Supercharge Summer Staff Retreats

Part 1 of our Building Culture and Commitment Over the Summer Series

Over the past few weeks, we have received several emails, Tweets and direct messages from PIRATE leaders interested in hosting summer retreats. YAY!  

Summer months are definitely time to relax, recharge and refresh after a year of hard work and learning, but don’t let these months slip away without taking full advantage of several ways to continue to build rapport with your staff.  We believe there are three types of summer experiences for your team that are well worth the time they take to put together: retreats, summer learning, and socials. Today’s blog post is all about the retreats!! But before you pop open your laptop to start the planning, you’ll want to think about the goals you have in mind for the time you will have with your team to make sure a retreat is the right type of event for you!

Summer Retreat Goals: 

  • Culture building
  • Relationship building
  • Rapport building
  • Team building
  • Goal-driven and FUN

Staff retreats are a perfect way to build trust, connect with your team and have some fun. When implemented well, they are a great way to spend some time together with your crew.  When planning a retreat, think about fun ways for your team to collaborate, rely on each other, and tap into their collective problem-solving skills. Retreats are a perfect time for a little healthy competition mixed in with the fun.  Scavenger hunts, BreakoutEdu activities, group selfie contests etc. are all great ideas as part of a retreat.

Retreats aren’t the time to learn new curriculum or hear about the latest mandates, but they can be a great time to have some more relaxed opportunities to build and/or refine your collective vision.  Activities that reveal passions and best hopes for the school going forward are perfectly appropriate for a retreat.

In a powerful blog post, principal Jimmy Casas shares his thoughts about retreats:

Summer Retreats: “This may surprise you a bit, but when district or building leaders do not come prepared with specific agendas and a specific focus to what the retreat will entail, we risk our folks not investing in the process and therefore leaving the experience disappointed. If this experience is repeated the following year, the retreat becomes nothing more than a check mark that reflects an item taken off the summer list. And by the way, if you are going to call it a retreat, then leave the campus; include some activities that promote teamwork, bonding, and genuine investment in each other. Holding all-day meetings does not constitute a retreat.”

If you are planning a summer retreat, we would LOVE for you to share some of your ideas and resources with all of us here: Lead Like a PIRATE: Summer Retreat Ideas   and of course, share them with us in the #LeadLAP hashtag.  One of the best parts of being a PIRATE is our willingness to share and then pillage from each other! We look forward to learning with you!

Shelley and Beth

It Doesn’t Take a Title to Lead

Flipping Our End of Year Energy Contributed post by Nili Bartley

Many people have asked if Lead Like a PIRATE is just for principals. We feel very deeply that leadership doesn’t require titles. Check out this powerful post by Nili Bartley, a tech integration specialist, that shows the power of just that. Thank you, Nili, for all you do to make education better for students and teachers!

Beth and Shelley

Flipping Our End of Year Energy

Recently I saw this post shared by close friends who happen to be teachers.  I totally get the humor in it and I adore Melissa McCarthy, but I can’t help but wonder this; if that’s what we look like on the last day of school, what in the world will we look like on the first?

d1070600c4aa30e243e420c091ee78b3(Meme found here)

This has been the mindset of so many educators for so long, thank goodness Lead Like a PIRATE is spreading a shift in thinking; inspire your teachers to run in, not out.  Like everyone else, I love summer and of course I’m tired, but there’s a difference between exhaustion and deflation.  The energy I left school with, the magic that brewed during the final days only gave me inspiration to break down the doors in just a couple of months.

What pushed my energy off the charts?  Simple.  People trusted me, we put our heads together, and took action.  Anything new for many brings hesitation, but we must never ever give up. It took a lot of time and I’m still learning, but just like when a teammate starts a two out rally, I’ve discovered it really only takes one spark.  If you’re lucky, that one spark becomes many.

This post is dedicated to my final energy booster, the greatest spark, the one that keeps me running every day of the summer.  Rather than racing toward the finish line, however, it’s a line that will mark the beginning.

The Power of Two, a PIRATE Two

DDFm-FnUwAEKVxL.jpg

Have you ever brought an idea to someone else in hopes it would make a difference? What happened when you went at it alone?  What happened when you brought someone with you?  I have written about leading from my role in the past and the journey I began when I became a technology integration specialist.  One meeting alone taught me there is nothing like the power of two, especially a PIRATE two.

