Transformative Principal
An interview style podcast discussing how to be a transformative educational leader in the K-12 setting.

My second part interview with the great Alice Peck. In this episode we focus on her new assignment as a principal of a Title I school in our district.

  • What is Alice going to take with her to her new Title I school?
  • What is Alice anxious about in going to her new school?
  • Why Alice is excited about change.
  • “If you’re not nervous, you probably shouldn’t be doing this!”
  • How Alice is going to overcome her fears.
  • “The greatest way to overcome fear is to face it and address it!”
  • How Alice will deal with building trust as fast as she can. Hint: you can’t speed up trust.
  • The importance of visibility as a school leader.
  • Modeling the kind of work ethic she wants her staff to have.
  • What advice does Alice have to be a transformative principal? Surround yourself with smart people.
  • What helps Alice focus on what is most important? (I forgot to take a picture before I left her office! I’ll see if you can send me one.)

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Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Alice Peck, one of the best principals I have ever worked with. You’ll love to get to know her in this episode.

  • How she came to be where she is at.
  • What she noticed coming from Texas to Utah.
  • What she really enjoys about how things have changed since she came to her current position.
  • How she got her staff on board right from the beginning with PBIS.
  • The art program at Oakdale.
  • The process of starting PBIS at her school. Practical advice of how to get things going.
  • How important it is to have the whole staff involved in school-wide initiatives (speaking of PBIS specifically).
  • Why an actual form for Office Discipline Referral form is important.
  • Where to go when processes are established and ready to maintain.

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Best Tools for Busy Administrators Survey

  • How to manage time on social media with being a principal, doctoral student, etc. How to connect with others.
  • It is about connections that is most beneficial.
  • Connecting with Bill Ferriter and John Pederson
  • It isn’t about the tech itself, it is about the real.
  • Technology just helps you connect with others.
  • What Curt is most proud of that is happening at his school right now.
  • Remodeling his school thanks to a funding referendum his community.
  • Student-produced newscast. (Led by Crystal Brunelle)
  • His school’s Facebook page
  • Going out in the school and snapping pictures.
  • International Happy Day “Wouldn’t this be cool to do?” - said a teacher at his school.
  • People make stuff up on the Internet
  • Humility - Curt is constantly deferring praise to others and deflecting praise and comments to his staff and other people around him.
  • Strengths-Based Leadership Great book!
  • Great leaders need to be excellent listeners.
  • How Curt grew to learn about himself. Evaluating others.
  • Giving feedback that is based on what is seen in other classrooms, rather than, “When I was a teacher…”
  • We have to notice others around us.
  • Spend time to get to know people. Make sure you’re winning hearts and minds before you try to do anything.
  • We aren’t a bunch of independent contractor.
  • Techlandia podcast. And on Twitter - If you listen to this on Sunday, you’ll find something that you can put to use on Monday.
  • How to be a Transformative Principal: Be well read.
  • What motivates him: Nice notes from teachers, parents, students.
  • “You are responsible for the energy you bring into this space.”

Shoutouts: Bill Ferriter Solution tree Crystal brunelle

Direct download: 26_Building_Relationships_with_Curt_Rees_Transformative_Principal_026.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm MST
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Curt Rees Twitter is a tech-minded principal at Northern Hills Elementary School in Onalaska, WI. He is also one of the hosts of the Techlandia Podcast, a great education podcast.

  • Experience as a principal and a teacher around the country.
  • Why he has moved around so much.
  • Doctoral Program and how he balances that with being a principal and what he hopes to get out of it.
  • Clay Shirky Cognitive Surplus
  • Every single day I learn something about being a school leader.
  • The 4 C’s: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity
  • Ninja video by his kids. (And the Harlem Shake)
  • Technology as a tool that supports the kind of learning we want for our kids.
  • Voxer App. Sharing things a little more privately and allowing for a little more emotion.
Direct download: 25_The_4_C_s_with_Curt_Rees_Transformative_Principal_025.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm MST
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William D. Parker is the principal of Skiatook High School. His web site and Twitter. He has also done some amazing interviews himself. I have learned a ton from reading those, and I am sure you will, as well.

