Houston is a speaker, author, and kindness advocate who has spoken at over 600 schools or events internationally. In 2016, he co-founded CharacterStrong – curriculum and training that help teach social and emotional skills. To date, they have worked with over 2500 schools globally serving over 2 million students. In 2019, his face was featured on Lays BBQ chip bags as someone who helps “spread smiles.” In 2020, his first book, Deep Kindness (Simon & Schuster, Tiller Press) was released. His mom is his hero and her best life lesson is to “hug like you mean it.”

Daniel: I think I let myself down. I think I let my family down, including my puppy. I was just a complete jerky pants for about an hour and the trigger was not being able to get something done that was in my calendar. I got pressed for time and I just turned into the worse version of myself, which stinks, because I try to do a lot of internal work to be a better human being. And I still failed. The biggest reason I failed is that I was putting more weight and more focus on what needed to get done versus the type of human being and leader I want to be. When I lost that focus, uh, the wheels came off the bus, so to speak. We're going to talk about that today. I'm joined by the co-founder of Character Strong, Houston Kraft. I didn't know he talked about it, but it was interesting to differentiate between a to-do list and to be list. We talk about kindness, an incredible nurse named Wonderful, and an awesome opportunity for you to join a leadership conference, Character Strong's putting on at the end of the summer. Hey, it's Daniel, welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast, a show for Ruckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We'll be right back after these messages from our show sponsors.

Daniel: Deliver on your school's vision with Harvard's certificate in school management and leadership and online professional development program that bridges the fields of education and business courses include leading change leading schools and leading people applied today at hgse.me/leader. That's hgse.me/leader.

Daniel: Are you automatically tracking online student participation data during COVID innovative school leaders across the country have started tracking online student participation using Teach FX because it's one of the most powerful ways to improve student outcomes during COVID, especially for English learners and students of color. Learn more about Teach FX and get a special offer at teachFX.com/BLBS. That's teachFX.com/BLBS. All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning. Whether that's in a distance hybrid or traditional educational setting, learn more at organizedbinder.com. Ruckus Maker, I'm joined today by Houston Kraft and author and co-founder of Character Strong, an organization that delivers curriculum and trainings to help teach social and emotional skills in over 3000 schools globally. In 2020, his first book, Deep Kindness was published. His mom is his hero and her best life lesson is hug like you mean it. Houston, Welcome to the show.

Houston: It's always good to be introduced by my mom. In some ways that helps set the stage nicely.

Daniel: Readiong that. I have to think about how my mom might introduce me, but I really appreciate that hug like you mean it, which is a really wonderful thing. Speaking of wonderful things you shared a story in our pre-chat about this woman on an airplane and she experienced some tragedy and the epiphany for you, I think was this gap between what's worthwhile and what we really do. Setting the stage, what's the story there about this woman in the airplane?

Houston: Yeah, I've always believed in kindness, but I think this story, uh, solidified my desire to figure out how to integrate kindness into everything that I do. My career, my life and it was a decade ago, I was on an airplane and, uh, I remember pretty vividly wanting to take a nap. I remember just as vividly the woman next to me, preventing me from doing so. She had a seat next to the window. I was in the middle seat, which I affectionately call the hot dog seat. People's bones are on either side of me. I remember, Helga was her name, making sure that I took my headphones out so we could have a conversation a little bit against my will, but she wanted to chat. She asked the usual questions. At some point, she asked me what I did for work.

Houston: I told her I worked in schools. She got super excited because, uh, she was a teacher at some point in her career as well. She asked me what my favorite thing about high school was. I said, my senior year, she said, why is that? And this is true. My senior year of high school, some friends that I got together and we started a club about kindness called Random Acts of Kindness, et cetera. Once a week, we got together and there was only two rules rule. Number one was we had to meet someone new. Rule two is you had to leave them better than you found them. Telling Helga this whole story, I look over and she's weeping, she's crying in the middle of the airplane. She looks at me right in the eyes. She goes, "Houston, that is so important."