It’s easy to feel alone when the ideas you bring to the table are perceived as outside of the box or even crazy.  To make things harder, the best approaches go well beyond their titles. They need to be experienced with every bone in our bodies.  Yet once another teacher in your building believes that just as strongly as you do, and has felt blood rushing because an educational experience was just that good, that might be all it takes.

A few weeks ago I spoke with my colleague who had just finished Lead Like a PIRATE. We were pumped at the realization that we were ready to bring this number one best seller in education administration to our principal.  It was the second to last day of school and it was pouring outside.  Our principal was finishing up bus duty and it was the worst time possible to meet with her.  We reminded ourselves of a favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr.  “The time is always right to do what is right.”  That’s how serious we were.

My colleague courageously led the way.   People like me bring passion, but we can also be loud (and even repetitive) with our enthusiasm.  Sometimes the best decision is to let someone equally passionate initiate the conversation. The beauty in this concept is that ultimately, it shows whoever it is you’re trying to inspire that you’re not alone.

Our goal was to schedule a more formal meeting and our amazing principal simply couldn’t say no.  I’m sure this was partly because we were laughing in the rain at the timing of our passionate plea.  Naturally, the next day my colleague and I talked for an hour strategizing who would say what and why, at the same time keeping it real.  We wanted to empower our principal to include us in her vision and allow us to join her team.

Two days later, for the first time, I wasn’t a teacher begging for something I believed in. This time, together, we were leaders bringing something to the table (literally) worth fighting for.  We joined our principal’s team, but just as importantly, she joined ours.

From presenting an overview of the book to discussing passion walls, pineapple charts, and revolutionizing staff meetings, we hooked her in.  We also listened.  We focused on every word our leader had to say as well as paid attention to each other.  The energy, humor, and relatability was like nothing I had ever experienced in a meeting before.  It turns out our passion and even vision were very much in line and for an hour and a half, we talked of the incredible potential that lay ahead.

I think we were in a bit of shock to be completely honest as my colleague and I both learned a valuable lesson.  Regardless of what people might perceive, and regardless of how things were done before, we are all on the same team.  When we were able to see this, tension loosened, we unleashed who we are (right in front of each other!), and suddenly a different kind of energy took form.  An energy that can only build, because we own it together.

I am of course at the edge of my seat now, waiting with much anticipation for our principal to finish Lead Like a PIRATE and meet with us again soon.  I can’t wait to write about the PIRATE transformations we bring as a leadership team.  In the meantime, I plan to share in my next post the risks teachers and students recently took.  They certainly created an excitement for teaching and learning that I predict will not only break down doors, but open opportunities for our whole school in just a couple of months.

CHALLENGE:  Take a picture of yourself running into school on the first day and tweet it using the #LeadLAP hashtag!

Taking the Time to Build Trust

by Beth Houf

Ahhhh summer! Time slows down a little and I am finally making the stack of growing reading material a priority. I opened the May/June 2017 Principal magazine from NAESP and the first article immediately grabbed my attention. Worth the Investment: Trust by Sarah E. Fiarman, former principal, author and ed consultant. In Lead Like a PIRATE, Shelley and I spend a great deal of time writing about the importance of trust and strategies for both gaining and giving trust. This article resonated deeply. Fiarman did an excellent job of sharing four concrete, foundational pieces to building trust; Know How to Listen, Know When to Speak, Take the Time and Name Your Biases.

Know How to Listen

The days of the school principal, and really anyone in education, tend to move at lightening pace. It is easy to get caught up in the to-do lists and immediate decision making that we are faced with constantly. Fairman states, “Listening is one of the most powerful acts we perform. When we listen to truly understand what people mean, not just what they’re saying we build trust. This requires slowing down, checking to be sure we understand correctly, and sharing back what we hear.” YES! And this doesn’t just happen when people are happy! Listening is equally, if not more important, when faced with dissent or anger. Fiarman continues by saying, “When leaders meet anger or frustration with genuine, compassionate interest in the other person’s perspective, we earn trust.” As leaders, we are human and make mistakes. Deeply listening helps us to really analyze our actions to see if we need to rethink next steps.

Another aspect that Fiarman points out is that we need to be intentional about seeking out a wide range of voices in our stakeholders to listen to to build trust. This means taking time to seek out individuals that are typically overlooked or quiet about feedback.

Know When to Speak

Three main points jumped out to me in this section regarding when to speak:

  • We must communicate more than we think we need to. Taking time to communicate can save a lot of time in the long run.
  • Disagreement can be a great thing when done professionally and respectfully. It is our jobs as leaders to help facilitate all ideas being heard.
  • Be familiar with the work of staff members. Take time to be immersed in the day to day work. “It engenders trust when your boss can speak to the specifics of your work.”

