A Sneak Peak Inside My New Book


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 96. 

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 Robyn Jackson and today I'm so excited because the book is finally here. It's called stop leading start building how to turn your school into a success story with the people and resources you already have. And so on this special episode, I want to read to you the introduction to the book so you can get a taste of what it feels like. Now I need to tell you before I start reading that this book has been a labor of love. This represents kind of the culmination of the work that we've been doing here at mindsets for the last seven or eight years now, when we've really been trying to develop a model for for builders, that's a little different than leadership that that helps you avoid some of the pitfalls of leadership, and turn your school into this huge success story and to map it out. So one of the things that I really love about this book, if I can say that myself is that this book really lays it out step by step, what does it look like? How does it work? And then how do you put it all together.

On today's episode, I'm going to read to you the introduction so you can get a taste of it.

And then hopefully, you'll see the you know, you'll go out and get your own copy of the book. Before I do that, I want to have a couple of announcements. Many of you have been asking about builders lab tickets, the the window is now open for builders lab. So you can just go to mind step sync.com slash builders dash lab and click on the link and you can get your tickets. also build a ship University is opening up this month. So for those of you who've been waiting patiently, we are having that open up this month, and the book is here. And it's on sale anywhere where you can get books or you can also go to mindset think.com and get the book there. Okay, so this is the introduction of the book. All right, the introduction, why you haven't made a bigger difference in your school, and why it's not your fault. I'm just going to start bluntly, okay, leadership is dead. There. I said it as much as it pains me to say so we all knew it was true. For years, we have tried to use leadership to move our schools forward. We're still trying, we get in the classrooms more, we adopt more programs. And we conduct data meeting after data meeting we we create ambitious school improvement plans. We organize teachers into professional learning communities, and we bring in outside trainers, we tinker with the master schedule, and we stand in front of our staff year after year, working hard to create a sense of urgency around things that matter most. And yet, each year, we just grow more frustrated, as the outcomes we seek still seem so far away. We progress towards our goal in inches. If we progress at all.

Well, I want you to know, it's not your fault. It's how you were trained. If you're like most school administrators, you are trained to be a leader. You are given the tools of leadership, and you are told that they will help you transform your school. What they didn't tell you is that because leadership was created by the institution is designed to maintain the institution, not transform it. In order to transform your school, you need something more. And this book is about that something more. You see each year I helped 1000s of administrators stop wasting time and energy trying to drag their teachers towards their goals. I show them a new and better way. And now I want to show you if you're like most of the administrators and instructional coaches I work with, you want to make a real difference in the lives of your students. You want to grow your school, you want to be able to look back on your work one day and know that you did something meaningful in your job and that students lives were changed because of it. But most days you don't feel that way. Those grants Goals are obscured by the daily grind of putting out fires, chasing, checking and correcting people and digging your way out from under a steady pile of to do's what matters most receipts in the face of what's happening now you work nights and weekends sacrificing your personal time just to keep up, you face enormous pressure from both above and around you to perform. I get it.

I used to feel the same way. 

As an instructional coach and a middle school administrator. I truly wanted to help teachers I was supporting become better teachers, I desperately wanted to make my school, a better school, one in which all my students would be successful. This meant I would go to trainings and then try the new strategies I've been taught when I returned to my school, I would spend hours devouring leadership books, the leadership strategies I encountered always seem to work in the trainings or the books. But they rarely worked the way I envisioned when I tried to use them with actual teachers. And I'm ashamed to admit that Windows leadership strategies didn't work like I was told they would. I often blamed by teachers, I thought they were just too resistant to change or to invest it in the old ways of doing things to focus on their issues instead of the kids. Other times, I blamed myself, maybe I was the problem. Maybe I wasn't the leader, I thought I was I'd reach for another leadership strategy to make myself a better leader. I'd go to another training, I'd read another book, there was always the chance that this next new thing would be the key the answer I thought, but it never was. Hope would turn into frustration, and the cycle would repeat itself. I remember working with someone, I would conservatively consider the worst teacher I've ever met. I'll call him Mr. Smith. Not only was Mr. Smith gravely ineffective in the classroom, he was resistant to any suggestion I made to help them.

I tried modeling lessons giving him resources and having him work with a coach. I send them to trainings, I gave him more and more feedback. I had him co plan with a veteran teacher. I took him with me on walkthroughs to observe other teachers. I gave him inspirational pep talks about how important it was for us to better serve our students. And I put them on a performance plan. All those tactics I've encountered and trainings and read about in books, while I tried them all, and yet, Mr. Smith didn't get any better. The day came when I finally reached my limit. After another observation of another dire instructional performance, I decided that enough was enough. There I was sitting in my office with the mountains of paperwork I'd already collected on him, and the form that would start the very long dismissal process. This wasn't my first time dismissing an ineffective teacher. And I knew the road ahead would be complicated months of filling out more paperwork negotiating with him, and possibly the teachers union while the students in his classroom will continue to pay the price. I told myself that I was doing it for them. I told myself that Mr. Smith hadn't taken advantage of the resources I'd given him. I told myself that he was taking up time and that I should be spending that time doing other work.

