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

I am super excited whenever I get to talk with Will Parker, and today is no different.

Today we are tackling three questions that principal listeners have shared with us from our podcasts, covering these topics:


  1. What to do if or when your teachers give you the cold shoulder about learning something new. 

  2. How to manage student dynamics in competency-based instruction. 

  3. Ways to measuring student growth in Social Emotional Learning settings.


Listen-in for the complete conversation.


Questions for Jethro and Will:


1. My teachers give me the cold shoulder when I try to introduce them to new ways of teaching. What should I do?


  • Jethro and I discuss the following:

  • Modeling for teachers

  • Observation of other teachers

  • What is he/she doing well already? Praise first, then instruct.

  • Lead with the question, “Where do you want to grow?”

  • Creating an enviornment where teachers ask for help

  • Celebrating innovative teaching

  • Learning to say yes before saying no


2. How do you make sure that students who struggle don't feel embarrassed or ashamed that they aren't working with their peers? When competency-based, what happens?...


We discuss this question with suggestions about:

  • Defining expecations so that students measure against standards, not other students

  • They are already in different places! Your expectations matter in their perceptions...

  • Help them identify where they are good. And celebrate!

  • It’s not about competition with peers, but competition with themselves. 


3. How can Social Emotional Learning success be measured?


We respond with the following:

Discover the importantce of self-reflection. It’s okay to embrace different standards for everyone. 

Resilient students don’t really need more resiliency training. They need something else. 

A student with trauma needs different things than a student without. 

Creat an environment where you want your own chidren

You can measure the indicators like discipline, attendance and graduation/completion rates 

We share examples of SEL through FOMO -- karaoke cafeteria -- from Principal Kim Coody’s High School in Okahoma and Amy Fast’s emotional learning practices in Oregon

Recource recommended: Barb Sorrels -




Now It’s Your Turn

What is one new method or strategy you could model for your teachers or team? How can you instll in others the freedom to believe it’s okay to try and fail and in learning? And how can you celebrate the wins along the way?


Direct download: A_Special_QA_with_Will_Parker_Transformative_Principal_1054.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm MDT

Akhil is the business development manager at ChargePoint, a fast-growing start-up in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides electric vehicle charging solutions to businesses. Prior to ChargePoint, he spent 5 years in the clean tech and consumer mobile app spaces. Akhil is an alumnus from the 2010 Conrad Challenge, where his finalist team from the North Carolina School of Science and Math designed a latticed pod system that generated electricity from wave energy using internally-housed piezoelectric ceramics.

Register for the Conrad challenge here

* North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
* Didn’t know what I wanted to do.
* Always wanted to be a doctor and ended up doing a ton of work in environmental areas.
* Starting out with very little information.
* Students start from two different places.
* 1. Technology they are really excited about.
* 2. We have a group of students really passionate about a specific problem and start to ideate about how to solve that problem.
* We knew we wanted to build a wave energy device.
* Knew nothing about piezoelectric ceramics.
* Spent hours learning about the physics behind the technology.
* Chemistry professor - her job was keeping us accountable.
* What has changed since you did Conrad Challenge?
* Shifted from focus on medicine to product management.
* Conrad in college admissions process.
* Spoke about the spirit of creativity.
* most capable people I’ve ever known. Still in touch with many of them today.
* I discovered my purpose. It challenged me to be a change-maker!
* Group of students created a device to put out fires by sound waves in forests.
* We champion no-box thinking.
* How to be a transformative principal? Embrace divergent thinking.


Jayme Hull helps schools and churches make millennial friendly environments. She also mentors millennials so that they can be successful. Check out her free resource for principals at her web site.

