Leading is like coaching and its’ time for half time adjustments

Education consists of leaders who help lift others up and provide the capacity to grow.  As I was watching some sports games during the holiday break, it occurred to me how much coaches and leaders have in common.  Great coaches build successful programs by having a strong foundation that all players buy into and work hard to achieve.  The team becomes stronger than any one player.  Now compare coaches to effective leaders. If you have ever worked in more than 1 district or setting, then you have perspective to consider each leader and what did they do to help you and your organization improve and move forward. Also, consider what type of energy, positivity and mindset they established within your organization that created the climate and ultimately, the culture.  The leaders that have these traits did not just start using them one day – they developed them over time through experiences. All effective leaders in education find that they developed their leadership skills along the lines of serving others. This may have started with experiences including coaching, leading youth camps or clinics as that provided them the reason to go into education.  This is how I found the connection between so many education leaders and coaches.

As we are halfway through the 2018-19 school year, it is important that all leaders take time to reflect upon their work.  Coaches do this routinely during the halftime of each game that allows the team to make adjustments and strive for success.  As educators if we can do this more routinely it will provide greater clarity to our work.  Many leaders have found that one area that is a challenge is balancing the demands of the professional world with their personal life.  While we all recognize that “family comes first”, we also recognize that there are times our role impacts our personal life with demands that our outside our control.  Like great coaches, leaders must find the appropriate balance and I have found a resource from the book “Balance Like a Pirate” (authors Jessica Cabeen, Sarah Johnson and Jessica Johnson) that was so helpful.  It encourages leaders find a greater balance in their life by introducing 4 areas or quadrants to focus on:

  • Personal (this is your family and life away from school)
  • Passions (this represents your hobbies or things that you must do to fill your own bucket)
  • Positional (this represents your role within the school and what you must do there to be successful and move it forward)
  • Professional (this represents our role within education and what you must do to grow as a leader)

The book explained how it is important to focus equally in each of the 4 quadrants. This allows an educator to grow, both personally and professionally, and influence others in positive ways.

To help reflect at this mid-year, within each quadrant I also listed 3 sub areas that have provided me greater insight into the quadrants and is a twist from the book Balance Like A Pirate.  Like coaches, leaders of schools must ask themselves on a frequent basis what is working and what must change.  Here is greater clarity on each of these reflective areas:

  • Start ( What are things that should be done but you are not yet doing or things that would get better results)
  • Continue (What are the areas that are having an impact that you must continue or things that you must keep)
  • Stop (What are those things that are not working, not making an impact or others dislike)

 

 

By looking at the 3 sub areas within each of the 4 quadrants, it provide a quality reflective tool that helps educators and leaders to identify clearly the next steps to reach for excellence. Having this mindset in each of the 4 quadrants is a powerful tool leaders can use at the halftime (half way point) of our school year. Here is the same information presented in a graphic form:

 

 

Importance of Self Reflection

Personal

Start:

 

Continue:

 

Stop:

 

Passions

Start:

 

Continue:

 

Stop:

 

Positional

Start:

 

Continue:

 

Stop:

 

 

 

Professional

Start:

 

Continue:

 

Stop:

 

 

 

As you strive to grow but also have a balance in your work/personal life, I would be curious on your thoughts of the reflective tool.   Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

 

 

Importance of Humility

I have been fortunate to connect with many wonderful educators and leaders through social media in recent years.  They have been very helpful as they offer suggestions, provide insight and share their experiences that has allowed me to understand their journey.  I was recently listening to a podcast and the question was asked, “What is an important quality of a leader”?  This question was one that left me thinking and gave me deep reflection on what has allowed the leaders to continue to grow. While I thought of things like communication, relationships, visionary leadership, developing others etc….I finally landed on the answer of “Humility” as an important quality for leaders.  Here are 6 insights why I think Humility is an essential attribute for a school leader:

  1. Desire and Passion – One reason leaders continually develop is they have a desire to grow and learn. By having humility, leaders will maintain that desire and passion as they will not fall into the trap of thinking “they have arrived”. Having a desire to grow is always a common aspect of all leaders.
  2. Refining Core Principles – Humility will lead to continued growth that allow leaders to further define their vision, core values and purpose. These are essential to anyone who wants to cause a positive impact. Since things change so quickly in education, so does the importance of continually adapting and refining your key principles. Humility provides the foundation for the purpose for this continual growth.
  3. Perspectives – Being humble and understanding that “you do not have all the answers” will allow a leader to continually get better at listening and understanding other points of view. Understanding other perspectives is critical for a leader to move a single person or organization forward as that relationship is developed on a shared understanding.
  4. Servant Leadership – True leaders understand their purpose is to develop their school as an amazing place of learning for students and support and nurture teacher leadership. This comes down to understanding; a leader’s purpose is about serving others – not the leader themselves.  This reminded me of the phrase “Be Somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody”.  Humility allows the leader to recognize importance of helping others find success.
  5. Relationships – The most important part of a school are the people. This starts with building trusting relationships among students, staff and parents.  When leaders are humble and show that they do not know it all, but want to help the students become successful and support teachers, then it leads to a strong connection and building common ground.  This will lead to a positive relationship built on intentional interactions focused on what is best for others.
  6. Values – When leaders are authentic and in the moment – their core values shine. Leadership is about being of service to others and supporting others in the moment. The character of a leader is more important than any strategy.  Humility is an important part of the values of a leader.

 

As you strive to learn and stretch yourself as a leader, I would be curious on how you view the importance of humility as a leader.   Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

 

6 Researched Based ways to provide successful school leadership

In the last few years I have read many books and blogs, listened to podcasts, participated in Twitter and Voxer chats and been engaged in EdCamps.  I have valued these experiences as it has allowed me to meet connected educators, stretch my thinking by learning from others and develop a support system of growth.  One of the main topics of these experiences has been on Leadership.  As I continue to evolve as a school leader, I have tried to find “what does the data and research say regarding the most impactful ways of leadership in schools.”  Much of this effort has been in studying work of John Hattie and other education based research journals.  It also included reading the book by Peter DeWitt on Collaborative Leadership.  From those new learnings, below are my perspectives on 6 Researched Based ways leaders can provide school leadership that moves schools towards excellence.

  1. Connected Leaders – Research shows that no one can move a school forward by themselves as effectively as a team can.  Leaders must continually reflect, learn and stretch their thinking as it serves the purpose of challenging the status quo within the school. In today’s age, this means connecting with other leaders around you but also through social media.  This allows the leader to connect with others and learn new perspectives that can be applied to their role.
  2. Maximize Teacher Strengths – This important aspect of a leader’s role begins with helping teachers believe they can make a difference with students. To do this, leaders must get to know each staff member, build rapport and find unique ways to motivate each one to improve.  This area takes time as building rapport and understanding what motivates a staff member may take years – but this must always remain a focus area, as we must help staff constantly strive to improve. The key is to focus on growth – not change – as that allows each person to feel a buy in and grow within the PD framework of the school.  Leaders must also provide authentic feedback to those staff members as they try to stretch themselves and celebrate small wins so the staff member feels validated for their hard work.
  3. Instructional leadership – This is a key area for leaders as they must create the environment where staff feel empowered to share ideas, take risks and change practices in order to better meet the learning needs of students. Leaders can accelerate this work by providing a vision for improvement, being transparent with staff on the purpose of the work and providing the platform (ex. resources, time, support) so teachers focus on growth and student learning.
  4. Providing Feedback – All educators value hearing from their supervisor’s words of praise. However, to truly help someone reflect and move forward, the feedback that is provided to educators must be related to the goals of the PD work and school.  We must provide authentic feedback that is specific, positive and helpful.   In addition, feedback is also how we receive the information from others, even negative feedback.  I have learned that when receiving feedback that we may not like (but need to hear), that we be intentional on listening, ask clarifying questions and for examples of how they would want it done differently.  This helps lead to a more clear understanding of the purpose and intention of the feedback.  Providing feedback also relates to how we work with our students in the learning process. It is significant when students can self-asses their own work; identify what worked and what to do with items they struggled with. Students only learn these self-assessment techniques through the learning process and feedback received from teachers.

