Turning mundane moments into WOW moments (end of the year edition)


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 153

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, Robin Jackson. And today we are continuing our series on practical things that you can do now to end the school year strong.

And today we're going to revisit something that I talked about briefly, way, way, way back in episode 17, about how to create wow moments. And that continues to be one of our most popular episodes. So I'll make sure I drop a link to that episode in the show notes. But in that episode, I was talking about wild moments throughout the year.

And today I want to talk about some specific wild moments that you can create in your school right now at the end of the year. 

But before I do that, I have two really, really cool announcements. The first one is builders lab, you know, I've been telling you, the builders lab is going to sell out for the summer. And I'm not kidding, we've already sold over half of the seats inside of builders lab. So already half of the tickets are gone. But the good news is they're still half of the tickets that are left now we intentionally keep builders lab small so that I have an opportunity to get to know each and every one of you. And the goal of builders lab is really to help you connect with your vision and to to develop a strong vision. And then to identify that that big roadblock that's standing in between you and achieving your vision and come up with a plan for removing that roadblock in the next 90 days. And so in order to do that we have a highly interactive process. It's not just sit and get in front of slides all day, we built a whole studio, you can see me I can see you were there, we're interacting. And so that's why we keep it small. And like I said, half of the seats are gone already. But there are still half of the seats left. So if you've been planning on coming to builders lab and why wouldn't you come to builders lab, it's amazing, you need to go ahead and get your ticket. In order to do that, you simply need to go to mind steps inc.com/builders-lab That's mindset think.com/builders-lab and get your ticket today.

Now the second announcement I am so excited about I've been telling you for a while that we are finalizing the beta testing of builder ship University, we've spent the last 18 months building an incredible experience inside a builder ship University. And we're finally almost done we are we have two more cohorts before we open up builder ship University to everybody. But because you are a podcast listener and a part of our of our builder community, I want to give you an opportunity to join one of these last two cohorts. And let me tell you why you want to join so that the next cohort is the the seats are open now for that cohort.

So you if you want to join now this next cohort we this will be the seats will be open until the end of the week. And then this next cohort starts the first Sunday in May. And the reason that you want to join now are twofold. First of all, this cohort is designed to help you develop your vision mission core values, and then work to get everything in your school aligned to that vision, mission and core values in the next 90 days.

So the cohort is going to go for 90 days straight. And during that time, every single Sunday, you're going to get new action items. And then every week you're going to get live coaching from me. And you will also have checkpoints where you will turn in what you're working on and get individual feedback on what you're working on. So individual feedback around your vision and your mission and your core values and your alignment architecture. All of that is going to is all built into this cohort.

So 90 days from now, you'll have a vision mission set of core values and you will have all of the systems in your school aligned to your vision mission and core values. That cohort is starting now. Now so the first reason is that in the at the end of 90 days you already have that done and then you move on to the next 90 day cycle and sprint where we're going to be working on building your systems. So once you get your vision, mission and core values in place, the next 90 days will be focused on getting your feedback support accountability and culture systems in place. And we'll keep moving you through taking you step by step. And over the course of between a year and 18 months, you will have everything in place in your school that you need to take your school from where it is now to success for 100% of your students. So think about that.

I know year feels like a long time, but it really isn't with everything else you have going on. We don't want to move much faster than that. 

But this way, you can make steady progress towards putting all the things in place that you need to do that. And as as you are putting these things in place in your school, you are seeing results right now you don't have to wait for a year to see results, every 90 days, you're going to have these victories that we're going to be talking about. So that cohort starts May, the first Sunday of May. Now, the second reason you want to join this cohort is because starting in June, once we finish beta builder ship University is going to be available at the at the current investment that it is, which is $250 a month, or $2,500 a year. But if you join this next cohort, these next two beta cohorts, you can get into builder ship University and lock in at $97 a month for as long as you're a member. That's because you're joining during the beta.

Now for those of you don't understand what I mean about a beta. In a beta, we're still working things out, we're still testing things, we're building things. So by joining now, you get to see a little bit behind the curtain behind the scenes as we are finishing up the final steps in order to bring builders ship University to just make it open for everyone. And so you'll get a chance to do that, you'll also get a chance to go through the process before everybody else gets in so that you have an opportunity to get more personalized support, you get more opportunity to have more personalized coaching from me. And so that is happening. So doors open now. And if you want to be a part of this cohort, and again, why wouldn't you then then you need to go to builder ship university.com.

