The Steps to Buildership


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 233

Hey builders, before we jump into today's show, I need to know something, are you and I connected on the socials? Because if we're not we need to be so connect with me. I'm on Facebook at Robin Jackson. I am on Twitter at Robin underscore mine steps. I'm on LinkedIn at Robin Jackson. Let's connect and let's keep the conversation going. Now, onto the show. You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 233.

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 I want to answer a question that many people who are starting on their builder ship journey are asking, you know, build a ship. It's a vast amount of information and skills. And people always wonder, Where do I start? How what should I be working on first, people go to our free events and they see different things and are like, well, I want to do that, or I want to do this or I want to do this. And then when they get inside of builder ship university, they they we get them focused on one thing and they're like, but I want to do this other thing. And we say no, you got to do this first. And that that'll make I would do an episode where I could just make it clear about what needs to come first, if you're going to become a builder, what are the skills you need to build first. And so a lot of what we're going to talk about today really follows the builder ship model.

So those of you and bu you know, we've walked through the builder ship model, and I just want to kind of go through it again, to understand why we set up Bu the way that we do and why we design that your journey through bu to to mirror that builder ship model so that you are building the right skills at the right time. And explain a little bit about why these skills first versus those skills. So the first thing that you need to do, if you're going to become a builder, is you've got to get clear about your purpose. And this is where you develop your your 100% vision. This is where you facilitate the development of the mission and your school.

This is where you create the core values with your staff. 

But this is also where you began to look at how you can start aligning the work you do to your vision, mission and core values. So it's not just enough to create them up those things. Although those things are really important. It's how well do you get your school aligned to those things? Now, the reason we start with that first and the reason why that is probably the most critical work you do. It's twofold. The first is kind of the external benefits that you get, you take a staff that may not be cohesive and you start bringing them together, you make Get really clear about the work that you're doing and how you're going to move your school forward. You have a direction, you know the Bible verse without a vision, the people perish. And so it's really important to have that vision to get everybody kind of pointed the same direction to make your work aligned.

So your work gets easier gets more focused, you get you tap into your energy and your motivation. Again, it gets your staff more motivated than anything else you can possibly do and more aligned to the work. And it helps you to realise the work that you're doing that's not that's not aligned in alignment with with where you want to go. So you can stop doing that and create more room for the work you really want to do. Those are the external benefits. But the internal benefits are even greater because going through that process, facilitating that process with your staff reconnects you to your why helps you to start thinking like a builder helps you to unlearn a lot of the garbage that we've been taught as leaders about what it really takes to move the school forward.

It gets you reconnected to your purpose, why you're there 

It gets you reconnected to what it is you really want to do for your students. Writing a vision is hard. It's not hard in the same way that those you know gruesome vision, writing exercises are hard, right? A vision is hard because you have have to really identify what difference you really want to make for kids, you know, we always talk about I want to make a difference, I want to make a difference, what difference and we've never been challenged to really clarify what difference we have been put on this earth to make.

So when you start with your vision, when you complete that purpose arc inside of eldership university, you come out of that with that kind of clarity, your staff comes out of it with that kind of clarity. And and you, you, you now have a vision that that is an onset assignable. And so it gives you focus, it helps you endure the tough times, it helps you advocate for what's really important in your school. So that's why we start with purpose. Because if you don't do that, anything that happens is going to knock you off your square, anything that happens is going to be discouraging, anything that happens is going to make you reevaluate everything, because you don't have anything to anchor in. And so that purpose piece has external benefits.

The biggest benefits that come from that purpose piece are who you become, After you go through that process. 

You become a person who is clear about where you're headed, whose work is in alignment, so you don't feel like Oh, I'm doing all this stuff. But you know, I don't feel fulfilled, you begin to feel more fulfilled, because the work you do is in complete alignment with the difference you're trying to make. And that's what propels you forward. And that's what, what makes people want to join you on that journey. And so you have to do that first.

Once you do that, once you've got the clarity of purpose, the next big problem that you're going to encounter, it's how do you keep everybody on your staff focused on that purpose and growing into that purpose. Because the reality is, once you set that 100% vision, that mission, those core values. At the beginning, they're very aspirational, because you're not there yet. And in many ways, you you and your staff don't have the skill and in some cases, the will to get there. Because if you did, you'd be there already, right. So the fact that you don't have that already and your staff doesn't have that already means that you have work to do to help your staff grow into your purpose. And so the next piece is the people piece. And during this part of the process, it's really about growing the will and skill of your staff. And as a bare minimum, you want your teachers, every teacher in your building, growing at least one level at one critical domain, and every single year. That's how you get to your vision.

