Connie Hamilton has served many roles in over two decades as an educator. She has been an elementary and middle school teacher and instructional coach. As an administrator, Connie held positions as a principal at both the elementary and secondary levels and a central office curriculum leader. Her experience in these positions fueled a passion for supporting high quality instruction.

Dr. Joseph Jones is the Superintendent of Schools in the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District. Joe is a former high school teacher, assistant principal and principal. As principal, he was named the Delaware Secondary Principal of the Year and during his tenure, Delcastle Technical High School was the first high school to receive the state’s Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. Joe received his doctorate from the University of Delaware in educational leadership. He is also an adjunct professor for various universities.

Dr. T.J. Vari is the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools and District Operations in the Appoquinimink School District. T.J. is a former middle school assistant principal and principal and former high school English teacher. His master’s degree is in School Leadership and his doctorate is in Innovation and Leadership. He holds several honors and distinctions, including his past appointment as President of the Delaware Association for School Administrators and the Paul Carlson Administrator of the Year Award. He teaches educational leadership courses at the masters and doctoral level.

Together, Joe and T.J. present nationally on topics of school leadership, and they co-founded TheSchoolHouse302, which is a leadership development institute specializing in leadership coaching for new and experienced school leaders. They have written five books together, co-authoring several of those with their friends, Principal EL and Connie Hamilton.

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Show Highlights

7 mindset shifts designed around accepting whatever happens with model solutions to implement.

The “Octopus Approach” will get in the right mindset so the crisis doesn’t crush you, but rather catapult you.

Technical tips with practical solutions and strategies to avoid professional development that doesn’t land.

Get into the dirty details of how to solve your biggest obstacles with a model shaped around your immediate needs.

Creative ways to rethink, embrace and implement new scheduling, teacher retention and technology that works specifically for your school.

The questions you need to ask to identify somebody willing to be a part of your learning culture and join your system.

Systems outside of education that will transform your schools from the inside out.

“Remember is that nothing really comes easily and it may take some effort, but solutions are out there. We have plenty of resources available to help us to achieve some goals and we have plenty of evidence that we can do things that we never thought were possible before.”
- Connie Hamilton

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Read the Transcript here.
Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems

Daniel (00:02):
Since you’re a Ruckus Maker, I can make an assumption that you went through some kind of certification program to become an educator, then a school leader. You probably went to a university college, maybe a community college. Some of these settings are often called the ivory tower. What’s the biggest critique of the ivory tower? Well, that ‘s too theoretical. What’s the problem with theory? Well, people feel like it’s disconnected from real experience, it’s not practical, it’s not really how the world works. I don’t know that my guests today share that same view of universities, but they definitely share that view in terms of books, don’t books sometimes operate too often in the theoretical. Or when PD, professional development doesn’t land. What’s wrong with it? I often say that it’s too little, too late. Unhelpful. This last part is egregious, disconnected, not even relevant to what you’re going through.

Daniel (01:04):
So lucky for you, Connie Hamilton Joe Jones and TJ very, they’ve come together from this sort of super team to create a new book. It’s out right now called Seven Mind Shifts for School Leaders Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems. I highly recommend Ruckus Maker that you go pick it up. What I admire so much about their work is that they get into the dirty details. They show you how it’s done through models, through technical tips. And we’ll get an overview of the book. We’ll get an overview of the models and some of the technical tips in their book. Again, I highly recommend that you pick it up. Hey, it’s Danny. I’m Chief Ruckus Maker at Better Leaders Better Schools. I’m a principal development and retention expert. I am a best-selling author and I host two of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. You’re listening to one of them right now. This show is made for you, a Ruckus Maker, which means you’ve made three commitments. You’re committed to continuous improvement and you’re continuous learning. You are committed to challenging the status quo, and you’re committed to designing the future of school now. And we’ll be right back after a few messages from our show sponsors.

Daniel (02:28):
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 BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Teach FX helps educators see how their instructional practices lead to student talk and learning in both in-person and live online learning for any subject at any grade level. See Teach FX for yourself and learn about special partnership options for Ruckus [email protected]/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? And 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 [email protected]/go.