 

  1. Professional Learning (PD) – In order to help each teacher grow in areas that relate to the school’s work, leaders must provide professional learning that includes the following features:
    1. Have a clear focus of 1-2 goal areas so everyone is moving the same direction (not necessarily the same speed)
    2. Teacher voice their needs and leaders provide differentiated work so everyone can learn at their current levels
    3. Focus on how the work relates to student learning
    4. The work must keep teachers engaged and challenge their existing beliefs
    5. Develop a climate of “risk taking”
    6. Provide time for reflection and then time for adjustments to be made (a key for growth)

 

  1. School Community Engagement – As leaders innovate ways to move schools forward, sometimes we forget one of the most essential ways is to involve the people outside of the building. In other words, it is important to build partnerships with the parents/school community and strive to make meaningful, trusting connections with the parents that you can partner with on behalf of the students. To create this climate, leaders must provide the platform for parents and reasons for them to work/learn with you.  For example, this may be doing quarterly “coffee with the Principal” meetings, Parent EdCamps, getting feedback from parents etc.   Most importantly, this rapport is developed one conversation at a time when you get the chance to listen to the parent and share your beliefs on how you want to help support their child.  Does this take time – most definitely but creating trusting relationships with the parents is one of the most important things leaders can do.

As you strive to learn and stretch yourself as a leader, I would be curious on how you are evaluating what methods will work that provide lasting impact for your leadership role.   Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

What you are Thankful for impacts your school culture

As we approach Thanksgiving break, I always spend some time reflecting upon the various aspects of our school community and how thankful I am for the efforts of others. I wanted to share these with you as a way to help all of us keep our work and roles in perspective. What you are Thankful for impacts your school culture – here are the various people that I am proud to work with that make a difference every day.

I’m THANKFUL for our teachers, who work tirelessly creating engaging lessons and activities for students so they can develop skills to be successful adults.  In so many cases, our teachers work well beyond their contract hours, spending their own money on student needs and making connections with students even when the students may not always show how much they appreciate the teacher’s efforts. Each one of you is a difference maker and our students truly need your passion for teaching/learning!

I am THANKFUL for our students as they provide the source of energy, joy, creativity and desire for each of us to do our very best. They amaze me daily – with their intellect, kindness, resiliency and true focus on doing their best and treating others the way they would like to be treated.

I am THANKFUL for our front office, as they greet every student, every parent and every visitor who comes through the doors. The reflection of our school as a supportive and caring place starts with them. They also take phone calls from folks that aren’t always pleased with us but yet remain positive and focused on kids. Each one of you makes our purpose and goals for students come true.

I am THANKFUL for our custodians, who answer every beck and call for more paper towels, clean a spill and make our facility “just right” for our teachers and students. I appreciate how you do your best for others, every single day.

I am THANKFUL for our paras, who work diligently with our most vulnerable and sometimes challenging students day by day, hour by hour. Your role is so vital for student success but your recognition goes unnoticed by many folks outside our walls.

I am THANKFUL for our counselors, psychologist, social worker, and health professionals who care for and tend to the emotional, social, and physical needs of our students. You help make our students school day positive and provide the support/care that so many students need on a daily basis.

I am THANKFUL for our food service workers, who rise early to prepare morning and noon meals for students, some of whom this will be the only meals they receive. I appreciate so much how you greet students by name as they come through the line and show you care. Each of you is a difference maker.

I am THANKFUL for our bus drivers, who carry our most precious cargo twice per day at a minimum. Your job is so challenging and yet you do this because you appreciate students.

I am THANKFUL for our assistant principal, who works endlessly with students and families, and spends countless hours at school events, often at the expense of time with her own family. She treats our students with support but also high expectations and makes decisions on “what is best for students”.

