Why Builders Never Have “People Problems”
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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 146
How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students in spite of all the obstacles we face? How do you keep your vision for your school from being held hostage by resistant teachers, uncooperative parents, ridiculous district policies or lack of time, money or resources. If you're facing those challenges right now, here's where you'll find the answers, strategies, and actionable tips you need to overcome any obstacle you face. You don't have to wait to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve. You can turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Let's get started.
Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today we are continuing our series looking at the school hierarchy of needs.
Now, last time, we talked about that first level, and that is the foundational level if you don't have your purpose in place, then you need to stop this episode, go listen to episode 145. And hear that first because just like in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, you can't address a higher need until you've addressed a lower need. The foundational need of any school is that every school needs a clear purpose. And that includes the school's vision, mission and core values. So we talked about that in episode 145.
Today, we're going to talk about the next level. And this is the one that everybody wants to get to it's the people level. But what we're going to discover today is that when you have a what you think is a people problem, there's really something else going on. And we're going to get to the root cause of of your people problems today on this episode. But before we do, I have three really cool announcements.
First one, ticket sales are now open for builders lab.
And it's crazy builders lab isn't until June, but people are getting their tickets. Now we've only had tickets open for just about a week now and people are grabbing their tickets. I'm telling you, our summer builders lab for the last couple of years has sold out this year, it's going to be June 26, through June 28. And it will be another builder's lab 360 degree experience. And so you want to get your tickets now. And so all you need to do to get your tickets is to go to mind steps inc.com/ builder's dash lab and we'll also put a link in the show notes. And don't forget, you can get shownotes for any episode by just going to school leadership, reimagined, calm and then put the episode number in and you can get links to every episode. So ticket sales for builders lab are happening now.
I don't know if you've heard me talk about this. But we have we've upgraded builders lab quite a bit. And we debuted it in January and it was a huge hit. So we're continuing to make some small fine refinements. But builders lab is where you want to go if you want to understand the entire builder ship model, and see how you can apply it to your school.
So we go through purpose people pathway and plan we help you establish a clear purpose for your school. So when you leave builders lab, you have clarity around your vision. And then we work on the people component and we do something called micro slicing. And micro slicing is where we teach you how to be in a classroom for five to seven minutes and get to the root cause of that teachers practice. Understand that one thing that teacher needs to do in order to move your school closer to its vision. And that is always our most popular thing. We only do micro slicing right now at builders lab. And not only do we microsites a classroom, but then we get to the pathway portion of builders lab, we show you how to micro slice your school. So you're not just observing individual classrooms. Now you're looking school wide, and trying to figure out what is the one most important thing that my school needs to be working on right now in order to move us towards our vision.
So you'll leave builder slab with that clarity, that understanding.
And then lastly, we talked about the plan. How do you get there? How do you remove that big barrier so you can move your school forward, and we show you how to create a plan we show you the components of the plan. But that's not it because once builders lab is over, we follow up with you for 90 days sending you support and encouragement bonus trainings, reminders prompts accountability, to help you stick with your plan over the next 90 days so that you can achieve a real victory for your school.
Now the nice thing about having builder's lab at the beginning of the summer is that when you come you've got all of that data from last year and you can You have the time, the space the luxury to really dream and plan for the upcoming school year. So this could be a great way to kickstart your sit planning process, a lot of people bring their admin teams with him to build his lab and they use that time to really get that clarity to understand the direction they're going in. They don't write set plans that are kind of like works of fiction, they're set plans actually have meaning as a result of being a builder's lab. And so it's a really wonderful experience for you to really immerse yourself in the builder ship model.
Now Buildership University is about getting buildership done.
So in buildership University, we're working on levels have built a ship, there are six levels of builder ship, and we take you step by step through each of those levels. And along the way you are creating systems and putting them in your school, we call them architectures.
So at level one, you are working on your vision, mission and core values and getting that establishing your school. And then you create your alignment architecture. And that's really about how do you get everything in your school, from your discipline policy to your your your master schedule, everything your hiring practices, all aligned to your vision, mission and core values. And you can imagine how that transforms a school because now you have everybody working on the right work and doing it the right way.
Then the next level of builder ship is where you're going to be working on what we're going to talk about today, which is really getting your people on board and and building that in your school and putting the systems in place to make sure that you're building the will and skill of the staff that you have. So that you can move forward. Now you don't have to wait until you fire somebody or you get this department straight, you can move forward right now.
