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Amy Dujon—The Gritty Truth of School Transformation: Eight Phases of Growth to Instructional Rigor

Interview Notes, Resources, & Links

Get the book, The Gritty Truth of School Transformation: Eight Phases of Growth to Instructional Rigor

Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyDujon

Visit Amy's Learning Sciences author page

Read Amy's blog post, Lesson Planning: 6 Steps for Aligning Student Tasks With Learning Targets

About Amy M. Dujon

Amy M. Dujon is a practice leader with Learning Sciences International and a former director for leadership development, principal, and teacher. Dujon led one of the first Schools for Rigor in Palm Beach County, Florida, which ignited her passion for student-centered, standards-based instruction. She experienced first-hand the power of a new vision to strengthen core instruction. As a result, she is relentless in her focus to grow professionally and personally, and works with districts and leaders across the country to support their transformation and implementation. Dujon holds an master's of education degree in educational leadership, a bachelor's degree in drama education, and is currently pursuing her doctorate.

Daniel Bauer—The Better Leaders Better Schools Roadmap: Small Ideas That Lead To Big Impact

Interview Notes, Resources, & Links

About Daniel Bauer

Daniel Bauer is the founder of Better Leaders Better Schools where he hosts the most-downloaded podcast for school leaders, as well as his Better Leaders Better Schools mastermind for school leaders.

Show Transcript

Voiceover: Welcome to Principal Center Radio bringing you the best in professional practice. Here’s your host, director of the Principal Center and champion of high performance instructional leadership, Justin Baeder.

Justin: Welcome everyone to Principal Center Radio, I'm host Justin Baeder and I'm honored to be joined today by my good friend Daniel Bauer. Daniel is the founder of Better Leaders Better Schools where he hosts the most downloaded podcast for school leaders, as well as his Better Leaders Better Schools mastermind for school leaders, and he's got many fabulous leaders in that from all over the world. Daniel is also the author of the new book the better leaders better schools roadmap small ideas that lead to big impact which we're here to talk about today and now our feature presentation. So Daniel welcome back to Principal Center Radio, how are you today?

Daniel: I’m fantastic. If you can see me I had the biggest grin on my face, because I love connecting with you Justin on your show or having you on my podcast, and this is just an absolute pleasure so thank you out for having me on the show.

Justin: Well likewise and the feeling is mutual it's been great to connect with you over the years and to see your ideas for this book take shape, and to see the conversations that have led to this book. The book is subtitled small ideas that lead to big impact and I wonder if we could start with that idea of small ideas. You and I have both been school leaders we have both seen both the big and the small actions that leaders take that make a difference, so talk to me a little bit Daniel about why small ideas are kind of at the heart of the road map.

Daniel: Sure. You know I think when I started writing the book I wasn't sure how it's going to come together to be quite honest, and the inspiration comes from Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams. So people are familiar with Seth's work, he writes in this punchy style, it’s easily digestible but within a very short what to be considered a blog post or a chapter. He’ll really add the value right and add the impact that's there so in stop stealing dreams he welcomes the reader to criticize his work or write their own version of their education manifesto. I did Stop Stealing Dreams 2.0 which is really what we're talking about today, and I just wanted to really give people a sense of maybe the wide breadth of experience that I've had I've you know you and I have talked to hundreds at this point of school leaders on both our podcasts and you learn a lot from those types of conversations let alone the experience that we had with in leading different schools so there's a menu of ideas that people can enjoy and even if they take action on just one I think it'll lead to big impact that they want to see within their schools.

[Music]

3 How Instructional Leaders Can Create Healthy Work-Life Boundaries

Principal stress seems to be at an all-time high, as a recent tragic story out of Western Australia illustrates. The West Australian reports:

It was not unusual for Laverton School principal Trish Antulov to stay at work until late at night, even on weekends.

So when she did not come home on Sunday before last her husband, John, did not become too concerned until several phone calls went unanswered.

About 10pm, he went to the school, where he found that his wife of 26 years had died at her desk.

Mr Antulov said the long hours she worked had contributed to her high stress levels.

