Everyone of us is a leader. We are leaders on our teams, in our families, in our classrooms. We each own 20 square feet of this school district and we are all leaders within that 20 square feet. But leadership is not just a title. It is not a power bestowed upon us. Within our 20 square feet we control our behavior and our culture. As a leader, we must understand ourselves so that we can continue to work to be the best version of ourselves.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Tim Kight on Monday after our assembly. He reminded me of a training that he conducted with the HCSD admin team two years ago. The training helped up learn more about our leadership style. During our conversation I was reminded of how much I learned about myself by analyzing my style.
Over the weekend, I challenge you to take some time to look at the following documents. Be honest with yourself about yourself and determine your style. Read about the strengths and weaknesses that come along with your leadership style. Then think about your behavior.
Reflect on how your style can help you and how it can negatively impact your culture and behavior.
Here is your staff update for November 17th.
I was planning to write a blog post about how incredibly proud I am of this staff. In preparation for the blog post, I decided to look up the dictionary definition of the word “pride”. As I was reading the definitions, I couldn’t help but notice this definition from Merriam Webster in which “pride” is defined as a company of lions or a group of lions forming a social unit.
As I read this definition, my thinking changed. I started to reflect on the connections that we have to one another and the great team that we have created here. My focus for the blog post shifted from being about how proud I am of all of you, to how proud I am of the team that we have become.
Just like a group of lions that work together to survive; we have formed trusting relationships that allow us to strive to be our best. We speak the same language. We share the same values. We are a “unit”. Think about it, we spend more time together than we do with our own families.
As I walked around our school with two visiting administrators on Thursday, I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of this staff. What we have is special. It can’t be found everywhere.
As I was sharing your classrooms with our visitors, I made a conscious effort to enjoy the moment. It’s not often that any of us take time to slow down and celebrate the beauty of our moments. And let me tell you, the moments you create for students are truly worth celebrating.
So, thank you! Thank you for the work you do. Thank you for the time and energy that you put in each and every day. I am beyond proud to be a member of this unit.
I am proud to be one of us.
Here is your staff update for November 10th.
We have been working so hard to build our R Factor skills. Last week I had the privilege of being part of a group who provided R Factor training the entire staff at Milton Union schools in Springfield. I was in charge of teaching R1-Press Pause. It was a great refresher for me and really got me thinking and reflecting about how we all use R1-Press Pause.
For many of us, it is easy to press pause, especially in an uncomfortable or potentially uncomfortable situation. This doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes let my emotions take over causing me to forget to (or choose not to) press pause. But, just as forgetting to pause can be detrimental, so can pressing pause and staying there for too long.
When I was reviewing my presenter notes last week, this quote stuck out to me and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it:
Your level of comfort is not a reference point for what you should do.
On our journey to ELITE we must pause so we can see our events with clarity and courage. Courage is such an important piece of the R1!
This week at school I was able to witness a courageous example of two staff members who PRESSED PAUSE with courage, GOT THEI MINDS RIGHT and then STEPPED UP so that they could make steps to improve a difficult situation. These two staff members could have gotten stuck on pause. They could have let animosity build. But instead, they responded to their event with courage. They did not let their level of comfort (and in this case, their level of discomfort) be a reference point for what they should do. Because of their willingness to STEP UP and be vulnerable, they have created a new and very positive E for one another.
Take some time to reflect on how you PRESS PAUSE.
Do you forget to pause and let emotions guide you?
Do you get stuck on pause?
Do you let your level of comfort be a reference point for your RESPONSE?
Pressing pause is a gateway skill in R Factor. How well you implement R1 will dictate your successful R to any E.
Here is your staff update for November 3rd.
We have been building our R Factor behaviors in Hilliard City Schools for several years. My staff and I have been extremely intentional about teaching these behaviors to our students. This year is our second year of R Factor student training. As a building principal, it is fascinating to see how this training has impacted the culture of our school.
On Wednesday, two second grade boys were sent inside from recess because they were pushing each other and acting all around Below the Line. I began speaking to the boys and had to take a moment so that I could press pause and get my mind right. In my very brief moment of pause, I was able to think clearly about the outcome that I wanted the for this situation. It wasn't that I wanted the boys to be in trouble or lose recess. What I really wanted was for them to act Above the Line at recess so they could have a fun time with their friends. Even though I had taken time to get my mind right, I was still surprised by what came out of my mouth next. I looked at both boys and in my best "disappointed principal voice" I said, "Well, this is on you, you own your 20 square feet so I'm going to ask you a question. Do you want a consequence for your behavior or would you like to accept a challenge?" Very quickly each boy said, "A challenge!"