Daniel (04:01):
Alright, this is all wild. I’ve been on shows with two other Ruckus Makers before, but never three that I could remember. And so here we are. I consider all these people colleagues and friends for sure. Connie Hamilton was on the show, I can’t even remember how long ago right when we launched. Joe and TJ from the Schoolhouse 3 0 2, we struck up a nice friendship and they’ve been on the podcast as well. Anyways, here’s some quick bios. Connie Hamilton has served many roles in over two decades as an educator. She’s been an elementary and middle school teacher and instructional coach as an administrator, county health positions as a principal at both the elementary and secondary levels and a central office curriculum leader. Her experience in these positions fueled a passion for super supporting high quality instruction. Dr. Joseph Jones is the superintendent of schools in the New Castle County Vocational Technical School district.

Daniel (04:56):
Joseph, former high school teacher, assistant principal and principal. As principal, he was named the Delaware Secondary Principal of the year. And during his tenure at Delcastle Technical High School that was the first high school to receive the state’s outstanding academic achievement award. Joe received his doctorate from the University of Delaware in educational leadership. He is also an adjunct professor for various universities, and Dr. TJ very is the assistant superintendent of secondary schools and district operations in Themi school district. TJ is a former middle school assistant principal and principal and former high school English teacher. His master’s degree is in school leadership and his doctorate in innovation and leadership. He holds several honors and distinctions, including his past appointment as president of the Delaware Association for School Administrators and the Paul Carlson Administrator of the Year Award. He teaches ed leadership courses at the masters in doctoral level. And together Joe and TJ formed the Schoolhouse 3 0 2. They present nationally on topics of school leadership. And listen, they are great, and have an awesome podcast. And all three came together to create a beautiful work for Ruckus Makers and that’s why they’re here today to talk about their latest book, Seven Mind Shifts for School Leaders, Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems. Team. Welcome. So happy to have you here.

TJ (06:25):Thanks. Happy to be here. Thanks.

Daniel (06:27):
All right, let’s just start off really quick and throw it over to TJ but can you just give an overview, so it’s seven mind shifts for school leaders. We’ll dig into a few of these mind shifts, but broadly, what are those seven mind shifts that you discuss?

TJ (06:44):
Sure thing, Danny. We start with a crisis mindset. That’s the first mind shift leading with a crisis mindset. You can talk about what that means, running everything through a filter that we created. The next one is leading with a battleground mentality. We lean on Jocko winning Navy Seals and some stories there about how we can bring that into education. Third is leading with a beginner’s mind, something that we learned from Richard Elmore and we can talk more about that. The next one is leading with an octopus approach that’s about systems thinking. We bring a lot of work from business in this book. We have the next one after that’s called Leading with a disciplined tunnel vision using the aspects of tunnel vision that are actually good. In leadership. The final two are leading with a Yes end mentality. We have too many yeah. But scenarios in schools. And finally leading with what is known. There’s too much research in the field that’s not being applied through leadership and down into the classroom. And so we call that out, call attention to it. And those are the seven mind shifts.

Daniel (07:49):
Sweet. Thank you for the overview. Again, this is a great book. We encourage all, all Ruckus Makers to go grab that Seven mind shifts for school leaders. Joe, I wanna throw this over to you. TJ mentioned that Mind shift one, having that crisis mindset or leading with the crisis mindset is super important. Can you unpack why that really sets the tone for the rest of the book?

Joe (08:16):
Absolutely. And thank you for having us Danny. This book really, although it’s not a Covid or pandemic book, it was born from the inspiration of the pandemic. You don’t hear that often associated with what we went through the last couple years. People look at us being indoors unable to go out, masking up. But with all of that occurring, schools did pivot very fast and there were a ton of successes that if done well, we can take forward as school leaders to really make a difference for our students. But the first was how do we get in the right mindset so the crisis doesn’t crush us, but rather catapult us? And that mindset is how do we view perennial problems? So this isn’t, you’ll hear TJ mention this all the time, this isn’t a spill in the hallway. These are things that have long been associated with schools. Students not reading on grade level is a great example of us not achieving what we need to achieve. How do we start attacking those problems that have frustrated us for years? And we kind of harnessed the power of what we saw in the pandemic and said, look, this is how people view these situations.

