What Are You Asking People To Accept?


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 95. 

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 reimagine podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today we're going to continue our series on the difference between bosses, leaders, and builders. And today we're going to talk about the difference between the way that bosses, leaders and builders get people to do what they want to do. How How do bosses do that? How do leaders get people to do the things that they need to do as a school and then what do builders do that's different. So we're going to be talking about that in just a second. But before we do that, a couple of announcements. First of all builder's lab, the next one is coming up at the end of June, June 28 through 30 2021. And you we will be doing this virtually again, we'll be doing another 360 degree experience, I cannot wait. We have some really cool things planned for you. And we've already started sourcing a couple of new things. And we'll be putting in your boxes for this next builders lab.

The tickets are available now. 

If you're listening to this sometime in the future, and that date has passed, you can still go to this same site. It's mind steps, inc.com slash builders dash lab, that's mine steps inc.com slash builders, dash lab or just google builders lab. And you can find out when the next builders lab is coming up, you want to go ahead and mark those dates in your calendar. A lot of people are bringing their teams to builders lab. And that's one of the cool things that the 360 experience has been allowing people to do, you can bring your entire team without having to worry about the hassle of travel costs. And then when you come with your team, you get to collaborate together to create something. So think about it, you come to builders lab in the end of June, and you can use builder's lab as the catalyst for a lot of your summer planning. And then be ready when you go back to school in the fall with all kinds of really cool things laid out and really setting your school up for success. So that's happening.

Now, the book, we have gotten word that the book, the new book is at the warehouse and should be getting shipped out some point this week. And so we are so excited that my new book, stop leading and start building, how to turn your school into a success story with the people and resources you already have. That book is coming out this week. I'm telling you I've been oh my goodness, this is probably I've probably worked harder on this book than any book I've ever written. And it lays out this whole buildership model in a way that you can follow it and actually begin to implement it in your school. It is, you know, it's been really a labor of love. My editor, God bless her, she has you know, she's been great. We've been working on it kind of struggling through a lot of things a lot of back and forth. And so what we've created, I think it's just a really solid, just good book and so useful and so practical, if I if I may say so myself. And so that book is coming out this week. And so we have a couple of really cool things that I'll be telling you about next week that are going to accompany the launch of this new book, but you can already pre order it anywhere that books are sold and you can also pre order it with us at mind steps Inc just go to mind steps inc.com and you can get a pre order for your book. There are just a few weeks we are going to be closing up the mindsets pop up group we're doing that at the end of this month. And then that pop up group will pop out for a little while and then we'll pop back up sometime in the spring. So if you want to get some last you know opportunities to do office hours or vision workshops or other trainings with us in the pop up group, go ahead and go to mindset think.com and look for the pop up about the pop up group and you can join the pop up group there. And then let's see what else do I have as an announcement Oh buildership University.

We are going to be opening up doors in just a couple of weeks. 

If you have been waiting for your chance to join Buildership University then that the wait is almost over. Buildership universities are online. On campus where you can get on demand training and live support and coaching and resources and community opportunities to learn everything about build a ship, and to be able to implement it, we always say that builders lab is where you kind of learn the model. And build a ship University is where you implement the model. So we have really cool things, we have sprints where you can, you know, join us live, or you can come later on and join. And we work together to build the tools that you're going to need. So we also have training to show you why you need the tools and how the tools can be used. We have great exemplars that have been created from members in our communities that you can see how people are actually using those tools in their schools. And they're telling stories about how those tools are working for them. It is just, it's, I mean, I love building ship university so much, we have so much fun, we also have parties, every quarter social activities where we get together virtually, and we hang out and get to know each other. So this is not just kind of, you know, someplace where you just kind of go and you sit and get and you do it on your own, you're a part of a community of builders, we're all working towards building and turning our schools into success stories, and you get to learn from each other and look out for each other. It's just, it's just a really cool place to be. So we're gonna be opening that up in a couple of weeks. So look out for that as well.

Okay, so I think that's it for the announcements. And right now, I just want to talk about the difference between how bosses, leaders and builders, get people moving, get get people on board. So let's first talk about bosses. Now bosses, the way that they get people moving, whether those people be there, the teachers in their building, the students in their buildings, sometimes the community, the way that they get people moving is that they depend on their authority, they believe that the only way that you can really get teachers to do their jobs is that you have to hold, you know, the carrot and the stick, you have to give them you have to give them incentives, or you have to hold them accountable. And usually holding them accountable really relies on your authority. So you know, these are the the the building administrators who feel like the only way they can get some teachers moving is with a threat of writing those teachers up putting those teachers on improvement plans, going into classrooms and documenting. And that is really dependent upon authority. If I document if I write you up, if I put you on an improvement plan, then you will have no other choice but to improve or else I will you lose your job, I will turn you in and we'll go through the process and you won't have a job. And so when you rely on authority, and I see people do it all the time, even people who are not necessarily bosses, you know, or in their in their regular life, but who kind of resort to that boss whole behavior, when they're working with teachers, we do it because a lot of times we were trained that that's the only way some teachers are going to move.

