Teaching Students Executive Functioning Skills with Mitch Weathers, Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Teaching Students Executive Functioning Skills with Mitch Weathers, Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Mitch Weathers Joins Joe & T.J. 

Mitch became a gifted teacher because he was a mediocre student. He rarely felt comfortable in the classroom. In fact, it took him 7 years for him to graduate from college.

Choosing to become a teacher, Mitch was fortunate enough to experience school as if it was happening all around him. He was unsure how to jump into his learning with confidence. There is a loneliness to experiencing your education as a passive object as opposed to an active subject. 

From the moment he entered the classroom, Mitch relied on his personal experiences as a learner. He recognized that what we teach, the content or curriculum is secondary. We must first lay the foundation for learning before we can get to teach. In fact, unless students develop a solid foundation for learning it does not matter how great your teachers deliver content, or how emergent the technology, or even how engaging a lesson might be. 

Mitch designed Organized Binder to empower teachers with a simple but research-backed strategy to teach students executive functioning skills while protecting the time needed for content instruction. The secret is found in establishing a predictable learning routine that serves to foster safer learning spaces. When students get practice with executive functions by virtue we set them up for success.

What You’ll Find in this Podcast Episode with Mitch Weathers

Mitch starts this episode with a clear definition of executive functioning, including debunking the myth that it’s only for special education students. 

He says that executive functioning skills is an umbrella term with a bunch of other skills working toward executive functioning.

Mitch is surprised that more people aren’t talking about executive functioning because it’s so foundational for how students learn. 

We can’t just focus on what students learn, we need to teach them how to learn. This results not just a bump in their grades but a big boost to their confidence. 

Joe asked a very poignant question: why don’t we teach executive functioning skills, making our life as teachers even harder than it needs to be? Here is what Mitch says about time and Zone of Genius.

How are executive functioning skills best learned?  Modeling and deliberate practice in a safe space. 

T.J. brings up the point that executive functioning skills have to be part of our equity work. If EF helps to level the playing field for all students, they need to be embedded in our equity plans. 

One key to helping students develop executive functioning skills is to have very predictable routines in the classroom. Mitch talked about the fact that consistency is a huge factor in students’ ability to learn. 

Joe asks Mitch to outline how he teaches teachers to help students with these skills. Mitch mentions that a school-wide approach is important. Listen to what he says about shared learning routines. 

Don’t miss Mitch’s five-part series on executive functioning skills, which is totally free.  

The tenets of executive functioning: clarity, routine, and modeling.

It was a lot of fun to hear Mitch talk about “working memory” and how teachers can learn to use students’ working memory through routines at the beginning and end of every classroom period. 

Don’t miss the discussion on what good instruction looks like!

  • Success criteria
  • Clear goals
  • Structured reflection

Mitch brings up Marzano and the importance of exposing students to concepts multiple times. 

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

Let us know if there’s a guest who you want us to have on the show by leaving a comment below or by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com. And don’t miss our leadership content updates every week by subscribing on the site. You appreciate a like, comment, follow, or share. And, if you’re reading our books, please rate them on Amazon

 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

 

Joe & T.J.

Why Every School Leader Needs To Use A Beginner’s Mindset When Solving Perennial Problems – Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Why Every School Leader Needs To Use A Beginner’s Mindset When Solving Perennial Problems – Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

In our most recent book, 7 Mindshifts for School Leaders: Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems, we introduce 7 Mindshifts that principals and other school leaders can use to solve problems that are constantly plaguing our schools. It’s important that not every problem requires these shifts, but rather those that are important, persistent, and urgent. When a problem is IPU, we use our first mind shift, A Crisis Mindset. 

Take a moment and think of a problem that you are facing and compare it to the chart by answering the questions in the third column to see if it meets the IPU threshold. 

Important Fundamentally impacts teaching and learningHow does it impact teaching and learning?
Persistent Ongoing, complex, with long-term implicationsHow long has the issue been a problem? 
UrgentTime-sensitive, needs immediate attention and requires skillful resolveWhy does it require immediate attention?

