Two Books You Have To Read To Make An Immediate Impact On Your Leadership

Two Books You Have To Read To Make An Immediate Impact On Your Leadership

Growing as a leader is a professional choice. The challenge is that trying to grow during a storm, or in the case of the last year and a half, a pandemic is difficult. Typically, in a storm, we seek shelter and hunker down to wait it out. Although this is great survival behavior, it’s not good leadership practice. Principal leaders, district leaders, and others in leadership roles do not have the luxury of waiting anything out and playing it safe until a time when things are easier. Actually, it’s just the opposite. The leader has to move forward in the storm and brave the elements. 

The two books that we feature this month will help leaders do just that–move forward by braving the elements. Consistent with our theme this month both books can be viewed through the lens of growing through the grind. Our first book, The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas, was chosen because leadership success rises and falls on influence. During these times, leaders need the skill set to effectively persuade others to positively move forward, even when they are scared, worried, and uncertain. 

This book really is a relationship book. Richard Shell and Mario Mousa brilliantly break down the four steps to how Woo works.

  • Survey Your Situation
  • Confront the Five Barriers
  • Make Your Pitch
  • Secure Your Commitments

What’s refreshing is that the authors describe the steps in great detail throughout the book and remind us that the four pieces of the puzzle are always a progression. Don’t miss our interview with one of the authors, Richard Shell

Featured Author: Richard Shell and Mario Moussa

 

Featured Book: The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas

The second featured book this month is The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace. We chose this book because it focuses on culture, and leaders need to constantly tend to the culture of their school or business. Culture building isn’t an event, it’s a full-time experience. This book spends time on you as a leader and how you are responsible for the school’s culture and how you cannot leave it to “chance.” Lastly, the book finishes strong by demonstrating the need to have everything aligned to the overall purpose and vision. Check it out!

Featured Author: S. Chris Edmonds

Featured Book: The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace


Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at
contact@theschoolhouse302.com. And don’t miss our leadership newsletter every week by subscribing on the site. 

 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

 

Joe & T.J.

 

This blog post 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. 

This episode of our ReadThisSeries 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. 

Growing Through the Grind: 5 Strategies for Staying Focused in a Chaotic Environment for Principal Leaders

Growing Through the Grind: 5 Strategies for Staying Focused in a Chaotic Environment for Principal Leaders

As avid beach lovers and goers, we often look toward nature and how it relates to leadership. There are so many correlations and lessons that can be learned, as long as we are willing to take a closer look than what meets the eye. Our favorite spot here in Delaware is Coin Beach, located just across from a kayaker’s dream, Savages Ditch.

Like so many fascinating and harrowing sea stories, the Shipwreck of the Faithful Steward ran aground after it pushed inland due to storms. Eventually it capsized, taking the lives of 181 passengers. The ship was full of coin-filled barrels that were deposited into the ocean and are said to wash ashore in heavy storms, giving the shoreline name, Coin Beach. Every fall, on the East Coast, we are hit with some incredible storms that range in force and aggression, all with the power to change the course of a ship at sea.

Although we may not be in an actual hurricane as we lead our schools, Covid19 can easily be categorized for the education community as a Category 5. It’s creating what feels like chaos, making our normally difficult challenges even greater and sending us spinning with less of a focus than we would like to have in our roles as school leaders. 

The critical question that we all must ask amidst the pandemic is this: how do we keep our boat–our schools and districts–on course? The short answer: goal setting. At the surface, this may seem trite. But, well-developed, meaningful, and integrated goals serve as beacons, guiding us through any stormy weather. They offer direction, a sense of calm, and even peace. 

The issue is that it’s not enough to just write down your goals on paper and hope the power of the universe brings them into existence. And, trust us, we believe in the infinite potential of our human meditative and cerebral capabilities. That said, ambitious goals are only unstoppable after you write them down and then take action to reach them, no matter the circumstances ahead of us. 