  • They want to be connected and work somewhere they can make an impact.
  • They have heard their parents talk about how bored or angry they are at work.
  • Very few parents and grandparents were actually happy.
  • The fear of change is strong!
  • Millennials don’t even have the choices like they had in the past.
  • More than 50% cannot stay where they grew up to find work.
  • Completely consumed with staying up on the digital happenings are.
  • They have to be learning or they’ll lose their jobs.
  • You give and you receive. Build a relationship first.
  • Mentorships are really beneficial for millennials.
  • Care about the person first, not what you can get from them.
  • We’ve forgotten how to encourage our new teachers.
  • Make sure they have downtime
  • Their deepest heart’s desire is to have a desire.
  • The millennial are a gift to us. They are demanding that we get back to what we used to do.
  • We have forgotten how to teach what is essential.
  • Mentoring program - The older generation will be blessed. Don’t tack on any more paperwork or extra hours.
  • 2 kinds of mentors - someone on staff willing to pour into the next generation. Group of retired teachers. Never more than 30 minutes for 6–12 weeks.
  • Their words and encouragement.
  • Millennials are so tired of being on a checklist.
  • It’s not about the nail
  • How to be a transformative leader? Look three teachers in the eyes and tell them thanks!
  • Face to face mentoring podcast.
Direct download: Mentoring_Millennials_with_Jayme_Hull_Transformative_Principal_296.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:30am MDT


Michael Horn is the co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute and author of Blended and Disrupting Class, and the new book coming out this week called “Choosing College!”, which is the book we are talking about today!

  • The book is about more than just choosing college, right? Tell me about that.
  • There are a few stats about college that are just appalling, so many people not finishing, so much debt. Why do we still support it?
  • boost in wages, employers require it.
  • military or college!
  • Personally fulfilling
  • A lot of people don’t know.
  • What language do people use to describe what they did.
  • A lot more students should be taking a gap year.
  • Working on the newspaper in high school.
  • Let’s talk about quality assurance. I hear people give advice that it doesn’t matter at all where you go or what you major in.
  • What’s the value I’m getting from this experience?
  • We don’t have enough data while we do have too much data!
  • I am not a historian, even though my major was history.
  • We don’t know what we don’t know.
  • We have to give kids experiences about what they can be doing.
  • Make it tangible with an emotional connection.
  • Give kids immersive experiences in those fields so they can see themselves in that setting!
  • Do your strengths and abilities allow you to get into that field?
  • Learning starts with engagement.
  • What do you think about something like Lambda school, which doesn’t offer a degree, but rather a skill, and you don’t pay for that?
  • More than a coding bootcamp.
  • Might ultimately replace college.
  • Purdue university has an income share agreement.
  • University of Utah.
  • Traditional top universities are going to continue to drive up costs.
  • Price competition among universities.
  • understanding your “why” is important.
  • Understanding what progress looks like for you.
  • Find out what you want and work backwards.
  • Not seeing distinct spheres but rather integrated parts of our lives.
  • Kids look more at what you say than what you do.
  • Loves this from the Forbes’ piece:

    “Because no one understands the precise mix of what external supports cause student outcomes to improve, a theory of innovation—the theory of interdependence and modularity—suggests that schools must integrate to control every critical component of a student’s life that isn’t “good enough” to ensure academic achievement. In other words, when driving toward greater performance with moving parts that are unpredictably interdependent, in order to do anything, schools must do nearly everything.”

    “From the vantage point of our theory, it appears one of the reasons for City Connect’s success is that its school-based coordinator starts with the teacher and each student’s academic goals. That is, the organization integrates the supports it provides in a tight, interdependent manner with each teacher and around the needs of each individual student in a personalized way—not in a tiered way that treats cohorts of students judged to have similar risk profiles in the same way.”

  • Much to love about the personalized approach,
  • Let’s play to your strengths and support you in your weaknesses.
  • How to be a transformative principal? Principals ought to step back and ask, how do I integrate more authentic experiences?

Direct download: choosing_college_with_michael_horn_transformative_principal_295.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:46am MDT

Brad Barber is a former business owner who is now an educator who founded a school called the Tesla Academy. At the Tesla Academy, they coach students rather than teach them.

  • We are an academy, not a school.
  • Agnostic about the school kids attend, it just needs to be good.
  • We can react very quickly and give support to kids.
  • We diagnose their problems.
  • Sometimes they take notes to impress someone else.
  • When you get into the business world, you have to learn really rapidly.
  • Why would kids want to come to the Tesla Academy?
  • It feels so weird to do something different.
  • There’s a generation gap in parents: younger parents totally get it.
  • How to be a transformative principal? My model could really take off in special education. My model would work perfect with 20-40 students.
Direct download: you_changed_my_life_with_brad_barber_transformative_principal_294.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00am MDT