Houston: I said, "Yeah, it was great. It was a fun part of high school." She goes, "No, you don't understand how important it is to me, kindness." I remember thinking to myself, well, you're probably going to tell me because we're trapped on this airplane and sure enough, she dives into the story of the last time she had been on an airplane was three years before her and I had ever met. The only reason she was on an airplane was because early in the morning, she'd awoken to a phone call from her dad's doctor telling her to get from Seattle to Arizona, as soon as she could, because their dad was headed to the hospital and they weren't exactly sure what was going on. She flies to the airport. She buys a plane ticket for five hours later that day, she's stressed out in the airport all day.

Houston: Finally, she sits down on this airplane, getting ready to take off about to turn her phone off. When she gets the second phone call from her dad's doctor explaining that her dad had passed away. She looks at me on the plane that we're now sitting on and she goes, "Houston, I'm on my way to go and see him when I learned that I lost him. Now I'm trapped on this airplane with strangers for three hours." In her memory. I don't think I said a word that whole plane ride. She goes, "I think I was in shock until we landed in the airport. I got off the plane and I walked up to the nearest wall." She goes, "I just fell down crumbled in the middle of that airport. I put my head in my hands and I cried." I remember Helga having a good sense of humor.

Houston: One of the things she said, she goes, "Houston, you should know about me. I'm not a pretty crier. I'm loud, it's noticeable, it's aggressive." She looks at me and she goes, "You want to know why, what you're talking about is so important? Kindness is, and I sat in the airport that day for two hours. What had to be the worst day of my life. If I had to guess for those two hours, there's probably 3000 people in that airport around me, right? Going to my plane or getting off the planes because she's in two hours, 3000 people and not one, not a single person stopped." She looks at me. She goes, "You have no idea how much I could have use that act of kindness that day." I think what frustrates me about the story is you think about the collective cultural value of kindness.

Houston: I don't think I've ever talked to anyone who disagrees that kindness is worthwhile or important. My guess is if you were to ask any of the 3000 people in the airport that day, "Do you believe in kindness?" My guess is all 3000 of them would say something version of yes. And yet all 3000 of them walked by a pretty meaningful opportunity to practice it. I use the story often. In just my own self reflection. I feel like every time I share the story, if it's self confrontational. It forces me to ask myself the question, "Would I stop? I feel like, I don't know, maybe I'm improving 8 times out of 10. The answer's no. I give myself all kinds of what feels like valid excuses. "I don't have time. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. What are they going to think? What is she going to think?

Houston: What are the people around me going to think? Am I going to fail or do I know what to say? I have other things to do." All of those things that could run through our heads to justify that gap. A decade later now I continue to think about that gap between what we see say is important and what we do for each other and Harvard, as they do with lots of things, they named the gap. They study that gap and what they, what they ended up calling it is the Rhetoric Reality Gap. It was born out of a study where they asked families to rank for their kids, what they most want for their children. There's three items to be happy, kind, or high performing. What do you want most for your kids? One, two, three, and 80 something percent said, they'd rather their kids be happy or kind over high performing like an encouraging data point until you ask the kids of those same parents.

Houston: Hey, what do you think your parents want you to be? High-performing, happier, kind. The was the exact opposite. The summary of the paper, the kids said that the adults in their life, they believe would rather, they get good grades than be good people. Harvard says, that's the rhetoric reality gap. The gap between what we say is worthwhile and what we collectively make worthwhile with our actions, with our time, with our priorities. So yeah, a decade later I'm like, how do we close that gap? I really fundamentally believe that education is the key.