Now, if you go there, and it says the cohort is closed for this may cohort that's coming up, you will have one more opportunity and that's the June cohort. But after that the end of June, that's when we're shutting down the beta and we're opening up build a ship to everybody at its investment. So builder ship university.com. If you go there, that means the cohort is closed, you can try to get into the next cohort. But after that, you still can get it and you still can get into the fellowship university. But you'll miss that that special pre opening pricing that we have right there.

Okay, so I'm so excited, I'm a little tired too, because we've just been working frantically to you know, put these final pieces in place to prepare for this cohort that's coming up. I'm also very excited because if you knew what was inside of build distribute universe, if you knew the experience that we had planned for you for this cohort, you'd be excited too. So just trust me I cannot wait to get started working with with all of you who are joining this cohort.

And that's kind of the point of even today's podcast is you want to create experiences for people that that go beyond the pale that are not just your normal experiences you want to create what what Chip and Dan Heath call these wow moments. And so a lot of what I'm sharing with you today comes directly from the book, The Power of moments. And it is an it's a it's a really good book that talks about how you can create these extraordinary experiences for your staff, that that create memories that that increase the their level of commitment to the work that really heal cultures.

And so today, I want to talk about some of the things that you can do at the end of the year, that can create those wild moments for people that that make people glad that they still work at your school that that send them into the summer excited about the work ahead. And that prepare people to come back excited and passionate and prepared for your movement towards your vision come fall. So there are four things that the Heath brothers say have to be a part of wild moments, in order to have wild moments you need these four things.

The first thing is that a wow moment has an element of elevation. In other words, during that wild moment, you're taking something that is ordinary, and you're elevating it to the extraordinary. And so when you think about what happens at the end of the year, what are those moments that everybody kind of goes through and you know, you expect to have it every single year and you're almost blase about it.

So a couple of things when it comes to your teachers. You know they have to do their Final Exams are final testing if you're in secondary, and they have to do final grades all across the board. And normally that that's an intense time for teachers to try to get all this stuff together, get everything graded, chase down all that missing work, get their grades into into the into the system, get them turned in on time. And what if you took that moment and you elevated it somehow, you took what was an ordinary moment and even a stressful moment, and you turn it into something special. We'll talk about how in just a few minutes.

Another thing that happens is you have that into the year staff party. I mean, yeah, that's nice. But everybody does the same staff party at the end of the year, you make a speech, everybody kind of feels obligated to go. But people are a lot of people are they're just biding their time until they can get away or you know, so what if you took that into the year staff event, and you've elevated you've made it even more special this year than normal?

Another thing that happens for your students is that you're having typically some sort of award ceremony or some sort of graduation for your students. And what if you found ways to elevate that typical event, and make it something special for your students and for your teachers? I know teachers love graduation and promotion ceremonies, we're proud of our students. But it's a lot of work for your teachers, what if what if you could take the work that they're doing to make something special for your students and your families, and make that work special for your teachers too.

That's the first thing you need to elevate something that turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. 

The second feature is that there needs to be built into that moment, a level of insight, right. So I see a lot of principals posting online this time of year, hey, any good ideas for Teacher Appreciation gifts, I want to do something nice for my staff at the end of the year. Anybody got any great ideas? Now listen, it's there's nothing wrong with looking for ideas from people. But if you're just grabbing on something and saying, Oh, that's cool. And do that for your teachers, you're missing a powerful opportunity to reinforce your vision, your mission and your core values.

But if you take these, these wild moments that you are, you're creating, and you also help to those wild moments, help people see why your vision, your mission and your core values are so important, then all of a sudden, that that that that nice Teacher Appreciation gift that you do that people never really appreciate as much as you prefer them to appreciate, becomes this wow moment. And it's not just about massages in the staff lounge or doughnuts in the staff lounge, or whatever it is you do and it's nothing wrong with those things. But could you take that moment and turn it into something that reinforces your vision, your mission and your core values, that helps people see the value in your vision, your mission, your core values? Now you have a wow moment. So let's think about like the turning in the grades, Everybody's rushing to do that in? Is there something that you can do to help teachers see how the grades that they're giving students are there they're recording for students, how those grades are actually representative of the progress that they've made this year towards your vision, mission and core values, or the necessity for having a bigger vision mission and core values? Could you take that, that that into the your party, and maybe you're giving out awards or you know, some sort of funny prizes to your staff, but you're doing it in a way that reinforces your vision mission and core values.