TJ (09:43):
And so was the issue persistent or the crisis persistent? Was it important? Meaning did it affect all kids? Was it something urgent that needed to be fixed? And if it answered those three areas, then we need to employ the crisis mindset. And one of the ones we often talked about is that a lot of districts had technology, but we never looked at that technology through the lens of being able to use it at home. So yet we give them the device. Yet we were talking to our staff about getting away from supplementation to really using the technology at a different level. But we never wondered if kids even had the internet to be able to log in at home. And covid, we’ve realized, look, we gotta fix that. So the entire, entire states, not just districts, but states came together to solve problems and that’s really what that crisis mindset is about. And us pivoting in a way in which we can really start tackling things that need to be solved that we’re sick of talking about. Let’s fix it once and for all.

Daniel (10:51):
Got it. And I wanna follow up with you, Joe, I’m not gonna let you off the hook yet. I’m really drawn to this idea of not allowing a crisis to crush us. We’re gonna face adversity and obstacles and challenges as leaders. Sometimes I wonder, “Why do people even want easy, if you had an easy route as a school leader, would you continue to show up? I just think it would be so incredibly boring without problems and challenges to solve that kind of thing. But there is pressure and we see school leaders leaving. Education at an incredible rate, which is alarming. Any other thoughts? Like can you give the Ruckus Maker watching, listening, just a practical here’s how to not be crushed right by the next crisis?

TJ (11:36):
It’s an awesome question. I always go back to Nietzche as well, that comfort is the enemy of achievement. When we do get comfortable, we’re not going to achieve. I think what people are experiencing now is not necessarily like just a crisis, it’s also just complete overwhelm. Those are two different things. I think people want comfort, not to escape reality, but sometimes to work clearly so they can see the problem clearer. I think as leaders we have to be able to distinguish between those things. But right now, teacher retention if you’re not talking about teacher retention as a school leader, either you’re in a place that we all want to go to because I’m not sure it exists or you’re missing the boat completely. And I’m probably thinking you’re on the ladder. So if we’re gonna face teacher retention this isn’t something that you can be talking about now in the spring.

TJ (12:37):
This is something you should have been talking about six months ago. or the hiring season, that’s upon us right now. In Delaware alone, we’re faced this year with over 50 math vacancies. We’re a small state, these aren’t pros typically associated with us. We have a couple powerhouse universities that are great teaching schools, so it’s not something we worried about now we’re worried about ’em. So using the crisis mindset though is, all right, well how are we gonna solve this problem? We can’t solve this with just our old experience of just attracting people to a profession where other professions look excellent to people right now? And so where the benefits used to play in or teacher days used to play in, there’s other companies right now that are offering wonderful benefits. So like there’s a different approach we need to use.

TJ (13:31):
And it’s also not only the approach of how we’re attracting people to the profession, it’s who are we hiring? You know, do they have to go through the four year school and get a degree in E L A or we’re gonna have to rethink how we’re even attracting people to the profession through the traditional pipeline. That has to change as well. So if we don’t do those things, we’re gonna just continue to bandage a problem that’s gonna affect schools in certain areas more than others. And we don’t want that to happen. So I would just say that’s one approach I could go on on that specific topic for another 10 hours. I’ll leave it at that. But you know, that’s just one thing I think people have to think about.

Daniel (14:15):
We could do a 10 hour podcast.Let’s head over to you. I wanna hear about this “Yes And mind shift.” It reminds me a lot of improv comedy and I don’t know if you have some jokes as well to tell on the show today, but looking forward, just tell us about that mind shift.

Connie (14:33):
It’s funny that you mentioned that improv is, that really was part of the inspiration of where we kind of found this notion is through Second City, they have a whole course that is designed around accepting whatever happens in the improv. So whatever your fellow actors do, you don’t push back on it. You don’t try to change what it is, you’re just like, you embrace it and you run with it. And I think too many times when we’re faced with a problem, when we start to explore solutions, they get shut down before they are fully vetted and they are just halted with a “”Yeah, but that won’t work. Yeah. But our community won’t support it. Yeah. But we don’t have the funds. Yeah. But that’ll take too long. Whatever the excuse it often is just positioned as a reason to not explore that particular solution. And so this mindset of shifting away from yes, that’s a closed door, that’s a barrier that’s gonna pause us.

