David Rendall has made it his life’s mission to be hilarious and helpful. He’s a standup comedian with a doctorate in management. A class clown-turned- leadership professor who went from disrupting classes to teaching classes to disrupt companies and conferences around the world. After being criticized and punished his whole life for being hyperactive, David now channels his frantic energy to compete in Ironman triathlons and ultramarathons.
David has a doctorate in organizational leadership, as well as a graduate degree in psychology. He is the author of four books on leadership and discovering our strengths through our weaknesses. Welcome to the show, David!
Finding the Strength in Every Student
- The lesson David learned being spanked in 8th grade at school
- What it’s like always being in trouble in school
- How turn weaknesses into strengths
- How educators can reframe their experiences with “difficult” students
- Why you’ll wish you heard this story sooner
- The differences between weakness + trauma / stubbornness + persistence
Full Transcript Available Here
Welcome to the better leaders, better schools podcast. This is your friendly neighborhood podcast host
Better leaders. Better schools is a weekly show for ruckus maker in what is a ruckus maker, a leader who
has found freedom from the status quo. A leader who makes change happen, a leader who never ever
Imagine if you’re in class then maybe this was you talking a lot, potentially getting in trouble with your
teacher because you’re not traditionally fitting into the mold of a student who behaves quote unquote
in class and their teacher says, Hey, you know what? We’re all sick and tired of hearing from you and she
kicks you out in your parents in your school, agree that it’s okay to spank you. What would that do to
you in terms of the message you received but the kind of person that you are in eighth grade? That is a
story we start with today in my conversation with David Rendall and he is an expert in helping schools
and just humans in general find the strengths in every single person they serve. You’re going to love this
episode, so ruckus maker. Thanks for being here and before we jump into the show, let’s take some time
to thank our sponsors, the better leaders, better schools podcast is brought to you by organized binder,
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If you’re waiting for your district to develop, you don’t hold your breath, what would you be able to
accomplish if you poured jet fuel on your leadership development? Rob of principal in North Carolina
had this to say about his mastermind experience. I have found myself trying more things because I know
that I have the support from other amazing school leaders to help guide me through. If I get stuck, turn
your dreams into reality and level up your leadership. Apply to the mastermind today at better leaders,
better schools.com forward slash mastermind. David Rendall has made his life’s mission
To be hilarious and helpful. He’s a standup comedian with a doctorate in management, a class clown
turned leadership professor who went from disrupting classes to teaching classes to disrupting
companies and conferences around the world after being criticized and punished his whole life for being
hyperactive. David now channels his frantic energy to compete in Ironman triathlons in ultra marathons.
David has a doctorate in organizational leadership as well as a grid degree in psychology. He’s the author
of four books on leadership in discovering our strengths through our weaknesses. Welcome to the show,
David. Thanks man. Excited to be here. So you told me you were always in trouble in school. You
couldn’t be quiet. There’s this art teacher eighth grade and this school gave, or the school had
permission to give you a spanking. What did that discipline duty you and what was the message you
Yeah, I mean, there were a bunch of messages in there. I mean, it told me that there was something
fundamentally wrong with me. You know, she was always upset that I was always talking, even though
there was nothing else to do in art. It’s not like she was lecturing. We were just drawing the whole time.
And there’s actually a funny part of that story. She kicked me out one time and she said, I think we’re all
tired of listening to you. And as I was walking out of the room without me knowing the other kids kinda
took a vote and one of the kids raised his hand and said, we’re actually not tired of listening to Dave
[inaudible] bring it back. Which I really think actually pushed her over the edge and made her hate me
even more because she was tired of listening to me.