There’s no doubt that the current times are a grind, maybe even chaotic. Yes, teaching and leading in schools through Covid19 is…wait for it…unprecedented. We honor that as the truth, and we also know that leading schools in times of change is nothing new. Michael Fullan wrote Leading in a Culture of Change (the first edition) in 2001. This means that there are proven strategies for making sure that you continue to grow when work and life are a grind and that we have to learn to remain focused, even when the chaos looms. The strategies below are meant to help you during Covid and beyond. 

Putting Your Vision to the Test 

The first thing that leaders should do is ask 4 simple questions regarding their vision:

  1. Does the statement communicate what you desire to accomplish? 
  2. Does the statement communicate who you want the work to benefit?
  3. Does the statement communicate why it is important for stakeholders?
  4. Does the statement convey your purpose or the purpose of the organization?

Again, we want to acknowledge that in many ways the conversation regarding the importance of a school’s or organization’s vision is misguided and artificial. We aim to correct that by offering that the vision of an organization is the fulcrum for decision-making and the basis for accountability.  Figure 1 is a quick way to put your school or district’s vision to the test and determine which side of the chart it lives. Is it hokey and too wordy or is it concise and inspiring? Vision statements should reside in the hearts and minds of those within the organization, not just on a wall or letterhead.

Figure 1

As you can see in Figure 2, we use Google, Facebook, Patagonia, and Nordstrom to demonstrate very vivid vision statements. You might like or dislike the purpose of these organizations, but their statements encapsulate their essence. They do what they say and they say what they do. That’s how a highly effective vision statement should be–both in terms of what we’re communicating with the statement and how much accountability it holds for keeping us centered when times seem disastrous. 

Figure 2

Leading with Your Values 

Richard Shell told us that leaders need to be resilient when they face a value-conflict scenario in life. Inevitably, leaders will be tested with decisions that could go against their core beliefs. Dr. Shell said that when people face challenges to their integrity, they need to ask one simple question: what would a person of conscience do? And, a good answer isn’t to flee or fight back. That’s too basic of an instinct. Our response should be to stop and listen to our own internal sense of right and wrong. 

But even without a value-conflict at hand, we consistently encounter situations that may not align with our core values. Consider the core value that “We always do what’s best for kids,” something that many schools and school leaders espouse, and, yet, we’re often challenged by circumstances where doing what’s best for adults seems like the right decision even if it isn’t ultimately the best outcome for kids. Not that these decisions would cause harm, but adult-driven outcomes are in direct conflict with the value that we claim to uphold. 

Leaders should regularly come back to their values to guide their daily work, and we need to review these values as often as possible when the ship seems to be sinking. These areas of focus should also be where we place our emphasis for growth, especially when things get tough and our strength as leaders is tested. Look at your core values this week, and find a professional learning experience that aligns to them so that you’re not just going through the grind but actually growing through it. 

Don’t miss our interview with Richard Shell in an upcoming episode of our OneThingSeries podcast. Until then, check his book, The Conscience Code.

Determining Urgent Versus Important 

Establishing a worthy vision that is anchored in core values helps with this third strategy for staying focused–determining and working within the important spaces. School and district leaders know the constant push and pull between spending time on important priorities versus being interrupted to handle many of the urgent issues that arise daily. This reality reinforces President Eisenower’s quote: “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

The challenge is in how we prioritize our day to ensure that we are working on the important all the while effectively managing the urgent. The urgent issues will never disappear, and if they are not handled correctly, they can potentially wreak havoc on an organization, which is why the Eisenhower Matrix below is critical. We like how Check and Click Technologies designed the graphic because it illustrates the action and inaction that the leader should take based on the scenario. 

Determining whether the work is urgent or important as daily tasks arise allows us to maintain our focus on the critical long-term success of the organization. Doing so allows leaders to weather the urgent items in the short-term to be able to decide the best path forward–such as delegating the task–correcting course to refocus on the important. Along with the use of the matrix, we suggest that school leaders ask themselves two key questions when new tasks arises: 

  1. Does this new task need to be done right now? 
  2. Does this new task need to be done by me?

 


Assessing Full Versus Fulfilling

Coupled with determining urgent versus important in terms of how we spend our time, especially when the day feels like a grind and the environment seems chaotic, is the notion that we need to assess whether our workday is full or fulfilling. The reality is that creating a fulfilling work environment for yourself and those within your school or organization is the hallmark of an effective leader. Busy and effective are too different things. We all can get caught up in the race from meeting-to-meeting without truly making a difference in what matters most–student learning and well-being in our schools. 