Daniel: Absolutely. It makes me reflect on parents and the school system at large. What are those messages they communicate and even more important than the messages, probably. What are those actions that support is it high performance or is it happiness or kindness? What are your priorities all about? I think it was in Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I remember reading somewhere about guys who are studying to join the clergy and they're off to some sort of class talk about morals, something like the good Samaritan story. Basically, somebody is down on their luck, help them out. What the researchers did a studing these people wanting to join the clergy, they turned up the dial in terms of pressure like, "Hey, you gotta make it to this appointment. We're late, we're waiting on you and this kind of stuff. When the pressure was more exerted they just completely walked by these strangers that they had staged that were crying out for help. Here were people that were training to be moral authorities to let love guide all their work and they just miss the opportunity. I really appreciate the story that you shared too, is that we have so many opportunities in front of us. I'm curious, I guess the followup question is, do you have any ideas for us. For the Ruckus Maker listening and how can we hit pause when we notice that we're not that best version of ourselves so that this is an opportunity to inject some kindness and we just don't run away from Helga or from the person crying out for help in the streets.

Houston: Yeah. Yeah. That study drives me crazy. Right? The Princeton Theological Seminary School where it's really time. That's the biggest indicator as to whether or not someone's going to stop. Is how much of a rush they felt like they're in and how often, not only in education, but our culture. How often do we feel like we're in a hurry to get from building a, to building B? Every piece of business wisdom would tell you systems over goals, systems, over goals. How do you cultivate the right systems that actually protect the pursuit of your goals because every goal requires some level of time. And time is that the theorial most important, most frustrating ingredient in our work is that there's never enough of it. So step one, in terms of like practical strategies this one, I suppose, leans more philosophical.

Houston: I'm a big believer in words, because words play such a huge understated role in the way that we experience our life time or the phrase I don't have. Time is a huge in education. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called, "Are You as Busy As You Think," which pushed into that philosophy and said, "What if you were never, again, allowed to say,'I don't have time.' What if you had to say, 'This is not my priority.' I don't have time to integrate kindness into my practice. I don't have time to integrate social, emotional learning into our curriculum, whatever that statement is, what if you just reframed it? It's not my priority to practice kindness in my life. It's not my priority to integrate social, emotional learning into our school." Now that statement could still be true, but it does change the nature of the statement because what we give our time to is what we value.

Houston: Getting clear about that for ourselves is like a first important step. Then the second step is if we do want to make those things, any level of a priority in our life, and it doesn't become even about making time, it becomes about protecting time. What does that look like in practice or in function? Organizationally for us that looks like every single day, we write out our work goals in a shared group channel that can look like a lot of different things, depending on the school or district office you're in. Every day we have a channel where we share, "Hey, here's, what's on our to-do list." One of the things that we talk about a lot is our To Be Lists. We all have things that we have to get done. What I've experienced in my life is when I'm only focused on the things that have to get done.

Houston: I never get to the abstract things of who I want to be. It's the same truth with the Princeton Theological Seminary School study, right? We have to get to this thing, this appointment and along the way, right? I'm about to go tell a story about stopping to help strangers in need and then I'm in the rush of the pursuit to do that. I don't stop this stranger need, right point a and point B on our to-do list. I feel like sometimes we can miss the whole point. I like the practice. We've adopted a character strong move of daily to do lists plus a one item to be lists like don't overwhelm the system, but do make it a part of the system or organizationally. I can see everyone in the group says, "Hey, this is what I'm going to get done today.

Houston: These are meetings. These are appointments. This is what I have to complete." At the top of that list, everyone on our organization has a one item to be lists that they focus on for a quarter. Maybe it's present. Maybe it's kind.Maybe it's grateful. Maybe it's encouraging. Maybe it's enthusiastic. These words that we all want more of in our life. But as my friend, Dexter Davis says, "We're not human beings. We're human becomings." And one of my favorite quotes from Will Durant is "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit." I just scratch out excellence and you can plug in any value word there that you like. Gratitude then is not an act, but a habit. Patients then is not an act, but I have it. Presence. It's not an act, but a habit.

Houston: How do we repeatedly do the things that we want to become? We integrated into our systems. Every day we can see into our organization and then we create accountability internally, right? We have accountability partners. Mine right now is a guy named Austin. I know his goal. He knows my goal. We have systems to check in publicly and privately to make sure that we're going after this thing. Here's the key, right? Do we do it with the same level of fervor intensity, discipline care? Do we hold ourselves to the same level of accountability with those traditional metrics of success as these more abstract values? Because if we don't, we're just falling into the productivity track, which is that it's always just about getting all these things done and never along the way about how we do it.