And I think there’s a bunch of lessons in that. So first of all, when we don’t like something, it’s okay to
say I don’t like it. [inaudible] But the problem is oftentimes as teachers, as parents [inaudible] or just as,
as managers, and just, even sometimes as people’s friends, we try to tell people something’s wrong
when we, you just don’t like it. There’s nothing wrong with her saying, Dave, I really don’t enjoy it when
you’re talking. But she said, I think we’re all tired of listening to you when they weren’t all tired. In fact,
everyone loved it except her. Dave, there’s something fundamentally wrong with, you know, there’s not,
this is just a bad connection between me and you, and this is a bad connection between me and this,
this environment. You know, what the discipline did was it kept reminding me something was wrong
I mean, when you physically punish somebody, when you physically hurt somebody, the goal is to
change them through violence, right? Is to show them they’re so wrong and they’re so misguided that
they deserve to be and they deserve to be hit until they learn that they’re wrong, that they learned to
change, that they learn to avoid that pain by following the rules and doing what they’re told. And the
fact that my parents, Dave, the school permission to do it, the fact that the school requested permission
to do it, the fact that those adults didn’t have any better discipline strategies than hitting. I think all of
that’s really sad and it was demoralizing for me. I mean, it’s one thing to sort of get in trouble at school
and have your parents go, well, you know, let’s talk about how you could try to sort that out.
And you know, maybe you weren’t wrong, but let’s try to help you manage your behavior. In my
situation, if I was in trouble at school, I was in trouble at home. If I, if the teacher didn’t like me, my
parents told me it was my fault. I needed to get better. So it was just a constant reinforcement of how
much was wrong with me. I didn’t have anybody in my life who gave me a different perspective who
said, well, maybe you know, maybe art’s just not for you, or maybe that teacher was having a bad day or
it was definitely my fault and it was definitely a problem and it definitely needed to be fixed. And again,
people took it so seriously, you know, that they felt like, you know, hitting me again when you have to
go out of your way to get special permission, you know, that that shows your, you know, you’re
committed to your mindset that none of those people were ready to go, Oh, maybe it’s fine.
You know, they’re like, no, it’s so bad. We need to take extreme measures to fix this. And when
somebody tells you, you’re so bad, they need extreme measures to fix you. You know, some kids
respond by going, I’m going to show you. And you know, that wasn’t me. I was like, you’re an adult. All
the adults in my life think I’m broken and something’s wrong with me. I must be broken and there must
be something wrong with me. And so it’s, it’s a, it was devastating. And I’ll, although that’s an
exaggeration now, it wasn’t devastating because it was so common. It was just every day. It wasn’t, it
wasn’t devastating cause it didn’t happen all at once. It was, it was 12, 13 years into just, this was a daily
thing, right? It was more of the same. So it was, it was demoralizing or disappointing, but it wasn’t
devastating because it wasn’t a big switch from the past.
It wasn’t, things were going so well, and then I had this, this horrible thing happened. It was just like a
continuation, you know, and, and to the point that I didn’t even question it, you know, it was like, yeah,
this is me. I got a problem and it’s not getting any better and everyone’s unhappy and I can’t fix it. Yeah.
This sounds incredibly exhausting as well. Yeah. Yeah. And what I’m hearing you say too is that it
becomes part of a script. They, you start to believe about yourself. Absolutely. It becomes part of your
identity. This is who I am. This isn’t something I do. This is who I am. This is fundamentally who I am.
Yeah. In schools forget like how much power that they have when communicating with kids or even with
a leader, communicating with her staff, you know, just those words that we use matters so much.
So schools, they make wrong predictions about kids all the time. Yeah. In that story that you just shared,
you mentioned how you wished that somebody said, well, well, maybe it isn’t wrong, right? We’re just
looking at it from a different angle, and I think that’s, that’s something that you do, especially while it’s
one of your superpowers. [inaudible] How can we help the ruckus maker listening, develop that mindset
they have? For example, I have one, here’s one very concrete example. School leader in elementary
school, kindergartener, and there’s this, a kindergartener in a lot of pain and he comes to school
throwing desks, biting, spitting, kicking, trying to inflict pain on others. You know, they’re really stinks. I
wonder how we might reframe how we see him, right? To try to look for some of those strengths. Yeah.
No, I think that’s the key part is the reframing.