As leaders, our voice is heard. The absence of our voice when it is needed can cause trust to erode.

Name Your Biases

Fiarman’s section on biases had me thinking deeply about potential unconscious biases that I have that I don’t realize when making decisions. This will be an area I continue to explore and get feedback from others that I work with, most importantly from our students.

  • Leaders can’t build trust without recognizing and valuing people’s full selves.
  • Own and confront your biases. These are both conscious and unconscious.
  • Acknowledging that I might make mistakes because of this bias and then actively working to counter it builds trust

Take the Time

“Trust happens through thousands of small, purposeful interactions over time.” Such powerful and true words! It isn’t something that can be rushed, each person is unique into how much time it takes but intentional effort, every day will pay off.

After reading this article and having the opportunity to write about it, I was really able to better understand some of the frustrations I have had recently as a leader. I give trust very easily to others. I forget that although I trust others, staff and parents may need more time for trust to be built with me. As we move to positions of leadership, some automatically assume we are part of “the dark side” of education. We have to work extra hard to bust that stereotype. It isn’t us against them. We truly can only be our best when we are all working as one team to provide amazing learning opportunities that last a lifetime for our students.

Challenge Time!

In true #leadlap fashion, I want to pose a challenge to our PLN. After reading the blog, which of the four areas are you going to take a deeper look at? Which area is a strength? What strategies could you share to better help other leaders? Please take a moment to share your thoughts to the #LeadLAP hashtag. Shelley and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Other Work by Sarah E. Fiarman

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov16/vol74/num03/Unconscious-Bias@-When-Good-Intentions-Aren’t-Enough.aspx

http://hepg.org/hep-home/books/becoming-a-school-principal

Other Resources on Overcoming the Principal Bias

Peter Dewitt:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2017/06/why_shouldnt_teachers_become_principals.html?intc=main-mpsmvs

Bethany Hill:

https://bethanyshill.com/2016/11/21/recreating-the-principal-stereotype/

‘Tis The Season

Getting the Right People on the Ship

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Interviewing season! While it can be overwhelming with all of the other events happening at the end of the school year, Shelley and I feel that it is the prime opportunity for adding the right people to our crew. A frustration we both have always had with the typical interview process is the canned questions and cookie-cutter approach that most take when hiring new staff. Why do we do this? More often than not it is because that is the way it has always been done. Our next #LeadLAP challenge for you is to take time to reflect upon your current hiring process and find ways to transform practices to best meet the current needs of your building. Already PIRATEing up your hiring? Share your great ideas on the #LeadLAP hashtag so we can all learn from you.

A risk I took this year came when selecting a new assistant principal.  It was important to me that all staff had the opportunity to give feedback in selecting this new person, so I created a Google Form asking for the top three traits our school needed from our next co-captain. (sample form here: https://goo.gl/forms/JItjkvYilwRnnKOG3) Our interview committee consisted of a representative from all staff including all subject and grade levels, veteran and new staff and support staff positions. It has always been important to me to include staff as part of the interview process. When current members of the crew feel ownership in helping to make hiring decisions, they also take ownership in the success of this person when they become part of the team. This committee was given the responses to the form and asked to craft 2-3 interview questions specific to feedback given and his or her role in the building. These were shared on a Google Doc and then we took time as a committee to select our line up. The interview process was like no other. The passion was evident in each question and the answers from the candidates were real. It truly helped us to find the right fit for our school. We also revamped our interview process for our staff openings. These have become much more of a conversation instead of just a Q & A session. Each interview committee member asks questions that they are passionate about relating to the needs of our school. There is not a script, there are no canned questions, just time to get to the heart of what we need to continue to strive for greatness for our students and staff. My favorite opening question that I ask is for the candidate to share a lesson that they taught that had kids running to get in the class, or as Dave Burgess says, “A lesson you could sell tickets to.”  I always love to hear these responses! Anyone can give a definition of student engagement. I want to hear about a living example of how this worked with students. Another favorite is to ask the prospective crew member to share what they have read recently that has affected them as an educator. It is so important to our staff that we add people who are truly learning leaders to continue to propel us forward. We will continue to tweak and adjust our interviewing processes at our school. Next year, a goal is to add students to our committee and a teaching element for the prospective teacher.

