Ann Marie Luce is a proud scholar practitioner who believes that our moral imperative as leaders is to build the capacity of others through service, strengths-based support and coaching.  As an educator and school principal Ann Marie has served a variety of communities in Canada, China and the United States.  Currently Ann Marie is  the Head of School at Kehoe-France Southshore in New Orleans, LA.  She has recently completed her  Educational Doctorate at Gonzaga University where her research focused on how leaders develop their cultural intelligence to lead in a global context.

Ann Marie believes in pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and taking risks as demonstrated by her decision to leave a stable career in Ontario to take on the challenge of leading a Canadian International School in Beijing, China. 

Having taught and led in diverse school communities in Ontario, China and the USA Ann Marie believes that trust, transparency and collaboration are the keys to success for school leadership.  As a leader building relationships and developing people are the highest calling of leadership and offer the greatest impact on student learning. 

Daniel: If today you were offered a job, and let's say you're here in New York city, New York, and you were offered a job in Paris or maybe Hong Kong or potentially Joburg, South Africa. Would you have what it takes to lead? Of course, you'd have a great foundation of leadership skills that you could bring with you, and that would work. But in your new context, you'd also have a gap and that gap would be around cultural intelligence. Lucky for you today, I'm speaking with an expert in that field. Her name is Dr. Ann Marie Luce, and she just completed her doctorate regarding cultural intelligence and has a lot to teach you around this topic. Even if you're not moving from the US to an international setting, this still works, especially if you are coming in as potentially a cultural outsider. For example, I am a white male and I have predominantly served in schools that the student population was mostly students of color.

Daniel: Culturally there was a lot to learn. One last thing I'll share personally, is that I moved from Chicago, in the Midwest liberal city to Houston, Texas. I've also served in Atlanta, Georgia, actually Marietta and these are more conservative areas. There was cultural learning and intelligence that needed to be developed for me. I hope you really love this show. Hey, it's Daniel and welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast. This is a show for Ruckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. Before we jump into the episode, I'd like to take some time to thank our show sponsors.

Daniel: Establish your legacy with Harvard certificate in school management and leadership. Learn from Harvard business and education school faculty. As you develop the frameworks skills and knowledge, you need to drive change improvement in your learning community. Apply now for our cohorts at betterleadersbetterschools.com/Harvard. That's betterleadersbetterschools.com/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 FX, measures verbal engagement automatically in virtual or in-person classes to help and teachers address these issues of equity during COVID learn more and get a special offer from Better Leaders, Better Schools, listeners@teachfx.com/BLBS. That's teachfx.com/BLBS.

Daniel: 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 Makers. Today, I am joined by AnnMarie Luce, a proud scholar practitioner who believes that our moral imperative as leaders is to build the capacity of others through service strengths based support in coaching. As an educator and school principal, AnnMarie has served a variety of communities in Canada, China, and the United States. Currently she is head of school at Keyhole France, South Shore in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has recently completed her educational doctorate at Gonzaga University where her research focused on how leaders develop their cultural intelligence to lead in a global context. Ann Marie, welcome to the show. I probably should say Dr. Luce, welcome to the show. Way to go. You did it like what a huge accomplishment.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: It was a great, it was a lot of fun to work on my doctorate. It's funny you step back from it and you're like, "Wow, how did I do that with a full-time job in the middle of a pandemic?" But you do.

