How to spend less time fighting fires and more time leading strategically with John Schembari

Episode 8 August 17, 2023 01:01:37
How to spend less time fighting fires and more time leading strategically with John Schembari
Love, Sweat, & Tears: Ingredients for Transformative Campus Leadership
How to spend less time fighting fires and more time leading strategically with John Schembari

Aug 17 2023 | 01:01:37

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Hosted By

Beth Hernandez

Show Notes

We know effective principals make time to cultivate a culture of trust, teamwork, and engagement with their staff... but HOW can we get to that when there's four different fires that we have to put out at once?! John's got some fantastic tools for you, and has spent years helping other campus leaders with exactly that. Schembari has been in education leadership for nearly two decades. He's worked as an education management consultant with organizations like CUNY, Fordham University, Center for Educational Innovation, NJPSA, and SCCI. John and Beth talk about his background and journey to administration, and then get into the NITTY GRITTY specifics of campus leadership how-to. 

You can connect with John on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnaschembari

The Wallace Foundation's How Principals Affect Students and Schools A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research Wallace Foundation Report 2021

National School Reform Faculty Protocols https://nsrfharmony.org/protocols/

Paul Bambrick-Santoyo's book Leverage Leadership https://www.amazon.com/Leverage-Leadership-Practical-Building-Exceptional/dp/1118138600

Carnegie Foundation's Teacher Feedback resources https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/resources/publications/strategies-enhancing-impact-post-observation-feedback-teachers/

Kim Marshall's "The Marshall Memo" Resource Round Up https://marshallmemo.com/

 

 