Daniel: That's so impactful about zooming out and seeing who you want to be versus what you want to accomplish and do. I think that's what people remember most. Of course, if you build some organization, it has some type of impact in the world. They'll say that at your funeral, but everyone's going to remember and share stories about how you treated them. Then the relationships that you built or irrotaded through your actions, your favorite memories, that kind of stuff. I love that To Do List versus To Be Lists. My word I want to practice in 2021 is generosity. So that's what I'm focused on. I'm curious if you don't mind sharing and it's okay if you don't, but in terms of your being for the quarter, what is that for you?

Houston: Yeah, mine is belonging. I want to make people feel like they belong. Our organization continues to grow. That means there's new people involved. Inviting people in ,trying to be more intentional about checking in. I have a few goals related to that sense of belonging. That's organizationally. Personally mine is a balance. Creating more time for dances, my practice for self-care, I've never been much of an exerciser, but wanting to do more of that in 2021, because we're taking on some really big projects as anyone in education knows, can be all consuming, but you can't have everything be all consuming all the time or else you have no outlets for something different.

Daniel: You have a great story about a nurse and your mom surviving a cancer battle. Tell us about that nurse because she really stood out to you for some specific reasons.

Houston: It's a great sort of parallel to the conversation we were just having. My mom almost exactly five years ago was diagnosed with stage four, colon cancer. I just got to chat with her yesterday so she's currently four years cancer free. The year that she was in the middle of going through treatment, it's just an unbearably hard to watch someone you love like that suffer. She went through 11 rounds of chemotherapy. She had a colon resection and in June of 2016, she had 70% of her liver removed at mass general hospital in Boston. I remember getting to be with her for the whole week that she was in the hospital, recovering and being there, you get to meet a lot of people who are in service of my mom, who were there as caregivers caretakers.

Houston: It's interesting to me as I think back on this other really scary time that I only remember one person by name, besides my mom's surgeon, who I met once or twice, there was lots of people, but they came in out of my mom's room. And I only remember one of them, her name's Wonderful. That's how she introduced herself. She said it's not her given name, but it's the name she chooses to go by. I said, "Why is that?" She said, "So many people told me I was wonderful. I just decided to call myself it." I was like, that is a power move. I love that.

Houston: Also good a good self reflection question. What would I go by based on what other people will called me? Hopefully, Wonderful or something like it, but Wonderful, true to form was really wonderful about her job. I remember very distinctly my mom and Wonderful one day walking down the halls at Mass General, and even after a huge surgery they want you moving as quickly as possible, even though it's painful. My mom and Wonderful, were walking down the halls and they start singing The Sound of Music. I don't know how Wonderful knew my mom was in the high school production of The Sound of Music, but somehow she started singing this and you could tell pretty quickly, Wonderful did not know the words to this song, "this Doe, a deer, a femal deer", and they're singing this song and Wonderful doesn't even know the lyrics, but she is singing with Gusto. My mom's smiling and laughing and families all around. My mom takes twice as many steps that day as she had on any other day. As I think back to that time, it's so fascinating to me because I think about all the different nurses that came in and out and all these nurses were really competent. Don't get me wrong. They all have the same things on their to-do lists. Manage IV lines, administer medication, report back to the doctor. And yet the distinction was that Wonderful, you could tell, prioritized her To be lists just as much as the to-do list. You could tell she wanted to be joyful. She wanted to be Wonderful. And you say some of those things so often in the abstract, but they mean really practical things, but there's just as much competence involved in the To Be list as there is the to-do list.