So again, the process is twofold. 

Externally, you're putting systems in place to make teacher growth inevitable to make it the just the obvious fact every teacher in your building is growing one level, and one critical domain every single school year. And so you're putting your feedback system in place so that teachers are getting the feedback they need, and the right feedback so that they can grow. And then you're putting your your support systems in place so that you follow up on your feedback, and you actually see results, you see teachers making tangible growth, and it helps you to follow up and give teachers the targeted support they need without running yourself ragged. And then you're going to put your accountability architecture in place. So that's really about looking at the systems in your school, so that you're setting people up for success so that they can be accountable to continue to grow. And there aren't roadblocks in the way that are institutional roadblocks. And so that accountability architecture is one of your secret tools to make sure that everybody's growing. And everybody's staying accountable to growth without you running around, chasing, checking and correcting people all the time. People become accountable for their own work. They take ownership over their own work when you do it, right. And then you have a culture architecture that you're creating. And that culture architecture is really about creating new institutional habits and changing your institutional story. So that you have this healthy culture Where were your teachers are are thriving, and they are taking more and more ownership over their work. And they are all committed to that purpose and doing work that's in alignment with that purpose, even when you're not checking. So that's why builds up University.

The Next Level, Level two is really about creating those four architectures or systems. 

That's the external benefit. So what happens is your school runs more smoothly, teachers are getting the support they need, you're seeing that consistent growth. But here's the internal benefit that it has for you as a builder and this is why this is so important. You can have a great vision, but you if you can't get people continually moving towards that vision, then what's the point? So the next step for you in your group? oath as a builder is, first you set that vision mission core values, you get into alignment with that. But then you have to get other people to be in alignment with that other people to grow and continually embrace and deepen in their commitment to that, that vision to build the will and the skill to live out that vision, that mission, those core values every single day. And so, as you go through that process, and build those architectures, you get better at moving people. And the biggest difference that this makes is that, you know, we were trained as a leader to say, you go or, or let's go. But when you become a builder, you're not sitting someplace and directing people, you're not dragging people to the goal, you are inviting people. And so that that that people component, that next step, that skill that you are building, it's really about getting good at getting other people to join you in pursuit of that vision, to take ownership of that vision, and to continually move forward towards that vision, even when you're not pulling or pushing or checking.

So once you do that, once you've developed that purpose, and once you've gotten people on board, the third skill that you need to develop to become a builder is you need to get good at charting the course, figuring out the pathway. This one is an overlooked skill. People think, well, I've got my vision, and I've got everybody on board. So I'm good. No, you've only done half of what it takes to become a builder.

The next thing that builders get really good at is looking through all the noise and finding the one thing that matters most. 

Now, you all know that we have a process called micro slicing inside of Belgian university that we teach you we teach it on two levels, how do you micro slice when you're looking at supporting teachers? And then how do you micro slice when you're looking at the entire school and what students need and what that what it's going to take at this moment to move forward and your vision. And this is where a lot of people get stuck, they don't spend enough time they think oh, well, you know, I've got the the first two down, I'm good. And then they just randomly grab stuff to work on. And they get good at it. So they go to a conference, they hear somebody talking about standards aligned instruction, or they hear somebody talking about trauma, informed instruction, or culturally proficient cultural proficiency, or they whatever the buzzword is PBIS, level one, tier one, tier two, all of the buzzwords in education. And they're like, You know what, that's it because we have that problem. So that must be the solution and they grab the solution, and then they run with it. That's a leadership paradigm you spent. And then what happens is, you spent a lot of time working on that solution, only to realise that that solution solved a symptom but didn't solve the root problem, then you realise it's not working as well as it could be working, and you abandon it. And then you go do the next thing. And then the next thing and then the next thing. And so you're always ricocheting between one solution and the next solution, and working really hard at it, getting people excited about it, getting people moving forward, but not seeing the results that you want to see. Because, again, you're solving the wrong problem.

So what builders get really good at is understanding what is the right problem to solve. It's rarely what you think it is.

So builders spend a lot of time asking questions. 

When we look at data, we're not looking at what is the data telling me we are interrogating the data, and we're asking the data, is this a symptom? Or is this a root? Cause? Is this the one thing I need to be working on right now? And so you're going to be learning and building up University micro slicing? And how to do that at an institutional level? And how to do that on a regular basis to figure out what problems should you be solving right now? That's one of the number one questions a builder is asking always, what is the problem? That is the root cause? We call it affectionately our 150. What's our 150? And so once you figure out and get good at finding your 150 you go farther, faster, because you're spending your time and energy solving the right problems. So let's go back to the order again.