We have heard from leaders who use a retrospective reflective approach by taking a look at their week on Fridays to assess how busy they were versus how much of an impact they had. We flip that to a forward-focused examination of your calendar. Instead of using Friday to assess the week that just passed, use that time to assess the upcoming week. A great tip we learned from John Maxwell in Thinking for a Change is to look at your calendar 40 days out. As Maxwell puts it, “that way, I get a jump on the month and don’t get surprised.” 

Use this as an activity to delegate and restructure any upcoming meetings. Make sure that the work you’re engaged with as a leader is going to be about 1. your vision, 2. the people and programs (what’s working and what’s not), and 3. innovation for change and future development. Sticking to these three buckets will have the best chance at making sure you stay away from the administrivia that can hijack your time, allowing you to be effective and, most important, feel fulfilled. 

Attending to the Most Important Spaces 

You can only have so many priorities so they need to be limited. One way to keep the main thing the main thing when everything seems chaotic is to ask yourself what the most important spaces are in your school and whether or not you’re spending the majority of your time in that space. The answer to the first part of the question is not likely to be the office, the cafeteria, or the playground, yet school leaders often find themselves in these spaces for a large chunk of their day. The clear right answer is the classroom, with teachers and students. That should drive us to want to be there as often as possible to be in touch with those doing the teaching and the learning. 

But wanting to be there–the classroom–is not enough. Strategies like time-blocking are a great start, but that also is not enough. The best way to attend to the most important spaces is to have a system in place, designed as a fool-proof way for you to visit every teacher every week. For example, last month, we focused on SEL as a key driver in our schools with getting to classrooms and making connections with staff and students a central activity.  

Your plan should involve seeing all of their blocks of instruction throughout the month and doing so on different days of the week. You’ll need a Google Sheet or what we call “a big board” to draw out your map; when the system is in place and the time is blocked on your schedule, this daunting task is manageable, no matter what storm is brewing. 

We can’t say enough about leaders spending time in the most important spaces of any organization (maybe a future blog post, stay tuned). This is the backbone of a positive culture and a management structure for being around when people are doing their best work. Not only does it provide critical insight into what folks are doing on a regular basis, but it allows us, as leaders, to lift the people through authentic recognition and praise. If you don’t have a working system for visiting classrooms, we need to hear from you because we can help. 

Putting your vision to the test, leading with your values, determining urgent versus important, assessing full versus fulfilling, and attending to the most important spaces in our schools are the five most practical and direct ways to keep you growing through the grind and focused when things feel out-of-control. The essential role of a leader is to attend to her own growth while staying focused on the health and direction of the organization. You can’t do that if your own day is as unruly as the times we’re living in. Using the strategies in this blog will ground your work and get you back to calmer waters. 

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 blog post 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. 

Season 2, Episode 6, with Robert Jackson #FocusED

Season 2, Episode 6, with Robert Jackson #FocusED

Becoming the Educator They Need w/ Guest Robert Jackson 

This is Season 2, Episode 6 of FocusED, and it features guest, Robert Jackson. It was originally recorded live for a studio audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience for Delaware teachers and leaders. Don’t miss what Robert has to say about supporting all students in schools, especially those who are traditionally marginalized.  

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Robert Jackson Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Robert Jackson began his teaching career almost 25 years ago in Indianapolis Public Schools with a No More Excuses teaching approach with all of his students after being cut from the NFL Minnesota Vikings. As an educator, he didn’t allow his students to feel sorry for themselves or let their circumstances define their futures. He set high expectations for his students and expected them to do well. As a coach, the same rules applied. Those same students went from low performing to successful pastors, lawyers, school administrators, teachers, pharmaceutical sales reps, business owners, pro athletes, entertainers and more.

