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. 

302 Thoughts Fireside Chat: Actionable Tips On How to Grow Through the Grind

302 Thoughts Fireside Chat: Actionable Tips On How to Grow Through the Grind

Ninety percent of my time is spent on ten percent of the world. ~ Colin Powell

This month, America lost a tremendous leader, General Colin Powell. We started this 302 Thoughts by recognizing his work and legacy as a leader. If anyone could talk about how to grow during the grind and thrive amid chaos, our bet would be on General Powell. 

We often desire for circumstances to improve so our conditions become better. Unfortunately, that does not always happen the way we would like it to or in the timeline we have in mind. Because ideal circumstances don’t always come our way, we have to always be prepared to weather the storm. This month we landed on 5 strategies that help educational leaders stay focused in a chaotic environment

In the live recorded podcast, we teased out two essential areas that we discussed further:

 

  • #3. Determining Urgent Versus Important 
  • #4. Assessing Full Versus Fulfilling. 

 

All five are critical, but we narrowed in on these two because they speak to the day-to-day work that must get done but also that still needs to result in personal fulfillment. During challenging times, it’s hard to maintain perspective and keep our own well-being intact; by strategically looking at our calendars to block time for the fulfilling work, we set ourselves apart from those who just end up with full days that lack what matters to them most. Learn more by listening to our discussion. 

 

By mastering the Eisenhower matrix (check out the blog for more details, including a visual), school leaders at all levels, uniquely structure their day to maximize efforts. Too often during a storm, it’s tough to gain your footing. This is what’s going on now for teachers and leaders in schools. Each day can feel like two or three. The matrix, when used well, is an effective way to analyze and organize each day to keep First Things First

 

Each month during our 302 Thoughts we also work to support our listeners with a few resources that help in your efforts to lead better and grow faster. This month, T.J. highlighted the power of mastermind groups, particularly Danny Bauer’s Better Leaders, Better Schools. Masterminds are not new and we first read about them in Think and Grow Rich. As Napoleon Hill writes, it is the “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” It’s the direct focus and effort that is vital. Even if you don’t join a formal mastermind, do seek out another school leader, identify a clear aim or goal, and then work towards reaching it. The results will be incredible. 

 

Joe took a slightly different route and discussed Headspace, the app. On the show, Joe admits to his own limitations with meditation; yet, he describes how apps like headspace and Calm can support early efforts to find quiet time, be introspective, reduce stress, or simply “unplug” for a while.

 

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: 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. 

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