Connie (15:34):
The shift is to embrace it. Like yes, that is gonna take a long time and so this is what we need to do. Yes, we don’t have the funds and so how are we gonna get those funds? . What are some alternate ways So it embraces the specifics within the problems that might otherwise be barriers. And that whole shift of that mindset really was, it’s a lot of what we talked about when we first had the idea of the book of going to, like in Covid, we didn’t have the option to say Yeah, but were forced into the yes. And so if we can take that same line of thinking into these other types of problems like their grade reading scores, equity, and teacher retention and all different kinds of things that have been lingering that we are just like, yep, that’s a problem. And then that’s the end of it, applying that. Yes. And so that we can actually get to some Solutions.

Daniel (16:33):
.Absolutely. I think what Joe mentioned regarding teacher retention too, if you have, let’s just say two options. But one district’s clearly a yes, but another’s a yes. And which one are you gonna go work for? I think it’s also about seeing and hearing your people, Understanding truly what the needs and desires and ambitions and hopes and dreams are of people. And even if there are challenges, at least acknowledging like where folks wanna go and dealing with the reality versus just, it’s so easy to shut things down. I can speak from personal experience and it’s something that I work on. And what’s interesting, this doesn’t show up really professionally but personally . At home with my wife and I got a request. I don’t know why sometimes I have just this automatic no.

Daniel (17:24):
And that really bugs me. I think that I’m working on it and really trying to change it cuz I can only imagine. It’s super annoying though to live with me, to be honest. I doubt it. I need to be more sure. I’m just curious, Connie, I’d like to dig a bit deeper too with the Yes. And do you have an example maybe from your personal professional life, either when you’ve yes. Ended and it really worked out . And maybe you were surprised at the awesome result or a time where you Yes. Butted and kind of shut down. Like sometimes I do, I’m default and it was like, oh, I could, I felt the energy get worse or a little more negative and that kind of thing.

Connie (18:04):
Anytime you, you consider something that is maybe out of the box a little bit and we start immediately thinking about why that change can’t occur. So now we have these complexities of people pushing back around change and, and so forth. Like my mind immediately when you were initiating that question, my mind immediately went to like scheduling, because we kind of get into yeah, our own box of this is the way our day unfolds. And so thinking about all of the different, all of the different schedules that I’ve tinkered with and many leaders have and went block scheduling, there was like a whole rage around block scheduling for a while and you know, some districts were like, yeah, we can’t do that because what about the shared teachers between different buildings or we have teachers that are on alternate schedules and that won’t work because, so that’s the.

Connie (19:00):
But right. And so if we do the yes and how can we take those schedules and maybe work around the teachers that are locked into a specific schedule instead of working around the singletons or whatnot. So, that scheduling kind of comes to mind. I remember a time when, yeah, I worked in a really small school district and so for budget restrictions we looked at reducing the calendar. This was way before Covid. We went to a four day week, we added 20 minutes onto each day and we had a four day week and now kind of thinking about the different kinds of schedules that people implemented during Covid and while we were virtual and while we were in session face-to-face. I look back on some of those and I think wow, that there’s some brilliance there that we did out of necessity and urgency and just survival.

Connie (19:55):
One school district that I worked with, they had every Wednesday, or maybe it was Friday, doesn’t matter, one day a week, they had prep for their online courses. So when they were fully remote, they had a full day to prep and they could collaborate at grade levels. They were able to divide and conquer as departments and they were able to accomplish so much in that single day with a big chunk of time that you could never do in a 45 or 55 minute planning period. Right. And so just kind of embracing some of those successes that maybe you’re like, yeah, that was a temporary fix and maybe we need to make it a little more permanent. Massage it just a wave so that it can work today.

Daniel (20:34):
Awesome. Thanks Connie. And before we break for sponsors, I’d love to talk to TJ and listen to you have mind shift number two, the battleground mentality, what’s that word all about?

