Yes, but...


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 245

Hey builders. Before we begin today's podcast, I want to tell you about a really exciting opportunity. Now, I've been inviting you to the staff alignment challenge. And I know that five days is a little tough for some people. So what we've done is we've created the staff alignment accelerator, it's just two hours, and it's happening Monday, February five, from seven to 9pm. Eastern. And during those two hours, you're gonna get all of the highlights of the staff alignment challenge, compressed into two hours, so that you can get the information you can implement right away. And you can still get all of the juicy goodness from the staff alignment challenge. But in a time that works for you. Again, it's only two hours. And over the course of that two hours, you're going to discover what you need to do to get your staff truly aligned. And by aligned, I mean, doing the right work the right way for the right reasons. And you're gonna get that alignment without creating a toxic environment without pushback without trying to make everybody conform without doing a whole bunch of chasing, checking and correcting. You're going to get that alignment with everybody feeling excited and re energized so that you can achieve your goals this school year. Again, it's called the staff alignment accelerator. And it's going to take the five days of that challenge and accelerate it for you so you can get the juicy best parts and begin to implement into your school. To sign up go to builder ship Builder ship to sign up for this free virtual live accelerator happening Monday, February five, at from seven to 9pm. Eastern. Okay, let's get to the podcast for today. You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 245. How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students in spite of all the obstacles we face? How do you keep your vision for your school from being held hostage by resistant teachers, uncooperative parents, ridiculous district policies or lack of time, money or resources. If you're facing those challenges right now, here's where you'll find the answers strategies and actionable tips you need to overcome any obstacle you face. You don't have to wait to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve. You can turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Let's get started.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robin Jackson. And today, we are still talking about staff alignment. But instead of teaching you something new today, I want to respond to a lot of the Yes, but you know what I invited people to the staff alignment challenge and I started talking about staff alignment. I got a lot of pushback, and I'll be honest with you. I was a little surprised by the amount of pushback I got and a lot of the pushback I got I got from teachers, teachers who bristled at this idea of being aligned and I get it because typically the when we talk about staff alignment, we're really talking about forcing teachers to conform to whatever district mandate has been put out at the time regardless of whether that mandate mandate is even good for kids. So I got some of that pushback. I expected that. But I also got a lot of pushback from administrators who really bristled at this idea of alignment. Now who knew that staff alignment getting your entire staff doing the right work the right way for the right reasons? Could be so triggering. And so today's episode, I want to deal with some of those. Yes, buts. If you are feeling a yes about yourself, hopefully by the end of this episode, you'll feel a lot more excited about the possibilities for alignment and your school. And even if you don't personally feel a yes. 

But if you start talking about staff alignment, you might get one of these yes buts from your supervisor from your superintendent, you might get a yes but from other members of your admin team. And so after listening to today's episode, you're going to have an answer for those yes buts. So that there's nothing keeping you from achieving full staff alignment this school year. So let's dive in shelving. Now the first shift but that I get a lot. I got it from teachers. I got it from administrators was listen, I don't want to treat teachers like robots. Yeah, I don't want to do that either. That's why staff we're talking about staff alignment, not staff conformity, not staff compliance. You see when you're trained to be a leader, you are trained to get everybody Put in a line all your ducks in a row, everybody doing the same thing on the same day in the exact same way. And they call that alignment. That's not how builders see alignment, true alignment. It's not about getting everybody to conform a true alignment. It's not about getting everybody to comply true alignment. It's not about treating your teachers like robots to alignment is recognizing that your teachers are thinking individuals to alignment. It's about recognizing that your teachers bring expertise to the table, and treating your teachers like the experts they are and still making sure that all the right work gets done the right way, and for the right reasons. So let's break that down. What do I mean by making sure that everybody does the right work? While the right work is your vision, that's the right work is about making sure that everybody is focused on helping 100% of your students be successful. Anything that doesn't do that people should not be doing and to alignment. It's about everybody focusing on doing the right work, and making sure that the work they do is actually moving students towards that 100% success. 

Now, that leaves a lot of choice and options for teachers. And when you're going in and giving feedback, you're not telling teachers what to do, you are giving feedback about whether or not the work they are doing is actually moving kids towards 100%. When you're when you're giving them support, you're not going in and scripting things for them. You are helping them take who they are, who their kids are, what they're trying to achieve with their kids, and you're showing them how to make it happen for every kid in their classroom, when you are helping them be accountable. They're not being accountable to you, they're being accountable to that bigger vision. And when you are building a culture that is truly aligned, it's not about everybody being a step for teacher, when you're building that culture, it's about everybody moving in the making sure that their focus is on 100% success. That leaves a lot of room for choice. That leaves a lot of room for individual expertise, because you are building something together. So when I say right work, that's what I'm calling right work. I'm not talking about everybody being on the same page of the curriculum on the exact same day doing the exact same activities. That is not alignment, that is conformity, that is compliance. True alignment is about making sure that we're focused, everybody is focused on 100% success, that vision you have for your school. Okay, second part, not only it's about getting the right work done, but it's about doing the right work the right way. And this one really bugs people and I get it because it seems like it means you're going to be doing a whole bunch of chasing, checking and correcting like doing the right work the right way. Here's what I mean about doing the right work the right way I'm talking about yes, we are focused on 100% of our students achieving success. But how we do that matters, too. And that's where your mission comes in. So when we talk about doing the right work the right way, what we're really talking about is making sure that as you are pursuing that goal, you are doing it in a way that is in alignment with the mission of the school. 

Let me give you an example. 

Let's say I want every kid reading out above grade level, every single year, okay? Well, I could do that by giving kids the answers. I can do that by beating kids, I could do that by browbeating kids, I could do that by drilling kill, I can do that by creating a love for reading and kids, I could do that by helping kids see where they are struggling and then shoring up those struggles. There are 100 different ways I can help kids read at or above grade level. But but but how I do that matters. And if my mission and my school is to unlock student's creativity, then that means that if I'm going to get them to grade level, I have to do it in a way that unlocks their creativity. If my mission for my school is to create more opportunities for kids, then how I get kids to 100% has to be in a way that helps kids unlock opportunities for themselves. So not just doing the right work focused on 100%. But the right way making sure that as we do this work with our students, we don't violate the big why for why we're here that we make sure that the work we do stays in alignment with that big why. So do the right work? Do it the right way. And then this last one for the right reasons. Again, people don't really understand what that means, right? Because if people will say, Well, you know, everybody has their own reason for doing the work. Yeah, but the reason why we do the work matters, right? Am I just doing the work because I want to paycheck? Am I just doing the work so that I am in a way that keeps parents off my back? Am I just doing the work in a way that feeds my own ego? Or am I doing it to really serve the kids for the right reasons, matter, right? And so how that collective why, but the reason we do the work shapes how we do the work, and spending time and coming together and saying, Who are we as a school community? Why is this important? And what has to be non negotiable in the way we do the work matters. 

And so when I talk about true alignment, I am talking about making sure that we are all on the same page in terms of what is our work? What's our focus? How are we doing the work? How are we making sure it? What are the non negotiables about the way we do the work to make sure that we're doing it for the foot in the right way? And then what else? What's our collective? Why right? Now, if that sounds familiar to you, it's because it is, it's what builders think about it's how builders build right? What's the right work, the right work is our vision, what's the right way, the right way, are our core values and making sure that we put non negotiables around how we accomplish that work that we don't violate them. And what are the right reasons, our mission. And so when I talk about true alignment, I'm not talking about turning teachers into robots. What I'm talking about is building a community where everybody comes together, and we agree around a vision, mission and core values. And then the word alignment, I've been very intentional about using that word, because to alignment means that when you go in for a in alignment with your car, the alignment is about making sure that all the wheels are pointing in the right direction, it's about adjusting the wheels to make sure that they're all pointing in the right direction, so that the car goes forward and doesn't veer in one direction or another. So when we talk about true alignment, we're talking about making sure that everybody agrees around your vision, mission and core values, and that people are constantly adjusting their work so that they that work stays in alignment with your vision, mission and core values. But that leaves a lot of room for people to make their own decisions, that leaves a lot of room for people to bring their own ideas. Instead of watching their creativity, you unleash it, because as long as it is in alignment with a vision, mission and core values, it's okay. And it also keeps you from having to run around and police everybody all the time, because you're not the only one who's enforcing it. 

Everybody owns that vision. Everybody owns the mission, everybody owns the core values. And so people are managing themselves, they are making adjustments, so that they can stay in alignment. Now imagine what kind of school you could have if you had true alignment, not conformity, not compliance, but true alignment. 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 on your phone, or your podcast player, and then click the three dots next to this episode, and it'll give you the option to share the episode. Now, 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 gonna love you. Secondly, you're gonna feel good, because you're gonna 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 favor. 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. Okay, so the second Yes, but that I heard from several administrators. It kind of went like this, ah, you know, you're just trying to sell me something, I don't need a class to show me how to do I already do alignment. And then people started listing all the things they do for alignment, and they all found that like this one person. So I meet with every teacher individually, once a month, and I go through professionalism and explain to them what they need to do, then they have 30 days to improve, and I track everything, and their data will show and then they're out of here, okay? That that's not alignment. Meeting with people and talking to them about professionalism means that you have not built an environment in a culture where people feel ownership so that they choose professionalism on their own. sitting down and going over their data with them and giving them 30 days to improve or they're out doesn't create true empowerment. 

It's forcing people to comply or face consequences. 

You don't have alignment, because the moment you stop those means headings is the moment everything falls apart, which means that you're creating a lot of work for you. Other people are saying, I already know how to have alignment, everybody gets along. Just because everybody gets along doesn't mean that everybody embraces your vision mission and core values or is doing work that is moving your vision mission and core values forward. Or people say, I don't you know, I, I am in classrooms every single day. And yeah, okay, great. I want you to be in classrooms every single day. But if you're in classrooms every single day, in order to make sure that people are doing the work, then you're making yourself responsible for the work, instead of building that accountability amongst everybody. You see, we have been, we've been sold a bill of goods, we have been trained that accountability has to rest with us, you know, the buck stops here, I am the principal. And it's true, the buck stops with you, you are the guardian of the vision, mission and core values. But that doesn't mean that you are responsible for everybody doing the right work. And if you're not showing up, they don't do the work that's exhausting. And you don't have alignment. At that point, you just have a lot of people who are scared of you, you do have a lot of people who are trying to hold on to their jobs, you just have a lot of people who dread seeing you coming because of what you might do for them or do to them. That's not alignment. That that is that is something that is you're holding on by such a slim thread that if you weren't in the building, for some reason, for a day or two, you can't be sure that everybody's doing their job. If you were not sitting down and collecting people's data and going over their data and pointing that out and doing what they need to be doing, then it wouldn't get done. And so you are the bottleneck in your school, you don't have alignment, you've got a culture where you are in control of everything. And while that might gratify your ego, that is not alignment, and that's not going to get you to 100%. And not only that, it's exhausting. It can be demoralizing for your teachers, it sets you up to for this false notion that you're some sort of hero, and that you're doing it when in fact, you're not doing anything, because the teachers who really care are going to do what they're going to do anyway, you didn't make a difference. And the teachers who really need your support are terrified of you and often leave and go work someplace else. And the teachers who aren't doing their jobs can outwait you, in most cases, or you spend all your time trying to get rid of those teachers, that you're not moving your school forward, because you're too busy looking back at trying to get rid of the people who aren't doing their job. And you think that's what it means to be a principal, I have some news for you. If you really want to move your school forward, you got to get out the chasing checking and correcting business. And that's what true staff alignment does. We've been we've been told that getting your staff aligned is all those things I just mentioned. 

That's that's leadership training, your your can you're rewarded for being a good leader, people brag about, you know, I came to the school, the school is a mess. And I got rid of all the bad teachers and bought some good teachers. You didn't do anything but hire and fire you bought people in who are going to do the right thing anyway, what have you really done? A true builder builds this kind of culture, a culture where everybody's doing the right work the right way for the right reasons. And by the way, the right reasons aren't because they're scared of you. Everybody's doing the right work the right way for the right reasons, even when you're not looking. And they do that with the people they have right now. Now you're doing something, anybody can cherry pick the best teachers and put them in the building. And yes, your building is gonna thrive for a minute. But then you're so busy running around chasing checking in correcting people getting rid of people that at some point, then other teachers are going to be like, this is a really toxic place. There's nothing but fear here. And you know, after you get rid of the bad people, then you're going to start coming after us. I'm next. So what have you really done? But if you're a builder, and you say listen, and the same way that I expect you to serve every kid, like there's no, you would never let a teacher say I'm gonna get rid of the bad kids and only teach the good kids, right? But are you a good teacher? At that point? No, you're a good teacher takes the class that they have in front of them and helps every kid succeed. So if that's what a good teacher is, what do you think that that that's not what a good administrator is? If a good teacher can take any kid and help that can be successful, then how are you a good administrator because you got rid of the quote unquote, bad teachers and you only have a group of good teachers left in your building. It doesn't even translate. Here's what a builder does. A builder says,

You know what, in the same way that I expect my teachers to teach every kid and every can be successful and As long as this person is in my building, as long as this person is a member of my staff, I'm going to figure out how to help that person be successful. Why? Because my kids deserve it, now you're doing something. So when people tell me, I don't need a class to do this, you don't need a class to do what you're doing you that's the way we were trained, it was another class gonna show you. But if you are ready to do something different, if you're ready to be a builder, if you're ready to be the kind of principal who can do what a master teacher does the master principal who can take anybody in their building and still help that person be successful with kids? Well, you might need some training on that. And that's there's no shade with the training is not even about learning a whole bunch of new stuff. So much as it's about unlearning all of the garbage that you've been taught about what it means to be a a true leader, that's actually getting in the way of your being able to do what you want to do. Anyway, which is to serve every kid, I always say that we don't have to be taught as much as we have to be reminded so much of this, you already know. But it's been drowned out by years of leadership training that have told you something different. And a lot of what we don't build a ship University is we are just helping you get back in touch with that educator, the educator who was a great teacher, the educator, who believed that they could help every kid learn, and we're showing you how to do that in the principal's office. And we're just reminding you what you know, already and giving you the tools and the resources to help you do it quickly. So that's number two, I went off, you know, I got all excited about that. But it's because people think they're doing it and they're not there. They're not, they're not creating to alignment. They're they're they're creating an environment where people feel like they have to comply or goodbye. That's not true alignment. And so we need to disabuse ourselves of that myth, and really get to to alignment. Okay, yes, but number three, is true staff alignment even possible. 

Now, this often comes from principals who have tried their best to get everybody on the same page who believe but they didn't have the tools or the resources. 

To be able to do it, it's really hard to build staff alignment with the leadership tools and resources we were given and trained with, you need something different, which is why I invite you all the time to become a builder. Because it's a whole different set of tools. It's a whole different set of resources. It's a whole different way of thinking. So this Yes, but it's partially true. It's really, really, really hard to get true staff alignment, using the tools and strategies have a boss or leader. But it's really easy to get to staff alignment, using the tools of a builder. One of the things I love the most I love it every time it happens, it is so fun for me is when people first come into builder, ship University, and we show them how to build their own vision and their vision story. And the first time they get in front of their staff and they do the vision story. If they do it like we teach them every single time. They're like, I cannot believe how how simple it was to get everybody on the same page so quickly. All the people I thought would object. They're sitting there nodding their heads, even the people are raising objections or raising objections about I'm not sure how to get it done. Not Should we do it. It everybody will come up to me afterwards. And people who never asked for support or asking for support. People who never have in the past gotten excited about something tells me they're excited about this work. Whenever it happens, and it happens so often. 

Now that I don't know, I'm not surprised anymore, but I still get delighted by it. People are amazed to see how simple it is to get people on the same page when you have the right tools. And so for people have this Yes, but true staff alignment isn't possible. I have so much compassion for you. Because I know you've been trying I know you didn't walk into a school and say no, I don't want staff alignment. You've done all the things you're trying to do. And the tools have failed you because quite frankly, those tools were never designed for true alignment. They were designed for compliance, maybe conformity, but not true alignment. But I do want you to know if you feel like true alignment is impossible, that if you use the right tools, it's very possible that it's a very simple process. And then once you get that initial alignment, we have all kinds of tools and and things you need to focus on to continue to build that. So that that alignment is now just the way we do things in the school. And I promise you that if you can shift from trying to get alignment as a leader to trying to build alignment as a builder, you will see it for yourself and it doesn't matter, your style or your personality, or what staff you have in front of you, you can achieve that alignment. You can do it quicker than you think. And you can do it more easily than you think with the right tools. So, if you are feeling one of these Yes, buts today, I'm hoping that of allayed some of that immediately is curious to try something else. And, and to see what true alignment can really be for you. And if you're a believer already, and you have other people who are expressing those Yes, buts. I'm hoping that you now have a language you can use to address those yes buts, and bring those people on board so that you can achieve true staff alignment, 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 bill to ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, it's Robin here. And I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. If you have a question about today's episode, or 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 there are 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 or 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 about 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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