Dr. Christopher Thurber is an award-winning writer and thought leader who has dedicated his professional life to improving how adults care for kids and to enhancing the experience of adventurous young people who are spending time away from home. A graduate of Harvard and UCLA, Dr. Thurber has served as a psychologist and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy since 1999.

Show Highlights

Avoid “woodshed moments” when trying to innovate in education.

Get organizations and bureaucracies to be open to innovation versus being entrenched in the way things are done here.

Pressure is instinctive. Know what kind of pressure is unhelpful and what kind of pressure inspires.

Raising your awareness for your parents will help your leadership.

Tips on how to be mindful of the pressures we put on children and where to apply pressure that motivates performance.

Evaluate if the work you create advances your students’ thinking.

The value in maneuvering through the appropriate channels to cast a bigger net of support.

Dr. Christopher Thurber: The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure

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.

The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure

Daniel (00:02):
Usually toward the end of the intro, I say a Ruckus Maker is somebody who makes three commitments, somebody who commits to their continuous growth, somebody who commits to challenging the status quo, and someone who commits to designing the future of education right now. But I wanna start with that point, because this episode starts with that point. Dr. Chris Thurber joined me on the podcast, and we started off talking about how challenging the status quo, innovating, doing something disruptive ages ago on campus, got him into some big trouble. But the interesting thing is that he was far ahead of his time, and the stuff he was doing back then is now basically common practice. We’ll start off with that story, but you’ll wanna stick around throughout the whole podcast because toward the end, Dr. Chris mentioned something in terms of pressure that we put on kids, where as an adult, we think it we’re actually applying a pressure that’s motivating and helpful, and it’s anything but that. It was really eye-opening for me, what he shared. It made a lot of sense and he gave some better ways to motivate and connect with students and kids. Hey, it’s Danny, chief Ruckus Maker over at Better Leaders, better Schools. I’m a principal development and retention expert. I’m a bestselling author. I host not one, but two of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. We’ll be right back with the main conversation. After a few messages from our show sponsors.

Daniel (01:46):
Learn how to recruit, develop, retain, and inspire outstanding individuals and teams to deliver on the vision of your school in leading people. A certificate in school Management and leadership course from Harvard. Get started at BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Teachers use Teach FX to record a lesson and automatically get personalized insights into their classroom conversation patterns and teaching practices. See Teach FX for yourself and learn about special partnership options for Ruckus Makers@teachfx.com/blbs. Why do students struggle? I’d argue that they lack access to quality instruction, but think about it. That’s totally out of their control. What if there was something we could teach kids, then what if there was something within their control that would help them be successful in every class? It’s not a magic pill or a figment of your imagination. When students internalize executive functioning skills, they succeed. Check out the new self-paced online course brought to you by our friends at Organized Binder that shows teachers how to equip their students with executive functioning skills. You can learn more@organizedbinder.com/go.

Daniel (03:09):
Hello, Ruckus Makers. Today I’m joined by Dr. Christopher Thurber, who is an award winning writer and thought leader who has dedicated his professional life to improving how adults care for kids and to enhancing the experience of adventurous young people who are spending time away from home. A graduate of Harvard, who’s a proud sponsor of the podcast, by the way, and UCLA. Thurber has served as a psychologist instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy since 1999. Dr. Chris, welcome to the show.

Dr. Chris (03:41):
Thank you. Thanks, Danny. It’s great to be here.

Daniel (03:44):
You’re a great new connection. I was really excited about your work. So let’s dig in.Ruckus Makers often get in trouble innovating in education, and you had this experience recording discussions and innovating how students prepared for finals. Tell us that story.

