The Top 5 Lessons We Learned in 2021
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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 137
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.
Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And first off, I want to wish you a happy new year. We are now firmly in 2022. And I'm excited about what the year will bring. So today, what I thought I would do is I talk about the top five lessons that I learned in 2021 that I'm taking with me into 2022. Now, before I jump into those lessons, just a couple of reminders, we only have a few seats left for our builders, lab builders lab, it's happening at the end of the month, January 31. through February 2, it's three days of incredible 360 degree experience, we are doing it virtually but this is not another Zoom meeting. So a lot of people will call us when you are going back to in person. And believe me, we'd love to do that. But things are just not safe to do that right now. And so people are saying I can't do virtual training. And if you've been on some of the virtual trainings that I've been on, I get it because they are excruciating.
We tried to do something different.
First of all, we built an entire studio to make sure that the training could be as interactive as possible. We started from not from how do we have the best virtual training, but how do we give people an experience that mirrors what that live experience will be. And we will talk to the people who have been to builders lab in the past, they are just blown away by how real that experience is, how interactive it is, and how engaging it is. The time flies, we get to the end of day one and we look up and we're like, oh, wait, is it really over already? I can't believe it. Now, it's exhausting because we are doing work the purpose of builder's lab, is for you to come. And it's it's probably one of the best and fastest ways for you to make the switch from being just a mere leader, somebody who's kind of managing a building and getting by, you know, maintaining the status quo, to someone who is truly a builder. We take you through the entire builder Ship Model and help you make those shifts along the way. So when you come to builder's lab, we're going to help you develop a bold vision for your school. When you come to builder's lab, we're going to help you figure out what's the one thing that's standing in the way of that vision we're going to do micro slicing so that when you go into classrooms from now on, it won't take you an entire class period to figure out what's happening in that classroom, you'll be able to diagnose what's going on in the classroom, in the first five minutes of your observation and give teachers feedback that not only can they not resist, but feedback that they will embrace and will make them want to change.
So when you come to builder's lab people look at you differently when you leave because you are different people listen to you more your teachers hear your feedback. And one of the things that people tell us a builder's club all the time is that when they give people feedback using the micro slicing technique, they stop getting pushed back if they use the feedback conversations that you learn how to to use a builder's lab, it overcomes teachers resistance teachers are excited about the feedback and excited to apply that feedback to their work. So you become better giving people feedback not only that, you become better at thinking about your school as a system and identifying the systems that aren't working and fixing those systems. When you come to builder's lab you get better at execution. We're all pretty good planners we are taught to plan but the challenge is how do we see those plans to fruition when you come to builders lab, we show you how to do that a way to help make sure that you're getting a win every 90 days and then we set you up for your first win. So when you go back to your school, you have a plan for how you're going to achieve your first big win in the next three months which means that you can have a big win this school year not only that, but we follow up with you for 90 days to support you to make sure that that it's happening and this support is you know people always say that this support is kind of their secret weapon when they get the support that the follow up support a builder slap it helps them to to go back into their schools and and do you know all these incredible things and people are like What's gotten into you what's really gotten into you is that you have a team of people a community of people behind you who are supporting you. So not only do you look good but you do good in your school.
Only a few tickets left. The deadline is actually next week.
If you want to guarantee getting the box trust me you want the box so you need to go to mindsteps inc.com/builder's-lab that's mindsteps.com/builder's-lab alright the second announcement build a ship university right maybe you can't get away and come to builder's lab but you do want to get that support and you want to get started right away. Build ship University is where you need to be. Now we have a free tier where you get access to our free training, we also have free resources. So once a month, we'll do a vision training to help you at least get started on your vision, we have tons of free resources inside of your inside of builder ship University. And so that free tier is a great place to get started to see what it's all about. But if you really, really want to upgrade your leadership and become a builder, you need to join the insider level, the insider level, my favorite group of people, the insiders are they're just I hate to say this love the sense of the crew, but they're kicking butts and taking names.
