Kayla Tucker is the owner of Kayla Elease Coaching Services, LLC, a company that helps female K-12 principals to effectively manage stress and prioritize health and well being without a dependency on time management hacks, exercise, or delegation. As a school psychologist by trade with years of experience in the online wellness space, Kayla is an expert on stress management for school leaders. Using a unique framework that is founded in resilience, biology, and humanistic psychology, she helps school leaders learn how to bounce back from the day-to-day demands with ease while keeping personal sustainability at the forefront.
Ditch the stress and lead with longevity
- Overcome negative impact on leadership and educators mental health.
- The biggest myth school leaders believe about the work.
- Inventory questions leaders need to ask.
- Notice and act on your interest, insights and reflection.
- Unspoken culture code in education.
- SUCCESS in 3 MONTHS! A service for Women in Leadership.
- Lead and leverage live video content.
- Framework to keep Longevity in Mind with “Why and What if.”
- Make your educators and team crisis and future proof with this framework.
“The most important thing I often tell myself is that we only have things to give when we have enough to give.”
– Kayla Tucker
Kayla Tucker’s Resources & Contact Info:
- Buy Daniel’s new book: Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader
- A Beautiful Constraint
- Lead with Longevity program: http://kaylaelease.com/blbs
Looking for more?
Full Transcript Available Here
Neglecting your health, whether it’s mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, however you want to think about it. Neglecting what you need to live and lead at your best literally will kill you, seriously. It happened to an Australian principal named Trish Antonov in 2018. Sorry for starting off with a little bit of a stark opener, but it’s true. Trish, she didn’t come home one day and her husband found her dead at her desk. He said “She didn’t have time to look after herself properly. She was under a lot of stress and terrible pressure to be successful in her job.” I agree with most of that quote, except for the part where she didn’t have time. Actually, most likely she didn’t make time. I don’t know the family and I don’t mean to offend, but the point is this, if you don’t take your health seriously, who will? There is a real cost to ignoring your own health.
I’m excited to bring you today’s podcast because that’s what it’s about. I have an awesome guest named Kayla Tucker and she is simply marvelous. She has a program called Leading with Longevity in Mind. The thing we got to build up our systems, structures, routines, and rituals, to support who we are as leaders. Not to ignore health until it’s too late, but to take care of ourselves right now, because guess what you matter. Living out our motto, “everybody wins when a leader gets better.” If you think about that, winning in the context of health, your whole community experiences a better education. You want to think about what you offer at your school when you actually prioritize your health. Not only are you worth it, your community’s worth it. Hey, it’s Daniel and welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast, a show forRuckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We’ll be right back after these messages from our show sponsors.
Develop your structures, systems, supports, and culture for excellent teaching and learning in every classroom for every student. As a part of leading learning, a brand new certificate of school management and leadership cohorts from Harvard. Leading learning runs from February 2nd to March 2nd, 2020. Apply by January 21st and get started at betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Are you automatically tracking online student participation data during COVID? Innovative school leaders across the country have started tracking online student participation using TeachFX 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 TeacherFX 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 @ organizedbinder.com.
Kayla Tucker is the owner of Kayla Elise Coaching Services, LLC, a company that helps female K-12 principals to effectively manage stress and prioritize health and wellbeing without a dependency on time management, hacks, exercise, or delegation. As a school psychologist by trade with years of experience in the online wellness space, Kayla is an expert on stress management for school leaders using a unique framework that is founded in resilience, biology and humanistic psychology. She helps school leaders learn how to bounce back from the day-to-day demands with ease while keeping personal sustainability at the forefront. You can connect with Kayla online via her website, Kaylaelise.com and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @IamKaylaElise, and all that is linked up for you in the show notes. Welcome to the show. Kayla,
Kayla (04:56):Thanks so much for having me happy to be here.
Daniel (04:58):I want you to bring us to a moment where you’re at work and your chest feels tight.
I was actually in my car. I had pulled up into the parking lot at the site for a project that I was working on. I put my car in park and kind of released my hands from the steering wheel and realized all of the things that I had been feeling that I didn’t realize prior to that point. By the time I had pulled into that parking lot, I had been in the car for almost two hours driving to a site that was more than 60 miles, one way from where I lived. I noticed that my chest was tight. I had a slight headache, my mood was terrible, and I had to figure out one kind of way to go into the building and do that work that I was supposed to be there for after already feeling exhausted from the commute. My bigger realization was, I don’t know if this is going to work long-term. I don’t know if I can continue to operate like this within this system and with these expectations.
