The October Drift


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 230

Hey builders, before we start today's podcast, I want to tell you about something cool. We're doing October 22, through 24th. And it's absolutely free, we are hosting a five day free event called the October reset. If you are feeling behind or overwhelmed, or you're feeling like you're working really hard, but you're not seeing results, there is still time for you to achieve your goals this year. So even if you're feeling that way, come to the October reset, this is a an opportunity for us to take a look at the work that you are doing right now and find ways to make it more effective. Now, this is not time management. This is not organisation. Instead, this is about how do we help you achieve your goals? What are some of the shifts that you can make now, so you're not doing something new, you're taking the work you're already doing, making some very simple shifts so that you can achieve your goals. And you can see results for your work. This is really, really powerful. It's not just training, but we're actually working in each session so that you're making shifts each day and you can see the results over the five days and you don't have to wait you can do it right then anyway, all you want to need to all you need to do is go to build USHIP and sign up again. It's absolutely free. October 22. I hope to see you there. Now on to the show. You're listening to the school leadership reimagined Podcast, episode 230.

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. 

Today I want to talk a little bit about what I call the October drift. So this is the phenomena I first noticed when I was a teacher. So the beginning of the school year, you know, everybody's excited, the kids are on their best behaviour, right around October, their behaviour starts drifting off their best behaviour and their true colours start coming out, that's when you start seeing an increase in behaviour issues. And some of the kids who you thought were going to be okay, you know, they get activated, and all of a sudden, they're starting to act up. The other thing that happens is this is right around the time when progress reports start going out and you start to see where kids are struggling. And this is where a lot of kids start to give up. Because they feel like they can't make it they're not going to be able to do what they need to do before the end of the marking period.

A lot of kids get frustrated this is when you start getting calls from parents, the October draft. Now, when I became an administrator, I noticed the same thing. You know, again, you'd spend the summer you, you build all these plans for what you want to do during the school year, you create a school improvement plan you you have goals that you've set, and then you look up and it's already October, and you've been in school for a minute, and the back to school stuff has died down. And that's when your staff starts to feel burned out and overwhelmed. It's not like it's not acute yet, but you start to see signs of it.

Toxicity starts kind of creeping in, you start to work more and you're staying at the office later and later and later, get more disciplinary referrals. 

Parents start making appointments, you start getting preliminary data, and it doesn't look good. You've been in classrooms by this point. And you start to notice some things that worry you and and so this time of the year, October is when things start to begin to drift off course. And in many cases, October is when all those dreams you had for what you were going to do this school year began to slowly die and you start to realise maybe it's a little too ambitious. Maybe things aren't going to happen the way that they should. And the challenge is that if you don't stop it now if you don't stop the drift now then it's very easy to get off course, because what happens after October? Well, you start hitting all the holidays, right? So the moment you get through October, you've you go through November, and December and January, you've got all these holidays, and then you come back in January and half the year is over. And then you've got a little bit of a breather, and, but it's winter, and you're exhausted, and then testing and then the school year is over. So I don't want to scare you or be overly dramatic.

Now is the time that really determines whether or not you're going to hit your goals this year or not. Now's the time. And so on today's episode, I want to talk about a few things that you need to be thinking about right now. So that if you started to drift off track, you can get back on track. And if you feel like you are on track, but you're but you're but you're holding on, you know it's bare knuckled holding on trying to stay on track, what are some things you can do to make that a little easier? What are some things you can do now to ensure that you meet or exceed your goals for the school year, and you do it without burning yourself out in the process. So let's dive in. 

The first thing that you need to do right now is now is a really good time to revisit your goals, the goals that you set for the summer. 

Now you may be doing this already, because a lot of districts want you to have some reporting done by now or you might be getting ready to do some reporting. But now's a good time to go back and not just look at the goals. But to look at why you wanted those goals. What was it that drove you to create those goals? Now? If you didn't have a good why this summer, then maybe now's a good time to figure out those the right goals? Do you have a different? Why should you be looking for something else? But if you did have a good why this summer? Now's a good time to revisit that. To not think about this as on behind I gotta wait, you know, that's work. But to really think about what are the goals? What are the what is the reason you want these goals, what's driving these goals, and to reconnect to that now, if you are a builder, you don't have to do that, because you're already connected, you know what your vision is, it's 100%. But a lot of times, we lose sight, even of that 100% vision. Because we get caught up in all the demands that the district is making, and all the pressures that we're starting to feel. And you know, we feel like we got to show progress this year. And so it's really good to go back to that to anchor in your vision, and your mission and your core values. And it's also a good time to remind your staff.