“She just didn’t have time to look after herself properly,” he said.

“She was under a lot of stress and terrible pressure just to be successful in her job.” link

Now, certainly the sheer number of people who are principals, and the fact that we spend a good portion of our lives at school, means that a certain number of people will, understandably, pass away while at work.

It's jarring—but is it a sign of a troubling pattern in our profession?

Evidence is starting to emerge that stress isn’t just endemic to leadership—it’s an epidemic.

The Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey, conducted by Associate Professor Philip Riley and his team at Australian Catholic University, recently released a massive report on the state of principal health and wellbeing in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. You can follow @PrinHealth on Twitter to stay abreast of this important work.

The reality is that some jobs are more stressful than others. Some schools are more stressful environments than others.

And within a school and role, we all go through times of varying stress levels.

The societal forces creating stress on the principalship may be beyond our individual control, but we can act to reduce their impact on our health and well-being.

What can we do to protect ourselves from life-threatening levels of stress?

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First

We’re familiar with the flight attendant’s directions to “put your own oxygen mask on first” in the event of an emergency.

If you want to help others, the reasoning goes, there’s no point in heroically putting others before yourself to such an extreme degree that you lose your own life in the process.

But even if we’re not talking about extreme, life-threatening levels of stress, should we be worried?

Many hard-working educators seem to feel a strong sense of guilt around the idea of self-care, as if a “whatever it takes” attitude toward student learning rules out any effort to limit one’s own stress.

Is there an unselfish reason to limit our own stress, even as we do our best on behalf of students?

To answer this question, we must ask a fundamental question: how do we make a difference in student learning?

At its core, is our work the work of heroes, or the work of professionals?

To explore this question, let’s take a cue from a line of work that has made extraordinary gains in outcomes over the past century: firefighting.

How Firefighters Saved More Lives—and Made Their Own Work Safer In The Process

A century ago, firefighting was largely reactionary. Firefighters saved lives by rushing into burning buildings and carrying people out—and of course, by dousing fires with water.

As you can imagine, this is dangerous work, and since many victims suffer grievous burns or smoke inhalation, even someone who is heroically saved from a fire may ultimately die from their injuries.

Today, how do most firefighters save the most lives?

In a word, prevention.
Steven Pinker writes:

“In the middle of the 20th century, fire departments turned from just fighting fires to preventing them… Fire was designated a nationwide moral emergency in reports from presidential commissions with titles like ‘America Burning.’

The campaign led to the now-ubiquitous sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire doors, fire escapes, fire drills, fire extinguishers, fire-retardant materials, and fire safety education mascots like Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog.

As a result, fire departments are putting themselves out of business. About 96 percent of their calls are for cardiac arrests and other medical emergencies, and most of the remainder are small fires. (Contrary to a charming image, they don't rescue kittens from trees.)

A typical firefighter will see just one burning building every other year.

—Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now, p. 183

Consider this parallel to our own work: firefighters figured out that it's far better—for everyone, not just themselves—to prevent fires, rather than wait until they break out. And countless lives have been saved as a result.

To accomplish this feat, firefighters had to set aside any fear that they’d be seen as lazy or self-interested by promoting prevention. They had to set aside any pretensions of heroic martyrdom.

In effect, they had to become professionals, demand professional respect, and advocate for policies that would achieve the best possible results.

In every major city today, fire departments are highly professionalized. Firefighters spend most of their time on proactive work, like visiting schools and supervising fire drills, or inspecting sprinkler and alarm systems to ensure that they work.

Does every firefighter get to look like a Hollywood hero, carrying limp-bodied victims to safety, and bringing them back with CPR?

No. That hardly ever happens—and that's a good thing.

Professionalism outperforms heroism, every time. It's not as flashy, but it works far better.

What does a more professional approach look like in our line of work?

Defining and Protecting the Leader’s Work

For school leaders, professionalism means staying focused on a well-defined leadership agenda, and having systems to prevent and deal with distractions.

Who determines your agenda? Who determines what leadership work most deserves your time?