I am THANKFUL to our parents/guardians who at the middle school age may feel like their involvement is no longer a need in the school setting. However, I truly appreciate your support and in the variety of way’s you give back to our school. This occurs in your involvement in our PTO, attending PT conferences, attending our Parent Book Study-Coffee with the Principal or other presentations. I value how you help encourage your child to:

To be kind and encourage others

To be a friend for others that are lonely

To be positive in every situation

To work hard and focus on improvement

 

These are the ways they will help change our world!  Your role is now more than ever important in the development of your child (ren) as this is the time they develop lifelong habits. I am so proud that we partner with you to make every day for your child the very best!

Our lives are busy, challenging and each of us have different hurdles we must face and some of these impact others. We have choices in life, and we each choose our perspective, mindset and how we respond to situations. It may not be easy, but we have that choice. I am THANKFUL to each of you for your support, encouragement and focus on helping our kids reach their goals. The education of a student truly “takes a village” and am I so grateful for the people we have working and supporting our students.

I hope each of you have a fabulous week and a safe, terrific upcoming Thanksgiving break. I hope each of you can help our students make it great!

I would be curious on what you are Thankful for in your school community and how that impacts the culture. Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

 

 

3 Ways To Maximize Parent Conferences

Across our country, schools have routine Parent Teacher Conferences. The timing of this event may vary based upon each district’s calendar but the event itself has probably not changed over many years. Like many educators, as we strive to innovate our schools, I also recently asked the question “how do we maximize our Parent Teacher Conferences”? Below is an overview of the guiding framework we implemented to create a positive and information sharing event for students, staff and parents.

Culture is a reflection of the school community as far as the attitude and interactions of all of those involved. Building a positive culture is a series of intentional interactions focused on what is best for kids; that must involve the parents as well as the students and teachers. We took our Parent Teacher Conferences as an opportunity to build our culture and gather feedback as we continue to strive for excellence. This included:

 

  1. Innovating the format of the Parent Teacher Conference to include students. This included the following:
    • Student Led Conference – Encouraging parents to bring their child to the conferences so that the discussion included the student. If parents and teachers are talking about the student – why not involve the person that everyone is trying to help?
    • Student Showcase – Creating a portion of the event as a “Student Showcase” where teachers display the student learning that is occurring within the classroom. This may include student work samples, videos, products, models and more. This allows the parent and student to have conversations about the learning and a better understanding for parents on the skills being developed by the student.
  2. Building Relationships with your Parents – Conferences are one of the few times most of your parent community is within your building. It is important to maximize and further strengthen the connection with families and be authentic and create strong relationships so they see you, the administrators, as real people who care about their child. We did this 2 ways including:
    • Meet N Greet with the parents – We had our parents enter only through the front entrance and our administrative team sat right there at a table as they entered. This allowed us to meet and greet each parent and have real conversations. Parents appreciate seeing the administrators but they appreciate even more a chance to get to know them as real people and having conversations with them about their child.
    • Parent feedback – As parents entered and we had conversations, we also shared how important it was to get their feedback about our school. This reinforces how it is a school-parent partnership and gives the parents opportunities to share ideas and concerns. We had computers set up and encouraged parents to complete a quick survey as they waited to go to conferences. This allowed us to get a significant number of responses on our work as a school and provided great insight that will help determine our next steps.
  3. Move beyond the grade to student learning – Deep Conversations about student learning is the emphasis of our conference. At our school, we always share how “our students are more than a test score” – they are people who we strive to get to know in a supportive environment while developing key content and essential skills. Our purposes is to prepare the students for anything in their lives – not just the next grade. It is natural to discuss briefly the grade and missing work. However, it is more essential to find out how a child is progressing with their skills, how they respond to challenges and how they interact with others. Here are the types of questions we provided to our parents to ask of our teachers during conferences:
  • How well does my child work with others?
  • How would you describe the work my child produces? Is it of high quality or does it seem to be rushed and not thoughtfully done?
  • How well does my child communicate to his peers and to teachers?
  • How does my child handle challenging tasks and/or failure?
  • Does my child need extra help in any areas or do you think my child needs any enrichment?
  • What is an area my child struggles in (academic or social/emotional)? What strategies are you trying and do you have any suggestions how we can help our child at home?
  • What is a strength of my child (academic or social/emotional)?

