Monthly Archives: February 2016

Triggering the Brain with Wonder

The other day I was talking to our high school choir teacher, when she told me about a fascinating brain study involving music.

Image Source:

Image Source:

MIT neuroscientists have discovered that music triggers an auditory cortex of the brain that doesn’t appear to respond to other basic auditory sounds like speech.

If our brains have portions that only react to sounds recognized as music, this leads to an important question: Are we really engaging the brain most effectively if we aren’t exposing it to music? Continue reading

PMP:010 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

In episode 10 of Principal Matters Podcast, we dive into some of the practical ways to make school leadership more effective.
Principal Matters Artwork
Dealing with difficult people is often one of the hardest and most frequent challenges you will face, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed. No one can learn to manage difficulties perfectly, but you can learn practical ways to minimize drama, stay focused on outcomes, and maintain your self-dignity in the process.

Check out the companion blog post to this episode HERE.

Here are show-notes for PMP Episode 10:

Continue reading

In Praise of American Educators: Review 3

In Chapter 4 of In Praise of American Educators: And How They Can Become Even Better, DuFour outlines strategies that actually work for high-performing countries.


He then explains why those strategies make more sense than the false assumptions embraced by so many US policymakers. (See previous posts for Review 1 and Review 2)

Comparing Highest Performing Countries to the United States

Continue reading

PMP:09 Better Managing Requests

In episode 9 of Principal Matters Podcast, we jump into the “nuts and bolts” of school leadership by talking about how to manage requests.
Principal Matters Artwork
School leaders can easily be overwhelmed with the number of fires they are asked to put out on a daily basis. In this episode, I share three quick tips on ways to re-think your responses so that you’re helping others for the long term, not just the short term. Check out the companion blog post to this episode HERE.

Here are show-notes for PMP Episode 9:

Continue reading

A Complaint Free World: 5 Ways to Respond

One of the strengths I appreciate in my team members is their ability to voice concerns or raise red flags when something important is affecting our students. I am so thankful for helpful feedback.
Of course, there is a big difference between honest conversation and complaining. Will Bowen explains that the habit of complaining is like bad breathe: you may not be aware of your own, but others are.

Honest feedback provides you with information for making better decisions. Complaining simply discourages the attitudes or motivations others may have to take risks or achieve new goals. All of us are guilty of forgetting the difference between the two. Continue reading

PMP:08 Making Each Day Count

In episode 8 of Principal Matters Podcast, I continue a conversation on the importance of understanding your motivations for why you lead.
Principal Matters Artwork
Based on an original blog post, 3 Tips for Making Each Day Count, I share some insights inspired by Robert Smith’s 20,000 Days and Counting–the lessons of a 50 year old when he calculates the number of days he’s lived.

Here are show-notes for PMP Episode 8:

Continue reading

In Praise of American Educators: Review 2

Talk to almost any politician about education, and you will often hear suggestions for improvement that include words like accountability, portability or choice. inpraiseofamericaneducators-265 Very few suggest adequately funding schools or implementing measures that can really produce results.

In Chapter 3 of Richard DuFour’s In Praise of American Educators: And How They Can Become Even Better (see previous post for Review 1), he shows how current policy trends in states across America are based on false assumptions that not only violate sound research but also contradict best practices.

He exposes 7 common assumptions many policy makers have wholeheartedly embraced: Continue reading

PMP:07 Motivation by Wonder & Purpose

Your deepest motivations determine whether you will lead effectively or not.
Principal Matters Artwork
In this podcast episode, I explore how fear and pride are both counterproductive motivations for school leadership. So what is a healthier motivation? Listen in for a conversation that school leaders often never have with one another, but one that may prevent you from feeling overwhelmed in your road ahead.

You can check out the original blog post that inspired this episode HERE. Continue reading