They are slaying in their school, those analogies now that I think about a kind of violent I may not be I'd maybe I shouldn't even use those analogies anymore, slaying and kicking butt and taking names because that's not really what they're doing. What they're doing is building they are they're going into their schools, and they are turning their schools into something better. And as a result, many of our insiders are getting promoted, many of our insiders are starting to see amazing results. You know, people are seeing success, they're still driving towards that 100% success for every student, but they are getting so many wins along the way. That it's been pretty, pretty incredible. So if you want to upgrade, you need to become a BU Insider. But regardless, you can join Bill ship university right now. And to do that go to build your ship university.com. Alright, let's get to these five lessons. And I'm going to do these lessons in reverse order. I'm going to start with the fifth one, I tried to rank them. I don't know how good I am. They're all good lessons. But I tried to rank them.
Lesson #5 that I'm taking into 2022 Is "Going Slow to go Fast."
My nature is I get a good idea, I have an epiphany. And I immediately want to get started working on it. One of the things that drives my team crazy is they say I go into my thinking cave. And you know, I read a book or our I go to a training or workshop or you know, I spend some time thinking and toying with an idea. And then I emerge from my office and I say I have the answer. And immediately I want us to pivot as a company to pursue this new thing. Now, many of you are probably built just like I am, you do the same thing. So you go to a conference and you hear about something that can really serve kids, and you want to come back to your school and get it done right away. Or there's a problem that you've been grappling with in your school for a long time. And, and then you hear somebody else who has a similar problem, and you hear how they solve it and you're like off, that's the solution. And then you go back to your school and you want it to happen right away. And the challenge is that when you do that, you are constantly being whipped around by every new idea, every new chain of events. And it is exhausting. I realized a few years ago that doing that was wearing up my team. And I've been trying to really resist the urge to do that to to be a lot more deliberate, we put some systems in place to help do that. But my impulse is still there.
One of the things that I've learned this year is that I get a lot more achieved when I go slower, when I take my time, when I take time to truly vet those ideas, when I don't try to get everybody to pivot on a dime and try these new things. When I slow down, and when I take time to weigh that idea in light of my bigger vision when when I take time to to really digest what it's going to mean and the impact that we get a lot more done. I have one of the mantras that I'm saying to myself all the time is slow down, Robin, you know, I have to fight some natural impulses. But when I do when I slow down, we actually achieve more. And we get there faster than if we're just pivoting and moving so quickly. Every you know all the time, we actually get there faster, and we and it's more sustainable. So for those of you who are like me, and you are you know, you have a big vision for your school, and you're trying to get things done. And I say this all the time, we got to get things done, I kind of turn the school around in three years. I mean, that's one of the things we say three years or less, you know, you become the kind of principal who can do that when you become a builder. But you have to be a lot more deliberate. There is a sense of urgency, you don't lose that. But don't, don't confuse a sense of urgency for the need for speed. You can move about your work in an urgent manner, but be a lot more deliberate. And in doing so you actually get farther faster than if you were to try to do things quickly. So if you are trying to get a lot done this year, I would urge you to do like I do, go slow because when you do when you slow down, you actually get farther faster. So that's lesson number five.
Lesson #4 is something that I've been dealing with for a lot of years.
