Why Being a Builder Makes You
a Bit of a Weirdo


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 108. 

Hey Builders, 

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today, we are going to do our final episode in the series on bosses, leaders and builders. I know I'm sad. But today we're going to talk about a topic that we often don't talk about much. And that's how builder ship makes you a bit of a weirdo. We'll talk about that in a second. But before we do, I have a couple of announcements. Now the first announcement is that by the time you hear this episode, we will be very close to closing down ticket sales for builders lab, the 360 degree experience happening on June 28. Through 30 2021.

As of today, at this recording, we only have seven seats left. 

So we've had to we've had such a response to builders lab for this one, that we're actually closing down the ticket deadline a week early. And once those seven slots are gone, we're probably going to close it down then. So if you go to the website, if you go to mind steps inc.com slash builders dash lab, and it says we're sold out, it's because we're sold out. But in any case, we are shutting down registration on this coming Friday. So make sure that if you are planning on going to build your lab and even thinking about it, and you've been debating, this is the time to make the decision. And I really do hope you come but we have such an exciting builder's lab plan. It's a virtual experience, which means that you don't bother with travel or anything, but we make it a 360 degree experience, which means that even though you're not with us face to face, you are still engaged. In fact, people often say, I can't believe that this is virtual Time goes so quickly, I can't believe the day if done, I can't believe how engaged I was, we really do work at it. And so if it's something that you've been thinking about the time is now make sure that you get your tickets, and again, go to mind steps inc.com slash builder's dash lab. And if you're listening to this after June 28 2021, and you want to come to an upcoming builders lab, that link will still work.

So we usually have two builder's labs a year we have one in the end of June, beginning of July. And then we have another one in the end of January. So our next builders lab will be in January, we'll have dates for that shortly. In case you can't come to this one. Okay, second announcement. This is also a sad one, the pop up group is closing down in just a couple of weeks. And so if you have not had a chance to join the pop up group, go to mind steps inc.com. And just scroll down on the homepage until you see the section for the free mindsets pop up group. The pop up group is the best place to get free advice for me. So people often write to me on Twitter or they you know, they they tag me and LinkedIn. They're asking questions. And a lot of times those questions are not quick answers. They want to know strategic things around being a builder, the best place to get your questions answered is by joining the pop up group and coming to one of our office hours. office hours are time when you can come in and you can ask me anything, and you get free advice. And so you can talk about a specific challenge in your school. In our last office hours. We talked a lot about people who are transitioning to new jobs and administration and how to handle the politics of that or how to get your vision get people to buy into your vision that you have for your school for the year. And so they're very actionable, very intimate times where you come in.

When it's your turn, we're all about you and helping you solve some of your biggest challenges. 

So the pop up group is now popping up and we're at a pop out at the week before builders lab so that we can focus on builders lab, then it'll probably pop up again, somewhere towards the end of the summer. And the reason we call it a pop up group is because when we're in session you get that access you get all the goodness of the pop group but then sometimes we pop out. So again, go to mind steps inc.com and scroll down until you see the pop up group. Hurry up. I hate to say it like so bluntly. But we only have a couple more weeks left, then in fact, we only have a couple more weeks left for this podcast season. So this episode, we're going to wrap up the bosses, leaders, builders theories. And then next episode, we're going to do our annual summer reading list with non education books that I believe all educators should be reading. I'll be honest, this one was a little tough to assemble. And it's a little eclectic. But we'll talk more about that next time when I share with you our summer reading list. And then Normally, we take a hiatus for the summer, but this summer, we're going to do something different this summer, we're going to be bringing the school leadership reimagined rewind, and we're going to be sharing with you some of our favorite episodes from past seasons. So this is an opportunity if you're new to the podcast to get caught up. And even if you're a podcast veteran, some of these we've had 108 episodes so far. So some of the episodes are two or three years old, they're still good, but you may have forgotten them. So we're going to be pulling some things that are timely, but that may be earlier in some of the seasons before. So we'll you know, stay tuned.

We're going to tell you more about that next time. And then we're going to start the summer rewind, starting the second week in June. Okay, I think that's enough for announcement. So let's get down to brass tacks and talk about how being a builder makes you a bit of a weirdo. And I don't know that I realize how much of a weirdo being a builder makes you become, until we were having a discussion recently, inside a builder ship University. And some of the builders there were talking about some of the things that were frustrating them and a lot of their frustrations were they could see the light, it's almost like they saw inside of the matrix. And they can see a clear pathway to achieving their success for their school for 100% of their students in the next three years. But nobody else could see it. And it started making me realize that when you are a builder, you really do become a bit of a weirdo. I'll give you a couple of examples. You know, when everybody else was panicking during the pandemic, our builders weren't sure what they were, they were concerned, sure they had their own fears. Because, you know, early in the pandemic, remember, there was just so much that we didn't know. And sure they were frustrated by sometimes the lack of communication coming out of their district or the shift in policy that was happening. It seemed like nobody knew what they were doing.

