More. Better. New.


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 225

Hey builders real quick before we get started, did you know that we had a YouTube channel so if you ever want to see the video version of this podcast plus get access to all kinds of other videos, shorts and training all for free, just look us up on YouTube where at mine steps on YouTube, and I would love to see you over there. Okay, now on with the show, you're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 225. How to 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're going to talk about some advice that a mentor of mine gave me that I think really can help those of you who want to embrace that builders timeline on last episode, I talked about how your timeline was probably too short that you needed to give yourself three years to really achieve your vision. And then that first year, you're really focusing on establishing the right systems. The second year, you're focusing on executing on those systems and really getting good at them. And then the third year, you're focused on on extending and embedding those systems. While that timeline, which is what we use inside of builder, ship University to help you achieve your vision for your students. That timeline really, really espouses a framework that you can use to think about not just your timeline, but any initiative, anything you're doing at your in your school right now. And that is simply more better, new, more better new. So let's talk about that. So let's first talk about the idea of the more better new principle in general, and then we're going to break down each part more better and new. So the more better new principle is really this idea that before you do anything else, what do you you know, we get shiny object syndrome all the time, like, we need to do this, when you do this initiative, we go to a workshop and, and we hear something, we think, oh, we need that in our school and, and the district gives us something new. And so we're always doing all of this new stuff. And so this principle helps you stay disciplined and stay focused. And so the idea of more better new is that before you do anything else, before you try anything else new, take something that you're already doing and doing well, and just do more of that, and then get better at it. And then once you've maximized in that area, then try something new. 

And I find that many principals, their mantra is new, new new. 

So at the beginning of every school year, we're going to try this new initiative where in the summer, people are looking for something new to launch for the next school year. And in most cases, it leaves us not good at anything, you know, the saying jack of all trades, master of none. And the idea that if we're trying to do all the things, our school never really gets good at anything. And we are always looking for the new and ignoring the things that were already doing well. And sometimes we even do go so far as to abandon the things that we're already doing well, chasing something new. No, listen, I suffer from this affliction as much as anybody else. Like you, I was trained to be a leader. And part of this concept of leader says that if you're not doing anything new, if you keep doing the same old thing over and over and over again, you're not moving, you're not innovating. And so therefore you're not a good leader. Well, builders are much more deliberate and much more patient because we're not interested in, you know, the flashy, the new the shiny objects, are interested in success, or interested in helping 100% of our students be successful. And you're not going to get there by lurching from one initiative to the next. 

So the first thing that you do, the more better new principle is that you discover what you are already doing well, what's working in your school. I find that when I talk to principals and I say well how things went to your school, the first thing they tell me is that give me the laundry list of problems, all the things If that are not working, attendance is down, we've got some problems with discipline, the teachers aren't sticking with the reading curriculum. Teachers aren't teaching bell to bell, the warm ups wastes all that the you know, they tell me all the things that are not working. And they rarely tell me the things that are working unless they're bragging. And usually, when I talk about things that are not working, they're like, Yeah, we just did our PBIS program. And you know, and we're doing really well. And we, you know, we started PLCs, and they tell me about the object to the shiny object, for they'll tell you about the results. So the first part of the more better new principle is that you need to identify one thing that you're doing in your school, that's getting results consistently. One thing that's working, when you're gonna have to dig, because most of the time, we don't pay attention to the stuff that's working. So dig, is it to that all of your teachers seem to be really good at giving students feedback that helps students grow. Are your teachers really great about collaborating? And working together to design lessons that our standards aligned? Are your is your school really, really good at helping your students with SEL issues and getting them connected? Does your high school do a really good job of helping students who have never seen college as an option? See colleges and option and get into school? What is your school doing really, really well. And I want you to try to resist looking at what's shiny, what are you getting rewarded for and look at what's getting results for your kids? 

Think about what you do well through the lens of your vision. For instance, let's say your vision as you want all kids on grade level, what is the one thing that everybody in your school is doing right now already? That is moving students towards being on grade level? Where are you successful? Now, if you don't, if you can't think of anything that everybody is doing, then I want you to think about something that that has consistently worked in your school, even if everybody isn't doing it, if a small group of people are doing it, and it's really working, or if a grade level is doing it. And it's really working or something that you used to do, and he kind of fell off, but it was really working, I want you to look at I want you to take a list of all the things that are working. And I want you to find one thing that you think would make the biggest difference to achieving your vision. Your The only caveat is it can't be anything new. It has to be something that you are all ready doing. Now, you may not be doing it consistently, you may not be doing it pervasively, but it's something that you are already doing. Now, here's why. We're always chasing some, something new and trying to learn something new, when we already have stuff that we're doing that works. Every school does every school, you can find something that you are doing that's already working. And if you're already doing it, and it's already working, why are you looking for something new, rather than getting better at the thing that is already working. And so that gets to the next bar. So first, you're going to find something that's already working. And then once you've identified it, and it can only be one thing that 25 things, one thing, you're going to do more of it, I have a friend who said all the time, if less is more, imagine how much more more would be. And that's the case here. If you're doing something that's working, instead of doing something new, you're going to take the thing that's working, you're going to understand why it works. 

