Ben Jones knew he was going to be a principal when he was in 3rd grade. His entire school career, while a bit tumultuous at times, gave him experiences that helped him become an impassioned educator. After graduating from the University of Georgia in December of 2002, he began teaching at Carson Middle School in Greene County, GA.

After getting married in 2004, Ben and his wife moved to Forsyth County, GA where Ben began teaching at Liberty Middle School. In 2010, Ben became the Graduation Coach at LMS where he supported students, parents, and teachers. In 2012, he had the privilege of being named one of the Assistant Principals at SilverCity ES. 4 years later, he was named AP at South Forsyth Middle School. In 2019, he was named the Principal at Shiloh Point ES where he proudly remains today.

Ben is a faithful Christ follower, loves to read, watch movies with his family, and eat Twizzlers. He is also a member of the Guiding Principals Mastermind that meets on Wednesday nights!

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Show Highlights

Created your “core team” to connect and move your school forward.

Be the chief repeating officer for showing and connecting the vision of your school.

Use the “Constellation Mindset” for that interdependence piece for your leadership team.

The playbook for leaders to create agreements connected to your vision for essential conversations with your community.

“Teaching sprints” will transform the classroom and impact students.

Dial in your staff. Hear how 99% of Ben’s decisions are not made in isolation.

Invested in your continuous growth, challenge the status quo and design the future of school.

The importance of passing the leadership baton.

I don’t affect anybody else. I don’t have any power over anything. My actions don’t matter.’ That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’re all connected in some way to our kids, our staff, our community. Every choice we make, every time we show love and kindness, every time we show respect, every time we’re selfless, every time we serve, it means something.

- Ben Jones

Madeline Mortimore

Ben’s Resources & Contact Info:

Read my latest book!

Learn why the ABCs of powerful professional development™ work – Grow your skills by integrating more Authenticity, Belonging, and Challenge into your life and leadership.  

Apply to the Mastermind

The mastermind is changing the landscape of professional development for school leaders.

100% of our members agree that the mastermind is the #1 way they grow their leadership skills.

Read the Transcript here.

Creating A Real School Vision

Daniel (00:03):
One of the reasons I created the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast way back on September 2nd, 2015. Yes, I have that date memorized. A big reason is that in the districts where I served, our conversations really revolved around academics, attendance, discipline, all important things as a school leader. But those are like the outputs. Those are the lag indicators. I was curious, there’s the business of school, the operations of school that help you elevate student performance and have high attendance and low discipline. Things I was interested in were like, how do you actually craft a meaningful vision that exists that people know are excited about and guides the work of the school. I had other questions too, but that was an important one to me. And today’s guest, Ben Jones, is great at Vision. He has his core team and it’s really been infused throughout the staff. He’s here today to talk about vision and other things. I know you’re gonna love this episode. Hey, it’s Danny, Chief Ruckus Maker at Better Leaders, Better Schools. This shows for Ruckus Makers, which means you invest in your continuous growth, you challenge the status quo, and you design the future of school. Now we’ll be back with the main content of today’s episode after some quick messages from our show

Daniel (01:37):
Sponsors. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school’s success, and lead your teams with Harvard Certificate in School management and leadership. Get world class Harvard Faculty Research, specifically adapted for pre-K through 12 schools. Self-Paced online professional development that fits your schedule. Get started at Better Leaders, better schools.com/harvard. With TeachFX, teachers are creating classrooms that are alive with conversation. Our app gives teachers insights into high-leverage practices like: How much student talk happened? Which questions got students talking? It’s eye-opening for teachers, and scales the impact of coaches and principals. Start your free pilot at 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 [email protected].

Daniel (02:59):
This is a real treat for me, Ruckus Maker, to record this episode. I’m connecting with a friend Ben Jones, who I’ve known for years. And Ben was so kind, he brought me out to Forsyth County to speak to principals and assistant principals there, too. I’ll call it mid-career for me. Now I have so many more reps under my belt in terms of speaking. So thanks for giving me a shot back then. I feel like it was a lifetime ago, but anyways, I’m just a big fan of Ben. You guys will all see why in a second. He’s just genuine, like the real deal in an awesome Ruckus Maker. It’s my honor to introduce you.