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Episode Transcript

0:05 Hey, y'all welcome back to love, sweat and tears ingredients for transformative campus leadership. We got something new for you today, part one of two with John shum Berry, this is the first guest we've had where we get to our time, and I have so many more questions still to ask. So we turned it into Part One of two. The next episode that we released will be part two of this conversation. Josh and Barry is incredible. He's in New Jersey. He's served as a principal for years, kind of moved into Director of Curriculum and leadership, and has been working as a consultant now for a while with universities in New York, with school systems, and really with anyone that is interested in hiring him as a coach or consultant. I could not believe the depth and breadth of his knowledge and expertise. I loved that when I would ask him a question he would give, you know, kind of the theory and the why and get into you know, what, whatever the principles, but then also like he would not finish answering the question until he gave here are very three very specific ways that you can implement this tomorrow, or I mean, it was just a fantastic conversation. I knew we had to have more. So please enjoy part one with Josh, and Barry. All of the resources that he mentioned, will be linked in the show notes for your convenience. I hope you guys enjoy. So everyone that today I'm talking with John shum Bari, he's in Jersey, he's worked in education in various roles for quite a few years. And now he's doing a lot of consulting work and training and teaching. And hopefully soon, we'll get him to do some courses for responsive learning. I can't wait. I'm so excited for that. 1:58 It's on the list. Jeff, 2:00 tell us a little bit about yourself about what you're doing right now and why you're here. Thanks for 2:06 that, Beth, and really excited to be here with you today. So what am I doing now? Well, technically, right at this moment, I'm finishing up a lot of my consulting contracts. Because as you know, June, all of our schools are going into summer mode. So most of my contracts will be on hiatus for the summer, obviously, until schools start getting busy and start ramping up for the new year come probably August. So right now is a great time to be talking with folks such as yourselves on our such as yourself on podcasts such as this. And, you know, over the summer, I'll really be working on my branding, talking to others online and in person at conferences, about how we really should be educating our students in the 21st century. 2:56 Yes, I love it. Now, I asked all of my guests this just because I really like to know. But tell me a bit about what you were like, as a student in school. What was school like for you? Students? 3:09 You know, I think I was a fairly good student. I know most your guests are probably going to tell you that, you know, even if even if that's not the truth 3:19 was like I hated school. I was, I was not a great student. I was like, one of those Super GT kids, like you really have to motivate to do any. 3:31 I had my class too. So I agree. And in some ways that they can be more of a distraction than kids who need supports, right? Because you really have to engage students on that upper end. But as for me, I wouldn't say I was one of those students. But I was generally like I said, pretty decent student. I will say though, I was easily bored. And if you didn't capture my attention, I was definitely going to be one of the kids doodling in the back of the class. 4:03 Yeah, oh, yeah. All my notebooks are just full of doodles and something to keep my hands busy. And so you know, what was as you kind of get older in school and you're in high school going into college age? What did you know that you wanted to go into education? Like kind of what was that transition like for you? 4:23 Thanks for asking that question. I actually was not a natural educator. So going through school going through high school, it was I was very interested in international relations, government politics. In fact, I think part of the reason was I had an opportunity as a high school student to be a mini exchange student, so I wasn't overseas for a year but I was with I stayed with a family in England for about a month. And that just hooked me it just hooked me on, you know, having those international experiences and he Though one might say, well, that's not that far different from the United States. True, but it was definitely my gateway to what we would call more farflung experiences later on in my life that we could talk about. But so really always interested in culture, society, different ways of living. So when I left high school, I ended up going to college at Mary Washington College, which is now I think, the University of Mary Washington. It's literally right outside DC, it's about 50 miles in Fredericksburg, Virginia. And so being close to DC, I had the opportunity to do internships at nonprofit think tanks. So I interned at that time at the Middle East Institute, which was part of Johns Hopkins at that time, I think it might still be, I also interned at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And so my major ended up being international affairs, okay, left college, went to university, again for my master's in international relations, and moved back to DC. And I was working now full time in nonprofit think tanks, such as the American Society of international law. But one thing that happened when I was there, that was because at the time, I wasn't that much older. In fact, I might have even been younger than some of our graduate interns, particularly, they were law students at Georgetown, or at Johns Hopkins. And so I was more or less put in charge of our internship program. And I was really enjoying that. And I was kind of like something you mentioned before I was teaching adults, ESL, I think you had had that experience as well. And I was really enjoying the training aspect, the facilitation aspect of my work. And at that point, a friend of mine had reminded me of her experience teaching in Japan for a couple years. So I ended up doing that coming back and going full in on teaching and, and the rest is history. I'm sorry, that was a little long winded. 7:11 No, I love it. So where were you teaching ESL, when you started doing that? Or is that what you were teaching? 7:18 So when I was in the States, before I became a teacher, I was teaching adults through Fairfax County, Virginia's Adult and Community Education program. But when I went to Japan, on the Japan exchange and teaching program, which still exists, I highly recommend it for any college grads interested in having that overseas teaching experience. And then I was teaching middle school students in Japan. And the way that program works was, every year, every school or most schools in Japan would invite a foreign English teacher to come and support the English language instruction, that the ELA teachers there were doing. So by no means was I in fact, I knew very little Japanese when I went and I'm still not very great at it. So I wasn't, you know, the main teacher really our role on this program. Beth, was to show students that, yes, people speak English. And this is how you could gain a more of a conversational approach to language. 