Daniel: You do. You figure it out? Anything about humans is we can be resilient. You probably have modes of resilience as you've worked through that process. I'd love to jump straight in and I know that you have a very interesting story. You left this school where the role was very secure. The demands increased. Demands in the context of leadership there pretty much almost took it off from you and that led you to a pretty interesting opportunity overseas. I'll set you up with that. Could you bring us to that moment and share that story?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: Sure. I became a vice principal fairly early in my career. I was 10 years into teaching. I was asked to become a vice principal and started my journey into leadership at that particular point. Most of the communities that I served as both a vice principal and a principal were fairly hard to serve communities. Communities that had a lot of poverty, a lot of mental health addictions, and a lot of challenges within communities. I did enjoy the work. It was very challenging work but I enjoyed it. I had a great team. I felt like I was really able to contribute and make a difference in those particular communities. In my last school, it felt that the challenges that were being presented to me were greater than even the other schools I had served. They became very overwhelming, a lot of changes that happened in the government and there was a lot of labor unrest in schools, in Ontario at that particular time. There was a lot of work to rule. There was a lot of rotating, walkouts, those sorts of things. There was a lot of labor Unrests. There was a lot of change to programming and supports for schools at those particular times. It felt like the job was becoming more and more difficult. I guess about 12 years into my leadership journey at that particular time having been at different schools. I really wanted to leave my school and go into more system role because I really loved curriculum development, professional learning, supporting teachers growth and development, and started to apply for jobs and was not successful in my pursuit of those opportunities within the system. I really felt that I started to burn out.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I wanted to change. I wanted to do something different and it was obvious to me that in my context, at the time that wasn't going to happen and that my options were quite limited. I could stay in my particular school or I could leave the profession, but that that's where I was going to be. I decided to start looking at other opportunities and take control of my own destiny. I began looking at international opportunities. I had done some work previous to that internationally with the Ontario principal's council and had traveled to places in Denmark and also in Sweden to talk about best practices from the Ontario education system in teaching, learning assessment, leadership, and loved it. I loved the opportunity to immerse myself in another school system in another country to see the cultural components that impacted how schools ran and what they focused on. I thought this would be a great opportunity as a mother and as a wife, I was in a situation where my children are both in university at the time.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: One was a senior and one was a freshmen and had the opportunity, with the support of my family, to pursue an international school position. Through a process, I ended up at the Canadian international School of Beijing, which is actually preschool. 18 months to 18 years international baccalaureate school with the PYP, MYP and DP programs. I was the preschool elementary principal for three years. Initially I took a leave of absence from my job for two years and thought, "Okay, I'll do this for two years and then I'll decide whether I go back to my job, my pension, the security of that position, or perhaps going a different direction." After two years, I made the decision to give that up and stay internationally and see where it took me. That was my first international placement. In the meantime, just recently, I left that the job in China because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I happen to share that experience and recently have just taken on the job of head of school in New Orleans, at a private school, independent school. That's part of a group called international schools partnership that has 50 international schools around the world, including the US and Canada, but that many other places around the world.

Daniel: You've traveled wide and far, and that's just such an incredible experience. What I love about your story is, by zooming out you decided to take control and just able to experience awesome opportunities. A lot of times I hear from lRuckus Maker s that listen to this show or leaders as support and they can be frustrated if they're in the process of finding a new position. If you stay local you limit your options. Much like when I used to try to do these local live intimate dinners where our focus would be, let's talk leadership, let's talk education, and enjoy a meal and maybe some drinks, but it was hard to gather people together, even coming from Chicago, a large city. When I opened up that invitation, obviously to the world, then connecting became very easy and the ideas started to spread like wildfire. But that's enough about me. I'd love to hear more about your experience especially in Beijing, China. You have a set of leadership skills that you're confident in, I'm guessing. Wondering how that would translate. I think there were some also like missing pieces and maybe that informed doctorate's work as well. You found some stuff out about culture. What'd you find out?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: You're right. I felt one thing I would say that was a gift from my time in Ontario is that my particular school board invested a lot into my growth and development as a leader. I mean that beyond being a leader. The ability to coach, to develop people, to mentor, to lead the instructional program. I felt when I went to China, I had a really strong set of leadership skills, and I had applied those in several different skills in my district, several different types of schools in different communities. I felt like I had a pretty good background in leadership and thought, "Well, I can do this." When I went to China, I really experienced a lot of frustration initially. It wasn't about leading the instructional program or necessarily leading my staff at times, or knowing how to create a vision or implement a plan for improvement.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: It was more about relational pieces. In the fall of my first year in Beijing, feeling frustrated, having some failures with parents, that was a big one for me, because I could never understand why the strategies that I'd use for parents in Ontario, really weren't working with the parents that I had in China, or even sometimes directing some of my Chinese staff beause I had international staff, a lot of Canadians, a lot of Americans, but then I had a large Chinese staff. I was like, "Why is this not working?" In that course that I took in the fall with the IB, one of the IB leadership workshops. There was a component on the role of culture and leadership. I remember distinctly sitting in that workshop and thinking, "Aha, this is it. This is the piece that's missing. This is the missing link."