Due to technical difficulties, we recorded our phone conversation, so the quality is a little old school. But, I almost felt like a radio DJ with a call-in show.

  • What he learned as the Assistant Principal to the Principal at his school, who recently retired.
  • Bonuses for students who take all the assessments they are required to.
  • What skills he had to learn as an educational leader, that he wasn’t taught in school.
  • Key Responsibilities Areas from Entreleadership tells people who is in charge of what area. Here is his blog post about KRAs.
  • Michael Hyatt leadership podcasts.
  • How he has dealt with student loss. They have tragically had 2 student deaths this year.
    1. Excellent and a lot of communication.
    2. Be visible.
    3. Maintain as much stability as possible.
    4. Open to creative and spontaneous.
    5. Show appreciation to the kids who are present.
    6. Tried to communicate well to media.
    7. Allow yourself to grieve.
  • How he knew what the right thing to do was. Be part of a good team. Trust your people.
  • How he has established collaborative culture of trust.
  • Hiring great instructors and compassionate people.
  • Treat teachers how you would want to be treated. Shotgun blast of directives is not effective.
  • Relationships matter.
  • His blog rocks!
  • Give him some more followers on Twitter, because he has great things to say. I have learned so much from Will.
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Doug Robertson (Twitter) teaches 3rd grade in Southern Oregon.

Here’s his blog or media empire homepage.

Youtube Channel

Facebook Fan page

He is the author of “He’s the Weird Teacher” (paperback) (Kindle edition).

I interviewed Doug because I read his book and was really fascinated by it. I have learned that not everyone teaches the same way (DUH!). But, also, our own life experiences have taught us and shaped us into the people we are today. To be a great teacher, you don’t need to be like [Enter Great Teacher’s Name]. Doug and every excellent “popular” or famous or movie teacher have two things in common:

  1. A strong desire to be your own person, regardless of the status quo or anybody else’s judgments.
  2. A passion to help kids learn.

As part of this podcast, I want to start interviewing master teachers who are really great at what they do. I am especially interested in teachers that are great at making their kids enjoy class and learn life lessons, not just making sure they are acing the tests. ;)

Notes from my conversation with Doug:

  • He used to teach in Hawaii, so we talked a little about that before the official interview started, but it was fascinating, so I included it.
  • Teaching is a performance art
  • Acting vs. Teaching.
  • Importance of trust in teaching.
  • What happens in my classroom happens because I want it to.
  • To Principals: You hired me to do my job, now let me do it.
  • Chris Hardwick
  • How he takes away the opportunity to make excuses.
  • How swimming helped him learn to stop making excuses.
  • Why you can’t keep complaining without doing something to fix it.
  • It is OK to vent about kids. “But, my kids don’t give me much to complain about.” (That is because if they did, he would take responsibility for it!)
  • “My classroom is noisy because it has to be noisy.”
  • “My students are weird, what am I doing to make them weird.”
  • I give two cents on why I like a noisy cafeteria.
  • Some discussion on the term “digital native”.
  • We should call what we do “Practicing Education” just like lawyers practice law and doctors practice medicine.
  • How being a good teacher and establishing the basics allows us to know how we can change things up as we go along.
  • What kind of an environment does Doug need to thrive? Trust!
  • How trusting students is an extension of the trust from administration.
  • Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire by Rafe Esquith
  • How to have your own style. Don’t teach like someone else. Teach like yourself.
  • Some kids don’t respond well to the style of Doug’s teaching.
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What Makes it all Worth it with Chris Wejr Transformative Principal 022

 

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In this second part of my interview with the amazing Chris Wejr, we go deeper into the ideas of student discipline and learning. We also discuss some other cool things that are happening at his school.