8:24 So how long did you do that? 8:25 I did that for two years. And still probably two of the best years of my life, I, I can't recommend it enough. Like I said, for others that might be interested in, in having that overseas experience while still teaching, it's a great way to see if you want to be a teacher, because you don't have to be a teacher on that program. I think it's the same. And it's also a great way to see if you thrive in foreign cultures, because a lot of people can end up going to a career in international education, an American school overseas, a British school overseas. So it's a great way to explore possibilities in education. And like I was saying International Living. 9:13 So what did you do when you came back to the States? Are you like, I still want to stay in teaching? Like what was that transition back here? Like? Yeah, so 9:21 I ended up coming back and trying my hand, I ended up going back and started working again at nonprofit think tanks in DC. But I did miss. I did miss that teaching. So at the time, New Jersey, where I'm from, or I'm sorry, at the time, Virginia where I was living, did not have a very good alternate route into teaching program. You'd have to go back for a second bachelor's degree. And that didn't make sense to me. And so and this was before the shortages we have now in education and in teaching so I'm glad that alternate reprograms like guy eventually ended up participating in in New Jersey are more common now than they were even back then. Because and not only alternate route, but grow your own programs are finally coming into into their own. So that's what I ended up doing. I ended up moving back to New Jersey, got an emergency certification. So I was teaching in middle school during the day, and then at night, taking all my certification courses, and then at the end of that year, pending decent reviews, and I don't think it's changed very much since then in New Jersey, you get your standard teaching licenses. And that's how I ended up becoming a full fledged educator. 10:42 So what was your journey? Like from classroom instruction? How long were you in the classroom? 10:48 You know, it's funny, you know, I think there are different strokes for different folks. I was in the classroom for five years. And I ended up switching to administration. Partially not because I didn't like teaching, I love teaching. But during my teaching journey, Beth, I had an opportunity to work in a magnet program, which is, you know, a school program that has a central theme or focus to it. And so at the time, I was teaching social studies law in history, in a law and public safety Magnet High School Program, here in New Jersey. And because it was such a novel and new program, then I don't think magnet schools are as unique today, because I think we're looking for ways to engage students in inquiry based learning. But at the time, it was still fairly new. And so because it was an innovative program, and I needed to develop inquiry based lessons, project based learning lessons, bringing experts in from the community to work with our students, I really got a buzz, if you will, out of those community connections. And in fact, all of our students did intern one day a week in their senior year, and they did attend the local community college, they didn't actually take their courses with me as seniors, so they got double credit. So again, a lot of initiatives that we see taking hold. Now, we're embedded in this program, exactly embedded. And I love that. And I wanted to really explore that side of my talents, more the programming, the management of that programming. And then from there, I became an administrator, 12:41 how was that kind of jump from the classroom into administration, 12:46 every place you work, there are new learning experiences, right. And I think when people make that jump from teaching, to admin, there's first of all a benefit, and then negative to making that jump in your same school. Because people have gotten to know you and see you as a full on colleague. So that can be hard. But then making that jump as an outsider into administration, or into another school can be hard too, because then you have to develop trust, understanding compassion, and people have to see you as being an asset and a help to them, not somebody that's necessarily going to come in and, and want to change everything up right away. So So I think it depends on the situation. Now, in my case, my first true admin opportunity wasn't in a traditional school system, it was actually in the New Jersey prison system. Because a lot of people don't realize if somebody who was incarcerated is under the age of 21, let's say they're over 18, but they're still under 21. But they don't have their high school diploma, they're still eligible for a free K 12 public education. And so unfortunately, and I don't think that this will come as a surprise to you. There is a connection between academic attainment and success and incarceration. I'm not saying one causes the other but there is clearly an association, because many of our, our guys in this case, could not read at a even a middle school level. So we had a full K 12 educational program, even though those incarcerated in my facility were adults, they just happen to be young adults. And then I ended up making the switch back into more of a traditional school, but again, it was still a magnet school. So that magnet, that magnet theme was always something I was very interested in and came back to full circle. Okay, 14:58 what was it still kind of a sociology and law magnets? 15:03 Yeah, not that far. Actually I ended up starting a high school as a principal in Newark, New Jersey founded or based on American history. So yeah, not the first Newark actually had been pioneering magnet schools for a significant number of years. In fact, many people listening to your podcast here might know of science high in Newark, and Newark Arts High had been around for a significant number of years. In fact, the jazz singer Sarah Vaughn is a graduate from our tow. Okay, so it's been around for a while. So magnet schools, I said, you know how I said before, they're somewhat new, but more common. Now, there have always been those those school systems that have been progressive in their thinking, at the same time to 15:55 a lot of our listeners here are new principals, or just under resourced principals that are isolated, that don't have the tools that they need and are looking for them. Talk to me about what your experience was like those first few years of your administration. 