Summer Rewind: Anchor in the Outcome


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 110

Welcome to the school leadership re-imagined podcast where we rethink what's possible to transform your school if you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey Builders,

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And we are starting our summer rewind series. You see a lot of builders have told me that over the course of 100 plus episodes of the podcast, there's some episodes that they really want to revisit. And they don't necessarily want to dig through all the episodes and try to find it. And so what we did is we thought over the summer while we were on a hiatus, we would play some of the episodes that have been the most impactful based on many of the builders we've talked to and based on how many of you have downloaded those episodes and written and told us that you really enjoyed those episodes. And so today is the first of our summer rewind series. And today we're going to revisit Episode 63, which talks about anchoring in the outcome.

Episode 63 was originally broadcast during the the height of the COVID pandemic. 

It reminded everybody that in spite of everything else that's going on, we really needed to make sure that we always anchored in the outcome. And that lesson is not just a COVID lesson, that lesson is important for us to remember through any crisis through anything that's happening. Now as we're beginning to kind of think through this summer and think about next year and and what we want to do a lot of us are already in panic mode, because we're thinking about all we got to worry about, quote unquote, learning loss, and we're coming back in the fall and we're not ready and what do we need to do to get ready. And so I thought that this episode would be a good reminder to everybody that we need to anchor in the outcome. So in just a second, we're gonna play that episode. But before we do, I just want to tell you about something really cool that's happening. So as you know, by now builders lab for June 2021 has been sold out and we sold out early this year. So their tickets are not available for that. But many of you still wanted to come to builders lab and and you want to get a piece at least a piece of what we're doing. And so what we're going to do is we're going to do something we've never done before, we're going to have a half day post conference for builders lab, and it's going to be absolutely free. Now, during that poke post conference, I can't take you into the detail and the in depth kind of deep dive thing that we do at builders lab. But what I do want to do is help you think about how you can leverage the builder ship model to move your school forward this year. So what we're going to do with this post conference is we have a new assessment tool where you can understand where your school is right now, what zone is your school, and once you understand that, then we can talk to you about what it's going to take to take your school from where it is right now, and turn it into a success story.

In the next three years, I'm going to show you some of the things that you need to have in place to be able to do that. Plus, we're going to when you take that quiz, you're going to get a customize kind of success path for your school. And I want to talk to you about how you can use that success path, and what are the things that you need to be focused on right now. Because you can't do everything and so helping you figure out where to start and what to focus on right now. I thought that would be really beneficial for you. So we're gonna do a free half day. So if you go to school leadership and click on the show notes, you'll have the link to to how to sign up, we also are going to have a link live at mind steps. so you can go to our main website at mindset and just scroll down you'll see a pop up that invites you to this half day post conference, or we're going to have the link in the show notes. You can always get the show notes at school leadership and then just go to Episode 110 so school leadership reimagined comm slash Episode 110 All right, now let's dive into this rewind all about how to anchor in the outcome if you're listening to this sometime in the future, this Time is March the end of March 2020. And the nation is reeling amidst a outbreak of covid 19 or the Coronavirus and schools are reeling everybody's trying to figure out what to do. Just a few days ago, the President announced that all state testing would be suspended for the year. And a lot of schools who have anchored in their state tests, who have you let state tests kind of drive the work of their schools, they are now lost.

If we don't have state tests, then what was it all for?

And so they're starting to figure out, well, if we're not going to have state tests, we need to still teach for the rest of the year. Does this mean that school's going to be closed for the rest of the year? And every single day there is a new development. It's hard to make plans because those plans can be up in a moment by an announcement from the president or your government or your local superintendent or your governor. So people are scrambling. And so this is the exact perfect time for this. Mindstepism, an anchor in the outcome because I don't know anything else that's going to help you deal with the uncertainty that we're facing. Other than that, we have to anchor in the outcome. So I want to talk about how you can anchor your school right now when the seeds, the raw Flynn, everything you know, all of your plans that you set for the year are just garbage at this point.

How do you keep everybody anchored? How do you keep everybody focused? How do you make sure that your students stay calm? How do you make sure that your students' needs are being met even though you're unable to do that face to face? How do you make sure that your staff is still focused on the right work? How do you make sure that your staff members are growing and continuing to grow, and how do you make sure that your school doesn't just survive all of this, but that your students and your staff and your families that you serve actually thrive both now and then? How do you set your school up to be able to thrive whenever people return? 

Let's jump into our Mindsteps-ism for today, which is "Anchor in the Outcome". 

