Transformative Principal
Discover the secrets of school leadership in this weekly interview podcast with top leaders in education.


Thom Markham is a founding father of Project Based Learning.

Started in the mid-90s at a high school trying to reclaim the positive name of the school.

  • Formed charter high school - envision schools.
  • Wrote the handbook on PBL
  • PBL Global
  • PBL = problem to be solved, investigating process, end of process - defining what they did to solve their problem.
  • Lots of variations in that definition.
  • Inquiry, research, facilitated
  • One of the misnomers is the notion is that it is discovery only.
  • Teacher has a strong role in PBL, but it changes.
  • 3 roles: direct instruction, mentor, designer.
  • To be a designer, need to have a better idea of whose role is what?
  • What do you need to learn from someone else, and what do you need to discover yourself?
  • Sensitive to students, need to know them.
  • PBL works better in a personalized culture in the classroom.
  • Getting teams to work well is challenging.
  • We don’t teach teachers known coaching protocols.
  • Skillset is changing dramatically.
  • Teaching 21st century skills.
  • Goal of working with teams is welcoming disruption.
  • Critique as designers.
  • Focus on some personal skills.
  • Every teacher candidate in personality profile to learn what their strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Having very serious conversations about mindset and skillset.
  • Self-analysis and inquiry into the teaching profession.
  • You have to look at yourself and see if you can handle it.
  • Take an inward look and not just an outward look.
  • What is high quality PBL
  • 6 essential principles of PBL
  • Social Emotional learning
  • Human performance method, not a content acquisition method.
  • If you’re going to have kids working in teams, how are they going to work in teams?
  • Chief characteristic is humility.
  • Teams of students create quality work.
  • Accountability, becoming a leader.
  • Breaking down collaboration skills.
  • What happens in the middle of the project?
  • Teaching design thinking process.
  • Social good-focused PBL projects.
  • the standards are not capable of containing what we can learn in the world.
  • Intelligence as successful behavior
  • Z school
  • Deep performance rubrics that kids can judge themselves against.
  • What’s the nature of intelligence in today’s world?
  • The curriculum is the world.
  • You’re in one of the most creative professions in the world.
  • In places where the PBL is happening, the teachers.
  • How to be a transformative principal? Have some basic training in project based learning. How to become an inquiry-based teacher?

Schedule a call with Jethro

Are you feeling like you are always behind at school? Do you feel like you need about 2 more hours each day to accomplish everything? Here’s how I help principals work manageable hours: Create your ideal week, so that you can leave work at work and enjoy your life!

Subscribe in iTunes

Please take a moment to rate this podcast in iTunes or on Stitcher

Please follow me on Twitter: @jethrojones for the host and @TrnFrmPrincipal for the show.

Buy Communication Cards

Show notes on

Download Paperless Principal.  

Take Control of your email

Web Site

Transformative Principal on Stitcher

Refer A Principal

Best Tools for Busy Administrators Survey