Daniel (03:42):
Ben Jones, who’s a husband, father educator. He’s been in education 19 years, proud principal of ShallowPoint Elementary School. Huge dogs fan. So like they’re doing pretty good. We’re recording. We don’t know what’s gonna happen for this year’s national championship, but at least as it stands, they are still the Champs. Do you think you’re a bigger fan of the dogs or Los Rios?

Ben (04:06):
Well, they’re both my favorites of whatever restaurants and football team. Oh, that’s tough. I love Los Rios, I’m telling you. Yeah, shout out to Tobo at Los Rios. He’s one of my favorite waiters. Tabos the man, by the way.

Daniel (04:19):
It’s sort of an inside joke. But when I was there to speak, Ben was so kind and brought me out and some of his colleagues to dinner at his favorite spot.I don’t remember who. I’ve connected with a number of folks that live in that general area and I’ve mentioned Los Rios and people are like, “Yeah, that’s the place.” So I see why you love it so much and I did enjoy my time there, so this might be one of the longer intros ever. But Ben, welcome to the show. I promised Ruckus Makers, we’re gonna get into education and leadership, but before that we are gonna give Derek a really hard time because I guess Derek is an Ohio State fan. Is that true?

Ben (05:00):
My friend, he’s now the human resource director in our county, big Ohio State. I haven’t really talked to him much about it since the last game, but he was with us at Los Rios a few years ago. I’m glad he is gonna hear this. This is great. Yes, this is great. Go dogs.

Daniel (05:12):
Go all Go Dogs. And so Derek, we wanna give you a hard time if you’re a Buckeyes fan,continue to listen, give us some grace and forgive us because this show’s gonna be great. If you’re not a football player, like what are these guys talking about? I think it was 42 -41.This show I think is releasing in March. Hopefully this Sting has worn off for you guys, but they’re both two powerful programs and bright futures in front of them. Alright, so speaking of the future, I think you’re really into vision, right Ben, and about a year and a half ago you created your core team and created a vision for your school. Can you just, can you talk a little bit about what that vision is? And I’d like to hear too, like what was your process for coming up with it as well? No,

Ben (06:10):
Super proud to come into school like ShallowPoint and actually Derek was the principal of Shallow Point before I got there. And so he is a nominal educator himself and a phenomenal leader. And so I was able just to come in and pick right up where he had worked for four years doing some amazing things. So be fortunate for that. And in that process,as you go in as a new principal at a new school, you spend some time learning about the people in the building, about building relationships with people, about all of those things. What the school is all about and where you can take ’em because that’s really the role of a leader. You find people where they are and take ’em where they can as far as they can go. And we did that and then it was, I’ll never forget it, it was, it was gonna be March 13th, 2020 was when I was really ready to step in and step up to really capture my vision, what I believe ShallowPoint could do, what their, what the future of thought was for them and have that conversation with core team. And that was the day in Georgia where everything shut down for Covid. And we had to pause that conversation and do what everyone did during that time and work to handle that tough situation. Like it was all over the world. And so had to put a pause on a little bit of that. But we were still able to talk with the core team as the core team, which our core team consists of.

Ben (07:26):
Our administrators, our coaches, our instructional coaches, and our counselors. And so we were able to do that all come together and as the two years of Covid and any kind of crisis you’ve ever been through, like we all were a part of, you grow, either you grow apart or you grow closer. And we certainly grew closer, during this time as a core team, during that time we were having conversations like, where do you want Shallow Point to be once we’re out of all of this, right? And so it was, I believe Mar it was 2021 that spring and we really got together and really started talking about as a core team what we wanted our vision to be. For ShallowPoint, we’ve always been the home of the mind, body and spirit. We’re really a big focus on just the whole child.

