How You See Your Work Makes
All The Difference
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 99.
Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson. And today we are going to continue our series on the difference between bosses, leaders and builders. In particular, we're going to be looking at the difference between how bosses, leaders and builders decide what they're going to do what how they're going to move their school forward. And this is particularly germane for this time of the school year with so many of us are starting to kind of take stock of the past school year to figure out how we're going to finish strong and then also start thinking about what we want to become next year. Last time I talked about dealing with your master schedule and then we had a really incredibly fun time with the free masterclass on building your master schedule. I'm sorry if you missed it, but there is still hope because we have saved that masterclass that masterclass is a part of the master class, the library of master classes and trainings that we have inside of Buildership University.
We just opened doors to Buildership University again.
So what we do with builders ship universities, we open doors for about a month, we bring in a new cohort, then we close the doors to build a ship university so that we can focus on the new cohort of people getting them acclimated, making sure that they all have a success path, helping them kind of build everything that they need. And then once we've gotten everybody kind of settled in, we'll open it up again. So right now we are taking on our next cohort. And if you are thinking about I have been thinking about joining builders University, now's a really good time to join, because in just a few weeks, we are going to be starting on our quarterly sprint. So one of the coolest parts about builder ship university to me anyway, is that it's not just about taking courses, we have a huge library of training and master classes and courses that you can, you know, kind of access on demand. We also have a huge vault of resources and tools and materials and exemplars you can access on demand. But what if you want to take some of the things that you're learning and build a ship University and actually apply it to your school? And what if you want to get real feedback from someone about how to do that?
Well, that's why we have two things. We have office hours where you can come and we have them at least twice a month where you can come and just ask me anything I'm on there. You just show up you ask your question. Other builders are on there, you can listen in as they're asking their questions. And it's got it's about getting real one on one coaching around the challenges that you may be facing in your school. But the other thing is that we do these sprints, so we do them at least quarterly we try to do at least to a quarter. One is the big quarterly sprint, and that's where you build your builders blueprint. That's where you're sitting down and you're taking stock of what happened for the last 90 days and you're building the blueprint that you need for the next 90 days. In addition to those quarterly sprints, we also do other sprint. So we did a sprint this week, where we were looking at setting ourselves up with our master schedules. So people brought their master schedules, we interrogated their master schedules, we looked for opportunities, we got really creative, we came up with some very cool things. And so what I love about these Sprint's is that it gives us a chance to not just kind of you know, talk about and problem solve bigger challenges.
The Sprint's give us a chance to build things in real time and get feedback on them.
If you join Builder's Lab now and you come into this next cohort, the first sprint that we're going to be doing together is a sprint around looking at the next 90 days looking at how you finish the school year strong. And also thinking about how you set yourself up for summer, your summer meeting finger summer planning sessions. So we're going to do a 90 day sprint in April, and then sometime in May, we're going to be doing some sort of something around kind of taking stock for what's happening in your school. And then in June, we're going to do a sprint that helps set up your summer planning calendar. So and also specifically about how you do that summer planning meeting. With your leadership team, and how you looking at data and how you're leading them to look at data, so it's a really cool opportunity. So that's coming up in builder ship University. And if you want to join, all you need to do is go to builder ship university.com. And there's just there on that page will show you exactly what you need to do to join. But you need to hurry because we are only keeping doors open for a short time, we're bringing in a whole new cohort, and then we're closing down again. So we can really focus on the people inside of builder ship University. So that's the first announcement, second announcement builders lab. And the next one is coming up June 28. through June 30, we are already starting to sell tickets, people are bringing their teams they're getting signed up.
A lot of people are accessing the VIP option this time, which is really cool. And so if you are thinking and have been wanting to come to builders lab, we are doing another 360 degree experience. So this may be one of the last builders lab 360s that we do, we don't know we're trying to see what it looks like. And you know whether or not we'll be able to go back to in person for the next one. So you want to get if you're if you if you worried about the travel, this is really a deal because you can stay home, you can access builders lab through the comfort of your own home, you get the builder's box, and you get everything that that we love about builders lab, but you get to do it remotely. And so we are we are Tickets are on sale. Now you want to grab your ticket while you still can. It's been weird, we have seen this an uptick in ticket sales over the last few weeks as people are starting to think about their summers and their plans, you want to be here. And so again, it's on June 28 through June 30 2021. If you're listening to this sometime in the future, go to mind steps inc.com slash builders dash lab, and you can look and see when is the next builders lab and join us for that. So, again, you've heard me talk about build a lab I'm talking about all the time, it is the best place to come. If you want to get a big overview, the big picture of what builder ship looks like it's it's been three intense days of learning all of the aspects of the builder ship model, builders ship University is really about then implementing the model.
People who want to really immerse themselves in the entire model, they come to Builder's Lab.