A lot of the time we aren't necessarily thinking like bosses in much of our work. 

When we get frustrated with a teacher, a lot of us default to that authority thinking that's our only recourse. And so even the best of us can often act like a boss, like a boss in this in this way. Because we are, you know, we just don't think we have another option. So I used to do this myself, I remember a teacher openly defied me in a in a team meeting and it was really ugly. And I was so upset and so angry. And he he regularly did this with all the administrators that i thought you know what the buck stops here, he's not gonna talk to me this way. And I went to my office and I opened up my drawer. And I pulled out the form that you fill out to write up teachers, you know, or letter to file, and I was just going to check off everything insubordination, Target, whatever I could find to check off on that form and write him up so he could show I could show him that he can't be messing with me. And what was particularly galling about what he had done was that he talked to me in a way he was significantly older than I. And he talked to me in a way that belittled me in front of the staff. It was an openly You know, he didn't call me a name or something like that. But he talked to me as if to say I was brand new. I was young, I was naïve, and I didn't know what I was doing. And I was I was miffed, and I wanted to show him but you know, I don't know who he thought he was talking to. But he needs to get it straight that I am the administrator and I don't care that I'm young. It's not my fault that he's, you know, old and decrepit. I mean, this is what was going through my head. I hate to say it aloud, but I'm just gonna admit that's what was happening. And I remember pulling out that paper and wanting to write him up and then stopping MIT, you know, the forum was halfway filled out and saying, okay, either you believe and build a ship or you don't.

Now back then Buildership did not have a name. It was a germ of an idea. It was a way that I wanted to be an administrator and I didn't have it all worked out. Yet, but I was heading in this direction. And that became a pivotal point for me because I had to make a decision, do I believe in this work? Or am I going to resort to the authority. And so all of us, we face that decision often when people are not doing what we believe they should be doing, are we going to resort to authority as the kind of quick fix as the kind of, you know, I will show them or even if I don't know what else to do, so I'm going to have to write them up, because I can't continue to let someone get away with this. When we resort to that, here's what happens a couple of things. First of all, we actually give away our authority, because we're relying on the positional power, that we and it's very little, you know, people often say we rule by permission, but we're relying on the power of the position itself, I'm pulling out the paperwork I'm turning you in. And what that's doing is is transferring your personal ability to move and motivated and get people working to the position that you hold. And you actually have less authority with people, when you rely on that, quote, unquote, authority. The second thing that happens is that it ruins your culture.

Once you do that, you have to turn into somebody else.

You have to be the kind of person who dots his or her eyes and crosses their tee's. And and you stop paying attention to the person in front of you. And instead you are you are you are giving over to giving over the whole situation to the process, I just may have to make sure I filed my paperwork, right. And so it changes your culture, it changes your ability, not only to, to be have an effect on the person with whom you're working, but on everybody else who's watching and wondering, am I Next, I step out of line, you're going to write me up too, am I going to lose my job? I remember a friend saying once, you never want to put teachers in a position where they have to choose between children and their job. And the moment you start exercising authority, you now people focused on preserving their job rather than helping children. And even if they make a change in the classroom, Are you certain that the changes that they're making are because they really care about children? Or are the changes that they're making only a result of the threat of losing losing their jobs, and if that's the case, then is that change going to stick is that change what it's going to take really take to get your school to the point where 100% of your students can be successful.

So you don't want to be a boss, you don't want to rely on authority. And a lot of us know that. And so what we've been trying to do is rather than depending on authority, we depend on the goodwill of the people in front of us. So we spend a lot of our time trying to influence people trying to inspire people hoping that they will see the merits of what we're doing, where we're depending on people's goodwill, in the sense that we want people to do their jobs. And we're hoping that if we can just inspire them enough, or if we can just if we can just create enough of a community or culture, then they will show enough goodwill to do the things that they need to do. And so here's the way that works. Instead of writing people up, we we try to talk with them, we try to help them see that the what we're asking them to do is really important for the lives of children, we appeal to their sense of goodwill, and we hope that that will be enough for people to act. Now, on the surface that that seems it certainly seems a lot better than depending on authority. But the challenge is that you can't always depend on people's goodwill. I mean, even the most well meaning person under stress is going to become self protective, rather than thinking about the kids rather than being sacrificial.