Ben (08:09):
And that’s always been what Shallow point has been. But really we just kind of cast, we call it our vision. I think most people will probably call it more of a mission than a vision. Our vision is really the home for the mind, body and spirit, and I think, but our, we call it our vision is just we wanna build resilient and joyful learners who are self motivated and empowered to succeed through and in whatever they encounter in life. We wanna build capacity in our students to advocate for monitoring, challenge their own learning and emotional wellbeing in order to reach their highest potential. And so that’s what we’ve been focused on and we’ve been doing that. I called myself the chief repeating officer for a year, every staff meeting, every time I met with grade levels, every time I did anything, it didn’t matter what it was. LSC meetings, local council meetings, PTO meetings, I literally started the book and showed the vision. The vision showed the vision. The vision showed the vision. We talked a lot about interdependence and what that meant because we all have these different skills and you don’t wanna be independent and we don’t wanna be the same. You wanna be interdependent. And we talked about the constellation mindset, which is from a book, and now I can’t remember the title of the book, but the Constellation Mindset basically said, expect to be needed, expect to meet others and expect to be changed. And we continue to talk about that interdependence piece. And so as we moved into this past summer, we brought our one collaborative team, which is like our big leadership team made of staff from around the building. And we continue to talk about the vision, but really, okay, we’ve talked about it for a year now.

Ben (09:39):
What? And so it was so what now what moment? And we talked about how we put this into action. What we led them through was at our collaborative leadership retreat, we literally created like a workbook basically on how to create agreements into, for our vision. So as all these different processes that we went through, these steps that we went through, pulled a lot of stuff from a lot of different places for protocol for how people do the talk and to think. But ultimately we came to, and I have it right, it’s hard to see, I know it’s the podcast, but it’s five different, it’s our agreement for Shiloh. So we have different things. And the point is like, what is gonna lead us? What do we agree is gonna lead us to our vision? So we have relationship building, we have class meetings, success criteria, zones of regulation, which is actually an emotional wellbeing program in reflection.And so it’s a very specific and shallow point, right? But it’s specific and it means something to our people, right? And each of these different themes have some indicators underneath it and we talk about it. And so in our meetings, one-on-ones with our teachers, we talk about what, what agreement is happening most in your class? Which one do we need to continue to support? And so,really getting that buy-in was huge from our staff and I just love what we’re already seeing in classrooms based off of the creation of these agreements. And so we’re super excited about where we’re going. Shallow point with our vision.

Daniel (10:31):
There’s so much gold there that I wanna review and hopefully I can remember everything and it’s okay,I guess this is a leadership lesson, be okay with not covering it all right? There’s always a lot of chances.

Daniel (11:18):
So much good stuff. One, one would be that you just, you obviously have it dialed in,the vision and the agreements and I don’t know, I actually forget the guy’s name too. I remember the last name was Weiner, but a former CEO of LinkedIn. What I learned from him, he said people until you get sick, like as a leader, when you get that moment like, oh my God, I just can’t see this another time. According to him, that’s actually the first time people start hearing it. So that for some people is a mindset shift. It’s like, whoa. Until you hit the point where you’re super annoyed and I just wanna do something new. You’re people, I haven’t even listened, right? So repeat the way to go on modeling that. I love the visuals. So you have the agreements there.

Daniel (12:05):
I don’t know if you got that from Pat or somebody else, but he talks about building,building a playbook for your team. And so just like, cuz football coaches, you see that, right? You’re dogs fans, they got the plays right there. Those are your plays, you know what I mean? That’s the agreements, that’s how we exist, what we do at Shallow Point. And did you catch Ruckus Maker that Ben brings these agreements into the conversations. That just, they happen in the halls ,evaluation or whatever, informal, formal. How are these things living out right in your classroom? I’m curious as a follow up question, have you seen your faculty? Obviously you do it, but have you seen that spread out through the faculty where they’re having conversations like, Hey, how could we do this agreement thing a little bit better?

Ben (12:51):
I think one of the things we’ve been focused on a lot. The third thing we kind of talk about, kind of talked about agreements is success criteria. We’ve been talking about success criteria for years and years and years. At ShallowPoint, nobody was, we were struggling to put action to it, right? Well, people are talking about it now, now is an agreement, right? And we talked interesting Danny, we talked a lot about what to call these, right? Some people would call in other schools I’ve been at, they’ve been non-negotiables in other schools I’ve been at their expectations. We said, no, it’s gonna be an agreement, right? We’re gonna agree to work. But yeah,it’s really cool when people start, your staff starts talking back to you about the things you’ve been saying to them. When you think about them, you’re tired of saying it like you said, but now they’re speaking the vision back to you. They’re speaking the agreements back to you. They’re speaking the constellation mindset back to you. It’s really kind of cool. It’s getting there. We,Always still have a lot of work and a lot of room to go and a lot of room to grow. But our teachers recognize that and I think they’re motivated by it. So it’s really cool.