Then they join builder ship university to do the implementation piece. Some people have read the book, I have a book out that talks about the builder, ship model, stop leading start building, and they feel like they've gotten a good grasp of it, they come directly into build a ship University, then after being in build a ship University for a couple of months and building some of the pieces there, then they come to builders lab to kind of put everything together. So it's up to you. But I would love I would love for you to come join us at builders lab I just enjoy builders love so much. And I have a special place in my heart for people who go through builders lab. And for people who are in build a ship University. And so it's these are my two favorite things to do. So I'm hoping you'll join us for that last announcement, the book is out. Many of you are reading it and you are giving me feedback. And I'd love to hear what you think about the book what questions you have. We're looking at a couple more weeks on this series about boss leader builder and then we're going to be shifting to looking at some of the questions and issues that are coming up around the book. So if you have questions or issues around the book, please go ahead and reach out. You can do it a couple of different ways you can send me something on Twitter, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, you can reach out to me on Facebook, if you're part of the school leadership reimagined Facebook group, you can post something inside of the group. But I'd love to hear your questions and your feedback about the book. I'd love to hear it. I'm very curious about what you have what you think about it.
Okay, so now let's jump into our topic for today, which is really about the difference between the way boss, leaders and builders kind of think about their planning what what they focus on, whenever they're doing something. You know, it's been interesting. We did the master schedule masterclass last week, and it's very interesting to see how people approach their master schedule. And I think it's a microcosm for how people are approached the differences between how people approach their work in general. So if you're a boss, you're mostly focused on task. So you're just figuring out what do we have to do? And then how do we get it done? And you know, a lot of us kind of fall into that boss mode. Sometimes even I find myself doing it sometimes just felt like what do I have to get done today? And then how do I get it done? And when you're focused on tasks, you get bogged down by the logistics of the task, you get bogged down by, you know, like you're you're only thinking about and concentrating on how do I get it done? And you never question whether that's the work you should be doing. Whether that's something you should be getting done right now, whether or not the way you choose to get it done is the best way we're thinking about the fastest way, the quickest way, the most efficient way sometimes, but maybe not the best way for school.
When you're just focused on the task, you're not thinking about the long term consequences of what you're doing.
You're not thinking about how what you're doing fits into a bigger plan. You're just getting through the day. Not only is that just part Personally excruciating because your days have no meaning you're just going from one task to the next. But it does a disservice to your students into your staff into your school. Because if you have everybody just focusing on completing tasks, you work really hard, but you don't accomplish a lot. Have you ever had that feeling before where you go, you spent a whole day at work, you know, you've been working hard, you come home exhausted. But when you think about what you really did, you don't feel like you accomplished anything towards your vision, mission and core values. Instead, you just completed a lot of tasks. So we don't want to be bosses. Now leaders, they get a little bit different. So they're saying, okay, we don't want to focus on task we want to focus on, you know, like goals, you know, where do we want to go? So instead of what do we need to do, they're thinking about where do we want to go.
So leaders set up goals, you know, we want to decrease the number of students who are suspended every year, we want to increase our graduation rate. And so what leaders do is they kind of dive into the data and the data dictates to them, what goals they should fulfill. And they start chasing goals, regardless of whether or not those goals are good, whether or not those goals serve their bigger vision. And they just start setting goals. And again, what happens is, you work really hard, maybe for an entire year, you hit the goal. But it's not satisfying, because even though you hit the goal, you you don't really, you did so much to hit the goal that you don't really have anything to in place to sustain the goal, or you work really hard all year and you don't hit the goal. And now you feel like a failure, when maybe you failed at something you shouldn't have been attempting in the first place. I remember once when I was very early in the the in the early days of mind steps. I took a client I probably shouldn't have taken and the challenge was it was someone I knew and someone that I had worked with in a former life not closely. But you know, we were just kind of in the same colleague circle. And he asked me to come in because the school was in danger of state takeover. And he wanted to do some PD with his teachers around differentiation around rigor. And I was doing a lot of work, especially around rigor at the time. And so he asked me to come in and work with a school and I was working pretty intensely at the school, I was there twice a week, I think it was working there with another coach. And we were really trying to help increase the rigor of instruction in the school. So we did all this work. And towards the end, the principal opted to focus on a lot of tricks and, you know, little strategies that there were a lot of conversations about the quote, unquote, bubble kids, and how do we kind of move the data rather than fixing the problems that created that data in the first place. And sure enough, at the end of the year, they hit the goal, big party, big celebration, they avoided state state takeover, they got commendations by the district, everybody was so excited.
Don't you know it, they were right back in the same situation they were two years before.
