School Leadership Reimagined - Nobody Likes to Be Changed But a Baby

Nobody Likes to Be Changed But a Baby

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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast, episode 67.

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 than 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 reimagined podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson, and today we are going to talk about how to get real change out of the people in your school. Now, right now we are still in the midst of quarantine. Many of us got news this week that our schools would not be opening up for the rest of the year. Others of us are still in a bit of uncertainty about whether or not schools will be opened up for the rest of the year. We have a couple of weeks of of distance learning under our belt, so we are still dealing with some of the ups and downs that come with that. And you know, I'm talking to a lot of administrators inside of our Mindsteps pop up group and they are telling me that they are just so tired.

They have been working around the clock to make sure that their students are okay to get their teachers up and running and get their teachers the support that they need and they are exhausted. They're, they're being peppered with questions from parents, from students, from teachers and they don't have a lot of answers right now. There are so many things that are still uncertain and if you are like some of the administrators that I've been working with this week, I just want you to know that you're not alone. This is exhausting and it can feel overwhelming and I just want to applaud those of you who are still showing up every day who are putting on a brave face for everybody else, even when you don't feel very brave inside. I've been saying this for the last few weeks, but at mindsets, one of the things that we always talk about is that we help you build your school into a success story with the resources and the people that you already have.

I honestly believe that we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us at some point. 

Sometime in the future we are going to look back on this time and we're going to tell the story about how our schools made it through. And the things that you are doing right now are helping you to earn a success story. You see that you don't want to be cautionary tale. You don't want to look back on this time sometime in the future and say, yeah, we shouldn't have done it that way. Yeah, that was a bad decision. We did that and you know, it really didn't turn out well. You don't want to be a cautionary tale. And so you have to make sure that the actions that you are taking today don't turn your school into a cautionary tale. And instead you are making sure that the actions that you're taking right now are building the success story that you want to tell sometime in the future.

And I know it's hard and if you need help, we have a mindsets pop-up group and I am in there every single day. We are offering training and support and I'm doing office hours once or twice a week where I'm just on the line and you can pop in, ask a question, talk about a challenge that you're facing and then pop out a, we have resources there so just know that you are not alone. You don't have to face this alone. We are here to help you turn your school into a success story. We're here to help you take action right now so that you can earn the success story about your school that you're going to tell and how you made it through this time. Sometime in the near future. I also want to remind you about builder's lab because the longer we go through this crisis, the more and more I believe and become convinced that the things that we teach you to do a builder's lab are necessary.

Our builder's lab alumni are facing some of the same challenges that everyone else is facing right now.

Yet they're thriving because they have the tools to help them manage the challenge. You see if you've been relying on strategies or you've been relying on tricks or programs, you're finding that those strategies and tricks and programs are failing you right now in the midst of the crisis. But if you're relying on principles and disciplines, the kinds of things that we teach you at builder's lab, then those things are giving you the foundation so that you can deal with uncertainty and they're allowing you to be very flexible without having to go and learn something new or figure something new out there. Teaching you how to be flexible in the midst of crisis. And so people have been asking us whether or not we are going to still have builder's lab that we have two builders labs coming up this summer.

One is going to be right outside of Washington, D C at the end of June and the other one is going to be in Las Vegas, Nevada at the end of July. And as of now we are still having it. We are still planning on having a live event. Of course we are going to have to take a lot of precautions and make sure that everybody is safe and we're going to follow the guidelines. But right now it looks like those live events are still on. However we are to have builders lab, whether or not we are able to meet in person or we are able to meet virtually and so we have some things that we are working on right now and I can't share everything with you right now, but in the next couple of weeks I will be letting you know more about what that looks like.

Rest assured we will be having builder's lab this summer. 

So if you want to get your ticket to build his labs, simply go to Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab. That's mindset sink.com/builders-lab and I've already mentioned our mindsets pop-up group. That has been really one of my huge sources of sanity throughout this crisis. You know, one of the sayings that I've heard recently is that when you get nervous focus on service and it certainly has been true for me as I've been working inside of the mindsets popup group. It has been my honor to serve the the builders who are inside of that group to give you the help that you need to have that contact with you that I'm able to have now. It's a popup group. We won't keep it open forever, but right now you have a free opportunity to get new professional development every single week you have an opportunity to pick my brain and get my help with solving your challenges.

