Are your teachers renters or owners?


Note: School Leadership Reimagined is produced as a podcast and designed to be listened to, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 79. 

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 faith. 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're going to talk about the question, are your teachers renters? Or are the owners You see, in times of crisis, our first impulse, especially when we're experiencing uncertainty of any kind, our first impulse is to try to control the things that we can control. Unfortunately, sometimes that means that we try to control what's happening in every single classroom. Now I get it, especially if we're in remote instruction, right now, it's hard to feel a sense of control with everybody kind of working from home and doing their own thing. Or if you're doing a hybrid instructional model, or even if you're face to face with safety protocols, it's harder to get into classrooms, it's harder to know what's happening in classrooms. And we worry that maybe students aren't getting a quality instruction in every single classroom. And so we try to clamp down on that. But in doing so, are we turning our teachers from owners into renters?

We're gonna examine today, the difference between teachers that are owners vs teachers who are renters.

We're going to be looking at what builders do to make sure that they promote true ownership with all of their teachers. We're going to talk about the benefits of treating our teachers like owners. We're gonna get into that in just a second. But before we do that, I have a couple of announcements. The first one is that we have been having an incredible time filming my brand new course. So I'm filming a course for builders of university right now, which is called Building master teachers. It's really about how to help every teacher in your building grow one level in one domain in one year or less. And we have been having a ball I told you about that last time about how you could join and watch the filming for free. And boy, did you take me up on that offer you have been showing up? Those of you who have been coming to the course every single day, it's been great to see your faces live. And you all have also been helping me make the course even better, you are almost like co producers of the course. So if you're listening to this podcast, when it gets released on Wednesday morning, then you still have time to join me for our final session. But if you're listening to this podcast later, in the day, or later in the week, I do want to tell you about an announcement that I made in the course, which is that not only are we filming that course, and we're going to eventually put that course inside a buildership University. But if you are a member of buildership University, you can join the free four day challenge after the course.

The course is all about how to set up a support system for your teachers that helps your teachers grow one level in one domain in one year or less, no matter where your teachers are. But we talked about certain things that you need to build and put in place to make that system work. So starting on Monday, everybody inside buildership University, it's going to get the opportunity to build out that system with me. It's going to take us for days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We're going to work together for about an hour every single day. It'll be live there won't be recording. So you'll be able to well there will probably be a replay but you'll be able to come work with me live ask questions, we're going to be unpacking your evaluation instrument, we're going to be building your teacher dashboard, we're going to be doing an analysis of your staff to figure out where they are and what's the best next move for each of your staff members. So by the time we go into next week, you will have an entire support system set up and you can put that in place immediately and then sit back and watch your teachers grow one level in one domain in one year or less.

If you are not a member of Buildership University, we have just a few founding members slots left.

We have been capping the founding members slot because these are people we're letting in early you get to be a part of shaping what Buildership University looks like and you also get a special founding members tuition for Buildership University and if you are interested in becoming a founding member and participating in that challenge and also taking advantage of all of the training and courses and resources that we're putting inside of Buildership University, all you need to do is go to build worship and sign up to be a founding member. We only have a few slots left. Once we reach our founding member goal, then we're going to shut down enrollment for Buildership University finished building it out. And then you will have an opportunity to enroll in Buildership University starting in January. So if you're not ready to enroll yet, don't worry, we will be opening it up for everybody starting in January. So just go to Buildership University dot com to find out more.

Now the other thing I want to do is make sure that I invite you to build there's lab 360 we are seeing so many success stories come out of that summer builders lab. It is just incredible. And we are having our next public builders lab happening January 25, through 27 2021. And we're doing it again inside of our virtual builder ship University stage and it's going to be builders lab 360 virtual now we call it bill just lab 360. Because it is truly a 360 degree experience. When you come to build a lab 360 it is three days of intense immersive training, we help you get your vision set, we talk to you about mission and core values, we microsatellites classrooms, so we can show you how to figure out the one thing for every teacher that's everybody's favorite session. And then from micro slicing, we talk about practicing the four disciplines of buildership so that you can get all of your people committed to your vision.

We help you figure out what your pathway should look like for the next 90 days. 