16:13 Like I was saying before, it's very important, when you are a new leader, to build come up camaraderie amongst your staff, to develop the systems and processes that are going to allow the staff in your organization to have a say in decision making. So while you want folks to again, have a mechanism to give you feedback, and you really do need to take that under consideration and evaluate it and if it's good feedback to adopt it. But that's not just going to percolate itself up if you don't have the systems and practices in place. So within your first couple years of admin, if your school doesn't already have, for example, Professional Learning Community time, embedded in the structure of the school day, if you don't have instructional coaches, you're more senior educators training, and then having feedback conversations with other teachers. You need to get the systems in place, or you should get those systems in place to really start to change the culture if it needs to be changed in the first place. And if not, that the good practices that are already going on can continue in perpetuity. Right? Because as a leader, I don't think it's about necessarily you and your ideas. It's about Yes, I mean, obviously, you were brought into the position for a reason. You have talents that the school community wants to utilize as a leader. But it's also about how again, you distribute that leadership. So everyone has a voice, that there is equity, in terms of who has a say in the school community, in terms of what makes that school community what it is. I think it's about like I was saying before putting the systems and processes in place, and really about developing and devising clear communication channels between and among you, teachers, students, parents, and others in the community. Right. So though that's where I think a new principal really needs to be spending their time. And then if they're not already an instructional leader, let's say they came up through operations as opposed through being, say, an instructional coach or an instructional AP, I really do recommend that assistant principals become experts at what good instruction is, because as you and I were talking offline, about a recent Wallace Foundation report about what you know, what makes principals successful. One of the things that they said makes principals successful is how well they develop teachers. Because the number one indicator of student success, and student growth is Teacher capabilities. But How are teachers going to be capable academics capable instructors, if the school leader isn't helping those teachers to become that, so that's why that's the other piece that's really important for new administrators really have curriculum instruction and assessment at the core of every decision you make in schools as much as you can. We all know politics plays into things but that that academic core needs to be the Academic Core. 20:01 So how do you do that? Practically? How did you, you know, no teacher likes an administrator that comes in and tells them all of the things they're doing wrong or all of the changes that you need to make. So how did you balance honoring the good things that teachers were doing, but also coaching them towards growth? 20:20 I think there are several things you could do there. One, as I was saying before, a new person coming in does not necessarily have to come in with the mindset of this place needs to be changed. There is a reason why we have different leaders for different situations, right? So yes, there are leaders that might be called upon to come into a role. And you know, chop heads, I hate to use that expression, that maybe it's a school that's exactly, maybe it's a school that's in turnaround, or a school that's under state control, and where you have run out of time to improve outcomes for your kids. That type of leader is going to be different than the type of leader that I think goes into most school situations, which is where maybe a school is doing fairly well, but could always be doing a little bit better, right. So if that's the situation you're in, which is probably more the common one, right? As a new leader coming in, I think the first and I'm sure you've heard this from other guests, in other places, you really should have a 3060 90 day plan. And that first month, you really shouldn't be making any major decisions. That should really be and I would even say into like 60 days, two months, more your exploration, you want to be talking to your staff, you want to be talking to families, you want to be talking to students about what do you feel is going well, here? Yeah, what do you want to continue? What makes this school or this district great. So it's not going in with this attitude, this is bad, and I have to change everything. It's about going in with an explorer ational attitude, with almost an underpinning that, and a recognition that there are good things going on anywhere you work. Even the most chaotic environment has something somewhere that is working well that you can build on. So if you approach Beth a situation like that, I think a community is more apt to see you as being part of the team and wanting to promote them, validate them, because validation is very important. Now, to the second part of your question, but what if there really are opportunities for change opportunities to make things better? Well, they're in my experience, and in that of my colleagues and friends in the field, I know that we all then look to, you know, what made us educators in the first place. And it's very hard no matter how jaded someone might be, to say, No, you're wrong, I didn't come here to make a difference in the lives of students. Even if they're completely and totally jaded. Even if they don't have as high of expectations for students, as we would like to see, I do think a commonality amongst most educators is they want our is that they wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids. So if you could show evidence, as to any change you want to make, how that's going to or how that has actually increased student growth and achievement. And tied into the common goal, I think, for most educators, which is student growth and achievement, that can help get people on the same page. But again, hopefully by that time, you've done your review, you've seen what's going well, and what can be changed, and people trust you. So those are some strategies. I mean, there are a ton of other ways to do this. I mean, you really do need to then involve your stakeholders in the strategic plan. It can't just be you. It has to be everyone because they're the people that are going to actually need to execute the plan. 24:29 When you're trying to identify your stakeholders or your counsel on campus, the people that are on your campus, the teachers, the leaders there to help you start making those decisions and forming an actual plan. What do you look for, to kind of as teachers to surround yourself with to help you make these kinds of strategic planning? 24:49 Yeah, I definitely look for diversity of role, right? So you definitely want a good section of your teachers. So if you're School, obviously, if you're a middle school, sixth or eighth grade, you might want to have one teacher for each grade level on your school leadership team, or you know, a couple of teachers on your school leadership team. Let's say you're a district, then maybe you have one teacher for each of the schools in your district, on your senior leadership team. It needs to be more Beth than just your teachers. You know, when I was a principal, one area of friction sometimes was definitely your academic staff and your operational staff. You know, the tensions were often office staff feeling, teachers, were asking them to make copies and do everything at the drop of a hat, not realizing that, you know, I was even relying on operational folks to help me with other projects. And so I think, and at the same time and understanding from operations that, yes, there needs to be some advanced notice. But things do happen to in the course of a day of teaching. So having these two groups come together, because you cannot have education in a brick and mortar building, if the two parts don't work together, right. And then yeah, you know, the third part of that is, and they kind of straddle academics and operations. And that's your those are your guidance counselors. Those are your social emotional learning support staff, all the more important these days, but I think they've always should have been there. But that's your your third core group of folks that really needs to be on the table, your nurse, your head of security. So those are some examples of operations folks, working side by side with your educators with your teachers, your guidance counselor's. And if you could have a student on that leadership team, even if they're in a non voting kind of capacity, and some parent representation, in addition to your board, I mean, yes, most schools have a board made up of parents, but I would still have family members on various school improvement committees within the body of your school, if that makes sense. 