So we go through those six levels. And maybe I should do a podcast so you understand what the six levels are. But in buildership University, it's really about implementation builders lab is about learning the model getting started getting that clarity that you need to get started learning the micro slicing process. Builder ship University is about. Okay, I understand this. Now let's get to work. Now, let me move forward. And so I'm inviting you to join our next cohort and buildership University, we're opening a new cohort in April.
So I'm telling you now, so you have time to put some things in place and get things ready so that when that cohort opens, you can join it, we're only going to be opening the window for that cohort for about eight days, I think it is. And then that window closes. And we spend the rest of the time moving that cohort through buildership University. Now the nice thing about joining a cohort is that our plan is that when you join a cohort, in 90 days, you will have completed level one.
So when you start buildership University, we don't just throw you into the deep end, you have kind of a cohort that you're working through the process with, together, you get that support, you get that step by step support from me and from my team and buildership university so that 90 days from now you have something to show for it something tangible, that you actually can can can point to your school, your whole school is in alignment at the end of that 90 days. So that's coming up too. So look out for that.
The third thing is that we also have a free component of Buildership University, it's open to anybody to join.
And if you're not a part of Buildership University free, what are you waiting for, because we do some really cool things in there every single month, we do a vision workshop. And so if you are just starting out and you know you need a vision, and you're not sure what it is, and you want some feedback and support, we do a live vision workshop with me and you can come in, you can either hang out, listen and learn from other people. Or if you're working on your vision statement right now, you can bring that to the vision workshop and we take people on a first come first serve basis, and you can share it with me I can give you feedback on it, I can help you massage it so that when you leave a vision workshop, you have your vision done, I mean that that's absolutely free of everything we do is every month we do an Ask me anything.
So if you have another challenge that you're facing, and you can use some support with I spend about 30 minutes inside a builder's ship University free every single month coaching anybody who shows up first come first serve basis, and you can bring anything, any challenge that you're facing and get some support around that.
The next thing that we have coming up is that on Tuesday, March 15, we are having a free workshop inside of builder ship University free. And again, all you need to do is go to buildership university.com Join builder ship University at the free tier. And then you'll get an invite to this workshop. This workshop is really cool because it's all about 10 signs of a toxic school culture. How do you uncover those those early warning signs? So it's called I'd said to 10 signs but it's really 10 early warning signs of a toxic school culture. What are the things that may be lurking in your culture right now that you need to be paying attention to? Because they threaten the health of your school culture. We're going to be talking about that. That's a free workshop. All you have to do is be a member of builder ship University. So again, What are you waiting for buildership university.com Just go to that page and join builders University for free get a taste of what it's like inside of builder ship University, we have those three free trainings happening this month vision workshop, the Ask Me Anything session, and then the free training on 10 early warning signs of a toxic school culture. Okay, I think that's it for announcements.
Let's dive into the people portion. And people have, you know, heard me say for years, and they always question it. But I want to start out again with this.
Every people problem that you have, it's really not about the individual.
It's about the processes that you have in place. That doesn't mean that people don't act up, you know, they still do. But if you don't have the right processes in place to deal with it, when people act up, if you don't have the right processes in place to promote the right behavior, then it becomes a problem. So it's not that we eliminate people acting up, we eliminate their acting up being a problem for us. So important distinction, because a lot of people want to wave a magic wand and get rid of all the pathology that people often bring into our organizations you can't do that you can't control that leaders are about give me the new trick, what is the thing that I can say that will make this crazy person abnormal, or this person who's who's bent upon ruining our culture stop building ship knows that you can't control other people. But what you can control are the processes that you have in your building in your organization, to make sure that no one person or no group of people can derail you from your progress towards your vision.
That's really important. You see, as a leader, we waste time trying to figure out how to control what we can't control. As a build, we recognize we can't control the people. But we can control the environment, we can control the culture we build, we can control the systems that are in place, so that we have something in place when people act up or when people act in ways that are detrimental. And we can keep those behaviors from keeping us away from our vision. There's a lot of security in that. Because then you don't worry about well, what do I do about this crazy teacher, but you know, pray for them. But other than that, you're going to keep moving forward towards your vision because you have things in place to keep that crazy teacher or that that litigious parent or that you know, demanding unreasonably demanding supervisor or that disaffected team or whoever, it will keep them from slowing your progress towards your vision. Again, there's a lot of security in that. Because once you have these processes in place, there isn't a people problem you can't handle. So you're not stressed out.