The first thing is you need a purpose because if you don't have a purpose, what are you doing? Once you have that purpose, and you've gotten in alignment with that purpose? You're looking around, and you're figuring out where can I be in alignment with that purpose? The next step is you've got to get your people on board. How do you consistently get people moving closer and closer to that purpose?

Once you have gotten that straight. The next thing is okay, where should we be moving? 

What's the pathway look like. And it's really about finding the right problems to solve, and not wasting time solving problems that really aren't root causes. And once you do that, then you begin to operate differently as an organisation, you are more efficient, you see bigger gains faster. We regularly now see and build a ship University and our wins column, we see people regularly posting 10% 15% 20% 50% gains. And they look remarkable to all the leaders out there, those gains look remarkable. And so people are getting lauded in their districts. How did you do that? That's amazing, especially when some schools are dropping, some schools are working really hard and eking out 123 5% gains, people are saying, how is that happening? That's extraordinary. And they think it's magic, it's not magic, it's really comes down to finding the right problems to solve.

That's how you get huge gains. It's not about you know, bubble kids, or all the other nonsense we've been taught. It's simply about finding the right problems to solve. And builders do that. That's, that's the that's, that's one of the secret weapons of being a builder is you get good at that. And so externally, you're getting the gains. But internally, you have this, this, this this clarity and confidence because you know that you are solving the right problems that if you're going to work, you're going to see results, because you're solving the right problems. So once you do that, the last skill that you need, is you need to get good at executing on your plans. Hey, Robin here, and I just want to break in real quick to ask you a huge favour.

You see, I want to get the word out to 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 ships. So would you mind just leaving a quick review? It would mean the world to me. Okay, now back to the show.

We're really good at making plans, We're terrible about executing on. 

Me too, I write plans all the time. And then, you know, look back and like, did I do what I say when you do when you execute, that's when you see the results. So a lot of times we say okay, this is the right problem to solve, and we develop a plan to solve the problem, then we get distracted and stuff happens and we get knocked off of our plan. And so what builders get really good at is staying the course, even when life gets in the way. And the reason that builders are good at that, it's because we understand that, that getting from A to B is not a straight line. There are things that happen along the way life is going to life. So we know that and we plan for that. And we put systems in place to help us stick with our plans. Even when life gets in the way. Because we know what's going to happen. I think it's bizarre that every summer we sit down and we write CIP plans. As if stuff is not going to happen. We just went through October always talking about the October surprise guess what else is coming? Winter Break, guess what else is coming? Testing? Guess what else is coming? That long stretch between, you know, the testing and spring break, guess what else is coming? Graduation? So we always have distractions? They're the same ones every single year? Why aren't we planning for that? Why aren't we as we're sitting around and thinking about our plans, understanding that and being strategic. So what builders are really good at, and this is the next skill you need is how do I keep everyone moving forward, even when life gets in the way. And so we talked about the 60s of execution and how real it's really, really important to make sure that as you're building plans, you are also anticipating the rocky ness of change and making sure that you're planning for that. And so we help you create a planning architecture that helps you to create better plans and execute on your plans. And then the other thing we do is that at some point, you've got to, you've got to share the wealth. You can't be the only one who's in charge of execution.

You have to build other builders. 

So that's why after you get really good at setting a purpose and getting people on board and identifying the pathway, so finding the right problem to solve and then executing on your plans. The next step for that execution is that you, you have to help other people take over parts of the process. So you're not the only one driving other people are building as well. So we show you how to how to offload some of the work that you're doing to the right person, we show you how to build a winning team, we show you how to, to onboard people into their roles, we show you how to define what roles you need in your building. So you make sure that stuff gets covered and, and the work gets done. Even if you're not the only one driving. And all along the way, it frees you up to do the things that only you can do. And that's what makes you a better builder.

Just to kind of recap the order of skills you need, so that if you're going to become a builder, you don't try to jump to micro slicing, because micro slicing is sexy, but you don't have a clear vision, mission and core values and you're out of alignment. You don't try to jump to the people portion. Because you're struggling with you know, some personalities in your building right now. But you don't have a clear alignment in your school to your vision mission and core values, you don't start writing plans to solve problems that you haven't truly understood. So this is the order.

First, make sure that you have a clarity of purpose, which means you have a 100% vision, a mission core values, and what we call an alignment architecture and one plan. 

So That's level one, a BU and those things help you to to have something to anchor in, you have the vision mission and core values, you do things to make sure that your school is in alignment with your vision, mission and core values. And maybe you have a you have a tool in place to help you do that. And then the one plan says this is the most important work that we need to be doing right now to achieve our vision. With that kind of clarity. The next step is that now you want to build your people, you want to build the will and skill of your people so that they can begin to pursue that vision with you. And so you want to get feedback architecture, first, support architecture, next, accountability, architecture, and culture architecture. And the reason why we do it in that order.