You have opportunities to get access to some of the new resources that we've been creating to support administrators as they are responding to this crisis and coaches as they're responding to this crisis. And so if you'd like to join us in the popup group, it will be open for the next few weeks still and you can also access some of the archives from some of the trainings and resources we've done in the past. Simply go to Mindsteps inc com and then look on that page and there'll be a link there for you to join the popup group. And I hope I see you inside. All right, so let's talk about our topic for today, which is really about how to get meaningful and lasting change out of the people that you are building. And one of the challenges that I'm seeing right now that a lot of administrators are facing is that they are struggling to get all of their teachers providing meaningful learning experiences for students as we deal with distance and remote learning. Some of these teachers were resistant prior to the crisis and others have shown new resistance in the crisis because they are dealing with their own angsty or their own discomfort with technology. And so they are struggling right now.

Administrators are trying to walk a fine line between helping people be accountable and being the bad guy.

 So one of the things that we've been kind of talking about inside of the mindsets pop-up group was how do you navigate that line? And it's also something that we've been doing. We just were in the of a, uh, four discipline implementation sprint where I'm working with a select group of builders and using this week to build all of the tools that they will need to be able to manage and build their staff online. So on Monday we talked about how to give people feedback and Tuesday we talked about strategies for supporting your teachers.

And Wednesday today we talked about how to help everyone be accountable. And Thursday we're going to be talking about how do you build a healthy culture when everyone's working remotely. We also have a vault. So we've been talking a lot about the struggle with how do we give people feedback? Are we even allowed to go into their online classrooms and spaces and what do we do when we see instruction that isn't quite right and what's really acceptable right now? I'm also seeing a lot of frustration because people are meeting resistance and that resistance is becoming even more profound. The longer that we are working remotely. And the longer that we're under quarantine and the longer that we are dealing with uncertainty and a lot of people are grappling with how do I get people to change? It was hard enough when we were face to face every single day.

Now, working remotely it's even harder. So I have a mindset system for you this week.

Mindsteps ism is, nobody likes to be changed but a baby now that one originally came from my mom. My mom, um, does a lot of work with infants in her career and she always says, nobody likes to be changed but a baby. And the first time I heard it, I cracked up because it's hilarious to me. But the more I think about it, the more it's true. People are all for change. They just don't want to be changed. And so as you're working with teachers right now, especially because everyone is, is on 10, everyone's on edge. If you go to teachers and try to change them, good luck. It's not going to happen. Nobody likes to be changed, but a baby. And right now we're asking a tremendous amount of change from teachers.

They're having to in a very short period of time, rethink how they teach, how they assess students, how they track records, how they stay in touch with students. They're having to change everything about their practice. And I know that we want everyone to get online and get things going and, and to make sure that we're still providing a quality education for our students. But we also need to recognize that this is really, really hard. And it's not only hard because teachers are having to quickly acquire a new skillset. It's hard because nobody likes to be changed but a baby. So what I to share with you are three things that you can do that will increase your success in helping people navigate this change and making sure that people navigate the change successfully. This will also help you with overcoming a lot of resistance to change that you may be facing right now.

The first thing is that you need to make sure of, Do the changes you're asking people to make align with your vision, mission, and core values?

It will be a lot easier to get people to make changes. If they align with your vision, mission and core values, then it will be to have them make changes that are out of alignment. The motivation that you're looking for right now comes from the work that you did two months ago, three months ago, four weeks ago, where you are working on helping people align around your vision, mission and core values to buy into that. If they buy into that, as long as the changes that you're asking of them align with your vision, mission and core values, they're more likely to make it. I'll tell you a quick story. I was doing a training series with a group of administrators in a school district and we were talking about vision, mission, and core values and how they had to be a parent and every part of what they were doing as a school.

