FuelEd was founded by Megan Marcus in 2012 on the principle that relationships drive learning. While training as a therapist and serving as a researcher for the book The Social Neuroscience of Education by Dr. Louis Cozolino, Marcus recognized the parallels between the teaching and the counseling professions: both are founded on connection, both could promote human development. She knew she was on to something. Her action: pursue a Master’s degree in Education, Policy, and Management from Harvard University to explore whether elements of therapists’ professional training could be translated for an educational audience. Shortly after graduation, Marcus incorporated FuelEd as a non-profit organization and launched her organization with a three-day pilot training for 10 teachers at Houston’s YES Prep Southwest.

Since then, FuelEd has partnered with over one hundred K-12 schools, organizations, and educator preparation programs across the country to help educators develop the emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and attunement necessary to build secure relationships that drive learning and development.

Speaker 1: We've all heard about the sort of iceberg metaphor, right? You just see the tip and you have no idea what's going on beneath the surface. Yet we still act on assumptions. We still tell ourselves stories regarding our staff and our students. We still think we know everything that's going on, but what if we don't and sometimes when you start to dig and figure out what's happening there, it really opens up your heart and it helps you lead with empathy and it helps you be, you know, transition from more top down to bottom up and more directive to relational leadership today's conversation with Megan. Marcus opens up with a really interesting story, a story of a student, a story of a principal, a story of how disenfranchisement and oppression and in how we sometimes as leaders promote the same sort of vicious cycles like school to prison pipeline that we may have experienced as young people and then perpetuate as adults.

Speaker 1: This conversation's awesome. We really dig into so much good stuff. Uh, I told you how the show is going to start, but let me also share how it's going to end. Uh, Megan is super smart and she talks about these two types of leadership, right? And one that is called secure attachment, and that's just a fancy name for relationships. So when you have these security attachments versus insecure attachments, and the cool thing is that she created a checklist where you can reflect, right. You're not going to be evaluated just between you yourself and that's it. And you can see based on Megan's experience and expertise, where do you fit in terms of secure attachment leadership and insecure attachment leadership. So it's super helpful, super useful, and you could get that@fueledschools.org forward slash B L B S. And it's also linked up for you in the show notes.

Speaker 1: So it'd be easy to grab. Hey, it's Daniel, and welcome to the better leaders, better scores, podcast, a show for ruckus makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. And we'll be right back after a few short messages from our show's sponsors successfully navigate change, shape your school's success in lead your teams with Harvard certificate in school management in leadership, get world-class Harvard faculty research, specifically adapted for pre-K through 12 schools. Self-paced online professional development that fits your schedule apply now for our June and July cohorts at better leaders, better schools.com forward slash Harvard that's better leaders, better schools.com forward slash Harvard. Better leaders, better schools is brought to you by school leaders like principal Katerra's is using teach FX special populations benefit the most from verbally engaging in class, but get far fewer opportunities to do so than their peers, especially in virtual classes, teach effects, measures verbal engagement automatically in virtual or in-person classes to help schools and teachers address these issues of equity during COVID learn more and get a special offer from better leaders, better schools, listeners@teachfx.com forward slash B L B S that's teacher effects.com forward slash B L B S.

Speaker 1: 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@organizedbinder.com coz makers today I'm joined by Megan Marcus who holds a bachelor's in psychology from the university of California at Berkeley, a master's degree in psychology from Pepperdine university and a master's in education policy and management from Harvard's graduate school of education. While at Pepperdine, Meghan studied under Dr. New Casa Lino and served as the lead researcher for his book, the social neuroscience of education, which served as a catalyst for launching fuel ed and the exploration of how to translate the elements of a therapist, professional training into educator, professional development, and support her research with Dr. Castelino and studies at Harvard combined the form, the core beliefs that became the bedrock of fuel. And since 2012, begging has passionately served the educational community as fuel ads. Founder in 2017, Megan was named as an, a showcase fellow, a leading social entrepreneur, recognized to have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. Megan, welcome to this show.

Speaker 2: It's an honor to be here. Thank you so much, Danny.