  • Punishment. How to approach it correctly.
  • How do we help students with disabilities.
  • How to deal with parents of victims that are upset that there are not visible consequences for misbehavior.
  • If we don’t teach this child, he will continue doing this.
  • Following up with parents a couple weeks after an incident to ensure it is not still happening.
  • Restorative practices - should be tied to negative behaviors.
  • Finding opportunities for kids to serve others.
  • Be proactive to find opportunities to prevent problems that may arise.
  • FedEx Prep - giving teachers time to be innovative and productive on their own with their own passions.
  • Advice for being a transformative principal. “It comes from the teachers, of course. I can’t transform something in a classroom.”
  • Something in his office that motivates him. I asked him to send me the picture of him with the paddle.
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I was super excited to interview Chris Wejr. He is one of those principals that I have been following for a long time and his take on discipline and behavior is inspiring.

  • Moving from a lower SES school to a higher SES school.
  • If kids are driven by rewards, then they are across all areas.
  • It is very easy to go too far with rewards, and focus only on providing rewards for kids to “get us through the day.”
  • The problem with determining how to properly implement PBIS.
  • The complexities of correcting a student’s behavior by giving them a reward when they behave correctly.
  • How important it is to have sense of belonging to help students avoid negative behaviors.
  • Strategies to help students who struggle with negative behavior overcome those struggles.
  • It sometimes takes 2 years to get kids to overcome their struggles.
  • How to buy yourself some time to make decisions and help get through the day to make sure you help kids who are struggling.
  • The bouncy ball trick that worked for me every time after I interviewed him.
  • The difference between a program and a system.

This is a great interview. Chris is amazing!

Direct download: 21_Positive_Behavior_with_Chris_Wejr_Transformative_Principal_021.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm MST
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Making sure the Brand Experience Matches the Brand Promise with Tony Sinanis Transformative Principal 020

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  • Why are we going to let other people tell our story?

  • What they believe in.

  • Every choice they make is thoughtful.

  • How Tony shares his story daily.

  • Storify - An example of how Tony uses Storify.

  • Cantiague Hashtag

  • Video updates

  • Touchcast app

  • How he shifted brand management from him to the staff and the kids

  • How to make sure the brand experience matches the brand promise. For example, here is an exchange between Tony and someone who knows what his school’s brand promise is:

  • Transparency has changed the relationship between the school and community.

  • PTA meetings have taken a new direction since they are so open.

  • Build it from the inside.

  • Faculty Enhancement opportunities instead of faculty meetings

  • How to be a transformative principal like Tony.
    1. It’s not about you!
    2. Stay current on research.
    3. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take the work you do seriously.
  • What he has in his office to keep him focused on how to be the best principal he can be.

  • Jericho Schools

You have to make sure the brand experience matches brand promise As the principal, you need to be learning the most.

Direct download: 20_Making_sure_the_Brand_Experience_Matches_the_Brand_Promise.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm MST
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A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of interviewing Tony Sinanis. Little did I know, that he would be named the New York Elementary Principal of the Year! So, I interviewed him before he was famous. Tony Twitter is a great principal and one who is eager to share what he is doing well. He is also incredibly humble and self-aware. I hope you enjoy his interview. I sure learned a lot from him. Here is his BrandED podcast

  • Tony discusses his background and how he is a first-generation college graduate, and not only that, he is working on his PhD and already has two Masters!
  • Tony still keeps in contact with his first year’s class. Wow!
  • Moving into his first school. Tony’s humility recognizing that he wasn’t the right fit for the school.
  • Separating Tony the principal from Tony the Person.
  • Recognizing that his cultural perspectives that were wrong for his school.
  • The difference between white guilt and recognizing differences.
  • Education is more than just the Common Core and High-Stakes Testing. We are disconnected from what the real world is.
  • We try to make kids fit into this little box, totally discongruent to how the world works.
  • He calls himself the Lead Learner, not the principal, because there is a real difference between the two.
  • How Cantiague gives voice to the students.
  • He demonstrates his learning whenever he can. He pushes himself out of his comfort zone as often as he can.
  • The post about the term Lead Learner by Pernille Ripp
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