27:22 I mean, I know at our campus, it's not nearly that organized. But we're also just like regular ol K through fifth grade public school. And we're at a we're at a title one campus. So you know, there's just it's not because we're not a charter or a magnet school, there's not quite as much structure there. But man, that would be awesome to have that and to have all of those voices in there. What was that like for you working with that team? 27:50 Independent? I mean, I think and then I want to know what you do at your school site, not having full resources, because the reality is, most places don't. So what I'm talking about is the ideal, I don't want folks to think, well, we're talking about the ideal. I don't want folks to think, Oh, I wish I had that, or I never had that, because then nothing will change. Right? So I do want to go back to what you're doing in your school. But to answer your question about how you make it all work, I really think it comes down to being very clear about what the vision and the mission of the work is. helping people to understand that we're professionals, and that we're coming together to solve a problem or solve an issue. I'm a big fan Beth, of the National School of Foreign faculty protocols, which are discussion protocols for adults, to engage in problem of practice conversations. Because I mentioned the word before equity, we need to make sure that each of those people at that table has a voice has a say. And as much as we say, we're going to allow for that personalities of personalities, you do need an actual formal mechanism to make that more likely to happen. When I coach teams of other educators in schools. I'm also not only about using those discussion protocols, but I'm also about having a meeting agenda, rotating specific roles on that on that meeting team. And again, having SMART goals in place, what is it that you want to achieve? And how are we going to measure progress along the way? So at the end of the day, we don't come back and realize we've made no progress and we lost a year. 29:44 So what are these meetings that exactly so we meet together but there's not a clear goal or clear purpose and we'll just say our piece and then nothing really changes or 29:55 how do you handle that at your school? 29:57 We have different leadership teams. have teachers that meet with our administrator periodically, the PTA board does a lot at the school, they do a lot of the communication with the parents, we have a staff member that's assigned to a lot of the parent communication over social media. So we're like, kind of leveraging that for the first time, our school population is 60%, native Spanish speakers. And so it takes a lot of time and effort to make sure that we're clearly communicating in both Spanish and English. Our school staff is really diverse. And so that helps a lot with the language barriers that can, you know, kind of crop up. But I don't know how much we listen to student voices. And you know, because it is an elementary school campus, it's different. But that would just that would be it's a really intriguing idea to just see what students are thinking and saying, even when they're 910 years old. 30:56 And exactly, I actually think you're doing a lot and you remind me, I'm working in one school, with instructional coaches they have, they're very lucky, they have a group or a PLC of instructional coaches. And so for the first time, which I think is a great move the ELL instructors on the team, because in that school, they're 40 to 50%, native Spanish speaking. And so it's important, it's important when they're that big of a sub population, it's really important that someone who is expert in English language learning services, have a voice on that team impact what professional development educators are going to get. And another thing you said, I think, even though you're elementary school, you could actually be bringing in the Student Voices, maybe you won't be getting as erudite of answers. But, but you know, even the very youngest kids can use smiley faces or frowny faces, to indicate how they feel about things. And one strategy, I didn't have success this year. But if I work with the school again, next year, this we're definitely going to do the following. I want the instructional coaches to actually start shadowing a student for the length of the day. And I want them to pick students strategically. So since this particular school has a large, native Spanish speaking student population, at least one of the students they shadow, and this is a K eight school, one of the students they shadow, I want that to be an English language learner, to really get the sense of what that day is like for that student. Even if that student is not able to verbalize how they feel. Being the adult in that room and shadowing them should give us as the adults some indication of what that what the learning experience like is for our students, even the youngest. 33:04 That'd be fascinating. I want to spend some time talking about that Wallace report you posted on LinkedIn a while ago now. But I really liked what you were saying and some of the things that the report kind of highlighted as what makes a principal effective. So let's kind of walk through those things. I have some notes. I'm sure you do, too. We talked about instructional coaching, some. But I would love some real specific action items the principals can do to become effective or more effective instructional coaches, like how can they really do that? 33:45 Yes, first and foremost, they got to get into classrooms. I mean, that sounds so trite. And that sounds so simple. But when one has parents dropping in whenever they want and wanting to be seen immediately, I mean, there, there are workarounds around that. I don't know if we'll have time to talk about that. But when you have parents dropping in, when you are dealing with a discipline matter, when you as the principal have not delegated or have a delegated chain of command to deal with different issues, you might get, you know, succumb you might succumb to having to deal with those reports, Lord knows, reporting, reporting, documenting district meetings, all of that has to pull in terms of getting into a classroom. So I'm a big fan, Beth, I don't know if anyone else you've talked to has mentioned this, maybe they have. I'm a big fan of the work of Paul Bamberg, San Antonio, and in particular, his book called leverage