I think the lesson was brought home to me this year. And so this one is about looking for the root cause of your frustration. So a lot of times I get frustrated, I get frustrated a lot with people. I'll be honest. Yeah, there are things that I want to get done and some times the people that I rely on to do those things don't work as quickly as I'd like them to. It's not even their fault, right? Because that book I have figured in worked it out of my head, once I see the vision, I get impatient with my current reality. It's just the way that I'm built. But that leads to a lot of frustration. And when people are dealing with me at least a lot of frustration on their part, too. One of the things that I've learned this year is that when I get frustrated with a situation or with people, my go to response has always been to react in that frustration, and to try to remove that frustration as quickly as possible. And so I try to fix the issue. But I don't really understand what's causing me the frustration to begin with. So I'll give you an example. I was frustrated with a situation and that won't go to details, because involves people and you know, it's been resolved. So I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But I was frustrated with a situation that involved some people. And my immediate response was get rid of them, they you know, which goes so against what I teach here at mind steps and buildership about, you know, you can do this with the people and resources you already have. So I'm going to tell you just be transparent, I still struggle with that, too. My impulse was get rid of them done, we don't need to deal with them, I got to move on, they're standing in my way. Maybe you felt that way too. And so I was struggling to practice what I preach. And the thing is, what I preach actually is the right way to go. And when you react to those other ways, you create a lot of chaos for yourself in your life.
So I knew that I you know, kind of talked myself off that ledge after a little bit. But when I started sitting down and thinking about why was I frustrated with this person, I realized that the source of my frustration, really had nothing to do with the person, him or herself. It really had more to do with the the nature of our working relationship. And once I understood that, I changed the working relationship. And when I changed the working relationship we have it's been great. I mean, the the I don't feel the frustration anymore. If I never stopped to understand why I was frustrated with somebody, I couldn't have fixed it, I would have done something rash, that that contradicted everything that I teach, I would have been living out of integrity, and I wouldn't have been happy. And I would have made somebody else miserable as well. But by taking time to say, Okay, why is this situation really frustrating me. And to tune into that the solution was very easy. It was very simple. And then I didn't have a hard time having the conversation. So when I actually approached the person, and had that that tough conversation with the person, it wasn't, you know, it didn't make my stomach not up. I wasn't terrified. And I really believe I'm starting to believe that the reason that we have such difficulty having difficult conversations with people is that we are having a conversation prematurely before we really understand what is that the root cause of why we have a concern, I find that when I understand that root cause when I am clear about the issue, the conversation is not scary, it's not tough at all it is it's the right conversation to have.
People never, ever react the way that I think they're going to react.
I get all worked up over nothing. Because when you get to the root cause, whether it's giving teachers feedback, whether it is dealing with interpersonal issues, whether it's dealing with a boss, when you can come to somebody with the truth, the real truth, it really does set you free. And so sitting down and understanding the root cause of your frustration before you deal with another person gives you a lot of power, a sense of power and a sense of control not of the situation, but of yourself because you're clear about what it is you need and want. And so therefore you go into the conversation with such clarity that you don't get scared, you don't get nervous, you don't get all hyped up about the conversation. You can have the conversation calmly, and you can work towards a solution that's going to work for everybody. You know, I was reminded again recently of Stephen Covey's, you know, admonition, you know, win win or no deal. And I've been thinking about that a lot. I think that we think about that often in a business scenario. But there's so many instances when you are dealing with people every single day where Win Win or no deal should be your mantra, think about when you're dealing with students who have have misbehaved in class and are sent to your office. If you don't walk into that situation and figure out how do I make this a win for the kid? How do I make this a win for the teacher? And how do I how do I make it a win for for what we're trying to build as a school or No Deal. Then you change how you deal with students.