Dr. Chris (04:04):
It sort of has two parts. The first is that like many teachers, and I should say here we are in my office at Phillips Exeter Academy, and the bulk of my workday is spent meeting with students individually for psychotherapy. But I also have the pleasure of teaching an Introduction to Psychology class, which is an elective for our seniors, the oldest students in upper school. Grades 9 through 12, and located here in Exeter, New Hampshire, about an hour north of Boston. I had taught this class for 8 or 10 years before I realized and offered to have a review session, but very few students showed up. If we had an exam on Wednesday, on Tuesday night, I would make myself available in the student center and say, “Look, I’ll be there between seven and eight. If anyone has any questions, stop by.” This is in addition to the other supplementary materials that I had provided to them to help them track the content of the course and digest it, analyze it, understand it, and the students who would show up were either the ones who had prepared beautifully, and maybe they had one specific question, but they were so conscientious they couldn’t not come to the review session, although I would add they probably didn’t need it.

Dr. Chris (05:23):
And then there were always a couple of students who would come who hadn’t started reviewing at all, and we’re hoping through osmosis to understand the last unit of the course. I thought, this is not great, it’s time to make a ruckus. And I thought there’s gotta be a different way to do this. And it just so happened that I was gonna be out of town the night before the next exam. My standard model was not gonna work. I decided that I would do a sort of podcast, although that makes it sound like it was serialized, it was just an audio recording of me going through my notes and flipping through the chapters that were relevant to this unit and offering some commentary, some review, some clarification of difficult concepts. I also got to sections where I said, “Oh this thing on page 326, we didn’t really talk about that much, and I’m not sure I liked the treatment in this book so you can skip that.” The students were wildly enthusiastic after the exam. They said, “oh, that was so helpful. All the teachers should do this. Because what we got was, in your own words your take on the content, you highlighted for us what you felt was relevant. And not so relevant for one reason or another. It really helped us focus our studies. And the one thing that we would just love is if you shared that not the night before, but maybe two nights before.” I said, “Easy enough. “So that was great, and that all went smoothly. But I did get in trouble for them thinking to myself about this audio recording, and mind you, this is like I said, 14, 15 years ago, so we didn’t use Zoom like we do now, or other platforms like Streamy Yard, like we do now. I thought there are times when students don’t come to class because they either sleep through it because they’ve got another big test after my class, and they need the time to study, or they feel they need the time to study. And you could blame it on poor time management and so forth. What’s inarguable is that they’re missing the content of the class. We’re a school that sort of uses a flip classroom model, discussion-based learning. The expectation for the 12 or 13 students in any class is that you do the reading or the problem sets or the data collection, whatever, prior to the class. We use the class time to discuss, to deepen our understanding, to ask questions for clarification. We have a discussion and sometimes those discussions are really enlightening. That’s one of the reasons why I love teaching so much. And also why I love psychotherapy is I’m learning all the time. I thought to myself rather than recording absences, and it should be noted that if students accrue in a given term, there are about 44 class meetings per term, and students are taking five classes at a time. So you have 200 odd classes, if you miss three, if you miss more than three, you now have to check into your dorm early. And if you miss a bunch more, then there’s a probationary period. Basically, you’re gonna get in trouble if you’re not in class. I thought I could use recording to eliminate even the possibility of an absence. I don’t necessarily care why a student is absent unless they’re chronically absent.

Dr. Chris (08:48):
I just want them to benefit from the discussion because it is often really good, which is not so much a reflection on my facilitation skills as it is on the student’s intelligence and creativity and their good preparation. With student’s permission, make an audio recording of class and right after class just post it on the class website. I did that and the students thought it was great, and I said look, the way that this is gonna work is if you’re absent, I’m gonna record it, but I will delete it. That is to say, I will erase your absence and you will not be penalized if you listen to the recording and write me a couple of paragraphs about your thoughts and what you would’ve contributed to the discussion had you been there. If this happens more than a few times, we need to have a discussion about your attendance. Essentially I was making up the first ever Phillips Exeter Academy way to make up for an absence and not be penalized as long as you do the learning. I thought it was great. I didn’t think that I would need to ask anyone’s permission except the students, they should know that they’re being audio recorded. And it wasn’t for public consumption, it was just on the password protected platform that we use, which happens to be Canvas. But there are many others. About halfway through our 11 week term, I got a call from the Dean of faculty who wanted to meet me for coffee one afternoon, and I thought somehow they’ve heard about this or I’m gonna get an award. Instead I got sort of taken out politely to the woodshed as it were.Like, Chris, you can’t do this because you’re making an audio recording of your discussions. These are minors, most of them under 18. I said, well I have their permission and it’s not public, but here’s why it’s brilliant. He kind of thought it was an okay idea, but there was just this fairly dogmatic rule that you couldn’t record audio or video. Of course, that seems laughable given all the asynchronous work that we had to do during the pandemic, but that was my ruckus. That was one of them anyway.