TJ (20:48):
Yeah, so the battleground mentality was born from some learning that we’ve actually done from the military. So each one of the mind shifts actually starts with a story from outside of education where these things were made possible and we saw during Covid where we were able to pivot and use some of these strategies that we thought maybe were impossible before it. We start with the story of Jocko Welling. He’s written many books about leadership. He’s all about embracing ownership. And so we developed a model called Real and its relentless experimental, agile and learning culture. And I’ll just hit on a couple of those experiments, for example, like during Covid that, it’s silly to say, but I think I presented on like more than a dozen different high school schedules in a year. And so I’m not suggesting that you should do that within a year outside of something like Covid, but I would suggest piggybacking on Connie’s example about schedules that we experiment.

TJ (21:54):
Proof is the enemy of progress. We don’t need proof that it works. If we have proof that it doesn’t. That’s when we need to make a change. We’re very clear about calling out the flaw of thinking that has got us here and in a candid way, in a way that we want to embrace for educators to say, yeah, that that doesn’t work. And for it to change we’re calling for a battleground mentality. And so that experimental side of it, learning culture is something that we talk about a lot and is kind of a through line in the book around developing a culture of people who are willing to try things, who are, like Connie said, not always saying Yeah, but about something. Or even what Joe was saying about like, well we were gonna have to confront the fact that our kids don’t have full connectivity at home and that’s not fair if we’re gonna expect them to learn there. To do something about that and lots of districts had to experiment through it. Do MyFi devices work? Do you need to put hotspots in certain areas through the city districts? We’re sending out buses with wifi, mobile wifi. That’s the kind of relentless experimental agile and learning culture that chapter calls for.

Daniel (23:08):
How do you as a leader, TJ, sort of test or identify that somebody has that willingness to be a part of a learning culture, right. And join your system.

TJ (23:21):
I think it’s an investment that they’re making in themselves. First, when I ask questions to a leader, maybe somebody was interested in bringing on board about what they’re doing to invest in themselves and who the people are. Because they join masterminds. Those are the kind of folks that want to be part of a learning culture, are gonna drive the type of learning culture that you want to see in a district that we wanna see from this book. We know who they are because they’ve read all the prerequisite books and they’re reading this weird obscure thing that’s esoteric out there that other readers might know about. A lot of that stuff that we put in the book does come from outside of education because we think our audience, they’ve heard from the educators and they wanna learn how to think a little bit differently than what we’ve seen in the past. Again, we embrace that. We love teachers, we love leaders, we love schools, we want to see the system do well and we think you can do that from the inside out. I mean it starts with us.

Daniel (24:25):
Absolutely. Thanks TJ. I just wanna highlight a comment that we got a little bit earlier that I missed. Shout out to Moe who is just, spotlighting the But turned into Yes. And that’s really resonating with him and I know all the guests here are pretty active on LinkedIn, so is Mo. I encourage you, for sure, to connect. He is awesome. And again, pick up seven mindset shifts for school leaders finding new ways to think about old problems. And we’re gonna go to some sponsor reads, but when we get back, I wanna talk about why Joe and TJ you often include models in your books and then something new too. These technical tips that are really helpful before we get outta here today. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school’s success and empower your teams with Harvard’s certificate in school management and leadership.

Daniel (25:17):
Get online professional development that fits your schedule. Courses include leading change, a leading school strategy and innovation, leading people and leading learning. Apply today at BetterLeadersBetterschools.com/harvard. When classrooms come alive with conversation teachers and students both thrive last year. Teachers using Teach FX increase their student talk by an average of 40%. Can an app really do that? Even trying something like embracing extra wait time to create space for student talk can feel like a risk. But with Teach FX teachers see the power of those practices in their own classroom level data. So you could go over to teach fx.com/blbs and actually get a trial to test this out with your teachers and see how it works for you. Finally, teachers give it their all to empower their students. But what is it that truly lays the foundation for learning what sets all students up for success?