If you if you're sitting down with teachers and you're trying to, you know, work with a teacher and you finally just say, you know, I'm just frustrated. I've tried everything this teacher just needs to go, you've already seated defeat. But if you can get to the heart of that frustration, the root causes That's one of the things that we spend a lot of time doing a builder slab is that micro slicing, teaching you to think like that teaching you to whittle down and get to the root cause once you get to the root cause either frustration evaporates, because now you know, this is the thing that will make a difference. If you don't understand the root cause, you might come to a quote unquote, solution during that conversation and still not be satisfied, you're not satisfied, the other person's not satisfied. And that leads to greater frustration, take some time, get to the root cause, I mean, once you start thinking, you know, if you want to bring a micro slicing mindset to things, it really changes your stress level, you you, you take a step back, you look at the situation, you micro slice the situation, understand what's at the root cause. And then you have such clarity, and you feel like, okay, this is something that I can handle, because you understand what's really driving it. So I would urge you to do that today. And for me, it is paid off in spades, it is mean meant such a difference in my personal relationships. It's been such a difference in my professional relationships as well to sit down. And when I feel frustrated, take some time to micro slice my own frustration, who knew micro slicing could be that useful, but it has been so incredibly useful in helping me who experienced a lot less frustration, and to resolve it quickly so that it is truly resolved and the frustration vanishes. And I would urge you to think about that this year and start micro slicing situations that frustrate you to get to the understanding of what's at the root of it, so that you know how to solve it. Alright, that was lesson number four.
Lesson #3, "If it's too hard, it isn't worth it."
Now, this is a lesson that I have learned multiple times throughout the year, I find that you know, you know by now mine steps one are one of our core values is drama free work environment. And the idea is that if any one or anything creates too much drama, it has to be it's not working, we have to do something about it. And we kind of stick to that at work, we will not kind of we try to stick to that at work. But what I'm realizing is that anything that is too hard is just not worth it, if you are trying to force something to work, you should just let go. Because the more energy you put in forcing something to work, the less energy you have to really be open to the right solution or to even recognize a better solution. And we do that a lot, we get so involved in this one thing and invested in something and we will then we feel like we can't let it go now because we've already put so much effort so much money into it. And it's that sunk cost fallacy that people talk about where we feel like something is more valuable, because we've already sunk in costs into it. And so we're less likely to get rid of it, you know, think about that, that that designer purse or sweater that you bought or pair pants you bought, or that you know, new car you bought, and you spent a lot of money and it was pretty expensive, but it's been a lemon, or it hasn't served you or you never wear the sweater or pants or the or the purse or whatever it is. And then you don't want to get rid of it because you paid too much for it. We do that all the time when it comes to strategies to I see it in schools where you know, you invested in a program, the program isn't working. But you've already done a whole bunch of training and investment into the program. And so you stick with it.
I was having a conversation with a superintendent earlier this year, and I was working with a superintendent and the superintendent's team. And after a day, it was only supposed to be working with them in a day. But I was showing them you know, kind of how they could use what they were learning to really heal some of the fissures in their district and to give them more direction and help them achieve more success. And everybody around the table agreed that was the direction they need to go in. But then the superintendent said, but we already paid another company. And I said, Well, I can work with that company to make it happen. And then she said, but they think that's what they're doing for us now. Now, they've already realized what the other company was doing wasn't working, they already realized that there was a better way out there. But they could not allow themselves to choose the better option, because they already spent time and money on a inferior option. And so they stuck with the inferior option, even though they knew that it wasn't going to get them what they needed. I see this in schools where principals say well, you know, we've already paid money. So this is the program we're doing, or this worked at my last school. And so I'm bringing it here because you're already invested, you know that program, regardless of whether or not it's going to work here. You know, we have this fallacy that we have to work hard, and I don't disagree with it.
You need to consistently pursue your goals and your dreams.
If you are pushing so hard in one direction and you are hitting such resistance, you might need to let go, because that might not be the direction for you. And I've seen this in my personal life, and I've seen it in my business life. Earlier this year, I bought a new home, and we were looking for a house. And we were, you know, we were we were, my husband and I were kind of focused on one house. And problem after problem after problem showed up. We were in negotiations for over six weeks with the owner, we put another offer in and another offer in we made all of these concessions. Every time we thought we were ready to go to a deal, something else will come up. And at the end, the owner ended up going with another buyer was devastated. I mean, it was it took, I had to really pray to let go of the house. And it wasn't even because it was such an incredible house. It was just that I had spent so much time and energy working towards getting that house that it felt like a huge loss. A couple of weeks later, I said okay, well, let's just go back out. Let's look at some more houses that day, we looked at a house, I kind of looked at it. But you know, my heart wasn't fully into it yet. And my husband really liked the house. And so we decided when we were going home, we said, let's just put a bid on that house. Let's see what happens. We just we need to start, you know, putting bits out. Anyway, we got word a couple of days later that they had accepted our offer. And we closed within a month, it was so easy. And what I think about that first house compared to this house, there is no comparison, this was the right house for us.