We're depending on teachers goodwill to make our schools work.

We're depending on teachers to give up their lunch periods and, and before school and after school to work with students extra because what's happening in the classroom is not enough for students. We depend on people's goodwill to buy their own teaching supplies because we don't have the right supplies for teachers. We depend on teachers goodwill to go above and beyond for students because our school isn't set up to meet our students needs. And for so long, the ethos of teaching has been reliant on finding that super teacher whose goodwill will help them go above and beyond because the system we've created is not enough for kids. Think about every teacher movie you've ever seen. I remember when I first watched Freedom Writers I was so excited because I was a writing teacher and I wanted to see about the program. But halfway through the movie, I just started just feeling disgusted. Because in order to have this kind of impact, this teacher had to give up her marriage. She had Work an extra job in order to buy supplies. And she's being held up as a hero and the movies being celebrated for what this one teacher could do. And all I saw in that movie was a failure of a system because one teacher had to go impoverish herself and lose her marriage in order to help students, something is wrong with that.

For too long, our profession has relied on the goodwill of the people in the profession. Rather than creating a place where I don't have to sacrifice my life in order to save another, that doesn't make any sense. And it's not sustainable. I mean, how many of you right now working nights and weekends, extra hours trying to fill in the gaps because your system is flawed, and it's not doing enough? How many of you right now are are thinking about your your school, even when you're supposedly offline, because there's still so much to be done, how many of you right now are feeling so overwhelmed, because there's so many, there's so many issues that need to be tackled, and you just don't have enough manpower or resources. And so you're having to try to come up with creative extra ways to work around the system in order to make the system work for your students. If you're building that, if you're building that school, I'm going to tell you right now, it's not sustainable, because at some point, even goodwill wears out. At some point, even the best intentioned of us we get tired, we we get, we get burned out.

So many teachers right now are so burned out.

We did not have a context agnostic system prepared for them in order to be successful. And even then they were already overworking themselves, teachers had to have proximity to kids, our success depended on our proximity. And on the goodwill of the teachers in front of kids, we did not have a system that was created for students to be successful, in spite of. And so right now, so many of us are burned out, because we we didn't even realize how much our system was relying on, on on our compensating for the flaws in the system based on our goodwill. So bosses depend on authority to get stuff done. And leaders we depend on the goodwill of others and our own sense of goodwill in order to be successful. And when builders look at both of those programs, they say neither one of those is sustainable one kills your culture one kills you. So what builders do is they don't depend on authority. They don't depend on goodwill, builders depend on good. So I don't have to sacrifice myself in order to save a child. Instead, if I really believe that, that our children deserve better, I build them better, I built them, build them something so good, that it works on its own, it doesn't require extra effort, energy time, on my part, it just works. When I'm trying to inspire other people, I don't ask them for more and more sacrifice. What I do is I I asked them to join me in creating something that's going to be good for our students and good for us. It's not a dichotomy. It's not an either or situation. It's not a zero sum game, it can be good. And when it's good, it's good for everybody.

So we all know, on some level that the systems that we have right now are flawed, we, we all know that and yet, we continue to operate inside of inside of the same systems that we know are flawed. And we compensate for those systems by by our own self sacrifice. And while that's lovely, and it creates a beautiful movie, it's not sustainable, and it's not required. In order for students to be successful. What is required, what is necessary, is that we take a step back and we say, Okay, what do we need to build the results that we're getting right now? They are the direct consequence of the system that we built. The results we're getting right now are exactly the exactly what we designed the system to give us. And so we try to compensate for a broken system. Let's not do that anymore. Instead, let's build a better system. Let's let's build something so good. That it works. Without a pound of flesh, being sacrificed by everybody involved. Let's build something that that that that a vision that is good for kids. So I don't have to convince you Come on, let's do this because it's the right thing to do. And, you know, I rely on your goodwill instead I just build something good. And I can depend on it because it's good. stead of propping up a broken system. A system Bad system, let's build a good system that doesn't require our propping up at all.

If you're a Builder, you don't have to deal with what you have. 

