PMP:040 How Do You Positively Respond to Apathy?

Last week when I was hosting a webinar for school leaders, an overwhelming number of responses were made about the challenges of overcoming apathy.
How does a leader initiate positive changes when others resist, don’t seem to care, or only comply half-heartedly?

There’s so much to unpack in that question. In this podcast, I try to hit on a few important points.

Listen in for the complete discussion. Here’s a summary of the show-notes:

7 Tips for Responding to Apathy

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Brunch & Learn Webinars

As a practicing principal, I need to be practicing.
And as much as I enjoy writing, speaking or presenting about school leadership, my primary responsibility as a school leader is serving my school.

So this past summer, I was thrilled when Vickie Williams, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Secondary Principals asked me to partner with OASSP (as well as all members of the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administrators) to offer a monthly webinar series on school leadership topics.

Webinars offer the best of both worlds: the ability to connect, share, learn and grow with others while doing so from the convenience of your office computer.

Beginning in September 2016, we launched our first episode on Organizational Leadership, and yesterday we presented on Purpose-Driven Leadership and Goal Setting. Over the course of one school year, we will be covering an array of leadership topics: Continue reading

Becoming Better: How You Influence Growth

Last weekend I traveled with my son, Jack, and his Cub Scout pack to a joint campout with an older Boy Scout troop.
It was a perfect October weekend: 70’s with sun and breeze; evening temperatures in the 50’s—cold enough that a sleeping bag was the perfect cocoon for tent sleeping.

Although Jack and I have camped a lot, this was my first experience watching a Boy Scout troop at a campout. Throughout the whole experience, the boys were in charge. During mealtime, the senior patrol leader, a ninth grader, separated the group of 23 boys into three groups. Each had their own food preparation area, menus they had created, food they had procured, and tasks assigned.

Whenever the entire group needed to be addressed, the senior patrol leader would call them together, hold up a Scout sign (three fingers), and everyone would go silent as they held up their fingers in response.

That night the boys had a special treat: they were given a tour of the U.S.S. Batfish, a retired World War II submersible boat that once toured the Pacific and survived. Its maiden crew of 80 was confined to tiny spaces where each man played essential tasks: repairing engines, launching torpedoes, radioing signals, navigating with gauges and periscope, or preparing pastries for hungry crew members.

After the tour, the boys were allowed to bunk in the berthing room for the night. Two adult leaders stayed on the boat, but I made way back to my tent. Continue reading

PMP:038 Celebrating Good Deeds with a Class Cup

I know a lot of schools have creative ways to celebrate the positive behaviors they want students showing on a daily basis.
This school year, our student council and their sponsor, Ms. Franklin, launched plans to award a Class Cup to the grade of students who show the most participation in good deeds and school spirit throughout the school year.

Similar to the award given to students in the fictional world of Hogwarts, the wizardry school in the Harry Potter series, students will be tracked throughout the year in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. Based on which class earns the most points, one class will be awarded the big trophy and bragging rights at the end of the school year.

When I met with our student leaders earlier in the semester to talk about their plans, they explained some of the steps they would follow to introduce the idea, track points among students, and recognize merits as the momentum builds. If you’re thinking about starting a new initiative for improving school culture, consider three simple ideas from the Class Cup implementation: Continue reading

PMP:037 Are You Growing? Learning to Celebrate the Small Wins

Last week I left school early so that I could watch our cross-country teams run at a local race.


My daughter Mattie being hugged by her big sister after a grueling 5K run when she improved her personal record time by 2 minutes.

It was one of those days where the sun and clouds kept alternating in the sky. My oldest daughter, Emily ran in the first race. When it ended, clouds moved in and a heavy shower began falling with scattered lightning and thunder. We huddled under the team’s tent canopy, and waited it out. Before long, the clouds moved away, the sun broke through again, and the races continued: boys’ varsity then onto junior varsity. My second daughter, Mattie, runs on the junior varsity team for our school.

All summer long these kids have been training: showing up for early morning runs or staying late for long runs. Sprinting 1,000 yard sets or running for 60-minute long runs have become a part of various routines as they’ve worked to increase endurance. I’m so proud of the dedication of all our high school athletes, but the dad in me is also proud of my girls. Continue reading

PMP:036 Four Suggestions on Providing Meaningful Feedback from Observations and Evaluations

I have a lot of friends who are good golfers. I am not one of them.
But I recognize a good golfer when I see one. He or she is usually the one who gets the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes. One observation I’ve made about great golfers, however, is that most of them have been coached.

Teaching is often a solitary profession. You may have hundreds of students before you on a daily basis, but you are often the lone adult in the room. But even those of us who often do our work outside the observation of peers or advisors can benefit from coaching. Continue reading

PMP:035 Are You Growing? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

I remember when my daughter began taking clarinet lessons from a private tutor in junior high.
When I picked her up from her first session, she said, “I have been playing for three years, but I learned today that I wasn’t putting the mouth piece in far enough. That one tip has helped me hit my first high notes ever!”

We all have a lot to learn, and none of us ever reaches a point in our lives, positions, relationships, or responsibilities where we have “arrived.” Sometimes this is frustrating. But it is also a relief. So what are some helpful sources of support and instruction that can help you keep growing in your life or calling in school leadership? Here are a five questions to ask yourself to discover some right in front of you: Continue reading

PMP:034 Six Ways to Avoid Making Wrong Calls

I once knew a teaching couple who told me a funny story.
They lived right across the street from a man who never seemed to go to work.

During their breaks from school, the neighbor always seemed to be home; they would usually see him in cut-offs, working in his yard. They began to suspect the man was unemployed. Before long they had constructed their own narrative–imagining the sad times that must have led up to this disappointing time in his life. Continue reading

PMP:033 What Motivates Your Learning? A Better Alternative…

When I was a junior high student, I remember feeling pretty clueless about what to expect in high school. suprisingimaginationSometimes my teachers would tell me to expect to be treated like a number. At other times, they would warn us that if we were unprepared, we could expect a dismal future.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that whatever stage of education students are in, we often try to motivate them by either the heights they can achieve or the dismal experiences they will suffer without a good preparation. We often appeal to either their pride (what’s in it for me) or their fear (what dreadful thing happens if I don’t do this).

I’ve often wondered if there is a third or better alternative. Continue reading