This was the house that I believe God wanted for us all along, we were so busy pushing in another direction that we were potentially, you know, forfeiting a bigger, better blessing over here. I've also seen it professionally, there have been projects that we've done this year, where we have been pushing really, really, really hard for weeks on end. And even though halfway through we realize you know what, this really isn't the right direction, we think but we've already invested so much money we've already invested so much time, we just need to see it through, are we just kind of selling out because it's hard? Well, there's nothing wrong with doing that there's nothing wrong with stopping and stopping and reevaluating. If something is really really hard. You know, we feel like it's giving up or it's copping out. But what it's really doing. It's it keeps you focused over here, where you know, something really difficult. And you miss the easier, better thing over there. What I've learned, and what I keep learning over and over again, the lesson that keeps coming back to me is that the best things that have happened for me personally and professionally have never been hard. They've always been easy. And when you really think about your own life, you might think the same thing. Now you may have achieved something and worked very hard for it. But the likelihood that that there was an easier way is pretty high. That when you are in the right direction, when you're in alignment with your vision, mission and core values, when you are doing work that is really moving you closer and closer to your vision mission and core values. It isn't hard doesn't mean that it may there may be challenges along the way. Sure. Does it mean that it's going to take effort for you? Sure. But it there's a difference between overcoming challenges and expending effort, and just hard.
If it feels like it's just hard. You need to stop and reevaluate it.
It's probably not the right direction, it's probably not the right thing for you. So what I've learned is if it's too hard, it's not worth it. The best things are the easiest things. And sometimes easy again doesn't mean that it doesn't cost money or it doesn't mean that doesn't take effort, but it feels easy, hard just feels unrelenting. You know, we do this with students too. We, you know, we totally have this thing about productive struggle versus destructive struggle, where productive struggle means I'm working and I'm expending effort, but I'm seeing gains I'm seeing. I'm seeing the results, you know, at the end feels achievable. Something feels doable. Destructive struggle means I'm working really hard, and I've lost sight of the gains and results and I'm just getting more and more frustrated. We know that students who are in disruptive struggle, we need to get intervene, we need to get in right away. We need to intervene right away because it's not good for students who struggle that way. And yet we think that school improvement has to feel that way or it's not worth it. We think that that anything that we any gains we make in school if we didn't struggle hard to make those gains, then it diminishes the story of our victory because we didn't we didn't struggle you know, everybody success story starts out with Hall. We were really struggling. We were at the bottom but we came to the top.
No, that doesn't have to be your story. Your story could be we thought long and hard and chose a path that worked for us and success was easy. Isn't that the better story because that gives me more hope that tells me success as possible for me to my first book contract easy. I know that, you know, other people struggled for years to get a book contract and all of that I can't speak to their experience. I know that when it was time for me to write a book when I was in alignment with where my life should be, then I sent things out and the book contract came, the every job that I've loved, that I've gotten easy, because it was the right thing for me. When you when you think that way, when you think about what is the right thing for me, even when you lose, you win. Because if you are working hard for something, and it's not right for you, you don't want it, you don't want it. So you want to make sure that you are not working hard for the sake of working hard for the mythology that hard, it has to be hard or it's not worth it, the things that have been the most worth it for me in my life. And I see this over and over again, professionally. And personally, those things have always been easy, because the one that's the one that's right for you, it will be easy.
Lesson #2, "Just because it's a good idea, doesn't mean that people will embrace it."