Hopefully, this is a part of an ongoing conversation you're having with your staff. But this may be a good time to bring everybody back together and to say, Hey, listen, let's not lose sight of why we're doing this work. And anything that we are doing that is not moving us towards our vision that is off mission, or that is not in alignment with our core values, we need to stop. So October is a great time to take stock. Are you drifting away from your vision? Are you drifting away from your mission? Have you started to drift outside of your core values, now's the time to stop it before it becomes a crisis. So go back, look at your big why those goals you set for the summer, the vision mission and core values that you are holding on to and take stock, where are we out of alignment, and do the work to get back in alignment. Now, if you're just slightly over the line, it's a lot easier to get back on the other side of the line and stay in alignment than it will be later on the year. When you've drifted so far back that it's going to take, you know a Herculean effort to get back. So the first step, anchor in where you are, and go back to that and make sure that you are in alignment.

Anything that you are doing, that is not moving you closer to your vision that is not in alignment with your mission. 

That is not in alignment with your core values. You need to stop. And now's the time to do it before you get too heavily invested in it. It's so easy to get caught up at this time of the year and all the things that are happening and the demands and all the new ideas and but now's the time to go back and take stock and say are we still doing what we said we're going to do. And if not get back in alignment. The second thing that you need to do to help you to keep from drifting is now's the time to take a good look at the systems that you have in place and make sure that you are sticking to those systems. So usually what happens with the October drift is that you start out You have a plan. And then, you know, let's say you have a teacher dashboard that you're looking at, and you're you have a meeting, you're looking at your teacher dashboard every single week. And then something happens in one week, you're saying, Well, we're going to skip the dashboard meeting. And so then you, you don't do it. And then the next week, because you skipped it, you're a little behind. So the dashboard meeting takes some longer, you don't get through everything in the dashboard. And over time, the dashboard becomes more and more neglected, until you stop doing it. And you look up and you haven't met about your teacher dashboard in several weeks. Well, if you don't do something right now, several weeks, turns into several months turns into all year.

So where are you in your systems? Are you still being consistent? You have a meeting rhythm that you have in your school? Are you consistent about those meetings? 

If you're doing a daily stand up? Are you consistent with doing that daily standup? Or do you skip it one day, or does something happen and anything could happen and stop you from meeting that day. And so instead of having a daily standup every day, five days a week, you only did one a DSU, twice this week, those are the kinds of things that they start now, and you start to kind of just get a little bit outside of your systems. And when you get a little bit outside, you feel like you can still recover. But a little bit turns into a lot turns into, I don't do it anymore. So first, make sure that you are doing work that is in alignment. And if you are seeing any area that you're out of alignment, get back into alignment.

Secondly, take a look at your systems. And are you being consistent? And how do we get back to being consistent with our systems? Where do we need to tweak our systems so that they continue to work? And we stick with the systems? The systems are great, you design them over the summer, but if you don't stick with them now, what's the point?The third thing is you're working really hard. But are you doing the right work? So not only does your work need to be in alignment with your vision, mission and core values, but what should you be focusing on right now you see, right about October, stuff starts piling up. And everybody's coming to with this problem or that problem with the other, and you just have this pile of problems. And this is the time where a lot of builders start slipping back over into being leaders. And so as a result, they just say I've got this pile on my desk, and you just sit there and get it out. And you just kind of try to knock out your pile.

But remember, as a builder, not every problem needs solving. 