It’s, it’s knowing that the strength is hiding inside of weakness. It’s knowing that there is another side to
the story. It’s knowing that my personal preferences can’t be generalized and universalized to the rest of
the world. It’s knowing that school is a very specific environment and demands a very specific set of
skills. And yet those are not skills that are necessarily required in the rest of life. So that was the
transition point for me. It was when I realized that I couldn’t sit still because that was because I was, I
was very active and that didn’t need to be called hyperactive, which was the negative way of framing it.
That could just be called active. Right? And so many people wish they were more active and yet I was in
trouble for being hyperactive and that I didn’t like to be quiet, but that’s cause I had something to say
and because I was comfortable being the center of attention and I wanted to be up front and I wanted
to be putting on a show and I couldn’t do what I was told, but because that’s cause I had initiative and I
had drive and I had ambition and I wanted to lead at least my own life if not others.
And so that’s the first part is, is asking yourself, is it possible that this thing that I’m seeing in this child
that looks like a weakness that looks bad, that looks wrong is actually a strength. So let’s take your
example. I mean there’s all sorts of negatives there. And I used to work with people with disabilities and,
and we use terms like at risk and, and disabled and all these kinds of things. And so, and there’s all sorts
of negative things in that kid’s environment and there’s so many easy ways to make a negative
prediction about him. Let’s just, let’s try to reframe and, and I studied psychology and so usually we’re
looking for what’s wrong with him. He’s got an oppositional defiant disorder, you know, he’s got anger
management issues, he needs to learn self control and impulse control and it needs to do better at selfmonitoring and all these kinds of things.
And certainly some of those are true. I mean, we’ll distinguish later, I think between weakness and
trauma, you know, I think for me, wanting to talk was just part of who I was. It’s part of my personality.
For him. His anger might be part of his environment and the situation that he’s in. And so we have to
separate those two kinds of things. You know, if someone’s being abused, that’s not just their weakness
or something like that, that’s an inappropriate thing that’s happening to them. And they’re struggling to
respond as a child, well, let’s even just take that. He’s not taking it. He’s fighting back. He’s standing up
for himself. He’s pushing back on the world. He’s refusing to be a victim. He’s not willing to just silently
endure what other people do. He’s asserting his himself upon the world. You know, we tell people we
want to have self esteem.
Well there it is. You know, I’m not just going to be invisible. I’m not going to sit by, I’m not going to let
people take advantage of me when I have the power in a situation, when the other people are little
enough that I can control them. I’m going to control them the way the big people control me, cause I’m
not big enough to control them yet. Aren’t those positive impulses aren’t, those aren’t those seeds of
something that we would be trying to teach somebody else. Cause look at that kid who is the wallflower
in the class and never talks and never interacts and allows kids to take things from them and never says
anything and never stands up for themselves. What are we doing for them? We’d be telling them,
you’ve got to stand up for yourself. You’ve got to be assertive. You got to tell people what you want.
You got to say no and then this kid does. And we’re like, you know what your problem is. And so that’s
that polarization that we think it’s the middle. We think it’s the, if everybody could just be like those kids
in the middle, not too much, not too little, just the right amount. And then that’s good and that’s normal
and then everybody else is wrong. And we’re trying to move them all into that middle spot. And so I
think just being able to even ask the question without knowing the answer, just being able to walk in
and say, I wonder, you know, when I walked into just, let’s take a regular kindergarten class. Let’s say
nobody has any trauma. Nobody has any problems. Everybody’s got a great home life. Everybody’s fine.
Kindergarten is insane. Kindergarten is insane, right? I have three kids. That’s too many, and you’re
talking about 25 30 kids sometimes. That’s insane if you’re the right kindergarten teacher, when I walk
into that room and go, wow, good luck today. I’m glad I’m leaving my child here with you and I’m glad
I’m leaving and not staying. You’re a better person than me. This is crazy. These kids, it’s already a zoo in
here, and I’ve had a kindergarten teacher say this to me when I dropped my kid off. She goes, isn’t it
wonderful? These kids have so much energy. How exciting.
Look at the framing, right? Not these kids are out of control. They need to learn how to get it together.