This is something I find myself saying all the time, people will ask me things like, my staff, and I disagree on the best reading curriculum for students. And my answer is always this anchor in the outcome. If people will say to me, you know, I have a teacher who's really resisting some of the feedback that I'm giving the teacher and they are not doing what I'm asking them to do. Anchoring the outcome. Our district is making us move from a seven period day to a block schedule, and everybody's freaking out, because we don't know how to do it, anchor in the outcome. And here's what I mean by that. We get so caught up on the technique, the strategy, and we argue about that, or we disagree about that, or, or we worry about that. And that's not important. Your strategy, your technique is not important. People ask me all the time, what's the best schedule we should have? And I say, I don't know, I need to hear what your vision mission and core values are. And then we can figure out what the best schedule is based on which schedule will best help you reach the vision and mission and core values of your school. People are asking me right now, what's the best technology for hosting a virtual staff meeting? And my answer is, I don't know, it depends on what your vision mission and core values are for your school, instead of just grabbing at a tool or grabbing at a technique or grabbing at a strategy. 

First take time to anchor in the outcome. And what I'm seeing a lot of people doing right now is I see people digging themselves into a hole, because they are grabbing a strategy because we need something now we have 24 hours to figure out how to make learning virtual for our candidates. So we have three days left before spring break is over. And we have to make some decisions. And so they're grabbing at these strategies because of the urgency around this crisis. And they're forgetting their vision, mission and core values, or they're learning that their vision mission and core values are garbage. They don't mean anything. There's nothing to anchor in. And unfortunately, I think a lot of schools right now are learning that their vision mission and core values are garbage. You have them but they are not serving you the way that they should be serving you right now. Because if you have a strong vision, mission and core values, then you when you're trying to make any kind of decision about your school, you anchor in the outcome. People are asking me things like what should I do with the aides? Should we continue to pay them if we aren't going to have students come back for another month?

If you don't have a vision, mission and core values, how do you make that decision? 

You look your budget or you look at what other people are doing, and you make a rash decision. That means you may lose good people who could be serving students, or you keep them on the payroll, but then you don't use them to actually serve your students. And so you've you've helped those people not have to be unemployed, but you haven't moved your school forward? And the answer is anchoring the outcome. What are your core values? What do your core values say you should be doing about your aides? What does your vision say with regard to what master schedule you use? Or what what is your mission, say, with regard to what technology you use for your staff meeting? I can't answer that question. Unless I know what outcome you are looking to achieve. And so I just want to say to people that is finding myself saying this over and over and over again, this last week, people are just going nuts, because everything is just kind of exploding at one time. And people feel adrift, people are not sleeping, people are stressed out. People are changing every two days, as a new mandate comes down. People are reacting to that new mandate. And what I want everybody to do is just stop, anchor in the outcome.

I understand the sense of urgency, I understand the need to feel like we have to have an answer for people right away. But if you make up an answer that is a tethered to your outcome, then your answer is going to turn out to be wrong. If you take a step back, before you answer any question, and you anchor in the outcome, your answer will always be right, even if you have to adjust it later on, because your answer will always go back to your outcome. Now, here's what I see builders doing. People are asking things like, how much work should we send to students? Is it right to require work of students when all of our students don't have access to technology? What are we going to do about feeding our kids every single day? And they're taking those questions, and they're sifting those questions through their vision, mission and core values. And they're coming up with unique responses based on that. So one school, their mission is to be a safe place in the community.

So yes, they are closed, but they're still providing a safe place. 

They're doing things like allowing kids to walk up to they have a door with a window like a glass in between. and they are allowing kids to walk up and be able to access a counselor or talk to somebody if they're very stressed out. But they're doing it through that window. And then after each kid leaves, they're going in and cleaning out that that area and making it safe for the next kid. They are providing families with food. they've partnered with Community Food Banks, and they are providing families with food in their time of need. Because their mission is about keeping kids safe being a safe place in the community. They are their response has really been around how do we make sure that kids are physically and socially and psychologically safe. They have a hotline that kids can call when they're stressed out to talk to a caring adult. They have kids who are in abusive home situations right now. They're working with child protective services agencies, because those kids are now home all day. And they're providing alternatives for those kids to help provide a safe place. So their responses being applauded by their community, because everything they're doing is consistent with their mission.

I'll give you another example. One of our other builders, their vision is strong their vision is every kid will be reading at or above grade level by second grade. So when the crisis hit, they went and looked at where every kid was in their school, every teacher looked at where their kids were in to figure out are the kids on track to be reading on grade level by second grade. And for kids at above second grade, who's still not reading on grade level, and who's in danger of slipping if we don't spend the time with them. So what they're doing is they want to get every kid their vision is every kid will be reading at every level by second grade, and will maintain or increase their reading level every grade after that. So when it came to work being sent home, their primary focus was on what can we do to help students either achieve proficiency or maintain and grow proficiency in reading.