You know, it's funny, we have builders lab the last time we did something we hadn't done before. But we're now going to do every single builders love because it was like the most amazing session. We invited builders from buildership University to come back and talk about their builders shipping experience, because it's one thing to hear me say this works. It's another thing to meet people just like you who are actually doing the work and see it working. So we had three builders come in, and they talked about what they're doing with their school. And they're achieving these. Just I mean, incredible results. I mean, like it blew my mind. I didn't even know all the things they were doing. And they were like, oh, yeah, we did just kind of eliminate that problem altogether. I don't even think about it more, because not a problem. I mean, there were there were so the word. It's not blase.
But what people said after the success panel was over and the people of builders lab were kind of talking about how amazing it was. More than one person commented, they were all different people on the panel, all very different from different parts of the world, not just the United States. We had international folks there. They were all very different. But the thing that was so common amongst all of them was that they were also calm. Everybody else is stressing out. And builders don't stress out. Because when you have the right systems in place, yeah, there's what are you stressed out for you trust your systems, your systems work, and they do what they're supposed to do. So you're not stressed out?
I talk to builders all the time is what I got this teacher and I this and I'm like, yeah, the problem is, you don't have clear, first of all, vision, mission and core values and places. So that behavior is acceptable, because you haven't put non negotiables in place that would make that behavior unacceptable. So that's the first thing. Now there's still some people even have to have vision, mission core values in place, we're going to push against that. And that's why you need what we're going to be talking about today and put those systems in place so that when people push against it, you can nip it in the bud right away and keep it from destroying your culture or derailing your your progress towards your vision and that is What makes you calm? Because when you have the right systems in place, you don't have to worry about it. You don't have to figure it out, you know, a lot of leaders are making things up on the spot.
Do you ever feel that way that every day you go into work and something new happens, and you have to kind of make up a solution on the spot and hope that it's the right solution.
That doesn't happen with builders, builders don't have to make it up on the spot, we have already put systems in place to deal with this kind of thing. And so we just rely on our systems and, and that frees up a lot of energy to focus on what's really important. So let's talk about these systems, when we get to the people component. And let me just remind you, this is a hierarchy of needs.
So if you have started out, you don't have a clear vision, mission and core values, none of what I'm saying is going to work. So get that straight first. But once you have those in place, now, you can put some things in place that will help build the will and skill of the people that you are working with. And the four systems we call the four disciplines of buildership our feedback, support, accountability, and culture. Now you're like, Well, okay, Big whoop, Robyn, I thought you were gonna tell me something I didn't know, I know, I have to give feedback not to do support, I know I have to do accountability. I know I have to work with my culture.
But builders do those things differently than leaders. So even though you probably have a feedback system in place, right now, if you're doing it the way that you were trained as a leader, your quote unquote, feedback system is mostly an evaluation and supervision system, it's about getting into classrooms, spewing out random feedback based on an instrument and evaluation instrument to teachers leaving, and then getting back in that classroom two weeks from now I'm giving them a whole new set of feedback, you know, different from the last feedback you gave, and they keep doing that. And that's not feedback.
See, feedback, first of all, is a two way street. So it's not about you getting into classrooms and telling teachers what they need to be doing, or giving teachers an assessment on how they measure up next to an evaluation instrument that's not feedback. Feedback is an ongoing conversation that you're having that that helps, you know, how close are we to achieving our vision, living out our mission and aligning ourselves to our core values? And what adjustments do we need to make in order to better do that, that's why you need vision, mission and core values first, or else feedback doesn't work. When you set up feedback this way. It's not about a gotcha situation. It's not about, you know, looking at your schedule, like, Oh, I've got to get into three classrooms a day, because my district says I need to do that. And instead, it becomes an ongoing conversation you're having that is aligned to your vision, mission and core values, and helps you get there faster. And it's not just you giving teachers feedback about what they need to do in the classroom, teachers are giving you feedback about about what they need from you, in order in order to develop the will and skill they need to move towards that vision, to live out that mission and to stay in alignment with those core values.