Speaker 1: Absolutely. Uh, you've accomplished so much and I can't wait to cause a ruckus with you here in our conversation. So we'll, we'll start right off with that. And I know you hit a, a, a huge wake up call and it had to do with a student and I believe, um, just exploring right in an awareness of this school to prison pipeline. And so that'll be your set up and take it from there.

Speaker 2: I wanted to just share a story about one, a few lads of participants who as an educator and now going on to start her own school. This is essentially destiny story. Like a lot of teachers do. Destiny became a teacher, so she could inspire and support students facing adversity. And when she was a teacher, she, she used tools that schools use to handle student behavior. The student acts out, she called them out student pick the fight, she'd write them up. Student throws a chair. She she'd spend them. So let's just say a lot of her kids are getting suspended. Let's take a moment to just rewind to Destiny's early life. Destiny grew up four and homeless. Her mother was a drug addict and her father was incarcerated when she was 12. Her mom lost her rights to her kids. And destiny was put up for adoption that very same year, her mother died from an overdose of cocaine.

Speaker 2: And six months later, her stepfather was murdered. Like a lot of the students in destiny school when she was growing up, her brother was also constantly suspended. He'd throw chairs, Chris, the teachers, it was really the only way he knew how to deal with all that pain. When he was suspended enough times he got expelled and once expelled kids are just statistically more likely to drop out. Once they drop out, they're eight times more likely to go to prison. This news brother has now been in and out of jail for the last 12 years with young kids at home. And when I experiencing the very same trauma that destiny and her brother experienced as children, that was really only when destiny went through her training at fuel ed, that all of this hit her. She became a teacher to change lives, but the way she'd been relating to our students was just more likely to ensure their lives stayed exactly the same as it from there on out.

Speaker 2: Destiny completely changed her approach to students with new tools and new skills. She began to see students challenging behavior. Whereas this imitation for her to consider what is this student going through? What are they needing? Let's figuring out what's triggering the student and find this upset. What's triggering me. There's a new voice in her head that wasn't there before. When she was just reacting, she started responding. And so throughout the year, she also engaged in counseling and personal counseling provided by few led to explore her story, her triggers for trauma for the very first time in her adult life, she started to heal and grow this new reflective capacity. When her buttons are pushed, she could notice that burning sensation inside and instead of reacting, she paused and could ask yourself, what's going on with me? You could step away, take a breath. And she begins to be able to really listen to others, to be there for them in a way she wasn't able to before and started doing this, not just with the students, with the adults in our school too.

Speaker 2: And she got a lot of feedback. Whereas her colleagues before experienced her has a bit reactive hotheaded, kind of one of these more emotional defensive types with her new skills. She started to assume the best in others take their perspectives. She was more open, honest, more vulnerable, or willing to take feedback. So essentially their experience with fuel ed, she grew as a person and a result. Girls blossomed all around her. By the end of the year, her team was operating in a way she'd never experienced the team function before the students love being with them. And it showed they didn't miss an entire single day of school. The entire year suspensions went way down test scores, which were previously dead. Last in the district went right up to the highest in the state for those fifth grade students that has been over five years since destiny experienced fuel ed and she's founding her own school called the anchor school. It's a school that won't have. So essentially a school that will train teachers to unpack their own identities, teach them the necessary relationships skills to change lives. It's a school that will prioritize emotionally safe classrooms. And social-emotional learning for students and adults. I'm so proud and excited about Destiny's journey. She not only grew her own emotional intelligence and her relationship skills, but now she's growing the field.

Speaker 1: It's a beautiful story. You know, the context, the challenge, the transformation is so clear with destiny. It's not an easy path in emotional intelligence. And in those mirror moments, you know, that reflection that you later through is tough, tough work, but I love hearing how her staff and students are responding now and probably even the, the confidence that she has as a leader, the value she creates, uh, clearly came through from what you, what you shared. I think you said what the anchor school that you started in that there won't be suspensions. Does that mean like that's like a constraint built into the structure? Like we don't suspend school students,

Speaker 2: That's your plan? You know, she wants all of the behavior management to be relational. And so a lot of restorative practices and, um, support for the educators to be able to really, um, address behavior without going to punitive practices. So she's actually currently got her application altogether, you know, submitting it to the Texas education agency and the, the school is coming to life. That's really amazing.

