302 Thoughts: School Leaders, Become a Personal Growth Influencer in Three Easy Steps

302 Thoughts: School Leaders, Become a Personal Growth Influencer in Three Easy Steps

In this episode of 302 Thoughts, Joe and T.J. dig into a major responsibility of school leaders that very often poses challenges. Although professional learning is common in schools, not everyone views it as a primary vehicle for getting better. Whether for personal development or improving instructional practices, leveling up one’s skills aren’t always viewed with a positive attitude.

There are a host of reasons for this in schools, but one thing that must be in place to change the culture is that the leader needs to view themselves as a professional growth influencer. School leaders have to be intentional, not only with which trainings they bring to staff, but for casting the vision for how and why everyone in the school must grow.

To improve this aspect of school culture, we believe that three things must occur, which are discussed in this episode.

Listen to Joe describe how great schools build great teachers within healthy systems. The school itself needs to be viewed as a living, breathing organism and its health needs to be monitored routinely. 

T.J. explains how every school has a dynamic staff with a unique set of talents and skills and it is the school leader’s responsibility to tailor learning accordingly. That’s not all though. This is a two-pronged approach, the other prong is that the professional learning needs to be real and relevant–grounded in the nuances of the school or district. 

Lastly, they describe how growth is intentionally developed through leadership opportunities. Effective school leaders create opportunities for teachers to take on a variety of roles from professional learning responsibilities, non-evaluative and non-threatening peer observations, researcher roles, community outreach, assessment team leader, and a host of other possibilities.

T.J. and Joe always provide the how with the what, enabling school leaders to lead better and grow faster. To become a professional growth influencer, school leaders must know and do the following:

  • Conduct interviews and inventories about the unique strength of the teachers. Without this understanding, you’ll likely plan one-size-fits all PD. 
  • Ensure alignment between the learning opportunities and the vision, goals, and initiatives of the school. Misalignment creates strife and frustration.
  • Delegate responsibilities and support teacher leaders. Teacher leaders are the life-blood of great schools, but the making of a great teacher is not the same as the making of a great leader. 

We conclude this month’s 302 Thoughts with this quote from Abraham Maslow: “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” In this type of environment, growth is a core value integrated into the culture. 

Listen to Joe and T.J. take a deep dive into how school and district leaders, at all levels, can rethink growth in schools. 

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or 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 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: Learn Exactly How School Leaders Can Show More Support Tomorrow for Greater Success

302 Thoughts: Learn Exactly How School Leaders Can Show More Support Tomorrow for Greater Success

In this episode of 302 Thoughts, Joe and T.J. tackle a common topic in education–support.  Although common, it’s an elusive concept because it means so many different things for so many different people. It is also challenging to do in a systematic and organized way. 

We also should clarify that we are not talking about showing support when needed, but rather building a culture of support. In this type of environment, support isn’t an afterthought, but, rather, it is a core value and integrated into the culture. Listen to Joe and T.J. take a deep dive into how school and district leaders, at all levels, can rethink support in schools. 

They begin this episode with an overview of their Voices Model

Joe and T.J.’s model for this month is called Voices.  

Joe goes on to explain that this is an important model because it is really about listening. We cannot fall into the trap of supporting individuals based on what school leaders deem important or necessary without hearing the voices from the field. The support should be aligned to the goals and values of the school but should also be tailored toward each individual. That is how many organizations fall short; management shows support in the ways it deems best and it is not necessarily speaking “the language” of the employee. 

Listening also means that people feel comfortable talking. To do so, TJ explains the 5 critical areas of support in schools. These areas are taken right from the research we did for Building a Winning Team and Retention for a Chance:

  • Welcome ideas and suggestions from everyone.
  • Feeling comfortable to share difficult issues.
  • Providing time and space to listen.
  • Feeling like we’re on a team. 
  • Ensuring people have the resources to do their jobs well.

Although each of the 5 are independent of one another, listen to TJ explain how they are interconnected and work to build the culture of support through meaningful dialogue and conversations. The last point is of critical importance because if people lack the resources needed to do their job well, it will be a constant source of pain and frustration, which will make people feel unsupported. 

Each of these are necessary to get to the core of what is on people’s minds and how they can be further supported by school leaders. Remember, the model is built around teachers, personnel, and students. Each group is unique. 