Ultimately, you do. You must decide what actions will make the greatest impact on student learning.

Then, you must protect your time to take those actions, and not allow yourself to be pulled off-course by distractions and minor emergencies.

When the alarm bells ring, of course you can still react. Classroom observations are important, but you can always reschedule them if you get interrupted to deal with an imminent safety situation.

But if you're fighting fires all day, every day, it's time to step back and look at the system you're dealing with.

Do you have a wooden building with no sprinklers, metaphorically speaking? Are you plagued with perpetual emergencies that could and should be prevented by proactive leadership?

For example, numerous stressed-out leaders have written to me to tell me how much time they spend dealing with substitute teachers:

  • Recruiting
  • Training
  • Calling them in when they're needed
  • Dealing with sub shortages by covering classes personally, or otherwise scrambling

If you're dealing with this now, don't just fight the fire. Install a proactive prevention system.

If you’re a principal, your core work should not be worrying about sub coverage every day. You have more important priorities—but if no systems are in place to seamlessly ensure sub coverage, it’s your job to build them.

Could you solve your sub shortage with 10 or 20 hours of really focused work? Could you consult colleagues in other schools and discover how they’ve solved their sub challenges? Could you recruit a good pool of people? Could you train someone else to train them? Could you train your teachers and office staff to secure subs whenever there's an absence?

Yes, you probably could. 90% of schools have already done this, and you can too. I don't have all the answers on solving sub shortages, but I know as a profession, we collectively do.

In fact, we have the knowledge and the ability to solve virtually every problem that's currently stressing principals out.

The key to sharing that knowledge and implementing it everywhere is to drop the pretention of heroism.

We must instead adopt a mindset of professionalism, stop tolerating the endless cycle of burning buildings, and install the “sprinkler systems” we need.

With the right preventative systems in place, we can create boundaries that protect against unhealthy levels of stress. Here’s how.

Create Boundaries with Low Walls

When you've decided what's rightly on your plate as a leader—so you're tackling the right work on behalf of kids—go for it. But how can you protect your focus on that core work?

To be sure, other people's agendas will crowd their way in—if you let them. Our commitment to our core work on behalf of students, plus everyone else's priorities, is a recipe for burnout.

Of course, we can't just ignore everyone. We can't just say “Leave me alone! I'm focused on PLCs this year!”

A wide range of issues will come up, and it’s our job to deal with them. So how can we handle these issues, without distracting us from our core focus, and without working all the time?

As I’ve been immersed in the work of school leadership for the past decade, I’ve noticed that the most overwhelmed and stressed-out principals seem to be in a constant state of emergency.

It’s not just that they’re dealing with a few emergencies. It’s that everything is an emergency, all the time.

Yet in other schools, these same issues aren’t emergencies. They may or may not occur less often—that’s not the real difference.

The difference is that in effective, high-performing schools, systems are in place to deal with those issues, so they don’t become emergencies that warrant constant and immediate intervention from administrators.

Let’s return to the example of substitute teachers. In my school, finding subs was never something that took up my time or caused me stress.

Why? Did I luck into a staff of perfectly healthy teachers who never got sick?

Of course not. In fact, I can’t take any credit at all, because these systems were place when I arrived—a combination of technology, delegated responsibilities, and resources that made subs a permanently solved problem.

Did I occasionally have to become involved when the system failed to deal with an extraordinary set of circumstances? Of course—but not very often.

This system for obtaining sub coverage, like other effective systems, created boundaries to protect my time. Think of the stone walls around a pasture.

These walls aren’t especially high, but they’re high enough to deal with 80%-90% of what might otherwise reach us. Instead of taking up our time immediately, these minor issues are directed to what we might think of as the right “gate” or gatekeeper.

For example, teachers who need a sub are directed to our online SubFinder system. If that doesn’t solve their problem, they move onto the next gate, our school office manager, who can work her magic when the automated system doesn’t get the job done.