Speaker 1: That is amazing. And I want to highlight, you know, some of the ways that fuel ed and you helped her because emotional intelligence, like, you know, intellectually, we can understand what it's about having the practical tools, right. To actually develop it is a whole nother story. And so I'm wondering if you can share a tip or two and something practical for the ruckus maker listing, uh, that they can work on themselves to grow their emotional intelligence.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I think that when you think about things like emotional intelligence or social, emotional learning talk to about a lot with students, for sure. And now starting to catch on with the need for that with adults, or even kind of bridge to sort of an adjacent topic of self-care and wellbeing for educators. A lot of folks think of it as a singular activity. Let me go get that mindfulness app focus, breathe, meditate, a solitary experience of I'm going to go the corner and work on my emotional intelligence, but humans are social creatures of all learning, whether it's cognitive or social happens through relationships. And so I think that would be my encouragement to the rockets makers is to move away from this idea that you're going to grow your emotional intelligence in a singular way, but really realize the best way to grow our emotional intelligence is through relationships.

Speaker 2: Co-regulation as opposed to self-regulation when we, you have a secure relationship in your life, whether that's with a coach like yourself, a therapist, like a really great boss and a wonderful life partner, or a friend, those are the relationships that help us grow the most because they can provide us with that, that mirror to who we are, right. You come in, you're really upset. You're really frustrated. You have all these feelings, um, and they can say, Hey, you're really mad about this because you value, um, independence all of a sudden, yeah, I am feeling angry. I, now I know what anger feels like. And I know it's because I have this value it's through that experience of being mirrored, that you can actually not only calm down to start thinking more clearly, but starting to identify parts and contours to your sphere inner world, and some, a little bit that person can come to you, not just with that like supportive empathy, but with genuineness and say, you know what? You were a little bit out of line there. And I think that these are ways that, um, I think you could have handled that a little better giving you that feedback, that again, a mirror of the areas you can grow is an incredible way to grow your own emotional intelligence. So I think the headline there is emotional intelligence is grown through relationships, secure relationships that make us feel safe and seen, and that's the best way to grow your own emotional intelligence.

Speaker 1: Appreciate that. I've never actually heard that, that said so, um, that's, that's some way that you've helped me level up today. And I want to thank you for that. I think you have a story too, and I, I don't know if it's a continuation of what we just talked about, uh, or if this was a different story, so sorry, I forgot. But there was a school turnaround and they did it with, um, check-ins and changing the referral system too. So would you, uh, yeah, enlighten us regarding that. That's another

Speaker 2: Really great story of some feuillet alumni who, um, really as a group, as a team created some incredible initiatives that turned around their school. Um, this took place in Houston, Texas in a district called spring branch independent school district. I know you've taught before Danny, but this school is Northbrook middle school. And back in 2015, Sarah Guerrero was charged by the superintendent at the time to turn the school around academically. Um, and so one of the first things her and her team did was, uh, attend as a group of school leaders, a few LEDs trained. And, um, after that, they had a lot of personal kind of insights, much like destiny did about their own story, their own background, um, about relationship skills. But they also were like, how do we begin to bring principles and practices about relationship driven education into our school? And so what they did was said, we want to just set up one essential practice.

Speaker 2: That's going to create more time and space for listening to staff or those secure relationships for the teachers. And so they set up a system, whereas they already have kind of weekly meetings with teachers looking at data. They develop these additional check-in, they were consistent, they were predictable. And they had a clear purpose for the leadership to become aware of the teacher's feelings, needs and perspectives to help educators feel more seen. And so teachers could really bring whatever they needed to that space, whether it was an issue with classroom management and really practical, help they needed or personal issues at home, if they just needed to vent any. And all of it was welcome. And it really didn't take long for the impact to begin to cascade to students. The, uh, Brian Jaffe, who was the social, emotional learning coordinator on the team, um, set himself that because he had that safe space to feel valued by his principal.

Speaker 2: He was unable to provide that for his teachers. And as a leadership team continued to provide that for the teachers, the teachers kind of have their cups filled and we're able to create the same safety to be that person for the students. And they saw that really ripple out, create an amazing ecosystem of support. And what was at the center. What was really the focus was adults feeling safe and valued at the school campus. And, um, as they kind of, the adults felt safer and safer, more and more valued, they began to connect more with the students. When teachers start connecting where with the students, they started learning a lot more about them. And then suddenly there was this overabundance of information and awareness about the high levels of trauma and social emotional needs of the students in the community we're facing what I find amazing about that.