There was a big difference between the way the Builders handled the pandemic and everybody else.

While everybody else was just going into survival mode and just trying to figure out how are we going to survive this pandemic, builders were still building, they were making decisions through the lens of their vision, mission and core values. And so they had a sense of certainty that other people didn't have. When other people were saying, well, let's wait for guidance from the district. Well, let's wait till we hear let's Well, you know, I'm not sure what we're gonna do yet. We're all figuring this out together and making those kinds of excuses to their staff, builders. We're saying like, wait, let's talk about our vision, mission and core values. What do they tell us about how we should respond? How do we respond in a way that it's consistent with our vision, mission and core values. And as a result, builders were steady builders, exuded competence, people looked at the builders and they said, You know what, even though we're all scared, and it doesn't look like anybody else knows what they're doing, you seem to know what you're doing. So we're going to do what you do. And as a result, their schools were better off. When other people were worried about attendance builders, were getting students in school when other people were, were just kind of settling for lackluster online instruction. Builders still had rigor in their instruction with other other people were we're trying to figure out how do we create relationships with kids, builders had a system that kept them connected to their students, so they didn't have to build anything new, they already had it in place. And so when builders navigated their schools to the pandemic, there was a difference. And in a way, other people were looking at builders and saying, you're a bit of a weirdo, because why aren't you panicking like the rest of us?

Builder said, because there's no reason to panic, we still have a vision, we still have a mission, we still have core values. And they are situational, agnostic, doesn't matter the situation, our vision, our mission and core values, because we wrote them the right way. They will not fail us, even in the midst of a crisis. And so when everybody else is panicking, builders are calm. That's one way build a ship makes you a weirdo. Here's another way. There are teachers that other people can't deal with that builders cannot only deal with the transform. So while everybody else is frustrated, because this teacher won't do or that teacher won't do. Well, everybody's trying to figure out how to get through have teachers, especially this time of the school year builders, they're not stressed out, they're not worried. They know and have a plan for how they're going to get every teacher to grow at least one level in one domain in one year or less. And so as long as teachers are doing that, they're not stressed out because they have a struggling teacher, because they know that if that teacher continues to grow at least one level in one domain, and one year or less, that teacher is going to reach mastery in the most critical domains in three years. So while everybody else is trying to figure out, how do I get this teacher to quit, or how do I launch the the paperwork to get rid of this teacher, builders are focused on their vision, mission and core values and their building. And when a teacher feels uncooperative, they don't stress out because they have tools to deal with teachers who are uncooperative, they know how to look at a teacher's will-driver. We were in Buildership University this week in office hours, and people were talking about how powerful the will-drivers are and how just understanding people's will drivers has helped them make an impact on teachers who had been intractable before. And it's also helping them make an impact on students who get stuck.

Builders are starting to realize that just because somebody is resistant today, doesn't mean that they're resistant forever.

Not only that, but Builders have tools to help teachers who are struggling grow in a way that makes sense for teachers, they don't have a one size fits all approach. They understand where a teacher is, and they understand what the next level is for that teacher. And they have tools to help that teacher reach the next level. So they never panic. If a teacher is struggling, they analyze that teacher assess where that teacher is and get to work. And guess what they that teacher move. So many builders have told me how they had a teacher that they had everybody else had given up on. But they started with giving that teacher one thing feedback, helping the teacher understand that one thing that they need to work on right now, that will make the biggest difference in that teacher's practice, then they worked on having the right feedback conversation with that teacher. And then they worked on using that Surefire support cheat sheet to give teachers the right kind of support for where they were. And they started a movement. In fact, the teachers were so grateful that they were finally getting feedback that they could actually use that the teachers were motivated to grow because the builder was giving them what they needed. And so in the course of a few months, that teacher who was struggling, that teacher that everybody else wrote off, is improving. And not only is the teacher improving, they're not little incremental improvements. They're massive improvements, both in skill and in will, their attitudes are different, they want to get better, they respond to professional development differently. And at the end of the year, that teacher who everybody else wrote off is now grown so much that people start to see potential in that teacher, people start to see hope. And what else is important is that the students in that teacher's class are making progress towards that Builders vision.