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or 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 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: How School Leaders Can Simplify Accountability Through Clear Goals and Great Feedback

302 Thoughts: How School Leaders Can Simplify Accountability Through Clear Goals and Great Feedback

In this episode of 302 Thoughts, Joe and T.J. take a deep dive into how school and district leaders, at all levels, can rethink accountability in a post-pandemic world. The tough reality is that many of the mandated efforts force school leaders to take a direction that leaves other critical work in its wake. Ask any effective principal, assistant principal, or district leader and they can tell you what needs to happen in schools. It’s time that educators empower one another to redefine accountability and pursue goals that consider the whole child. 

Joe and T.J. break down key elements of a school so school leaders can review how effective each one is and assess each one systemically for greater student achievement. This is not a task for the weak-willed. This challenge is for those who rise each day, and before they even put a sock on, are thinking about how they can make a difference in their school. We need clear goals and a follow-up process for each key function within every school. It starts with you today.

Figure 1: Key functions of a school

Key Functions of a School

Assessment

Athletics/Extra Curricular

Building and Grounds/Facilities

Career and Technical Education

Community Service

Community Relations

Curriculum 

Federal/State Policies 

Finances

Instruction

Nutritional Services

Personnel

School Climate

Special Education

Student Support 

Technology

 

During this episode, Joe discussed how the education narrative around accountability should change and become less reliant on annual performance measures. Although annual state assessments can still serve a purpose, the above key functions should have a key measure of performance associated with each of them. Each one covers an aspect of schooling, and if they are all functioning at peak performance, then high levels of learning are far more attainable in the classroom. 

T.J. took the opportunity to discuss the importance of setting clear and measurable goals using pre-identified and reliable data. Stiggins and Chappuis contend that students can hit any clear, non-moving target. The same is true for adults. When school leaders, along with teacher leaders, create goals that everyone can get excited about, then everyone and every initiative should be moving toward attaining that measure. The power is in the momentum that is gained and the ability to check to see if things are working. 

Joe takes a moment to discuss how this lends the perfect opportunity for feedback. Feedback doesn’t have to be perceived as negative or bad. In fact, we continue to posit that cultures that are built on trust, thrive on feedback. In our One Thing Interview with Joy Kelly, she discusses how great leaders and teachers are able to provide feedback to one another. 

 

This last point goes perfectly with some exciting news that we have to share. TheSchoolHouse302 Candid and Compassionate Feedback Virtual MasterClass is up and running, ready for you to sign up today. This class is built on our first book that has resonated with so many school and district leaders. Be sure to sign up and become a master at providing feedback. 

Here is what Amy M. Grundy, Ed.D., Senior Leadership Specialist at the University of Delaware’s Academy for School Leadership (DASL) had to say:

 

This course is a must for any busy school leader or aspiring school leader! The format lends itself to the busy professional committed to their own professional growth. The structure is easy to follow and the content is on point! 

 

The authors/presenters provide models on which to lean to strengthen one’s own capacity and to support others in giving praise and candid feedback anchored in school priorities and goals. Each session begins with a launch, followed by a practical scenario, false assumptions, strategies, models and Leader Development Activities with practical applications and reflection prompts.

 

As a leader and a learner, this course will absolutely develop your capacity to provide candid and compassionate praise and feedback as a tool for the professional growth of those you lead.

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or 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 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 Fireside Chat: Why There’s Nothing More Important for a School Leader to Build than Trust

302 Fireside Chat: Why There’s Nothing More Important for a School Leader to Build than Trust

In this episode of 302 Thoughts, Joe and T.J. take a deep dive into how school and district leaders, at all levels, can develop, build, and sustain trust in schools. The tough reality with trust is that it is easily lost and hard to gain, which is why we remember this powerful quote by Sophocles, Trust dies but mistrust blossoms

 

Joe emphasizes how trust is needed now more than ever, but is definitely in short supply. Not just in schools or education but throughout our country. If there is any doubt to this, just tune into any news channel and listen to the criticism, uncertainty, and mistrust espoused by the commentators. 

 

One thing to always remember as a leader is that we are not always the cause of the mistrust,  but we still might be the recipient of it. This is critical for leaders because we need to remain steadfast and focused on the success of our students, regardless of the perceived public perception. This means that we can’t be swayed by our emotions and worries, even though it is incredibly challenging at times. 