For instance, I know school, one of their core values is we got each other's backs. And so every year they award everybody backscratcher awards for people who really have embodied that core value. You know, what mindsets, we have one of our core values is drama free work environment, a lot of times when we want to show appreciation for somebody, we get them tickets to a play, because, you know, we don't want drama in the work environment, but you feel free to have your drama outside of the work environment. So you're not just looking for cool ideas of things to do for your staff. You want to even in the act of giving them a gift, do something that embodies your your vision, your mission, your core values, so that every time they look at that they're reminded of, of what it is you do and why it is that you do the work that you're doing. Alright, so elevation, and then insight.

The third thing you need is to create a sense of pride. 

You want to do something that commemorates the accomplishments people have have made throughout the year. And do you want to make sure that people that that the wow moment that you're creating helps people feel a sense of pride in the work that you all are doing collectively? And the reason I'm emphasizing collectively, even though the Heath brothers don't is that this is an opportunity for your staff to see the power that they have when they come together in the service of a bigger vision a greater mission and a and a collective set of mutually agreed upon non negotiable core values.

So what you can do is if at the end of the year, you can help your staff feel proud of the progress that they've made towards your vision, they own that progress, if you can help your staff feel proud about the ways that they've embodied your mission throughout the year and kept on mission, in spite of all of the obstacles and the distractions that they face throughout the year, you've got a wow moment, if you could take this as an opportunity to make people feel proud about first of all coming together and agreeing upon core values.

But secondly, living in accordance with those core values throughout the year, you've got a wow moment. So first, you've got to elevate the ordinary and make it extraordinary. You've got to do things that give people insight. And then you've got to create a sense of pride. Let's just say one more thing about pride, I forgot to talk about how you can even take something like graduation or promotion ceremonies, and usually we feel a sense of pride for our students. But our students were able to get that point because of the efforts of your staff. Right. So what if in addition to that promotion ceremony, that graduation ceremony, either prior to it or right after it, you had a celebration to celebrate your staff? And you talked about how when that student walked across the stage, that student got there because of the staff members. So that one staff member saw those students achieving those awards or, or or achieving those milestones, the staff said, you know, what my work contributed to that. What if you built in something in graduation, where even as the students walked across the stage, they were given a rose, and they had to award that rose to a teacher who made a difference in their lives. And so afterwards, the students were walking around looking for their teachers, in giving them awarding them a rose, you know, maybe it's not a rose, maybe that's to bachelor nation for you, but some sort of token that you could give to students so that they could give to the teacher, so their teachers could see how we did this, that, that when you see a student achieve, there's a sense of pride because I had a part of that.

All right, elevation, insight, pride. And then the last one is connection. 

When you create these wild moments, you want to make sure that those those wow moments are creating a greater bond amongst your staff. Right. You don't want to do something that awards people individual things so much. And then, you know, people are jealous or they're compete, you want to do something that Bond's the staff. We did this, we look what we accomplished this year. Look at how we have moved closer to our vision, mission and core values. Look at how we have stayed in alignment this year, look at how we have made progress with our students.

So you want to create this sense that that that we had a meaningful goal, your vision, mission and core values, and we've made meaningful progress towards that goal. So what might that look like in your school? Well, at the end of the year, let's go back to something as mundane as putting grades in the system and getting all of the grades in.

First of all, you can elevate that experience by saying you know talking to people ahead of time and saying listen, we've got grades coming up. And so we've got to do something, we this is what we're going to do during the grading during that day, maybe you bring breakfast in and he say we you know grades putting grades in grading this last final grade, and we want to make sure you're four to five for that day.

Maybe you go around, you know during the day and you bring people snacks while they're chained to their desk, getting their grades in, maybe you, you you you break the routine of teachers being in the rooms during grading and you've create collective spaces where people can work alongside each other to get their grades in. Maybe you have massages come in that day because everybody's kind of hunched over their desk putting grades and and so you have a series of seated massages that happen in a day. In other words, you make grades or that that time period where teachers are you know, the students are gone and teachers are having to do that final push for grades you make that day, a big deal a celebration for that day. The second thing you're going to do is that as people turn in their grades, and they get their grades done, you want to create some moments of insight, right?

So you want to talk about either before you know before the grading day begins. Talk about what grades mean, and what they have evolved into being as a result of your vision, mission and core values. And remind people that they're not just putting numbers into a spreadsheet or into a computer program or into a gradebook that instead those grades represent very tangible evidence of how we're doing and how we're moving towards our vision, our mission and our core values. Maybe you ask people to pick one student so that when they turn it in, you ask them what did you notice about your grades this time is their story about a student where when you will put their grade in you realize that that students progress throughout the year. Are is exactly what we're looking for.