Daniel (26:26):
As you know, unless students develop a solid foundation for learning, it does not matter how great teachers deliver content or how emergent the technology is or even how engaging a lesson might be When students hone executive functioning skills, those seemingly intangible suite of habits and behaviors, teachers efforts find fertile ground and everyone succeeds. Ironically, did you know that executive functioning skills are not taught rather they’re best learned when students get practice using them? Our virtue of engaging in a predictable daily learning routine, our friends over at Organized Binder have created a new course that will teach your teachers how to set up students for success. Learn [email protected]. And finally, just a really quick plug. I am leading an epic summer live event for 50 school leaders in Denver on July 14th through 16th. I’m teaching a framework called the Leadership Optimization Compass to go to betterleadersbetterschools.com/denver2023. You can learn all about the event and apply and I’ll be in touch within 48 hours to make sure it’s the right fit for you and that we could overdeliver on your goals and then we could talk about how to come out there and play with me and 50 other school leaders.

Daniel (27:46):
All right, we are back with Connie, Joe, and TJ, like I mentioned, they have an incredible book. I want you to grab Seven Mind Shifts for school leaders Finding New Ways to Think about Old Problems. I think I’ll actually go back to TJ for this one. And so you often include models within your books. Why is that sort of almost a thing that you’re known for now at the Schoolhouse 302 with Joe?

TJ (28:12):
We use models because they’re really easy ways for people to remember the processes and steps to thinking. They’re usually visual. Joe’s great at creating visuals, Connie, when we wrote this book, Connie and Joe did this.

Daniel (28:31):
Play to your strengths.

TJ (28:32):
I usually am able to put a little comment saying this needs a visual and so we’ll build models. Like I talked about the real model, it’s easy to remember and then people have a visual and they have something to implement. A lot of books end up being too much theory and not enough about what to do next. And so we wanna provide people with the what and the how. And that’s how we describe our models. Here’s what it is and here’s how you do it. And in this book in particular, these models start to help people think. So if you’re wondering like, well what do you mean by that? If you think of the example of like a SWAT using a SWAT lot, which lots of leaders have done before, and you can Google that if you haven’t. But that’s a way to think with a team that usually has different outcomes because of the application of the SWAT, different outcomes in terms of the thinking that emerges. And so all of our models are meant to do that same thing, to take a problem and to put it through a model to say we’re not thinking about this either clearly or the right way. We’re with a new way to solve the problem. We’re not here to solve your problems, but we’re here to help you to think about them differently.

Daniel (29:45):
So that’s what the models do. So swat, like you’re talking about strength, weakness, opportunity thread, . And so that’s just one example of a model and the more models you have, right, the more tools you have as a school leader and the more effective you can be and right, you hear the quote when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I don’t know who said that first, but that’s the point. So grab the book seven Mind Shifts for school leaders, you’re gonna get at least seven models, now you have seven more tools on how to approach the work. But Joe, over to you. I know you talked about how this book is not like how to, and you also include technical tips. Can you describe what the whole idea behind technical tips were? And maybe an example of one

Joe (30:31):
To piggyback off of what TJ was saying is we wanted this book to be as practical as possible. It’s really about how we approach a situation that we can solve. The technical tips break down some well known practices at times and just puts ’em in very applicable weight. So like one that I love that we did was the idea of lateral thinking with DeBono six thinking hats. We’ve used this, I’ve seen this used. It’s good. We teach kids in classrooms to use the thinking hats. Why wouldn’t we use that as adults? So all we tried to do is say, listen, we’re facing this problem, here’s a model to help you remember the best approach to solving it. But you know what, here’s a very practical technical way that you can use it in this strategy to work with your team.

TJ (31:30):
And so we tried to layer that throughout the book because again, what we hope for this isn’t just for it to sit on a shelf, but for us to truly solve some of the issues that have been plaguing education for some time that we’re using in our own systems. And that’s the power with this as well. It’s not like we’re just writing this, in some ways, we’re able to apply our own work and test, and be approving ground within our own system. So the technical tips are there for people to hopefully use in a very practical manner and something that’s not foreign or strange to them in any way.

Daniel (32:09):
Got it. Thanks Joe. And Connie, I’d love to ask you and let’s tease this out. So you all are gonna be at N A S S P in N na E S P this summer, which is pretty cool. That’s the second and third best live event to go to this summer after mine in Denver. But I’ll be at all of them as well as presenting and I’m super excited to serve. I think you’re gonna be talking about mind shift or the octopus approach at those two events. I don’t want you to really dive deeply into it. I just wanna give you the opportunity to make an invitation. So folks that are coming out to those events, yeah. Why should they attend that workshop you’re doing?