 

Culture is the most significant factor influencing the success of a school. This involves our parents and partnering with them to meet the needs of their child. The new format and adjustments we made to Parent Teacher Conferences allowed us to meet our student’s needs, strengthen our relationships with our parents and get their feedback.  All of this work will support us as we strive for excellence.

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you regarding your view of how to maximize Parent Teacher Conferences. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Five Keys to School Leadership

If you search “leadership” on the web you will find over a million pieces of information or pictures. It is a topic that stretches from one career to another. In recent years, this has included numerous books, tweets and other social media information. Like many things in our society, sometimes we make a topic very complex when in reality it comes down to a few variables. When we think of effective leadership in schools, from my perspective there are five keys to leadership that individuals can focus on that moves their school community forward towards excellence. Here are the five keys:

  1. Foster Effective Relationships – The most effective schools have common features – they have quality relationships between students, staff and parents. Establishing strong relationships takes time and a consistent focus on “what’s best for kids” that includes:
    • It occurs one interaction at a time.
    • Knowing the names of students and taking an interest in them as people. This is true for staff and parents as well.
    • Supporting staff through challenges and be empathetic towards their needs.
    • Taking every opportunity to be visible within the building and taking time to share successes and challenges with the parents about their child.
    • In Leadership, character is more important than strategy….lead with integrity and honesty.
  2. Effective Instructional Leadership – Schools are designed to develop the skills and competencies within the students over time so they can be prepared for anything in their future. This takes quality instruction, sound pedagogy, effective assessment and consistent curricular practices. No one person can be the expert on these array of topics, but leaders who are instructional leaders share the following traits:
    • They are constantly learning new skills and strategies that enhance practices in their school.
    • They share best practices with their staff and take an interest in helping others grow as learners.
    • They share with staff, students and parents the purpose of instruction so the overall purpose and experiences within the school are the same.
    • They are firm with their principles but flexible with their practices. They adjust to meet staff needs that in turn impact student needs.
  3. Visionary Leadership – As society is changing so are schools and the purpose of our education system. A leader must be aware of the needs of the students and the supports staff need to work with students. This takes constant feedback opportunities and being aware of societal needs that need to be implemented within the school in a timely basis. Also, the impact of budget and understanding how to maximize the school facility for learning are essential too.
  4. Developing Capacity in others – The best schools are made of rock star teachers. Developing others is an important part of a leader’s role. From my perspective, a leader is defined “not by their power but of their ability to empower and influence others to grow”. Some key components to this include:
    • Always work on developing relationships and building trust
    • Find out what motivates each staff member and use that to help them find the purpose to grow.
    • Remove the barriers within the teacher classroom so they can work with students and create success.
    • Get into teacher classrooms and provide feedback that supports their growth.
    • Provide opportunities for teachers to give feedback to you on their needs and have them help lead PD.
    • Magnify the strengths of the teachers, not their deficits
  5. Create Sustainable Change – If we think about sustained success of schools, it takes leadership that is about “making others better as a result of the leader’s presence and making sure that the impact last in their absence”. This is true as far as the building culture, carrying forward with traditions that recognize growth/success of students and staff while maintaining a positive climate that leads to rigorous/relevant learning. The only way this can occur is if we create teacher leaders and a culture that is focused on kids and their needs.

If you are reading this then you are already striving for excellence and have a focus on growth as a leader. I would be curious on how you strive for excellence as a leader and provide the very best for kids. Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