So when you think about feedback, that way, it changes everything.
And so one of the things that builders do is we have a system for giving feedback, and we have systems in place to collect feedback. And when you do that, nobody's ever blindsided. Your teachers aren't blindsided with a evaluation. Well, I thought I was accomplished and you've gotten me, you know, satisfactory or whatever the language is you using your valuation? Should we get to having those arguments? When you give people the right kind of feedback, you're not walking into a classroom and saying I was in your last week, and I told her she needs to do this. And she's not doing and what do we do, but you don't have that when you have the right feedback conversation going. It's so what builders do is we build a feedback system, we call it the feedback architecture. And your feedback architecture has some very important components.
The first component is that you have a system for getting in and getting the root cause. Now that system that we use is something we call micro slicing. And it's about going into the classroom and trying to figure out not everything that's wrong, or finding something that's wrong when it's a great class. Instead, it's about getting to the root cause of why that classroom is either working or not working. And more importantly, why that classroom is either working or not working in relationship to your school purpose, your vision mission core values. When you go in and you look for that that one thing and then you give that one thing feedback to teachers. I don't care what else you work on. If you don't fix this nothing else is going to get better with the teachers are so grateful.
We were just in office hours and we'll buildership University other day and someone was saying someone who's new to buildership University was saying I cannot believe How much teachers are loving one thing feedback. It's true, they're hungry for it, most of your teachers want to do a good job. It's just the feedback systems we're giving them. They're either punishing and telling them well, you know, you need to do this, this, this and this, which they may or may not need to do. Or their feedback is systems that they're a part of our feel like gotcha system. So teachers stop thinking about their practice and just perform for you. When you get in the classroom, you're never going to get anywhere, if every time we walk into class when people start performing. Instead, if when you come in the classroom, people know what you're there for.
Because because you've given them that one thing feedback and, and you're encouraging them and they see that growth, then they come back as one builder was telling us an office hours, and the teacher came back was like, Alright, what's my next one thing, they're so eager to move forward, we have builders who have put this feedback system and architecture in place, and seen dramatic test score jumps in as little as six months. That you know, nothing was six months, a half a school year, whatever that is. Because when teachers get high quality feedback, feedback, they can act on feedback that that helps them see what is the most important thing they need to improve. And when they improve on that they get feedback on how it's going, they get feedback from the students around that it makes all the difference in the world. Not only do you need to be giving feedback to your teachers, you need to be collecting it from your teachers.
So we talk about things like focus groups, focus groups, for teachers, focus groups for students, so that students can tell you how things are going in the classroom. You're telling a teacher you need to do X? Well, the students, when the teacher does X, do the student see the difference? Does it make a difference in their lives, you know, a lot of the student challenges that people are facing right now. Or people are just kind of baffled by them.
So I was I was talking to a principal the other day, and he was saying, I just have such a motivation and procrastination problem. My kids are just a high school principal, my kids don't do the work, they put off the homework, they don't do the work. And so do you have any ideas about how I can motivate the kids? And the first thing I ask is, Well, what did the kids say? I don't know. I never asked them. So rather than guessing. And throwing another motivation program in or changing the structure of the classroom and, or changing homework or getting rid of homework.
Ask the kids.
I've worked in schools where the kids say we didn't do homework, we don't do homework, because the books are too heavy for us to ride the bus. I've worked with kids who say we don't do homework, because the due dates are too far apart. And so we forget about it. I've had kids say, I try to do the homework every day. But I underestimate how long it takes me to finish. And so I don't complete it. What those are three different reasons and require three different solutions. But if you don't have a feedback architecture in place where you are regularly talking to your kids, talking to your parents talking to your teachers, then you're just guessing at solving their problems. And how arrogant is that? Oh, I see a problem. But I'm the only one that knows the solution, you don't know anything. The only way you can find a good solution is to make your students, your teachers, your parents, your partner. And the only way that you can establish that partnership where they feel comfortable talking to you and giving you the feedback, you need to make good decisions. You need a feedback architecture in place. When you have a feedback architecture in place, you don't get stressed out, you know.
I used to get really stressed out about going into teachers classrooms, and doing observations and that pulse observation conference and sharing the feedback with teachers because, you know, what's your how the teachers want to take it. And this is a big deal. And there's a power dynamic involved that that can be uncomfortable. Once I started giving feedback, the builders way, those conversations were so rich, the teachers loved them.