Houston: When I think about doing my work, when I think about the work of educators, you realize so many educators have very similar sets of responsibilities at the end of the day. Their To do list is similar. If you're in a certain classroom environment or a counselor, you're a parent ed, or you're an administrator, but the To Be List is what distinguishes you. You can do everything on your to do list and still not be wonderful at your job or in life or in life. Indeed, both directions, which is why I liked just the premise of being a Ruckus Maker. I like someone who does it differently, but it's the lens that you look at that through. And can you infuse that to do list and prioritize that to-do list with, at the very top of it first and foremost, who do I want to be in the doings of this stuff,

Daniel: That makes me think of emotional intelligence and, uh, developing your self-awareness and understand what's going on inside you and who you want to be, how that's showing up, how it's landed for other people. I think this is probably a good spot to pause for a message from our sponsors. When we come back Houston, I'd love to ask you maybe for some practical tips on the To Be Lists.

Daniel: Get world-class professional development without leaving your home. Harvard's online certificate in school management and leadership helps you establish your legacy and deliver on your vision for your learning community. Since 2018, we're proud to have served nearly 4,000 school leaders from over 110 countries. We would be honored to welcome you to our February or June, 2021. Cohorts apply today hgse.me/leader. That's hgse.me/leader. During COVID every teacher is a new teacher. That's why innovative school leaders are turning to Teach FX whose virtual PD is equipping thousands of teachers with the skills they need to create engaging, equitable and rigorous virtual or blended classes. To learn more about Teach FX and get a special offer. Visit Teach FX.com/BLBS that's teachfx.com/BLBS. Today's show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized Binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings. Organized Binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom, learn more at organizedbinder.com.

Daniel: Alright, and we're back with Houston Kraft, the co-founder of Character Strong. We were talking about the difference between to-do and to be lists. I heard you say that there's an accountability piece that's done in public and then a private piece that you do with Austin, I think was the guy's name. For the Ruckus Maker, listening, maybe this message probably is really resonating. Like, wow, "This is something I need to put my focus on here." What might be like a practical tip? We understand the idea of accountability, but is there anything else that would help a Ruckus Maker listening fully engage in that To Be List

Houston: Yeah, I think a lot of people's struggle with the To Be List is that it is, we don't have as much practice setting those items or setting those goals as we do with our traditional to-do list. We know how to get from inbox 100 down to 50. We know how to grade a certain set of papers or fill out different sorts of paperwork. Uh, we know how to set up a meeting, put together a slide deck, whatever that thing is in your role, those things are very tangible. They're checkoff bubbles. It's like, "Okay, well, what does it look like to actually put presence or gratitude or encouragement on my to-do list?" One of the things that I believe deeply in what, especially when it comes to something like kindness, this abstract massive concept is that specificity is going to drive action and meaning the more specific we get at the end of the day, I can say whether or not I did this thing, but also when it comes to something like kindness, specificity is almost always going to make the action more impactful.

Houston: Who am I targeting this towards? As opposed to the the traditional narrative of kindness right now in a lot of schools is the more random acts of kindness. Which are great. Don't get me wrong. But I feel like oftentimes they're like the high level platitudes that might bring about a smile, but don't always shift culture in a meaningful way. One of the structures I use in my brain is like the classic Venn diagram model. I allow for a constraint to amplify creativity when it comes to setting goals around To Be Items. For example, let's say my To Be word is kind. I'm going to focus on that for this week, today, this quarter, this month. What does it look like to actually take kindness and put it into a daily practice? My constraint might be each day, I think about one person that I want to target it to immediately.

Houston: That makes it more specific. I want to target it towards my secretary. I want to target it towards this bus driver. I want to target it towards one of my students. The second constraint I could add on that would be time. I only have five minutes a day. If things are really busy, we're at a virtual learning world or hybrid, I'm juggling so many different things. Can I protect five minutes a day for this practice? Okay. Then what does kindness and five minutes look like towards this person? I can even add another layer depending on how specific I want to get. I could say something to the effect of, "What is it that I want this person to feel on the far side of the action? Encouraged, seen, appreciated hopeful? So that little Venn diagram, if you can picture it in your brain, people, time feeling the intersection of all of those is where I think the magic happens with something like this.