Daniel (13:42):
Yeah, it’s super cool. Well they’re taking ownership of it all right? And they’re making it their own. And I’m gonna kind of give a high level, just real short teaching here and it has to do with things like business and marketing too. But it’s exactly what you’re doing as well at your school. People that listen to this show, they all know like the brand, the flag is ruckus making, right? And folks know what that means. Invested in your continuous growth, challenging the status quo, designing the future of school now. The hero and the ideal principal for me, they’re the Ruckus Maker. Another thing that you can also identify as powerful is like who do we not wanna be? Like who’s the quote unquote enemy? I don’t know, even just three months ago I came up with this idea, I don’t know if you’ve seen it in my writing and stuff, but it’s called a play it safe principle. Like, those are the bad guys. They’re the ones who just protect traditions that aren’t even serving their kids anymore. And you don’t question if this stuff is still working or whatever. They’re not evolving education. But I’ll tell you what, Ben and the Ruckus Maker, I got an email yesterday and a person was saying, Hey, I missed this replay, this awesome training you did. I’m doing my best to not be a play at Safe principal.

Daniel (15:06):
And I almost lost my mind just because I haven’t even been using it that long and it’s already caught on. So The agreements,who are you trying to become? The aspirations, who’s the opposite of that? The enemy so to speak, define what I’m saying is define that for your school and that kind of thing. Is there anything else I wanna follow up with where we’re at? You talked about how the schools already operated at a high level. If you could go back to when you took over the school like four years ago or from the loser Ohio State fan Derek. But he is a great,great principal and great leader, but an Ohio State fan, great principal. Yes, absolutely. Let’s actually give him some positives here and encourage him. Can you remember some things that he did in terms of passing the baton to you that were just really meaningful and helped you like almost a quick start as a principal there?

Ben (15:56):
Absolutely. And you know, Derek is now our human resource director. And he’s talked a lot about this because first of all, he cared so much about shallow pulleys that he wanted the transition to be well. He had no pride in any of that, right? It was a completely selfless act. But I mean, the day after I got named, he basically said, okay, get your calendar out. When are you coming over here? When are you coming to walk around with me? When are we gonna sit down and talk? All of these kinds of things. And I mean, he was so intentional about that transition piece and I mean, I was over there all the time. Like I still have my AP job I still had to do. It’s the middle of testing. I was the testing coordinator, but still, every moment I had, he welcomed me over and every time I came over he shared something new with me about ShallowPoint that I needed to know.He was so good about just giving me what I needed at that time. I’ve told him you gotta write up what you did and why you didn’t, how intentional you were. It was so helpful. No, I could not have been anywhere near where we are today without his supportive time and what he did for me and just and everything he set up,I talk about quarantine, that’s not, that’s nothing I set up. He had that set up already. We’ve just continued to move forward with it. And so super appreciative of him for doing that.

Daniel (16:46):
Derek, thank you for letting us,a little bit it’s sort of unfair cuz he is not here to defend himself, but I will extend an invitation to the B L B S podcast because if you wanna unpack with me how you set up passing the baton to Ben, I think that would really benefit. A lot of Ruckus Makers listening. And you could make fun of me cuz I’m an Illinois fan and Ohio State, Illinois,there’s a lot of fun stuff we could talk about there. So anyways, I’ll just leave that there. Very cool Ben. I’m enjoying it, we could talk literally for two hours and it’ll go by like in five minutes, but we need to pause here really quick for some messages from our sponsors. When we get back, I do actually wanna talk about the core team a little bit more. And I wanna talk about this idea of teaching sprints. The Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast is proudly sponsored by Harvard’s Certificate in School Management and Leadership. I know many mastermind members and many Ruckus Makers who listen to this show that have gone through the program and have loved the experience. But don’t just take it from me. Let’s hear how some of the Harvard faculty describe the impact and their heart for this program.