So when everybody else writes teachers off, Builders see potential, Builders make it work. Builders aren't focused on getting rid of teachers, they're focused on helping every teacher grow. And that makes you a little bit of a weirdo. Here's what else when everybody is sitting down to write a CIP plan with what I call insipid goals, you know, goals that that don't really mean anything goals that that, you know, try to gain the system goals that are pitched at a level where we feel like okay, even in our sleep, we could probably hit that goal, goals that don't push and drive schools forward. Builders instead of writing a CIP plan, for the whole year builders are thinking in 90 day growth cycles, builders are trying to figure out what is the most important thing that we need to accomplish in the next 90 days. And so builders have a different focus about their work. You see, when you write a CIP plan, it helps you to kind of relax, right, you write it in the summer, you don't have to show progress until the next summer. So you don't have the sense of urgency, whereas builders are thinking a 90 day cycles. There's a built in sense of urgency, not panic, urgency, we don't have time to rest, we don't have time to sit, because we have things that we need to accomplish. And so rather than maybe celebrating a success for something that you've been working on all year, and in most cases, making excuses for not reaching the yearly goal, Builders are celebrating every 90 days because they are seeing success every 90 days. So when when you think about it that way, when you hit that kind of success, it makes you a bit of a weirdo. And frankly, it also makes you the object of a lot of people's envy.

When they're saying, "It can't be done" you're showing it CAN be done.

When they say it's impossible to show progress because of the pandemic, you're showing progress. When they're saying, it's impossible to get this teacher moving, you get that teacher moving. When they say it's impossible for students to show growth when they've had interrupted schooling, your students are showing growth, you become a bit of a weirdo. And people start to think that, well, maybe you saw success when they couldn't see success, because there's something magical about you. Maybe this is something unique to your personality or unique to your school, and they try to explain it away. But after you keep showing success after success after success, they can't explain it away, because you're proving that it is possible. And that makes you a bit of a weirdo. Here's one more way that being a builder makes you a bit of a weirdo. When you are a builder, you look at professional development differently. You see, a lot of times people go and they grab the latest trends, somebody wrote a book and they grab that book. And, you know, I'm saying this is the one who writes a book, but they grab the book, and they're like, Okay, this year, we're going to focus on this. And this year, we're going to focus on that, and they follow the trends. And so every couple of years, you're you're looking at this thing, this thing is finally going to rescue us. But when you're a builder, you don't think that way. Your professional development always gets sifted through the lens of your vision, mission and core values.

When you sit in a training, you're not to sitting there hoping that this new strategy will improve your school or fuming because their training feels useless. As a builder, you find something to use in every single training, because you have focus, you are looking at everything through the lens of your vision, mission and core values. We were in build a ship University talking about this in office hours a couple of weeks ago, someone inside was talking about how frustrated she was that the district delivered at training seem to be useless. It was taking her away from what she really wanted to do for school. And I encouraged her to go into that training with the builders mindset. You see, I had been in some awful trainings, in fact, my team will tell you I am a terrible, terrible participant in a lot of PD, why? Because I can listen to the training in the first five minutes, I know whether or not it's going to be something that's going to be engrossing and useful. And it used to be that I would check out after that. But now, what I do is I'm listening to the training, I'm listening to those ideas. And I'm, I'm listening to even the negative stuff, the stuff that I dislike, and it's sparking ideas. And I always bring a notebook to training because I'm always thinking about how do I take this and build from it.

When you become a Builder, everything is Buildership material. 

Everything can be used to build your school, if you look for it. So when builders sit in training, everyone else is saying, Oh, this is awful. I can't believe this is such a terrible training. But the builders busy scribbling in the notebook, because you know that that time is giving you time to think it's giving you time to build, and everything can become material for what you're building. Again, when you're a builder, you're a bit of a weirdo. And here's the challenge about being a weirdo. Because everybody else has swallowed the conventional accepted wisdom wholesale, even though it's not serving them. People get trained in a certain way. And they believe that's the key to success. And so that's the training they follow blindly without ever interrogating that training without ever questioning whether or not there could be something better. And as a result, they accept lackluster performance and call it success. Well, we grew 5% this year, well, we grew 10%. This year, when builders are regularly showing significant growth above five and 10% incremental gains. What most people are satisfied with the status quo, they don't really want transformation, because transformation is frankly too much work. What they really want is a better version of their current reality, a slightly better version of the current reality. The number of people who think that 100% for success for every child is impossible, is appalling to me, because then I'm wondering, why are you in education if you don't believe that every child has can be successful if you don't believe that you can create conditions for success for every child. What are you doing? But people have been so conditioned to accept failure. And that's all it is.