First, you got to give people feedback, so they know where they need to grow, then you give them the support to help them grow there, then you give accountability because now that they have learned a new skill, they need to practice it consistently so that they can see that growth. And then finally you build the culture in place so that people get used to growing people get used to getting the feedback and the support and being accountable. And it becomes just the way we do things in our school, it becomes our institutional habit. Everybody in your school is accustomed to growing, okay?

Then after you've gotten the purpose, and the people straight, the next step is now let's get good at identifying the right problems to solve. And that's where the pathway comes in. And then once we know what are the right problems to solve, let's get good at solving them. So that's where you are putting in the plan and the 60s of execution and building other builders so that you have you you become an efficient organisation. So when you build the skills, and you build them in the right order, you get wins all along the way. Like once you've completed your purpose, here's the big one you get.

Not only do you have the clarity, so you know where you're going. And your team has clarity and motivation. 

And you create momentum, and you start trimming the fat on the stuff that's out of alignment. And you get rid of that so that your work becomes more authentic, you become more inspired. You think differently. You see your problems differently, you see your students differently. So your school feels different, and you feel different. Once you complete the people component, you've got your teachers consistently growing so you see tangible growth in your teachers every single year. But more importantly, you feel differently because you now know how to get people moving. So when teachers complain and push back and and confront you, you don't worry about it, because you already know how to support them. You don't get stressed out in the same way over people anymore. Because you know what you need to do to support them you're you're able to have those tough conversations with people without the sickening feeling that a lot of us get in our stomachs before we go and give people feedback, because you know how to help people you know how to move people forward. And what happens is more and more of your teachers get on board, they start growing so your school runs more smoothly. Your students get served better. There's fewer disciplinary issues, there are fewer parent complaints because Kids are getting served in the classroom. And that feels really good. When you get the, the the pathway, you know, when you start building that pathway skill, then the external benefits are your school is solving problems, you're just knocking them out of the park every 90 days, you're just solving one of your biggest challenges goes away, doesn't go lie dormant until next year, no, it goes away, and you never have to deal with it again, your school becomes more efficient as an organisation. And and people start, you know, seeing all of these wins. And these victories happening is when people really start to believe we can do this, they begin to feel more effective as an organisation because they have had the experience of solving problems. And you facilitated that. And so, problem stopped bothering you, you start getting intimidated by you just say, Okay, this is a problem is it one we need to solve?

Okay, if it is, then we already have a process for solving it. 

If it isn't, then let's go find the real problem to solve and solve that and this thing will go away. And then once you get good at execution, you become this well oiled machine, going to school and going to work feels good, because as you're walking through the halls, you see stuff working. And you're the bumps that you used to experience for the changes that you that you face in your school, don't bother you anymore, because you already have a plan, you plan for those bumps, and you have a solution. So as soon as the bumps show up, you're like, Oh, I mean, this is about where we're supposed to be, you're not intimidated by it, you just apply the solution that you plan for, and move on with your life.

So now your work is easier, you're going you're going home earlier, other people are taking on more ownership, they feel great, because they have true ownership. True authority. It's not just this fake, you know, let me give you some teacher leadership opportunities that you still control and are still responsible for but true ownership true opportunities to build your building other builders. And so you can step away and still realise the work is going to get done.

It's not depending on you anymore, because you've built an organisation in a system where the work gets done, even when you're not looking even when you're not driving, even when you're not checking. 

So that's how you become a builder. And it's one of the reasons why we've built builders ship university, because we have realised that when you do things in a particular order, you get more wins, you get where you want to go faster. And you're you're solving the right problems in the right order, right? Because the first problem you have is, nobody knows what you don't know you got cross purposes, you're not you're not in alignment, your school's not in alignment. Once you get that straight, then the next problem you're going to face is all right. Everybody knows where you need to go. But how are we going to get there? So how do you build the will and schedule your people? And then once you realise that the next problem you're going to face is alright, with building willen scalable, we've got still a lot of problems, which one should we solve? And when you realise how to find the right problems to solve and focus on the right pathway.

The next problem you have is okay, how do we stick with this until we see results. So it follows that build a ship model follows the natural progression of what it means to be a builder. I'll say this last thing. A lot of people read the book or go to one of our trainings. And then they say, oh, I want to be a builder. And they cherry pick. This is the problem we're facing right now. So we'll start here. And I want to warn you against that. Because when you cherry pick those skills, yeah, you'll see an initial bump, but it's not sustainable. And then you say this builder says chip thing isn't working. Build a ship is not a thing. It's a who it's who you become. It's not a set of programmes that you apply to your school to get your score it needs to be when you become a builder. It means that you can go into any school and turn it into a success story not the school you have right now like if you just look at builder ship and say, well I'm gonna do this for the school I have right now.