Daniel (18:24):
I want Ruckus Makers to remember that leaders have so much power in enabling other leaders and adults and students in their building. They are the levers. They are the levers that allow greatness to happen in all corners of their schools.

Daniel (18:47):
Learn more about the program and apply at Better Leaders, better schools.com/harvard. Hey, Ruckus Maker Teach FX has been an incredible sponsor over the years and they do great work helping educators be mindful and reflective about how their talk right and how much talk they have in a classroom impacts student learning. Now don’t just take it from me that Teach FX is awesome and it surely is, but check out what some real educators have to say about using Teach FX in the classroom.

Daniel (19:21):
I will be the teacher I wanna be when I’m a, like no longer a teacher and I’m truly just a facilitator of class. And I think that Teach FX is a tool that will allow me to get there more than like any other tool I’ve used.

Daniel (19:34):
I wanted the students to be speaking more with each other, incorporating more opportunities for students to speak in the target language to each other. And I recorded that and that’s what the data showed. So it helped me reflect on the purpose and what is best for my students.

Daniel (19:53):
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 the resources 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 protected]. All right, we’re back with one of my favorite Ruckus Makers in the world, Ben Jones. And we’re having a blast talking about leadership. Hopefully you’re inspired and energized as I am just hearing about how fired up Ben is with vision work at Shallow Point his school. But as I mentioned before the break,I wanted to hear a little bit more about the core team and from my understanding, okay, Derek started that and that’s super cool. But you’ve fanned the flame,you’ve continued the good work and have built on those successes.

Daniel (20:52):
Can you unpack for us maybe just a few ways you approach this core team and what you do to just see that momentum?

Ben (20:58):
Sure. Well,one thing we do is we make our time together sacred. We meet every day from eight to 10 o’clock in the morning. And that’s a sacred time. No one else. You can’t schedule meetings. I mean, every once in a while something happens. We get it. You know, kids in crisis, the teachers in crisis, whatever. And that happened very rarely. But other than that, it’s a sacred time we meet together. I’m very intentional about setting an agenda for the meeting. Anybody can add to the agenda always, but we certainly have a framework for that. And one of the things we really started to do over the years, which was a little different,was trying to, like you said, make that connection so much because it’s so important that we kick off with a connected question and we really just go around and share.

Ben (21:41):
And sometimes they’re kind of serious and sometimes they’re just ridiculously silly, you know? But it’s just having that connection and spending that time together. But it’s really just doing the work with each other and really just focusing on and honing that no decision that Shallowpoint is made in isolation. I don’t make hard decisions, 99% of my decisions are not made in isolation. They’re made with the core team, with other members of the core team. There’s just no way. I was thinking the other day, I was telling somebody this, I was like,I just feel we’re so collaborative. We’re doing such a good job just working together. And we argue, right? We have this agreement, but we,it’s not always like, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns all the time, but that’s the beautiful part about it because we’re, we’re so close.Cause we really are intentional about connecting with each other. And if I can say anything, that’s one of the great things that we’ve kind of worked hard together as a group to really do, to be intentional about connecting. And so, but I mean we, again, there’s no decision made in isolation at ShallowPoint. It’s always collaborative, always a collaborative decision.

Daniel (22:34):
Brilliant. Cool. I don’t know if we could get super practical if you’re able to think on the spot, but can you think of one serious question you might ask as a connected question? What one of those silly ones could be?

Ben (23:03):
Let me think. We’ve often talked about, I think some of the more serious questions we talked about has to do with our families. Like,Who’s the family member you look up to the most? I remember that one. It revealed a lot about all of us because we’re so busy, right? But we often don’t dig in that deep Yeah. To our families and Right, right. You know, people were talking about family members who they looked up to and maybe passed away or,mine was like my grandfather who actually did just pass away. He was 95 years old, lived an amazing life, was a completely selfless person, dedicated his life to others through his work with the Salvation Army. I look up to him every day and nobody knows about me yet. And we worked together for three or four years. We knew about my papa,and so, and then silly ones like, gosh, they’ve been, I think I do more silly ones than I probably do serious ones that made me shift that. But I think some of the silly ones, I mean goofy stuff with, usually it’s always around food too. Like what’s your favorite food around the holiday times,there’s been all sorts of goofy ones that we’ve talked about that just got us laughing. Some that you would, I would think were more serious. They turned out goofy. But you know, just, I just,Google the great thing. Find some great ones, put ’em on there. But you know, it’s lots of fun. We had fun with that. Really connect with them.