Daniel (10:28):
You had the experience, you see how the students respond, and then you have also the woodshed moment too. What did you learn from that experience?

Dr. Chris (11:11):
One of the things I learned, and it sounds a little prosaic, but any of us who is working in an institution of any sort, whether that’s a school or a company or a summer camp, there is value in going through appropriate channels. It slows things down. Speaking personally, I feel less innovative when I have to check with my colleagues about certain things. But there is value to that. I have always wondered if I had proposed this and who knows what subcommittees would’ve had to approve it, would it have gotten approved? Could I have done it? Would it have been more broadly adopted as a thing? I don’t know. But that’s one lesson that I learned is sometimes it’s worth thinking about the systems in which you’re embedded. The second thing that I learned is much more important, at least for my own teaching and learning, and that is to experiment and try out differences and listen to what your students have to say about their learning and what is most effective. I can’t remember who wrote it, but there was a wonderful article in a journal of higher ed a few years ago that talked about what makes a quality homework assignment, and are you advancing your students’ thinking? Do they have the tools they need to learn from what you’re assigning is better? Are you asking them to just repeat what they’ve learned in class or and that’s a whole topic in and of itself. I became much more thoughtful about how I led class and also the sorts of things that I provided as supplements and stopped thinking very traditionally about, we’re gonna go chapter by chapter, there’s an outline. Those things of course are helpful, but they’re not as helpful as we would like to believe.

Daniel (13:09):
You mentioned the word systems. Universities, secondary, post-secondary, and elementary. They’re all districts. These are systems, these are bureaucracies you mentioned going through the proper channels and change can be slow. That’s interesting and a real tension because the other end of it is that we need to innovate, we need to recreate education in some respects. How do we get organizations, especially these entrenched ones? These big systems are open to innovation and a little more comfortable letting go of the entrenchment. The thinking that these are the way things are done here.

Dr. Chris (13:55):
So this is where I put on my psychologist hat. If it’s been entrenched and people are referring to it as a tradition, or this is our policy, and maybe they wouldn’t themselves use the adjective entrenched, there’s pride associated with that. If you’ve been a successful institution, there’s also fear that change would somehow be for the worst. I try to recognize that at some level, almost everyone in a system or an organization shares the same superordinate goal. But as Daniel Kenman and other people far smarter than I have said, we often let our emotions guide our decision making in irrational or illogical kinds of ways. Danny, what I learned from this is one way thread the needle, boy, I want to innovate. I really don’t want to be slowed down by bureaucracy. I’m up against some pride and fear and traditions and whatnot. And it can feel stagnant. You can appeal to people’s pride by saying here are all the wonderful things about this institution, and one of the things that we should all pride ourselves in here, whether it’s a university or company, or is innovation and being an example for other companies, schools, et cetera, to follow. And we don’t always know how innovation is going to work, but it’s pretty clear in any industry that if you keep doing things the same way, at some point you’re gonna lose your luster. And that gets people thinking about, okay, so innovation is worth it. As I said, thread the needle when I make a proposal now for changing something, I state this is a pilot program. All I wanna do is pilot this for a term and see how it goes. One paragraph, two paragraph summary of what it would involve. I’m gonna audio record classes, post them on canvas, and we’ll see what students think of that. If it’s a pilot program, usually you don’t have to jump through so many hoops as long as what you’re doing is ethical, of course, and you do something else that’s extraordinarily valuable for any kind of entrenched organization or maybe any organization that’s just, excuse me, being thoughtful about change, which is you collect data. And when the pilot is over, however long it lasts a year, you’re able to say, okay, so this is what I did. This is kind of what was going on before this is what I tried to change. This is how successful the change was. Like some commentary on the fidelity with which you executed your mission and this is what students thought, or this is what employees thought, or here’s how we, I think, like comparing one term to another 12 or 13 students to another 12 or 13. I wouldn’t base it on their grades. It’s not a big enough sample with too much noise in the data. But if we’re talking about recording classes as an example, being able to say students reported that they learned a lot more, that they got a lot out of it, that they were more excited about the course, that sort of thing. It may not be for everybody. We’re not mandating that you record your classes, but here’s a cool thing that you can do, and it’s not expensive and students like it. When it’s not just an idea, but you’ve got some data to support your idea, then I think you get more widespread buy-in.