They're not sending home random packets, they're having real conversations about what's important. 

One of the things they realized was that time spent reading is one of the huge factors that's going to affect whether or not their students are doing that. But many students don't have books. So now they are doing book distributions. They are giving kids online resources for books, they are checking in with kids, they're, you know, the principal is reading to the kids every single night. But they're also having analog and digital means for kids to sit down and get reading support. So if there's not a caring adult at home who can read with those kids, the kids can read together With a caring adult, they've taught the community involved. So they've gotten, you know, grandma's involved, the grandmas are reading stories, kids can download youtube videos that are attached to books where there's somebody that they recognize reading that book to them. They're doing live videos with the kids are reading, they're doing everything they can to make sure that they support their kids progress. And what's going to happen is that if kids returned to school this year, or if they returned to school next year, they have not only infrastructure in place to keep kids reading all throughout the summer, but their kids are going to be at or above grade level, and they will have made progress.

They're not just sitting home playing educational games, and there's nothing wrong with educational games. But they're not enough kids still need instruction. And this school is thinking about how can we make sure that our kids are reading and growing as readers, it doesn't mean to be neglecting math and science and social studies either. But because their vision is focused on that reading, because reading opens up all kinds of other doors for their kids, they are really focusing on the work that they sent home, and it's a higher quality work. These are not worksheets, they are providing other things. And every single day when they meet as a staff they're talking about, okay, how else can we make sure that kids are maintaining their reading proficiency or growing their reading proficiency, when you anchor in the outcome, you're not just grabbing a whole bunch of stuff to react to the crisis, you stop, you're reflective first, and then you respond. And you respond in a way that doesn't just put out the fire, but you prevent future fires, you see, a lot of people are starting to see the holes in their process.

As long as things are going fine, it's easy to maintain the status quo. 

A lot of people are starting to see that the systems that they've set up in their school, they're not working, or they are they're missing. And so now they're having to create the systems in the midst of crisis. All of us are dealing with that I'm dealing with that with my own business. It's a it's a sobering time, because you start to see where the cracks really are. But if you stop, and you don't just start plugging leaks, and instead you take a step back and you anchor in the outcome, what is my vision? What is my mission? What is my, what are my core values, who are we here to serve, if you stop and do that first, then you can be proactive, instead of reactive, then you can make good decisions, even though you don't have all the information. Because you have a solid purpose, you have a solid vision mission and core values, which means that even if you make a decision that has to be altered later on, because it's been anchored in the outcome, it's not going to be a huge alteration, it's going to be a small tweak in the details, but you won't have gone in the wrong direction. That's why it's so important. And I say this all the time I talk about vision, mission and core values. And a lot of people think that those are luxuries, that those are nice to haves. Or they think, Oh, I wrote something and I'm gonna slap it on the wall. And I can check that off my list of things to do. And now we are realizing that is not true.

The schools that have that solid vision, mission and core values in place, the schools that have been practicing that the schools that have already gotten into the habit of sifting their decisions through those vision, mission and core values. Those are the schools that are thriving right now. Because they have an anchor, everybody else is adrift. But the school that had that vision mission and core values in place, the schools that are using that and anchoring in that those schools are actually going to not only be thriving right now. But when things go back to the new normal, whatever that's going to be those schools are going to be so far ahead. And I really believe there's going to be a huge gap in schools in the next couple of months to schools that have that outcome. And they've anchored in the outcome and the schools that have just been reacting, because when things get back to the new normal, and they will at some point, and I don't know what that new normal is going to look like and you don't know either. But when things get back to that new normal, if you have been anchoring in the outcome, you will not have missed a beat. Your school will be moving forward. Everybody else is going to be sitting around saying what do we do now? Okay, now how do we handle the new normal?

When you anchor in the outcome, you always know how to handle the new normal.

This is the outcome we want to provide for our kids. Every decision we make has to move us closer to that outcome. And when you think that way, that's how you gain momentum. So those are the cold hard facts about where we are right now. And I know that somebody is going to ask this question, so I'm going to answer it here. And now, what do you do if you don't have a vision, or mission and core values? What do you do now? Well, I've got some tough news for you. If you don't have a vision, mission or core values, now, you need to take some time and establish them. And people are saying, wait, Well, wait, we can't do that right now. We've got too much other stuff going on. Yeah, that stuff is going on. But you can't deal with that stuff until you have a solid vision, mission and core values in place. And it means that you're going to have to take some time away from kind of, you know, putting out fires to start thinking about, alright, how do we do this? I know that's not what you wanted to hear. I know you wanted to hear a band aid solution, I just don't have one I don't traffic and Band Aid solutions. They don't work. They give you a false sense of security. And they make you think you've solved something, but you've never solved the problem. The only solution is you need a vision, mission and core values now. So how do you get it fast? What's the emergency fast track for getting vision mission and core values?

