All Money Ain’t Good Money


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast, episode 64

Welcome to the school leadership re-imagined podcast where we rethink what's possible to transform your school if you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stayed tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey builders.

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership re-imagine podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson. And today we are going to talk about another Mindsteps ism. Now, many of you are still dealing with the fallout that's come from this covert 19 pandemic and a lot of you are asking questions like, you know, what tech platform do we use? It's school going to even be open for the rest of the year if it isn't open, should we continue to send work home? Is it fair or equitable to expect students to turn in work? What kind of work should we be sending home? And I bet that a lot of you are inundated right now with pitches from different software companies or you're trying to kind of weed through all of the options that are out there, all of the free options that are out there to figure out how you can best deliver instruction to students remotely.

Many of your teachers are probably waiting through curriculum or they're desperately rewriting curriculum. 

Maybe your districts are sending you resources and links and you're sending those home to students every single day and right now it just can feel a little overwhelming and chaotic. Well, if you're feeling that way at all, if you are just kind of overwhelmed with all of the options and you're trying to figure out how do I take school and still be able to deliver quality instruction when I have to do it remotely, then I've got a Mindsteps and some for you. It's one that I planned to talk about anyway, but it's even more relevant now that we are all trying to figure out what it's going to look like in our schools in the days ahead. And the Mindsteps ism is this. It's one we say all the time. It's probably one of the most popular ones we have at the mindset's office and here it is.

All money ain't good money and I'll tell you what that means in just a moment. But before I do that I have two very special announcements. The first one is that we're getting a lot of questions about whether or not builder's lab is still happening this summer and as of today, March, 2020 we are still planning on having builder's lab. We have two builders labs coming up. One is at the end of June and that's going to be right here, right outside of Washington, D C and the other one is at the end of July and that's going to be in Las Vegas and we are still planning on having builder's vote.

Things are changing daily but right now it looks like we are still a go. 

If something changes, we already have plans in place to still be able to deliver. So we are watching things and if anything changes, we have already put plans in place to still be able to deliver the value that comes from builders lab. Even if things get shut down again. So you can still get your tickets to builders lab at Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab, that's Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab and it's been really interesting as I've been talking to people and trying to support them as they navigate their schools through all of this, a lot of people who went to builder's lab and then went back to their schools and actually applied what they learned in builder's lab. They're having a much easier time of getting their staff motivated and organized and energized around this. They're having a much better time with their parent communications. They have a lot of support from their parents and they're having a much better time helping their students transition. And the reason it's because builders' lab shows you how to put the foundation in place to make your school flexible and still be able to deliver quality instruction even though things are changing rapidly, sometimes hourly.

So if you want that kind of foundation, not just for this crisis but for any crisis that happens and if you want that kind of foundation because you believe that you want to have a school that is constantly growing and building and providing students with quality education, then I invite you to come to builder's lab and learn how it's done. The framework that we teach you at builder's lab will not feel you even in times of crisis and in fact it will position you to be better at after you go through the crisis because of the things that you do in the crisis. All right, so that's announcement number one out announcement number two is something really cool. We see, I saw a lot of administrators at the beginning of this crisis who were really wearing themselves out trying to figure out what to do and I wanted to help.

I have started a popup group. 

It's a group for people who are serious about responding to this crisis, like a builder and inside of the pop up group I am providing training, I am sharing resources, I'm doing office hours and I am also bringing on guest to help us navigate this crisis together. The group is absolutely free, it's free of charge and the reason I'm calling it a pop up group is because it's popped up because we need it during this crisis, but once things start to settle down, the group will go away. I didn't want to do it on social networks because you know sometimes the groups that you establish there, they become meme factories or places where people are kind of pitching their own stuff or you know, it just becomes too much. I really wanted this to be for people who are serious about building.

So in order to join the group, all he need to do is go to Mindsteps inc com. That's M I N D S T E P, S, I N C Mindsteps inc com and on that home page there will be a popup that will come up that will show you how you can register for this group. Once you're inside the group, you have access to all of the previous trainings. Just this last week we did a training on how to help your school thrive now and in the days to come and gave you a comprehensive crisis response plan that you could use to respond to the crisis. We also shared some very specific targeted things that you could do right now to not only help your schools survive this crisis, but to help your school thrive in the midst of prices and to set your school up to be able to thrive once we get through this crisis.

A lot of schools right now are just reacting.

When we get back to school and enter into the new normal, whatever the normal is, those schools are actually going to be further behind because they were just reacting. Instead you want to respond and you want to respond to like a builder. You want to respond in a way that actually sets your school up to actually be better off once we get through the crisis. And so we did a training on that. We also did a cheat sheet that you can use with some very actionable steps that you can take right now to protect your school and to set your school up for success. I also had my dear friend Allison's muda come in, she is a personalized learning expert and a curricular design expert and she gave a very practical training on how you can help your teachers actually start to plan curriculum now that will provide meaningful learning experiences to kids while they're working remotely.

So instead of just kind of uploading worksheets and links to websites, she talked about some very specific things that your teachers could be doing right now to make learning meaningful. And then I'm also doing office hours inside of the group and I'm trying to do them twice a week. And office hours are where I just come online. So I'm just, there office is open, people can pop in and pop out with their questions and you can get my specific help on any challenges that you're facing or you could just kind of hang out on the office and learn from what other people are asking. So we're doing that twice a week as well. And then we have some really cold things planned for the coming weeks. One of the things we're going to be talking about in this coming week is really how do you start to get your team organized?

How do you start to think about managing your team when you're doing it remotely? 

A lot of us right now are relying on the Goodwill of our teachers. We have no idea what they're actually delivering to kids and there's no way to monitor it or give teachers feedback about what they're doing. We're just in crisis mode right now, but we need to start putting systems in place to manage a remote school. And so next week we're to be sharing a lot of resources. I'm going to be doing some training around that. I also have another guest who's doing something special inside to talk about just how do you start to set up your systems in a way that helps them, helps you actually manage your team remotely. So all of that's happening inside of the Mindsteps pop-up group. In order to join, just go to mindsets inc com and then click on, there'll be a pop up that shows up that shows you exactly how to join.

It's free, it's easy. And you'll also get access to all of the prior trainings and the archives for those and the resources that we shared with those. Plus you'll be able to come to any of the future live trainings that we're having and be able to interact and ask questions and share your ideas as well. All right, so now let's talk about to Dave Mindsteps ism, which is all money ain't good money. And I'll tell you how this one came about. So when I was younger, my parents taught my sister and me how to play dominoes. Now this is not the namby pamby Domino's where you're just matching, I shouldn't call it namby. Pamby some people like it though this, but this was hardcore Domino's where you are playing for points, you are playing to score and the object of that hardcore domino game is that you're trying to make all of the ends of the domino add up to five.

I remember when I was first learning the game.

I got so excited because I was able to put my domino down and all of the ends added up to five. As I was putting my domino down, my mother warned me, she said all money, good money. And I didn't know what she meant. I thought she was trash talking because trash-talking is a significant part of hardcore dominoes. And so I didn't know what the trash talking meant, but I put my domino down and I triumphantly declared five points, give me five points. And my mother said, I've warned you. And she was an ex, she put her domino down next to mine and she got 10 points. And then my father came after her, he put his down and he got 20 points. And then my sister came after him and she put hers down.

And she got 25 points so they all laughed and my mother said all money ain't good money and what she said was sometimes you are so focused on winning that point that you actually create a situation where you might get five points but you will give all of your opponents multiples of five points and you will actually be worse off by playing that domino there. I was so focused on getting those five points that I wasn't paying attention to the fact that earning those five points, what's going to also set my, my opponents up to earn way more points than that and I was actually further behind as a result of playing that domino now and the mindsets offices, this is something that we say all the time when people call us and us to come in and work with them. We know that we work best with a specific kind of client and sometimes people will call us and ask us to come and do something in their schools and we know that it's a fool's errand.

I do not like to work in schools who are just calling to fill a day and they're not really going to commit to doing the work. 

I want to work with schools that are actually going to apply what we teach them and they will see results as a result of working with us. And so we have a saying that a client will call and they'll say, Hey, can you come on this date? We have the state free and we want you to do a workshop with our teachers. And they call the office and ask her that workshop and we start talking to them and finding out what they're trying to do and realize that you know, all they really want to do is just kind of fill a day but they're not really committed to transformation. Then we say all money, good money. We're not going to waste our time just grabbing money and you know, filling the calendar with days.

If we don't think that we can actually help that school move forward, we're not interested in that kind of work. Now it also works for us internally. There are software packages or there are shortcuts that we may take and it seems like a good idea at the time. But then when we look at the longterm consequences, we realize all money ain't good money. And what does this have to do with you? Well, right now everybody's in crisis mode and so we are grabbing solutions. Everybody's jumping on. Zoom in. Zoom is fantastic, it's great, but it may not be the right platform for everybody. Everybody is jumping in and doing Google classroom stuff and the Google classroom has a lot of bells and whistles and everybody's applying all those bells and whistles. Ah, all money ain't good money. Everybody's looking for websites with learning opportunities for students and they're sending parents these emails with this list.

You can go here, you can go here, you go here and here's another webpage that has 25 more resources. 

All money ain't good money. And the problem is when we are in crisis mode, a lot of times we are grabbing solutions and we are not thinking about the longterm consequences of those solutions. Here's what I know to be true. The habits that you form now will be hard to break later on. And so I really want you to be strategic about what you're doing. I get it. Everybody feels like we need to do something right away. We have parents who are calling every day and saying, what do we need to be doing with our kids? You want us to, you know, work with him at home. We need materials. We don't, we are not teachers give us something in the school district is saying we need to remember to continue to support our children and to be able to provide them with a good education.

And society is saying, we don't want to pay taxes for people to sit home. You need to be out there serving our kids. And so we feel this sense of urgency and as a result, we are just grabbing the solution at the time. But what I want to caution you to do is to wait. Just because everybody is saying we have to do something right away doesn't mean that you really do. And if you grab a solution now and you say, okay, this is what we're going to do as a school, you are creating a habit. You think that you're just providing a short term solution to a problem, but you are creating and building a longterm habit. Let me give you an example. A lot of teachers are being told get work to kids and so they are grabbing work there. They're reverting back to worksheets and to, you know, to really non meaningful kinds of work where kids are just kind of completing things but it's not connected to anything and we're telling teachers that's okay because we're so busy trying to just get work out to kids that we're actually sending a message.You know, all that conversation I had about making work meaningful, I didn't really mean it because in a time of crisis I'm telling you it's okay to give kids unmeaningful work because we just have to get something out out there rather than encouraging teachers to take a step back.

Don't forget what we were building as a school.

Don't forget what we were trying to do. Does this work align with that? I know it's remote. I know we're going to have to get creative about it, but let's not give up on the thing that we were saying that was so important two weeks ago. If you don't do that, if you just say, just get something out there. Don't worry about it right now. I know we're all trying to do our best and you don't take the moment to step back and make sure that it's aligned.

You're building a habit and the habit is doesn't have to be aligned, not really important. It's a luxury. It's a nice to have. It's not necessary. The habits that you build now are going to be hard to break later on. A lot of us are just grabbing technology, Oh, this is free and this is free and we're sending it out. You're building a habit. You are committing to a technology. A lot of technology companies know that. That's why they're saying, yeah, use ours for free. Because once you start using that technology, it's going to be really hard to switch to another one later on. So before you get everybody on a technology you need to ask, is this something that I can see us using six months from now? And if the answer's no, you shouldn't be using it. Remember all money ain't good money.

I want you to take a step back and really evaluate everything that you're doing and I want you to ask yourself three questions. 

The first question is, does this align with our vision, mission, and core values? Does the software align with that? Is the way that I'm asking people to use the software? Does that align with it? If the answer is no, you shouldn't be doing it. It has to align with your core values, vision and mission, or you shouldn't be doing it. And why? If you start choosing things that are out of alignment, what you are telling people is that that core values, vision and mission stuff that we talked about before, not really important in a time of crisis. We can discard it. It's a luxury. It's not necessary. You have to make sure that everything that you are doing is in alignment with your core values, vision and mission in times of crisis, or they're not worth the time that you spent creating them.

Your core values, vision, and mission are guiding you through this crisis. There are your anchor. In last week's episode, I talked about anchoring in the outcome. You've got to anchor in the outcome and so you want to sift every decision you make through your core values, vision, and mission, because they will help you decide, is this something that we should be doing or or isn't it? And if it isn't something that you should be doing, don't waste time on it and move on. So the first question, how does this align with our core values, vision and mission? Here's the second question. I know that I'm grabbing this thing right now because we are trying to just stop the bleeding. We're just trying to kind of grab something so that we can get people through this crisis.

What habit is it creating? I'll give you an example.

I was looking at a couple of schools and what they're putting out and the kinds of things that they're sending home, they are inundating parents with a ton of resources for at-home learning. I get the impulse, parents are panicking. They're saying, wait a minute now I have to supervise instruction and I'm trying to work and I'm not a teacher and I haven't done algebra since high school or whatever it is, and so you want to give parents things that reassure them, but if you start throwing resources at parents without context, you are creating a habit. You are not inviting parents to be partners with you. You are throwing things at them in order to make them shut up or you're hoping that they will have to figure it out. Is that the habit that you really want for your teachers when they go back to school however long it's going to take for us to get back into schools?

Do you really want your teachers just throwing random resources at your parents, but the answer's no. Don't start it now because any habit that you create now, it's going to be very hard to break later on. Here's another habit I've seen a lot of teachers are being asked to kind of do, you know, zoom as a way of instructional delivery and as a result of their discomfort with zoom, a lot of teachers are moving away from interactivity and engagement back to lecture. I just record a video where I'm lecturing on zoom and I send it out to kids or I invite kids to come and watch me lecture. Is that a habit you really want to create? Because guess what? If you get teachers adjust it to doing that. When they get back in the classroom, that's exactly what they're going to do. So if you're talking to people about using zoom or some other platform, you need to be talking to them about how do you do that in a way that still keeps students meaningfully engaged in learning otherwise don't use it.

It's a habit you cannot afford to establish now because it's going to be too hard to break later on. 

All money ain't good money. Here's the third question I want you to ask. What are the short term trade offs and what are the longterm consequences of this decision that I'm about to make? Let me give you an example. A lot of schools are having tons of meetings right now. Now, the short term trade off is we know we have to have meetings. So because we have to get ourselves organized, so let's get everybody in these meetings and let's just, you know, kind of everybody just jumped together, throw out ideas, or I just sit and I'm going to tell you, this is what's been decided and you know, you need to get on board and get going and go. Now go, go, go Volvo. So the short term trade off is while we have to do this, we have a crisis, we have to get everybody mobilized.

But here are the longterm consequences. If you start just kind of saying, go, go, go, go, go, and here's what we have to do and we don't have time to talk about it. And here's what's been decided. And you don't get people engaged and involved in those decisions. The longterm consequences are that people will become more and more disengaged from your vision, mission, and core values because those weren't driving the decisions when it mattered most. So yeah, I'm trading off right now. We don't have time to talk about vision, mission, and core values. And somebody actually said this to me this week, I don't have time for that right now. I'm trying to save my school and I'm saying save it for what if your vision, mission and core values aren't driving your rescue efforts, what are you going to have when you're done? Is it even going to be worth saving?

They have to be at the foundation. 

So the short term tradeoff is all well, we'll go back to that later on, but the longterm consequences are by putting that off, you have conveyed that it's not important. Good luck trying to get back to it later on because you've already shown people that this is a a nice to have. It's a, it's, it's a bowl. It's not the cake. I'm mixing metaphors here. You get my point. It's the icing, not the cake. So you really have to think about the short term trade off versus the longterm consequence. I don't want you to just think about the decision you're making right now. I want you to think about what is the impact of that decision a month from now or six months from now or two years from now. And I know that's hard to do when people are looking for answers right away, but just because everything feels urgent doesn't mean that your response has to be immediate.

Take some time, think about what you're doing. Remember, all money ain't good money and so you're going to need to look at the short term trade offs. Weigh that against the longterm consequences you're going to need to sit your decision through your core values, vision and mission. You're going to to think about what habits you are creating right now because any habit you create right now is going to be very hard to break later on. But if you do that, if you sit there and wave a consequences, if you don't just kind of grab the quick fix and instead you think about what are the longterm consequences. If you are deliberate about making decisions right now, you actually have a huge opportunity right now. You see education is being disrupted right before our very eyes and you have an opportunity to be a part of that.

You have an opportunity now to actually establish good habits.

The habits that you may have been fighting to establish all along now in the midst of crisis. The decisions you make right now may actually help you establish those habits in your culture so that not only are they serving students now, but when we get back to school, they are serving students. Then you have an opportunity right now to really double down on your vision, mission and core values and all those people who thought that that was a waste of time when you talked about it before or they thought that that was just something we put on the walls, but it wasn't actually a live in our school. Now you're demonstrating to them the power of that. You now you are anchoring in that so that people can start to see now this is not a nice to have.

This is who we are. This is what we're building. This is why it's important. And they begin to buy into that. You have a real opportunity right now to make some strategic moves in your school where you are actually introducing new ways of instruction that are going to take off when you get back into the classroom. But it all depends on how you handle the next couple of weeks. If you are just grabbing solutions because you are trying to put out fires or you're trying to alleviate some of the pressure that you're feeling. And I get it, cause we were all under a lot of pressure right now. But if you just rabid solutions without thinking through the longterm consequences, you're gonna look up six months from now with a lot of regret. But if you are deliberate, if you think through the longterm consequences, if you don't just grab solutions, but you actually think about what do I want my school to look like on the other side of this?

You start building that, now you have an opportunity to transform your school, to set your school up to thrive. 

Not only now but to thrive in the long term. All because you sifted those decisions through your core values and your vision and your mission, all because you thought about the habits that you were building and you were deliberate and intentional about that all because you weighed the short term tradeoffs against the longterm consequences. That's how you manage crisis like a builder. So that's it for this episode. But before we go, I wanted to say to you how proud I am of the way that so many of you are just stepping up in this time of crisis. In the midst of everything going on in the midst of our own fears and concerns, you are standing in front of a group of people and you are exercising true Buildship.

You are allaying the fears of your students and your parents. You are getting your staff organize. You are redesigning your school with only 48 hours notice. You are dealing with uncertainty and I know it's hard. I know that many of you haven't slept in a while. I know that many of you have all these other unanswered questions. You're worried about your students, you feel horrible about those students for whom the school year has been cut short. You're missing that. That sense of closure. You're worried about your teachers, you're worried about your parent educators. You're trying to figure out how do you feed students who have to stay home and who've relied on school for meals. You're grappling with issues around equity and figuring out how to give direction around grading so much, and I just want you to know, first of all, I am so very proud of you because in times like these, you are the heroes and unfortunately in many ways you're the unsung heroes.

I want you to know that I see your Herculean efforts and I know that this is hard and I want to applaud those of you who have stepped up. 

Those of you who are are figuring this out. I don't have all the answers. Nobody does. So don't put any pressure on yourself to feel like you have to have all of the answers. Nobody has them. Be gentle with yourself. Think strategically. Don't get caught up in crisis mode. I don't care what your district is saying or what your state is saying, I don't care. You know how many people are crying about the sky is falling. You need to stay focused because we need you right now, so make sure that you're taking care of yourself. Make sure that you are not so busy serving everybody else, that you, your health deteriorates. Make sure that you are taking time away from this and spend time with your families or pursuing hobbies and interests that you have.

Make sure that you're getting enough rest and know that for as long as this crisis is going on and for all of the months that happen afterwards, I'm here if you need me. If you want my help and support, the best place to find it is inside of our mindsets. Pop up group. It's free. I'm not selling anything in there. You don't have to worry about any kind of longterm commitment. This is a short term support strategy to help all of you get through this. If you want to ask my question about a specific challenge that you're facing, we have office hours. If you aren't sure how to get this started, we're putting a lot of free resources and training inside of the group. If you want to reach out to me directly inside the group, you can send me a direct message and we can correspond that way. Just know that my team and I, we are here for you. We're going to get through this together and we're going to get through it like builders.

Bye for now. See you next time. 

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