It sounds like a mirror moment for you like a gut check, for sure. What did you do?
I really took a deep breath and I decided to push through so that I could get through the day. Probably the week after that is when I actually had the opportunity, the time to really take a step back, take inventory of what kind of impact I wanted to make on an education, what the expectations of the system were and what I actually wanted to do. Where do I find my, my place? In between those two things, how do I still fulfill the needs of my job or my role while also taking into account the kind of impact that I want to make and the way that I want to do that. The short version of what happened after that.
When you talk about taking inventory, I don’t know if there was a structure that you went through or was it more asking yourself the big questions and giving yourself the time and space needed to process?
That’s a really good question. It was a combination of both. It wasn’t like I had a very structured set of questions that I walked myself through or anything like that. I did start to answer certain questions that popped up as a natural response of me allowing myself that time. Some of those questions were, what do I actually want to do? What do I want my impact to be? Another question that popped up was after I came to the realization that all of this was related to stress, it was not so much about the commute, even though that was kind of the catalyst, the commute was only a piece of the puzzle. That experience that I had was only a piece of the puzzle when I had that time to take a step back and think about what I was actually experiencing, kind of from a bird’s eye view.
I very quickly realized that all of that was directly related to stress. My next question was who else in this field do I know who is also experiencing this? Maybe not in the exact same way, but is stressed or burnt out. A number of people came to mind. My next question after that was, what are they doing? How are they moving through things? How are they choosing to operate with this? The conclusion that I came to was very unsettling. A lot of educators who I knew were not exactly in the same space, but in similar spaces were kind of pushing through and doing what they had to do, not really taking care of themselves. Pushing towards putting this on the back burner. I knew that was something that I wanted to do. I knew that If I wanted to stay in this field, I had to figure out a way to be able to manage stress effectively for one, and to prioritize my health and wellbeing. I could make the kind of impact that I wanted to make.
Good for you for finding the courage to put your needs first. I think it’s more common in that day to push through, “let me get through the day.” That happens every single day forever. Some people get a very serious wake up call or it’s too late. The ideal school work life will keep taking from you if you don’t prioritize yourself. Again, good on you. There’s a mantra I use as a coach, hat I took from another coach of mine, Rich Litvin, but he says, “I help powerful people remember how powerful they are.” You are a great example of that in the sense you took control. People forget, “I don’t have to live this way. I can choose”, but you have a choice there. I really appreciate what you shared. Talk to me about that courage that it took because you’re going to make changes that have repercussions. A domino effect. How was that for you?
It was uncomfortable if I had to put it in one word in terms of who I am as a person and my personality. I’ve always been okay with being myself. I have never really felt like I had to conform, which I think was the scariest part for me in this particular setting in school. It was one thing, even in college, it was one thing that never really phased me within education. It was different one because like this was the career path of choice and for whatever reason in spaces with other adults where this the experience or the conformity when it is related to the way that the entire system operates, not the way that a particular person operates. I think that required a different, deeper layer of courage.
It also came with a different kind of discomfort. In terms of finding the courage to kind of do things differently, one big piece of that for me, was staying true to myself and thinking back. In grade school and in college, how there were times when I did have to be the one to go against the grain or to do things differently from other people and how I never regretted doing that. Thinking about how I could very much create that same kind of experience for myself in my career in terms of some of the other pieces of the puzzle, aside from me thinking about my personality and how I have kind of done this before and wanted to do it again. Another consequence of that was dealing with the backlash or the response. I should say, it wasn’t necessarily backlash, but definitely the more negative response from particularly people who I was looking to for guidance within my career, another really big piece of the puzzle.
In terms of this for me was the fact that I was very young. I was very green. I knew what I was doing, but I was still very, very early in education. I was fresh out of undergrad. This was my very first job. There were parts of me that felt, how dare I choose to do things differently or give this kind of pushback when there are all of these other people, some of whom are mentors of mine, who I look to for advice and for support and who are helping me to figure out what I want to do in this space, how dare I be the person who says, no, I’m not going to do things that way because here I am, I’m young or I’m new, or I don’t know everything that they know, or I’ve only been here for a year and a half and they’ve been here 20, 30 plus years. I think that is one of the consequences that was more personal or internal. Definitely had a big impact on my ability to be courageous in that moment. I had to overcome the external things and the external comments and opinions, and then also overcome some of my own limiting beliefs in order to make that shift.