In this episode, Joe and T.J. explore what it really means to use a Beginner’s Mindset when solving a problem. It’s hard to accept, but our experience can prevent us from seeing solutions. Joe and T.J. were first introduced to this concept when they interviewed the late Richard Elmore on what it means to be a learning leader

Key Points from Joe & T.J. About Using a Beginner’s Mind

  • The Beginner’s Mindset sheds preconceived ideas and thoughts on what should be done. 
  • Our own expertise can get in the way of seeing ideas and opportunities.
  • Look to great business examples like Sarah Blakely of Spanx who sought to solve a problem she was facing as a real estate agent. Who would have thought she would have revolutionized shapewear? 
  • The Spaghetti Tower activity says it all.

Each mind shift in the book is equipped with a model to help school leaders navigate the process of analyzing a problem and finding new solutions. The Beginner’s Mindset Model is designed to ignite the childlike mind needed to see new possibilities and dream new realities. 

As we wrap up, take a moment and think back to the problem that you identified using IPU filter:

  • Based on the problem you identified, is the team’s expertise working for or against them? 
  • How could you incorporate more diverse perspectives when discovering information about the problem? 
  • Who do you know who knows nothing about the problem who you could consult for different thinking? 

We hope you enjoy this book to lead better and grow faster as school leaders. We always appreciate a like, a follow, a comment, or a share. And, if you’re on Amazon, please rate it.

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 to the site. 

 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

 

Joe & T.J.

Why Every School Leader Needs To Use A Beginner’s Mindset When Solving Perennial Problems – Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

The One Book that School Leaders Should Read to Attack Persistent Problems in Education – Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Joe and T.J. Recommend that School Leaders Read 7 Mindshifts for School Leaders: Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems

We want to share some of our favorite aspects of our newest book, 7 Mindshifts for School Leaders: Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems. Written with our co-author, Connie Hamilton, this book calls into question some of the problems with our Educational Industrial Complex, problems that have persisted for too long, and the mind shifts that it will take to truly challenge the status quo. It’s for any school leader who wants better outcomes for all students. If you’re fine with the way things are, it’s not for you. 

Consider a problem, which is frankly too common: poor attendance. Lots of students miss days here and there rather than stringing them together with an obvious and long absence. The problem is that a student who misses a couple of days in September is likely to miss a whole month of school by the end of the year. Think of the type of impact that this kind of poor attendance has on student performance, socialization, reading proficiency, and a host of other things. We might otherwise not even catch the problem, and when we do, we often don’t have models for examining and fixing the problem. 

A nuance here is that attendance is not always on the radar screen. Picture a school that is uber-focused on elevating reading proficiency. This could be a costly mistake, spending money and time on reading resources when the problem isn’t the reading program but rather student attendance rates. Maybe if students were in school for a great percentage of the days that school is in session they would have better reading proficiency scores. That’s why this book is so powerful. We introduce 7 models that can be used with your teams to help examine problems in a new light.  

In this episode of Leading Better & Growing Faster with Joe and T.J., we feature two of our favorite models from the book. Joe describes the Octopus Approach and how it can be used to help make sure that the many variables associated with an issue are brought to the table before a decision is made. This model is designed for implementing systems thinking in your school.   

T.J. covers a second model called, Disciplined Tunnel Vision. Having tunnel vision can be seen as a negative response, but there is a need at times for an all-out, complete-and-utter, focus on an issue for it to be solved. T.J. discusses our six-part practical change model that schools can use from developing a vision for a change all the way to the creation of a specific model for what that change looks like in practice. The first three steps are common, but that’s only 50% of what will get you to the implementation of something new in your school.  

Enjoy this book to lead better and grow faster as school leaders. We always appreciate a like, a follow, a comment, or a share. And, if you like this new book, please rate it on Amazon. It helps. 

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 to the site. 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

Amplifying Student Voice with Paul Bloomberg – Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Amplifying Student Voice with Paul Bloomberg – Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Our job is to make the learner’s thinking visible. ~ Paul Bloomberg 

About Paul Bloomberg

Dr. Paul Bloomberg is the Founder and CEO of The Core Collaborative Learning Network based in San Diego, CA, and New York City. The mission of the Core Collaborative Learning Network is to expand learner ownership and agency by building a culture of belonging and efficacy through collaborative inquiry. The Core Collaborative defines “learner” as ALL the people in a system who partner with students. The Core Collaborative strives to cultivate learners who embody empathy, open-mindedness, patience, and perseverance and who use their energy and expertise to make a positive impact in the world we share with others.