Daniel (23:59):
Yeah. Sweet. Do you mind if I share one You might steal and the Ruckus Maker listening could steal too. Yeah. Cool. So this comes from the D School in Stanford. I think the book called Creative X for Creative Leaders. I don’t know, something like that. And they call it the world’s best warmup routine.

Daniel (24:40):
So it is, it’s three questions, but what they do is you take your team. So it could be the core team could be your entire staff first it’s just partners, right? And you tell the story of your name, right? And how’d you get your name? Maybe you’re named after Papa, right? Or for me in Chicago in 1978, the year I was born, air conditioning wasn’t a common thing in everybody’s home. So my mom is like super duper pregnant, right? And uncomfortable because she’s ready to get me out. And so the places that are air conditioned, restaurants, malls, movie theaters. She asked her sister, Hey, bring me to a movie. So in 1978, summer,what movie did they see? They saw Greece, right? I don’t know if you know this story. And she thought of Danny Zuko and she thought John Travolta was so hot.

Daniel (25:30):
She named me Daniel after Danny Zuko. I modeled that and that’s a story of my name. You might have a story like that, or maybe not, but that’s part one. Give each person three minutes, right? Part two. And the cool thing about this greatest warmup, there’s playfulness and then it gets very serious. So then part two, this is very playful, it’s silly, it’s stupid. It’s then you put people in together, groups of four,and you basically say, the zombies are here, right? We’re in trouble. How are you gonna help humanity survive? Like what skill do you bring to this group that’s gonna help humanity survive? Right? And people talk, they laugh, and then you can share and it’s kind of stupid and fun. So you’ve lowered the walls by having the silliness. Then you hit ’em with an extremely real question, which is this.

Daniel (26:17):
And it’s the same group that just had the silliness, right? So don’t change the group. Then you say, okay, how are you known in your case at Shallow Point? And then how would you like to be known at C point? Ooh, can you see how serious that would get? Imagine what you might hear from your team. I wanna offer that to you. To everybody listening, that’s a really cool cool warmup. Last question before we get to the ones I ask everybody. Just talk to me a bit about teacher sprints. Something you learned, I guess from Lizzie. Good old Spike. Spike. I’ve been the Guiding Principal’s mastermind assistant for a couple of years now. And so Liz, that you’ve been the Mastermind’s just tell, just talking very quickly about this book and these things she was trying to implement at her school called Teaching Sprints.

Ben (27:09):
I was super intrigued because one of the things that I thought was kind of I was struggling with was watching our professional learning community at our school talk a lot and read and learn a lot, which is not bad. I think that’s great. But there was not a lot of action happening. Nothing was really changing the classroom. And we were certainly not impacting students like we probably could. I was looking for something that could help with that. Well, teaching sprints, Lizzie started talking about it. I reached back out to her, circled back later and got some more information from her at the book. And a very short book, very easy read, very practical read. But basically, it’s exactly what it says. It’s short little six to eight week sprints where you hyper-focus on one thing you can change in your classroom that’s gonna make an impact on ki it’s ver teacher empowering teachers have autonomy to come together as a group and figure out what it is based off of some kind of data, what they need to do. So you spend a week or so doing that, then you determine your action. And then every week you spend 10 to 15 minutes in a standup meeting in a circle, basically talking about how it’s going, what you’re doing, what you’re changing. You do that, it’s for four to five weeks. And at the very end you come back and you reflect, is this something that really had an impact? Where is the impact? Where is the data to prove it? And do we keep going with it? And so it was really cool because we, this was last year around this time, I guess I certainly was around this time last year. I got the book for, I got the book, I read it, I got the book Instructional Coaches who run our Professional Learning and our PLCs and helped facilitate that and shared it with them.