leadership. And I can actually quote the chapter it's chapter eight. which is all about the administrator, taking a large poster board, and scheduling out their week, just as if they were a teacher. We give teacher schedules, administrators should have schedules. And in that schedule, if you have to meet with your superintendent at eight o'clock every morning, you put a color post it note in that block period, one in green every day that week. So you know, you're not going to be getting into classrooms, then if you have to do a duty, you know, especially assistant principals, this is maybe more principals block that in purple, right? You can't go in classrooms, then. But the more administrators do this, I think the more they'll see where they have blocks of time in their schedule, to get into classrooms. And even if you can't get into every classroom at least once a week, try to get into a classroom at least once every other week. And then in that interim week, that's when you have your 20 minute or so feedback conversation with the educator, the educator should get a feedback conversation with you. Regardless if there's a problem, or if they're superb, too often, we only have feedback conversations when, quote unquote, someone's in trouble. And that only exacerbates the fear, the stress. If you get into a exactly if you get into NLU 36:32 as a principal, you don't want to have like, you don't want to have those conversations. 36:36 Exactly. It's a drag. It's stressful, it's draining. And if you have these conversations throughout the week, no matter maybe if and when you have to have a difficult conversation, it'll make it easier because you've already built up trust with that teacher and that they know that they can trust you. So that's, that's step number one with the feedback conversations. Breath. I'm also a really big fan. It came out a couple years ago, I don't even know if they still use it. But the Carnegie Foundation had great feedback protocols to use in those feedback meetings. 37:13 And what are like how do you have these conversations? 37:15 Exactly, I'll send them a send, I'll send the link to you. 37:20 That'd be great. Put it in our show notes. 37:22 Love it. And what I like about it is there's one script, if you as the leader need to facilitate the conversation, let's say you're working with someone who's not very self reflective. But there's also a script in there for when the educator is self reflective, to put them in the driver's seat of that conversation. Again, you want to hear from your staff, you want your staff to exhibit leadership. That's a true leader. The other way, if you're just giving people stuff, that's a manager, that's not a leader. That's fiction. Yeah, exactly. Right. A leader is someone who develops leadership and others, especially in school situation. So that's the second way to ensure that you're actually getting instructional improvement going. Because the one in done formal evaluations where you sit in a class of 45 minutes, people game that I would game it, I gained it, you know, when I brought out all the ponies and the dog show, because I knew, but that's not reality. So doing more of these informal ongoing conversations will make instruction better. And hopefully it'll improve your relationship with folks. Now, I'm also a big fan of the work of Kim Marshall. And he's got a great book called rethinking supervision. Highly recommend Beth, his weekly martial memo to folks. He does a weekly memo. So folks, look up Kim martial sign up for that memo, 39:05 I'll have a link to that also for. 39:08 So in the book, he also recommends don't forget those impromptu learning moments. So like if you're passing a teacher in the hallway, and you were in their classroom this morning, say, hey, I really liked how you did blah, blah, blah. And then make a note that you've talked to them about that. Because there are a lot of conversations going on in the hallway. How do we actually formalize even those a little bit or at least take data? And then that would be the other thing I would say, when you're going in and observing. Do you have some kind of informal data collection tool so you could see how teachers are growing in their practice data that you can visualize through some kind of a display pie charts, bar graphs that you could share with Have your staff every week and get their buy in and their ideas on how to improve instruction. And again, tie them into teacher led PLCs. So those would be I think your original question was how to be an instructional leader as a principal, right? I know, we talked about so many things I'm you know, but those are some of the ways that I would say, are very effective, you have to be strategic about getting into classrooms, you have to be strategic about using data. And you have to be strategic about monitoring milestones, and next steps. 40:40 Yeah, that's excellent. I love I love all of the specific action items that we can actually implement. It sounds like a ton of work, it sounds like, how am I gonna have time for this, but something you said earlier was making sure you delegate and have leaders when they're growing other people that can handle the other things that other people can handle, so that you have the time. And I think that's where a lot of our administrators don't learn that in a degree program, or like, you know, unless you have a fantastic mentor, who was really good at that. That's not a skill that's taught. And so we're thrown in, and we have all of this paperwork and all of these fires to put out all these behavior programs and another art and I like there's just so much that's demanding our attention, that this key part that makes the principal actually effective of instructional, in coaching our teachers just gets lost totally 41:38 great. I'll give you a real example. So I was coaching last week and assistant principal, in an urban school system. And even in our conversation, it was interrupted about 20 times. And he left for about 40 minutes. And I was scheduled to work with him for two hours. So already a big part of our time obliterated. And when he came back, I said, so what happens? Not an accusatory always a parent came in and I had to deal with the parent. And to be fair, Beth, in this particular school, they're down a couple of administrators. Number one, they lack enough aides and support to deal with things. So I get that. But they really don't have a delegated chain of command. Even if they had the people in place. And they haven't really put into place a plan for even dealing with parents Robins. So the office doesn't have a plan per se to say, well, thank you for coming Miss Smith. Unfortunately, Mr. Jones is in a meeting right now. Or he's in classrooms right now. So he can't see you right now. But he can see you either on Wednesday morning, when he has office hours, or Thursday afternoon when he has office hours. They don't do that, because I pushed back on this assistant principal. And I said, I understand what you're saying that this parent that came in, has really been trying to help their child do better, and always been present and available, which a lot of folks have not been. So I get why he wants to bend over backwards to help this parent I said, and that's laudable. But you also have 350 400 other students who are in lackluster instruction at this very moment in time. So because the school has some issues, and I'm sure there's there's good instruction too, but I was trying to make a point right back, like, you know, you're not getting in to see what is actually going on in instruction. So you don't know what's good or what's not good for 400 other kids. So and some of that yes, is your systems. But some of that I told the assistant principal is retraining yourself, you don't always have to be the one to jump up and deal with it. You know, I know is principals and I'm very similar Beth, I think it took takes a certain or I should say it attracts a certain type of and I hope I don't get in trouble for saying this with your viewers. A Type A take command kind of individual. And that might work in a military situation. But a school situation should be a little different, right? It shouldn't be more distributed. It should be leadership at all levels, right. That's 44:50 between a leader and Operations Manager. 