Dr Ann Marie Luce: This is why you're not being successful. You really don't understand how to lead in a different culture or how culture impacts leadership. I really began at that time, considering going to work on my educational doctorate, and one of the components of my doctorate was you had to find a problem of practice, something that was really impacting you in your role or in your school. For me, it was cultural intelligence and leadership. I devoted my study of cultural or my doctorate on cultural intelligence and leadership over the last two years and came to understand the importance that it has in how we lead in international schools. Actually, I would even say because I had the last year off and really was focusing on my doctorate, one of the sort of extensions ways that I was able to deepen my understanding was to see how then cultural intelligence could be applied to leadership in any context, not just internationally. When we were looking at diversity equity and inclusion and that being a big push for schools is how then does cultural intelligence impact that work in schools today as well? that's been a big focus for me for the last two years.

Daniel: Yeah, that's great. Thank you for breaking that down a bit and, uh, sharing the epiphany. It's a cultural piece where the misfiring is happening and I also appreciate how you ended there because of course that's something to consider moving from Ontario to Beijing. For me, Chicago to Houston, that's not international, but maybe might as well be right when you're talking to the Midwest and then a Southern city in Texas. From there we went to Belgium, Netherlands , Scotland. I've been living tripping over my feet and my tongue along the way before. The Ruckus Maker listening, if she wants to improve her cultural intelligence and develop that skillset, obviously it's deep and expansive that work, but what are some tips that the Ruckus Maker listening can take action on today? Whether they're going to an international school to lead, or maybe they're just going from the Midwest to the south or from coast to coast?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I think one of the key components that that happens is whether you are moving to a new city or whether you're going to a lead in a new school, in a new city, whether that's within the US or for me, Canadian to China, Canadian to the US is really doing your homework. Building your knowledge, having an understanding of the community that you're moving into. I don't mean the actual school community. I mean the community or the state. What are the political values there, for example, what languages are predominant? How do certain systems work there? What's entertainment look like? Coming to New Orleans it is a very liberal city in a very conservative state. What does that impact have on my school and how will I navigate some of those components of things.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: Really doing your homework around gathering actual information and knowledge is really important. It's also important to have a really deep understanding of what are your motivations for going places and wanting to go to a new context. For example, why did I go to China? I really wanted to learn about how education worked in another world, in another place, in another context. I also wanted to work in an international school and I also wanted to work in an IB school. Those were all very, very important to me. One of the reasons I chose the school that I went to was because it had a Canadian curriculum, as well as the IB curriculum. It was in the embassy district of Beijing. I knew that there was a large X-Pack community.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I had a lot of these things, but I also wanted to really understand for myself, not based on what we see in the media but to experienced, what China was like. What it was like to live and work in that particular environment?Those were some of my motivations. I was very curious and I've always been a very curious educator and I think that's really what motivates me to have a deeper understanding of people and have a deeper understanding of education and what it looks like and how it could be in other places were some of my motivations. Probably was the biggest learning curve for me around the cultural piece was strategy. Really looking at how you approach people based on cultural beliefs and values. There's a lot of great things that you can read.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: David Livermore has a book called :eading with Cultural intelligence. It's really great. Aaron Meyer has one called the Culture Map. There's a lot of online things called, Hofstede, has one where he does country comparisons that allow you to see the values between countries, like, for example, communication. What does that look like in China versus Canada. Power distance. What does that look like in Canada versus China, which does impact leadership? A couple of scenarios in regards to strategy would be when I was in Canada, in Ontario, when I was dealing with a parent, I was also often tapping into empathy, asking them how they felt about or using the classroom or the community or other children as part of the scenario or conversation. When I went to China, that really didn't work. Actually had parents say, "I don't care about what happens with the other children.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I only want to know about my child." That was a strategy that didn't work. I then had to figure out what strategy would work with that particular group of parents and the strategies that I use for my Chinese parents, I didn't use for my Danish parents because their views and beliefs about education and child wearing and parenting were very, very different. You really have to have the ability to culturally code switch in order to deal with different groups of parents. It's really important. When it came to staff, I'm a very collaborative with a lot of shared responsibility. I want to know what you think, how you feel this gonna work? What are your ideas? I would often attend meetings with my ex-pat staff and they're very used to that form of leadership.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: They were very okay with it. When I would go to the meetings with my Chinese staff, nobody would speak, nobody would share their thoughts, their opinions, their feelings, because they viewed me as their boss. They thought it was not appropriate or disrespectful to engage in a conversation that way with me. Again, you're like, "What's going on? Why is this not happening?" Having a conversation with my leadership team, we really wanted their input and we valued what they had to say. We thought we could get it. We just knew that we had to go about it in a different way. Instead of one of us being at the table with them, we had a head of our Chinese department and we would meet with her prior to these meetings. She would go to the meetings, speak in Chinese, have those conversations with their colleagues, take the information that we wanted to gather, gather it from her team, come back to us and have the same conversation.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: We achieved the same results. We got input and feedback from that Chinese team, but we weren't sitting at their table with them. They were freer to have those conversations. It's just looking at strategies and how to approach certain things with certain groups of people and cultures. The final component, which this is all a framework, this, knowledge, motivation strategy, and action. It's all part of David Livermore's framework for cultural intelligence. He talks about these four areas and with action, it's really just that you have to be very aware of both your verbal and nonverbal actions when you're in other cultures that you're not offensive. Here in Louisiana it's hot and I'm wearing a tank top, but if I'm in the middle east, I can't do that.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I have to dress in a way that's appropriate for the culture. Little things like spitting on the streets in China's a big deal. You could be really disgusted by that and it could be really offensive to you, but you're a guest in their country. it's your job to adapt and change and be flexible based on what their cultural norms are, not necessarily what yours are. Those are just some pieces that I learned along the way through my research and experience, but how to be a better leader, how to have a deeper understanding of culture and its impact on my leadership.

