide a social service that will lead to social progress. During Covid, schools shifted quickly to include social and emotional learning, prioritized standards, mental health centers, medical resources, and more. Faster than ever, schools realized Dewey’s vision for re-imagining what a classroom looks like and provides for students. 

Next Steps From What we’ve Learned from Covid19: 

Similar to the efforts of 211, which combines and harnesses community resources, schools can also be a conduit of resources and services within the community. The stark reality is that many students are suffering both mentally and emotionally and have very specific needs that the school itself is not necessarily equipped to handle. Schools are fundamentally places of learning and any responsibilities beyond that need extensive support. This is not to say that schools cannot serve these students, actually it’s just the opposite. 

Schools can curate the potential services within the community and create a system to connect families to services as needed. With a synthesized list of community services, counselors and other support staff will know where to send families for the help they need. Anything from flu shots to food drives, schools that know the available resources become the hub that Dewey intended the school to be. 

John Dewey Claim #2: Meaningful Student Engagement and Learning Must Take on Many Forms and be Evaluated Routinely and Often 

The amount of problem solving and concerted effort to educate students throughout Covid was simply amazing. It’s important to note that these weren’t necessarily new efforts but that the intensity of the efforts were significantly elevated. This is also not to say that it was all a success but the level of experimentation and risk-taking taught us what to do and not do faster than ever before. The review of student performance data and other sources of information to evaluate what works, what doesn’t, and what to try next is an outcome of the pandemic that we hope educators will stick to for the future of schooling.

Whether it was making sure that students attended classes by reviewing work samples or trying new and dynamic virtual tools, educators increased the frequency and review of data to determine if students were learning and engaged. One key realization during Covid that Dewey would agree with is that schools cannot take for granted that a student’s “presence” equals engagement and learning. New products and features of in-person and virtual learning need to include evidence and subsequent data analysis.  

Next Steps from What We’ve Learned from Covid19: 

Student engagement was a central aspect of Dewey’s work. Students need to be meaningfully engaged in learning and the meaning of the lesson. The challenge is in separating the activity from the teacher–the practicality of instruction and the task of the student. At the end of the day, marking period, semester, and year, it really comes down to whether or not the students learned and progressed through a series of tasks to get there. 

Because Covid19 was so bizarre and the obstacles were so high, we witnessed teachers repeatedly trying new things until they settled into what made sense for students. Learning was the primary objective and teachers embraced this idea due to a setting that was so different. This effort to learn and take risks on the part of the teacher as well as the demonstration of grace as it pertains to grades are two key ingredients for success moving forward.  

John Dewey Claim #3: Teachers Deserve and Need Robust Support and Learning Opportunities

In a short amount of time, teachers’ knowledge and expertise regarding technology and various platforms skyrocketed. Pre-covid, many schools were doing great work in regard to providing technology to staff and students, capitalizing on various learning tools, and supporting the technology with a solid infrastructure. But schools were very patient with staff and willingly measured progress slowly with no real rush. Early adopters soared, while school administrators supported and approved our instructors who needed more time.

Covid eliminated the freedom of a casual timeline, and teachers were forced to learn the tools and do so fast. Granted, it was frustrating and unrelenting, but the growth was amazing. From tools like Seesaw for interactive learning to various Google platforms, teachers revolutionized their classroom in zero time flat. Much of what we saw was that our early adopters and subject matter experts pumped out learning opportunities to catch others up.  

Next Steps from What We’ve Learned from Covid19:

Differentiate professional learning (PL) is not a new concept but one that needs to take hold in every school and district. Teachers’ skill sets vary and PL needs to be offered in a variety of different formats and times. Every school should be equipped with one room dedicated to learning new technologies. Handing over tech to teachers and expecting transformational teaching in the classroom without support is an unacceptable practice. Teachers should have the opportunity to identify the challenges and struggles they are facing from classroom management to engaging instructional practices and receive PL in real time. We wrote about this concept, comparing a learning culture to a teaching culture, in Passionate Leadership. What we learned from Covid19 that Dewey would love to know is that we can speed up not only the learning of our students but that of our teachers. 

We herald John Dewey’s prgressive ideas and his thoughts on teaching and learning. The notion of learning as a process that requires active participation is not anything new as we type these words, but the question in front of us today is how well are we doing it across every system? Dewey professed that we can find happiness amid every situation, and we believe that we can transform education through the challenges overcome throughout Covid19. The spirit of reaching every child and transforming our practices to bend toward the needs of every student will guide us and serve us well for centuries to come. A forced change may be exactly what education needed and now we must move forward with what we’ve learned.  

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, & SoundCould. 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. 
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.

Rules Not To Follow To End The School Year On A High Note: What Every Principal Needs to Know

Rules Not To Follow To End The School Year On A High Note: What Every Principal Needs to Know

The school year, especially May, is a busy time of year for everyone. Add on to this reality the Covid19 pandemic and we are faced with a recipe of fatigue, frustration, and possibly a dollop of uncertainty. We want to acknowledge these feelings and actually put them on the table to be known. By acknowledging how we feel and what we are experiencing, we begin to exercise a level of control.

As Echart Tolle reminds us, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” It is ok to be tired, to desire normalcy and desire a routine. Great principals understand this reality and use this energy to positively end the school year on a high note. 

We know from Dan Kahnemann’s work that finishing the school year strong and successfully is paramount. No matter how challenging this year was, educational leaders have the ability to leave a favorable and lasting positive impression on all of their teachers. What is terrific is that regardless of how challenging the year was, these final moments  are what will be remembered throughout the summer. Yes, this year has been tough but there is no doubt that this was a year of triumph, so celebrate.

Take note as we close out the school year to recognize the great things that have happened. Actually, take some risks and pull a page out of the book of Krasinki and feature Some Good News. Why not start a daily YouTube video featuring the terrific work that’s been accomplished. 

In education, we live by a few unwritten and untold rules that bind us to a world of caution. We are not suggesting being reckless but rather demonstrating unbridled and unique appreciation and gratitude. We hold back because we worry about precedence and opinion, but now is not the time to sit back, but to step forward and truly appreciate others. 

We are not in any way suggesting that this year wasn’t tough and that the road ahead won’t be filled with challenges. What we are saying is that at the end of the year we need to connect with everyone on the staff, continue to be consistent and present, communicate often, and celebrate!

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, & SoundCould. 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. 

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