So one of the reasons why builders think about those 90 day sprints where they're worried kind of looking at one problem and solving it for 90 days, and doing the deep analysis using that, that Builders Blueprint to try to figure out what are the right problems to solve, or using a quarterly planning process to figure out what are the right problems to solve is so that you don't waste time working really hard trying to solve a problem that really isn't the right problem that isn't the one that's going to make the difference this year. So one of the things that we didn't build a ship University is we just completed a couple of weeks ago, a quarterly planning sprint, we do one every quarter. And we spend two days the first day we spend kind of just really analysing where school is right now we have a couple of tools to do that. And then the second day, we spend kind of figuring out, okay, here's the plan for what we need to be working on this quarter. And then we have a weekly and monthly meeting rhythm to help us stick to the plan. If you don't have something like that.

October is a really great time to institute that. 

So that you can make sure that you're focused on the right work instead of the wrong work. Then the next thing you need to do is not only do you need to have a plan, but you need to have a way to execute it. And so you've heard me talk about the meeting rhythm. This is the time where you need to make sure that your meeting rhythm is helping you stay accountable to your plans. If you're not staying accountable to your plans, this is a good time to really look at. Are we meeting too much? Are we meeting not about the right thing? Should we be meeting about these things instead? And putting some things in place that are built into your schedule? So you don't have to remember, oh, I need to go do this thing. I need to go back to our plans. But instead, there is a cadence happening in your school that keeps you focused on the right work. And what does that cadence look like for you?

Now in the Leadership University, we teach the six E's we teach that, that that cadence of how we do our work so that we can execute on our plan. And we're being very intentional about what we're doing at each stage so that we stay focused. If you are starting to drift. This is a good time for you to to really take a look at how you're executing and put some things in place that help you be accountable. Like let me give me an exam. Apple, let's say you want it to, okay, me, like I'm trying to eat better. And I love. I love sugar. Right? So it's really hard for me to resist, you know, any kind of baked good or, you know, candy, you know, I love my candy. And so one of the things that I had to do, because I wanted to reduce the amount of sugar ate was, I have to get rid of all the sugar in my house. Right? Instead of relying on my willpower every single day to resist the sugar that's in the pantry, I just had to take it out. There's no white sugar in my pantry. There's no candy in any drawers. So that every single day when I get up and I'm in the house, I don't have to worry about fighting that battle I can, I can stick to my goal of not eating so much sugar, because I just don't have it in the house.

Hey, it's Robin here real quick, I just want to interrupt this episode for just a second. Because if you are enjoying what you're hearing, then would you mind sharing this episode with somebody else. So all you need to do is just go to your phone, if you're listening to it on your phone, or your podcast player, and then click the three dots next to this episode. And I'll give you the option to share the episode that if you do that three things are going to happen first, the person that you shared with is going to think you're a hero, especially if they're struggling with what we're talking about right now. They're going to love you. Secondly, you're going to feel good because you're going to get the word out about builder ship and start building this builder ship nation. And third, you will get my eternal gratitude because I really want to get this out to the world. And you'd be helping me out You'd be doing me a huge favour. So please share this episode with someone right now who's who's dealing with this same issue, someone you think would really benefit. And now back to the show.

So instead of relying on your willpower to get work done, are you putting things in place to make sure that the work gets done even when you're not paying attention? 

Even when you're not checking, even when you're not watching? If you're not doing that it's easy to drift. So if you find that you're drifting, now's a good time to figure out what's the work I need to do. And what are some things that I can put in place now to make sure that it gets done, and it doesn't rely on me to get done. I'll give you a work example. I there was when I was a teacher, I wanted to make sure that I was looking at where kids were every single day and catching kids before they failed. And I used to try to kind of like sit down once a week and go through my gradebook and and try to figure out okay, which kids need support and make a plan for the next week. It didn't work. And one of the things I decided to do is look, how can I make this automatic. And so what I did is I set up my online gradebook where I also took attendance and every single day when I was taking attendance, I programmed my gradebook to turn kids names on my attendance sheet read if they were earning anything less than an 80%. So every single day, when I took attendance, which was something I had to do anyway, I would see the kids who were struggling. And so it was a reminder of that I needed to really help support those kids during the lesson. And so that, you know, that kind of naturally made me check in with those kids every single day and the lesson and then when I look and I would say okay, this kid's name has been read for a week, but I've been doing some work with them. And then one day I will open attendance and his name's not red anymore. It was a rule there was a built in reward to that system. 

So what are you doing? 