8 Keys for Striving for Excellence

In any career or task the individual works to attain a certain level of success. A new teacher may feel successful after completing the 1st year of teaching, a veteran teacher feels content when they have lessons/units planned out well in advance and an administrator may feel satisfied once they are in their building for several years. However, this type of approach is not sufficient in today’s rapidly changing world – our students deserve the very best. All educators must improve day to day and get better. In short, educators must strive for excellence in all that they do. No one person is perfect – but striving for excellence does not mean that someone is perfect. Instead, it means that the individual recognizes that they must continually get better at their craft as students need their best. To do this, learners try to learn at all times in a variety of ways as they recognize that learning can happen anywhere, anytime. This consistent approach on striving to get better leads to excellence.  From my perspective and learnings from others, I think there are 8 ways that learners strive for excellence in everything they do.
1. They focus on what they can control – In many situations there will be problems or challenges that may range from lack of budget, schedule constraints, lack of enthusiasm……but leaders focus on finding solutions and not focusing their time/efforts on things that they have no control over.
2. They model the behaviors they want to create – When striving for excellence, others will look at the leaders and see how they handle stress, conflict, interactions with people – so how a leader models kindness, positive intent, empathy and a focus on kids will resonate with people.
3. They gather energy from interactions with others – Leading can be draining both physically and emotionally. Leaders who strive to make daily impact when they interact with others in a positive way get energy and strength from those individuals. In turn, they listen to the needs of others and provide encouragement to their work. This strengthens the relationships and builds greater momentum.
4. They never stop learning – Leaders continually find new ways to learn from others. This may be through social media such as Podcasts, Voxer Chats, Twitter or Facebook. But it also includes reading books and listening to others through conversations.
5. Reflection is a constant part of their routine – Leaders always reflect on current practices and ask “why are we using that practice” and “is there a better way that can be achieved”. This reflection allows leaders to challenge the status quo.
6. Inspire others and their behaviors through influence – Leaders recognize the most impactful thing they can do is Influence others by supporting them, encouraging their growth and providing them feedback along the way.
7. They develop leaders through shared vision – Leaders recognize that the “smartest person in the room is the room” and strive to help others realize that when they work together there is no limit to what can be accomplished.
8. They create sustainable change – Leaders know that they cannot do it alone; the most powerful thing they can do is create leaders who can carry on when they are not there so the organization continues to run at high levels in their absence.
If you are reading this then you are already striving for excellence. I would be curious on how you strive for excellence and what aspects do you recognize that are important in your growth and others as we strive to provide the very best for kids. Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

Learn
Empower
Adapt
Delegate
Engage
Reflect
Serve

Power of Momentum

The change in schools is rapid across our country as educators strive to prepare students for an evolving world. This includes change in instructional strategies, technology, grading practices, schedules, assessments and social emotional learning practices. What allows the “change” to be successful? It is momentum.

Momentum by definition is the “motion of a moving body” and in education you could relate it to the practice of learning a new skill, implementing it, reflection/adjustment and then further implementation that leads to sustained success. As I have read, listened and learned from others such as John Maxwell – the question becomes “why do some initiatives gain momentum and others fade away?” Listed below from my perspectives are the 8 reasons why momentum allows change process to be successful.

  1. When the change process is considered, the leaders must keep efforts FUTURE DRIVEN so the change will ensure students/schools can strive for excellence in a changing world.
  2. In any change process, there must be a FOCUS to “why” change must occur. This keeps everyone’s attention on how it helps students and the learning experience.
  3. The educators involved in the change will use past experiences and learn from it to SHAPE the change that fits their school and systems. Do not try to fit someone else’s change to your system – make it yours!
  4. The foundation of schools are people, so the change process must involve people COLLABORATING in highly effective/efficient levels.
  5. During any change, it is imperative to CELEBRATE small wins and do this by all members of the team.
  6. The leaders/educators must show PASSION for “why” the change is needed so it truly impacts the most important part of schools – the students.
  7. The change process must create ACTION within it that leads to a positive difference for students. Words by themselves do not create change nor does hope – only does true action.
  8. In any change process there will be mistakes – the leaders must show CHARACTER and admit mistakes, learn from it so that desired adjustments can be made for long term success.

Schools are in a constant state of change due to many variables. Some of these are internal and others are external and beyond control. It is important school leaders keep the above-mentioned aspects in mind so momentum is developed and leads to accelerated change for sustained success.

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about the ways you sustain momentum in the change process within your school and organization. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

 

How do we change our culture?

Education leaders and learners recognize the most important aspect impacting schools and student achievement is the culture. But what is school culture, how do you improve it and what should you avoid as a leader?

Here are some key points regarding school culture that I learned from the folks within my PLN on what is culture, how to change it, how to make it positive and build a strong culture over time.