What are ideas you have? Please take a moment to help us all grow and share your thoughts on the #LeadLAP hashtag. Shelley and I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Resources to help as you take this #LeadLAP Challenge:

5 Steps to Help Your Crew Embrace Change

My friend George Couros reminds us in his book The Innovator’s Mindset  that “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”. I wholeheartedly agree.

In my experience, it can be a long journey for some people on the team to see the upside of the change.  Unfortunately, the reality is they often get overwhelmed by it.  As an educational leader who admittedly asked a lot of people, I often found myself in my office or in a classroom where someone on my team would confess that they were overwhelmed and didn’t think they could “do it”.  As a leader who genuinely cares about people and believes wholeheartedly in supporting my team, this was always challenging for me.

So it got me thinking… How could I respond in a way that conveys my genuine compassion for the person without letting her “off the hook”?

Over time, and after a few bumpy conversations, I found that there were five components to a successful conversation with a person who was feeling overwhelmed by the work we were trying to do:

  1. Acknowledge change can be hard. Don’t dismiss their feelings of being overwhelmed or the feelings of “I can’t do this”. They are real… treat them as such. Express understanding, demonstrate empathy and let them know you care.
  2. Remind them of the why. Revisit the reasons for the change, the best hopes for the change, the “data” that helped us decide this change was critical for our school community.  If you followed the Lead Like a PIRATE practice of involving the people impacted by the decision in the decision making process, reconnect them with the reasons they decided to support it in the first place. Be genuine, be specific, be thorough.
  3. Remind them of their value. Let them know you believe in them, that they are an essential member of the team and that we can’t do it without them. Share the confidence you have in them to do this.
  4. Offer support.  Ask “How can I help?” “What do you need from me?” “Is there something we can take off your plate?”  If they share something that you can do… Do it! Commit! Follow through and make sure they have the support they need.
  5. Thank them.  Express your gratitude for their commitment, for their perseverance, for their willingness to push through the challenges to make school AMAZING for kids.

While not foolproof, I (and leaders I have coached) have used this process many times with great success. Change IS an opportunity to do something amazing, but we also have to be wiling to coach and support our crew on the roller coaster ride that change can bring for them.

Busy is Not a Badge

Beth and I just finished hosting #satchatwc on Twitter. The chat today focused on strategies to help us prioritize our time. This tweet exchange with Robert Abney and Sandy King resonated…

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As educators, the reality is our work is never done. There is no finish line. We add more to the “to do” list than we cross off.

We will always have more on our plates than we can tackle each day, so the real challenge is this:

How do we take control of our time?

 

Great leaders master this. They spend the majority of their time doing the work that matters most. They create systems to get the essential components of the “job” done and free up their time to do the meaningful “work”.

Like all leaders, great leaders are busy all day long, but at the end of the day…

Busy is not their badge… Making an IMPACT is!

 

From the Bottom of Our Hearts – Thank You!

A couple of weeks ago, @BethHouf and I were thrilled (and just a bit nervous) to release our book Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff. What an incredible, soul-searching journey this has been.  We have worked on and wrestled with this book for about eighteen months and had moments of both loving it and hating it.  We had times where we were excited to push forward and times where we thought about giving up. We grappled with what to keep in and what to leave out.

While we have had incredible conversations for years about our collective philosophies and leadership practices, there is something about taking those thoughts and putting them on paper that makes us vulnerable and is honestly a bit scary.  We are both passionate educators who love what we do, and we are both continuous learners, so sometimes what we believe today can shift and change as we learn and grow over time.  There is something so permanent and final, though, about putting our best thinking today on the pages of a book. Through the power of friendship, our love for this incredible work of being educators, and some continuous nudging from Dave, we finished our book. And then…

…we turned it over to you. We put it out into the world with our fingers and toes all crossed in anticipation of the reception it would receive. We  hoped people would connect with what we had to say and find relevance in the stories we wanted to share. And while we were hoping for the best, we were also gearing ourselves up to be prepared if people’s reactions went the other way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What has happened over the past couple of weeks has been nothing short of awesome. We can’t truly express the depth of our gratitude for all of you who have been sharing your thoughts, reflections and take-aways from Lead Like PIRATE on Twitter, Facebook,  Instagram, Amazon and so many other places, including an awesome live #IMMOOC chat with George Couros (@gcouros) and Katie Martin (@KatieMTLC) and the follow up chat w/co-host Tara Martin (@Tara MartinEDU).  Your support, your kind words, and your positive energy have far exceeded any expectations we had.