All I mean, why are you spending all this time and energy on building a skill that you're gonna have to relearn in the next school. 

But when you become a builder, if you go through the process, it doesn't matter this school you could be in your school right now today, you can be in another school next week or two years from now you can move to the district level, and the same skills that you learned now will apply. So if you stop thinking about builder ship as a what, and start thinking about it as a Who, who do I become then it changes your perspective and it keeps you from cherry picking and rushing the process. And because builder ship is a hoe. It really takes about three years to fully become a builder. The whole First Year, you're just learning all of the skills you're going through and learning how you're creating your vision you are, you're building the architectures that you need to put in place to, to get your people on board to make sure you stick on your path, you find the right pathway and stick to that with your plan, it takes a year goes, you can go through it, you need to go through the entire cycle before you really have gotten all those skills, and then near to me and go through it again and apply those skills, execute on the skills so that you can get good at them. You know, there's think about your first year of teaching, you go through your first year of teaching, and you learned a lot. But then the second year is when you say, Okay, now I can actually, I want to do things differently, I need to you know, I'm gonna get better at it.

So you need that second year to just execute the skill so that you can make them work for who you are, and really understand the nuances around those skills so that you can get good at it. And then the third year, you need to extend the skills. This is where you do the refinement piece. And this is when you become a master builder. And so for those of you who are just starting the journey, or you're not sure where to start, I'm hoping today helps you so that you can you really see the pathway forward.

This is why we build buildership University

The way that we build it is so that we can walk you through that pathway and help you develop the skills, the right skills in the right order. And that's why we always say the builder should be University is a one year commitment, because you need a whole year to learn the skills. But it's really a three year journey. And so the first year, which is helping you build the skills, the second year, we're helping you execute on those skills and, and so there's a whole process, it's different process, but it's a process to help you execute and get really good at it. And and to monitor that and to look at areas where you need to refine and revisit. And then that 30 year is about tweaking it. And it's also about what's going to be the next chapter in your journey. And so you get a lot more personalised mentorship so that you can think about, you know, do I want to write a book? Do I want to start a consulting business? Do I want to stay where I am, do I want to pursue a job in central office or maybe become a superintendent, we help you figure that out. Because now that you have become a builder, you can take builder ship, and go anywhere.

So hopefully this was helpful for you today, just you know, a more nuts and bolts episode to help you understand the order a builder ship and why it's created the way that the builder ship model is created. So that you can see the progression and the progress through the programme and you understand why it's set up that way. And that way, you can know exactly where to get started, and exactly what order you need to follow. So that you can become a builder. Because the last thing I want is for you to pick and choose and try a couple of things get frustrated because you know you're doing things out of water and you're not making the progress you need to make. So hopefully this is helpful.

If you are not a member of buildership University, and you're trying to do this on your own, you know you can put the whole model in the book stop leading start building, so it's all there. 

If you want the support, the mentorship, the tools that you need to be able to do this and to do it in the right order and to get support every step of the way. Get that personalised feedback so that as you're building these skills, somebody's they're giving you the feedback you need to get better and better at it before you get in front of your staff that I want you to enjoy and I want to invite you to join me and build a ship University. Now we just closed our last cohort but we do have a waitlist and I can tell you from experience that as people are graduating out of the programme, we have spots opening up and we then go to the waitlist for anybody who's on the waitlist to get those open spots to you so if you want to get an open spot and get in now build a ship University the tuition is going up significantly in January so if you want to get in now before tuition goes up the best bet is to join the waitlist and once we you know get a spot we go to the waitlist and then we go down the list and we say do you want the spot Do you want the spot and then we just go those spots usually go very quickly so be on the waitlist, get ready in case we get you know reach out to you and join us inside a builder ship University. All right, I'll talk to you soon. Bye

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, but 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 show meaning 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, then you need to join builder ship University, just go to build USHIP and get started writing your school success story today.

Hey, real quick before you go. If you enjoyed today's episode, and you know someone who would really benefit from what you heard here today, and maybe they're struggling with a thing that we talked about in today's episode, would you take a moment and share this episode with them? You see, not only will it help us get the word about builder ship out to more people, but you're gonna look like a rockstar because you're gonna give people something that can really use to help them get unstuck and be better at building their schools. Plus, it would mean the world to me. Thanks so much, and I'll see you next time.

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