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Are You Playing Chess or Checkers With Your Team?

A mentor once asked me, "Tom, are you playing chess or checkers with your team?"

Clearly he was challenging me to think about my strategy to grow my team and the business. I wasn't really sure of his metaphor so I started researching and thinking about his question. What are the actual the differences between the two board games?  To someone with a painstakingly low SAT score like myself, the answer is simple: Chess is  simply “harder.”  It requires more knowledge, thought and strategy (please don’t tell that to any professional checkers players). Checkers has fewer rules and is so easy to explain. When it comes down to it, the only identical trait they share is the size of the playing board.

Traits

Checkers

Chess
Board Size 64 Squares, (8×8) 64 Squares, (8×8)
Game Piece 12 of all the same pieces 16 pieces (8 pawns and 8 pieces of hierarchy)
Piece Capacity King ME Pawns can grow to (Rook, Knight, Bishop or Queen)
Movement ...
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Eight Tips When Reviewing Your Bylaws

Recently I was leading a governance strategic retreat, which is one of my favorite professional training services I offer, and I asked a question to the board about how many board members does your bylaws allow.

A member replied, “nine”.

I counted the members in front of me, looked at the board and said, “Well there are 10 of you here, so I hope not. When was the last time you reviewed the bylaws?”

We pulled the bylaws and identified that seven was the max! They had been out of compliance for years based on their own bylaws.

This is just one of the many common mistakes I see in governance bylaws...many were written so long ago they are out of touch with the school's current structure. 

Here are some other common mistakes you might find in your bylaws.

  • Bylaws having policies embedded: The bylaws should be structure in which the board operates. This includes number of members, terms, term limits, definition of quorum, and officers responsibilities....
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How Clear is Your Mission?

charter schools mission Jan 05, 2021

I believe sustained organizational health and success begins with a clear and concise mission statement.

Here is what I mean.

Great organizations continuously follow their mission and rarely stray from it; as even a deviation can result in a flutter of ineffective activity and confusion. 

As marketing expert Donald Miller says, “When you confuse, you lose.” 

The most effective schools I have studied sustained their mission through stable school leadership, clear education plans, effective teachers, and highly engaged parents. 

As a consultant, and strategic thinking partner to hundreds of school leaders, I investigate and analyze schools at all years of existence and achievement levels. There is one thing I know for sure.

The school’s whose faculty understand who they are and why they exist are able to clearly articulate and communicate their education plans and overall programming.

They have learned to prioritize their time and focus their resources...

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Why Social and Emotional Learning in Times of Crisis?

 

During this COVID-19 interruption to the school calendar as most us have experienced it, our team at Leaders Building Leaders, in partnership with Rhonda Dillingham, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schoolscreated a community and predictable platform to INFORM, CONNECT, GUIDE and UNITE school leaders from across the globe in hopes of creating the best educational learning experience for all stakeholders. We meet every Thursday at 1:00. 

This past Thursday Ed Reed, Social and Emotional Learning expert, school administrator and counselor in a Maryland school system, was our guest speaker and shared with us the "WHY" behind building an effective Social and Emotional Learning program and "HOW" to begin laying an effective foundation before students return to school this fall.

Ed has served in various leadership roles in private industry and secondary schools recognized among the top 100 schools in America. After spending over 20...

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Charter School Leader Community COVID-19 Collaboration

 

Hey School Leaders, 

Our team and strategic partners meet every Thursday at 1:00 dozens of public charter school leaders meet virtually to Inform, Connect, Guide, and Unite charter and business leaders during this time. We will continue to do so until we are back in school.

Start by saving these School Leadership Community Created Resources to your DRIVE:

Google Folder Access

Shared COVID-19 Resource Document 

Here is access to the archived recordings (latest to earliest)

June 25th, 2020 (Special Guest Dave Machado from the NC Office of Charter Schools)

June 18, 2020 (Google DOC Notes- Look Under NEW for latest)

 

June 11, 2020 (Google Doc Notes)

 

 

June 4 Call (Clarence Henderson Archive)

May...

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Charter Schools Never Take, They Earn

charter schools Nov 18, 2019

North Carolina’s 196 public charter schools have one thing in common: Parents enroll their child in a charter because they believe it is the best school for their child. Recent statements by charter opponents perpetuate a myth that charter schools “take” funds from school districts. These statements simply have no merit. 

Charter schools make a commitment to their community, building hope. When they keep these commitments by creating safe, engaging school environments, they build trust. 

Despite having some flexibility, public charter schools must follow the same laws as public district schools in these three critical trust-building areas:

1. Serving students with disabilities;

2. Student accountability; and,

3. Health and safety standards. 

Serving Students With Disabilities: Charter schools must serve all students who enroll. Whether this student requires a one-on-one assistant, full-day specialized instruction, or private transportation services,...

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100,000 Public Charter School Students Do Not Walk to School

The majority of charter school opponents have one simple message, “charter schools do not have to provide transportation or feed children.”

However, the truth is this: Charters must meet the same legal requirements as district public schools. 

For any public school, district or charter, there is no provision in public school law that states any entity must provide transportation. Instead, the law states that each district has the “authority to acquire, own, lease and operate buses.” Public charter schools follow NC General Statute 115C-218.40: “The charter school shall develop a transportation plan so that transportation is not a barrier to any student who resides in the local school administrative unit in which the school is located.”

As a result, 98 public charter schools currently provide school bus transportation as an option for their students (NC Office of Charter Schools, 2019), exactly 50% of all operating charter schools.

This...

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How to Hold Effective Board Meetings

As a governance 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 an effective and purposeful board meeting begins with the setting of the monthly agenda.   

Who Sets the agenda?

The agenda is a collaborative process set by the head of the school and the board chair. 

When is the agenda set?

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:

  1. Ask who is taking minutes to state the discussion items from this meeting that will need to be action items next month.  
  2. Review the school’s Strategic Outcomes Based Calendar and note any reports or items due next...
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Three Critical Tasks You Never Write Down To Do: But Should

 

If you are like me you like lists. You cannot start your day without writing down some sort of plan, some list of items that you aim to accomplish that day. Now, if you are even more like me that list is probably filled with items that are either not the most important tasks you should be focused on that day. Working with school leaders across the country I have learned there is one major difference between the good and the great. The great are relentless when it comes to how they can best utilize their time and develop their team. 

Watch the video or read below to learn three three items that should be on your “to do” list every single day as a leader that you are probably overlooking!

Develop your top people: Leadership author Liz Wiseman stated, “Leaders who are multipliers increase intelligence in people and in organizations. The people on the team actually get smarter and more capable thanks to the people around them.” As a leader you need to spend...

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Start of the School Year Resources: Law of Priorities

The Law of Priorities states leaders never advance to a point where they no longer need to prioritize.

Great leaders know that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. Some of you have already started your school year, others are days away from inservice, the rest of you may still have a week or two of vacation before staff arrive.

To quote the great John Snow from Game of Thrones, "Winter is Coming".

Well, in your case, "The first day is coming" and you and your team must be prepared. (See our best resources at the end of this blog).

As a former teacher, principal, executive director and board chair you know what I have realized is most important when it comes to that first day? That first work day, first open house, first school day? 

EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT!

My challenge to you is to be intentional about identifying the most important activities that need to be accomplished in order to have the best "first day" experience for staff, parents and students. For your team to...

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