Connie (32:49):
Well, they’ll learn more about octopuses than they ever cared to know. Joe’s our experts there, but the reason that we chose to name that chapter, it’s the octopus approach, is because of the anatomy of an octopus, which is they have a central brain and then each of their tentacles has their own brain. And so each of the tentacles can work independently, but in a crisis or in a moment of need, the central brain takes over and is able to control all of the individual brains. And so when we apply that to a school setting, I’m sure that your listeners can already see the analogy and the connections between district levels and individual buildings or between an overall school per goal or initiative and then the individual components of that or looking at a district perspective and the tentacles are the community and the staff and so forth. So just kind of looking at how to bring a systems type of thinking so that you don’t, kind of go back into some of the other mind shifts so that you don’t come into a Yeah, but this tentacle doesn’t align with what it is that we ought to do.

Daniel (34:07):
Joe, did you watch My Octopus teacher on Netflix?

TJ (34:13):
I have not. I’m gonna have to check that out.

Daniel (34:15):
I think you have to. It’s,

TJ (34:18):
I’m gonna put it on for tonight.

Daniel (34:20):
Yeah, you might even, sure.

TJ (34:21):
My Wife will be thrilled.

Daniel (34:23):
Awesome. Well I think I wanna end here. If you could put a message on all school marquees around the world for a single day, I’d like to hear from everybody. So what would be the message just for one day on all school marquees? What would your message be? And TJ can we start with you?

TJ (34:42):
Yeah, I would say listen to the kids. Both in the school and outside of the school. Listen to the kids. They have a lot to say and it’s really good stuff. I just need to listen.

Daniel (34:53):
Joe, how about you?

TJ (34:55):
This is a tough one. It’s kind of like why I don’t like Twitter. I’m not sure if my message would fit on a billboard, I would need more like seven. But if I’m gonna say one thing, I honestly would just probably believe there’s just so much negativity around education, especially public ed. Lack of better words is frustrating. There’s so many good things going on and I realize that, if it bleeds, it leads. I realize the polarization in certain communities yields money for industries, news channels that don’t work in a community and it doesn’t work and its kids are suffering as a result. And so we just need to come back together as a whole and recognize what we’re trying to accomplish in classrooms each and every day and really just start having a little faith and belief back in the system, back in our teachers, back and trusting us that we’re doing the best we can for our kids. Nothing on earth is perfect, but we’re making serious progress and I can cite example after example of teacher doing, teachers doing wonderful things I would just put on there, just believe.

Daniel (36:12):
Cool. And I’ll hit you with another TV reference. Are you watching Ted Lasso? I hope so, because believe is all, that’s their thing.

TJ (36:21):
I’m not, but for some bizarre reason a YouTube video today, so I have to check it out. I didn’t even know that existed before noon today.

Daniel (36:30):
Awesome. Well that’s a great show. Go watch it.

TJ (36:33):
I think I need to start watching more tv.

Daniel (36:37):
Oh, definitely not, but I think I’ve given you two actually worth your Time investments, so you should read and connect with people more than watch tv. Connie, what would your message be?

Connie (36:46):
I think overall kind of piggybacks on what Joe was saying is just be kind to educators. It’s a hard career for both leaders and teachers and you know, kindness goes a long way more related specifically to the seven mind shifts I might put, like knowing the problem and all of the mind shifts really go into examining the problem before we start jumping into solutions and, solutions is what we want. And so I think just that message of knowing the problem helps you to align solutions in a better way.

Daniel (37:19):
Brilliant. I wanna give you the last word, Connie. We covered a lot of ground today, so everything we discussed, what’s the one thing you wanna Ruckus Maker to remember?

Connie (37:29):
I guess I just kind of said like, be kind, but I guess I, what I would want them to remember is that nothing really comes easily and it may take some effort, but solutions are out there. We have plenty of resources available to help us to achieve some goals and we have plenty of evidence that we can do things that we never thought were possible before.

Daniel (37:53):
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 at 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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