Speaker 2: It's not like they weren't there before all of those needs, all of those issues, all of that trauma was there, but it became visible and known to the educators through the relationships and the safety that was built. And so now what are they going to do with all of that? So they just solve for it. They couldn't, you know, have check-ins with every single student every single week that would not be scalable. So to solve for that, they created a referral system where, um, those post-its to the ground, essentially teachers and students themselves could take one minute to submit a student's name, if their self-report, Hey, I need help with the students coming in or the teachers, Hey, this student dealing with something bigger than I can help with at this moment. Um, so they can kind of submit it just through the simple survey, simple Google form, and then school support team would provide that very same check-in with the students.

Speaker 2: And so they were responsive. They were timely. They address concerns big and small. And in doing that trust, a lot of trust was built in that systematic practice of ensuring that all students and staff felt seen and safe, and they had a pretty incredible, uh, impact. Um, over the course of five years, they saw 67% reduction in out of school placement staff retention went from 57% to 80 to 90% and they saw 21% increase in student on state testing. I just think that's an amazing example of the way in which we think that the way to solve these like traditional school outcomes is head-on right. Um, but really at the core relationships can create this powerful ripple effect that have outcomes on all sorts of things that can be measured. And can't,

Speaker 1: Yeah, it's interesting. Cause you know, a lot of, uh, principals would like to probably identify themselves and rightly so is like kids first, right? Uh, this kind of thing. I mean, at the end of the day, we're in education because we want to impact students' lives and open doors and help create a better world, better future, better society. But I, I challenged like the kids first notion, you know, I think you should be an adults first principle, and some people bristle at that. They feel like that it's selfish or you're missing the students. But you know, I think it's illustrated in the story you just shared, right? Like if you create that safety, if the adults in your community and your school know that they're cared for and you know, what's going on in their lives, that then transferred to how they served and showed up for their students, if I'm following the story correctly.

Speaker 1: So, you know, one of the objections I can hear potentially some people thinking it was just like, well, where do I have the time? You know? And, and, and I heard you say that the meetings were consistent. So not just, um, analyzing data and sort of the strategic and tactical, uh, student achievement sort of meetings, but these were relational. How you doing what's going on in your world? Sort of check-ins can you unpack that just a bit more like consistent was like once a week, 30 minutes, one to five, one to one. Can, can you share that a little bit? Yeah.

Speaker 2: In this case it was once a week, I believe it was hour long and it was really the principal to her leadership team. So however many there were on the leadership team fiber or whatnot. So that is, that's a lot of time, right. Five additional hours in one's week. And it's interesting. There's another kind of story within this story story of, um, the, one of the leadership team members who has been providing us for our teachers, they supported said, Hey, can, um, can, can we shift this around? Can we go to every other week? Because I I'm, you know, have some things added to my plate and I don't think I can continue doing it at this level. And the teacher said, no, this is the most important thing that I do all week. And it's allowing me to be the best that I can.

Speaker 2: And that was a really big surprise. So this school leader, because she didn't realize how important this was to that educator. And so I think that's the encouragement to principals and other school leaders out there is that it is really, really hard to find the time in an already jam packed schedule. But if we can prioritize for this first, so many other things will fall into place and create much more ease. There's less that you'll have to deal with. If you have teachers whose cups are full, who are feeling more competent and able to provide that support for the students, otherwise things just come out sideways and you're putting out fires constantly trying to take care of everyone. So I think it's something that create more efficiency, but it's really hard to get started.

Speaker 1: I, um, you know, I'm on mute, but I'm wanting to scream cause I'm so fired up by what you're sharing Megan. And like the thing is, this is, um, you know, uh, I'm reading a book on the 80 20 principle. Some people know that called Pareto's principle. And uh, both of us use the language, right? Like find the time. And I would just challenge the ruckus maker, listening. Like don't find the time we know you have a hectic busy, overwhelming schedule, make the time, make the time for these check-in meetings. Because if I could connect the dots to the 80 20 principle, there's a lot of stuff that you're doing in that busy schedule that creates zero to little value for your organization. And the way the 80 20 principle works just in case people don't know. And even if you do listen for the new insight that you hear from what I share right now, it's that 20% of what you're doing is creating 80% of the value right in your organization.

