Five Actionable Strategies for School Leaders Who Want to Avoid Initiative Fatigue and Maintain a Positive Culture

Five Actionable Strategies for School Leaders Who Want to Avoid Initiative Fatigue and Maintain a Positive Culture

Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.


In this podcast, we are completely focused on successfully implementing and managing the multiple initiatives that can be found in every school system. What you’ll find in this episode:


1. Despite the enormous amount of various initiatives in schools, maintain a mindset that sees how they all fit into the system versus it being “one more thing.” 

2. Zoom out to gain a greater perspective so you can successfully organize the initiatives and work into buckets. Very often the area of focus may gel nicely with work already being done. 

3. As a school leader, be sure to include the teacher’s voice and their perspective. They will point out obstacles and roadblocks that will save an enormous amount of time. 

4. Let teacher leaders run with the work, but don’t leave them out to dry. Providing ongoing leadership development and capacity building is key. 

5. Lastly, do an inventory of all the programs and initiatives. Sometimes the work overlaps with other efforts and either something can be eliminated or coupled. 


Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover in our short Leading Better & Growing Faster episodes by leaving a comment below or by contacting us at 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


Five Actionable Strategies for School Leaders Who Want to Avoid Initiative Fatigue and Maintain a Positive Culture

Two Must Reads on Navigating the Challenges of Implementing Initiatives for School Leaders

Walk into any school and you’ll find countless different types of work being done. Yes, teaching and learning are at the heart of what we do, but a great school culture, one where teaching and learning can thrive, is about so much more. Creating this kind of culture places a huge demand on countless people who are doing exciting work. But, at times, with all of the spinning plates, it can also be overwhelming.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced, whirlwind of initiatives and responsibilities that can tax even the most formidable educator. The goal is to successfully lead initiatives, striving to achieve the goals of the school, yet without burnout looming. This requires the effective use of proven leadership strategies along with a collaborative approach, paving the way for successful implementation.

That’s why we picked these two books as our recommendations for school leaders who want to implement initiatives well. They provide the tips, tools, and tricks for the necessary learning and insight to do just that.

Joe and T.J. Recommend that School Leaders Read These Two Books


These two books are powerful reads that can transform how you operate and manage initiatives in your schools.

T.J. tells us that one major takeaway that we had from Right From the Startwas to find bright spots. Jim Marshall tells us that school leaders often look for gaps to fill, but the bright spots show us the places that need replication. The bright spots are those areas that are working well and performing optimally. We often want to fix things, but it is within the bright spots where we identify what is working and potentially what can be reproduced elsewhere.

Don’t miss what we say about the power of preplanning as well!

In our recommendation that school leaders read Every Teacher a Leader we emphasize the need to build teacher leaders and to invest in the capacity to influence others. School administrators cannot do it all, and they certainly won’t do it well without the help of teachers. Schools are constantly implementing initiatives and that reality should prompt every school leader to embrace this mindset–the need for teacher leaders–and drive change through their development.

The classroom is the most important space in a school, and at the end of the day, teachers need to be inspired and empowered to teach, learn, and lead.

Our reading tip for this month is simple: find reading material and books that support the ancillary aspects of what you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are implementing restorative practices in your school, don’t only read books on that topic. Yes, it’s critical to become highly skilled in that space, and there are great books to help you on that journey, however, digging into Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch, which covers the psychology of change, can prove to be invaluable. Pick something up that isn’t in the typical school leader’s library or playlist.

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

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at 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.

Five Actionable Strategies for School Leaders Who Want to Avoid Initiative Fatigue and Maintain a Positive Culture

Two Must Reads for School Leaders Who Want to Build a Learning Culture within Their Schools, Leading Better and Growing Faster with Joe and T.J.

Joe and T.J. Recommend that School Leaders Read In Search of Deeper Learning and Fearless Schools

What you’ll discover in this episode of Leading Better & Growing Faster w/ Joe & T.J.