 

One way to remain focused as a school leader is to work within the four most powerful domains that yield the greatest student gains:  

 

  1. Leading for the capacity of the staff
  2. Ensuring quality teaching in every classroom
  3. Establishing goals & expectations through a clear vision
  4. Strategic resourcing for effective implementation 

 

T.J. takes the time to explain why trust is mostly counterintuitive in the workplace. Although trust is a universal need, we often work to build trust in the wrong ways in schools.  

The 3 Worst Tips about Building Trust in Schools

Trust-Building Tips (GONE WRONG)Why This Doesn’t Work
Build Friendships, First

Professional relationships are not built the same as friendships but rather on the vision, mission, and core values of the school. This eliminates any mystery on what is expected from the employee.

Don’t miss what Robyn Jackson says about trust and predictability.

Only Focus on Strengths Soaring with your strengths is powerful and sage advice. As a leader, we also need to manage people’s weaknesses and make sure that they are not hindering progress. To focus on weaknesses without falling into the trap of a “circle of nice,” learn to give better feedback.
Treat Everyone the SameSimilar to students, treating people equally does not mean the same. We need to differentiate our treatment to fully develop others. This is also a teacher retention strategy because everyone has different needs and brings value in different ways.

As we look to develop trust and lead more effectively, we need tools that can remind us of how we can continually develop trust. Joe featured, Speed of Trust Action Cards, that are great reminders of the principles associated with the best selling book, Speed of Trust. Joe keeps these cards on his desk and periodically visits them to remind himself of the crucial ideas.

T.J. took the opportunity to share our REPSS survey and the specific design regarding measuring trust. School culture thrives when trust is at the center, and the survey is built to get a pulse on how people are feeling. Think about the power of knowing how your staff is doing and feeling, particularly during these challenging times. Granted, this also requires courage. It’s easier to keep “leading” and not checking in with those on the front lines. Don’t be average, lead with greatness. 

Our 302 Thoughts are monthly recordings as part of our OneThingSeries to help school leaders lead better and grow faster. It’s like school leadership training without having to leave the comfort of your office or home. Look for our other leadership interviews and books that we recommend, all part of the same podcast series at TheSchoolHouse302. 

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or 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 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: Reclaiming Your Purpose as a School Leader

302 Thoughts Fireside Chat: Reclaiming Your Purpose as a School Leader

Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. ~ Epictetus

Open any news source or social media app and it is easy to become disillusioned, questioning where we are headed as a country. COVID-19 is still affecting many parts of the world, and with the variants, it seems to be something impossible to beat. One thing that we do know is that we are incredibly resilient as humans. However, resilience is only ever possible when it’s coupled with purpose. The greater we understand our purpose, the more focused and resilient we become. In this month’s 302 Thoughts we identify how to reclaim your purpose so that you can reignite your passion and desire amid challenging times. 

We are also not naive. We realize that purpose has become a management watchword. Too many purpose statements aren’t written well or don’t mean much to the so-called user. But, “many people—not just Millennials—want to work for organizations whose missions and business philosophies resonate with them intellectually and emotionally.” Purpose, when done well, matters to both productivity and fulfillment. 

What we find in times of uncertainty is that people lose track of the reason they brought themselves to their work. They feel shaky about their world, and they often can’t see the fruits of their labor. That’s why we built our model for getting grounded and reclaiming our purpose in schools. The model is a framework with action steps for getting grounded. Getting Grounded requires an unbridled effort to identify those things that are most important to your personal and professional core values. This works in life as well as it does in school leadership, and it’s necessary if we want to demonstrate our passion to our students and staff. We invite you to take a look at the model, read the show notes below, and listen to our discussion about reclaiming purpose as school leaders. If you haven’t heard our interview with Todd Whitaker and his definition of purpose–making a difference–check that out too. 

Model for Reclaiming Your Purpose: Getting Grounded

Joe and T.J. Discuss the Concept of Purpose for School Leaders

Introspection

In this episode, Joe describes the process and power behind introspection:

  • I know my purpose at work each day.
  • My purpose at work directly corresponds with my daily activities.

Considering the statements above, are you clear on purpose and is your daily work aligned? Or consider your family. If spending time with your kids is important to you, are you ensuring you are creating enough time in your week to meaningfully be a part of their day?

Looking within ourselves and willing asking and answering the tough questions is essential to purpose because it is empowering. 

Empowerment

In this episode, T.J. reminds us of the power in praising others for working toward a predefined purpose. Praising others empowers them to continue on their path with confidence. In turn, when we look to praise, we gain an awareness of all of the great things within our lives, which produces a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude leads to positivity and a better attitude. You can’t be negative and grateful at the same time.  