I’m going to tame them. My job as the kindergarten teachers detain these kids to straighten them up
and straighten them out, to teach them about lines and to teach them about silence and teach them
about sitting still and teach them about, isn’t it wonderful? These kids have so much energy? Isn’t that
just exciting? I’m pumped first day of kindergarten, these kids are getting me charged up, right. As
opposed to breaking me down and it’s my job to get them under control. So I think the first most
important thing is even imagining that it’s possible. There’s an upside to that negative thing and for us to
not to take our preferences and push that as universal values and universal truths
And there has to be so rewarding to hear as a parent dropping off your kid and that the teacher says,
wow, look at how much energy these guys have. It’s gotta to be a great day and all of that. Yeah. I think
you’re starting to touch on your framework and I’m wondering if you’ll a riff on that framework to turn
weaknesses into strengths. First part there being curious in, in appreciating what people are bringing to
the table that it seems to be the think different part. I don’t know if I, if I miss anything if you want to
add to it, but I know there’s other parts to the framework. And would you share that with the ruckus
Yeah, so I think you know, teachers love a good framework. I used to be a college professor and I’ve
been in a lot of classes. I went to a lot of church people like to, you know, have everything start with the
same letter or have some kind of acronym. So for me it’s the same letter. So the process that I learned is
that my weaknesses, I didn’t turn them into strengths. I realized they were strengths. So that’s really
crucial. Sometimes we think like, Oh, okay, my job as a teacher is to turn these weaknesses into
strengths. There’s nothing, there’s no turning that’s required. It’s already, there are already strengths. So
the framework starts with thinking differently. Like you said, we have to see people differently. The first
part of that is awareness. To see that weaknesses are strengths. The simplest one is, you talked about it
earlier. Is that
Just standing up for yourself and that kind of thing? Right.
Well, sure. Well, let’s take something like stubbornness, right? Oh, this kid’s too stubborn. This kid needs
to learn how to let it go. This kid needs to to stop fighting. They need to stop arguing. They need to give
up on certain things that aren’t working and be more flexible and move on to other things. And the freak
factor says, Nope. That’s stubbornness is also the strength of persistence. Right? And wouldn’t it be
wonderful if our kids were more persistent? It wouldn’t be wonderful if they grew up to be persistent
adults and wouldn’t I want my children, my own children to be more persistent, but when somebody is
being persistent with me, it feels like stubbornness doesn’t, it feels like a negative and it feels like
something I’d like to stop. And so I try to stop it because it’s my preference. Instead of saying, wow, how
could I encourage this wonderful quality?
But I have to start by seeing it as a wonderful quality. So what the assessment in the book does, it shows
you how [inaudible] particular weakness you can think of in a person. It corresponds with the strength
and persistence and stubbornness is the easiest one to get. The next part is acceptance. To see that you
can’t have one without the other. You can’t be more persistent and less stubborn at the same time. It’s
not possible. It’s not about balance and moderation. It’s about recognizing that these things are always
there. There’s always two sides of the coin and any particular characteristic that somebody has. But then
the next part is actually appreciation. Not just accepting that these things go together, but being excited
about that connection and being excited. Paul or Phila is a guy who grew up with dyslexia and ADHD, got
kicked out of four different schools, got fired from his jobs on the first day, didn’t just get fired, got fired
on the first day, and then he went to work for family on businesses and then got fired by his dad.
Speaker 4 (17:30):
Right. And then he, I started a company and I called it Kinko’s and he sold it to FedEx for two point $4
billion. How about that? And he really models appreciation because he says, I wish everyone had this
Lexia, right? I think everyone should have dyslexia. And so they asked him if we could give you a pill that
would cure your dyslexia, would you take any steps? Absolutely not. Because you would destroy the
best things about me when you fix the worst things about me, I have to have this weakness of I’m going
to have this strength, my dyslexia, my ADHD, the are weaknesses, they are disabilities. But they also give
me these other super powers that I’ve learned to see and that I’m so excited about and that other
people have seen over the years. But it was harder for them to see it. And now I’m so excited about it.
I don’t even think about having the downside anymore. Just think about all the positive things that it’s
brought to my life. So that’s appreciation. So thinking differently about ourselves and others.