And you're just going to do more of it.

So let's say that you all do a really good job of helping some kids get to college, then instead of reinventing the wheel and trying something new, you're going to look at what you're doing to help some kids get into college and they see college as an option and prepared for college. And you're going to identify with that processes. And you're just going to do that for more kids. Some of you are doing a really, really, really good job of of helping students, you know, identify what students need to do and reading and understanding where they need to work and pinpointing it so that students are working on what they need to work on. Rather than just dragging kids through the to the curriculum. You just got to do more of that. Some of you has some really highly functioning PLCs where they're collaborating around lessons or maybe they're not even collaborating well lessons, maybe your PLCs are collaborating around field trips, but you you've got well oiled machines around the field trips, you just going to do more collaboration around more things in your department. 

So if you just doing well on field trips, start collaborating around lessons, start collaborating or Round, Team wide areas of focus, start collaborating around discipline, start collaborating around student support, do more of what's already working. Same thing for you, let's say that you are really, really good at getting into classrooms. All right, do more of that. Do get into more classrooms, spend more time in classrooms, let's say, you're really good at data analysis. All right? Do more of that make that data more meaningful, make that data count, start using that data to make more decisions, you're just going to do more of what you're already doing and doing well. And here's why that's important. First of all, you're already doing it. So it's not you're not resting your school into a new direction, you're already doing it. So it's a lot easier to do more of what you're already doing. Secondly, you already know it works, you have proof that it works. So you're not guessing and hoping that by the end of the semester, you'll have some data that shows that it works. You already have proof. So why are we wasting time chasing something that's unproven when we already have things in our building that are all ready, working. 

So here's the caveat, though, you can't find 25 Things that are working. The one thing that you are already doing that's already working, that you believe if you did more of it, it would help you get closer to your vision, get the work on mission, and align with your core values. That's the caveat. Okay? So first, find whatever that is, and just do more of it. Don't change a thing. Just do more of what's already working, make that the focus, make that the emphasis, reword that, look at that, study that and do more of it. Okay? Now, once you do that, what you're going to do is you're going to say, how can we get better at doing that? So instead of PD where you introduce something new, you're going to do PD, where you take the thing you're already doing, and you gather your teachers together. And you say, All right, here's what we're doing. It's already working. But what parts aren't working really well? How can we improve this? How can we make it better, and so you're going to get better at something you're already good at. And think about how much more motivating that is for teachers, you're not telling them, Hey, let's learn something new, we're everybody's going to be horrible at it. And we're going to struggle for time. And then before we even get good at it, we're going to change directions and do something else. We're going to say, hey, this thing is already working. We have proof that it's working, it's not working, as well as we ultimately want it to work. So let's come together and collaborate around what's not working, let's figure out how to get better at this thing. So you're not going from bad to good, you're going from good to great. Not only is that more more, more energizing or motivating for your teachers, you get to great faster, right? So we are really, because we lurch around so much to from one initiative to the next. We're good at being mediocre, because we never give ourselves time to be good. 

So remember last time when I was talking about establish, execute, extend? 

Well, that first you're going to, you know, with the the good thing, that stuff is already established, you're just going to double down on it, right. And then the execute portion is really about getting better at things you're already doing that are working, right. So that gives us a chance to get beyond just wallowing in mediocrity and actually get really, really good at something. We got to stop, you know, being experts at being mediocre. And we don't even intend to be we'd love to be great. But because we don't ever sell ever give ourselves and our staffs time to get good at something. We just wallow in mediocrity. But with some more better new principle, you're gonna do more of what's already working. And you're gonna give yourself time to get really good at it. I mean, really good at it until you make that thing that's already working serve every single kid in your school. Now imagine how how much more energized your staff is going to be when they have a chance to be really, really good at something. And they get to collaborate around what that looks like. They get to be involved in the process. Instead of being told constantly that you're failing instead of feeling mediocre all the time, instead of instead of struggling with a new initiative and what about the old initiative, you're just gonna focus and help your staff get good at something. Hey, Robyn here, and I just want to break in real quick to ask you a huge favor. You see, I want to get the word out I'll tell everybody about builder ship, and I could use your help. If you're really enjoying this episode, would you mind just going to your podcast platform and leaving a quick review, you see the reviews get the word out, they tell other people, this is a great show other people who have never heard of school leadership reimagined before can hear about it, and you'd be sharing the word about builder chips. So would you mind just leaving a quick review, it would mean the world to me, okay, now back to the show. 