44:54 Exactly. Exactly. So how do we retrain even our leaders the The importance of why those systems are necessary. And then when they're about to get up, sit down, let someone else deal with it. It's hard. If it's not in your nature, that's hard. But that's the only way we're as principals going to get into classrooms. Right? 45:20 That was the second thing that the Wallace Foundation report listed was the school climate based around trust, teamwork and engagement, not just on the like the clearly, a principle cannot be effective if everything falls on their shoulders, 45:40 nor do you want it to, because let's face it, if you're a really, really good principal, you might be poached, you might be poached for district level roles, a different district that you've always had your eye on an interesting new project. And one of the reasons why teachers and educators are so burnt out, I think, with initiatives and change, even if those are in their best interest in in the best interests of students, is the number of times they've lost administrators. In that same district, I'm working with another assistant principal. They have been the assistant principal, under five principals, they have seen five principals come and go in a period of like 10 years. So that's one principal approximately every two years. So if you actually do care about your school community, I understand everyone needs to move on and do what's in the best interest of their families and in their career. But that doesn't mean we need to leave schools in the lurch. And if you're doing everything, you're not setting up that school for success, to do things on their own. And, and that's not good, because then the cycle of change and change keeps repeating people get more burnt out people leave. And that's another problem. It's how do you do as a leader? We didn't talk about this, and it's not so much reported in the report, I don't think but the best leaders or the best school leaders are also developing their secession plan. Succession succession plan, almost right when they get there. I know that's I hope that doesn't sound negative. But you know, how do you plan for your removal? 47:45 And that's not something that's talked about a lot, right? But no principle is going to be at a campus forever, even the ones that are there for 20 years. At some point in time, they won't be correct. Like it is inevitable. Yeah, 48:00 correct. You know, and even looking at some of the people that I've worked with in the past, even those assistant principals that have worked for many principals, they don't necessarily have to become principal, because they've shown their community that they're a leader, because they've actually broken in five other leaders. So I know for a fact, that assistant principal could be very easily poached for other opportunities, and so and she's been the constant. So, if they go, now, I think this person has probably done a pretty good job of putting systems in place. But let's say somebody like that has it. They go, then there's a dearth of leadership and the schools back to square one, as if they were a year one school and not a year 10 school, if that makes that makes sense. 48:59 No, it's It's good. And it's something that I haven't seen or heard, and it and it values, the student outcomes and the teacher outcomes, and not just your personal outcomes. And I think, you know, maybe some people but very few administrators are there for themselves or their for their students and their teachers. And that's an I don't know, an interesting way, an interesting thing to think about to make sure that you're growing your campus and growing your leaders. 49:29 Exactly. And let's face it, yes, we're there for the kids. But human beings are ambitious people. And so, you know, how do you do both? I don't think we all have to be Mother Teresa. Sure. You can benefit your students. You can have growth and achievement and look out for your career. Look out for your family's well being at the same time. I don't think they're mutually exclusive. And getting back to the report or one way to do that is to, again, not only get into classrooms like that report said, but the other thing that report said, in addition to what you were saying about helping climate was facilitating collaboration. So when I was talking about PLCs, and teacher meeting structures, that's the way you could set up your school for success, whether you're there for the next 30 years, or the next three, 50:29 let's talk about how to do PLC as well, because it's such a hot topic right now. Like, when they're not done, well, it's just another boring, terrible meeting to go to. And when they're done well, they can completely revolutionize your team's engagement and your student outcomes. So let's talk about how to either implement or facilitate or help our campuses PLCs function in a healthy way that actually improves student outcomes. Yeah, yeah. 51:02 So again, they need to be very clearly structured. So for schools to do them, well, I don't recommend doing them at the end of the day. Yeah, you can do at the end of the day, if you're giving teachers per session and giving them extra money to do it, it's really bad. If you're doing them before school or after school, and you're not paying educators. That's not fair. It's not fair. And you're not going to get the best out of your folks, I would be upset. So if you're not going to pay your teachers extra, to stay after school to do this, figure out a way to build in PLCs into the structure of the day. So just like you're developing your schedule, at this time of year, I'm sure many schools right now are doing their schedules for the fall. How do you build in exactly how do you build in PLCs? Now, that's number one, PLCs, PLCs, excuse me, should be at least one hour, once a week, at least better two hours, once a week or every other week, no less, no less. The best is two hours every week, I would say then maybe if you want to get a block of two hours, if you can't do that, one hour a week, or then maybe a block of two hours every other week, no less, because you need time to discuss. Right. So that's the second thing I would say to make PLCs work better. Third thing, because oh, I should add the work that needs to be done is not should not be happening at the PLCs. So for example, if teachers are bringing artifacts of student work, I don't want teachers grading that work. During the PLC, they have to have that work in the buckets already. Like who got it, who almost got it, who didn't get it before they come to the meeting. So they can discuss and analyze the results at the meeting. So that's why it needs to be fully structured. And there needs to be time to have that analysis. So that's the second thing I think PLCs need. Third, Beth, there needs needs to be a standard meeting agenda. I like to work with my folks around having almost like a good of the order for five minutes. Like what what is good that is happening. Let's go around the table just to you know, get in a good place and not a gripe session mode. Then what are two or three things on our agenda? No more. Let's do a problem a practice or a looking at student work artifacts, or read an article for implications for our work in the remaining 2035 minutes. What are our next steps? And when we come back and meet what will we have accomplished? Right? That's one way of having PLCs. So you actually have deliverables do and you're tracking impact. 