Do you want to look good, do good, or be good?


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 236

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 Robyn Jackson, I am on Twitter at Robyn underscore mine steps. I'm on LinkedIn at Robyn 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 236. 

How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students? In spite of all the obstacles we face? How do you keep your vision for your school from being held hostage by resistant teachers, uncooperative parents, ridiculous district policies or lack of time, money or resources. If you're facing those challenges right now, here's where you'll find the answers strategies, and actionable tips you need to overcome any obstacle you face. You don't have to wait to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve. You can turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Let's get started.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. 

I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And I've got a question for you. When you think about the work that you do in your schools every single day, is your primary motivation to look good, do good, or be good. It's really important distinction because your motivation determines how you see your work every day determines how you show up, and also determines how you feel about the work at the end of the day. So let's let's break that down a little bit. So the first one is, are you doing the work to look good? Now, if you are an educator, you've been educated for any bit of time, you're not going to admit to that I get it. We we may not say that. That's what we want. But I want you to ask yourself, are you doing things every single day? Because that's what looks good. 

That's what other people expect you to do. 

Maybe you're not, you know, I'm not accusing you of being an egomaniac and saying, Oh, I just want to look good. I want all the accolades. But when you do things, are you doing them because other people expect you to do them? You know, think about all the things that you don't you get into classrooms, because you want to be seen. And you want other people to see you around and involved in instruction? Do you do things for teachers? Because you want your teachers to like you and be happy in your school? Do you give people feedback according to a specific conversational framework? Because you want people to see you as a true instructional leader? Do you have meetings with people that you really don't want to have? Because people expect you to be there to show up to show up in a particular way? Are you doing things in your school right now? Because that's what the district wants? And even if it might not be the right thing for your school? Are you doing things on a day to day basis in order to look good to your students, your teachers, your parents or your district? And if the answer is yes, then I want you to know that the tyranny of serving other people's expectations is going to hold you back from doing the work that you are meant to do, and making the difference you are meant to make in your school. And over time, if you are doing work to look good. But the paradox is that you end up not looking good, because people see you as somebody who can be moved and manipulated by every new district mandate, people see you as somebody who is trying to please people and you, you are a slave to the whims of the staff or to the parents, rather than have it being somebody with a vision and a direction and a mission and a set of non negotiable core values. Who cannot be moved when it comes to doing the right thing for kids. 

So I want you to ask yourself the hard question. Am I doing this? Only because this is what looks good. This is what meets other people's expectations, or am I doing this thing? 

Because it's what's right for kids. Now, the second question is, maybe you're not doing things because you want to look good. Maybe you're doing things because you want to do good. And I see this a lot in mission oriented educators, you came to this profession because you want wanted to do something on behalf of kids, you want it to make a difference. And so every single day you get up with that in mind, and you go to work and you try to find the thing that is going to help you make that difference. And the thing changes depending on the day. And so some days the thing, the thing that you you think will help you do the best for kids is whatever is the the technique, the strategy, the curriculum does your and every time there's a new thing, a new set of research, a new conference, a new fad, you believe that if you don't do it, you then you are doing your kids a disservice. So let me give you an example. Let's talk about reading. Right? The reading is is the classic example. You know, is it phonics? Is it whole language? Is it balanced literacy, and now it's science of reading. And so you feel like if you don't do that thing, then you are cheating your kids, because this is research based, this is what everybody else is doing. Other people are getting results from it. So I need to do it for my kids. Because I want to do good. I don't want to be the one who stands in the way because I didn't get on this bandwagon. 