Can people still leap over the wall and reach me directly? Yes, that’s always an option—and that’s why there’s no real risk of becoming aloof or unresponsive with systems like this. With low walls—modest barriers protecting our time and attention—we can see what’s happening on the other side, and we can ourselves leap over to lend a hand when necessary.

Of course, other problems can’t be permanently solved in the same way, because they’re one-off situations that warrant an individualized response. How can we keep these situations from becoming an onslaught of emergencies?

Designated Exception-Handlers

One of my summer jobs in college was dealing with “exception” mail at a multi-national corporation.

Customers would send in their payments by check to a national payment processing facility in Nevada, and if those payments didn’t contain anything out of the ordinary, the payment facility would process them with mind-numbing efficiency.

But if a customer enclosed a note, such as a change of address or a question, it would be an “exception” to what they normally handled, so it’d come to me and the rest of the “exception mail” team in Houston.

We’d open it, figure out what to do, and solve the problem. Many of these issues, such as address changes, were routine and easily handled, but others required some consultation or even management approval.

What’s the parallel in schools? If the designated point person can’t handle an issue, does it need to go straight to the principal?

Usually, no. The best next step for many kinds of “exceptions” is committees and meetings.

For example, let’s say we’re having a traffic issue around the school at drop-off time. Does this need to immediately go to the principal?

Again, the “wall” protecting our time shouldn’t be so high that we’re fully insulated from every issue. But the wall should gently guide issues to the right “gate.”

This means our traffic issue should probably go to the safety committee first, assuming there’s no immediate emergency.

And even if there is an emergency that requires a rapid admin response, the ultimately task of solving the problem long-term may be best handled by the committee.

“Let's put that on the agenda” is a magical phrase. It shows responsiveness and concern, but also a disciplined, measured response—you're not dropping everything in response to someone else’s issue.

Of course, sometimes we need to drop everything momentarily, but still delegate the solving of the long-term problem to a committee.

Low Walls In Action

Sometimes we’re the first responders to urgent issues, and may bear ultimate responsibility for installing the right preventative systems, but it’s still best to involve a designated team or committee.

For example, if a parent comes to you saying “My kid is being bullied. What are you going to do?” You’re probably going to talk to the students involved, and come up with a short-term resolution.

But if the ultimate solution is implementing a school-wide PBIS system, that's going to be far more work than it was for the parent to report the issue. That may be your real work.

But you may also have situations where you do have a good system in place, and the parent is just having a bad day, or is coming to you because you're an easy target.

So we need a bit of a “wall” to keep people from dumping too many of their issues on us too easily.

Again, think of these as low walls like you might find around a pasture.

Some issues are big enough to get over them—and interrupt you immediately—like if there's a fight, or a serious complaint about a teacher, or some other emergency. But other issues aren't big enough to go over the wall, so you route them to the “gate.” They walk around for a bit, come to a gate, and try to get in.

“Have you spoken with your child's teacher about the bullying you're seeing?”

The gatekeeper may be an individual, or may be a committee with a process. Either way, the issue is handled in due course.

Let’s consider another example, of a parent who comes to you saying “My kid needs to be in the gifted program.”

If I’ve implemented the “low wall” approach, and I’ve decided that I am not going to spend my day worrying or arguing about whether this kid should be in the gifted program, I’m simply going to follow our established system. I'm going to tell them where the gate is, and they can fill out the relevant forms and follow the process according to an established timeline.

As much as possible, that process is not going to take up my time or rely on my judgment—because the more it does, the more people are going to suck up my time by lobbying and haranguing me.

Now, “process” is an idea that a lot of people don't like, because it sounds bureaucratic. And bureaucracy is bad, right?

Actually, no. Inefficient bureaucracies are bad, to be sure. Bureaucracies that don't effectively achieve their intended goals are bad.

But bureaucracies that are well-run are incredibly effective at solving problems at scale, without stressing anyone out.

Take the passport system, for example. Last year, we wanted to get/renew passports for our whole family. A nightmare of red tape, right?

Not at all. We went to Walgreens, got photos taken, and sent off the forms in the mail. A couple weeks later, the passports came in the mail. No drama—the process simply worked.

