I want to tell a story that illustrates a problem that hinders many school leaders. Recently, I was coaching a principal, and he was sharing the difficulty he was having finding effective teachers to help turnaround the urban school he led. This school was a magnet, restart model district school that had a great vision, but he struggled to recruit and employ effective teachers. He also noted that he was also struggling with balancing his time so that he could support and coach his current staff, many of whom are within their first three years in the profession. Despite additional county resources and strategic partnerships awarded to his school, he noted how tight the budget was and expressed concern about having very little wiggle room. I asked him, “Well, what would you do if you had a $100,000 to work with?”
He paused to think for 30 seconds and said, “I would definitely hire some teachers to focus on interventions.”
I replied, “I want to make sure I...
I fail daily. If you want to be successful, you must not only be willing to fail, you must be intentional about how to learn from your failures. Sociologist Alvin Toffle said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
For over a decade I was deep into a gambling addiction and lost well over $100,000 on a teacher salary. I spent every opportunity I could thinking about gambling, scheming my way to feeding my addiction. I went bankrupt at 24 and lost trust and credibility with those I loved most. Over 99.9% of the world’s population would have quit after bankruptcy, but I pushed on for five more years! So what was truly impeding my progress? The answer seems simple now. I certainly had character and accountability problems, but really it came down to my inability to learn from my failures.
The choices we make, make us and...
In John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth, he stresses the idea that in order to make significant change, consistency has to be one of the main ingredients. He concluded that “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.”
Many times in life we jump into a project, diet or other life-changing program with incredible determination and drive. But, after 5-10 days we find that it is more difficult than anticipated and we allow our previous habits to win out and overwhelm our new found passion. What was the problem? Was it that we tried to do too much, too soon? Was it the program’s fault? Poor teaching? Genetics? I believe it was that we have a difficult time following the Law of Consistency.
Jim Collins, best-selling author of Good to Great, defines a breakthrough as a series of good decisions, diligently executed, that accumulate overtime. To make significant changes on your life takes patience and a process. Researchers...
Leading through change is what separates the good from the great. Right now, thousands of school leaders across the nation are saying, “I cannot wait until next year. Next year will be different.”
My question to them is, “How do you know?”
When leading through change, it is all right for leaders to be uncertain about their process to get there, but it is not all right for leaders to be unclear about their overall vision. It is in time of change when people need their leaders the most. When people lack hope, the leader needs to provide hope. When people lack answers, the leader needs to have a vision and clearly communicate that vision.
A time of uncertainty is the hardest time to lead. Most people tend to freeze when the future is uncertain; unfortunately, this is when many leaders decide to take a step back rather than being at the forefront. When I was a principal, in times of change or adversity, I did not want to have to answer everyone’s questions...
As a public charter school coach and consultant the question I get most often is, how do we keep our board meetings on track? The answer is the pretty simple. Focus on what is most important. I have learned the hard way, as a consultant and a board chair that if you do not prepare on the front end you will be repairing on the back end. One of the keys to facilitating a purposeful board meeting begins with the setting of an effective board agenda.
The agenda is a collaborative process set by the head of the school and the board chair.
The development of the next months agenda begins at the end of the previous board meeting. At At the close of the meeting the board chair should:
Can you squeeze another administrator out of your budget?
Next year’s budget is probably already weighing heavily on your mind. If you are a charter school in its first few years, you are probably expecting higher enrollment, and therefore, will need more teachers as well. But one question that is not so easy to answer, and has a big impact is: How many administrators is the right number for your school?
At first glance, I am sure that everyone out there is thinking – Well, we could use more than we have! There is no doubt that the school administrators you have are worked to their maximum capacity already. I can’t think of a school out there that didn’t wish they had just one more AP, just one more Dean, just one more Curriculum Specialist. We have to balance that idea with a budget that leads to the financial solvency of the school, and the administrators are most likely the highest paid members of your staff. They might even be paid...
Establishing a school improvement plan (SIP) is the most important first step to improving your school. Without this plan it is nearly impossible to attain success. As John Wooten, the former UCLA basketball coach said, “Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail.”
Additionally, Yogi Berra, the former Yankee baseball player famous for his malapropisms said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up somewhere else.” So if your school does not have a SIP (or there is one gathering dust on a shelf, not updated and being used to guide your school in meeting important goals) your school is not performing as well as it could!
The purpose of school improvement planning is to create a map or guide that will improve the quality of teaching and learning in the school resulting in more student success in core subject areas. The following steps to building a functional SIP help you to identify areas to be improved (What), How they will...
Learning how to listen is a vital step in becoming an effective leader. According to research conducted by Personality Insights, the average executive spends two hours talking each day but eight hours listening. After spending two hours at home with my five year old son, I estimate that the average stay-at-home parent spends 12 to 16 hours a day listening!!! Well… at least one of the five levels of listening (more about this to come).
Whether we realize it or not, whether we are intentionally engaged or not, we are always listening. Sometimes we are listening to new ideas, listening to a story, to music, to the background noise of a television, or in a true conversation where we are sharing our thoughts and conveying important information. I don’t know about you, but after a day of listening and communicating at any level, my brain is exhausted.
According to relationship and leadership DISC expert Dr. Robert Rohm, there are six hidden components to every...
“Those who think they lead and have no one who follow are merely taking a walk.” – John Maxwell
This leadership proverb has shaped the way I have viewed leadership since the first time I read it almost four years ago.
It defines my daily actions, communications, decision-making and most importantly, how I observe the leaders and teams I am so humbled to coach and work alongside. I have learned the hard way that the true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.
Think about those who have influence over you. Why do you follow them? It is most likely not because of power or position. It is because of how they make you feel – their character, their ability to build relationships, communicate, and provide a clear vision.
True power is the influence and ability to motivate others to believe in and support your vision. I remember how my first 90 days as a school principal completely...