It was because the leader focused on a goal and achieving the goal without focusing on rebuilding the school, so they never have to deal with that problem again. And I think that's the big difference between bosses and leaders and builders, bosses and leaders, when they're doing their work. They're either focused on completing task or achieving a goal. And they're not thinking about how their work today will impact their school tomorrow. Whereas builders are always thinking about that they're not just ever going out to complete a task. They're not just pursuing random, even data driven goals. Instead, what builders are doing is that they are trying to figure out, what is our vision for our school? What's the outcome that we want for every single child in our school? And how do we build a school with that outcome is not just possible, it is expected, where that outcome is predictably and reliably happening for every single child in our school.
When you think about that, when you when you approach it, not from solving a problem backfilling a hole completing a task, you know, of trying to pursue a goal, move some numbers, when you think about it from the perspective of here's the outcome that I want for students, and what does our school have to become, in order for that outcome to be true for every single child, no matter who comes into this building, that changes things. It's not just about completing a task. It's not just about driving towards goals. In fact, builders do less work around kind of goal achievement, and more work around removing obstacles to that or preventing students from achieving that 100%. And there's an important distinction. So one of them in some time kind of talking about that for a second. If you're trying to achieve a goal, then you're trying to you know, you're trying to move numbers, you're trying to increase, you know, reading proficiency, or you're trying to increase the level of rigor or the number of students who are in honors and AP classes, whatever it is you're trying to do. You're pursuing that goal. What you're doing, you often have to work harder, you often have to put in extra work, you often have to bring in extra programs in order to achieve that goal.
So you put in all this work and energy to achieve the goal, but now you can't sustain the work that it took to achieve it.
The moment you let up off the gas, you start declining again. So you always feel like you're pushing this big boulder up a hill. But what builders do is they're not goal focused and set they have, they have a bigger outcome that they want for every single child. So they want every single child to read at above grade level, by second grade, they want every single child to be at or above grade level, they want every single child to set and achieve ambitious academic and social emotional goals for themselves, every single marking period, whatever that is, they start thinking about that outcome. And then the next question builders have is like, okay, not how do right now we're at 60% reading proficiency, how do we get to 70% by the end of the year, because that's a fool's errand, right? What is 60% versus 70%? even mean? It's hard to quantify. I mean, you can say it means, you know, 62 and a half more kids. What is that nobody's getting out of bed every day to move 62 and a half more kids.
Instead, if you think about the outcome 100% of the kids, the next question you're going to have is okay, why aren't 100% of our kids currently achieving? So now, when you look at the data, you're not just looking for the lowest number, or the most glaring number, or the number that the state tells you, you need to be looking at? Instead, you're looking at that data for answers to the question, what's keeping us from being at 100% today? And then when you look at that, you're going to say, Okay, these are the things that are keeping us from being at 100% a day, which one is the biggest Domino. So years ago, I heard this guy named Russell Brunson talk about this big domino theory. And it's, it's stuck with me, because I love the imagery. He talks about how there are, you might have a series of challenges, or a series of objections or a series of things that are in your way, and they're lined up like dominoes. And if you attack the wrong challenge, you might take care of that challenge. But it doesn't knock down all the other challenges that are lined up. So rather than trying to remove one Domino at the time, if you could find the big Domino, the one at the very beginning of the line, you knock down that Domino, it knocks down all the other dominoes. And so this idea of finding the big Domino or you know, Builder's Lab we call it finding your 150. But this idea that if you can find the thing, that the biggest challenge that you are dealing with right now, the one that's getting in your way, that's keeping your whole school for moving forward, and you remove that challenge once and for all.
Then the flow through happens.
More and more students are achieving more and more students are writing those ambitious goals and meeting those ambitious goals. More and more students are graduating, whatever that big vision, that outcome that you have for your students, you remove the barriers to that and you increase the number of students who are able to access that outcome until you get to 100%. Now think about that. If you if you approached your challenges that way, if you if instead of thinking about let's complete a task, or let's try to achieve a goal, if you started thinking about what's the outcome, and what's our best pathway to the outcome, what's the biggest challenge that we're facing right now. And you just focus on knocking down those dominoes, removing those challenges. Think about the difference that it can make for your school up, you're not just looking for an event, completing a task or an event, hitting a goal.
Instead, you're looking to lay the foundation with every single thing that you do for better outcomes today, and tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that, you are building something different. And I don't think enough people get that, you know, a lot of people will look at build a ship and they'll like pick and choose Oh, I like I love micro slicing, I'm gonna pull that part out. Oh, I love this thing over here that you do with the teacher dashboard, I'm definitely going to do that. Oh, you know, I love the support systems and the conversations and the types of supports you have in place, I'm going to do that, oh, my culture is really struggling right now. So I'm going to do core values, and maybe I'll do a culture on it. And they pull out the pieces of the components of the builder ship model. And they go do those things like a task or even like a goal, and they get a little temporary lift. But because that work is not a part of a bigger thing that they are building, you get a temporary hit a temporary high, but then you're you're back out looking for that next high next time because you didn't build anything.