And here's something else many of you struggled to give feedback not to the teachers who are struggling, you feel like you've got that down. You struggle to give feedback to the teachers who are doing a great job because the way you were taught to give feedback as a leader says that you have to find something wrong, even if the classroom was darn near perfect. You have to find something wrong, or you can't let people rest on their laurels. I've heard districts say I hate this, but I've heard districts say things like, Oh, you can visit the highest level of our teacher evaluation system, but teachers can live there. What do you mean teachers can't live there? Don't you want every teacher in your building to get to that point where they are? Excellent. That makes no sense. So a lot of times, your best teachers get the worst feedback. When you get feedback with a builder. It's not about nitpicking and finding something wrong sometimes your feedback is helping that really excellent teacher dig into why their classroom works so well.
You know, a lot of people are unconsciously competent, they they're they're they're so good and they've been good for so long that they they're they don't remember why they're good or what they're doing. It's like natural they they couldn't articulate it. Sometimes those teachers those those amazingly uncommon, unconsciously competent teachers. They need a call conversation that helps them remember why they're good. So they can get better. If your feedback system is designed to just find the problem rather than celebrating the successes, no wonder your teachers are unmotivated.
No wonder your teachers are overwhelmed.
So what builders do is we have a feedback system. And the purpose of the feedback system is one, to give people feedback on how what they need to be doing next to move closer to our vision, our mission and our core values. And it's to collect feedback from the people we are serving to help us know what they need next, in order to move closer to our vision, mission and core values. And when you do that, there's not a feedback issue you can't handle. So the first discipline is feedback.
The second discipline is support. And the way that we are trained to give support is so woefully inadequate. It's laughable. I've had principals call me and say, Hey, I've got a PD Day on February 2, can you come in and do something you mean to tell me that you get one PD day a year, and that's where you're going to blow all of your energy and effort into that one PD day. Or we tell people we want to want them to meet in PLCs. And then we put them in PLCs. And either they do parallel planning, where they're just kind of, you know, like PFP. JS parallel play, they're just all planning in the same room rather than separate rooms, or we co opt that conversation so that it's, it's so different than what PLCs were designed to do. There's not a richness to that conversation, we've overly scripted, the PLC conversation, so there's not true collaboration. And that folks is the end of our PD. No, builders do it differently.
When you have a support architecture in place, support is ongoing.
It's differentiated. It's deliberate. And it's developmental. The first thing that builders do is we we look at feedback. First, you build your feedback architecture first, because that gives you a sense of what support people need. Then you take what you've learned from your feedback architecture, and you start building your support architecture. And in your support architecture, you use something that we call the teacher dashboard.
Now, one of the hard lessons that I've had this year is I've been trying to show people the Teacher Dashboard, and people are seeing it as one more thing, or you know, an act of compliance. And that's because the teacher Dashwood only works if you have a builders mindset and not a leaders mindset, because if it's a if you use it as a leaders mindset, it's a record keeping tool, that's not good enough. But if you use a teacher dashboard, as with a builder's mindset is a strategy tool, it's a way for you to be strategic about supporting your teachers.
So I was working with a principal and assistant principal last week, and we've been setting up a teacher dashboard. And I met with them two weeks ago, and we sat down and we went through every teacher on her staff. We said, based on your feedback, and your micro slicing what is every teachers one thing? What is the one thing every teacher needs to work on right now in order to move forward with our vision, mission and core values? They identified that. And then we started saying now with regard to this one thing is that is what are your teachers? Are they are they stuck? Are they making progress? Or have they kind of seen growth in movement in that one thing over the course of the year? And then we color coded red, yellow, green, red for teachers who are stuck yellow for teachers who are progressing green for the teachers who are making that progress?