Then, we help you build out a 90 day plan. But that's not it. Because after the three days is over, we don't just send you off and say good luck, you know, we we hope you are successful. No, we walk with you for the next three months. So if you come in January, we'll be with you, February, March, and April, so that you can start putting that 90 day plan into place. And you can have a success story to tell by the end of the year. Not only do you get work sessions with me and coaching sessions with me during that 90 days, you get weekly email prompts that tell you this is what you should be working on this week, you get access to additional training and resources. And you become a part of the builder's lab 360 alumni community, which means that you get to stay in touch with everybody you meet at 360. You all get to collaborate together, you get to celebrate each other's success stories. It's a really powerful thing. And if you want to be a part of it, all you need to do is go to mind steps slash builders dash lab, that's mindset sync comm slash builders dash lab.

OK, let's dive in. You know, I travel a lot, or at least I used to travel a lot before the quarantine. And so I was in a rental car just about every single week. And whenever I drove a rental car, I treated it differently than I do my car. So if I drove the rental car and I hit a mud puddle, and I splattered muddle over the car, I'm not going to take that car to a carwash and pay to have that car wash before I return it to the rental center. Why it's not my car. And if I leave a little trash in the car, it's not my car, I don't worry about it, I don't take it to someplace and Empty out all the trash and wipe down the seats before I return it to the rental center because it's not my car. And it's not my responsibility. If an indicator light shows up on the car while I'm driving it, I don't take it to the mechanic and pay a mechanic to fix the car. I've returned it to the rental car, because it's not my responsibility. I treat things that I'm renting differently than I treat things that I'm owning. The same thing is true for house, if I were renting a house, I couldn't just paint the walls any color I wanted, I couldn't start a renovation project. If I wanted to, I'd have to ask permission for the owner before I got started. And even if the owner gave me permission, I could make all the improvements I want. I might enjoy them while I'm there. But when I leave that house, the owner benefits from those improvements. I don't have the long term benefit, because it's not my house. Now, what does this have to do with education?

When you treat your teachers like renters, instead of owners, then your teachers start to act like renters instead of owners. 

If something is broken into practice, they put it at your feet, why it's your problem, because you own what's happening in that classroom. They don't. And if they want to make some improvement, they have to ask permission first. Why? Because they don't truly own their practice. They're renters and not owners. So are they going to be fully invested in what's happening in their classroom? No, because they are renters and not owners. Now you may be saying well, wait a minute, Robin. Are you saying then that we just abdicate our responsibility? Are you saying that Then that we shouldn't be in charge of what's happening in the classroom, or we shouldn't know what's happening in the classroom. I'm not saying that. I'm saying that a lot of times, the leadership strategies that we were trained to implement, make us treat teachers like renters, and not owners, they become a trapped, we think that we are doing something important, we think we're doing what we're trying to do, we are leading, and I'm using air quotes here. But in the process, we are stripping teachers of their ownership over their own practice. And if you strip people of their ownership, if you treat them like renters and not owners, then they begin to abdicate responsibility, they start to assume a passive posture, they get into compliance mode. And the more people comply, the more we think our quote unquote, leadership is working.

All we're doing is taking more and more ownership of what's happening in that classroom. When we take over ownership, then they give us the responsibility for the success or failure that's happened in classroom, it's why so many of us are stressed out by now, because we are stressed out because we think that it's our responsibility to make what's happening in the classroom successful. It's the teachers responsibility, it's our responsibility to set teachers up for success. So we have got to stop treating teachers like renters, and we have to start treating them, like owners. So how do you do that? Well, when you're a builder, it's a natural part of builder ship, you see, as a builder, the first thing you do is you establish a strong vision, mission and core values, and then you get everything and everyone aligned to that vision, mission and core values. And when you do that, that creates a natural set of boundaries. It's not just you're imposing a vision, mission and core values on people. It's everybody embracing that vision, mission and core values. It's everybody owning that vision, mission and core values, everyone is committed to that. And when that happens, you can trust people, because as long as they are doing work that is inside of those boundaries aligned with that vision, mission and core values, it's fine. And as long as they stay within those boundaries of your vision, mission and core values, they're free to do whatever they need to do. So you don't have to worry about chasing and checking and correcting, you don't have to worry about what's happening in every single classroom. Because if you have a strong vision, mission and core values, and everybody embraces that, then you know, everybody is going to align their behavior to that. Why not because you told them, but because that vision mission and core values belongs to them, too.

I often say people don't tear down what they help build. 