School Culture Defined

Culture is the school’s personality or behavior (why staff do things). It is a slow process to change and the culture influences the values and beliefs of those that work there. On the other hand, Climate is the attitude of the staff within the school and this can change much quicker than culture.

Ways to shake up the culture

To change the culture, then it is important to disrupt the status quo that may include using things like:

  • Praise and compliment risk taking
  • Make meetings fun and celebrate efforts of those that are supporting the desired culture
  • Push boundaries of past practice so staff can consider “why did we do what we have done” and “is there a better way”?
  • Encourage the development of your most effective teachers so they grow into leaders
  • Embrace an open culture
  • Create an amazing school environment

How to build positive culture

  • Building positive culture is a series of intentional interactions focused on positivity and what is best for kids
  • Clarify what success looks like and keep the focus on a few essential elements
  • Monitor progress along the way and address issues as they arise
  • Express gratitude everywhere you go
  • Honor the right people and reward the right things
  • Celebrate areas of success (no matter how small)
  • Maximize the strengths of your people
  • Real growth occurs by connections and relationships

How to build a strong culture

  • Help the staff to connect to their values
  • Identify a common vision that is supported by effective professional learning
  • Develop teacher leaders who help lead Professional Learning
  • Develop a culture of innovation and empowering students
  • Raise expectations by supporting teachers by pushing them beyond their comfort zone
  • Engage with students, staff and parents
  • Bring positive energy every day
  • Seek feedback from the students, listen to them and act upon it

Culture is the most significant factor influencing the success of a school. Culture drives expectations and beliefs and that leads to the behavior of the staff. As leaders, we help decide that culture by our modeling, our passion, optimism and purposeful tasks. As Simon Sinek shared, “Leadership isn’t about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” Leaders must support, encourage and develop the staff so the culture becomes the positive driving force behind school change.

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you regarding your view of school culture. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Why Communication Matters

As we all start the new school year, there are many opportunities to create new connections, move our buildings forward and help build a school culture that is innovative and great for kids. To be effective in this role and efficient with time, all great leaders understand “why communication matters”. Communication, or the lack of it, may be one of the few factors that determines why certain leaders, initiatives, programs either are successful or fail.  Below are some important foundations of communication.

Let’s review what we know about communication:

  • Most leaders lose jobs due to poor communication and relationships rather than test scores.
  • Leaders must recognize that you must work hard every day to tell your school’s story as that is what we stand for and what the school is about.
  • Every opportunity to communicate to even just one parent will help either build your school’s vision or weaken it.
  • Always be proactive with communication to the parent community – if you are not telling your school’s story then someone else is telling it for you.

Key aspects of Effective Communication:

  • Should be truthful with stakeholders about the efforts
  • Must be Relevant/timely and must use quality communication – not quantity.
  • Use varied types of communication (ex. email, phone call, and social media) as some situations call for different types of communication. You will know your school community and what works best – but there are some instances where a personal phone call is the best way to resolve an issue instead of a simple email.
  • Timely communication is vital
  • If it is a sensitive issue – have the conversation in person (no email) and if you are concerned on how something was shared – go to the source and find out.
  • Avoid sarcasm and defensiveness – don’t make it about you – make it about moving your school forward

Communication Within your staff:

  • Begins the process of building trust among staff
  • Be Efficient with staff communication and have a routine when it is distributed compared to “all building emails” all the time (ex. have an internal weekly email newsletter)
  • Should inform/organize and motivate others
  • To build the vision and culture, keep in mind the analogy of “shout praise and whisper criticism” – so visit individually with someone when there is a concern and then collectively to everyone share the praise and supports
  • Make the praise authentic, specific and immediate

Communication is a part of a leader’s job and happens throughout the day…..every day in every email, phone conversation and social media post. It is a key attribute that effective leaders or organizations all have in common.  The role of a school leader is very complex and each day places different demands upon leaders.  Using these basic characteristics will help ensure communication is effective and moves your organization forward.

I look forward to hearing from you about your insights into the importance of communication within your role.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve