School Leadership Reimagined - What does Success REALLY look like?

What does Success REALLY look like?

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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 149

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 on the school hierarchy of needs.

And this is the penultimate series, because we're going to be talking about that peak of the school hierarchy of needs. So this week, we're going to talk about that success peak. And then next week, we'll finish up the series by talking about how to put it all together.

And today we're going to talk about the success component. And I want to tell you a brief story. So I was coaching a group of principals recently, and I was talking to them about building their success plan. And one of the principals rolled her eyes and she said, Look, I'm so tired of writing plans, I have to write a school improvement plan, I have to write an intervention plan. I have to write an RTI plan, I have to write a PBIS plan. We are good on how do I plans? And I asked her I said you're great on how do I plan? How often do you achieve the goals in your plans? And then silence. And I wasn't saying it to put people on the spot.

I was asking the question because the way that we were trained, we were all trained on how to write plans. But how many of us were trained on how to actually achieve the ambitious goals that we put in our plans? More likely than not, we're trained on how to write plans that that are low enough that we can achieve them in our sleep. How often are we taught how to actually achieve success? And what does success look like to a builder? And how is that different from the way that success looks like to a leader. That's we're going to be talking about today.

But before we do a couple of announcements, builders lab tickets are available. Builders lab is happening at the end of June and it is going to be amazing. We're doing another 360 degree experience. But we've done some upgrades with builders lab and now builders lab is focused on this topic, the school hierarchy of needs. When you come to build your slab, you are going to come and you we are going to help you figure out what is the most important work for your school. Right now. We're going to help you micro slice your school, we're going to help you unlock what is the secret? What is the thing that is keeping your school from successfully serving 100% of your students. That's what we do at builders lab.

So when you come the first thing we do is we figure out what does 100% success look like for your school. 

And every school is different. Every school is unique, and every school has its own success story to tell. We're going to help you figure out what that is for your school. The next thing we're going to do is then we're going to micro slice your school and help you pinpoint what is the one thing that is the most important work for your school right now what is the one thing that's holding your school back, we're going to show you how to do that for your school. But we're also going to help you develop the skill set to be able to do that over and over and over again so that no matter what school you're in, you'll be able to walk in and very quickly diagnose that one thing. Not only are we going to show you how to do that for your school, we're going to show you how to do that in a classroom. So that no matter what classroom you walk in, you can go in and figure out what is the one most important thing the teacher needs to focus on right now to grow one level in one domain in one year or less.

So once you have that superpower, that micro slicing superpower, then we're going to show you Okay, now that you know the one thing, how do you remove that obstacle? How do you how do you how do you change that one thing so that it stops keeping you from moving towards your goal? It gets out of your way? How do you solve it for good. And so when you leave builders lab, you'll not only know how to do that for your current school situation, but you'll have the skill set so that you can do that in any school or any situation you go into.

So that the builders lab that's the first thing and those tickets are on sale and our next one is happening at the end of June. And to get your tickets you need to go to mind steps inc.com/ builders dash lab that's mind steps inc.com/builders-lab

Second announcement, buildership University. So we have been quietly behind the scenes redesigning build a ship University, if you were to go to build a ship university.com, they would tell you, you have to be on a waiting waitlist, we have a current cohort going through.

But we have redesigned buildership University to make it.

I mean, there's tons of stuff inside of builders ship University. And when we talk to people, one of the things that they said is that, you know, we need a little bit more direction, you know, I thought give everybody everything and let you dive in. And if you want to do that, that's still available for you.

But we've designed the experience so that you move through builder ship University, as a cohort, and every 90 days, you advance to a next level, you accomplish something so build a ship University, it's not just PD professional development, you know, oh, level up a little bit, my leadership No, and build a ship university, you are building the skill set, you need to turn your school into a success story or turn any school into a success story.

So the first cohort, when you first come in, the first thing we're going to help you do is develop a clear vision, and then lead the work of developing the mission and the core values in your school. And finally, taking everything in your school, your discipline policy, your attendance policy, how teachers plan, how you do your PLCs, how you implement RTI, or PBIS, or anything else that you have to implement, we're going to help you align everything to your vision, mission and core values. And you will accomplish that in the first 90 days of being in builder ship University, That's level one. After you've accomplished that, then you move to level two.

And the next thing is about putting systems in place so that you can begin to move your people. So we're going to show you how to develop a feedback system that helps you get into more classrooms. But it also helps you to give people meaningful feedback. And we show you how to do that in a way that doesn't have you killing yourself every day to get the classrooms, you still can get all of your other work done. And it becomes a natural rhythm in a school, you put a system in place to make sure that you're giving people the right feedback at the right time and in the right way. And then we're going to show you how to create a support system that gives teachers differentiated, deliberate, and developmental support and how you can keep track of your teachers growth, so that you can show evidence that your teachers are growing one level of one domain or one year or less.

Once you learn these skills, and they're more you know, every 90 days, you are developing not only a huge skill set, but you're installing new systems in your school, so that by the time you have gone through the entire builder's university program, your school is different, but you're different. You've put your school in position to be successful. But now you become the kind of principal who can do that in any school you walk into. So it's not school specific.

If something happens and you change jobs, which happens a lot and build a ship University, people start doing this work and people you know, your district notices and the next thing you know you're getting a promotion you're getting you know you're getting put another place doesn't mean that all that work is in vain, because you leave the school in good stead, but you take the skill set with you to your next position to your next assignment to your next opportunity. And that's an built up University, we are opening up a new cohort at the end of April. And if you want to be a part of that cohort, all you need to do is go to builder ship university.com Join the waitlist. And we'll let you know when the new cohort is opening so that you can grab your slot and we are going to walk you through that whole process together. So again, builder ship university.com.

Now if you can't wait, you want to dive in right away. Then we also have a version a free version of builder ship University, which helps you to get a little taste of what it's like inside of builder ship University and we do a couple of free trainings in builder ship University free at the free level every single month. And if you want to be a part of those trainings, you know recently we just did a training that looked at understanding 10 early warning signs of toxicity in your school culture.

We do a vision training every month to help you start thinking about your vision. We have a free mini course that walks you through all of the the builders Ship Model and helps you understand how it all works through we have a couple of other free resources. So you want a taste of of the kinds of things that you're going to learn and build a ship university you can go to build a ship university.com right now and you can join for free and get access to this free resources while you wait for the next cohort to open. Alright, I think that's it for the announcements. today. I want to talk about success.

And we're going to have to unlearn what we were taught about success because we were taught

that success is hitting a simple problem is a CIP goal says hey, we're gonna increase 5% in reading and math By the end of the school year, and all you're doing is saying we're failing 5% fewer kids than the ones we were failing at the beginning of the year. Is that success? Does that feel like success to you? I was talking to a superintendent the other day, and he was saying that, you know, their goal at the beginning of the year for school district was to have a 10%, across the board increase in math and reading scores K 12. And I said, you hit the golden eagles? Oh, yeah, we hit it. And then when we started talking more, he says, we probably want to hit it anyway, because a couple of things in the way the test was changing. So that didn't even feel like a success to him, because they he set a goal that he knew he was going to reach. And that goal still didn't include 100% of your kids.

When you're a leader, you are taught to settle for tiny little gains, and call it success. And in your gut, you know, that's not real success. And yet, it feels almost defeating, because you're working really, really hard. And you have very little to show for it at the end. And you're taught as a leader. Well, that's what leadership is, can't have all that success right away. You can't, you know, you have to, you have to, you know, move to success in increments.

I was talking to another principle, a week ago, and he was talking about, well, you know, I prefer to do increments and his reading proficiency, which is what he was trying to work on getting 100% of his kids at grade level in reading. And his reading proficiency at the moment was about 28%. And so I said, Well, what kind of increments Would you feel good about, he said, you know, like, if we could get five or 10% Each year, I don't want to put a whole bunch of pressure on my teachers. I said, let's, let's, let's go, let's go for broke, let's say 10% a year. But next year, you'll be a 38%. If everything goes correctly, you'll work really hard. And at the end of the year, you'll go from 28% to 30%, still not good. The next year, you'll go from 38% to 48%, you'll work really, really hard, you've put two years in, and you're still sub, you're still over half of your kids are not proficient, the next year, you'll go from 48% to 58%, you've worked three years, and still two thirds of your kids are not proficient, and several of the kids are no longer in the school with you. So those kids, you failed, and you have no opportunity to impact their lives going forward, it's done. Then the next year, if you go from 58% to 68%, let's keep going. That's four years, still not there yet. If you go from 68% to 78%, five years, 78% 88%, six years, and on and on and on.

So you're at eight to 10 years before you are serving 100% of your kids, are you even going to be in this school in eight to 10 years. So you're setting a goal that you will never achieve. And yet that's what we're taught. That's we're taught that.

And it's weird to me that in a profession that believes or says that believes that all kids deserve to be successful in school and all kids can be successful in school. We've done such an abysmal job of making that all kids possible. Probable, true. I don't get it. How is it that we say we believe all kids can be successful. And yet we don't put things in place to ensure that all kids are successful. In fact, as a profession, we have just grown to accept that all kids are going to be successful. We're never going to get there. People laugh at the the the blind optimism of No Child Left Behind that eventually, every year we're moving the needle. And we're going to get to the point of 100% success. And although I disagree with that technique, I don't disagree with the idea that we should be ensuring that 100% of our kids are successful.

And when we don't win when we shoot for 10%, or you know, let's go for broke 20% gain in one year. If that 20% gain is not getting us to 100% then the methodology that we use to pursue that game to pursue that successful is always going to be constrained.

Think about it if the only thing you're trying to do is get a 510 20% gain, then the strategies you use to get that are designed to get you that 510 20% gain, which means then that they are not sustainable. They were there they were quick fixes. They were bandaids but if you keep that in place, you're not going to continue to get 510 20% gains. And so you are using something that you're going to have to throw away in a year or two, if you want to get to 100%. Or if you don't throw it away, if you keep using it, you will never get to 100% because the methodology was never designed to get you to 100%. We say on one hand and education, we believe in all kids. But what we do is very different. Because what we do is not designed to get us to all kids. It's baffling to me.

If what you're doing is not going to build something for every single kid, why are you doing it? 

Why are you chasing these little piddly gains? When there's 100% success waiting for you? You see, builders see success differently, right? Well, builders are not chasing small incremental gains every single year. I know the thinking behind it. And it makes sense until you really dig you know, while you know, you can't get to 100% right away. And we all want to get to 100%. But we got to get there in increments. But the once you start breaking it down into increments, you lose the goal, the goal is not 100%. And more the goal is the five or 10, or 15% increment that you're trying to get for the year, what builders are saying is no, we want 100%. And we recognize we're not going to get to 100%, instantaneously.

But the strategies we put in place, we're putting them in place designed for 100% success. So that way, once I put something in place, it's there. I don't have to go back and change it because now I need another 10% or now I need another 20% schools or you know, we're becoming so frazzled, because every single year, we have to change a strategy, because the strategy we're using was great to give us that 2% That 3% That 5%. But it's not a strategy that's going to be able to sustain growth.

So we have to look for new strategy or new idea new something else in order to keep growing? Where's the builder says I don't nobody has time for that. My kids certainly don't have time for that. My teachers don't have time for that. Instead, let's figure this out. What is 100% look like? Why aren't we there yet? What are the barriers, let's remove the barriers. When we remove the barriers, we'll know more, we'll be able to see more than we can learn more and figure out what the next barrier is. And we remove that. And we keep doing that until there's nothing in our way, keeping us from 100% success.

Now they know it's not going to happen overnight. But that doesn't mean that you have to choose a temporary strategy, because it's not going to happen overnight. It means that you put some things in place and give those things time to work. Many of you right now are writing set plans and you're trying to figure out what your CIP goals are going to be.

And I get it, you don't necessarily want to put 100% on that piece of paper because it goes to you know, the district and the state. And then they're like sending it back and tell you it's unreasonable. Or you look like a fool, you didn't achieve it in one year. It's rare that you're going to get to 100% in one year. But it is not rare to expect to get to 100% over the course of three years or less. I've seen schools do it in as little as 18 months. And I've seen most schools who stick with the program get there in three years. builders don't have time for these little teeny, incremental goals. What builders are investing in is we're investing in the long term.

You know why so many people are exhausted right now. Because every single year, they're starting from scratch. They're building from scratch. They they go in the summer, and they design something else. And they don't ever build on the work that they did last year, they look at that data. And they're like, Oh, we're still missing this piece. So now let's go choose and chase this, this this strategy, this opportunity, this this new thing, let's move this data this number, and they never they never stick with anything.

If every single year when you start the school year your teachers walk in in August and they are they there's they're scared because they know what's the new program this year? What's the new thing we're doing this year? What's What's the new demand on my time now. And some of us don't even wait a whole year you know, some of us are changing in the middle of the year. Oh, we started with this, but then we you know we that didn't work. So now we're going to do this. And it's just constant change without constant progress. builders don't do that.

Builders are thinking for the long term I need to get to 100% and then they build on what they're doing. One of the reasons why the school Hierarchy of Needs is such an important concept for you to understand is that if you build in the right order, and in the right way, you won't feel like you're all over the place. You'll have have that solid foundation of a purpose, then you'll get your people on board. And you'll do it in a way that you can count on it, it's there, it's done. You don't have to revisit it later on, it's done. And then after you get your people on board, you figure out the right pathway. So you're not wasting time doing the, you know, the wrong work. And then you develop a good plan for the work that you're doing. So that you can, you can execute with, with with precision and discipline. And when you do that, you'll get to success.

And sometimes, it looks like the success isn't coming right away. 

So a lot of times when you are investing and doing the vision, mission and core values, you're still hitting those little incremental gains. And you know, you've wasted all this time doing vision, mission and core values, it took me you know, most of the time people in build a ship University, it takes them about three months to get vision, mission and core values established. And so when you join bill to ship University, that's what we spend the first three months doing. But once you get that alignment, that creates the foundation for everything else to explode, everything else to really work. And so you do that work.

And while other people are chasing all the shiny objects of oh, we're going to do this program. Oh, I saw this speaker at a conference. Oh, you know, instead of doing all of that, what you do instead is you invest in the long term, you build that solid foundation. And everything goes back to that. Yeah, I'm in a couple of principle groups on Facebook. And I see questions come in all the time, that that drive me nuts, you know, like, well, like, I saw a question the other day about somebody saying they they were they were struggling because there were kids who were getting in trouble. And they didn't necessarily want to suspend them because the kids would be out of school. So a lot of times they were trying to find ways to keep them in school. But the teachers were pushing back because they felt they felt like the administrator was being too soft in the kids. And he was asking advice, what do we do?

Well, under leadership, that's what you have to ask for advice for because leadership doesn't show you how to put things in place to avoid that problem. But under build a ship, the answer is so simple. And the answer is, if your discipline policy is anchored in your vision, mission and core values, and your teachers understand that, you'll have a discipline policy that works that doesn't penalize kids or put kids out of school who really need to be in school, and your teachers will understand it, because they'll see the alignment with your vision, mission and core values.

You take care of that the first 90 days of building up University, you'll never have that issue. Parents are upset because kids get sent home. If your discipline policies aligned to your vision, mission and core values. You have that conversation with parents before their kids get sent home, when the kids get some home.

They're like, Oh, I get it. Okay, well, it makes sense. The teachers aren't mad at you feeling like you're going soft on the kids because you're aligned to the vision, mission and core values of the school, which they helped create. Problem solved.

So now instead of wasting time dealing with that, that principle really can be moving the needle, moving the numbers pursuing that vision, trying to figure out new ways to get every kid successful. So when you follow the builder ship hierarchy of needs, it frees up time and energy, so that you can focus on true success, so that you can focus on getting 100% of your kids successful. Problem is, I'm finding that a lot of people don't believe that 100% Success is even possible anymore. And that's sad. But as educators who say we believe in all kids, because we don't have the tools to support all kids, we now are starting to doubt whether it's really possible. And if we lose our belief in the possibility of every single kid, what are we doing?