Daniel (17:38):
Let’s start talking about your book, the Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure. How they encourage Ruckus Makers to pick that up. Pressure is instinctive especially for Ruckus Makers who find themselves in a leadership position, and they use it at times as a means to an end. What kind of pressure is unhelpful and what kind of pressure works well, that’s the right way to ask the question, because for centuries, if not millennia, we’ve been asking a quantitative question how much pressure is enough.

Dr. Chris (18:13):
In the case of the book Hank Weisinger, who’s also a psychologist and my co-author on this book, Once we get to know each other and Hank had written a book for the business world called Boy Hank would Kill Me, that I’m Not Remembering It, I’m Performing Under Pressure. There you go. Hank, we’re still friends. And you actually got the title while Performing Under Pressure. Oh, that was a very meta moment. We realized it’s not sort of Goldilocks, there’s just the right amount of pressure, but it’s what kind of pressure as you asked the question. What kinds are healthy, what kinds are not healthy? As you also said, it is instinctive. Anyone who has a goal, which I think anyone alive does, maybe your goal is to sit on the couch and eat potato chips and watch a movie on Netflix. And if you get a phone call or your next door neighbor’s chopping down a tree with a chainsaw and you can’t hear the surround sound or whatever you feel annoyed, but it could be certainly conceptualized as well. There is some internally generated pressure to have a certain experience, and you’re not meeting expectations. The kind of pressure that Hank and I focused on is the kind that well-intentioned, loving caregivers instinctively provide, which is for their progeny, their kids to do well, and you can define doing well however you want. We’ll talk more about that in a minute. But I don’t think there’s a way to sidestep pressure, and it is instinctive because we care, because we love our kids. And you could be a teacher who loves their students. You could be a camp counselor who loves their campers. I’m using that verb love in a very generic way. But we care about the outcomes, and because we care about the outcomes, we can often apply a kind of pressure that is supremely unhealthy. Here’s the distinction. Unhealthy pressure defines success very narrowly. It frames the outcomes as very high stakes. It is often overly involved. That is to say the outcome for the kid is something that you’re overly invested in your happiness hinges to too great an extent on this particular outcome. Whereas healthy pressure defines success broadly. It doesn’t make the outcome, it doesn’t frame the outcome as do or die. And you are involved as a loving caregiver, teacher, coach, mentor, parent, in an age appropriate way. I’ll give you a very easy to understand example that is close to home for me, which is college admissions. Students here at Exeter are thinking about college probably when they start as 14 year old ninth graders. And if maybe they start thinking about it before. But the point is, we’re a prep school preparatory in the sense of preparing for the next exciting chapter of your life, which for most of our graduates is university. If parents or any other loving caregiver says something like, well you gotta get this GPA and that’s gonna get you into one of these 10 schools that are really the top schools, and that’s really what you want. If you don’t go to one of those schools, life is gonna be tough because you won’t have the right alumni network, and you’re not gonna get a good education. You’re not gonna get a good job. It’s not gonna pay a lot of money, whatever it is.