From the bottoms of our hearts – Thank you!

We hope you will continue to share and connect with us using the #LeadLAP hashtag.

And… if you are interested, Nancy Alvarez (@techwnancy) and Todd Schmidt (tsschmidty) are moderating a Voxer book study starting April, 9th. We would love to have you join us!

 

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Leading Together

by Beth Houf #LeadLAP

I had the pleasure of leading #SatchatWC (the west coast version of #Satchat) this past week. The topic was transforming the traditional interview and induction practices in our schools. So many innovative ideas were shared by the close to 150 participants that joined. One big take away for me was that I want to figure out how I can involve students in the interview process. I loved reading how other schools were making this happen. (You can check out the transcript here: https://www.participate.com/transcripts/satchatwc/cac280b5-02d9-47f1-ac15-404582251065)

 

When we do interviews in our school, we work as a team. Our leadership team is always invited, as they represent the greater staff body. We also invite specific content area staff or others that may work closely with the candidate. These include veteran staff and new staff members. As I wrote the questions for the chat, my intended audience was truly anyone…teachers, support staff, admin, etc. Once the chat started, I quickly realized that we had a problem. Several participants in the chat immediately thought that if they did not carry the title of admin in some capacity, that they couldn’t have an answer or opinion. This was a little bit of a gut punch to me.  As building leaders, we must ensure that the voices of our staff are heard. When it comes to attracting and retaining the best educators, who better to glean ideas from than our current staff? On the flip side, we must also not assume that it takes a leadership title to lead.  It takes you, it takes me, it takes we! Don’t ever forget your influence on building the positive culture in your school. It takes us all to make school amazing!

 

Last week, we found out our assistant principal will be moving into a building principal role in another district next year. I am so proud of his accomplishments and know that he will do such an amazing job in his new role, but I will miss my co-captain tremendously. We have been through so much together and at first, I was overwhelmed by the idea of his absence. This was another reminder that, more than ever, it is the time for our staff to realize it’s about WE. The rest of us that will continue our journey at FMS must guarantee that we will drive positive school culture. At times, I feel as though people look to a single person to drive culture. While the building leader can never underestimate his/her influence on culture, it’s so much more than a person. If you are not helping to build a positive school culture, you are hurting it. You can’t wait until culture is negative to improve. Again…it takes us all to make school amazing!

 

#LeadLAP Challenge:
Join me in the challenges below. Tweet out your ideas to the #LeadLAP (Lead Like a PIRATE) hashtag so that we grow together as a PLN. Thank you in advance for your ideas!

 

Part 1:
Teachers and Staff: How are you making sure that your ideas are heard? How do you lead from your positions? How do you do your part to add to the positive culture of your school? What holds you back from leading?

 

Administrators: How are you ensuring that your staff feels as though they are leaders? What specific ways are you getting feedback and involving all stakeholders to empower everyone? How could this be more effective? How are you making sure that everyone in the building (admin, staff & students) are a part of building positive school culture?

 

Part 2:
Transforming the Interview and Induction Process

 

Think about your current practices for interviewing new editions to your team and the induction program after staff is hired? What is effective in your current practice? Why? What isn’t effective? What might you do instead? Take a moment to check out the chat transcripts and try something new.

#LeadLAP Challenge

Being mindful of the words and phrases we use

It has been awhile since we have posted a #LeadLAP challenge, but I posted the blog below on my website yesterday, and it’s sparked a lot of conversation, so Beth and I decided to turn it into this week’s #LeadLAP Challenge… We hope you’ll join us!

Full disclosure before you read on… I know that what I’m about to say might rub some people the wrong way, but I hope you’ll read on and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I don’t particularly like the phrase, I’m going to do “what’s best for kids”.  I think we need to be really mindful when we throw it around in our profession.  While I understand the positive intent of the phrase and I agree whole-heartedly that meeting the needs of students should absolutely be the primary focus of what we do in our schools and districts… I think tossing the “what’s best for kids” phrase around can be harmful to our school and district cultures.  Here’s why:

  1. If I use the phrase “I’m going to do what’s best for kids”, it is incredibly easy for the person who I am talking to to reach the conclusion that I believe that they, in fact, do not have the best interest of students in mind.  While I can acknowledge that there are times when people make decisions based solely on their own best interests, I actually think that in our profession it’s pretty rare. In my experience most educators I have worked with typically make decisions based on their belief that they are doing what’s best for kids.
  2. “I’m going to do what’s best for kids” has a finality to it that makes it hard for someone to respectfully disagree with me. It’s a “last word” phrase as opposed to a phrase that invites discussion and dialogue. After all, in our business, who can argue against doing what’s best for kids?
  3. Where does that argument stop?  Let’s say that I believe we should have a 30 minute after school reading program for struggling readers because it’s “best for kids”.  If 30 minutes is good, what about an hour… is that better? What about two hours? If a couple of hours after school in a reading program is good… wouldn’t a half day Saturday program every week be better? What about a full day?  Maybe it would be best to add four weeks… six weeks… 12 weeks to the school year for all of our struggling readers.
  4. We don’t all have the same beliefs about “what’s best for kids”, and the research can be contradictory.  I could make a case for that after school reading program being what’s “best” while one of my teachers could easily make the case that it’s “best” to have small group reading interventions during the school day so that after school, kids have time to play sports, take music lessons, or to just play and be kids.
  5. What’s best for one kid isn’t always what’s best for another.  Each child is unique in their gifts, their talents, their motivations, their quirks, their needs… A “one size fits all approach” to what’s best runs the risk of merely being average for all kids as opposed to what’s best for any one of them.

So… the challenge is this: let’s just presume that all of the educators we work with have the best interests of kids at heart.  We may disagree from time to time on what those are, but not too many committed educators show up to work each day making decisions they think will be bad for kids, so why would we want to use a phrase that might convey that we are the only ones who know best?

As an educational leader, I really do want to do what’s best for kids, but presuming that only I know what’s best is a quick way to dissolve relationships, create mistrust and erode culture.  Sometimes our ability to do what’s best for kids simply lies within our ability to inspire, influence and support the adults on our team.

This week’s challenge:

Pay close attention to the words and phrases you use when you are talking to, or with, your staff.  If you are really daring, record a conversation or two or even the staff meeting or a PLC you are leading.  Maybe even enlist the help of a trusted colleague to provide you with some feedback.  Are their certain words and phrases you find yourself using often?   Write them down and reflect:

  • How and when am I using the phrases?
  • Are the phrases I’m using being received in the way I intend them to be?
  • Do the words have impact or are they becoming cliche?
  • Are the words and phrases I’m using inviting dialogue or shutting it down?
  • Are there alternative/more powerful ways to convey my message?
  • Share some of your reflections with us in a blog of your own and/or in the #LeadLAP hashtag this week

Beth and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Staying True to Your Roots

When we make the move from the classroom to other leadership positions in schools, the transition can be awkward at times. PIRATE leaders stay connected to the heartbeat of the classroom,  with the realization that roles have shifted. We understand that we need to continue to model effective teaching practices, but also know that we simply cannot teach classes each day. Modeling strategies during adult learning helps, but it still is not the same as teaching a class of students. In order to keep our credibility as leaders, we must find opportunities to “walk the talk” of instructional leadership.

The challenge then becomes, how do you find ways to do this, when you already have a to-do list that is overflowing? And if you neglect those other important leadership tasks and spend all day teaching, that can also have some very negative impacts as well. The balance is delicate, but Shelley and I believe that asking the right questions can help to tease out those opportunities to make this a reality. What do you do when you are short on subs? Do you divide kids and make other classes bigger? Do you pull other staff to cover? How often do you roll your sleeves up and cover classes to ensure that learning is still the number one focus? It is one thing to say we value serving leadership, it is another to make it happen. How could you set up a rotation so that once a month you get a chance to teach a different class? How could you offer to model specific strategies that your school is focusing on for staff? If you are in central office role, how could you answer these questions to ensure you are able to get back into classrooms?

These are just a few questions to trigger ideas on staying true to your roots as a leader. We look forward to hearing your ideas and hope you can take our #LeadLAP challenge for the week. Please share your thoughts (and pictures if you have them) on the hashtag. 

The Stay True to Your Roots #LeadLAP Challenge:

  • How can you find time to get in the classroom without neglecting your daily leadership tasks? How could you commit to being the “mystery teacher” one period a week (or a month, start somewhere) to allow the classroom teacher to collaborate with colleagues or observe others (or observe you)?
  • Create a monthly or quarterly drawing where the winner gets to spend the day developing lessons and materials while you teach their class. Part of the day, the winner gets to observe you and give feedback.

Thank you for all you do as leaders! Shelley and I look forward to learning and leading with you this week!