This one, I still struggle with this. This one is hard for me. Because when I look at something and I see, you know, this is a CSI, the matrix, this is the what you should be doing. And I go and I'm enthusiastic, this is the solution to your problem. Just because it's a good idea doesn't mean people are ready for it. I found this out over and over this year, I've talked to a lot of principals about the importance of establishing a teacher dashboard and thinking sitting down every single week, and deliberately thinking about the kind of feedback and support you need to help every teacher grow one level and one or more domains in one year or less. That is the goal. Because the research shows over and over again, the better your teachers are, the better your students perform. And that's where you need to be investing your time. People will hear that they will even give intellectual assent to that. And then the Yes, buts come, then the the pushback comes. And then I make the mistake over and over again of of, of promoting the merits of the ideas. When I see the pushback, I say what this is this can really help you. But we don't have time right now, yes, you don't have time. So that's why you really need to get your teachers on board. Oh, we're so overwhelmed. You're overwhelmed right now. Because you have your teachers doing too much really focus on that one thing that they need to be working on and get your teachers doing that, and they start to see victory and they don't feel so overwhelmed because they're getting better and better. And they see their own growth. And it can be in I've seen it happen 1000s of times, and it doesn't matter. Sometimes people know it's a good idea. They know it's the right thing. But there's something else in the way. And I think I might easily think that the merits of the idea are enough to win the case. And oftentimes, it's not the merits of the idea that are at issue. People think it's a great idea. They think it's probably what I should be doing. But and I don't pay enough attention to the buts. I know that sentence is crazy, but I don't I don't, I don't pay enough attention to the other reasons that may keep people from actually implementing an idea.
So I spend a lot of time frustrated, because I know this is a good idea. They know it's a good idea. So why aren't they moving? Maybe you feel this way to where you bring something to your teachers. And you know, it's a good idea. They know it's a good idea. But and so one of the book club books that I'm going to be recommending for our summer reading list this year talks a lot about it about that you have to pay attention to the hidden sources of friction. And this is a lesson that I am taking very, very seriously. Because I'm tired of, you know, bringing these great ideas, giving people solutions and not seeing them take the solutions. And so one of the things that I'm going to be working on a lot in 2022 is thinking about how I repackage the ideas thinking about developing a deeper awareness of the yes and buts out there. It's something that I started early in Korea, you know, a lot of my books have sections that are yes, but sections because people have yes bots, and we have to address them. But I am, I have to understand that there are a lot of reasons why people don't embrace an idea and stop just arguing for the merits of the idea. You know, again, these are lessons that I teach. And I still have to learn. If I it's sometimes it's a will issue. Sometimes it's a skill issue. And one of the things that I'm going to be working on this year is becoming a lot more adept at recognizing that it really, and even thinking about how do I package ideas so that I address some of the will and skill issues from the very beginning. Because then people can then embrace these ideas and our lives can be better and our students lives can be better. And that's really all I want. So I've got to figure out a better way to do that a better way to help people and it's not by coming up with a new idea. Sometimes it's it's about removing sources of friction that that keep them from embracing that idea, and stop, kind of keep trying to convince people and try to find ways to make the adoption of the idea easier. I've been thinking the idea is enough, it's not enough, a good idea is not enough. You have to create conditions in which people can successfully embrace that idea. And I'm not doing enough of that, that's going to be something that I want to do more of in 2022.
Are you ready for the #1 lesson that I learned in 2021 that I'm taking with me to 2022?