But imagine if, to get a passport, we had to appeal directly to the Secretary of State—phone calls, emails, trying to stop him in the parking lot or the grocery store. (Sound familiar? 🙂

Right now, too much relies on you, and there's no “low wall” to direct people to the right “gate” to get their issue resolved.

How do I know?

Because there's always an opportunity to become more systematic and professionalized in the way we serve kids.

Does it feel “bureaucratic” sometimes? Well, yes. But it feels bureaucratic when the fire marshal comes and scolds you about using door stops on fire doors, and asks to see your fire drill logs.

Would it look more “heroic” to carry people out of burning buildings? Absolutely. Holding a clipboard looks downright geeky in comparison.

But which saves more lives—the professional process, or the heroic rescue?

So if something is routinely taking up too much of your time, put up a low wall—not a wall so high that it's keeping out issues that should rightly reach you, but a wall that encourages people to use the right process to get their issue handled.

And if you don't have enough of those processes in place, focus some of your attention on developing them.

Did some firefighter sit down one day in Excel and design a form to track school fire drills? Probably so, and it probably didn’t feel like a very heroic day at work.

But that's the work: building systems to do the work.

The Bottleneck Problem

As leaders, we face an asymmetry problem—there's only one of us, and there's a large number—hundreds, if not thousands—of other people who may make claims on our time and attention.

And there's an additional layer to this asymmetry problem—people can very quickly dump their problems on us, giving us work that's not quick to do. One quick email from a stakeholder can lead to days or weeks of work.

Even if we have great systems—low walls, and appropriate gates to send people around to—we’ll still get inundated with other people’s issues. It’s just the nature of leadership.

It’s important to recognize that this work is endless. There is no hope of every being free from this work, or ever finishing it all. Organizations naturally create work for themselves in the never-ending process of improvement, and most of this work will involve leaders in some way.

You’re often the bottleneck in your organization. So how can you keep these pressures from eating you alive?

Here are a few suggestions for specific boundaries to protect your time, attention, and well-being.

Keep Regular Working Hours

It's often said that the principalship is a 24/7 job, and to some extent, that may be true.

But it's only as true as we allow it to be. If you’re willing to stay at school until 9pm every night, your work will oblige you by expanding to fill whatever time you give it.

This phenomenon is known as Parkinson’s Law, and briefly stated, it says “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Parkinson was an administrator in, and observer of, British bureaucracy in the middle of the 20th century. He noted that bureaucracies have an endless ability to make work for themselves—for example, he noted that the office responsible for managing Britain’s colonies continued to grow, even as the number of colonies in the British empire dwindled down to zero.

Our schools face this same relentless pressure, to make up work for ourselves to do, even as we’ve solved many of our most pressing problems. As leaders, we must ensure that we’re directing this energy toward worthwhile improvement efforts, and not mere busywork.

And just as this is true at the organizational level, it’s true of our work as individual leaders—and protecting our time is even more urgent at the personal level.

Committees can live on forever, and can’t have heart attacks or strokes. People are much more vulnerable to overwork and stress,

So one boundary that you must create for yourself is working hours—and by the same token, non-working hours.

If you feel guilty leaving at 5pm, just remember this: you’re never going to get everything done, and the longer you work, the more time you waste. You’ll approach each additional task with less mental energy, and you’ll be working on less and less important tasks as the evening wears on.

Do the most important work first, and give yourself a hard deadline for going home. You’ll work faster and more efficiently, you’ll prioritize more rigorously, and you’ll be more effective.

Why not get the most important work done, save the rest for another day, and go home happy at 5pm?

But giving yourself a firm quitting time is just one of many steps you can take to establish better boundaries around your work life.

Email, Not Texting

I could list dozens of other tactics for protecting your time, but I’ll close with just one more: don’t allow other people to make requests via text message.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen a remarkable rise in texting in a professional context.

This increase in texting has been accompanied by a decrease in reliance on email, even when email is the better communication medium.