While I was thinking all this, another teacher walked into my office and asked if I had a second.

I put the paper work aside and I invited her to sit. You know that I've been having a lot of trouble with Kelly lately, she began, I nodded and arranged my face and in a neutral expression. Kelly had become an almost daily complaint for this teacher, she would constantly send Kelly out of class for various infractions. We had called Kelly's parents conducted several parent conferences, work with the guidance counselor and tried numerous interventions. But none had worked. The teacher continued. I was thinking today how unfair it is that I'm spending so much time on one student who clearly doesn't want to learn and neglecting those who do want to learn. I think that maybe you should remove Kelly from my class. I bristled when I heard that. How dare this teacher give up on Kelly. Immediately I launched into an impassioned speech about how they were all our students, and how we had to work to make sure that they all learned I told the teacher that I knew what's hard, but that I too had had a Kelly when I was in the classroom, and it was our job to find a way to help all of our Kelly's succeed. Well, my platitudes speech was over and the teacher left my office. I pulled out the dismissal paperwork and resumed looking for a way to get rid of frustrating and tractable, ineffective Mr. Smith. And then the hypocrisy of what I just said hit me know a part of me protested Kelly is a kid and Mr. Smith is an adult. We are paying Mr. Smith to be here and do a job. Kelly isn't here by choice and she isn't Getting paid. But another part of me wondered if I expected my teachers to persist with every student until they found a way to reach that student. Shouldn't I do the same when working with teachers?

They weren't allowed to give up. But I was. And yet when I mentally scanned all the leadership strategies I tried, I couldn't think of anything else to do except dismiss Mr. Smith. I sat back in my chair and close my eyes. Then from out of nowhere, a new question came to me, what would I do if Mr. Smith were a student in my classroom, it was just a switch I needed to flip free from the confines of quote unquote, leadership strategies, a host of additional ideas came to me new tangible things that I could do right away to help him grow as a teacher. The next day, I sat down with Mr. Smith, and instead of leading him as I'd always done, I began to deal with him one human being to another. I talked with him about what my vision was for the school, I was honest about what I saw in his classroom. However, instead of going on to list again, the go to strategies, from the trainings in the books, things like provisioning and dip, sticking and increase wait time, I talked to him about what I believe the root cause of his classroom dysfunction was, he was doing a lot in his classroom, but very little of it was promoting a student's learning. I asked him to focus on that, just that one thing, instead of Indian dating Mr. Smith with materials and yet another round of generalized support, he and I co created a way for him to get what he really needed to promote tangible student growth. Instead of filling out another improvement plan, we just agreed about what we would do next, that I put a system in place that allowed us to monitor his progress, and allowed him to be accountable for the outcome, no stress, no fuss, it was the best conversation we'd had in months.

A few days later, I walked into Mr. Smith's classroom and saw for the first time, a little improvement. 

He was trying to stay focused on one learning target and attempting to connect his warm up to the learning goal for the day. Granted, he still had a long way to go. But something had forgotten. At that moment, I understood that the real problem I've been having with this teacher wasn't the teacher himself. And it wasn't me. And it certainly wasn't that I needed another leadership strategy. The real problem was that leadership strategies are fallible, and they fail pretty often. Sure these strategies work when circumstances are perfect. But what do you do when things aren't perfect? You think you need something more than leadership? I'm assuming that you're reading this book, because you want to make a dramatic difference in the lives of the students you serve, and turn your school into a rave worthy success story. Maybe you've been struggling for a while now, because you can't seem to get your school unstuck from years of toxic cultures, low expectations and underperformance. Or maybe you've already reached a certain level of success. But you want more, you want to turn the corner from good to great. If any of these statements describes you, I've got some questions. How long have you been trying to weed out the quote unquote, bad teachers so that you can finally move your school forward? How long have you been chasing checking and correcting teachers and the hope that they'll get on board with your vision and your school? How long is your vision been held hostage by teacher resistance? How many years have you gone by without any serious improvement? How many books and programs have you purchased, hoping that they'll erase the challenges that you face? How many school improvement initiatives have you started, only to have them fizzle out before the end of the first semester, school administration has changed?