Well, here's the exciting thing. We did that a couple weeks ago. And then what we did is we said you're going to meet every single week and go through your dashboard. And as you're going in classrooms, and as you're providing support, you're going to come back and you're going to say, Okay, did we see movement? Did we see movement. So for the teachers who are read in our stock, those are going to be a priority teacher so that a teacher said if I don't get into any other classrooms this week, I need to work with those teachers. And then we strategize about what support to those teachers need to get unstuck. The teachers who are yellow, who are progressing, what is the one thing that they could use this week that'll either get them closer to having made progress, or that will help facilitate their progress even more. And then for the teachers who are green, they've already gotten there, they've made that progress. What is the next thing they need to work on? So we sit down, we go through every single staff member, we do that, and then they prioritize which classrooms are getting into what they're going to do with everybody in those classrooms. And the goal is how do we turn the teachers who are red to yellow, how do we take the teacher to yellow and get them to green? And how do we take the traditional green and give it back to yellow? So they've already made progress? What's the next thing that need to be progressing on?
Last week, we sat down and met again. It's been going on for about two three weeks now. We already have teachers who were stuck who are now unstuck We have several teachers who were making progress that we were able to help get over the hump. And then we have some teachers who have already made tremendous progress this year, who are now working on the next thing cheerfully, and getting the support they need. And what was really interesting is that when the administrators were going through it, they were in classrooms, they were great already, they were already in classrooms all day, every day, they were already giving teachers feedback.
But now their support has focused and they're seeing teachers grow.
So we have a builder, you walk into the building every single year, you don't just believe all kids can learn it all kids can grow, you believe all adults can, too. And so you're very intentional about the support you're giving your teachers to be able to do that. So So that's the second discipline builders have a discipline that supports people. And when you have that support architecture in place, you don't stress out about teachers who are stuck. You don't have many teachers who are stuck. You don't stress out about I've been in that caught teacher's classroom up model lessons, I've done everything, what else can I do, because every single week, you were sitting down, and you're learning more, and the dashboard helps you see, okay, these are the things we tried that haven't worked, this one kind of work when we let's, let's try this week to double down on this one. So you have a structure in place to constantly strategize on how you can help your teachers be their best. And you have tangible evidence that at the end of the year, you've helped every teacher grow at least one level in the most critical domain for them, and one year or less.
So now, you're not worried about teachers who aren't progressing. Because when you have that support architecture in place, and you're using that dashboard, all your teachers are growing. And it really is that simple. So first, discipline, feedback, second discipline support, their discipline, accountability.
Now, accountability is an ugly word in education. I get it, I mean, the way we treat accountability, it's really a matter of us spending all of your time chasing, checking and correcting people. And it almost feels like if you stop, let up for just one moment, the dam will break, and everybody will just go wild and anarchy and chaos will ensue. That's how we've been trained to treat accountability to stay on top of people. We're writing people up. And you know, we're telling people, you know, you can't do that to me. And I was talking to a principal last week, and he has a teacher that he's been kind of in battle with all year long. And it's gotten to the point where like, he feels like he has to sneak into her classroom when she's not there and take pictures of something she's not doing. And so that he can have evidence to, you know, to to hold against her.
Did you go into education to do that? Is that why you became an educator so that you could one day sneak into a teacher's classroom and collect evidence for files and maybe get rid of that teacher? How exhausting is that builders, don't see accountability that way. We're not about chasing, checking, correcting people, if people are not doing something, then we look at the system. And we figure out what is it about the system that allows people not to follow it. And then we fixed the system. Because once you fix the system, people usually take the path of least resistance and they follow the system. If people are breaking your system, you don't go after the people because it's obviously the system, if they can break your system, then your system is the problem.
And so with accountability, when you build an accountability architecture, what you do is you are looking at some of the key systems in your school systems around planning. You know, you've heard me for a long time, say I don't think you should be collecting lesson plans. And people say, Well, if I don't collect lesson plans, how do I know whether or not teachers are teaching the curriculum? Well, if the only way you know teachers are teaching curriculum is if you collect those, those fake lesson plans, there's a bigger problem. And lately, because of all of the teacher absences that are people are experiencing, people are saying, well, if I don't collect lesson plans, what if a teacher is absent, I don't have a lesson plan to give us up.
Well, there's a solution for that too. And it's not about you collecting lesson plans every week, and then spending your whole weekend studying lesson plans, when you can put a system in place that accommodates for subs, but doesn't require this, this this this, you know line in your office on Friday or you know, your inbox getting full of teachers who are rushing to get lesson plans to you.
I don't want teachers thinking in individual lessons. That's part of the problem. I want teachers thinking in units. So I would put a system in place where teachers are getting together collectively to plan units. And then once they've established what the unit rhythm is going to look like. They can work on their individual lesson planning any way they want, because they're being held accountable by different checkpoints within a unit that they've collaboratively plan together.