It's fairly anything less than 100% you're failing some kids, people have been so conditioned to accept some degree of failure as the best they can do. And so when you come bopping in with this builder, ship mindset, that we're going to have 100% success that all of our children are going to be successful. People look at you and they think you're a weirdo. Once you start putting up those numbers, and once you start showing that it is possible, they may also resent you, because you're showing them that they are accepting failure, the excuses that they make from that for why they haven't been successful you, by your very presence by the successes that you are showing, you are showing that those excuses are no longer valid. And now, people have to step up, because as a builder, you began to set the standard. And so for those of you who are starting this builder ship journey, and want to know, the builder ship should come with a warning. Because when you become a builder, you become a bit of a weirdo, you're different than everybody else. And sometimes that can be a little lonely. Sometimes, you're the only person in your school, or your district, who sees things differently. And there may be people who tell you that what you believe in what you are attempting to achieve in your school is impossible. People who may tell you that the ideas that you have about how you can help every teacher grow one level in one domain in one year or less, is naive. People who tell you that, that setting a goal for 100% is a fool's errand. And it's going to make people look at you and and now you got to be accountable to that 100%. And there's no way you're ever going to achieve that.

If you're not careful and you begin to listen to those other people, you're going to start to feel like you're the weirdo.

You're the one you're that you're the odd person out. But I want to encourage you that while those people are telling you No, and it can't be done. And it's not possible, you shouldn't even dream that there is a growing tribe of builders who are making it happen. You're out there by yourself. You don't have to be just by listening to this podcast every week, you realize that there are people out there who think like you who believe in children the way that you do, and who are committed to doing the right work the right way, not working yourself to death, not not putting more hours in than you need to, but actually putting systems in place so that you don't have to work as hard as you're probably working right now. And yet you see better results. I want you to know that there are a tribe of people out there who are posting success stories, one of the things that I'm doing this week, as a matter of fact, is I'm recording a new set of success stories with builders who are making it work, we're going to debut it at builders lab in a couple of weeks. And then we're going to keep it inside of builder ship University, so that other people when they join builder, ship University, they can see this archive of success stories and, and feel encouraged. So, yeah, being a builder is wonderful. But you need to know that becoming a builder, it's going to make you a bit of a weirdo. And I want you to know, that's okay. Because if believing in 100% of your students, it believing that you can build a school that that actually serves every single child, if believing that you can build a place where the adults come and they stay committed to a common vision mission and core values, and they actually get better at their jobs. If believing that makes you a weirdo can be a weirdo.

The alternative is to continue to blindly go along, work hard, and show pitiful results. The alternative is to continue to stay in a school system that says that they believe in 100% of their students but doesn't ever show that they believe it in terms of the goals that they set, or the strategies that they use. The the alternative to being a weirdo is accepting some degree of failure and not working towards complete success, but working towards being just a little less ineffective than you are today. I have a choice. And I did. I chose to be a weirdo. I chose to to do something different to see some see things differently. And like I said, there is a growing tribe of people who are making that same decision, and those people are going to change the world. all season long. I've been talking about the difference between being a boss, a leader and a builder. And I'm hoping by now you can see how much better it is being a builder. So go ahead, choose to be a weirdo. And if you're all by yourself, I don't want you to despair because in addition to just listening to this podcast every week and with all the other people who are listening to this podcast with you. We also something called Buildership University and Buildership University is a place where weirdos hang out. Inside of Buildership University You not only get training and support on demand On Demand support and resources to help you implement Buildership in your school, we have bi monthly office hours where you can just come and hang out with other weirdos. You bring your challenges, bring your frustrations, and we all work on it together.

I think office hours is probably my favorite part of Buildership University.

That's the time when a lot of people come. And sometimes people come and say I don't even have an issue today I just came to hang out, I just came to be around other weird of like, like me just to stay here and be a part of this community. It's been really incredible. And if you want to join that community, then go to builder ship university.com. And go ahead and join that well, you won't be by yourself. And even if you don't join, listen, you're not by yourself. The number of builders is growing. It's becoming a movement. People are tired of conventional wisdom, people are ready to make a bigger difference in their schools, people are tired of accepting, you know, less and less failure instead of more and more success. So come on, join us become a Builder.

The best thing in the world, it changes everything. It gives you the confidence to pursue a goal that matters and the tools to make sure that you are successfully achieving that goal. Every one of us has a choice that we make every single day when you get up every single day you have a choice. Am I gonna face today like a boss? Or, as we've been saying all season LIKE A BOSS whole. We're gonna face today like a leader. And as a leader, I deal with all the challenges and struggles that come with leadership. Or am I going to get up today, do something important? feel a sense of calm and confidence while I pursue a really, really radical goal, be excited about my work and make a difference? Like a builder. My hope is that after listening to this season, you choose to be a weirdo and you choose to be #LikeABuilder. 

I'll talk to you next time. 

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at Buildership University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join Buildership University. Just go to Buildershipuniversity.com and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll talk to you again next time.

Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/

School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build master teachers.