Season 5, Episode 7 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Luke Roberts

Season 5, Episode 7 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Luke Roberts

Systems Thinking for School Leadership and Educational Reform with Luke Roberts

This is Season 5, Episode 7 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Luke Roberts. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Luke Roberts says about systems thinking in schools and how the next phase of our leadership approach to change should not be linear in nature…and much more.

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Luke Roberts Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dr. Luke Roberts has worked in education in the UK for over 20 years to address issues of conflict, bullying, and educational opportunities. He worked on the national evaluation of restorative justice in schools before becoming a practitioner and trainer. 

He became increasingly concerned that the whole school approach was not working and did an MBA and M.Ed. before completing his Ph.D. exploring schools as complex adaptive systems. This reframing of schools is central to his book and seeks to address the challenge of why innovation does not last in educational settings. 

He has also worked in communities and prison settings to promote conflict resolution. He joined Highfive in the USA as Chief Innovation Officer to promote sustainable solutions to educational challenges. 

He also advises government departments on system approaches and is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Arts. His recent book is called Leading Schools and Sustaining Innovation. You can follow Dr. Luke Roberts on X: @LukeshRoberts.

FocusED Show Notes with Luke Roberts

Following his PhD, Luke wrote this book to make sure leaders can understand complexity without being too challenged by academic literature. 

Luke wants leaders to have a usable framework for sustaining innovation. 

Luke says schools are much more like beehives than machines. In machines, you can take parts out, but beehives are much more interconnected. 

He talked about the hub and spoke model of school leadership whereby all of the spokes are centered on the leader. Then, when the leader leaves, the innovations die. Dr. Roberts tells a real story about this happening. 

One problem that we discuss is that humans like power and actually like the fact that the system revolves around them. 

Listen to what he says about being in a production mind versus being a gardener. This requires an identity shift for the school leader. 

The conversation about the network effect in schools is fascinating, especially since it deviates from the traditional hub and spoke model.

Joe asked about the next steps that leaders can take to work toward the networked model. 

No one perspective is going to solve the problem. 

Don’t miss what he says about zooming out and validating history before moving forward. 

Systems thinking is much different than change theory, which Luke says is part of the problem. Change theory is often linear and “beehives” are not linear organizations.    

Luke calls for a greater focus on young people’s futures and schools that spend time on students’ sense of identity and how they will interact with society in the future. 

Joe underscores the fact school is often something that is done to students rather than for them. 

Dr. Roberts talks about injecting creativity into the system so that more educators are working in a safe space where they can be creative in the way they think about changing their schools. 

We need the ability to play with boundaries, including time and the way the day unfolds. The structures of the day can limit people’s ability to think creatively and change the future of the environment. 

Luke says that once you start to see systems, it’s so hard to unsee them. He references Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a systems thinker. 

Luke asks the audience to ponder how we think about change, not reduce but increase what we should do. 

Books that Luke Roberts Mentions on FocusED

The Grasshopper by Bernard Suits 

 

Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

Season 4, Episode 14 with Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts

Leading Better and Growing Faster with Guest Nathan Maynard

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ dereka206.sg-host.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. Let us know who you would like to hear from next. 

Season 4, Episode 14 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guests Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts

Season 4, Episode 14 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guests Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts

Restorative Justice in Schools with Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts 

This is Season 4, Episode 14 of FocusED, and it features our guests, Nathan Maynard, and Luke Roberts. It was originally recorded live for a live 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 Nathan and Luke say about restorative justice, school discipline practices, social and emotional learning, school leadership…and so much more.

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Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts Bring Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Nathan Maynard is a renowned global leader in discipline and restorative practices. He has over 15 years of experience as a facilitator of the work throughout juvenile justice and educational settings.

He co-authored the Washington Post bestseller Hacking School Discipline, which is now an international bestseller in 21 countries. He was awarded as “Youth Worker of the Year” in Indiana. Nathan also is the Co-Founder of Highfive–international restorative practices training group and the first restorative behavior support software for schools. 

Nathan studied Behavioral Neuroscience at Purdue University. He is passionate about ending the school-to-prison pipeline crisis and closing the opportunity gap through implementing cutting-edge trauma-informed and belonging-focused discipline practices.

Dr. Luke first started as an Assistant Researcher in the early 2000s, interviewing over 200 children and young people on their experience of restorative practice; he then went on to become a restorative practitioner working with children at risk of suspension, including those involved in gang violence, and weapon carrying in London. 

This work included multi-agency partnerships with Youth Workers, Police, and Social Services as well as parents. 

His passion for restorative practices has helped in addressing issues of bullying, cyberbullying, and older peer coercion. His work was noticed by the Metropolitan Police, and he was asked to help Police Officers become more empathetic to young people. 

In the 2010s, he then went on to chair the first Young People conference in City Hall, exploring the risks of cyberbullying and online harm, which was led by young people. This work became an All-Party Parliamentary Group, with young people’s voices at the center, to influence politicians. 

He was asked to address youth violence in the prison service and work with the top four prisons of concern in 2015 by using restorative practices. This work left a lasting impression on him, and he developed a range of innovative models to support young people in custody and on release. 

Dr. Luke joined High Five (with Nathan) in 2022, where he brings his passion for championing young people’s voices and experiences with the power to change the system. As Chief Innovation Officer, he finds engaging and exciting ways to equip children with conflict resolution skills as well as future developments for High Five.

 

FocusED Show Notes with Nathan Maynard and Luke Roberts

Nathan started with his definition of restorative practices. Joe underscored the relational aspect of the definition. 

Luke emphasized the process. “If everything is restorative, nothing is restorative.” His question: are we repairing a relationship or building one from scratch? 

Nathan talked about how kids these days don’t respond to fear because they’re just not scared of adults like they used to be. 

Luke brings up a great point: we start with students as “the offender” when we talk about behavior. They’re still students. 

TJ asked a hard question about students and guns in schools. Nathan passes it to Luke lovingly, of course. Luke shifted the conversation from “fear” to “embarrassment.” Students need to claim power by coping with embarrassment…something to help them feel confident. 

Nathan pushed us to reflect on whether or not students are feeling ostracized and whether or not the school and the adults in it are compounding the problem. 

Don’t miss what Nathan says about our role in not glamorizing behaviors. 

One question that comes from the conversation is about the quality of our relationships in schools. What’s the quality of my relationship with [insert a misbehaving student’s name]? 

Luke talked about confirmation bias. Sometimes we look for the things we’ve heard about kids. Story matter. 

We asked Luke about his interviews with students. Here’s what they say: 

  • Am I being treated fairly?
  • Are the adults genuinely caring? Do they care about me? Did they give me time? 

Nathan talks about students needing to be involved for them to feel empowered. Let’s all commit to getting every student involved. This was a critical call to action from the podcast. 

Luke talked about the difference between the content of an experience and the quality of it. 

We asked about resources, books, and people to follow. Luke mentioned that one of the best resources is the internal resources, like adults who work in a school and might be having a conversation for the first time. 

Nathan ended with a question: what does peace look like at our school? 

 

Related School Leadership Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Nathan Maynard on Leading Better & Growing Faster w/ Joe and T.J.

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Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ dereka206.sg-host.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. Let us know who you would like to hear from next.