54:13 So you'll feels like a very short agenda, compared to what I've seen a lot of teachers try to fit into, but if you're doing it consistently, every week, yeah. 54:27 Yeah. Because I almost look at it that way. And you're so right, right. All right. So what has been your impact cramming in all of those things in one meeting, has almost any of the things on that meeting actually occurred? So you will actually have more impact in the long run. If you limit the amount of agenda items, focus on a problem, a practice consultancy, really getting engaged in a discussion around that and what each of you as a teacher going to bring back and do in your classroom. names. And then let's come back and discuss how that went. And then let's, let's augment that. Let's tweak that, let's do it again, let's bring back the student work, I guarantee you that you'll have more of an impact and change instructional practices, much more than if you just have someone reading off a laundry list of 2030 different items there, you know, you could also have a school newsletter, where most of that stuff could be dealt with in a newsletter, or in a in on a posted on a bulletin board doesn't have to occur in the meetings. Data, it all has to be based on data. 55:43 How can we teach our teachers to be better about collecting and utilizing data? Yeah, 55:51 I think and that's a really good question. But I think it's making them aware that they're collecting data all the time. So if you are having kids, you know, fill out or play clickers, and an ABCD. Like, where they're doing ABCD. That's data. Right? That's data. Who said it? Who said, See, what's the correct answer? Oh, sees the correct answer, and a is wrong. But why is a wrong? Oh, I don't have to go back and teach D and B, because they weren't picked up on that I only have to go back and reteach A, that's data, or teachers that do an extra ticket, tell me answer this problem. Okay, let me collect that. Alright, this student got it that goes into the garden bucket, the student almost got it that goes into the almost bucket, and this student didn't get it that goes into the thing, get a bucket, and now you're not grading every last thing that's wrong on that exit ticket. Instead, what you're doing is oh, okay, these 10 kids in my class are red dot this. So tomorrow, I'm gonna give them a project of challenge, ah, these kids almost got it, I need to give them a graphic organizer or some or a document, like an anchor chart with the steps on how to solve the problem. So they can do it independently. Ah, this group of 10 didn't get it at all. So when the group that got it is working on the challenge project, and the group that almost got it is working on, you know, practicing this problem using a steps document, either to work more directly with the students that haven't gotten it, and reteach them. So it's not you re teaching everyone again. Because remember, I mentioned I was the kid that was doodling in the back, that's when I would Doodle in the back of the classroom. If I got it, if I didn't get it, I paid attention, right. But why force kids that don't need that direct support in that direct support. So that's one way you could collect data. Another way is just bring those exit tickets to your PLCs. And then you could collaboratively analyze them with your peers. Data is everywhere. It's not a question of getting teachers to do data or collect data. It's getting them aware that they're already collecting it and being more broad in their thinking of what data actually is. 58:26 I love that. I love that a lot. I can't believe that. We're almost on our time here. I have so much more I want to talk to you about. Yes. Okay, good. Good. Because I have a lot more questions for you. This has been wonderful. But before we go, is there any kind of last parting words that you have for our audience, anything that you, hey, you should be doing this over the summer? Or this is what I really want you to take away from this any any last takeaways for us? 58:56 Yeah, I definitely think there is a value to resting so I would I do hope over the summer, regardless of your teacher and admin, safety, the nurse, you do take some time to relax. You know, there are opportunities to engage in your own professional development, whether online and conferences. Think about that. That's a good way to spend summer. But relax, go back recharged, because you're not going to do anyone any good if you go back with a you know, an empty battery. And just remember, leadership is a journey. I know that sounds really trite. And it's something I try to remind myself of all the time. It isn't a destination because no matter what you quote unquote fix or change, there's always something else that can be tweaked. We have different students coming through our doors every year. So it's not something it's not an endeavor where you arrive. It's the job is the journey and So that's where again, the systems and processes come into place. So don't feel bad about yourself, if there's still work that needs to be done, and helping your students achieve and grow, because there will always be more work to do in that regard. 1:00:14 Thank you so much, John. This has been wonderful. I can't wait to have you back. 1:00:19 Likewise, Beth, glad to glad to be here. 1:00:22 Thanks. Bye, bye. What did I tell you? Oh, man. Don't worry. There is more to come. I can't wait for you guys to hear the rest of our conversation that will be released two weeks from today. All of those resources that he mentioned will be linked in our show notes. So you know, if you didn't catch something or you want to go back and some sounded really interesting, I promise all the links are provided in the show notes for you. As always big thanks to Erwin Staubach, who does all of the production for this thanks to Alana Noy at steel. She did all of the design work and logo for us. And then as always, this whole production is because of the work at responsive learning. Those guys just love to love on teachers and administrators and are doing everything we can including this podcast to bring more tools and resources and help and hope to those with boots on the ground and education in this country. Until next time, Y'all have a great rest of your day. Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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