If you engage your staff in building a vision, mission and core values, the way that we teach you to do the way the builders way, that everybody feels true ownership of those, they will protect them. You don't have to police people because they are busy protecting what they helped build. So that's the first step. But it doesn't stop there. Because as a builder, you still have a responsibility to to support what's happening in the classroom to help teachers improve what's happening in the classroom. So builders practice the four disciplines of build your ship consistently. And those disciplines are feedback support, accountability and culture. Now, you may be thinking, Hey, I already give teachers feedback. But showing up into a classroom three times a week or three times a day, even visiting so many classrooms a year scribbling something on a sheet of paper or checking things off of an evaluation instrument is not feedback. I know that we've been trained to think that that's feedback. But that's not feedback. Builders practice feedback that actually empowers teachers, it gives teachers ownership over their practice, most evaluation, conversation, strip teachers have ownership, because in those evaluation conversations, the teacher comes in, and the teachers already in a passive posture because they're there to hear your assessment of their classroom.

They have to sit back and listen to you tell them what you thought of their classroom, and what you thought goes in the final evaluation instrument. Now, maybe some of you are more collaborative, maybe you ask those reflective questions and try to get the teacher to reflect. But the reality is, you have the power of those conversations, the teacher does not. Your assessment is what gets sent into the final teachers final file, not the teacher, maybe the teacher can put an addendum on that. But what you say counts, that's not ownership. Builders give feedback differently. Builders go in, and the first thing they do is they try to understand what the teacher is trying to accomplish. They don't rewrite the teachers lesson plan. They try to figure out what is the teacher trying to accomplish? Then, once they understand that, then they say, okay, what's the best thing the teacher can do right now to help them accomplish what they're trying to accomplish? And then they give them the background on that one thing.

When you give teachers that kind of feedback, that kind of insight, the teacher can use that to improve. 

The teacher owns and retains ownership over their own practice, your feedback helps them do something they're trying to do anyway. So one thing, feedback actually keeps the ownership with the teacher, you never take on ownership over what's happening in the classroom, the moment you do that, you make yourself responsible for the success or failure in the classroom. And the teacher is not responsible. Why? Because their renter, it's not theirs. But when the teachers, the owner, when you maintain that ownership through the kind of feedback you give, then the teacher can take true ownership over their practice, and true responsibility for the success or failure, what's happening in the classroom. Second thing team builders do is they they give teachers support that is empowering. Now I know that we were trained that support is about coaching, and modeling and planning PD days, and you know, those are fine. But often those keep the ownership with you, they don't leave the ownership with the teacher builders go in. And what they do is try to help the teacher they collaborate with a teacher to figure out what is the teacher's best next move, what is the teachers one thing that if they improve in that one area, that teacher will grow one level in one domain in one year or less.

Builders customize that support. They give teachers differentiated developmental and deliberate support, designed to help them grow, designed to help them meet some professional development and growth goals that will help the teacher be more effective in the classroom. Builders give teachers support that is empowering. And when you do that, the ownership remains with a teacher, anything else when you go in, and you try to fix the teacher with your support, what's your symbol signaling to that teacher is that there's something wrong with you. And as the owner, I'm going to go in and fix the thing that's wrong with you, you are broken, your practice is broken. Builders do is they say, if we're going to help you become a master teacher, and builders believe that every teacher can get there. If we're going to help you become a master teacher, we've got to figure out what's the next best step for you, because you're on a journey to become a master teacher. So let's figure out that next best step. And then let me give you the support to help you take that next best step. Do you see the difference? one assumes that teachers broken, the other one assumes that teacher is capable. And that's empowering, that leaves the ownership with the teacher.

Builders provide a different kind of feedback, a different kind of support, they provide a very different kind of accountability. 

You know, as leaders, we're trained that accountability means that I have to chase and check and correct I have to hold people accountable, I have to constantly check to make sure people are doing the right thing. I have to chase people down and make them do the right thing. I have to correct people when they're wrong. Because if not, then my school falls apart. And that's a very stressful existence. Builders don't feel like they have to do that. What builders do is if something is not working, if people are not behaving an accountable way, builders don't blame the people. They blame the process. And they go and fix the process, not by creating more rules and regulations, because that's an attempt to control people, but they look and they see why. What is it about our current process that enables people to behave in this particular way? And what can we do? How can we reshape this process, so that the right behaviors, the ones that we're looking for the ones that will move us toward our vision, mission, and core values are more likely, and the wrong behaviors are less likely they create a system and put it in place so that teachers are doing the right thing, even when they're not looking? That's a difference. You know, as a leader, you are holding people accountable.

