Monthly Archives: October 2017

PMP:086 Now We’re Talking – Interview with Justin Baeder

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you walked into your child’s room at home, looked around, gave him a quick nod, and then left him a walkthrough-form listing the pros and cons of your short visit?

None of us would ever think about building relationships by practices like that with our family. But what about our school family? As principals, sometimes we may be unconsciously practicing routines that strain instead of strengthen school relationships.

This week’s podcast interview with author and leadership consultant Justin Baeder will give you a lot to think about in the ways you approach instructional leadership. His new book, Now We’re Talking: 21 Days to High-Performance Instructional Leadership, explains how principals can maximize time with teachers, optimize schedules for more time in rooms, and develop deep conversations about teaching and learning.

Justin is a former elementary teacher and principal from Seattle, Washington, an award-winning education leader, and the founder of Principal Center —an organization dedicated to helping school leaders. He is also the host of the Principal Center Radio podcast.

Questions we discuss:

1. How do principals increase time in classrooms in the midst of so many other demands?
2. What difference do principals see in feedback when they spend more time seeing instruction?
3. What are some habits or life-hacks that can help principals be more efficient on tasks “non-instructional leadership” tasks?
4. What does Justin mean by “cycles,” and how can principals use them to rethink the way they do classroom visits?

Listen in to this week’s conversation for these takeaways:

• Understand how daily classroom visits can help you make informed decisions that foster rich relationships with teachers, improve professional practices, reduce stress, and increase student learning.
• Discover how to conduct classroom visits that foster high-performance results and high-quality instructional leadership.
• Take part in 21 days of action challenges toward making classroom visits a daily practice.
• Gain tips for streamlining your inboxes, staying organized, and prioritizing work so you have time for daily classroom visits.
• Learn how to rethink the way you use email and strategies for emptying your inbox.

Let’s Wrap This Up

As you think about your own time as instructional leader, you may find yourself wondering how you can ever increase more time in classrooms. Join over 10,000 principals who have taken part in Justin’s challenge, and see if you can increase your influence on student outcomes.

Bonus Question

When Justin and I finished our interview, I kept recording our final few minutes together and asked him what was something that surprised him in his research while writing his new book. His findings on the lack of research surrounding common walkthrough practices may surprise you. Listen till the end for some valuable final thoughts.

Now It’s Your Turn

How deep are the conversations you are having about instruction? What is one step you can take this week to increase time with teachers? How can you practice some of Justin’s ideas on reading emails, for instance, to increase time with students and teachers?

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Principal Matters–The Book!


School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

Messaging Matters


Harness the power of messaging to create a culture of acknowledgment, respect, and celebration. Written specially for leaders, this title is divided into three parts, helping readers to maximize their role as chief communicators with students, teachers, and parents and community. Each chapter includes suggestions for using digital tools to enhance messaging and ends with reflection questions and practical next steps.

PMP:085 Managing Demands, Dealing with Difficult People, and Promoting Positive Morale

When I was a boy, I loved to walk the garden where my grandparents grew summer vegetables.

Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@artic_studios?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


My grandfather had an interesting way of planting tomatoes. He would dig a deep hole, scatter a small handful of fertilizer in the bottom of the hole, and then place a tomato plant in while gathering the rich soil around the plant till it was secure. Then he’d water the plant and place a bucket over it. He would alternate times when the plants were covered or open to the sun until they were well established and ready to start blossoming.

Creating a strong environment for learning involves a lot of care and attention. In addition to being instructional leaders, school leaders have to be aware of how we are cultivating the soil of our schools. Sometimes this requires consistently managing various demands, dealing with difficult conversations, and planting seeds of positive school culture. Continue reading

PMP:084 Adapting to the Changing Winds of Education

I’ve been reading an excellent book by Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak, Marching Off the Map: Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World, and it has sparked a lot of thought.

Photo by James Loesch – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/34920192@N02


The first half of the book is what educators know intimately: the changing cultural trends in technology, relationships, politics, and information – and how these affect the ways students learn, think, grow, and behave.

Did you know, for instance, that the average attention span of today’s youth is 6-seconds? It is a challenging mission to reach children so pressed by distracting images, not to mention the social/emotional or intellectual challenges or issues students bring with them each day. Elmore covers many current trends and data on how youth today face challenges we adults never knew at their ages. Continue reading