So now I don't have to check lesson plans.
A team can submit to me a unit you know, and I want to see a unit a week before so I have time Read it, give them feedback, make sure we tweak anything that needs tweaking before they teach to kids, once have a unit in place, then if a teacher is absent on a particular day, we can take care of that. Because we know what kids are supposed to be learning, we know where they are in the unit, we can locate them. And that means when you have a sub come in, you're not it's not a wasted learning day for kids, because we see the bigger picture. But you can't do that if you don't have a system in place for that.
So with the accountability architecture, what we help you do is, we help you think about, okay, what are the key systems in our building? What are the systems we have around planning? What are the systems we have around discipline? What are the systems we have around? Things like rewards and punishments? If you're going to do something like that? Or like how do we, how do we wreck it? What are the systems we have around recognition? And what you do is anytime there's a problem that is a persistent problem, a problem that you feel like you're solving over and over and over again, then we pull out your system and take a look at the system. And it's so eye opening.
The first time I did it myself, I kind of blew it off, I just you know, we do this, this isn't this. When I went back, and really did it the way it was supposed to be done. Oh my goodness, all of the holes that I found in my system, the leaks that I found in my system, it blew my mind. And I started thinking, Well, no wonder people are doing this or no wonder I can't get anybody to do that. The system is not allowing for that. Once I closed those leaks in the system, everybody started working better. And they were so happy to have clarity around, okay, this, these are the expectations, this is what's supposed to happen. And the system started working so smoothly, that that everybody felt this sense of relief, because before we were, we were doing extra work to compensate for the holes in the system, and burned out and tired.
Once we fix the system, there was no extra work the system worked. And we just work the system. Accountability, when it comes down to it, it doesn't have to be this drama, field chasing checking and correcting thing to accountability is quite boring, because all you're doing is you're attending those systems. And when you do that, when you put the systems in place, you are able to trust people better. So we have a whole way that we show you about how to create that how how to create that system in your in your school. And we do something called system mapping. But when you're finished and you put the systems in place, things get better.
We were just an office hours last week, I think, and there was someone who's been working on a different discipline system. And she says it's only been a couple of weeks. But already referrals are down. There's a difference that teachers are already seeing a difference because we have a different system in place. That's what happens when you think about accountability, like a builder, rather than wearing yourself out, trying to hold people accountable like a leader.
The fourth thing that's a part of the discipline, that's a part of the people component is culture. And a lot of people think, well, there's not much you can do about culture. But of course there is. And so as the leaders we think culture is you know, putting giving teachers free massages, because there's so burned out or having a chant that we say at the beginning, we force people to go through at the beginning of every staff meeting or giving people T shirts to wear on T Shirt Day, or finding a really cool gift for Staff Appreciation Day. Those are nice things. But that is not culture culture is so much deeper than a culture is about.
I had a mentor give me a great definition of culture, I think about often your culture are your institutional habits. What are the institutional habits because when you go to a school you can walk in and the feeling that you get from a school is a is an accumulation of institutional habits. And people The reason I like the idea that they're habits is because people don't think about them, it's just muscle memory, people just go out and do what they're doing that that's culture. So we need to be intentional about the institutional habits we create.
Now, I'm I'm not against a Starbucks gift card or massage in the staff lounge or all the other things that people do. But if those things are not tied to your vision, mission and core values what I don't get the point and I've talked to many principals who are upset because they have a toxic school culture and they try to fix it the leaders way they they do something nice for their staff, principals telling me you know, she got these like gift bags for her staff because she was trying to you know, kind of do something about the culture. Do you know that the several of our staff members walked up and got their gift bags and then walked out and fill them in the trash in our interface She was devastated. And the problem wasn't she got them a gift bag, the problem was that the she thought the gift bag was going to fix toxicity in the culture. I'd rather you didn't give any gifts at all.
And guess what, when people are a part of a healthy school culture, they don't need gifts to get through the day.
Your teachers are burned out and and overwhelmed. And you think that giving them a gift or giving them an extra hour doing something like that is going to serve them, you're wrong, I was talking to some principals the other day, their superintendent had given them a gift of some extra time, a valid ID was grouse about it, the superintendent thought that he was doing something nice by giving them an extra hour, cutting a meeting short by an hour. And they just complain the whole time. So it was it was the gesture was wasted, it didn't do anything to fix the culture. I'd rather you leave the gifts alone for a while and instead fix the culture.