He has become one of the most sought-after speakers in the country, delivering keynote addresses and workshops to educators and administrators at national conferences, parents and student workshops, corporate events and churches. 

Mr. Jackson has written and published 6 books. His new book, Becoming the Educator They Need: Strategies: Mindsets, and Beliefs for Supporting Male Black and Latino Students just won the Gold Excel Award for Technical Writing in July 2020. His “No More Excuses” Curriculum has been featured in publications nationally and is being used in K-12 Schools, Colleges and Universities in the US and Canada. His books include, “Black Men Stand Up”, “A Boys Guide to Manhood”, “A Young Woman’s Guide to Womanhood”, “Put a Stop to Bullying” and “Solutions to Educating Black and Latino Males.”

He is married to Essence Best Selling Author, Tajuana “TJ” Butler-Jackson and they have 3 children and 1 grandson.

“His motto is, “For Every Problem, there is a Solution”

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ theschoolhouse302.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 with more knowledge, better understanding, and clear direction on what to do next. 

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

302 Thoughts Fireside Chat: Supporting Students and Staff through Surefire Social and Emotional Learning Practices

302 Thoughts Fireside Chat: Supporting Students and Staff through Surefire Social and Emotional Learning Practices

The school year is in full swing and although we are thrilled that students across the country and the globe are back in person, there is undoubtedly a lot of trepidation as educational and principal leaders navigate this difficult time. Not only are there ongoing, daily issues that we wrestle with because of Covid19, school leaders are simultaneously acclimating students and staff back to schools when much has changed. We are not the same as we were when Covid19 struck and the pandemic took hold. 

Here at TheSchoolHouse302, we would like to think the educational community has grown. These months have revealed our resolve and our willingness to go to great lengths to reach and teach our students. We also recognize that in order for us to continue to grow and build a network of support, we need to fully immerse ourselves in social and emotional learning (SEL). The great news is that SEL is not new. The challenge, though, is making sure that it is integrated seamlessly within our school cultures and not a stand alone. 

To do so, we created The SEL Blend to remind educators of the balance that must exist between the curriculum and the care side of our work.

The SEL Blend highlights four primary areas that are linked to SEL priorities and behaviors. For example, as much as we focus on our curriculum and adopt accelerated learning best practices, we need to be sure that they are coupled with care and kindness. 

The Blend serves as a nice reminder about how we can weave SEL into our daily practices. But, we cannot be satisfied with just having this knowledge. The critical step is in making sure that what we are doing is having an impact. As John Hattie always says, “know thy impact.” To that end, we’ve created 6 ways to ensure that you’re building the SEL culture that your students and staff need. 

In this episode, we break down the key areas that stuck out to us and why. Listen to the podcast to hear more about our 6 surefire strategies to develop a thriving SEL culture.

  1. Assemble a Core Team 
  2. Improve Self-Awareness
  3. Complete Certificate-Based Courses
  4. Use a Table for Lesson Organization
  5. Connect to Other Meaningful Work
  6. Tap into Established Systems

T.J. further discussed the great work from Loreah Martinez and her Heart In Mind blog and book is an incredible resource. Our goal is to connect you to people and resources, outside of our own, to learn to lead better and grow faster. With this in mind, Joe tackled the benefits and sophistication of earning a credential or certificate. This is a powerful way to develop a train-the-trainer model. Lastly, T.J. reminded us of a great interview we had with Lavonna Roth and the terrific and FREE resources she has on her site

Join Us for the Next Live Session of 302 Thoughts 

This was our third live 302 Thoughts and we were thrilled with the turn out and look forward to our next episode on October 21th at 4:00PM EST. We are going to be talking about staying focused in a chaotic environment. Register today

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

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. 