So, I talked to them about their impulsive Below the Line behavior. We discussed what it means to be on auto-pilot. They agreed that their behavior fit the descriptions. Then we talked about what it means to be intentional and on-purpose. They easily rattled of many on-purpose behaviors that they could have participated in at recess. So, then, I gave them their challenge. I challenged the boys to go to recess the next day and make on-purpose, intentional decisions to be Above the Line. They eagerly accepted this challenge and happily headed out the door.
The next day rolled along as usual and to be honest, I'd forgotten about this challenge until I say two red-faced, sweaty seven year olds appear in my office at 12:45 to give me their recess report with big grins on their faces. I brought the boys into my office and called their teacher in to join me. The boys could barely contain their excitement as they shared all of their Above the Line behaviors. I'm sure you could imagine what they said. But the rest of the story is even better. Their teacher and I asked them how they felt after having such a positive recess. These two out of breath little boys explained how happy they were and that because they were Above the Line, they noticed their friends were being Above the Line, too! Next, we talked about R6-Build Skill. The boys quickly realized that the skill they were building was being positive leaders. They decided that they wanted to try this again and continue to report the impact of their Above the Line behavior.
My challenge to my staff and to myself is to continue to think about the OUTCOMES that we hope for when we are presented with EVENTS. Then, press pause and get our minds right so we can choose the most Above the Line R for the situation.
What if we give more children recess challenges? How would that change the culture of our playground?
This experiment proved that when children are INTENTIONAL about their actions they can and they will make the Above the Line choice.
Here is your staff update for October 27.
I have had such a great time coming around to rooms and filling out your #jwgrows forms. If I haven't gotten to you yet, I will hopefully get to you soon!
Here are some of the goals that teachers in our building have.
I have learned so much for doing the #jwgrows observations that I want to make sure you have time to do some, too! So, I am CANCELLING the staff meeting on October 26th in the hopes that you do the following:
1. Find 2 people to come in and observe YOU.
2. Find 2 people to observe.
3. Reflect on your PAP
At our November 10th staff meeting, we will share what we've learned by observing each other for our #jwgrows challenge and we will reflect on our PAP progress.
Remember in order to be Better Today Than Yesterday and Better Tomorrow Than Today we must discipline ourselves to focus on becoming the BEST VERSION OF US! Observation and reflection are two ways that we can continue to grow.
I can't wait to hear about what we all learn from our #jwgrows challenge.
Here is your staff update for October 19th.
In the past, I’ve shared with you the analogy of a marathon runner hitting the 20th mile. In case you don’t remember this analogy, I’ll share it again.
The 20th mile is where the majority of marathon runners drop out of the race, not the in first mile and not in the last, but the 20th. I bring this up to you now because we are closing in on our 20th mile. We started the school in a dead sprint and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon. We’re coming off a week in which we had visitors three out of five days!
Next week is conference week; our 20th mile. We’re stressed, we’re tired, and we’re spread too thin. At this point in the school year the thing that separates the average from the ELITE is our attitude and our mindset. Let’s acknowledge that this upcoming week is going to be challenging and then, let’s resist the urge to BCD. Let’s resist the urge to be short with one another. Let’s change the story we’re telling ourselves and remember that we GET to meet with our students’ parents. And, we GET to share all of the amazing things our students are doing.
I’ve had so much fun sitting in on conferences with many of you. Let’s go into next week with a positive mindset. We’re a team and we’re in this together. Lean on your colleagues. Help someone who’s stressed and accept help when you’re feeling stressed. Let’s not tap out in our 20th mile. Let’s push through and we’ll come out on the other side as a stronger team and further down the road on our journey to ELITE.
Here is your staff update for October 13th.
The Lead Now Framework has been guiding me as I work as your principal this school year. Recently, I’ve studied the area of COMPETENCE. Through my reading, I’ve learned that competence is technical trust. It is established through repeated experience that you all have with me as we solve problem and get things done. (Also known to us as GSDing!)
But what I love most about the area of competence is this quote:
Not only does competence involve what a leader does but more importantly how the leader is able to make other people better.
When I read this statement I was reminded that we are on the right journey.