The hardest part of my job is getting people to believe in their vision. 

When we came to education, we came because we want it to make a difference. We came because we believe every child deserved to be successful in school to have a good experience. We We came because we believed in the potential of this work to change lives. What happened to us.

After we get trained after we spend so much time in education, a cynicism starts to creep in. I mean, it happens to all of us. We start to doubt we start to put caveats on a wall all kids can learn if and well, you know, maybe and we started doing all these things to to kind of to kind of rub away at the sharp vision of our dream which was all kids to the point now where we don't believe in all kids anymore. And people say of course I believe in all kids. Well, you're not acting like it. Does the work that you do every day. testify to your belief in all kids. The because that's what that's It'll show that's what will show the truth when I walk into your school? Do I see you putting things in place to ensure that all kids are successful? Or do I see you compromising? that'll answer the question about whether you really believe in all kids anymore. And if you don't, if you feel like you know what, you're right, I don't know that I do anymore. Then I get it.

Because the way we were trained was not to serve all kids. The way we were trained was to help most kids be successful. We weren't really trained on how to do how to make success happen for all kids. We were trained that all kids works in the most perfect of circumstances. But how many of you have perfect circumstances? Exactly. So what do you do when you've got kids coming in? Who are two and three grade levels below where they need to be? What do you do when you have kids coming in? Who are dealing with significant trauma? What do you do when you have staff members who don't seem to really even like kids, or aren't prepared or refuse to do the work that they need to do? What do you do when life happens? When when when stuff that that that that is a normal part of everyday school?

When what do you do with all of that stuff? 

How do you still pursue a vision for all kids with that stuff going on? Nobody's taught us how to do that. One of the reasons why I haven't started builder ship University was because I felt like it was wrong. For our for us to continue to swallow our dream, our belief in all kids, because we don't have the tools and the training to really make it happen for all kids. I was so frustrated when I talked to teachers and administrators. And they said, I believe in all kids, except they've never seen it happen. So they don't really believe in it.

You know, when I was a teacher, I said, Any kid can handle rigorous work with the right kind of support. So that became the thing that became a thing I pursued? How do I ensure that every kid is successful with highly rigorous work in my classroom? How do I get to the point where I have no failures? There's no use teaching. If I know that when I teach something, there's some kids who are gonna feel it. How do I teach it in a way that I can know that all kids will be successful? That's when I came up with the Student Success Plan. That's when I started implementing in my classroom and started eliminating failure. That's when I started teaching other people how to do it, and they started eliminating failures in their classroom. And to this day, people still look at me like, that's not possible.

Yes, it's possible. I've seen it, do it, I've done it. You don't have to accept failure, and you don't have to dumb things down in order to avoid failure, you can help kids successfully master rigorous material. Then, when I first started mind steps, the thing I started doing was saying how do we help any teacher become a master teacher. In fact, for many years, that was our mantra, any teacher can become a master teacher with the right kind of support and practice. And people would say, not any teacher, because you know that I can show you some teachers who will never be master teachers. And if you forgot the last part with the right support and practice. Then I started showing principals how to help any teacher do that even now and build a ship University, we talk about this, how do you help every teacher go one level on one domain and one year less so that at the end of three years, you have all of your teachers operating at the highest levels in the domains that are most critical to your vision for your school, when I show people how it can happen, they look at it, they see it, they can't argue with it. But something inside them still says but and that's that doubt that that but that gets in the way of our success.

And now inside of builder ship University, I'm telling principals in three years or less, you can have success for 100% of your kids. Here is how there's so many people out there who want to believe it. But and I spent a lot of time thinking about that. Why don't we define success as 100%? Why don't we hold ourselves accountable to that 100%. And the only thing I can come up with is that because most of us have never seen it. And the tools that we're currently using aren't going to get us there. We know that. And so we start to doubt whether can happen we start to think that's a sweet ideal, but the reality is my teachers are overwhelmed.