Dr. Bloomberg is the co-author of the best-selling book, Leading Impact Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy, and a lead author of Peer Power! Unite, Learn and Prosper: Activate an Assessment Revolution through Mimi and Todd Press and a lead author on The EmpowerED Learner eToolkit. Paul has led multiple, successful school turn-around efforts and believes that public education must play a major role in deconstructing systems of oppression.

His new book, which we talk about in this episode, is called Amplify Learner Voice through Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Assessment

Paul served on the National Parents Union Board of Directors. The National Parents Union is a network of highly effective parent organizations and grassroots activists across the country that is united behind a set of common goals and principles to channel the power of parents.

Paul lives with his husband, Tony, in California. Alex and Taylor, Tony and Paul’s sons, are the inspiration for launching the Core Collaborative in 2014.

Paul starts with the concept of systems. He talks about how some schools are thriving more than others and what we need to do to re-think formative assessment through a cultural lens. 

What You’ll Find in this Podcast Episode with Paul Bloomberg 

Paul starts with a vital aspect of how all educators can effectively engage students, Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CRSE). This is about changing what we do to meet students’ needs through culturally responsive formative assessments. 

We dive into the conversation about assessments and the cross-section between traditional grading and equity. None of us can answer the question about why more schools aren’t moving to more culturally responsive grading? 

There is power in interviewing students. Listen to what can shock teachers into creating a different type of learner-focused environment. 

Don’t miss what Paul says about the textbook industry: “I can’t do it anymore” applied to cover all the concepts that we’re giving in our content areas. 

Paul mentions Dr. Allen Daly as his mentor. The social justice focus of his doctoral program left a mark that he uses in all of his work today. 

Paul talks about “active listening” and reflecting back on what people are saying and feeling as a super-tool for leadership, teaching, and for learning. 

Paul talked about wanting to learn how to be a restorative practitioner. His answer is heartfelt

  1. Reframe negative thinking 
  2. Wake up and be optimistic 
  3. Treat people with dignity

T.J. mentions the wisdom from Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg that links to #1 above. 

He talks about The Science of Happiness Podcast as a learning and growth strategy for himself. 

Paul answered the last question with something he learned from Omar Mercado: a trigger is your own responsibility, not that of others, even the people who trigger you. 

Let us know if there’s a guest who you want us to have on the show by leaving a comment below or by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com. And don’t miss our leadership content updates every week by subscribing to the site. 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

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.

The 3 Worst Tips for Building a Culture of Trust in Schools

The 3 Worst Tips for Building a Culture of Trust in Schools

Trust dies but mistrust blossoms.

~ Sophocles

School Leaders: The Value of Trust in Schools

Trust is vital to the success of any school and is at the center of every positive, working relationship. The central role of trust is that it allows people to depend on one another and to operate without worry or fear, two emotions that will stifle any organization. The power of trust is that it allows the school to move forward faster in every way possible, especially with change initiatives that are set to improve results. 

As principal leaders, there are five powerful domains that school and district administrators must focus on for improved student achievement:

  1. Leading teaching learning and development
  2. Ensuring quality teaching
  3. Establishing goals and expectations
  4. Strategic resourcing
  5. Hiring and retaining talented staff

We can spend our time in many areas, doing a lot of different things, but if you want to maximize your efforts as a leader, your daily work will fall into these five domains. However, to be effective in all five, they each must be anchored through a culture of trust. Leaders who know how important this is are always trying to build this kind of environment for students and staff.  

Building Trust in Schools

The problem with building trust for many school leaders is that it is masked within emotions. Trust is a belief. It can be elusive and even counterintuitive because it’s a house of cards, delicately built and easily destroyed. This requires a thorough understanding of trust and challenging what you think you know about it and accepting that what you believe about trust is probably wrong.

We’ll address the counterintuitive part in the next sections, but let’s be clear about what it means to have and build trust as a school leader. We always hear people say that “trust is earned.” That’s true of the leader but not for the leader. In other words, leaders need to earn the trust of others and teammates need to earn each others’ trust, but leaders earn trust by extending it–building relationships, demonstrating trust, respecting others, and being forthright. Great educational leaders trust in others even before it’s earned and only when it’s broken do they take it away. 

