#LeadLAP 5 Commitments Challenge

In Lead Like a PIRATE we talk about “Setting Your Compass”. We believe wholeheartedly that a long term vision should be the driving force that moves your work forward as a leader. We also know that for that vision to become a reality in our schools and districts that we have to be deliberate about breaking that vision down into actionable steps that give us and our teams clarity about what we need to do this year, next month, next week and even tomorrow to help make the vision come alive in our schools.

Just last week we wrapped up a Twitter book study on Lead Like a PIRATE (special thanks to Jay Billy @JayBilly2 and Nili Bartley @nbartley6 for taking the lead and running this chat – they and the entire crew they recruited to help did such an awesome job)!  Over the course of the eight weeks or so the chat was running, educators from around the world shared incredible ideas of the types of things they wanted to do this year to up their game as PIRATE leaders and to make this school year even more amazing for students and staff than last year.

With so many great ideas floating around, we know that it can be a challenge to focus… we want to do it all, but the reality is we can’t do it all in one year. Making the shift to creating schools where students and staff are running to get in rather than out is a process. It’s a series of steps we take over time grounded in the commitments we make to ourselves and our stakeholders to continue to grow and get better.

With that in mind, we invited our book study participants, and now we invite all of YOU to take our 5 Commitments Challenge:

“Take some time to reflect on your summer learning… learning from your reading of Lead Like a PIRATE or another book that inspired you… learning from a summer conference or blogs you follow or learning from anywhere else that has pushed your thinking about the type of leader you want to be this school year.  Think about it, reflect on it, and then make 5 commitments to actions you will take this year as a result of your learning that ultimately support the vision you have for the kind of classroom, school, or district you want to create.

Blog about it and share it in the #LeadLAP hashtag on Twitter and tag @BethHouf and @burgess_shelley in the Tweet so we can follow your journey.  We also hope you will read and share the blog posts of other PIRATE leaders and support them in keeping their five commitments this year! For taking the time and making the commitments, we will send you some PIRATE swag as our way of saying “thank you” for working to make school AMAZING!

Shelley and Beth


Launching the #LeadLAP chat


This blog is dedicated to the amazing educators we are blessed to interact with every week in the #LeadLAP and #satchatwc

Several years ago, I was honored to become connected with Scott Rocco @ScottRRooco, Brad Currie @BradMCurrie and Billy Krakower @Wkrakower They were sharing great things on Twitter and running an inspiring chat (#satchat) on Twitter on Saturday mornings at 7:30 am EST… it’s awesome and if you ever get the chance to participate, please do!

Unfortunately, that 7:30 am EST time was a challenge for this west coast girl, so with Brad, Billy and Scott’s encouragement the #satchatwc hashtag was born and the west coast chats started to run every Saturday at 7:30 am PST.  What a blast it has been – thanks to YOU and all the other participants who have made #satchatwc a vibrant place for us to share ideas and refine our thinking about what works in schools.

Over the years I have had a variety of wonderful co-moderators for the chat and about a year and a half ago when Beth and I were working together on #LeadLAP I asked her to join me in the moderation of #satchatwc and she graciously agreed.

Since our book, Lead Like a PIRATE has been released, the #LeadLAP hashtag has emerged and that, too, has become a dynamic community where educators are sharing ways that they are making school amazing for students and staff.

We have had several requests to start a weekly #LeadLAP chat on Twitter, and what we realized over the last several weeks as the #LeadLAP book study was taking place during the #satchatwc chat time is that these two communities have really blended together to become one powerful, inspirational and energized group of educators committed to making a difference in our classrooms and our schools.

So starting this week on Saturday, August 5th we will no longer be using #satchatwc to host our weekly Saturday morning chats… we will use #LeadLAP instead, and we hope you will join us!  Our chat will continue to focus on the idea that we can lead and make positive change from any position in our school systems. Leadership is not about a title, it is a way of thinking and acting.

To kick us off, we have an incredible chat for you this Saturday from a student leader!  Isaiah Sterling (@isterlingn) will guide us in a chat on the importance of student voice and push our thinking on ways we can incorporate more student leadership in our schools.

Isaiah is a junior at Cape Central High School in Cape Girardeau MO. He strives to give educators the student view they don’t always get on an everyday basis. Check out his blog here: https://thestudentlook.wordpress.com and please join us as he hosts the #LeadLAP chat on August 5th at 7:30 am PST.  If you haven’t met Isaiah yet, you will be inspired by this young man’s voice and perspective and what he can help us learn as educators.

So with much appreciation and gratitude to all of you who have contributed so much to the #satchatwc and #LeadLAP communities we are excited to launch our first official #LeadLAP chat this Saturday, and we personally invite you to join us!! You have so much AWESOMENESS to share, and we can’t wait to hear all about it.



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