A part of the unspoken culture. Keep showing up, do the work, prioritize yourself, I guess second, maybe third, fourth. What would you say to theRuckus Maker listening who finds himself or herself in this sort of situation?
The most important thing that I would say in the same thing that I often tell myself is that we only have things to give when we have enough to give. If you’re looking at it from the perspective of the consequences, your current experience, you already know what the consequences of that are. Good, bad or indifferent. If you’re operating in this space of the work coming first, and like you said, you coming second, third or fourth or wherever last. You already know the consequences of that. What does that means for you in your personal life? What that might mean for you in terms of your health and wellbeing, you already know what the consequences are. When you flip that and kind of look at the options for the other way of doing things or a different way of doing things where you’re not last and you kind of put yourself first instead, that you have the best to give to everything else. I encourage you to be imaginative about what life could look like or what your career could look like. If you focused on having the best to give and doing what was required for you to have the best, to give, as opposed to giving relentlessly and then taking whatever you can for yourself based off of the crumbs with the leftovers.
Curiosity in asking what type of thing is something. I’ve gathered a superpower of yours in the short time I’ve gotten to know you, what are some of the things you’re asking about in terms of like why and what is when it comes to education?
Ooh, that’s a good question. My biggest question right now in large part because of the work I do is why does the education system position, the wellbeing of educators as last, especially right now as we are still very much in the throws of a pandemic.There are all of these additional demands being placed on everyone from teachers to support staff, to school leaders, even without a pandemic with the evolution of education. The way that we see things going in the future, those demands are going to continue to increase. They might not be related to contact tracing or anything COVID related 10, 20 years from now, but the demands are still going to be greater. I think one of the big things I’m asking why about is why does education kind of pride itself on wanting to give students the best helping to change the trajectories of children’s lives and wanting to support students to be able to learn and become productive members of society without also supporting the educators who would be doing that work?
It seems very counterintuitive to me to operate in that way. My, what if is, what if that wasn’t the case? LI think about it in the way that some school leaders who I have worked with now think about it. I know what the consequences are of that. I know how different things are not for us as individuals, but for me, for the students that I serve and for them, for the students and the staff that they have the honor of leading. My, what if it is always like, what if we did it operate this way? What if there was some kind of mass exploration of doing things differently? How would it be possible for us to kind of flip the education system? If we did this as a group, would it be possible for us to flip it kind of completely in a way where everybody could benefit?
Why and what if questions are brilliant? I know theRuckus Maker, this thing with DOB, there’s a book called the Beautiful Constraint, but I understand the obstacles and challenges that are in our path. How do we flip that to actually make it the opportunity? The cool question that I learned from that book is what would need to be true to accomplish and what you’re talking about. I think it’s a fun way of exploring tough topics like that. What would you need to be true? Kayla, I’m really enjoying our conversation. We’re going to pause here for a moment, for a quick message from our sponsors. When we get back, I want to hear about live video content. You’re the queen of that right now, and also a pretty cool opportunity you put together called Lead with Longevity.
Develop your structures, systems, supports, and culture for excellent teaching and learning in every classroom for every student, as part of leading learning a brand new certificate in school management and leadership course from Harvard. Topics include aligning systems with instructional vision, creating structures for your students, academic and character development, developing your teachers navigating change and more leading learning runs from February 2nd to March 2nd, 2020 to apply by January 21st and roll by January 27th, get started at betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard.
That’s betterleadersbetterschools.com/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. Learn more about TeachFX and get a special offer visit teachfx.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 email@example.com. We’re back with Kayla Tucker. We’ve been talking a lot about self-care and then getting curious, really the status quo and tradition called you the queen of live video content. You put out a lot of great content specifically. I see it on LinkedIn. I’d love for you to talk to the Ruckus Maker, a principal and assistant principal typically, head in his or her school and how they might leverage live video content like you use it.
Love that question. My answer is kind of twofold. The first part is I guess, explaining more about why I like live video. It’s a way to connect to my audience in a way that feels more real and more authentic. I write well, but I do not enjoy writing posts to connect with people and to share information. To a certain extent, it’s kind of a win-win for me. I get to do something that I enjoy a little bit more. Like I said, it’s also a way that I think it’s easier for me to connect in an honest and authentic way. You get to see me in my kind of imperfect state that if I’m writing a post, everything is going to be very clear. I will have got all my I’s and crossed my T’s, but with live video content, it’s there in the moment.