Awareness, acceptance, appreciation. I have an assessment for kids. Teachers have used this with kids.
There’s a great one. One of my friends did it a long time ago with second graders and he told them the
process. He read them the freak factor for kids book. And he asked them what their strengths and
weaknesses I’d be and how they might be connected and second graders could figure this out. And they
wrote, you know, on those big line paper, right, with a dotted line in the middle and the kid goes, I’m a
chatterbox, but maybe someday I could be a speaker just like Dave, I talked too much. But maybe that’s
because I have a lot to say.
It’s good to be a freak. My weaknesses or strengths, you know, and a second grader could figure that
out, right? A second grader could get it. Yeah. So that’s why I created those tools is because people were
seeing that this could be something that people could be taught at a very young age and be very useful.
It’s the reason I wrote the freak factor for kids book is because parents who were executives and I was
speaking to them as executives, not as parents would come up to me and say, yeah, I’ll use that at work,
but what about my kids? So those are the first part is thinking differently than we would behave
differently. And the first part of that is amplification. So it’s giving people the opportunity to turn up the
volume on these kinds of things. Giving people the opportunity to, you know, this is a wild example, but
it puts together two things.
Your earlier example of a kid who likes to throw desks and break things. There’s actually an activity that
you can do now that’s perfectly legal and is considered entertainments and you can go to these places
and walk into a room that is set up like a beautiful or Nate dining room, [inaudible] wine glasses and
China [inaudible] beautiful furniture and lamps and the whole thing. It just looks like something out of a
movie. And then they just give you goggles, face shield and a baseball bat and a sledge hammer. And
you just get the pay for the opportunity to go. Absolutely NUS. Right? And so again, the question
becomes like, when is it okay to express our anger, right? When is it okay to express our feelings? When
is it okay to let it go? And do we create environments that make it far too hard for people to do that?
Speaker 4 (20:26):
But, but again, I think there’s some, again, there’s some [inaudible] there’s a difference and we don’t
have time to go into it today between a weakness that I have and a strength that I have because it’s
fundamentally who I am and a response that I’m having to a difficult environmental circumstance like
abuse or neglect or things like that. And I think those do need to be dealt with differently. So
amplification involves giving people the opportunity to be more of who they are instead of telling them
to turn it down, moderate it, dial it back. So let’s take a kid who is very active, get them involved in
sports. No coach has ever sent a kid home from practice and said, Oh man, your kid’s hyperactive. They
just won’t stop running and running. And running and running your kids too much drama with your kids.
Sign them up for drama class.
I told you the story about my friend Clint who was in school and he was always in trouble for tapping on
things and he was always banging on things and there was always telling me it was hyperactive and he
was always [inaudible] move it around and banging his feet and clicking on things. And he was
constantly being sent to the principal’s office and told to sit still and told he had a problem. And finally
one of his teachers, Mr. Jensen, told them after class, he said, Clint you’re not a problem. You’re a
drummer. And he handed him his first pair of drumsticks and Clint went on to be on America’s got
talent. He’s now a professional speaker and a drummer. Any uses that hyperactive energy and disability
to, to find the beat and to keep the beat and to keep time. And he’s turned it.
He hasn’t turned it in. He’s found that it was a strength. Right? He’s, but somebody had to give him
permission to amplify. Mr. Jensen didn’t say, but you need to do is figure out when and where and how
this is an appropriate thing to do. And he didn’t say that. He said turn it up. Hmm. Hit things more, hit
things harder, hit things more often. Amplify that. And they also combine that with the next one, which
is alignment. You have to find the right fit, right? Tapping on things is great. When you’re a drummer, it’s
not so great when you’re sitting in a classroom where everybody’s trying to take a test and you’re
supposed to be quiet. So alignment says that our weaknesses become strengths, or at least the
strengths are highlighted when we find the right situation. And so our job as teachers as educators isn’t
to tell people they’re wrong.