You have taken a big step this year as you have made yourselves vulnerable by participated in our #jwgrows challenge. Your signs are up with your goals posted. And, many of you have started observing each other. You are all competent leaders. There is no better way to make others better than to take the opportunity to watch each other as we teach. I know that getting and giving feedback can feel uncomfortable, but we will all be better for it. So, embrace the discomfort and take the opportunity to become better.
We ARE on a journey to ELITE! Keep up the great work. I will continue to analyze my own leadership so that I can create conditions for you to be at your best.
Please tweet your pictures and thoughts from your classroom observations using #jwgrows in your tweets.
Here is your staff update for October 6.
This staff is amazing. Have you noticed the amount of visitors we get around here? Everyone wants to come and see the incredible things that are happening at our school. This week I’ve been wondering if it’s possible that being in the spotlight can cause us to go blind to the fact that change might still need to happen.
Could feeling like things are going really well actually cause us to become average or worse? It’s important to reflect on this and make sure that we don’t allow ourselves to slip.
Have you said or thought any of the following things lately?
1-I do everything right.
2-I do that already.
3-I know this.
4-I’ve always done it this way.
This week we had our first ever half day math data teams. And, we got uncomfortable. Personally, I love nothing more than that uncomfortable feeling and then working through that feeling and getting to the other side where change happens. However, when it comes to math, we haven’t had the luxury of spending a lot of time being uncomfortable together. We’ve met for math data teams during planning time and staff meetings, but we have not spent large chunks of time digging into our practice. This week, that all changed. I watched this staff dive into amazing conversations about the way we question kids, the data that we need to look at more closely and the extensions and interventions we need to provide to our kids. I heard celebrations and concerns and I saw everyone get uncomfortable. I was reminded that even when you’re achieving at a high level, it’s important to take a step back and realize that we’re not perfect, we’re not right all the time and we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to admit that we have things to learn.
I’ve never worked in a place where I’ve felt more comfortable being vulnerable. I’ve never worked with a staff that I trust more. When you get to the edge and you’re feeling really uncomfortable, what are you going to do? Is this your internal dialogue?
1-I do everything right.
2-I do that already.
3-I know this.
4-I’ve always done it this way.
Or, are you ready to take a leap?
Here is your staff update for September 29th.
“You become what you choose.” These words have stuck with me since I heard Tim Kight say them this summer at an administrator retreat.
I have reflected on who I am and who I want to be. Then on Monday morning a colleague of mine ran into my office and said “Can you name your personal values? And, I mean without thinking about it, can you just rattle them off.” I stared at him blankly for a moment, paused to think and then said, “…No!”
And, ever since that moment, my head has been swirling as I’ve tried to pinpoint my own personal values. For the past few days, I have opened my mind to things that inspire me. I have paid close attention to what drives me and what I struggle with. I have revisited some of my favorite books, watched some TED Talks and just talked to people about who I want to be. I think I have landed on three core personal values:
As I work each day to live out my personal values, I challenge you to identify yours. I challenge you to broadcast your values to the others so they can hold you accountable for who you choose to become.
Here is your staff update for September 22.
I often write about how much I love my staff and this year is no exception. The selfless acts I witness every day truly make my heart feel like it could burst. I love seeing the way we all work as a team; the way we have each other’s backs and the way we truly care about one another. But, today I feel like we reached a new level; a level often reached only by family.
It all started when I hurried to the bathroom. As many educators know, going to the bathroom is a luxury in an elementary school. And at my school it’s an even greater luxury because we have quite a lack of staff bathrooms. So, I was very excited when I fast-walked into the staff workroom to find an unoccupied bathroom. I had to make my way through a group of teachers who were hurriedly laminating, paper cutting, team planning and problem solving, but no one had stopped me as I made my way to my final destination. I smiled and retreated inside for a 30 second vacation. As I was reveling in the momentary silence, I quickly heard the familiar sound of my name being called. All of a sudden, I realized that what I heard was a teacher asking me a question as she yelled through the bathroom door. I couldn’t help but yell back, “Are you seriously talking to me when I’m in the bathroom? I swear this is just like being at home!” When I opened the door I was greeted with the laughter of a workroom full of teachers. The culprit however, was hiding from me.
So, to say that we love each other is an understatement. Power of the team was taken to another level today. And, I must say, there are no people who I’d rather communicate with through bathrooms doors.
Stay ELITE my friends and know that my door is always open…unless of course it’s closed, and then you can just yell through it.
Here is your staff update for September 15.