And so I was training them on how they could align their master schedule to their vision, mission, and core values. And they were working individually. And I went to a table where I saw a principal who was just not working and I checked in with him and he says, Oh no, my master schedule is good. And so I asked to take a look at his master schedule and he showed it to me and I said, what's your vision, mission, and core values? Because right now what I'm seeing in the master schedule doesn't align with what I thought you had worked on for your vision, mission, and core values. And he said, well, you know, our, one of our core values is students first. And I looked at his mattress schedule again and I said, well, your master schedule does not align with your core values, and he says, what do you mean? And we started looking at it. One of the things they were doing is they were piling on the number of academic classes that his sixth graders had in the morning. And then after lunch the kids had lunch, then PE, then fine arts and something else, advisory for the rest of the day. And I said, why does the schedule look like this? Why are there all the academic classes piled up in the morning? And he said, well, we do it that way. The teachers can have a solid two hours of planning and lunch. And the teachers really like that. And I said, what was your core value again? And then he looked at me and he says, I can't go back to my staff. I can't ask them to change the master schedule. They love this schedule.

So I told them, you either are going to have to change your master schedule or you're going to have to change your core values.

One of the two, couple of weeks later, I went back for the next training in the series and he handed me something and I said, what is this? And he goes, it's our new master schedule. And I looked at it and it was perfectly aligned with the core values. And I said, wow, how did you get this done? He said, well, I went back to the teachers and I said, we either are going to have to change the master schedule or we're going to have to change our core values. And I told them why, and they chose to change the schedule. There's no way that he would have been able to ramp that schedule down their throats. They would have fought him tooth and nail, but because the change he was asking for was so aligned with the core values they believed in, they made the changes themselves.

He did not have to change them. They made the changes on their own. So the first thing you need to do is you need to make sure that the changes that you're asking teachers to make right now, are they aligned with your vision mission? And core values. If they are, then it's much more likely that the teachers will be willing to change than if they aren't. I'll give you another example. There's a school I'm working with and their vision for students is that students oil grow in their literacy in five core areas. So these is an elementary school and they're wanting students to, by the time they leave they should be literate in language arts, math, science, social studies and social emotional literacy. And the principal is asking them to get X number of assignments online each week and the teachers are trying to craft quality assignments around literacy, but the principal is pushing a lot of supplementary websites, games, things like that because the principal's under a lot of pressure from parents to get assignments up.

Parents want their kids to have work to do. 

Some of the things that the principal is asking teachers to send out to parents is not designed to promote student literacy. And so the teachers are pushing back because they feel that they are being asked to kind of inundate kids with just any and every resource just to get a resource up there without really paying attention to how those resources are going to promote student literacy and so they are more resistant to the change because it doesn't align with their vision, mission, and core values. So the first step is make sure that the changes you're asking of teachers aligns with your vision, mission, and core values. The next one is that you need to make the change simple. A lot of times people will go with the path of least resistance and so if you're asking for some big dramatic change on top of the big dramatic change that teachers are already facing right now, good luck.

It's not going to happen. You need to make any changes that you're asking teachers to make as simple as possible. In some cases, you're asking teachers to use new technology. What kind of support are you giving teachers to make using technology simple and other cases you're teachers to communicate with students and families in a way that's vastly different from the way that they've communicated in the past. How can you simplify it? One of the principles inside of the mindsets pop-up group has been working really hard and she's been trying a lot of different ways to collect information from teachers or to have teachers track data. And so what she did is she piloted several different ways to give teachers feedback to send teachers information. And then she asked teachers, which one do you like the best? And in every single case, the teachers chose the one that was easiest.

This is a lot right now. And the more you can simplify the changes that you're asking teachers to make, the better. 

So does, is there a technology that you want teachers to use? If so, what can you do to make that easy for teachers to use? Is there a certain communication cadence that you want from teachers? How can you make that easier for teachers? Make the change simple. Here's the third one. You're going to have to reinforce the systems that you're setting up. A lot of us are trying to get systems up and then we're off to something else. And then we look up three weeks later and we're like, wait a minute, I thought you guys were doing this and we hadn't checked on them in three weeks. I'm guilty of this myself. I mean, even internally it Mindsteps. So we're having to revamp some of the things that we're doing and I am not as vigilant about reinforcing some of the systems that we're setting up.