Here it is. The lesson is, don't let people turn your strengths into liabilities. Now, to kind of show you what I mean, I'll tell you the situation that made me think about this. I was working with a group of principals and I was talking to them about the importance of helping their teachers grow one level one domain in one year or less, and kind of showing them how to do that how to do that in a way that was deliberate that didn't take a ton of extra time. That gate, you know, they're already in classrooms 15 times a week anyway, as roads required by the district. But let's make those 15 times productive, so that you see growth, and how are you strategic about which 15 classrooms you're visiting, and what you're doing in those classrooms, and really giving them some what I thought was amazing support. And one of the principals on the call, said to me, listen, Robin, you have not been an administrator in a school during COVID. So you don't really understand what we're dealing with. And so while this may be a good idea, in your mind, you know, for us, we're dealing with stuff that you can't even imagine. Now, she meant it. I actually I don't know, I don't know if she meant it to be personally insulting. But there were a lot of people in the call who took offense. I was busy trying to help at the time. So I don't know that I was offended in that moment, like I wasn't because I was responding to that. And I said, right, I have not been an administrator doing COVID. But here's what I do know, the challenges that you're facing, are not going to be solved by inaction, the overwhelm that you're facing is just going to compound if you don't do something, and I get kind of responded that way. And then she said, Yeah, but you don't understand. We're dealing with a lot right now. That's it.
No, I know what you're dealing with. And I started describing to him what you're dealing with, I said, but what's really happening here is that you have a resistance of this idea. And there's not anything that I can say, to sell the merits of this idea. Because you are very invested in your own frustration right now. That's what I said to her. And I dealt with it that way. And I moved on. But afterwards, a couple of people reached out and apologized for her rudeness. And I started reflecting on what happened during that conversation. And, you know, whenever you leave the building, the school building, there's a certain amount of guilt. You know, when I left the classroom, to go into administration, I had a certain amount of guilt, I almost felt like I was selling out. And then I tried to tell myself, well, this will help me impact more students as an administrator. But there was a part of me that said, you know, that almost felt like I was saying, I don't know, if you feel that we felt that way too, when you left the classroom. And then when I left the school building, when I left administration, to follow my true calling to do to write books and to teach and to consult.
I felt this sense of guilt, like I was selling out, and a lot of people treated me that way.
They're like, Oh, you're chasing the big bucks. Trust me, as an entrepreneur, I would have loved to have had a steady paycheck of a principal, oh, you're tracing the easy life. Trust me. There have been many days when I have, you know, kind of longed for the security and the regularity of a nine to five job. You know, I was I was I remember I was I was doing a workshop with a group of principals, right before spring break. And as an icebreaker, the superintendent said, you know, went around the table just asked everybody what were their plans for spring break. And when they got to me, I was like, what's the spring break? Because we wouldn't get spring break. We were still working. I remember being so jealous of, you know, spring breaks and summers and summers on my busiest time. And, you know, so I felt this I always felt this level of guilt. And so when she when she said you haven't been a principal in a building during COVID. It pricked at that doormat guilt that I felt when I left administration. It perked at a lot of the messages that say that when you leave the building, you become out of touch. It pricked at a, you know, pricked at an area that that that you know that I felt vulnerable, and because she's right, I have not been a principal in a building during COVID. But it's not a bad thing. And when I really thought about it, I thought, I don't know that that's bad. You see, I'm not been in one building as a principal during COVID. But I've supported hundreds of principles, and hundreds of buildings all over the world during COVID. And because of that, I bring a perspective Effective, that's bigger than the perspective you get from being an individual buildings, sometimes you get so in the weeds of what's happening, you're building that you miss the bigger picture.
The fact that I am not in one building, but the fact that I've supported hundreds of buildings during COVID is not a liability. It's actually a strength, it gives me a different perspective that may help her in her work. And it shows me not what I think might work on your building, but what has worked in hundreds or dozens of buildings. And, and so I can bring some of the challenges and the pitfalls of working with other people through this and what I've seen other people do that work, I can bring new ideas to her that she may not have considered for her situation, that she shut all that down. She didn't want to hear any of that, because she was really invested in her own frustration. But that doesn't mean that I have to take her comments, and internalize them, personalize them, and see that as a liability. Because the fact that I haven't been in the building as a principal is a strength in that situation. It helps me bring another perspective. Now, many of you are subjected to all kinds of attacks, parents are attacking you. If you don't have children, parents who say we don't have kids, you don't know how it is. If you don't have kids, right, you don't know how it is in your household. But have you worked with hundreds of parents over the course of your career? Do you see what works and what doesn't work? Can you bring a perspective that isn't tainted by your own parenting experience to the table that can be very valuable? Absolutely. Some people are saying, Well, you haven't been in the classroom in the years, you don't know what it's like to have to deal with kids every day. No, but you've been in dozens, if not hundreds of classrooms, in your role.