Now, this is not to say that all of those things don't have merits. And I'm not trying to get into the reading debate. What I'm trying to illustrate here is that when you are trying to do good, then you are subject to all of the trends, all of the fads, all of the movements in education, and you feel guilty, if you don't do that thing, because you want to do good. And the research and the gurus are all telling you, this is the thing, that's good. And so you end up always looking for the next thing, always worrying that what you're doing isn't enough, and then always adding things to your plates, and to the plates of your teachers. So you have to be careful about this idea of I want to do good, because the focus there is on the doing and less on the good. Here's what I mean by that. A lot of times when you are focused on doing good, you feel like if I'm not doing then my kids are suffering. So you stay late. You work weekends, you work holidays, you never take a break, you push yourself and your staff and your students harder and harder and harder, because you're focused on doing good. And if you're not doing it feels like it's not good. And so when you have that focus on doing good, you don't feel like you can ever relax, you are always looking for the next thing, you're always looking for something else to add, you're always looking at data and looking at the deficits and the gap instead of focusing on all how far you've come and the gain. You're always looking for the next thing. Because you're focused on doing good. Now, what builders are focused on is not looking good, not doing good. But they focus on being good. I always say the builder ship is not a what it's a who it's who you become as a result of, of having a builders mind set. It's about taking that builder ship framework, and not just applying it to your school, but applying it to the way you approach education, the way that you approach building a school where 100% of kids can be successful. When you decide to become a builder. It's less about what you do and more about who you are. I'll explain what that means. 

When you become a builder, you look at problems differently. 

You don't look at problems us as things to be solved. You you look at problems as as constraints that are keeping you from 100%. And the moment that you remove that constraint, you open up the flow that helps you get to 100%. When you're a builder, you don't think about a vision statement as something pretty you put on the wall. You don't even think about the vision statement is something personal about a growth goal. Your vision statement is about a promise that you make to every child you serve. And with that promise comes a responsibility that everybody shares. Do you see the difference between being a being a builder and being a leader? Right? If you are a leader, you are not thinking about your vision that way you are thinking about your vision about what do I want? What do we want as a school? When you're a builder, you're thinking about what is the promise our kids deserve? When when you're a builder you're not looking at your mission as a mission statement. That's aspirational. You're looking at the mission statement as how you are going to achieve that promise for your kids. What what what is on mission And off mentioned, why do you exist? Why is that promise so important? When you're a builder, you're not looking at your core values as just a set of aspirational value statements. Your core values are the non negotiable agreements that you and your staff make about how you pursue the work to make sure that you achieve that vision for your students and keep the promise to your students. 

So it's not about feeling good and doing good. It's about who you become. And who you become, determines how you pursue your work. And how you pursue your work determines those outcomes. So here's what this means in terms of how you go about your work. Instead of trying to do good, and having the pressure on you to always beat last year's numbers. Instead of trying to to look good, and having the pressure on you to please the district are your teachers, when you focus on being good, the pressure is about you? And are you doing things that are authentic to who you are and the builder that you are then the promise that you're making to your students. So there isn't the same level of pressure, any pressure you feel is pressure on yourself, because you are trying to always see am I doing work that is in alignment with our vision, our mission and our core values. That's the pressure. That's a positive pressure. Because as long as you're in alignment, you can withstand the external pressures, the only time you feel pressures when you are out of alignment. And the solution is very simple. And it doesn't involve anybody else, except you will see when you're trying to look good. The solution is can I get this person to see me the way that I want to be seen when you're trying to do good? The pressure is, can I move things along and get other people to come along with me so we can achieve a goal that somebody has deemed as good? When you focus on being good? You are you are saying? Can I make sure that my behavior stays in alignment with a promise that I've made to these kids, and the promise that I've made to my staff and to the families I serve. And that's just you. 

And it's an easy solution.

Here's what else when you're focused on being good, you approach feedback and support and accountability and culture differently. You see, when you focus on looking good feedback is about making sure you get into the right classrooms, the right number of classrooms, the right number of times, and support is about planning PD, a PD experience that the teachers actually like and and accountability is about making sure that people don't run over you and take advantage and and culture is about making sure that everybody feels good and doing all the things that are the superficial window dressing parts of culture, but don't really actually change culture. When you're focused on on on on on doing good, then then then feedback is about am I using the right conversation? Did I make teachers reflective support is about am I using research based best practices? Am I am I doing enough support and PD? Am I doing the right PD? The accountability is about you know looking at data and running the numbers and asking questions about data and and culture is really about not only the the the the niceties of culture, but also kind of just trying to make sure you hire and fire the right people and bring the right people in so that you can quote unquote, protect your culture. But when you are focused on being good, you don't deal with that stuff. You don't worry about that stuff. Feedback is about are we engaged in a conversation, that that that helps teachers take ownership of the part that they play? And in keeping that promise to our kids that is outlined in our 100% vision? Support is about am I empowering teachers to be their best selves so that they are showing consistent growth and they are participants in that growth so that we can keep our promise to our kids. Accountability is about it. Am I creating an environment where where everybody is it sees themselves as personally responsible for keeping that promise to our kids. And culture is am I keeping people engaged in the work and in meaningfully engaged in the work so that we can keep our promise to our kids? Are we the the kind of school Rule, and the kind of staff that is doing everything that we can and becoming our best selves, because we want to be good, because that's what our kids deserve.

When it comes to planning, if you are focused on looking good than you're focused on, can I, you know, Can I submit a plan that the district likes, can we create a plan that makes us look like we're doing something. And so when you create strategic plans every single year, you put all this beautiful language in. But because you're focused on looking good, you make sure that you put goals in your plan that you feel that you can achieve that year. Problem is you are going to hit those goals. Regardless, you don't have to actually change, you don't have to do anything different. So you put those goals in. So it looks good. You have a plan, it looks great on paper. But when you dig a little deeper, and you'd look at that plan, and your plan says we're going to grow 3% 5% This year, what you ignore is that there are there's a whole group of kids who your plan excludes, yes, it looks good on paper, oh, yes, we're growing every single year and our scores are up 1%. But what it ignores are about all the kids who didn't make it. But as long as you look good. Now, if you're focused on doing good, you're planning is a little different, right? You really do want to, to set goals, but you you have an upper limit problem, you 100% just feels too big, and you're thinking I gotta get to 100% this school year, and so we're not going to do that.

So let's go double what what other people are saying, because that's a little bit better. 

So the district's telling us 5% is reasonable, let's put 8% Let's put 10%. Let's work really, really hard. And so you start out with these lofty goals, but then over the course of the year, because you're just chasing those incremental gains, and you're not focused on 100%, you're doing work that might get you a tiny gain, but isn't focused on every single child. And you feel this sense of dissonance. Because when you focus on doing good, you'll say things like every kid every day, no matter what it takes. But then when you look at your plans, your plans don't accommodate every kid every day, no matter what it takes, because you don't feel like you can do it all right now. And so you're constantly in this state of dissonance, where on one hand, you want every kid but on the other hand, you got to do the work. And you realize that doing the work isn't getting you there, or you can't do all the work at the same time. And so what work do we focus on? And so you're, you're constantly straddling those two belief sets every kid, but we got to do this work. And you look to the strategies to rescue you. So, you know, you're focused on doing good when you think, Oh, if we just had a different curriculum, or oh, if we could just get everybody to go through this training? Or oh, if we could just get all the teachers to focus their warm ups on acceleration, or, Oh, we just increase the rigor of our courses, or, Oh, if we just provided more support for our struggling kids, then. And so when you're focused on doing good, you're always focused on what's the what's the quick fix? What's the magic bullet, so we can see results. But you're never focused on maybe it's us maybe we have to grow give me sure you'll say yeah, okay, we have to acquire these new skills let's add these to our toolbox. But because you're so focused on doing doing doing you're not focused on on taking a good look at yourself as an organization is this the right pathway for us? 

Hey, Robyn here and I just want to break in real quick to ask you a huge favor. You say 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. 