You know why they're overwhelmed? Because they're working hard at stuff that doesn't really matter instead of working hard at the things that show results. Your teachers are not overwhelmed when you stream align their work and focus on that 100% success and they start experiencing in their classroom, they will get new energy. Why are we not at 100%? My kids are coming to us so far behind, yes, but you can get them caught up, it is possible, but you got to focus, you got to be very serious about the work you can do. And then you can get to that 100% Why are we not 100% All my kids are experiencing trauma. Alright, so build a school where kids who are experiencing trauma can still be successful, you're not doing that you're trying to shove a kids who are experiencing trauma into an environment that's not equipped to handle that. Re invent your school into a place where your kids who are experiencing trauma can still experience success.

We got to stop this foolishness where we say we believe in 100% success, but we don't do the right work to achieve it. 

If you're listening to this podcast, then you already know what the white right work is. It's not leadership, it's not how you were trained. It's builder ship. So there's nothing stopping you. There are other people out there who don't understand or have never been exposed to build a ship yet. And they don't even know there's another possibility. Well, it's up to you to tell them that it's up to you to show it in the way that you're doing the work the people inside a builder ship university, they are doing the work. And as a part of doing that work, they're starting to show the results, people are starting to see it. Many of them aren't at 100% success, but they are so much further along than they ever imagined in such a shorter period of time than they ever thought was possible, then now 100% Doesn't seem hard. It seems really hard if you're sitting at 6%. But if you start doing this work, and now you're at 70%, and you realize you got from six to 70% in two years, that last 30% Doesn't feel hard, you feel like get by next year, we shouldn't be there. But you have to believe in it, you have to rethink your definition of success. You've got to stop accepting these little piddly gains and calling that success success is 100%. 

And here's the most important thing. Those little gains may feel like success to you. But they don't feel like success to the kids who are not a part of that new percentage, the new 5% that you help crossover from one successful to successful, the ones you left behind, don't see that as success. The ones you left behind, have another year of failing, they have another year of not knowing how to read and that will reverberate throughout the rest of their lives. For we're not playing as builders, the work we have chosen to do as builders is serious. Because it has lifelong implications for the students we serve. If you're not doing work, that is going to get every single child successful. You're doing a wrong work. If you're not doing work, that is going to make sure that every single child who crosses the threshold of your school is successful. What are you doing? As builders, not wasting time on stuff that doesn't last it doesn't matter that doesn't move us to 100% success. We're very, very clear.

And that kind of focus can help you quickly weed through what should you should be doing what you shouldn't be doing. That kind of focus can help you pull through tough times that kind of focus gives you energy to keep doing the work because you're focused on what's really important. Instead of numbing yourself with these little you know celebrations because we move the needle by 3% It's not the builders don't celebrate I mean builders are making our posters are making amazing tremendous wins we if you are part of our of our weekly roundup, you will see some of the wins that builders are having we celebrate wins all the time.

But we celebrate those wins as progress towards success. They're never the end in and of itself. So here's my challenge to you this week. Have you let your experiences your training, rub away at that fire that's inside of you that believes that 100% of your kids can and should be successful in school that that's what school is supposed to be about. Do you really believe at this point that 100% success is possible? I want you to interrogate that belief a little bit. Make sure that you still believe it and then if you do I want to invite you to Join us and build a ship university because that's what we're all about. The whole point of builder ship university is to help you figure out how to take that dream inside of you have 100% success for your students, and turn it into a reality for your students how to not just do it at the school you're in now, but to continue to do that, and whatever organization or school you're a part of going forward.

\If you want to be a part of that, then I want you to join us in April when we open up a new cohort. And we'll get you started with that right away, you'll have a victory every 90 days, you'll see some changes, you'll see something happening every 90 days. That's the way we designed to happen. And everything you do is permanent. Everything you do, you put it in place you put in place once you manage it, but you don't have to go back and then tear it out and do it all over again. Because you are building a place where 100% of your kids can be successful.

What do you do that when when you tap into that belief, and then start doing work that really really matters towards success. You'll get there because you chose to pursue 100% success and nothing less like a builder. I'll talk to you next time.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. 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 buildership University. Just go to buildership university.com and get started writing your school success story today.

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