Well, your vision belongs to the builder. So you can create a vision right now, what is the promise that you want to make to 100% of your students in your school, you can decide that right now, you can think about that right now. And if you want my support with that, I'm happy to help you with that, you can just come inside of the pop up group, the mindsets pop up group, and you know, say, hey, I need help with my vision. And we may even do an office hours around that. Just focused on vision to help people who are really kind of thinking through that. So if you need help with that, I'm here to help you. And I'm happy to do it free of charge, just join that pop up group. But you need to decide on your vision right now, if you don't have a vision, you need one now. And you especially need one now, because everybody is looking to you with what are we going to do? And if your only answer is that hasn't been decided yet, I'm waiting on the district, if you don't have a vision for your school, then people are not going to see you as the builder of that school, they are going to start looking for somebody else you are going to erode or destroy whatever quote unquote, leadership you have, if you don't step up now with a clear vision.

So you need a vision, and that can happen right now, immediately.

The next thing is you need a mission. Normally I teach, you should be getting your staff involved in those conversations, I still think you can do that. I still think that when you are meeting with your staff, you need to go back and say, here's where we are, here's what our mission is. And the mission is simply Why is this vision important. And you can have the staff members talk about that, I think it would be very calming for people to be talking about, okay, let's get let's not forget why we're doing this work. Even if your staff members are sharing their own individual missions, it's still important to have that conversation so that everybody can anchor in that in the weeks ahead. Right now, the success or failure of our school is wholly dependent upon the goodwill of our hard working teachers. We are expecting teachers to revise an entire curriculum and turn it into an online curriculum, and we are hoping that they're doing a good job. But we really have no way of knowing. So we are entirely dependent upon the decisions that our teachers made without the ability to really influence those decisions outside of a shared vision, mission and core values. So spending time with teachers talking about Okay, what is our mission as a school? Why are we here? Why are we working so hard on behalf of kids? What is it that we're hoping that we can accomplish? Even this time, engaging your teachers in that conversation right now is really important. And then lastly, you're gonna have to fast track the core values conversation.

So normally, I teach you how to do core values. And it's about, you know, kind of a more drawn out process where, you know, you work with groups of teachers, and then you bring everything back, you're gonna have to fast track that. If you want the entire process, you can go to And then on that homepage, there is a link to an E book I wrote called How to overcome a toxic school culture. And it lays out the core values process there. If you want the fast track version of that process, then join me in the mindsets pop up group, I don't have time to go through it on this podcast here. But in the pop up group, I'm going to be doing a training on how you can fast track the core values process so that you can get everybody on the same page and you can everybody doing the right work the right way so that you can actually move your school forward. But you're going to have to do that.

There's no way around this. 

You can't just say oh, well, I don't have a vision, mission and core values and maybe after the crisis is over that will be too late. As we're already seeing, if you didn't put the core values, vision and mission in place. By now you're scrambling you're working harder than people who did. You are making poor decisions than people who did. Can you really afford to do that for the next three to six months. Take the time now. establish that with your staff, pull everybody back, everybody's in crisis mode, pull everybody back and say, listen, we need to get out of crisis mode. And we need to be thinking proactively, let's start by understanding what our core values are, what our mission is, what our vision is. And then we can use that to guide us forward, we can use that to help us weather any storm that we may be facing. People may say, this is a waste of time, I don't want to have this meeting, I'm home, I'm, you know, whatever. I don't care. If you don't do this, not only will you flounder your way through this crisis, but you will be totally unprepared for the crises to come. I hate to be that blunt. But I don't know another way to say it, you must anchor in the outcome. That's the only anchor available to you right now.

So listen, I know everybody's stressed out. And I don't want to add to your stress. So I'm not trying to tell you this to stress you out. But I am telling you, if you want to get rid of some of your stress, this is the work you need to be doing right now. This is how you actually move your school forward. This is how you actually keep everybody together and focus on the right thing. This is how you actually make tough decisions. Because you're going to have to make some tough decisions in the next few weeks, you are going to have to deal with some rapidly changing circumstances. And if you do not have something that you can anchor in, it's going to take its toll on you and it's going to take its toll on your school. If you don't want that to happen if you really want to be able to handle this. Then you need to spend your time on the core values, vision and mission. And then you need to anchor in your outcome. When you do that, you can weather any storm #LikeABuilder. 

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 and get started writing your school success story today.

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