Now, as a builder when it comes to planning, because you're focused on being good, you are just as interested at getting good at planning and understanding problems that at looking at the decision making process you use to find the right solution as you are with finding the right solution. The other two are just, you know, like, I need to grab this I need to move. As a builder, you're asking yourself questions like, Is this the right problem to solve right now? Do we have the capacity to solve this problem? What would it take to acquire that capacity? Are there other ways to look at this? Is this what we need to be doing? Is there another alternative? How are we doing with our work? Are we keeping up? are we holding ourselves accountable? When we look at the data? Is this the right way to look at data? Or is there another way to see the data? Do we have enough data is this the only data we should be looking at? Because we're focused on being good, we want to not only solve problems, so we want to get better at eliminating problems so that they don't come up again, every time we tackle a problem, we want the solution to make us better as an organization, so that we're not continuing to play this giant game of problem Whack a Mole. And instead, we are moving forward because our kids deserve it. 

Now, when it comes to execution, this is where things get really interesting. 

Because if you're focused on looking good, then you're only going to do enough to get you the accolades you're seeking. And more. When you are focused on doing good, you're going to work at the thing that you've chosen, and see results. And get that incremental game and celebrate that incremental gain. And you're going to think you're done. And people argue with me about this. But hear me out. You see, if you're focused on let's get to this goal, let's get to let's let's get to 8% improvement, let's say you make 10% improvement at a year, you're celebrating, you're throwing the party, everybody feels great. 

But you scratch the itch, you set a goal, you hit the goal. And now you have to start all over again, with a new goal, get people on board all over again, get the work geared up all over again, to hit the next goal, because you were focused on a tiny gain instead of 100%. And yes, a percent is tiny, in comparison to 100%. But if you're focused on being good, then you don't stop to get to 100% doesn't mean you don't celebrate the gains, you might hit a 10% gain in a year and you celebrate that. But that celebration is not yay, we hit our goal, that celebration is yay, we are 10% closer to our goal. Do you see the difference? When you're focused on being good? After you celebrate, you're going to take a look at okay, so what did we do that worked for this, this 10% gain? And what do we need to continue to do? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to do more of, you're constantly looking at your wins and learning from them, so that you get better. And when you get better, the winds become more frequent, they become easier to get, they become, they become more reliable. And in other words, you see more wins more often. And, and you become the kind of school that always wins. That's the difference. We have been trained for so long. 

First, if you got any kind of training or you're in an environment where that's kind of a boss environment, then you've been trained to look good, please the district, please your teachers, please your parents. And you spend all of your time dancing to everybody else's music, instead of doing the thing that you came here to do, and making the difference that you were meant to make an education. If you are trained like a leader, you're focused on doing good. You've been told you have to be altruistic. And even if it means sacrificing your sanity and yourself. It's important because it's for the kids. And not only are you asking yourself to do that, but you're saying I'm not going to ask my teachers to do anything I wouldn't be willing to do myself. So you're sacrificing yourself and then you're asking your teachers to sacrifice themselves and you chase these incremental gains, because that's what you've been told doing good looks like and you end up burned out. You end up burning out your staff, you end to help lurching from one initiative to the next. Seeking that magic bullet that can help you do good. The focus is on the doing not on the good when you become a builder If you say you know what, we need to be good, if that's what our kids deserve. If your school is good, your kids will thrive. If you are good, your staff thrives.

And the irony is, when you focus on being good, you end up looking good. 

And you end up doing good. So I challenge you this week, to take some time and examine your motivation. Are you doing work to look good? If so, I want you to know, you don't have to, there's another way, a better way. And you'll end up looking so much better as a result of it. Not because that's your goal, but it's the byproduct of your goal. Are you looking to do good, I applaud you. I'm so glad you are part of our profession. We need you. But there's a tyranny and trying to do good. And when you focus on trying to be good, you end up doing so much more? Or are you trying to be good? Are you focused on becoming the builder, your teachers and your students need? Are you focused on building an organization that is so good at serving kids that 100% Success is the norm? Are you focused on being the kind of builder who builds other builders so that not only do you get better, but everybody around you gets better? Because you have focused on the right work and you are pursuing your 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 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 bill to ship University.

Just go to build a ship 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, 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 build your ship out to more people, but you're gonna look like a rockstar because you're gonna give people something they 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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