Daniel: That's great. Thank you, Ann Marie, and this is probably a nice spot where we can pause just for a moment from a message from our sponsors. When we get back, I'd love to hear maybe some of the lessons learned that you want to keep from that international experience and bring back here?

Daniel: Learn the frameworks, skills and knowledge you need to drive change improvement in your learning community with Harvard's online certificate in school management and leadership, a joint collaboration between the Harvard graduate school of education and Harvard business school. Connect and collaborate with fellow school leaders as you address your problems of practice in our online professional development program. Apply today at BetterLeadersBetterSchools.com/Harvard. That's betterleadersbetterschools.com/Harvard.

Daniel: Are you automatically tracking online student participation data during COVID. Innovative school leaders across the country have started tracking online student participation using TYeach 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 teacheffects.com/BLBS. That's teachfx.com/BLBS.

Daniel: 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 that all students have an opportunity to succeed whether at home or in the classroom. Learn more at organizedbinder.com. Alright, and we're back with Dr. Ann Marie Luce, and we're talking all about cultural intelligence. What were some of those lessons that you want to make sure you keep and bring back to your new school here in New Orleans?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I think all of those components knowledge, strategy, motivation, and action. Those have to be a part of any leader's journey, no matter what the context is. Going back to my previous schools and I didn't really understand what I was doing at the time when I was doing it. For example, when I was in Ontario, in my last school, I had a very large Indigenous population and to understand the viewpoints of the Indigenous community, how they impacted school, how parents felt about their children coming to our school, how they might have approached things differently in their community, not to judge or to change their behavior, but to understand the behavior so that I could better serve the students in that particular community and better serve the families in that community. What I did was I started partnering with community agencies to have a deeper understanding of the Indigenous culture and what it meant and how certain things were about certain beliefs and values that they had and sometimes how that impacted schools.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I did that not really thinking that was about cultural intelligence. Thinking about how that would improve my relationships with families and students within my community, but now having studied it, I realized the importance of understanding where people come from and their perspective and what makes them who they are, whether that's language when we're approaching our English language learners. I mean, often we approach that in schools, in my experience, from a deficit lens that we need to teach you English that you can live and work and be okay in our world. Switching that sort of to a more asset-based way of thinking to think, "Wow, you're so fortunate. You're going to be a bilingual multilingual learner and that's going to serve you well and here are the things from your home language that you can tie into English language." Really looking at that from a more asset based way of thinking, as opposed to a deficit based way of thinking has sort of changed my perspective as a person who only speaks one language.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I feel I'm at a deficit, not someone who speaks multiple languages. Looking at language and culture and how those things go together or looking at, if I'm struggling with a particular staff member or a particular student or a particular family, what might be some of the cultural components that I don't understand or are getting in the way, asking different questions or making different observations or gaining more knowledge through research or immersion in my community, those are sort of pieces that I'm bringing into this context for sure. Asking different questions or approaching things from a different way of being in order to have a deeper understanding of people in a desire create better relationships.