Maybe you hit a goal, but you didn't build anything.
If you're not building something on a consistent basis, then you don't have a different school in three years, or two years or one year. That's the difference between being a builder and being a boss or a leader as a boss or Leader, you go to work every day and you do your best and you hope for the best. As a builder, you know that you have a bigger outcome that you want to see for all of your students. So you're thinking about what do I need to build today to make that outcome likely tomorrow. And everything you do, has to build that school, that reality for your students, those outcomes for your students, or you don't build it. Now, the comfort in the beauty of that is you stop wasting time completing tasks that are not building. Now, people are gonna say, Well hold up Robyn, we got tasks that the district requires us to do, I'd love to be a builder, but my district is making me do this than the other. The difference is that as a builder, even if it's something that is required by your district, you have to find a way to make that task work for you. So I'll give you an example. I remember one time our district said that we had to kind of think about reorganizing the time for you know, we had to give students X number of our class periods had to be X number of minutes. And so we were trying to figure out, do we add those minutes to the end of the school day? Do we increase You know, every class period by like two and a half minutes? Or what do we do? And people were freaking out because it was changing master schedules, it was throwing everybody off. We looked at it. And we said, this is a gift, the district is giving us more minutes.
We started thinking about what's the schedule that we can build using the district requirements, that gets us closer to our vision for students. And we came up with this very creative master schedule that not only gave the students a lot of time in classrooms, but also allowed students opportunities to collaborate more allowed students opportunities to think, you know, to meet in groups and to do makeup work with their teachers. And so we took a district requirement, and we leveraged it to help us achieve our outcomes. That's the difference. You never just blindly accept work and try to get through it or swallow it. Instead, everything that you're given everything you're required to do you use it to build the thing that you are trying to build. There's a new thing that I'm seeing a lot lately right now, which is that the problem is the solution. And I struggled with it, I'm probably going to actually do a whole episode on just that one thing, the problem is the solution. But it's the idea that when you are a builder, every obstacle you hit every obstacle you face, you look at that obstacle, and in the obstacle itself is the solution. If you're being required to create a new schedule, then when you look at it through the lens of being a builder, that requirement may feel onerous at first, but by the time you're done with it, you've turned that requirement on its head, and you've leveraged it to actually help you get closer to your outcomes.
Let's say that a person has been assigned to your building that wasn't a successful teacher.
Now you're kind of stuck with that person. And you're trying to build something and it feels like you're being derailed because you've been given a person who's not on board, who doesn't have the will or the skill that you need to move your school forward. That's a problem, how could there possibly be a solution to the problem, but that person is going to expose for you holes that are in your PD, that person is going to make you better at helping all of your other teachers get better that person is going to challenge your vision in ways that help make your vision stronger. So the problem is the solution no matter what happens, builders Look at that. And they say how can I leverage this thing to achieve an outcome when you focus on outcomes instead of task, or even goals than the things that look like obstacles to people are focused on tasks, because all this is another thing I have to do. Or they look like obstacles to people who are focused on goals because all this looks like it's gonna get in the way, I gotta take time away from pursuing this goal to now do this thing.
The builder looks at that and says, Well, welcome to the family challenge. Let's come in, let's figure out how we turn you into an opportunity. Because nothing is going to get away of our achieving those outcomes. And I'll be honest, I spent a lot of time during builder ship University office hours, just you know, not even helping people solve problems, but helping people to see their problems differently. And then once you see them differently, the solution starts to become a lot more obvious. It's a hard thing to unlearn. If you spent your career as a leader, it's a hard thing to unlearn this idea that all we can all just got to hit a goal are all you know, these problems are going to do real everything and that seeing the opportunity and the problem. It's hard thing as a leader to shift from, you know, trying to move the needle to inventing something else creating and building something new.
It's an important shift.
So I guess that's what I'm trying to say here today on today's episode is that you if you want to make the shift from being a leader to being a builder, you've got to stop focusing on task and outcomes. And you've got to start focusing on your vision. Everything gets sifted through your vision and when you Do that the solutions to any obstacle you face become a lot more clear, the direction that your school needs to be going in becomes a lot more clear. The the the ability to be creative and work with what you have, but still make it work for your students becomes much easier. But you got to step away from thinking about the task ahead of you, or the goals that you're trying to set and start focusing on the outcome that you want to see for every single child.
That's the difference. And when you do that, then you can address any issue you can attack any problem you can deal with anything that comes up, like a builder. So that's it for this week, I will talk to you next time where we are going to be celebrating our 100th episode.
So join me for that we're gonna have something really special planned, and 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 buildership 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. 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 Buildershipuniversity.com and get started writing your school success story today.
I'll talk to you again next time.
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.