So more better. And then after you get you maximize in this area, then you can start looking at something new. And that's something random, new, because you have learned something in the process of understanding what's already working, and then getting so much better, that thing that's already working, you've learned a lot, and the gaps become more obvious. And so now, when you choose something new, you're going to make a more informed choice, because you have something that's working. So the new thing is not going to take you away from what's working, the new thing must enhance what's already working, which means you're not going to get seduced by the latest technique or research based practice, or you know, the latest book or Guru that's out there. Instead, you're making really informed choices, because you have something that's working, and you don't want to mess with that. So the role of more better knew protects you from being seduced by the latest shiny object, it protects your staff from having to lurch from one initiative to the next. And it also makes everybody a more informed consumer of ideas and strategies and techniques in the future. So here's what I want to challenge you to do this week. You're in the point of the school year where you know, it's still new, you've got a lot of things on your plate. And there's more coming down the pike, the district's asking you to do things you are you're back in school, some of the ideas you have in the summer are not panning out so well. Or you're trying to figure out how to get started on some of the things in the summer, because you haven't even gotten started yet. I want you to take a step back. And before you do anything, I want you to spend some time looking at your school and trying to figure out what is already working, what is already moving us towards our vision. And if we just focused on that thing with that, that if we just focus on that and got better at that, would that get us closer to our vision than any of these other things over here? And if the answer's yes, do more of that. Get better at that. And then only then are you allowed to try something new.

Now, we've been talking about it from kind of a school wide perspective. But the same principle is also true for when you are giving feedback and support to teachers. So right now you're at the beginning of the year, you're you know, looking at teachers, you're you're you're doing goal setting with teachers. And so this is the opportunity as you're sitting down with teachers to use this principle to keep your teachers from chasing goals and doing things that don't really move the needle for your kids. Instead of sitting down and looking at a teacher's evaluation instrument and finding out where they're really bad. And then saying you need to make this a goal this year. Why not find out what they're doing that's working really well? Do you have a teacher who maybe yes, they're struggling with classroom management, but their planning is stellar. Instead of making classroom management a goal, why not make Why not double down on on on unit and lesson planning and creating things that are more engaging, and then use the classroom management stuff to help them achieve a goal that that they are obviously good at and interested in already. So think about the difference in my attitude if my quote unquote goal was get better at something that I'm clearly not good at. Or my goal was to really get great at something that I'm already pretty good at. 

Think about how much more motivated I'm going to be. 

Now. We can still address classroom management, but classroom management is contextualized underneath their goal, I'm not telling you you're bad at classroom management. So you need to get good. I'm telling you, you've got these stellar lessons and we need to find more ways to help students be involved and engage in the lessons because if we could just get them focus, these lessons are amazing. Do you see the difference and the approach and the attitude by doing it that way? So consider as you're sitting down what teachers this year, looking at where their strengths are, and creating goals around doing more of what they're already good at helping them get better and better and better at what they're already good at. And then only then can they work on something new. Think about how much more energized and engaged your teachers would be. If you took that approach to goal setting this year. Think about your kids. A lot of times we take a deficit approach to kids rather than helping kids find their strengths.