Daniel: At the end of each show, I love to ask the same two questions and I cannot wait to share these with you. The first one, I want you to imagine that you can put a message on all school marquees for just a single day. If you could do that, what would your message be?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: This might be a bit surprising. It's the message I'm using with my staff this year, which is "the comeback is always better than the setback." I think this last year and a bit almost closer to two years, really, if we started thinking about it from that perspective, I think people are actually losing track of time because it has been a really challenging time. Educators, leaders, parents, students have been required to do things that they've never been tasked with doing before. It has been brutal and people have had to really go deep and be extremely resilient. We have to remember that it's not the end for some people, there's many schools that are still online. There are many schools that are still battling the challenges of COVID even including here for us in Louisiana. All said, there's been some amazing things that have happened during that time and it's about how can we focus on all of these really amazing lessons that we've learned from COVID and how can we take those things and apply them in our classrooms and rise as school communities and rise as leaders and rise as teachers and students. The comeback is always better than the setback.

Daniel: If you could build your dream school, you're not limited by any resources, you only limitations your imagination. How would you build your dream school in what would be the three priorities?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: My first priority would be creating a diverse staff that nearest the diversity of the student body. I think it's extremely important that students see themselves represented in the individuals that are supporting their growth and development outside of the home. That's a big piece for me. I also believe in multimodal learning and experience spiritual learning that addresses real life problems and challenges. I just learned this week that a school that I know in international school in China is doing beekeeping. I thought, "Oh my gosh, that would be amazing to be able to have like a whole beekeeping AP area." I think it is right here on campus. What an experience for children to see like how this is happening and it is an environmental concern. Talk about relevance. I think just that multimodal experiential learning that really addresses some real life problems and challenges.

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I think that students can really surprise us. They sometimes can see things that we can't, and I think that would be amazing. Also, I really believe in student agency and that students are agents over their own learning. Giving those opportunities for student voice student choice and allowing them to have opportunities to choose how they learn, what they learn, and how and where they learn and giving them the opportunity. I think going back to COVID not all students didn't do well online, some did. I think as schools, we really need to embrace opportunities to meet students' needs in different ways and allow them to tell us what they need and help to work with them to provide it. Those would be my sort of overarching big threes.

Daniel: We covered a lot of ground today. If you can share and leave us all, which is one idea, what's the biggest idea you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Dr Ann Marie Luce: I think, oh boy, that's a really tough question. I'm sorry. I wasn't prepared for that one. One idea. I think what I would say is that even as an experience leader, I still ran into pretty significant challenges in my leadership. It's really important that if we're experiencing frustration or failure as educators to step back, do some reflecting and try to pinpoint what we think is going on and then work as educators to make positive changes and to learn and grow just as we expect our students to do. The learning is not over no matter where you are in the school.

Daniel: Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast from Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to 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.

Show Highlights

  • Expand opportunities to control burn out, whack-a-mole, and traumatic leadership experiences.
  • The leadership skill that gets lost in translation. 
  • How to improve the gap in Leadership Cultural Intelligence?
  • Navigate impact and develop the ability to culturally code switch. 
  • Key components, knowledge, strategy, and action to improve relationships.
  • Avoid approaching leadership from a deficit lens.
  • Develop Asset-based thinking, as opposed to deficit-based thinking. 
  • Understand how to lead in a different culture or how culture impacts leadership.
Ann Marie Luce: Developing cultural intelligence
Ann Marie Luce

“It’s your job to adapt and change and be flexible based on what their cultural norms are, not necessarily what yours are. Those are pieces I learned along the way through my research and experience. How to be a better leader, how to have a deeper understanding of culture, and its impact on my leadership.”

Dr. Ann Marie Luce



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.



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