Dr. Chris (22:03):
When you define success very narrowly, like the culmination of your high school or secondary school experience must be university. And not just university. It must be one of these eight or 10 universities with very high stakes. If it’s not one of these, it’s not gonna be a great outcome. Again, over involvement, I’m gonna micromanage the whole process along the way that leaves young people feeling as if the love they have from teacher, coach, mentor parent is contingent on a, a really specific performance from them and might be withdrawn, or the esteem that adult has for them might be significantly diminished. That’s a horrible thing to imagine. Ironically, that kind of pressure, even though it is applied with good intentions, produces worse performance. It’s actually a decrease in performance. Also a significant impact on a young person’s mental health. That kind of pressure is associated with high anxiety, higher rates of depression, even suicide and poor academic performance. But if you say, look, your whole experience here is about, like in high school, secondary school, exploring, learning. Your effort is what is going to be most related to the benefits of learning. My expectation is that you always try your best and kind of make a distinction between being like, Danny, I want you to be your best rather than the best if you’re on the diving team or playing lacrosse or whatever it might be. That’s what I want for you to say your parents are for you to be your best. You don’t have to be the captain, you don’t have to be the fastest runner. You don’t have to be the top student on the math team or whatever it is.

Dr. Chris (24:08):
And provided that you do your best consistently, there’ll be lots of opportunities. And one of those might be you apply to university and hopefully are accepted to a few and can really find one that seems like a good match to your interests and abilities. If you put in a lot of effort, you are gonna get a fantastic education. And who knows what that will lead to. Success is defined broadly, and you’re not micromanaging things. And that is associated not only with better mental health and better physical health, but also with better performance. One approach, I think, sounds a lot more flexible and has a lot more possibility ingrained in it. And then the other one is just so nearly defined. It’s a rigid, brittle kind of thing.

Daniel (24:59):
I am enjoying this conversation, Dr. Chris. We’re gonna get some quick messages from our sponsors When we return. I’d love to ask you about the different kinds of pressures kids experience, and why being mindful of them is important. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school’s success, and empower your teams with Harvard Certificate in School Management and leadership. Get online professional development that fits your schedule. Courses include leading change, leading school strategy, and innovation, leading people, and leading learning. You can apply today by going to BetterLeadersbetter schools.com/harvard. I also want to tell you about our other sponsor, Organized Binder, which is a program that gives students daily exposure to goal setting, reflective learning time, and task management, study strategies, organizational skills, and more organized binders. Color coded system is implemented by the teacher through a parallel process with students, helping them create a predictable and dependable classroom routine. You can learn more and improve your students’ executive functioning@organizedbinder.com.

Daniel (26:17):
What student engagement sounds like. Students ask questions, they build on each other’s ideas, the classrooms alive with conversation. Creating that kind of classroom is much easier said than done. Teach FX helps teachers make it happen. Their AI provides teachers with insights into high leverage teaching practices like how much student talk happened, which questions got students talking. Teach FX is like giving each teacher their own on-demand instructional coach to help them boost student engagement in learning as well as their own. It’s eye-opening for teachers and scales. The impact of every coach and principal, Ruckus Makers can start a free pilot with your teachers today. Go to teach fx.com/blbs. To launch a free pilot for your school. Again, start that free pilot by visiting teach fx.com/blbs today. And lastly, I would like to just make an invitation. I’m hosting a live summer event this July in Denver. I’m teaching a brand new framework called the Leadership Optimization Compass. And the guiding question that’s guiding the whole event is what would be possible if you are operating consistently at your best. I think that’s a powerful question, and I would love the opportunity to serve you. You can learn more at Better Leaders Better schools.com/denver.