  • We recommend In Search of Deeper Learning for school leaders. 
  • We also recommend Fearless Schools for school leaders. 
  • Why in the world is Joe wearing a NASA Jacket?
  • There is “deeper learning at the margins and why the periphery is more important than the core.” This is an excellent example of how this book pushes the boundaries. 
  • The key tenets of a learning culture.
  • Evidence of learning. What does it look like in classrooms? 
  • Trust is imperative for psychological safety.
  • Focus on learning at every level within the hierarchy of schooling.

In each episode, Joe and T.J. leave a tip to lead better and grow faster. This month’s reading tip is to read these books with your team! Don’t miss what Joe says about it. 

Developing a learning culture requires time and effort, but the dividends are incredible. The chart below features the key characteristics of a learning culture versus a teaching culture. More on how to develop a learning culture can be found in Passionate Leadership.  

How does your culture stack up?

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

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at 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.


Season 4, Episode 12 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Douglas Reeves

Season 4, Episode 12 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Douglas Reeves

Leading Fearlessly with Dr. Douglas Reeves 

This is Season 4, Episode 12 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Dr. Douglas Reeves. It was originally recorded live for a virtual audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware Academy for School Leadership, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Dr. Reeves says about leading in fear and how to avoid it, changing old practices (like grading)…and so much more.


Douglas Reeves Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Reeves is the author of more than 40 books and more than 100 articles on leadership and education. He has twice been named to the Harvard University Distinguished Authors Series and was named the Brock International Laureate for his contributions to education. 

His career of work in professional learning led to the Contribution to the Field Award from the National Staff Development Council, now Learning Forward. Doug has worked in 50 states and more than 40 countries. His volunteer activities include, providing free and non-commercial support for doctoral students, and The SNAFU Review, publishing the essays, poetry, stories, and artwork of disabled veterans. 

Doug lives in Boston. He Tweets @DouglasReeves, blogs at, and can be reached at 1.781.710.9633.

FocusED Show Notes with Dr. Douglas Reeves

We started with the concept of fear. Why so much fear in schools? Dr. Reeves makes it simple: if the only people talking are the ones who are volunteering or in charge, then we have a fear-filled environment. 

Joe highlights what Dr. Reeves says in the book about special education. Doug riffs on the fact that special education practices are just good teaching practices. 

One focus of the podcast was all about the need to take risks and not get things right the first time. 

T.J. asked Doug to talk about candor in schools and its importance of it. 

Joe mentions Atul Gawande’s video about feedback. Dr. Reeves follows up with the words of Howard Gardner and Richard Elmore and their sentiment about thinning–I used to think, and I don’t think anymore. 

You don’t want to miss what Doug says about “promises-made and promises-kept.” 

He talked about credibility and the strategies we can use to build our own credibility. 

What he says about decision-making and options is powerful. 

Doug mentioned Daniel Kahneman’s “sunk cost fallacy.” 

We asked Doug what would improve the student experience in every school, and he talked about grading and the use of the average. 

He calls for more non-fiction writing in all subjects. 

Doug mentions a book he read last week that he calls “the single best book on student discipline.” Changeable by Stuart Ablon

Joe asked about remembering facts and applying what you read, and Dr. Reeves promotes Zotero as a personal assistant of sorts.  

Doug gives some suggestions about how to use ChatGPT for secondary schools. The one we liked the best was to require ChatGPT as a first draft and then improve it through the revision process. 

Don’t miss what Dr. Reeves says about making a local impact with his work and measuring that.

Doug has a call to action for daily support for new teachers and the need for all of us to share as much as we can with each other about the difference that we all make as educators. 

Douglas Reeves Quotes from FocusED

When kids are afraid, they can’t learn. When adults are afraid, they can’t learn. ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves 

One of the biggest misunderstandings is that we build self-esteem with blanket affirmations. Not true. We need candor instead. ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves 

We have to quit doing what we’ve always done and expecting different results. ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves  

Related School Leadership Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Douglas Reeves Joins Joe and T.J. on the Leading Better & Growing Faster Podcast

Steven Covey Joins Joe and T.J. for a Conversation about Trust

Passionate Leadership


Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ 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. Let us know who you would like to hear from next.