It's no longer enough to practice leadership and expect big results for your students or your school. The reality is most of what we've been taught about how to move our teachers and our schools forward is flawed and incomplete. It's a collection of strategies, advice, frameworks, and programs. And sometimes they work. A lot of times they don't, or they don't work as well as we'd like or for very long. What we need instead is something that always works. And that isn't something that isn't reliant on having the elusive perfect conditions or the right staff, the right students or parents and the right boss. What if you could transform your school with the people and resources you already have? Well, you absolutely can. But you'll need something more than leadership to do it. Leadership isn't enough. If you're like Most school administrators with whom I work, you probably face several of the following frustrations at some point in your school every year. First you, you might face a lack of control, you don't have enough control of your time every day. And instead of achieving your vision for your school, sometimes it feels as if you're just all you do is you just putting out fires, no sense of urgency among staff, you're frustrated that you spend a large part of your day serving adult agendas instead of serving kids. It seems as if no one is willing to do what must be done to make a difference in the lives of students, people lack the will to change the skill to change or heaven forbid both. Maybe you're hitting a plateau, where you've had some success in the past. But now you seem stuck. And everyone seems satisfied with the status quo.

No matter what you do, you can't seem to get your school out of that rut that it's in or break through to the next level. 

As a result, you're working really hard, but you're not seeing much progress every year. Maybe you're suffering from initiative fatigue, where you tried various FIX IT solutions in the past. And now your staff has become numb to new initiatives. You know what needs to be fixed in your school, but nothing you've tried, it has worked so far and you're tired of small wins, you're impatient for real transformation. Maybe resistance is your issue, where every time you try to move your school forward, you're met with resistance, sometimes it's active resistance where people fight you at every turn. But other times it's passive aggressive, where people just ignore you, and almost feels as if your vision is being held hostage by a very few naysayers who are bent on sabotaging you. And maybe you're just feeling overwhelmed. There's so many things that need fixing, and you're not sure how or where to start. The reason that you're experiencing these frustrations is usually one or more of the following. One you lack clarity, your vision, mission and core values are vague. And while you may know that your school needs to change, you aren't clear yet about what your goals should be, or how to articulate them to your staff in a way that creates a true sense of urgency, or inspires them to want to change. Maybe you lack cohesion, not all of your teachers are committed to your school goals. Maybe you're even feeling a little fatigued yourself. Maybe your lack of competence, where you're not certain that your teachers have the skill that it will take to achieve your goals. Maybe you're not even sure yourself that you know what the best path is to take. Or maybe you lack confidence. Even if you did have it all figured out. You're not sure that your plan will work or that will make the difference that you hope it will make.

The good news is that the clarity, cohesion, competence and confidence you need can all be one when you make the switch from leadership to build your ship. So what is build your ship? Well, several years ago, I read an article by a Harvard Business Review columnist named Amir hake. He argued that the world needed what the world needed now was not more bosses or leaders, but builders. He offered this distinction among the three. The bosses say go, the leader says let's go. The builder says Comm. I remember reading that article and seeing in that one sentence, everything that was wrong with how school administrators are taught to move schools forward is figure 1.1 lays out the boss leader and builder roles are very different. So this is in reference to a figure that we have here that shows you a list of the differences between bosses, leaders and builders, which is kind of what we've been doing on the podcast over the last few weeks where we've been talking about those differences. Okay, back to the book. When we act like a boss and say go, we're trying to force our school to achieve goals. And that never works. When we act like a leader and say let's go. We're trying to push or pull our school forward to our goals that can work to a limited degree if we're strong enough or obstinate enough and assemble and deployed just the right resources. But when we become builders and we say come, we invite others to help us create something extraordinary. There's no pushing, pulling or dragging. We just get to work. And if what we're building is compelling enough, more and more people will choose to join us.

Think about the leadership training that you've received. 

You were probably taught to write a vision statement create a strategic plan, craft SMART goals. Maybe you were told that in order to move your teachers you need to get into more classrooms or or find the perfect conversational script for giving feedback and then spend hours perfecting just the right non threatening questions that would generate helpful teacher reflection during your post observation class. conferences are perhaps you were taught to have tough conversations that held teachers accountable, provide teachers with an instructional framework and spend hours aggregating and disaggregating the data. This is the way to get everybody on board and moving together with purpose towards the goal you said or so you were taught. And their success is reliant on you working very hard over a period of years, to convince others to do things differently, and to stick with the changes, even when they aren't yet achieving what everybody hopes they'll achieve. Well, the more that I learned about builder ship, the more that I thought its value as a way to reach school goals, and in a way that isn't laden with broken strategies, waste of time, and that nagging feeling that even with everything we're doing, it's still not enough. And so I began to assemble all that I've learned working with schools over the years into a cohesive model that any school can use to focus on the right goals and accomplish those goals right now, with whatever staff and resources they currently have. That's figure 1.2. And the book.