That treats people like renters, as builders, you are helping people to be accountable, that treats people like owners, builders, don't go to people and say you're breaking the rules. Here's a new role. They're not trying to hold people accountable that way. That's what leaders do. What builders do is they say, do we not all agree on the same vision, mission and core values? Do we not all commit to that? Well, what you're doing falls outside of the parameters of our vision, mission and core values, what you're doing is not in alignment with our vision, mission and core values. And so, are you still committed to that? Yeah. Okay, well, then let's figure out how we adjust your behavior and make it easier for you to stay in alignment with those vision, mission and core values. That's not a confrontational conversation. That's treating people like professionals and like owners, and they then take responsibility.

You can't make people do anything. But if you do accountability right, you don't have to. 

So builders practice feedback, support and accountability in a way that's different. But also builders are shaping culture. So, culture A lot of us are experiencing right now cultures that are turning toxic as people are getting stressed out as morale is low. But builders are intentional about building the right kind of culture, a culture that's resilient, a culture that empowers people to respond to crises in a way that actually makes your school better off as a result of their of the crisis. builders are not about reacting. builders are focused on, on responding and actually being proactive in terms of the response to the crisis. So builders are intentional about creating a culture. And part of that culture is treating people like owners, if everybody feels a sense of ownership over the culture, then they're not behaving like renters, people do not tear down what they help build. If you get everybody engaged in building a healthy culture, if you get everybody feeling a sense of ownership over that culture, they will protect it so that you don't have to police it. You see, it may give you a false sense of security right now to exert control over people. But it is a false sense of security. You cannot control people. And the more you position your teachers, as renters, of their practice, as renters, of what goes on in their classroom, the more that you you take away power from teachers, the more that you try to regulate and micromanage what your teachers are doing. The more work you're creating for yourself, the more stress you're creating for everybody involved, it's probably why morale is so low right now.

In the schools that are thriving, right now, the ones that I'm seeing the ones that are that are being built by builders, you're not seeing that low morale, you're seeing teachers step up, you're seeing teachers take more and more ownership over what happens to that school, the success or failure of that school, you're not having union run ins, instead, teachers are saying, I will take that extra step, I will make this sacrifice because I believe in what we're building together. Instead of teachers waiting passively for what you decide teachers are coming to those builders with new ideas and, and they're contributing to what the school is building. Instead of teachers passively complying to all of the rules and regulations and you go into classrooms and it's just dead inside belters and are creating places within spaces where teachers are actively participating and contributing, and and building with them. You know, I always say that bosses say go, and leaders say, let's go. And both of those stances. They create renters. You set the direction, you say, here's where we're going. And then you try to get people to come along with you, renters.

Builders "come", It's always Invitational. Builders are inviting people to join them in building something. 

The moment you join me in building something together, you become a co owner of this vision, this mission, these core values, and my job is to help make sure and that you feel empowered to be your best self. And to put that before students every single day, my role as a builder is to show you how to get even better. My role is a builders to build you up so that you become an even better owner of your own practice. And never take away your ownership. Because if I take away your ownership, you're not helping me build, he may be obeying, you may be complying, but you are not actively building this thing together. You see, as a builder, you recognize you cannot build it on your own. You need other builders. And so your most important role as a builder is to build other builders, builders who feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to the success of the product builders who, who who, who really are invested and committed to achieving that vision, that mission and those core values in your school. It only happens if your teachers or owners. No, no, it's gonna be hard, especially now. But if you cultivate a sense of ownership in your staff, it means that the work doesn't just fall on you anymore. Everybody shares responsibility. If you create a true sense of ownership among your staff, it means that they step up. And they become their best selves.

You actually see more thriving classrooms, you see a culture that begins to heal, you see an increase in morale, because I'm not just complying anymore as a teacher, I own this. This is mine, my responsibility. You see people start to step up, people who've been passively waiting in the wings, they actively become involved when you build owners, rather than treating people like renters. So the only way we're going to survive, this is the only way we're going to thrive. During all of this is the only way we're going to come out better on the other end. So, this week, my challenge to use this, I want you to watch yourself, observe how you are dealing with teachers. And in every interaction, I want you to ask yourself, and this interaction, am I treating this teacher like a renter? Or am I treating this teacher like an owner, and then start to shift your practice, empower your teachers, treat them like co owners, invite them to come and join you in what you're building. And when you do that, you'll begin to see this dramatic change in your staff this, this marked difference, the work will get easier because it's not just you shouldering the work alone, other people are coming along and they are taking part of that with you. That's how you empower ownership, like a builder.

That's it for now. I will see you next time. 

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 offers. 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 Buildership University. Just go to and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll see you then!

Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit

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