Houston: The structure of that thinking is probably the most important thing that we can practice and teach the people that we work alongside, or even the students that we serve is, how to think about how we think, which is kindness. You say, let's be kind, it's such a massive ask. It's like putting someone into a room with an unlimited amount of color and a giant blank canvas. Who's not done a ton of art before and be like, all right, create a masterpiece. You're like, Well, I need some constraints. I need to reduce the bigness of this into something more targeted. I might say, "What, I'm going to write this student a note about this project that they did last month and how I'm still thinking about how creative it was. It doesn't have to be a long note.

Houston: 'Hey, you remember that thing you did. I thought that was such an expert use of, uh, your brain,." Your specific skills might be to the secretary. It might be like picking up the phone and just saying as the secretary picks up the phone on the other end and be like, "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to call you, but while I have you, I just want you to know you're just doing such an amazing job. One of the most detailed things that I appreciate about you is the way that you do X, Y, and Z." The ability to do that in five minutes or less. To me, that's such a good reminder, personally, that time is not directly correlated with impact that we can build trust over time. We know that that takes time, but impact, especially with people that you've already developed.

Houston: Some level of trust with impact does not always equal time. I can spend five hours a day writing emails and then spend five minutes making that phone call or sending that message or writing that postcard. And that five minute action could, as you mentioned before, could be the thing that this organization, this person remembers more about my work than the five hours I spent emailing. Now are the emails still important? Yes, but let's not confuse time with impact, and let's not confuse our to-do lists with our to be lists. Can we prioritize both with equal skill and equal passion?

Daniel: Make a distinction between shallow work that allows you to keep your job and then deep work that makes your linchpin and like you said, ths To Be LIst is what sets you apart from other leaders. Kindness, I want to highlight for the Rutgers Maker. That's a huge ask. So the constraints are a beautiful thing. By considering a person, the amount of time you have, and then that beautiful part, what do you want, is that sort of the outcome? What do you want to them to experience through the kindness you demonstrate. Really is a great way of framing it. Thank you for those insights. Houston, I want to ask you about a leadership conference that you have coming up near the end of July. I'm sure people listening to the stories that you just shared and some practical tips, I would be really eager to enroll in some kind of a event that you are hosting. Tell us all about and what folks can expect.

Houston: Organizationally, we focus on building curriculum pre-K through 12th grade that teaches social, emotional learning and character. We know that curriculum is maybe even less than half the battle because implementation is everything. The other big part of our world is training, professional learning and professional development. We do in building, in district professional development, we hold conferences for implementation teams. Our most recent addition is a visionary, a principal conference or building leaders. It's rooted in talking and unpacking the difference between leadership and management. We lead people. We manage things and great leaders needed to be able to do both. It comes from a model that we built our organization on. It's sort of the model that shaped my life, which is the Servant Leadership type of model.

Houston: What we know about building leaders is that this is not always the kind of professional development that they get access to. A lot of things on the management side, the people side, the relationship building side, much like the [inaudible) side we need just as much support there.It's a two day conference, two hours each day because we know that the limited bandwidth of administrators, and so we try to separate it out, make it bite-sized chunks. We've been doing some cool Mastermind groups afterwards where you get some really solid accountability and supports and conversation and community. If that's something that you're interested in, you can just check out characterstrong.com to learn more about all of those trainings and conferences

Daniel: I definitely encouraged the Ruckus Maker, listening to check that out. We'll make sure it's linked up in the show notes for you. Houston, in terms of a school marquee. If you could put a message around the world on every single school marquee for a year, what would it say?

Houston: I think the premise of questions over statements. One of my favorite questions that we call it character, the question that's not getting asked, which is what did you do for others today? That would be the question I would pose that students could see as they walk out each day, or even if they walk in each day, we have a school that had this up and they said sometimes students did not answer that question when they first started. It's in the morning, it would be, what will you do for others today? The evening, what did you do for others today?

Daniel: Beautiful Houston, You're building a school from the ground up. You're not limited by any resources. You're only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your top three priority?