It’s to have the imagination to see that the weakness might be a strength in the right situation and start
telling kids what that, what that situation might be. Ooh, people like you do well in situations like this,
that thing that’s even bothering me right now is going to be fantastic. When you are a, and we direct
kids towards a future in which they can see hope for when they can be in this different situation. Hey,
you’re always fighting me. You don’t like to do what you’re told. You always have a different
perspective. That’s what entrepreneurs do. Entrepreneurs take a different path. Entrepreneurs lead
their own lives. Entrepreneurs run their own businesses. Entrepreneurs take risks and take chances and
believe in themselves. You’ve, you seem to have that. It’s driving me crazy. Be honest about that. There’s
nothing wrong with that. Let’s say it’s driving me crazy.
You don’t say it’s terrible and it’s wrong and it’s bad, and then say so. I want you to think about, and I’m
going to start bringing you little little stories and examples of, of great entrepreneurs and start
encouraging you to think about how you might be an entrepreneur because you seem to have the
characteristics that make you very successful there. Point people to the school situation is, is not
incredibly malleable and so point people towards the situation in the future. Give them hope that when
you find this situation or when you move into this situation will be more successful, but you can also
sometimes do it right. Then a friend of mine named Jason heal, it had a teacher who said, man, you just
want to give a performance. Don’t you just want to get up in front of class, don’t you? There’s no, I
I’m a good kid. You know, I want to do a good, you know, he said what he’s supposed to say. He goes,
no, no, you want to get upfront. He goes, if you’ll behave yourself in class, I’ll give you five minutes at
the end of class to put on a show. And Jason became a Vegas performer. He does amazing. He’s a singer.
He does amazing impressions of other singers and musicians. He’s incredibly funny. He can make his face
do things that you’ve just never seen. He was incredibly talented, but it took one teacher. Just say,
there’s nothing wrong with you. You have a desire to do something that’s perfectly appropriate and I’m
going to give you the environment to do that even when this isn’t the environment for that. I’m going to
give you permission to do that thing. And that gave him the first time he had permission and then that
became his entire career, right?
When somebody said it’s okay. Not only is it not wrong and this isn’t the place, but I’m going to let you
do it in this place. And so that’s powerful. So that’s alignment. The next one is avoidance. People need to
have permission. Kids, adults, we need to have permission to not do those things that aren’t alignment
for us. And that’s a really tough one in school. Everybody has to, we’re all supposed to. These are the
requirements. Every class matters in life. It doesn’t matter if I was good in computer class or not. It
doesn’t matter if I was good in history or not. But in school, if you get an F in history, you’ve got to take
it again until you pass it. You don’t get to keep going until you pass it. You’ve got to pass it in life.
[inaudible] All you really need to be good at is one class and the rest of the classes can be managed by
That’s Paul’s story, right? Find people who are strong where you’re weak. So we need to give people
permission to not do things that don’t fit with their strengths and that aren’t the right fit for them. And
that’s where school can be really difficult. As an adult, I don’t have to cook. I can eat at restaurants, I
don’t have to clean my house. I can hire a maid, I don’t have to mow my grass, I don’t build cars. I buy
them from someone else. There’s so many things we don’t do and we’re not responsible for. And yet in
school we’re taught you have to be good at everything and any weakness or problem is going to be an
issue and it’s not. And so avoidance, that’s a really hard one for school. It’s easier once to become an
adult. And again, that’s something to tell kids, Hey, once you’re done with algebra two you’ll never have
to take another math class for the rest of your life and you can use the calculator on your phone.
Let’s just get through this and be done. Let’s not pretend it’s way more important than it really is. I took
calculus one and calculus two in college and I got AIDS and I can’t tell you that my life is any better
because I mastered those things. And so I think we overdo the value of some of those things that we
can’t just let them go. I wish there was a school system we’re going to get to this later. Or some things
could be let go. And then the last one is affiliation. Partner with people who are strong, where you’re
weak, you don’t to be good at everything. If you can connect with people who are, are strong, where
you’re not, and again, this is so hard in school because what’s it, Paul or Phil or ran a company worth
two point $4 billion and he couldn’t read or write.
How did he do that? He did it by hiring people who could read and write and partnering with them.