In other words, you don't want just people to turn in their grades and get them done until I've gotten them done. You want to have conversations with people as they're turning in their grades, to help them see insights about what their grades truly mean. So maybe after they turn the grades in, and you have this, you know, everybody, you know, you bring everybody back at the end of the game day, we've all got our grades. And so let's celebrate and you've got, you know, Kagan and punch and you're celebrating, and then you ask people to tell stories about their grades. You know, I went out when was when you ask people things like, when did you feel the what grade did you put in your gradebook where you felt the biggest sense of pride, and then ask people to tell stories about the students behind the grades. And even doing that moves us to our third piece, which is that sense of pride, celebrating at the end of the day, we've gotten our grades and we've done it, we've we've made it through the year, we've made an impact, we have stories of kids, that that that we've impacted, and those grades, we put them in, we felt a moment of pride, and there's still work to be done. We've made a lot of progress so far. And then telling those stories also creates a sense of connection, bringing everybody together to celebrate that grade, also makes a creates a huge sense of connection with your staff. Because we did this, we did this together. And we will continue to do this work together.

That's just one example. And I'm sure that you can come up with others, maybe it's not getting grades, and maybe it's the cleanup day, you know, like you can do things where people if teachers are cleaning you get sometimes you get days where teachers get to clean out their classrooms. What can you do to make cleanup day fun, so that people aren't just hurrying up so they can get out of there and people leave and they turn in their keys, and you have this one on one conversation with everybody? What can you do to make turning over the classroom keys at the end of the year and cleaning up the classrooms at the end of the year, this celebratory experience that reminds people as they leave for the summer that they are that they're still a part of a bigger process.

So maybe when they turn in their tech keys, they get a key from you. And that key unlocks something, right? So I turn on my Classroom key, and then they get a key from you. And that unlocks some sort of treat or some sort of gift that they get. So it turns out instead of just handing them a gift, there's like everybody gets a school sweatshirt this year, you know, they the key unlock something and they don't know what's behind the door. And they're random things behind the door. So teachers like what did you get? What did you get? What do you get, and everything behind that door in that cabinet is something that reinforces not only their pride in their work, but connects them closer together as a part of this bigger community.

So what you want to do is you want to sit down and think about what are all the things that we have to get through through the end of the year. And this year in particular has been really tough people are just at this point, spring break is over for most schools. And so at this point, people are just trying to slog until they get to the end of the finish line. But doesn't have to be a slog, you have a powerful opportunity, right now, to take these ordinary mundane experiences that happen in every school at the end of the year. And make it different for your school, make it different for your teachers. And when you do that, when you when you put in the time and the energy and the effort to deliberately engineer these wow moments, and to to your school day, and then to the end of the year in particular, then you do a couple of things.

First of all, you tell the teachers that they're valuable, that that, that you don't take their being there and the work that they do at your school for granted. Second thing you do is you have a powerful opportunity to live out and embody your vision, your mission, your core values. The third thing you do is that you create this, this sense of pride in their work. A lot of teachers are getting beat up right now. But when you engineer while moment, you create a sense of pride in the work. And then fourth, you create a greater connection. It's a it's a it's a two part reward, a greater connection between you and your teachers, and a greater connection between your teachers, as a staff as a group of people. Oh, yeah, well, your teachers appreciate a mug or a school sweatshirt or, you know a paper certificate, Perfect Attendance Award or, you know, hey, we put snacks in the staff lounge for you out with your grading. Sure.

But if you're gonna do that, why not go the extra step? 

I'll give you a final personal example just to show you what what I mean. When we moved from builders lab in person to builders lab virtual we were really worried because we worked hard in that in person builders lab experience to create wild moments when people came in. First of all we pick gorgeous hotels We tried some there a couple that, you know, we thought were going to be more gorgeous than they actually were. But we tried to pick really gorgeous most, I mean hotels where you got this luxurious feeling, you know, and we negotiated really great rates so that people could afford them. Then when people checked in, they usually had some sort of welcome thing from us welcoming welcome welcoming them to build his lab. And then the next morning, we had, you know, I'd like to eat, believe me. So we had really great breakfast where people could come and you know, get a really great breakfast, we tried to find a nice space for the breakfast so that it set the mood for the day, when most people walked into the room, we have the room, all set up everything you needed at your chair, and at your space, we did a lot to make the room feel really great. We had really great people greeting you from the very beginning. And then during that first session, we really tried to create a Wow, a ha moment in that first session, but then became the first coffee break. And we got really great coffee and teas and drinks.