Houston: In a lot of things, I feel like we're building some of that dream school right now, as we been rewriting our entire social, emotional learning curriculum to kind of meet the moment. Particularly, content needs be engaging and authentic and relevant and 2020 and 2021 has changed what need, what those conversations need to be about. We've started from scratch and it's been really a beautiful and humbling process because one of the big steps we took is we've invited students into that process in big ways. We have a 30 student high school advisory board at a 30 student middle school advisory board, and we're just asking them a lot of questions and they have a lot of really smart answers. We've put together an educator advisory board that brings in people from a lot of different disciplines, whether it's theater, education, play therapy, people who have done uh, Instagram or like YouTube sort of work teaching some of the high level conversations, large groups and people that have done like one-on-one tier three interventions.

Houston: We have the whole range. I think it's about bringing a lot of voices to the table first and foremost, which makes the process longer. But to quote Dale Carnegie "people support the things they help build." So that feels like a key ingredient. The other piece that I've just such a huge believer in is experiential education. I think in my dream school, we continue to escape the narrative that so much of our education system puts young people into, which is that learning is transactional versus experiential. Particularly because my passion is social, emotional learning, which doesn't have as many right or wrong answers, uh, I believe deeply in the power of activity-based learning and conversations that come from that. My dream school would have ropes courses. If we're not, if we're talking about no restraints, right? We're not worried about liability,

Daniel: Zero restraints.

Houston: We need the Ropes Courses. We need the ability to put people into a team environments, group, and small group environments to experience things together, uh, to unpack those conversations together. I bring in a lot of art from incredible artists all over the world, visual arts, music, arts art is a great teacher. My priorities would focus on, I suppose, in many ways, the outcomes that we're aiming towards in our curriculum, which is belonging, wellbeing, and engagement. If we can, if we can create some sense of psychological safety, if we can teach young people how to help themselves experience wellbeing, protect their own mental health and protect that of others and engage in our learning academics in their community and making the world a more, just kind compassionate place. To me, that's a great education.

Daniel: Agreed. Well, Houston, thanks so much for being a part of the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts of everything we talked about today. What's the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember.

Houston: All right. As my friend Dexter Davis says "We're not human beings. We are human becomings."

Speaker 4: Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast for Ruckus Makers. If you have a question or would like connect my email, Daniel@betterleadersbetterschools.com or hit me up on Twitter @alienearbud. If the better leaders better schools, podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway from the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter @alienearbud and using the #BLBS level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed.

Daniel: [inaudible].

Show Highlights

  • A Woman on the airplane closes the Rhetoric Reality Gap
  • What it means to be Wonderful
  • SEL learning and character development
  • Collective cultural value of kindness and how to practice it
  • 2 day leadership development conference leaders need
  • Your To Be List is what distinguishes you
  • Practical tips on accountability to make actions more impactful
  • The one question everyone should answer each day 
  • Random acts of kindness doesn’t shift culture in a meaningful way 
  • How do we repeatedly do the things that we want to become
Houston Kraft: Expressing kindness in education

“What we give our time to is what we value. Getting clear about that for ourselves is like a first important step. Then the second step is if we want to make those things, any level of a priority in our life, and it doesn’t become about making time, it becomes about protecting time.” 

Houston Kraft



Transform how you lead to become a resilient and empowered change agent with Harvard’s online Certificate in School Management and Leadership. Grow your professional network with a global cohort of fellow school leaders as you collaborate in case studies bridging the fields of education and business. Apply today at http://hgse.me/leader.



School leaders know that productive student talk drives student learning, but the average teacher talks 75% of class time! TeachFX is changing that with a “Fitbit for teachers” that automatically measures student engagement and gives teachers feedback about what they could do differently. 

Learn more about the TeachFX app and get a special 20% discount for your school or district by visiting teachfx.com/blbs.



Organized Binder is the missing piece in many classrooms. Many teachers are great with the main content of the lesson. Organized Binder helps with powerful introductions, savvy transitions, and memorable lesson closings. Your students will grow their executive functioning skills (and as a bonus), your teachers will become more organized too. Help your students and staff level up with Organized Binder.


Copyright © 2021 Twelve Practices LLC

(Visited 310 times, 1 visits today)