What’s it called though? From age five to age 22 when you’re in school, if you hire someone to do what
you can’t do. Yeah, they call it [inaudible], but then that’s called cheating. It’s the most unethical,
immoral, irresponsible disqualifying thing you can do. And from 23 on, it’s called collaboration and it’s
your best strategy for success. Right. And so this is one of the things that makes school so difficult. It’s
supposed to be preparation for the real world when in fact with the inability to avoid sometimes and the
inability to affiliate and then people would say, no, no, no, we have group work and all that kind of stuff.
That’s not the same thing when when group work is just, we all do a little bit of the things that each of
us would have to do individually.
That’s not true affiliation. True affiliation is, there’s an it department that runs the computers and I don’t
know how there’s a marketing department that markets the stuff and I don’t know how. There’s a
person who read out loud the pole or Philip cause he didn’t know how. He literally didn’t have reading,
he couldn’t do it writing, he couldn’t do it. Those are two of the three RS of, of school reading, writing
and arithmetic. He couldn’t do either one of them and he’s worth two point $4 billion. And so we’ve
created this system that doesn’t allow kids to get a taste of the real world. And that’s what’s difficult is
that even some of the framework, it’s hard for people to apply in school and yet as soon as they’re out
of school, affiliation is everywhere. And avoidance is everywhere. I mean I built my business by paying
my neighbor to mow my grass. I’m paying the neighbor kid 20 bucks to mother grass that got me three
hours a week and I built my business on that and starting a, well, I mean I just guess it’s got to get
better. You don’t have to get better at it, you don’t have to do it at all. And that’s what life is about is
building those partnerships and building those relationships. Thank you for digging into the fired up
here. Sorry, I’m [inaudible]. We love it. The framework’s good. I remember you explained that in our
Call, so I think the ruckus maker, listen, we’ll definitely get tons of value from that.
We’re going to come back in just a second to get the answers to our [inaudible] last two questions, but
right now we’re going to pause for a message from our sponsors. Ethe better leaders, better schools
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credit by visiting sanebox.com forward slash P L B S that’s sanebox.com forward slash B L B S and we’re
back with David Rendall and we were talking freak factor freak factor for kids. We’re talking about
identifying people’s strengths and he just [inaudible] did an expert job of unpacking his framework. So
ruckus maker, definitely rewind the episode and and take notes right in. All right, get the freak factor
book. That’s, that’s some great stuff. But David, I’m curious if you could put a message on all school
marquees around the world for just a day, what would that message say?
Yeah, that’s easy. I say it about 15 times in every presentation of what makes us weird also makes us
wonderful. And what makes us weak also makes us strong. We need to stop apologizing and being
ashamed of our uniqueness and our difference and, and stop allowing society. And sometimes the
school system itself to teach us that our uniquenesses are weaknesses that are, that are differences
wrong and bad. What makes us weird makes us wonderful. And the things that seem to make us weak
are also the very things that make us strong.
Now you’re building your school from the ground up. You’re not limited by any resources. You’re only
limitations your imagination. I can’t wait to hear how you’d build your dream school and what would be
your top three priorities?
Yeah, so a bunch of them I think giving kids an opportunity to choose what to do and what not to do.
There’s a little bit of Montessori in that, right? That allowing kids at a very young age to choose to do
certain things into simply not choose to do other things. I think so a steal a little from Montessori is still
a little bit from Khan Academy. Being able to bring the best in their subject that best in their field, the
best at communicating and motivating and making things interesting and explaining things well through
online, through online videos. There’s no reason that some kid and, and rural Nebraska should be
limited to the best teacher his town can find and a 25 square mile area when we literally have access to
the best on earth. And I’m not making fun of that teacher in rural Nebraska.
I was the best professor they could find for 100 square miles in rural Eastern North Carolina. And my
students should have, shouldn’t have been limited to that. Right? There’s, there’s better professors
maybe at Harvard, maybe at some school we’ve never heard of watch their videos, don’t watch. It’s all
that we’re all teaching the same things. Teach people are teaching the same math classes 5,000 times a
day, all over the country, all over the world. Let’s find the best and let’s give it to kids. The other thing
would be just a different schedule. My daughter does online homeschool. And she can start when she
wants and she can finish when she wants. She can work more on one class, she can work less on another
class. She can do it while she’s watching Monday night football. She’s right now, she’s working ahead so
she can take a little extra time off the Thanksgiving.