Education is a people business. Don’t be fooled. All of the policies and procedures in the world won’t make a school a great place; people are the answer. Knowing this–recognizing that trust in schools is pivotal–is what turns good school leaders into great school leaders. It stems from everyone knowing their role, respecting one another’s work, and recognizing the relation of one role to all the other roles. Understanding the uniqueness of each is crucial in the running of an effective school. Trust builds and grows when everyone can discern that others are advancing the school’s priorities with the same effort and attitude that it takes to be successful. “These discernments tend to organize around four specific considerations: respect, personal regard, competence in core role responsibilities, and personal integrity.” 

This also means that school leaders must address concerns with relationships when one of these four core considerations are broken. We have previously written about the 7 ways that school leaders build trust, which include the ability to rebuild it. Leaders who aren’t apt to strategically restore trust are usually hesitant due to a belief that they hold that is likely counterintuitive to building a trusting environment. 

Why Trust is Mostly Counterintuitive 

Trust is mostly counterintuitive in terms of the way we build it and work to maintain it with others. The core notion that many people hold about trust is that the way we strengthen relationships, and therefore build trust with others, is by being nice. While being nice is important and builds collegiality, it doesn’t instill or build trust. In fact, niceness can be weaponized by assuming or portraying that candor, dissonance, and tough conversations are examples of discord. Nice is confused with agreeable and quite frankly that’s the last thing a leader wants as the foundation of their culture. Worse yet, a culture of nice can breed complacency and incompetence, which erode trust at work. 

Too often, we hear leaders say things like “we are a family” when they refer to their staff. Be careful when using these terms because they can confuse people and send the wrong message. School leaders may try to use this type of messaging to leverage relationships, rather than truly building them on trust. Having a family feel, closeness, and togetherness is critical, but it shouldn’t overshadow performance, standards, and accountability. 

We’re reminded that Covey’s 13 High Trust Behaviors for leaders include “talk straight,” “confront reality,” “clarify expectations,” and “practice accountability.” Most of the high trust behaviors that leaders must put on display are more about candor, transparency, commitments, and competence than about being nice. Anyone can go around being nice and pretending to be supportive, hoping that it will lead to a positive relationship, but effective leaders deliver results and hold others to a standard that delivers results as well. The biggest problem with trust is that it’s misunderstood and, therefore, we can easily learn bad habits. Let’s take a look at three tips for building trust that don’t work at all and may even be working against the school culture you’re trying to build. 

The 3 Worst Tips about Building Trust in Schools

Build Relationships, First

“Listen, don’t come out of the gate too fast. Get to know people, build relationships, and then set the tone for your leadership.” This is thought to be sage advice for leaders entering a new situation or environment, but it is dead wrong, and we hear it all the time. In fact, this is usually the advice given to new school leaders–coaches, assistant principals, and principals. It’s also what gets new leaders off to the worst start to actually building a winning team

Relationships are important in schools, and they should be built professionally, grounded in the core values of the school. The last thing we want is for teachers to build friendships with students that blur the lines between educator and pupil, and the relationships between administrators and teachers are no different. Granted, incredible friendships grow over years of service with one another, but that should happen organically–fortified through the desire to build an incredible school, working through tough times, and meeting challenges and demands. Those are the situations that can strengthen any bond, but you don’t “build relationships, first.” They actually come second–after we’ve done hard work together. 

Consider domain three, Establishing goals & expectations, as the foundation for building trust. Leaders who communicate a clear vision, demonstrate a strategic way for everyone to meet high expectations, and ultimately get results, are the ones who garner trust and deep working relationships. It comes down to whether or not we can see where they’re going and if we want to go there too.

Building Trust the Right Way: Trust Tip for Principal Leaders 

The number one thing that school leaders can do to build trust on the team is to create a shared vision and keep it at the forefront of every decision. This school year, many schools embraced the idea of accelerated learning–getting to the core of what needed to be taught in classrooms. Why? “Researchers found that when teachers took an accelerated-learning approach in math, students completed 27 percent more grade-level lessons, and struggled less with content, than students in classrooms where teachers used remediation.” Leaders who build and develop trust continually maintain the focus on student achievement and protect teachers’ time to do so. They’re not inconsistent with their expectations and they don’t meander from one initiative to the next without a central focus for what they want to accomplish. 