Speaker 1: And it doesn't have to be 2080, it might be 30, 70, or whatever. But the point is, there's actually a very small amount of tasks that you are doing on a consistent basis that moves the needle. The most in the inverse of that is there's a whole bunch of stuff that you're doing maybe because of tradition or this is just how we've always done it. That does nothing. And I want to reflect back to Megan and the ruckus maker, listening. If a teacher tells you, this is the most important meeting, like who's hearing that who hears that as a school leader. Like I can't wait to go to this meeting with you. Like, this is important to me. If you hear that, you need to clear everything and make more time for that period. Maybe even potentially extending because it's actually creating so much value for your school. So I have more questions, but I'm wondering if there's anything you want to add to that before we move on.

Speaker 2: I know I just couldn't agree more with what you're saying. I think it's hard for principals because they come up being oftentimes they're really, really effective teachers, right? That's how they got to this position of being principals. So that's why I think you carry over the mindset of caring for students. Like you said, it's hard to make that shift that the teachers, the adults are your students and you'll need, if you're really caring for the educators, you don't have to care for the students because the educators will do that. If you're really modeling the type of care and a creation of safety with the educators that, um, that they can then go on and take great care of the students.

Speaker 1: I'm loving this conversation, Megan, I think right. Here's a good point to pause just for a moment for a message from our sponsors. When we get back, I want to ask you about being in how to be a whole leader. A bowl person learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school's success in empower your teams with Harvard certificate in school management and leadership get online professional development that fits your schedule. Now enrolling for June and July, 2021 courses include leading change leading schools, leading people and leading learning applied today at better leaders, better schools.com forward slash Harvard. That's better leaders, better schools.com forward slash Harvard 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 teacher effects and get a special offer visit [inaudible] dot com forward slash B L B S that's tfx.com forward slash B L B S. 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@organizedbinder.com.

Speaker 1: And we are back with Megan Marcus. She is the founder of a fuel add, and it's just a wonderful human being. And we're talking about so much amazing stuff. I hope you, you know, you should probably rewind and go back to what we just talked about in terms of these check-in meetings with faculty. Because if I believe, if you integrate this into your leadership practice, you're going to absolutely transform your community. Meghan, you know, I know some that you care a lot about as being a whole leader and a whole person. And can you tell us, like, what does that mean to you and how do you do it?

Speaker 2: Really great question. So, um, Ben bring in some of the science that fuel that is founded on here, so fuel, it really bridges the science from attachment theory into the education space. So for those who aren't aware, um, attachment theory theory is the study of human relationships. It's the most kind of well-founded well-researched study of human relationships, a body of work that exists out there and mostly it, uh, it originated looking at parent-child interactions. Um, and this idea of a secure attachment, a relationship where we feel safe, soothe, seen, and secure. And when we have that in our early childhood, it really sets the stage for all human flourishing. Really, it helps us learn how to trust and rely on others. It helps us feel, uh, and confidence in ourselves. It helps us learn how to self-regulate and believe that the world is a safe place.

Speaker 2: So enables us to be ruckus makers and take risks. So, um, this secure attachment is so, so important, but the coolest thing is the latest research shows that even if you didn't have a secure attachment early in life, at any point in the lifespan, you can actually develop into a secure attachment style, like I'm securely attached by experiencing a subsequent secure relationship. So that brings me back to your question of what it means to be a whole person, a whole leader. I think a whole person and a whole leader is, um, constantly striving to grow in their own security of attachment. And they're also constantly striving to be a secure attachment figure, essentially, a person who builds secure attachments with others. And so once we have that frame, we can begin to look at, okay, what are the qualities and what are the behaviors that we see in secure attachment figures and what are the qualities and behaviors that you see in insecure attachment figures, someone who's more likely to build insecure relationships.