Sure, we do the StrengthsFinder with kids, and we're like, oh, you're really good at this. But then all of our energy is on filling in the holes and overcoming learning loss and filling in the deficits. What if we took the same approach with kids? What if we said, You know what, you're really strong in this area, we're gonna do more of that, we're gonna help you get better in this area. And these other things, as you get better and better, you're going to need these other skills. And so now let's take these other skills and add it on. Because it's not about filling in a hole, it's about helping you get better at something you're already good at, think about how much more motivated your kids would be. Rather than telling kids, you know, you're not, you're a weak reader, you're reading scores, you're reading below grade level, we got to get your reading up, let's find the thing they're best at and reading, maybe it's decoding, maybe it's comprehension, whatever it is, let's find the thing they're best at. And we're going to say this is where you're best at. So this is what we're going to focus on. And these other skills that you're not so good at will add them in to help you get better at the thing you're best at. Instead of focusing them on the whole, we're focusing them on the goal, that's a totally different perspective. And it can be so motivating. So this principle of more better new, doesn't just apply to strategic planning and school wide stuff. If you really embrace it, as a builder does, you will use it for how you work with teachers, how you work with kids. And if you really think about it, it makes sense that builders embrace a more better new principle. Because we're builders, right? We find something that's working, we build on that. And then the new stuff is designed to help build on something that's already working. If you spent your time going through your school, whether it's a school wide focus, whether it's focusing on teachers, whether it's focusing on students, and you looked for the bright spots, instead of focusing on the holes, and the deficits and all the things that are not working, if you understood what you're already good at night, not delusional way. 

But hey, this thing is working over here. And you built on that it changes how you approach the work, it changes everybody's attitude, it creates more motivation, it feels like momentum, right? When we're focusing on the deficits, we're starting out behind, and it just feels like we're just working really hard to catch up. When we're building on what's already working, we've already gotten the momentum, because it's already working. Imagine sitting down with a teacher. And instead of saying, Here are all the ways that you're not performing, and you're not aligning with our vision, mission and core values, you said, here's the way that you are aligned with our vision, mission and core values. And so we got to get better at that, in order to get better at this, I want you to focus on this one thing first. And then as we focus on that one thing that helps you get better, it builds your skill set, but you're not filling a hole, you're building on something that already doing great, so they're more motivated. And then after that, we're gonna find the next one thing and the next one thing, and you create this momentum. And then after you've gotten really, really good at something, and we've proven that you can do it, now the teacher is motivated and the teacher saying, Okay, now that I know, I can do that, I want to try this new thing. And then you can ask, or you can ask the teacher, how does this new thing align with what you're already doing. And if it doesn't, we're not doing it. If it does, great, let's go for it. Let's try it out. And therefore everybody is focused and your stop wasting time on stuff that doesn't matter. Think about it. From a kid's perspective, you sit down with a kid and you say, here is where you are strong. These are the things that are working for you. We're going to build on this. And so as we do as we help you get better at this thing, here are all the other skills we're going to be adding in to help you get better at this thing not to fill a hole to help you get better at what you're already good at. And then as we try something new, we're going to take what we've already built and use that to get the new thing on board. And so the student is coming from a real strengths perspective and a growth mindset. That's what you're building forget. You can tell I get excited about it, because it really does change everything. We need to stop chasing shiny objects, we need to stop looking at our work as a series of holes that we need to fill. You're not a ditch digger you're a builder and As a builder, you're looking for always opportunities for where you can build. 

That's my challenge to you this week, I want you to try to take a look at everything in your school, from the perspective of a builder. 

And I want you to use the lens of more, better new. What we do is we try to chase new, better, more. And that's why we're frustrated that let's let's flip it more. What are you doing already? That's good that you're doing well, how do you do more of it, than how do you get better at it. And then when it's time to look for something new, the new muscle enhance what's already working. If you do, you're going to find that you're going to stop feeling like you're just running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you're going to stop feeling overwhelmed by your problems, you're going to stop feeling discouraged and disappointed. You're going to stop feeling like you are you're starting from so far behind and you've got so much ground to make up. You're going to feel hope you're going to feel momentum, you're going to feel motivation, you're going to feel inspired, you're going to see new possibilities that you didn't see before because you were too busy staring at the hole instead of staring at the goal. When you do this. You're going to see subtle and big shifts. And not only in your perspective, but the perspectives of of your staff members and your students. You can actually accomplish a great deal this year. And an end the accomplishment will stick. Because instead of chasing shiny new objects instead of just adding initiatives after initiative after initiative, instead of working yourself ragged and not seeing results, you exercise the discipline of more better knew 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 builder ship University, just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, it's Robyn here. And I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. And if you have a question about today's episode, you just want to keep the conversation going.

Did you know that we had a school leadership reimagined Facebook group, all you need to do is go to Facebook, join the school leadership reimagined Facebook group now they're going to be a couple of questions that we asked at the beginning because we want to protect this group and make sure that we don't have any trolls come in and that it really is for people who are principals, assistant principals, district administrators. So make sure you answer those questions so you won't get in but then we can keep the conversation going. Plus we do a lot of great bonus content. I'm in there every single weekday so if you have a question or comment above the episode, let's continue the conversation. Join us at the school leadership reimagined Facebook group and I'll talk to you next time.

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