Only Focus on Strengths

It’s a major mistake to think that you can only focus on the strengths of the people on the team as a way to build trust and get better. We have to be willing to have the tough conversations and tackle the difficult issues. Trust us, we believe in Soaring with Your Strengths and we don’t knock strengths-based leadership. Most people will become stronger faster in areas of life and work where their aptitude is high. But that doesn’t mean that weaknesses and shortcomings should be ignored. 

To build on a person’s strengths and weaknesses, communication is the clear driver. At work, this begins with candid and compassionate feedback. In fact, it is wise for leaders to spend as much of their time as possible working with staff, conducting observations, holding listening tours, digging into the data, and reviewing performance results. Feedback is one of the most important aspects of quality leadership. 

Consider domain two, Ensuring quality teaching, which is driven by feedback conversations. Think about initiating Reading Across the Curriculum to improve reading among students who are behind a grade level, yet a teacher refuses to adopt some of the new strategies that are profoundly more effective than old ones, like Drop Everything and Read. The teacher builds strong connections with students, which is terrific, but relationships alone don’t improve one’s ability to read. School leaders need to have tough conversations that tackle weaknesses, not just strengths. 

Building Trust the Right Way: Trust Tip for Principal Leaders

One of the most important things that school leaders can do if they want to build a trusting environment is to learn to provide quality feedback. Whenever you doubt yourself, just think of your very best teachers. They always crave feedback. They want to get better. They invite you in to see a new lesson. They experiment and try new strategies. Why? It’s not about them; they want to get better for the sake of their students. Effective school leaders know that quality feedback is how professionals grow. 

Treat Everyone the Same

Maybe the worst thing you can do as a school leader is to confuse fair treatment with equal treatment, but we see it all the time. Differentiation is not just for students. Great school leaders understand that school teams are composed of individuals with different needs who possess a different set of skills. This is actually what leads to many teachers’ frustration–a generalized approach when meeting their needs. One size does not fit all. 

Please don’t confuse this with favoritism. Having besties, building cliques, and leveraging friendships may be prominent in middle school, but they have no role in the workplace. Rather, we are referring to school leaders developing a keen awareness of the skill sets of their staff, resources they need for further development, and a pulse on the climate of the school and district.  

Consider domain four, Strategic resourcing, to build trust. Ensuring every teacher has functioning technology is critical. Yet, some departments and subjects demand different resources and tools that enhance student learning. Consider a platform like formative for math teachers. Not every teacher may need it, but being able to track data in real time, assess students’ skills, and provide timely feedback is the hallmark of any great formative assessment. Great leaders listen to their teachers and use resources to support them which ultimately supports students. 

Building Trust the Right Way: Trust Tip for Principal Leaders

Just as counterintuitive as any other trust-building factor is that all staff are treated the same. Consider the staff member who’s weaknesses eclipse their strengths. Even the greatest tools, like formatives, aren’t being used and student growth is stagnant. This is when great school leaders confront the problem head-on with that particular staff member. They don’t throw the monkey blanket on everyone, as Todd Whitaker would say, accusing everyone of underperformance. Rather, school leaders who operate within trusting relationships are straightforward with the individual, they enact a plan of support, mirrored by progressive discipline if necessary. They confront problems and alter scenarios. 

Walk the Walk and Build The Strongest Bonds of Trust in Your School

The very best school leaders are sound instructional leaders who can lead professional development. Their knowledge of effective instructional strategies, methods to build strong relationships with students, and ability to keep teaching and learning at the forefront of every decision is what builds trust far more than anything else. Effective leaders learn to strengthen relationships by doing the work, not before, by helping everyone to understand their strengths at the same time developing new skills, and by differentiating the supports that we put in place based on individual needs. You can be a school leader who builds a culture of trust each day, but don’t fall prey to the counterintuitive aspects of trust that plague school leaders who have the right intention but who don’t accomplish their intended outcomes. 

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. 

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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.

 

 

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