Daniel (27:51):
We are back with Dr. Chris Thurber, who is the author of The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure. I love that title by the way. We were talking earlier about how pressure’s instinctive and the difference between unhelpful, helpful pressure. And from that discussion, I think we were hearing a lot about the types of pressure parents and teachers put on students, but that’s not the only kind of pressure kids experience. There’s other pressures out there, and it would be really great for Ruckus Makers listening to be more mindful of those other pressures. Do you mind sharing some insights around that idea?

Dr. Chris (28:32):
Outside of academic pressure, you can also feel a lot of athletic pressure or artistic pressure, and those are often aligned in the same institutions. Like there are students here and at every school who are engaged in academic as well as artistic and athletic things. I would say it is easy to extrapolate the principles that we just talked about to those domains. What I wanna mention are some more insidious forms of pressure. And it’s worth mentioning too that we all internalize different things from our experiences, and there is great variability in what students or young people or older people put on the pressure that they put on themselves. So yes, there is a lot of internally generated pressure, and I think one of the things that I often ask students with whom I’m meeting if I’m sensing that there is some depression or anxiety or worse, is about the pressure that they put on themselves. And have they defined it very narrowly, even if their primary caregivers and teachers and coaches haven’t in whatever domain that that success looks like this, or they’ve been very specific, there’s a dollar figure that they’re putting on their dream salary, or they really feel that unless they get a certain GPA or win the concerto competition or are part of the, you know division champion team, that it won’t have been worth it to devote so much time to soccer or devote so much time to math or whatever it might be. I go through the same parameters with them, but again, internally generated pressure sometimes doesn’t get the examination that it should. We also feel a lot of cultural pressures, Danny, to dress a certain way, to look a certain way to have a certain gender identity that necessarily matches what our natal sex was to have a certain sexual orientation. And when I say insidious, I mean some of these messages are pretty subtle. For example here we are recording this in February and some people are gonna be listening to it this month. Some people will be listening to it in May, but there are a lot of family gatherings over the holidays in the winter, maybe during the summer if there’s vacation. And you know, Aunt Mary or Uncle Bob is going to ask this young person the hack question, how’s school going? I’ve so often heard the follow up: if you’re talking to someone who identifies as a boy or a young man, do you have a girlfriend? At first blush, that’s a harmless question, but it implies, unless you know for sure that the person you’re talking with happens to be heterosexual and identifies as male, that that’s their romantic pursuit. You know, it could be that Aunt Mary or Uncle Bob is sort of takes a step back and is a little mortified, but maybe apologizes if the child says, or the young person says, well actually no ro romance in my life right now, but, but I’m not interested in having a girlfriend. I’m interested in having a boyfriend. Oh, I didn’t realize, and what more often happens is a young person doesn’t say anything, but what they experience is an amplification of the societal pressure to, for example, be heterosexual. That’s just one example of a kind of insidious cultural pressure that exists when messages come in from the people, the young person you know, trusts and cares about. A lot of times. I do parent forums at the school where I work. Parents will say it’s hard whether our student is a day student or a border, we feel like we can’t find out what’s going on in their life. We ask that they’re reluctant to talk, they seem reticent. What are the questions that you usually ask, oh, well, I’m very conscientious. I remember that they said they had a biology test. Usually I would call ’em up or text them and say how’d your bio test go? And I just pause and the room goes silent. And then people start to laugh and they realize it’s not a great question. Not that you can’t ask questions about performance, like, did you win the game? Or you know, how was the orchestra? Or how was your recital? Or what was your bio test like? But we can do better as parents. I feel like if we’re talking about students, most of them work really hard and don’t want to talk more about academics. If we ask more inspiring questions to our kids, we’re likely to find out more as caregivers. Tell me something that has become clear to you since the last time we talked, or what’s the best thing that’s happened since this morning? I know you had a bio test today. What’d you learn on the test? Which is not so much focused on outcome. Win loses a B, but instead is focused on the process of learning. In other words, what’s insidious is we’re communicating our values and also laying the foundation for a relationship without saying, okay, hang on, here comes a value statement, I’m gonna ask you how your bio test was. And that is designed to communicate the importance I attribute to grades and your performance academically. Nobody says that, but we imply it when we keep asking those questions all the time.