The next while moment was a lunch. Lunch. Let me tell you, we worked hard. We worked with the chef's at our hotels to make sure you had this gorgeous lunch spread and just ah, all the food you could eat and just delicious and fabulous. And we made sure that you had enough time to enjoy your lunch. So our lunches were an hour and a half. So you had time to eat, you had time to hang out and chill, you had time to go back to your room and take a nap or call people you had time to go take a jog if you want it. And then the afternoon when people were getting really, really tired. When we got to that afternoon break, we had this big dessert display. And we always had sweet and salty snacks. I love popcorns we typically have popcorn, depending on where we were, we have this huge dessert display. So right when you thought, Okay, well, I've had my food for the day and I want to okay, then you have that. And then when you came back from that you always had a present for you. day one or day two or day three gift for you wrapped in waiting for you at your seats. And we opened it together. And so we just really tried to think about the rhythm of the day. And what can we do to to keep surprising and delighting people.

So when we went to virtual, we were worried that you know the thing that to me made builder's lab so amazing, wasn't just the content, it was the experience that we curated, and how we can do that virtually thought about it long and hard. And then we use the same principles, right. So the first thing we did is to we send you this box and we didn't want it to be a little box, we want it to be a big box so that when you got it in the mail, it was substantial. And inside that box are all these little packages. So even if you open the box and look in, you have all these little packages, and they either don't open it yet.

So there's all this element of surprise. 

And then what we do is the day before builders lab when we in order to make sure people understand the technology and get everything we have a mocktail party. And so inside of your boxes, mocktail, you know we send you the mocktail, you can do whatever you want, but we send you a mocktail, and then we have a cocktail party, we hang out, we get to know each other, so that when you come into that virtual space the next day, it's not like you're coming in thinking, Where am I? What am I going to do how to make the technology work? Am I going to meet nice people who was going to be there? No, we do that so that you're comfortable the next day. And then when you start, you know, the when we start the day, even at the first break, there's a there's a there's a gift for you, and we open up our first thing together. And then there are other wild moments throughout the day that I can't tell you. But we have been very specific about engineering these wild moments throughout the day.

Now, the content of builders lab is good, it's worth it on its own. But what puts it over the edge and makes builders labs so memorable? Are those Wow, moments that were deliberately engineering into that process, are doing the same thing and build a ship University. You know, one of the things that we started thinking about early on is to build a ship University is an online community, right, we wanted to make sure that there was a community piece. So one of the things we don't build a ship University is we have parties periodically. So we just had a party. That was so hilarious, I could not believe it. And you know, it's Bill dish, be you insider, you know, stuff. I'm not gonna spill everybody's secrets. Although I will say monkey toes. That's all I'm gonna say.

But I will say that, but we had we just had a party a couple of weeks ago. And whenever we have a party, when you RSVP to the party, we send you a party box, and the party box usually has something to drink and something to eat inside the party box. So that all you have to do is show it to the party with your party box, and it has anything else you're going to need for whatever games we're going to be playing at the party. And you would think that a virtual party is kind of lame. I can't remember laughing as hard as I did at the last party.

Now, do we need a party? No. I mean, people have online programs all the time and nobody expects a party. Nobody's going to sign up to build a ship University for people already, but by deliberately engineering a wow moment into that experience, we we not only elevate this, this process we're all going through as we become builders, it gives us insight into what it means to be a builder and to to be able to help create this safe space where we can laugh, and have a good time with each other. It creates a sense of pride and being a builder because you see that these other people are in the program with you are really incredible. And it creates a deeper connection. You know, we we consider each other, our builders family, and there is a deeper connection. I love the people who are MBU insiders, they are my favorite people in the world. And it's because of those moments of connection.

Now, I have been convinced that building these wild moments into every experience for the people I serve is worth the time and energy. 

Why? Because if you can do that, not only do you show care to the people you are serving, but you also create these memorable moments that keep people connected to your bigger vision, your bigger mission, your set of core values. I know you're overwhelmed right now and you've got tons of stuff you need to do before the end of the year. But trust me, if you can do this, if you can take some time to think about what are you facing? What are your teachers still facing before the year is over, and deliberately in turn that experience into a wow moment, you can have an opportunity to not only show care to the people you serve, but to create deeper connections both to your vision, mission and core values and to each other. And you can do it 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.

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

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