Speaker 2: So I'll highlight just a few of these. So, um, insecure attachment figure, excuse me, secure attachment Biggers. One of the key key qualities that you'll see in them is that they're consistent and predictable, right? People can rely on them and they know that they're going to be there for them over and again, they're also emotionally available and warm to others, right? You signal with your eye contact with your verbals, your non-verbals that you're going to be warm and accepting towards others. Um, secure attachment figures are aware of their own feelings, right? They kind of have an internal sensation of their own map of their feelings, their needs, their perspectives. Um, and there were others feelings needs and perspectives, and they can be responsive and sensitive to when they're noticing something's off with someone that they care about. Um, they respect others autonomy, right? Allowing people to be self-directed, um, having their own independence and a really, really big one is they have their own emotional needs met usually through other secure relationships so that they can be there for the person that they're trying to build a secure relationship with.

Speaker 2: So you can think of it as kind of this like really big web, like I'm providing you with secure attachment, but I'm going to getting my, uh, secure attachment needs met somewhere else. And that really does relate to what we were just talking about with almost this like hierarchy within a school system that the leader really should focus on being a secure attachment figure to the teachers. So the teachers can focus on being a secure attachment figure to the students, but that means that the leader needs to be sure that they have a secure attachment, bigger themselves somewhere, whether it's their boss at the district, their partner at home, a coach, as we mentioned before our therapists. So those are some kind of qualities of a, what I would say, a whole person and a whole.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And, uh, that's really highlighting the stuff just in my life. And I think, you know, within the, within the mastermind, uh, I believe I'm that secure attachment for the leaders I serve. And I love those relationships so much, but I invest in my own coaching and masterminds because that's, that's what feeds me or is my attachment right. And, uh, provides there. So it's just like, I see how that works now. And I, I never had a language around that. And so we spoke, so that was pretty cool. And I'm thinking too, you know, prior to the break, we were talking about these check-in meetings, uh, in the time and the transformation that the campus, uh, experienced. And so here I am sitting, being a secure attachment as a leader to, uh, the faculty member I served, uh, but you know, listening and then creating that space and, uh, demonstrating empathy that might not necessarily come natural, you know, to all leaders. And I'm wondering if you have, uh, thoughts or ideas around like how to, how to be that in that moment, if they want to run those check-ins.

Speaker 2: Yeah, that's really great. I think that, um, two core skills come to mind for me. One is your own self-regulation and the other is empathic listening. So a key thing that you see secure attachment figures do is they promote repeated experiences of emotional transitions from states of distress, to states of calm, comforting, and warmth. So you think of a baby kind of going wave may back to where the attachment literature started. They come into this world, defenseless, completely unable to take care of themselves, and they rely 100% on other humans to take care of their every need. And so we as humans go on this journey of starting out that way, completely unable to regulate ourselves to the point where we need an adult to help us. Co-regulate that's like a parent comes in and pick the baby up. Shoshin sued them. But later on, you know, you're an adolescent, perhaps you can start doing it a little bit for yourself, but oftentimes you need that hug from mom or dad to help you get back on track.

Speaker 2: And even into adulthood, we find that sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on another person. Who's going to listen to you and help you move from that state of distress that state of calm. But hopefully if you had enough experience doing it with someone else, you can start to almost do it for yourself. It literally builds the brain structures in our brain that enables us to calm ourselves down. When we have another person helping us do that with us. So that would be a really key thing is your teachers are going to come in distressed when other people are distressed. It usually makes us stress because we're humans and we're interconnected. So either you're going to take it personally, you're going to get really anxious or really worried, or the feeling is going to be so overwhelming. You're going to want to run out of the room.

Speaker 2: Those are normal, natural reactions, just notice when you're having them. And when you're feeling yourself, getting dysregulated, your heartstring to be, you're wanting to have one of those either kind of fight flight or freeze reactions and do what you can to help get yourself back in the moment and be a holding space for that person. Just know your job is to be a container for their feelings, not to fix, not to problem solve, not to reassure, but actually deeply and let it kind of flow through them because that's, what's going to actually help them feel calm. The more accepting you can be of their feelings and their experiences, the more you can. This gets us to our second scale. More that you can mirror back with the pathic statements. Gosh, that must have been really awful. That made you really mad. I see you're working really hard. You must be really exhausted. Those are statements that can help a person feel understood. And when someone feels understood, they actually begin to calm themselves down. And so that's why you're on self-regulation in those moments. And then the empathic listening would be really two huge qualities for a school leader to focus on in those types of check-ins and in their goal of being more of a secure attachment figure for educators,