What is the work that you need to be doing? And how can you make it automatic for you, so that you will keep doing it? If you find that you're drifting. And the work is important. It's the work you should be doing. Now's the time to say okay, what I'm doing right now it's not working, how can I make this more automatic? So I'm guaranteed to do this work. And then the last shift is that you may think, you know, right now we're October's time, we get kind of caught up in the weeds of our work. And because we get caught into the weeds of our work we don't we stop our long term thinking we we start shifting to just getting through the day getting through the week, knocking stuff off of our plate knocking stuff off teachers plates surviving. And that is only going to get worse, because we're starting to do it now. But then when the holidays come, we're just like, Let me hold on to Thanksgiving. Let me hold on to winter break. And then when people get back Oh, after winter break, I'm gonna get started again. But you've drifted so far, of course, by this time, that it's hard to get started again. And so you begin satisficing second semester, because you're too far behind to get caught up or you are playing catch up instead of advancing the work and you lose sight of that long term thinking and the next time you think about the long Don't plan is summer. 

One of the things that you want to do right now is you really want to make sure that you anchor in that bigger long term plan. 

Now's the time to do it. We think that summer work, but you need to be doing that on a regular basis. Because if you do everything else, and you don't anchor into that bigger long term vision, then while you're doing the work, you lose sight of the work you do. That is another look at that long term vision is another way to make sure you stay accountable to your ultimate goal. So taking a look at the bigger picture of your school, taking a look at all the systems that you need to have in place, making a plan for where you are, where you may be missing some systems, putting those systems in place, so that you can get some things established this year that you won't have to re establish next year or next year, you can just focus on executing. So you are doing your future self a favour by spending some time in October and taking a look at the bigger picture and trying to figure out what do I need to do now so that when the tough times come in January and February and March, I'm not struggling as much. 

What do I need to what think about what is it going to look like in January and February and March? What are the problems that you face every single year at that time? And putting some things in place now while you have time so that you won't experience that when you hit those, those tough months later on in the year? What do you need to do this year? What are you going through this year that you don't want to go through again? So what can you do now to solve it once and for all.So the next year, you don't have to deal with it. So I've talked to you about five different shifts. The first shift is that getting back to your vision, mission and core values and making sure your work is in alignment with that. The second shift is taking a look at your systems and making sure that they are working and where you don't have systems putting systems in place. The third shift is making sure that you are focused on the right work, and that you are being intentional about ignoring the wrong work. And then the fourth shift is putting some things in place so that the work that you have to do anyway becomes more automatic, so that you can make sure you're doing that work even when you don't feel like it either when other stuff gets in the way. And then the fifth shift is making sure that you are thinking not just about now, but you're thinking about the future. And you're doing things now that benefit you not only right now, but also benefit you in the future. 

I'm going to be talking about how you make those five shifts, and the October reset, which is happening in just a few days. 

And you're going to get a workbook every single day. It's really about looking at your work and walking you through how to make these shifts and identifying where those shifts need to be made. But when you do that work, when you make those five shifts, you can overcome the drift that happens in October. And it can help you to set yourself up for a much better school year. We don't want to wait until you're exhausted and overwhelmed. And the clock is ticking before you start doing this work. Now's the time you can you can stop yourself from drifting off course. And get back on course, when you go through this process. So I want you to go to build leadership Sign up for the October reset, absolutely free show up live every single day. And we're going to be working together to help you make these five simple shifts right now, so that you can set yourself up for a fabulous school year. And you can deal with all of the challenges you're dealing with right now. And by making just these simple shifts, we're not talking about doing stuff that's new. We're talking about taking the work you're already doing and making it more powerful, more meaningful, more effective, because you've just done some very simple things that keep you focused on doing the right work like a belter. 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 tonnes 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, than you need to join bill to ship University, just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, this is Robin, and thanks for listening to the show. Now, if you really enjoy the content, would you do me a favour and share it with somebody else, all you need to do is pull out your phone, click on the little three dots next to the show and you'll see an option there to share the show. Click that and send it to somebody else who could really benefit from what you learned here today. Not only are you going to look like a rock star, but you're going to be helping out somebody else who really could use this information plus, I will be so grateful. So just go ahead right now click on those three dots and share the show. Thanks for listening and I'll see you next time.

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