Daniel (34:39):
That’s really interesting. I think it is very inspiring and helpful, too. Those are very deep questions too. It’s like peering more into the soul, like, what’s going on in here? Tell me about that. I’m interested in that. Really great stuff. Thank you Dr. Christopher.

Dr. Chris (34:58):
I would just add, you can swing in the other direction too, which is one of the best ways that I’ve discovered to communicate with my own kids. I have two boys who are 18 and 20. That can lead to deeper conversations and that’s humor. We’re constantly sharing memes with each other and funny reels from Instagram and my wife and I were lying in bed one night thinking this is an entree, this is like a wolf. I mean, truth be told, what we find funny isn’t always what my boys find. Funny because, I’m 54 so by definition I’m not cool anymore and haven’t been for decades. But the four of us as a family unit, we share a lot of humor, which again, it just makes it fun for us. I feel like my boys relate to me and my wife on that level very easily, which a lot of people do. And then if they have something that they want to share, disclose, discuss it, it’s easier because there is no predetermined or monolithic content or basis for our relationship. It can be playful, it can be serious, I think somehow as our kids get older, we think they, maybe they lose their senses of humor or the conversations need to be more businesslike. And if it’s always that, then yeah, your kids will not share a lot.

Daniel (36:23):
Super helpful. I know the Ruckus Makers will really enjoy that. And thank you for sharing again, Dr. Chris. Let’s get to the marquee question, and if you could put one message on all school marquees around the world for a single day, what would your message be?

Dr. Chris (36:39):
My message would be to seek the joy of being alive, which I’m borrowing from Canadian American naturalist, Ernest Thompson Seton. And one of the Woodcraft laws that he purported, fortitude, truth, beauty, love, and a piece of the lamp of love is to seek the joy of being alive.

Daniel (37:01):
Brilliant. And Dr. Chris, if you were building your dream school, you didn’t have any constraints when it comes to resources, but your only limitation was your imagination. How would you build your dream school? What would be the three guiding principles?

Dr. Chris (37:18):
One is that it would be immersed in nature as much as possible, not only in a rural setting, but it would provide or have architecture that allowed people to see and be in nature as much as they could during the day. At other times, the second would be I’d ground it in a principle of leadership by example. And the third would be I would hire people based on their character far in a way or far above their academic qualifications. I don’t want somebody with a PhD in biology to teach biology. I want a really good person. And yes, they have to know something about biology, but I think character first, academic qualifications second.

Daniel (38:14):
We covered a lot of ground today and you know, do dove into some extremely meaty topics of everything we talked about. Dr. Chris, what is the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Dr. Chris (38:27):
Well, as I said, Hank and I realized that we as parents and most other parents had been asking the wrong question. And our book is based on asking a different question and the benefits to people of doing that. I would say, even though I haven’t said this explicitly, learn from your mistakes. We learn the most from our mistakes. That’s the best learning opportunity anyone can have.

Daniel (38:56):
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@Betterleadersbetterschools.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 @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.”



Transform how you lead to become a resilient and empowered change agent with Harvard’s online Certificate in School Management and Leadership. Grow your professional network with a global cohort of fellow school leaders as you collaborate in case studies bridging the fields of education and business. Apply today at http://hgse.me/leader.


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 .


Why do students struggle? I’d argue that they lack access to quality instruction, but think about it. That’s totally out of their control. What if there was something we could teach kids there was something within their control that would help them be successful in every class? It’s not a magic pill or a figment of your imagination.

When students internalize Executive Functioning Skills they succeed.
Check out the new self-paced online course brought to you by OB that shows teachers how to equip their students with executive functioning skills.

Learn more at organizedbinder.com/go


Copyright © 2023 Twelve Practices LLC

(Visited 59 times, 1 visits today)