So we we do something called a culture audit, inside of Buildership University, and we help you figure out how to find the toxicity in your culture, and then how to reverse engineer that toxicity. So that you can put some new institutional habits in place that kill the the toxicity and create a healthy culture, and then gift away, because your gifts are aligned to your vision, mission and core values. And they they reinforce and support them. That makes more sense.
And so the instead of thinking about culture, as you know, something that you can fix with a gift, fix the real culture. And then in fixing that, you'll know what the right gift is to give a Yeah, I'm a part of a couple principle forums. And one of the things I see that drives me nuts is that a lot of principals will put out what's a great staff appreciation gift, I can get any ideas, I get the impulse. And I like hearing some of the ideas. But in my head, my builders mind says if you don't have a clear vision, mission and core values in place, any gifts you get for people is just that a random, random token. But if you have a vision mission core values in place, you never have to ask what can I get my staff because the gifts that you get your staff or the things that you do for your staff are going to be an outgrowth of that solid vision mission and core values that you have in place are going to reinforce that. That way the gift is not only a nice to have, it also is reinforcing that foundation of your school to begin with, so everything works together.
And I think that as I conclude this, this episode today, the big thing about the builder ship Hierarchy of Needs is that if you build your school the right way, in the right order, if you deal with things in the right order, purpose first, and then people stuff starts getting aligned, it becomes so much easier to make decisions, because you've put these things in place that kind of guide you to the right decision.
And that's what I think is so cool about being a builder is rather, you know, a lot of people are worried or burned out because they're doing this over here, this over here, this over here, and this over here, and none of that stuff talks to each other, they all feel like different tasks. But when you follow the school hierarchy of needs, everything you do feels like an extension of the same task. Everything you do when you walk in, it all relates to each other.
The decisions that you make are grounded in your purpose.
And that's how you know you're making the right decision. And so going back to what I said at the beginning, every people problem is really a problem around process. When you are dealing with a people problem. If you don't have that vision, mission and core values in place, there's no common ground between you and that other person. And so it's just me against you. And that's why it starts feeling very personal. When you have a vision, mission and core values in place. It's not personal. We are disagreeing about how we're pursuing that vision or living up that mission and those core values. That's an easier conversation to have. That's not fraught. When wouldn't you then put that next layer on that people component in place, you're not blindsided by bad behavior or, or snarkiness, or some of the other things. Instead, when those things happen. You have a system and a process that you can rely on to deal with it quickly before it has a chance to completely destroy your culture and your progress towards your vision, mission and core values. And I guess that's what makes you calm in the face of people problems.
You see, it's not that you'll never have a personal conflict or a person who who acts up or people problem. But when you're a builder, you already have a solution in place. When your builder when when a people problem comes up you're not scratching your head and making up an answer for and what do I do about this? You're in know what to do. And so you rely on those systems, this architecture, so disciplines. And when you do that, the other thing is you start having a lot less people a lot fewer people problems, because you have processes in place to support your people. And that's the whole goal. It's not about controlling or managing people. It's about supporting your staff, building their will and skills so that they can pursue that vision, mission and core values with you, they can build with you.
That's a difference, you don't see people as problems when you are a builder.
Instead, you see that when something shows up, that tells you that there's a problem somewhere in one of your systems, you fix the system, and then the problem goes away. And then you have the freedom to treat people like people instead of problems. So my challenge to you this week, is to think about a people problem that you feel like you have in your school. I don't know what it might be, but whatever it is, think about, think about a problem, something that you're facing right now, then allow yourself to consider, is there a system that you could have put in place that could have avoided that problem, or that will help you address that problem? Is that problem pointing to a bigger problem that you have in your system? And I bet you're going to be surprised at what you've learned. And then whenever you're ready, we have like I said, we have another cohort of buildership University opening in April. And one of the things that we help you do and buildership University start building these systems, building these architectures in place so that you have something that helps you deal with, with the challenges that show up with regard to people without treating people like problems. And that's really how you solve a people problem. Like a builder. I'll talk to you next.
Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you were 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. Inside 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 builder ship University, just go to builder ship university.com and get started writing your school success story today.
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