We never like to conclude a show without providing some tangible resources for our audience that will make a difference in your work as a school leader. This month, T.J. discusses our REPSS survey, which can be found in our Building a Winning Team book. This survey is designed to give administrators keen insight into their faculties’ perceptions within key areas. In order to move in the right direction and focus on the right aspects of your school culture, including purpose, school leaders need to understand what to focus on as priorities. The survey results are a clear source of information that will lead to better navigation as a leader. Here’s a free copy of the survey

Joe focused on a resource for women called, Career Contessa. This site “…helps working women be more fulfilled, healthy, and successful at work.With online courses, career coaching, and more, the site helps women find and fulfill their purpose as leaders. 

Our 302 Thoughts are monthly free live podcast recordings that help leaders to lead better and grow faster. It’s like school leadership training without having to leave the comfort of your office or home. We hope you’ll join us next month. Look for the dates in our newsletter.

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or 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 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: Bad Boss Behaviors That You Can’t Afford to Possess

302 Thoughts Fireside Chat: Bad Boss Behaviors That You Can’t Afford to Possess

The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. ~ Jim Rohn

Being an effective leader is far from easy. In fact, good leaders recognize that every day is an opportunity for either excellence or average performance. With so many factors at play each day, superior leaders realize that their behaviors have to be superior and fully aligned to high leverage leadership strategies. Otherwise, we fall prey to poor leadership and management behaviors.  

This month, we featured the opposite of what great leaders do, so people would know what to avoid doing. Typically, you won’t find an explicit list like this in school leadership training seminars or classes, but our goal is to provide content for leaders who are striving to improve. Below are our five bad boss behaviors, and for this 302 Thoughts we take a deep dive into two of them. 

#1 Micromanaging Your Team: Empowering leaders assign work and then follow up

#2 Withholding Information from Others: Communicate it right away

#3 Stealing Great Ideas: Give credit to innovative thinking, out-of-the-box idea sharing, and risk-taking

#4 Taking Credit for Supports or Success: Reduce “I” from your vocabulary and begin saying “we” more often

#5 Using Relationships to Leverage Power: Leaders must have people around them who can be honest and truthful 

In our live recording, Joe tackled bad boss behavior number two, which is withholding information from others. The antidote to this action is to communicate timely and put in structures and systems that create communication opportunities. We need systems in place because this bad behavior can be done consciously and subconsciously.  At its worst, withholding information is used to coerce and manipulate situations. Even when it is done inadvertently, it can create a toxic culture or information hoarding. 

When conducting school leadership training, we often tie our school research to businesses and industry. This works because companies have a financial bottom line and can estimate losses and gains more concretely than schools and districts. What we find in companies where communication is poor is that an “ineffective knowledge sharing culture…can cost large U.S. firms up to $47 million in lost productivity annually. If that’s true for businesses, think of the devastating impact this has on schools and the students who are supposed to be learning in them. 

The second bad boss behavior we explored in this episode was stealing great ideas. We cannot express this enough, but give credit where credit is due. It’s an old adage and holds true for leaders. This is often a symptom of withholding information that erodes trust and self-worth. Great leaders know to give credit for actions and outcome as well as words and ideas. 

We love the funny but all-too-true FedEx commercial where the boss repeats the exact same suggestion from one of his employees and the rest of the team, originally silent, loves it when the boss suggests it. Despite the commercial being comical, in reality this behavior stings. It not only subjugates the employee, it creates a pure power vacuum that will limit collaboration and performance thinking. 

During our 302 Thoughts we love to suggest a few tools that leaders can use immediately. To improve the timeliness of communication, leaders can use Voxer. This walkie talkie app creates a clear line of communication for teams. This tool is great when information is needed in real time. We urge any team that uses the app to build norms so it is used properly, but the pros of using this tool certainly outweigh the cons. 

Another basic item discussed was TheSchoolHouse302 Specific Praise Recognition Card. These cards will be available soon, but here is a sample. Praise is too often underwhelming and these cards are equipped with praise prompts to ensure you deliver an effective praise message. 

Our 302 Thoughts are monthly free live podcast recordings that help leaders to lead better and grow faster. It’s like school leadership training without having to leave the comfort of your office or home. We hope you’ll join us next month. Look for the dates in our newsletter. 

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or 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 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