If I trip over my words, I’m going to trip over my words and probably make a joke about it in the middle of whatever I’m talking about because that’s how I am. You get to see the real me and I think that it allows people to more easily connect with humanity or that there’s a human on the other side of the screen that you’re watching beyond. To answer your question in terms of how a principal or an assistant principal might be able to leverage live content, I think exactly what I like about it. What is accessible for everyone who might want to use it? Sometimes for parents and even sometimes for students, depending on age, in general perception,whatever experiences they come into your building with, sometimes you can be seen even if you are sweet as pie and a great person, and very nice, you can be seen as, as someone who might be a little bit less approachable, or I only see this person when it’s time for discipline.
What are they doing in my classroom now? Using live content, especially if you are still sort of in a hybrid situation, or if you’re virtual, it would be particularly beneficial for you to be able to show your humanity, which I know sounds a little bit ridiculous. It’s one thing to read somebody’s email and something very different to see them, maybe even say the exact same thing on camera. It’s a way for both students and their families to be able to connect with you in a way that feels authentic, if you are being your true self in that content.
The humanity, the authenticity, you can smile, which you should definitely smile. We can video all those things are awesome. If you are working as a leader, which you should be on crafting better stories,it’s a great way to keep practicing in flexing that muscle, any sort of, mistakes, obstacles, challenges, school leaders who want to get into more live video to tell the school’s story that they should anticipate,
That’s a very unique angle because it’s not about you or what you are looking to share. It’s also about the community that you serve in your actual building in your school. In terms of mistakes, I’m not sure that I will leave if there’s such a thing as a mistake in terms of live content. I think in terms of any kind of content that you put out, you obviously want to make sure that you are not doing or saying anything that is offensive to anyone, whether you have a diverse building or not. You should be aware of certain things so that you don’t say anything that is not, or that people would take offense to, I should say. I would think maybe that would be like the only mistake, but aside from that, I think that it really comes down to one knowing yourself, like we’ve been talking about knowing yourself and being okay with making mistakes, like tripping over your words or, laughing or smiling while you’re on camera so that you can be authentic.
The second piece of that is like really understanding the culture of your building. What is going to resonate with them and what isn’t? If you work in a building where you’re always suited and booted, and that’s how the students and parents like to see you dress very professionally. One thing you kind of want to find a middle ground between how they usually see you in the casual. But if you’re in a school where people are gonna look at you, like you’re crazy, or they feel threatened by you in some way, if the community, generally speaking, cannot afford professional clothes. Don’t dress that way. They see you coming on camera that way and that could kind of make things turn out in a way that you would not necessarily want. It really comes down to, like I said, when you’re yourself you can be authentic and then also really knowing your community so that you can tap into what is going to resonate with them. I think that is kind of the magic of live content. You’re not just talking just to talk, you’re sharing things maybe about, or to help people to better get to know you, but also sharing things that are going to resonate with them so that you can create that connection.
Do you have any routine or ritual to kind of get you pumped and excited before you click that live button?
I do. I always make sure that I have water because this terrible fear has not happened to me yet, but I have this terrible fear that I’m going to have a coughing fit during the live. I always make sure that I have water near me. The other thing that I do maybe 5 to 10 minutes before is listen to music. Whatever my mood is that day, I know that I need to kind of have my energy on a certain level to be able to come across the way that I want to. There are days when I’m tired before I go live, but I know that I wanted to do this or that I said I was going to do this. I’m like, okay, what do I need to get me from point A to point B so that I can do this and be present in the way that I intended to if I weren’t tired. The water is for sure when that helps me to be less nervous on camera, because really the only thing I’m nervous about at this point, like I said, is coughing. There’s that, and then the other piece is kind of using music to boost the beat before I, before I clicked that button.
The music, that’s the way to get that energy. Talk to us about the Lead with Longevity program that you have.
Lead with Longevity is actually in transition right now. It was at one point an eight week coaching program. It is now 12 weeks or three months. However you want to look at it. It is for women who are in K through 12 principalships, who want to learn how to effectively manage stress without a dependency on time management, hacks, or productivity hacks, or delegation or exercise. It’s really for the busy school leader, who knows that they want to make a shift, but they don’t know how to do that. They don’t necessarily have all of the time and the energy in the world to do it. That’s one piece of the puzzle. It is a coaching program where we really work through a variety of things, but the curriculum the foundation for the curriculum is, is a unique framework actually, based on my experience, tha I talked about earlier with stress and how I realized aside from like being in a poor mood that day and having a headache and kind of some chest pain, I realized that there were other things that were going on that were related to stress, and I needed to figure out how to shift that.