Speaker 1: Empathic, listening, and statements is like, um, Jedi level skillsets because when people, when they experience that, right, that's where we talk about them feeling seen and heard. But the nice thing about them too, is you're just noting. You're not judging, right? You're just saying, oh, you know, this that's gotta be frustrating, or I can see that your, your hands are balled off. Tell me what's going on. Right. And you're not judging. So that's great. And then the other thing I want to highlight for the ruckus maker listing is, uh, the image of a container, you know, uh, you don't have to fix people, right? And so I think that's hard because it's like a really emotionally demanding being a leader. Huh. And they come in and you're going to hear some heavy stuff, you know, and tough things are going to happen, but you don't have to fix it.

Speaker 1: You know, you just have to create that space to hold it. And, uh, the last connection I have, cause we mentioned my experience in Houston, the best compliment that I ever received at that school came from, um, one of my counselors, Michelle, and she said, you you've brought a calming, calming presence to our school that was so needed. Thank you. And that's who I, that's part of who I want to be as a coach and as a leader. And uh, it's like those, it's like she etched those words into my brain. Uh, cause I'll never forget it. So I don't even know if Michelle listens to the show, but if you do thank you for saying those words, because it really had an impact on my life.

Speaker 2: That's a great example of how, um, you shoe mirrored back something about who you are, a value or quality she's fell on. You that's stuck with you, right. Even if you reflected that about yourself, it wouldn't have had the same impact as being seen by someone else. And now it's become an even stronger part of your identity because she saw you.

Speaker 1: Yeah, that's a good point. Cool. All right. Well, Megan, you know, I had the same two questions at the end of every show. So I can't wait to hear how you answer these. If you could put a message on all school marquees around the world for just a single day, what would your message read?

Speaker 2: Well, message would read caring for teachers is caring for students.

Speaker 1: And if you were building a school from the ground up your dream school, and you weren't limited by any resources, your only limitation is your imagination. How would you build that dream school? What would be the top three priorities? Okay.

Speaker 2: So 30 number, you know, the headline for all of these are of course secure attachment, secure relationships, but, um, parody number one would be professional development and capacity building for all of the adults in the school in, um, key interpersonal skills like empathic listening and other kinds of trainings that really help develop the social and emotional competencies of educators. The second thing I would implement would be counseling therapy therapy for all the educators to help them unpack all the experiences that they have on a day-to-day basis, the unpack their own personal history and trauma much like destiny did. And to have someone that can be a secure attachment figure for them. Um, and the last one I will throw in a student level, uh, initiative to, um, as for all of the students have opportunity to direct their learning and to really find their passions and to follow them, um, for teachers to really be supportive and guiding them in that, uh, engagement.

Speaker 1: Megan, thanks so much for being my guest on the better leaders, better schools, podcasts of everything we talked about today. What's the one thing you want a ruckus maker to remember?

Speaker 3: Ooh, relationships drive learning.

Speaker 4: Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast for ruckus maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel F better leaders, better schools.com or hit me up on Twitter at alien earbud. 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 at alien earbud and using the hashtag B L B S level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed. Um,

Show Highlights

  • Destiny’s story in changing lives with new tools and skills sets to overcome adversity.
  • Student’s behavior is an invitation to consider, not react to.
  • Tips to avoid promoting disenfranchising systems you wish to eradicate.
  • How to be a whole leader/whole person with the emotional demands of the job.
  • Put co-regulation as opposed to self-regulation practices at the center to create an ecosystem of support.
  • Megan shares Jedi level skill sets of Empathic listening.
  • Learn how to grow emotional intelligence and secure relationships with Fuel Ed.
  • Mirror areas you can grow safe emotional intelligence. 
Megan Marcus: A Leadership Wake Up Call

“If you have teachers whose cups are full, who are feeling more competent and able to provide that support for the students. Otherwise things come out sideways and you’re putting out fires constantly trying to take care of everyone. It’s something that creates more efficiency, but it’s really hard to get started.”

– Megan Marcus



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