And so we're starting to see that things are falling through the cracks. And so we're having to kind of come back and I'm having to make a more deliberate effort to reinforce the system. And what do I mean by reinforce the system? If we have a communication cadence, I need to make sure that I am not communicating to people outside of the system that we've established for how we communicate. No exceptions. Because if I do, I undermine the system that I set up. Um, for you it may mean the same thing, but for you it also may mean that if you're asking teachers to use a particular instructional approach in their online meetings, that you are visiting those classrooms and reinforcing teachers who are using that system and for the teachers who aren't using that system yet, you're providing followup support. You're giving them non-evaluative feedback so that everybody is using the system.

If you have a communication cadence with families that you expect teachers to use, are you also following that?

Are you following up with teachers to make sure that it's happening? Everybody is trying to figure this out and everybody's also dealing with the fact that they are not in school, they're working from home. We're being distracted by all kinds of things, whether that's Netflix or kids, and so you need to make sure that once you establish a system or asked for a change that you are following up in the next few weeks to make sure that the change is happening. Otherwise it's easy to fall through the cracks. Okay. This last piece, really important. Remember I said, nobody likes to be changed about a baby. Well, it's true, but it's also true about us too. As much as we want teachers to change, how are we demonstrating our own willingness to change?

Are we being flexible? Are we showing resiliency and grit in the way that we're handling the work? If you are not being the change that you want to see, then forget about seeing that change happen in any kind of, you know, schoolwide way. Nobody likes to be changed but a baby. And so we have to remember that not only when we're working with our teachers, we need to remember it when we are going through change as well. And we need to model what it means to actually make change so that we can grow our schools. We need to model the behaviors that we want from our teachers. So I keep saying this, anything that you're asking of your teachers should be something that you all ready have demonstrated your willingness to do yourself. It may not be the exact same thing.

You may want teachers to make so many contacts with kids every week. Are you making so many contacts with teachers every week? 

You may want teachers to design meaningful learning experiences for students. Well, are you designing meaningful faculty meetings for your staff? You have to be the change you want to see. You can't just tell other people to do it. Remember, bosses say go leader. Say let's go and you figure it out together, but builders say, come. It means that I've already made the change first and now I'm inviting you to join me in this change because it will relate to our vision, mission, and core values this way because it's simpler and it'll make your life easier and because I'm going to reinforce that change by giving you the support and feedback you need to make sure you're successful. You do that and you'll get change like a builder. All right, that's it for this week.

We are talking more about how to help your teachers make the changes that you want to see, how to give them the support they need, how to give them feedback without being the bad guy, how to help them to be accountable so that you don't spend your day chasing, checking and correcting them. But instead you've empowered them to take ownership over their own practice and to be accountable to your vision, mission, and core values and how do you establish a healthy online culture and keep toxicity from rating your culture and weaponizing your culture against you. We're doing all of that inside of something that we're calling the four disciplines sprint. We're going through it this week and we've had such a positive response that we are probably going to get another sprint going. Now during the sprint we do several different things, so every single day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we meet for 90 minutes and that 90 minutes is not a training.

That 90 minutes is designed to help you actually get stuff done. 

So we call it a GSD session where we send you resources ahead of time and then when you get on the training, we actually use those resources to set up feedback schedules. We use those resources to design surveys that we're going to send to parents and students and to our teachers. We use those resources to design a feedback instrument and process that we can use with our teachers. We use those resources to set up support structures and to create teacher dashboards where we can keep track of what teachers are doing. So every single day when we meet together online, you set up one system. On Monday we do the feedback system. On Tuesday we do a support system for your teachers. On Wednesday we do an accountability system and then on Thursday we design your online remote learning, healthy school culture.

By the end of the week, you have all four systems completely set up. Plus you have access to a resource vault who has templates and tools and exemplars that you can use to get everything set up. And then not only that, we don't just leave you hanging after those four days. We offer 30 days of followup because the situation is changing rapidly. So if you need to make adjustments, if new things happen, if all of a sudden now we are going back to school, we'll show you how to transition. We're going to help you walk through this time period. So we are already into one sprint. We're finishing up the one this week and so far it's been really amazing and we're probably going to do another sprint in two weeks and if you'd like to join us, simply go to mindset, sink.com/sprint that mindset, sink.com/sprint and you can get on the waiting list so that when we do the next sprint you can join us. All right. Thanks again for joining me and I'll talk to you next time where I'm coming at you with another step system. 

Bye for now.. 

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School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build master teachers.