So you have a bigger perspective about what works.
You've seen a range of teaching strategies. It's one of the reasons why a lot of us when we get to administration, man, if I know a lot of this, I could have killed it as a teacher Perego with these like violent analogies, again, I got to work on that model mind my language in this year that maybe I'll add that as a lesson. But we think Man, I could have really been a much more incredible teacher, if I just known that some of us almost lament the fact that we're not in classrooms anymore, because we wish you could go back into the classroom because we'd be an amazing teacher based on all the things that we've learned. So the fact that you're not in a classroom, now, it's another liability. It's a strength. You can't let other people characterize your experience. You can't let other people lay on you burdens of guilt that don't belong to you. You have a role. You have you, there's something that you bring to the table. As a builder, it's even greater. It's not just your positional power as an administrator, as a builder, there's a perspective that you bring them out everybody appreciate. So, you know, a lot of builders will tell me Well, you know, my district or my boss says, I'm being naive to set a 100% vision.
Oh, yeah, I mean, of course, they would think that because they're not builder. So don't let them turn your builder ship into a liability when your builder ship is actually your secret strength. Don't let other people lay on you their junk, and let their junk change your perspective of who you are. Or, or, or take your eye off of walking into your calling. When you're a builder, you it puts you out in front, it it makes you vulnerable to other people's opinions. You're different than everybody else. You're doing things that other people can't even conceive of, because they are too invested in their own pathology or their own frustration or their own, you know, mediocrity that they can't even conceive of it. And your builder ship threatens that. Because as a builder, you're saying, Yeah, I understand the circumstances. But we can still achieve something amazing. This year, even in the midst of yet another lockdown, even in the midst of of teacher shortages, even in the midst of heightened frustrations, even in the midst of of increasing disciplinary problems, we can still build something incredible. And people who are invested in their own frustration don't want to hear that. Because it tells them that they don't have to be where they are that there is another way and they don't want to move. Recognize that. But don't let them take something that is a strength for you and try to turn it into a liability. You're doing something different, and not everybody is going to get it. Not only that, but when You start to see the results of your builder ship and you start to be head and shoulders above every other principal in your district, you start to make impossible things possible your school, he might even feel like shrinking a little bit. Because, you know, no, nobody wants to hear about your success when they're busy arguing about how they why they can't be successful under these conditions. If you show up and you are successful under those same conditions, you indict everybody else in the room. But recognize that and don't personalize it.
Don't let that stop you from building.
So you haven't been in a classroom in a long period of time. You've been in hundreds you've been in dozens, you bring a different perspective. Your vision is too naive, maybe. But even if I fail at this vision, I still win because I'll be further along than that, then then you'll be in your little mediocre vision. You can't help any teacher become a master teacher. Maybe I certainly am going to try. And as a result of trying, I'm going to have more master teachers in my building than you'll have in yours. Don't let other people put their junk on you. You're going to this year, who keep building not everybody's going to get it. You're going to be subject to criticism, people are going to tell you what you can't do somewhat. That's their issue. Keep building the things that people consider liabilities, turn those into your strengths. And that's how you can walk into 2022 and make a huge difference. And become a principal that consistently sees results in your schools under any circumstances. Because you are are focused on doing the work and not letting other people put their junk on you. And you're moving forward and you're making a difference, #LikeABuilder.
I'll talk to you next time.
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