Daniel (28:48):
They read it, they were interested in it. I said, well, let’s talk real nice. And so I asked, li said, Hey, I know you’re slammed and busy, but do you got, do you have 30 where you could talk to our coaches? And she did. They got fired up talking and talking to Lizzie about it. And then our coaches took it from there and started running with it. And so we did our first teaching sprint this fall, and we purposefully just did one this whole past semester. Cause we wanted to really see how it would go, really spend some time reflecting on it. But we just kicked the other one off on the 1st of January. And we’ve already heard from staff, this is the most impactful professional learning we’ve ever had. And it’s not, it’s because they’re actually doing it. They’re not just talking about not taking all year long.

Ben (29:34):
Super proud and just happy to be a part of a group of people who hear this, they’re testing it out, out, they’re doing some action, but we’re already impacting kids through what we’re doing. And, all of these micro shifts that we’re making are gonna lead us to align with our agreement, align with our vision, and are gonna lead us to bringing our vision to life. But it’s through these tiny shifts multiplied. We’re excited about that. And kudos, you like the focus and how we’re leaving for staff, like doing this once, right? We’re experimenting here,it’s not like all the time or whatever. And,Continually adding to the plate and then the piece,really just transferring the power,to your teachers. It reminds me of Defor work, right? With the PLCs, but like learning by doing.

Daniel (30:17):
It’s action research. I say ideas are great, but not the greatest. What’s the greatest, doing stuff, honestly. So yeah, I mean, kudos to you. You’re just doing such a great job. All right, cool. The last three questions I asked all my guests will kick ’em off now, and one would be, Ben, if you could put a message on all school Marques, around the world for a single day, what would your message be?

Ben (30:41):
I think mine would be, and I read this quote a long time ago. It actually comes from a fictional book, but the quote is basically the guy’s name is William Paul Young. He says, if anything matters, then everything matters. That’s powerful to me because I think purpose is such a huge thing. I think sometimes people just think, oh, well, nothing I do matters.I don’t affect anybody else. I don’t have any power over anything. My actions don’t matter. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think we’re all connected in some way to our kids, our staff, our community, and every choice we make, every time we show love and kindness, every time we show respect, every time we’re selfless, every time we serve, it means something. And so that’s what I would have on the Marques.

Daniel (31:02):
And if Ben was building his dream school, right, no constraints in terms of resources, the only limitation, your ability to imagine. How would you build the dream school? What would be the three guiding principles?

Ben (31:36):
I think the first guiding principle there would be, and we’re,it’s fun to. I’ve heard this question of time, Danny, I’ve listened to your podcast for a long time, so I’ve even used this in interviews and stuff.

Ben (31:46):
It’s lots of fun. But I think for me, speaking of interviews is how we hire. I think one principle I’m hiring for learners and Ruckus Makers and Quest shares and risk takers, and the content and the pedagogy piece can come later, right? And I think that’s just something that I love and live by. Another principle would be just, we would really focus on authentic learning for our kids and really making that focus and the highlight, and not just what they’re learning, but the process and which they’re learning and the procedures they’re doing, and how that carries over to everything else in life. Another principle would be just so much, what’s the right word? Connection and collaboration with the community Broad. I think that’s harder to do. And for me, that’d be such a goal,if I had all the time in the world to be out in the community, really working with people, really connecting, bringing people in, doing those kinds of things. And so,we’re doing some of those, those things. It’s always fun,you know, without any constraints, man,it’d be awesome. It would be cool.

Daniel (32:36):
We covered a lot of ground, Ben, and so of everything we talked about today, what do you think’s the one thing you wanna Ruckus Maker to remember?

Ben (32:53):
Well the one thing I would love for the Ruckus Makers to remember is,go give it a shot. Whatever you’re thinking about, whatever you’re doing, if you had that idea, go give it a shot. You can always walk it back. Whatever it is, you can always change. Changing your mind is not showing that you’re a bad leader. It shows you’re a great leader and lots of great leaders change their mind and change ’em often. I think we gotta be okay with that.

Daniel (33:22):
Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, better Schools podcast Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel@betterleadersbetter schools.com or hit me up on Twitter at @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 at @alienearbud, and using the hashtag #BLBS. Level up your leadership at Better Leaders Better schools.com and talk to you next time. Until then, “class dismissed.”



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