Speaker 4 (33:20):
She can work on Sunday nights so that she can do a sleepover with her friend who has the day off of a
traditional school for Columbus day. And so giving kids the opportunity to start when it works for them if
they’re early in the morning, more and more research says most kids are better later in the day. Giving
the kids the opportunity to have that flexibility. So just making it model real life more. So flexibility and
time, flexibility in schedule, flexibility in the topics and looking for opportunities to tap into those
interests in those talents really early on. So I give you an example that goes with autism. So people with
autism tend to have something that’s called a special interest area. And even people without autism are
like this, but sometimes let’s say it’s trains, it’s person with autism is just obsessed with trains. Well their
parents usually and their therapists and their teachers and in their IEP process at the school,
everybody’s trying to get them to stop being so obsessed with trains.
It’s time to grow up and, and be an adult and stop being obsessed with trains. [inaudible] Obsession isn’t
good anyway. We should be well balanced and well-rounded and they try to get them to stop focusing
on trains. When, what they should do is teach them math with trains and teach them the history of
trains and teach them reading by and having them read about trains. Let’s tap into that. Right? Let’s tap
into those interests. So I’d love to see more things like music schools and drama schools and dance
schools and sports schools, athletic schools where we allow a kid to be excited about what they’re
excited about and we build the rest of their learning around those things that they have those strengths
in that they’re naturally excited about that mattered to them. And I’d also like to see a school’s focus a
lot more on real life a lot sooner.
I think it’s good for people to have a broad liberal arts education wherever you call that, but sooner or
later I think the goal is for it to accomplish something and I think we wait way too long to teach kids how
to work and how to have a real job and have real life and real business and there’s no reason kids do it
all the time without help. There’s no reason we couldn’t help kids with that at a much younger age. I
don’t think we have to delay adulthood until 18 years old. There’s no reason we can’t have kids working
in a positive way at 1213, 14 running their own businesses, trying things, starting things, working on
things, figuring things out. [inaudible] I like the recent trend. My kids have both been able to take
college classes while they were in high school. Why am I taking an AP class that might get me some
credit for college if I do really well?
And I study really, really hard when I could just take a class at the community college and actually take
that class and show that I can do it. We don’t have to predict whether I can do it. So my daughter’s taken
sat classes to predict her college success at the same time that she already has 36 credits of college
credit. I don’t think we need to predict her success. I think we already know what her level is. She and
one of the classes she had to take was college readiness. So I think giving kids a chance, chance to go at
their own speed, their own pace and having that not be so weird. One of my daughters skipped a grade
because the system didn’t match her and so we didn’t try to force her into the system. We adapted the
system to her. All.
The system didn’t really adapt. We just moved through the system at a different pace. So I think giving
kids a chance to go at their own speed and their own pace and not telling them what that speed and
pace should be is another key elements as well. David, thank you so much for being a part of the better
leaders, better schools podcast. Of all the things we’ve talked about today, what’s the one thing you
want a ruckus maker to remember? That’s your students’ weaknesses or strengths that sometimes the
kid that seems the worst actually has the most potential that the kid that seems like the biggest problem
is actually the person who’s probably going to be the biggest success and that we’re terrible predictors
[inaudible] those future success. The number of incredibly successful people who were told that they
were going to be unsuccessful is really overwhelming. Peter Drucker said, I’m strong. People always have
strong weaknesses to where there are peaks, there are valleys and I think we have to constantly
remember that every single day and instead of looking at the good kids, whatever that means and
thinking, those are the ones that are going to make it. It’s forcing ourselves to acknowledge the reality
that at the very least, some of those kids who seem we’re students we have are the ones that are gonna
grow up to be the most successful and asking, how can we be a part of making that happen?
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 @ 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.
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