If you find yourself having to sacrifice in order to make the system work, take a step back and say, wait a minute, this is not working, we need a better system. And then go build that. And, and make it so good that other people will look at it and say, this makes way more sense. They start joining you in building it, not because of their own goodwill, not because they're sitting there making a conscious sacrifice, but because they know, they get so enticed by the goodness of what you're building, they want to be a part of it. And it's not a sacrifice at all. In fact, it re energizes their, their their work. And it gives them something to look forward to. They're so excited. Because Finally, we have something that's good on its own, not because I compensated for it's good on its own, it can stand by itself. We've got to stop, stop relying on the goodwill of our people, we're wearing our people out, we're wearing ourselves out. We're so burned out, because in order to make education work for many students, the system is not enough, we have to rely on our goodwill of our people to make it work. What if instead, we built something good. We we didn't build something that was flawed. We didn't tolerate something that was flawed. We decided no, what is good for our kids? What's good for us? How do we build that together? And what's good period, I mean, there is, you know, good in the absolute form. And a lot of times our vision, our mission and our core values, they define what good is for our community. That's what we're gonna anchor in. Because that doesn't wear out that doesn't have willpower for tea, that will always be enough to compensate for it.

I don't want to find, some energy from my inner reserves in order to be able to get up and give more and more and more and more I don't have to bleed out at the feet of or at the service of serving kids, or be shamed because I say, you know what, I really need a nap right now. Instead, the system works, because it was designed to work. So we got to stop accepting that these flawed systems, we have to stop propping them up, we have to start really interrogating our systems. I was talking to one of our builders inside of builder ship University the other day, and we were looking at, you know, a very flawed schedule that our district was rolling out for hybrid learning. And, you know, she was frustrated when I saw it, I thought, Oh, my goodness, this is horrible. Somebody must have thought it was a good idea. But this is, this makes no sense. It doesn't serve kids. It doesn't serve the adults. It's not serving anybody except for somebody's political agenda.

"We're not going to accept this. We're gonna have to build something else that works and that's good for kids."

So we sat down, and we figured it out. She was there for office hours. And there weren't a lot of people in office hours that day, so we could spend the time doing it. And we worked out something that complied with what the district was asking, but what's good for kids and good for the adults. And that's what builders do. We don't we don't get a district mandate, and then say, Oh, this is horrible. I wish I could do better, but I can't. So let me just figure out how to get everybody to get on board. That's what a lot of us are doing right now. We're asking people to just, you know, swallow some, some some something that's disgusting. And we're saying, you know, we just have to do it, because this is what the district's asking us to. And we don't interrogate it. We don't ask how do we take this thing? And instead of depending on the goodwill of our staff to just kind of go with the flow, not rock the boat, because we have you know, ultimately we our hands are tied, the district is telling us we have to do it this way. So come on, guys, let's just get together and do it instead of accepting that we look at and we say, Okay, what can we do and how we're not going to stop until this is something that's good for kids and good for us and good for our school.

So that's my challenge to you this week. stop relying on your authority. Your authority says, Okay, here's a mandate that comes down from the district. The district is expecting us to do it. Our hands are tied. And my job is to enforce this and make sure that everybody gets it done. And turn in the stuff to the district that's authority. stop relying on goodwill, stop going to your staff with stuff that you know won't work and then asking them, Hey, guys, our hands are tied, there's nothing we can do. Let's just try to make it work. And, you know, I'll give you a half an hour extra for planning so that you can figure it out. And we'll just, we'll just try to make it work. And we don't have anything else to do. Please, guys really come on, we're still a community, we love each other, stop relying on people's goodwill. And instead, take something that may not be good, interrogated, read, rebuild it, until it is good good for your kids. Go for your staff, something that aligns with your vision, mission and core values. Don't stop until we do that. When I was talking to the principal, the other week, we looked at her vision, mission and core values first, then we looked and said, Okay, now how can we take this really ridiculous schedule being given to you by your district? How can we make it work in a way that aligns with our vision, mission and core values?

How can we turn this thing that's really bad, into something that's really good for our teachers and our kids? 

When we did that, even though neither of us had the answers at the beginning of the conversation, the the guardrails that your vision mission and core values provide, create this, this kind of this, this inventiveness. And if you're really not satisfied until it's really good, you keep coming back, I was coming up with suggestions. She's like, Well, no, that's not really aligned. And she will come with the suggestions that I was like, Ah, you don't want to make it something that your people have to swallow, it has to really work. And we kept at it using our vision, mission and core values as a guide until we came up with something good. And I'm telling you, you can do the same thing you do not have to accept something you do not have to grit your teeth and bear it, you can take even something that is ridiculous. And you can reshape it until it's good for you. Good for your students, good for your teachers, good for your school community. Stop, depending on your authority stop, depending on goodwill and anchor, and what is truly good. And that's how you can get stuff done. #LikeaBuilder. 

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 build a ship University. Just go to build a ship university.com and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll see you then!

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