Season 2, Episode 5 of FocusED with Vernita Mayfield #FocusED

Season 2, Episode 5 of FocusED with Vernita Mayfield #FocusED

Becoming a Culturally Competent School Leader with FocusED Guest Vernita Mayfield 

This is Season 2, Episode 5 of FocusED, and it features guest, Vernita Mayfield. It was originally recorded live for a studio audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience for Delaware teachers and leaders. Don’t miss what Vernita says about confronting racism in schools and so much more.  

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Vernita Mayfield Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Vernita Mayfield hails originally from Los Angeles, California, where she began her career teaching elementary school. As a teacher, Mayfield found her first love serving and supporting students who have been historically marginalized. Since then, she has continued to do so through numerous positions of service, including secondary school principal, researcher and lecturer, and educational consultant at state and national levels.  

In 2012, she founded Leadervation Learning to support organizations seeking to build leadership capacity, particularly in marginalized communities. The company evolved into a vehicle supporting leaders at all levels to understand and dismantle inequitable systems and organizations by building the cultural competency of staff. 

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of her book: Cultural Competence Now: 56 Exercises to Help Educators Understand and Challenge Bias, Racism, and Privilege

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ theschoolhouse302.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 with more knowledge, better understanding, and clear direction on what to do next. 

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

Two Books On Social & Emotional Learning That Are Bound To Make An Impact On Your School

Two Books On Social & Emotional Learning That Are Bound To Make An Impact On Your School

As school doors open this year to welcome back students, successful schools recognize that if they want to reach and teach all students, they need to touch their hearts and their minds. Amid the dual pandemics–Covid19 and the social and civic unrest–students are entering the school year with a host of needs that must be addressed to ensure that they are successful. 

These needs cover the spectrum from a deficit in mathematics to a family hardship. Regardless, in the end, we know that student achievement improves when students feel connected and safe, when relationships flourish in the classroom. There is no substitute for a student having a meaningful connection with a teacher, counselor, paraprofessional, administrator, or other educator at school.

Our blog this month focused on 6 different ways to build SEL in schools, and we hope you found them easy to implement. As educational leaders, we realize that one of the best places to start your learning is by reading great books, which is why we curate our lists of books to help you on your path to leading better and growing faster. 

This month, we recommend two books that we believe can make a difference where it matters the most—in the classroom. The first book is The Formative Five by Thomas Hoerr and the second one is Improve Every Lesson with SEL by Jeffrey Benson.

Featured Author: Thomas Hoerr

Featured Book: The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy, and Other Success Skills Every Student Needs

The Formative Five focuses on developing empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing diversity, and grit . Each one of the five serves our students (and teachers) well as they strive to deepen their understanding and execution in each area. The five also have a unique way of focusing on the self and others. We found this to be practical for all educators. 

Focusing on others, having empathy, is something that we can all improve upon, and as we seek to understand others, we often learn quite a bit about ourselves. Lastly, Heorr recommends other reads throughout the chapters, which is a great springboard to other books that may be valuable. Don’t miss our interview with Thomas Hoerr. You can find it on our site at theschoolhouse302.com by clicking on the podcast button at the top. 

Key Feature of the Book:

Hoerr created self-assessment surveys for each of the formative five. We appreciate this style of writing that is designed to engage the reader, especially because these are areas that we can continually develop as leaders.

Featured Author: Jeffrey Benson

Featured Book: Improving Every Lesson Plan with SEL

Improving Every Lesson Plan with SEL demystifies the process of weaving social and emotional learning into your lessons. That last thing we want is for SEL activities to be taught in isolation or devoid of the classroom content. The more SEL can find a home within each lesson, the more students will understand the dynamic nature of so many of the topics we discuss. Consider Hurricane Ida that just devastated areas of the east coast, it’s important to know what a hurricane is, the various categories for example, but tying that to the human side of destruction and loss can teach empathy along with the content. 

Key Feature of the Book:

Similar to Hoerr, Benson explicitly outlines specific action steps that are aligned to the content in the book. He also asks the reader to reflect on their lesson plans through what they are learning about how social and emotional learning works for students. 

 

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com. And don’t miss our next live event on this topic. Register here

 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

 

Joe & T.J.

 

This episode of our ReadThisSeries 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