The Buildership model has four parts. Part One, clarify your purpose. Part Two, grow your people, part three, chart your pathway, and part four, execute your plan. When you adopt this model, you'll gain clarity as everyone gets focused on doing the right work the right way, you'll gain cohesion. As everyone works together to achieve your school goals. You'll gain competence as everyone grows, the will and skill they need to be successful. And you'll increase your confidence, the confidence that you'll achieve your goals. Taken together, these four components create a self correcting system that helps you not only turn your school into a success story, but sustain your success over time. With builder ship, you'll no longer feel the same pressures you feel right now no more battles with resistant teachers no more pushing another initiative onto your already overburdened staff. No more hoping that this time this plan will work when so many others have disappointed in the past. Instead, you'll be able to move your school forward right now today, with the people you already have.

This model didn't evolve overnight. 

It really is the result of almost 20 years of thinking and testing and refining in the real world. In a way. It's the culmination of all the books I've written before. I've integrated many of the concepts from those previous books into this holistic model. I've also taught this model to 1000s of school administrators and instructional coaches through my builders lab workshops, and have helped them switch from leadership where they try to convince others to follow them to build a ship where they venture out ahead of everyone else, start building something extraordinary, and then invite others to join them. I've seen this model succeed in schools that were failing despite a long history of dedicated administrators and teachers giving their all after applying build a ship, those schools staffed by the same teachers and operating under the same budget saw test score gains of 20 to 30% in as little as one school year. I've also seen this model work in schools that have made games in the past but were stuck at a plateau, they'd become good, but they really wanted to become great embracing builder ship allowed them to break through the barriers holding them back and become model schools within one school year.

So if you're working hard at school improvement, and yet you've barely moved the needle, I want you to know that you can realize dramatic growth this school year. Believe it or not, you already have everything you need to get started. How to use this book. This book is set up to familiarize you with the four phase builder ship model, and give you the tools and understanding you need to stop leading and start building. In chapter one, you'll discover how to create a compelling purpose. This is the first step towards buildership and the most important one, the clearer you are on your vision, mission and core values, the more focus you and your staff will have and the more accountable you and your teachers will be to achieving your goals. I promise this will be unlike any other goal setting exercise you've known, you'll walk away with more clarity than you've ever had ready to align every practice in your school to the purpose you've chosen. Next, in chapter two, we'll look at how to work with your people. You'll discover how to grow the will and skill of your staff so that everyone is not only invested in your school purpose, but equipped to help you achieve it. You'll find out how to apply the four disciplines of builder ship feedback, support, accountability and culture consistently and deliberately to help every one of your teachers become master teachers. Who are fully committed to reaching your vision, carrying out your mission and living your core values each and every day with students. And chapter three will turn to finding a clear pathway for effective action. 

The Buildership model is about identifying your biggest obstacles standing in the way of your vision, mission and core values right now.

 Figuring out how to remove it once and for all. It's an opportunity to diagnose your situation and determine the right work to be doing so that you don't waste anyone's time chasing problems or solutions that won't move your school forward. Many leaders skip this step. And as a result, they end up using the wrong strategies, or try to solve the wrong problems or even all their problems at once. As a builder, you're going to focus on one problem at a time and create a blueprint that maps out what you and your teachers need to do to solve it, and solid once and for all. CHAPTER FOUR explores the actual work of taking effective action and the process you'll use to turn a blueprint for change into a concrete plan to remove your biggest obstacle in just 90 days. Because the process is iterative and cyclical. It's capable of powering both short term success and ongoing transformation. Even better. It's designed to anticipate the challenges you're going to encounter. So you won't be derailed when they pop up. As a builder, you'll use this process to keep removing obstacles, achieving goals, and getting closer to realizing your school's purpose. Finally, in chapter five, we'll pull everything together so that you can get started practicing, build your ship and your school and see the dramatic difference you can make with the people and resources you already have. As you read this book, at some point, you're likely to say, this sounds like something I've heard before.

That's because you probably have have created the builder ship model from universal principles of organizational improvement. You might even find yourself thinking I do this already. And maybe you do practice various pieces of the model already. Build a ship's power lies in the way that builders take all of these components and combine them into a systematic approach. This model is not about the pieces, it's about their integration into a complete whole. The last thing I want to stress before we truly get underway is that builder ship is not something else to add to various tactics, techniques and tools you've assembled in your leadership toolbox. Put aside all the preconceived notions you have about school reform initiatives, let go of the idea that you need to work harder to make your school work better. Stop settling for incremental gains when what you really want is to achieve a dramatic transformation, and a whole new narrative. It's time to make this shift from leadership to build a ship, get ready to turn your school into a success story. So that's the introduction to the book. And I hope that you love this book as much as I do. Remember, you can get a copy of my new book stop leading and start building anywhere books are sold Amazon, Barnes and Noble, you can go to ascd.org or you can get it at our website at mindstepsinc.com. 

Thank you so much, everybody, for being with us today on this episode. I hope you've enjoyed it.

I'll see 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 buildership University. Just go to build a ship university.com 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 https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/

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