At the time I had a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but I also studied human development. That was my minor. I took everything that I knew from that experience, that educational experience, which was really primarily focused on the human development of children in psychology, as it relates to humans at large or UN or some, some courses were specific to children as well. I basically took that information and figured out how to flip that and apply it to myself. How is my tried and true bread and butter for managing stress, doing the work that I want to do in education without having to fall prey to the burnout that I often see so many other educators struggle with became the foundation for this program. The curriculum for the program is a cleaned up more streamlined version of what I did for myself. I’m now very grateful to be able to use that, to help principals to do the same. The beautiful domino effect of starting at the top of a building is oftentimes I get to see changes in their staff and their students, as well as a result of them making those changes.
Everybody wins when the leader gets better. Everybody wins when you get better. I think this is a great illustration of that, right? The school leader taking her health in prioritizing that then has the ripple effect, like you said with the staff and even the students. That’s a beautiful thing to do. I heard curriculum component is that w is it one-on-one experiences that our cohort?
Yeah, it started off as one-on-one like, I would say 1.0 version was the eight week one-on-one version. Now 2.0 is the 12 week group coaching program. And I decided to do that for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one being that leaders really wanted to have community, they wanted this community. It’s one thing to have my support and to be learning these skills, like that’s one level of helpfulness, but then to take things to the next level, I really wanted to be able to also meet the need of providing them connection with other leaders who were in that same space leadership can be very lonely. And then you add on top of that, like on top of an already isolating role, you add operating differently from maybe all of the other principals in your district or all of the other principals and then isolation gets, it becomes more isolated. Yeah, it is going to be a community experience.
Brilliant. We will have a link to a page with all you need to learn about the Lead with Longevity program. I highly encourage theRuckus Maker listing to check it out. It sounds like this is a program specific to women in leadership. I get that correct too. We will have that all linked up for you in the show notes. Very cool. I love to ask the same two questions to all my guests. Kayla, what message would you put on all school marquees across the globe if you could do it for a day?
My message would be, you can only give the best when you have the best to give. It Is sort of a remix of not pouring from an empty cup, but I think it forces you to think differently about your role in your ability to show up in the way that you want to show up. People can only get the best of you when you have the best to give. Then the question is, what do you need to do to ensure that you have the best to get
We need to be true. I’m going to have to steal that brilliant idea that’s so good. Kayla, you’re building a school from the ground up. You’re not limited by any resources. The only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your top three priorities?
Hard question, because there are many things that I will want to be included in. One for sure would be mental health days to make that a staple in the school community, not a sick day, not a personal leave day, mental health days that people could take at Liberty. The second thing I would want would be end to end support is what I call it. There might be a more technical term for this, but I think in terms of professional development, whether it be for the professional benefits for you to be able to do within your job description or professional development as really more like personal development, like the kind of stuff that I do in terms of wellness and stress management. There’s a huge gap in terms of PD and not everything can be an information dump. There are certain skills where if that’s what you’re looking to, to educate people on where that is possible, but there are a lot of skills where the information dump kind of style PD is not enough.
People really need help with every step of the process or support in every step of the process from education to implementation, to having to go back to the drawing board and tweak a couple of things so that they can implement or apply again. If more PD experiences had more of that end-to-end support as opposed to here’s the information. Now you go do. I think a lot of things in schools would look differently. My third thing would be a forced diversity is what I called it. I think to a certain extent and not every school is like this. There are lots of schools that are very diverse. Lots of schools that are not for a variety of reasons, but if there was some way to ensure that my school was diverse, I think that is for sure something that I would want because being in spaces with people who are not like us as adults, it makes us better as adults, which then makes us better as educators or as leaders, whatever your title is. It also exposes children to different kinds of people. It removes the opportunity for people to live completely within an echo chamber. I said, being around different kinds of people really prevents you from being so closed minded or so limited in the way that you think. And I think that B opportunities that could come from Matt, something as simple as shifting the way that you think about something or hearing someone else’s perspective can really be the catalyst for, for great change in education.
Sure. The deep dive into health and wellness, we spoke about a lot on today’s show, everything we talked about today. What’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?
The one thing that I want you to remember is that you are already a phenomenal leader. You have the skills necessary, you have what it takes to lead. Be sure that you have the skills to be able to sustain that leadership.
Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts fromRuckus 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 moreRuckus 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 #BL S level up your leadership at betterleadersbetterschools.com and talk to you next time until then, class dismissed.
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