Texting is great for quick questions, just as phone calls have been for decades. But text messages are a very poor way to manage work, because:

  • They can’t be marked as unread
  • They’re difficult to forward or CC people on
  • They’re difficult to manage on your computer and other devices
  • They don’t integrate well with productivity tools like Outlook and Google Calendar

I'm convinced a lot of our stress—and the perception that we need to be working all the time—is coming from our smartphones.

Do we love them? Absolutely—I'm on my phone all the time. But that convenience comes at a cost.

I'm not suggesting that you get rid of your phone, but do enforce some boundaries. Specifically, don't let people text you at 10pm and expect an immediate response.

Don't let people text you random requests that you'll struggle to keep track of.

Text messaging wasn't built for productivity. Email was, so insist that people email you if they need you to do something. And model this by treating your staff the same way.

For more tips on managing text messages, see this great blog post from Dr. Frank Buck.

Professional Work Has Boundaries, But Only If We Create Them

Boundaries are key to professionalism. If we're martyrs, we don't need boundaries. If this is a profession, and we want to retain professional people to do professional work, the boundaries are essential.

Those boundaries, like the low stone walls around a pasture, don’t build themselves. It’s our job to build them.

I believe we have the same opportunity today that firefighters had in the middle of the 20th century. We can admit that it’s better if we’re not fighting fires all the time, and we can build the preventative systems that not only get better results, but save lives.

Your turn: What are some boundaries that you have put in place to protect your time and your focus on the most important leadership work?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities — Webinar Recording

Webinar Details:

Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities

Resources

What We'll Cover

In this free webinar for education leaders, you'll discover powerful takeaways for improving the ways your messaging can inspire teachers, motivate students and reach community members.

We'll Explore:

  • Mindset—Why you must learn to understand the “other side of the moon” in your school communication
  • Checklists—Ideas and checklists for analyzing your own messaging
  • Strategies—Specific steps and examples for improving messaging with teachers, students, and community members
  • Digital Tools—How to create a system of support for managing content and outreach to your school community

William D. Parker

Author, Messaging Matters

Principal Matters, LLC
www.williamdparker.com

About The Presenter

William D. Parker is a veteran administrator, author, blogger and podcaster who now serves as Executive Director for the Oklahoma Association of Secondary Principals. His newest book is Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities and Principal Matters: The Courage, Action, Motivation and Teamwork Needed for School Leadership.


Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities — Webinar Replay

Webinar Details:

Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities

Replay Expires In:

What We'll Cover

In this free webinar for education leaders, you'll discover powerful takeaways for improving the ways your messaging can inspire teachers, motivate students and reach community members.

We'll Explore:

  • Mindset—Why you must learn to understand the “other side of the moon” in your school communication
  • Checklists—Ideas and checklists for analyzing your own messaging
  • Strategies—Specific steps and examples for improving messaging with teachers, students, and community members
  • Digital Tools—How to create a system of support for managing content and outreach to your school community

William D. Parker

Author, Messaging Matters

Principal Matters, LLC
www.williamdparker.com

About The Presenter

William D. Parker is a veteran administrator, author, blogger and podcaster who now serves as Executive Director for the Oklahoma Association of Secondary Principals. His newest book is Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities and Principal Matters: The Courage, Action, Motivation and Teamwork Needed for School Leadership.


Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities

Webinar Details:

Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities

What We'll Cover

In this free webinar for education leaders, you'll discover powerful takeaways for improving the ways your messaging can inspire teachers, motivate students and reach community members.

We'll Explore:

  • Mindset—Why you must learn to understand the “other side of the moon” in your school communication
  • Checklists—Ideas and checklists for analyzing your own messaging
  • Strategies—Specific steps and examples for improving messaging with teachers, students, and community members
  • Digital Tools—How to create a system of support for managing content and outreach to your school community

William D. Parker

Author, Messaging Matters

Principal Matters, LLC
www.williamdparker.com

About The Presenter

William D. Parker is a veteran administrator, author, blogger and podcaster who now serves as Executive Director for the Oklahoma Association of Secondary Principals. His newest book is Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities and Principal Matters: The Courage, Action, Motivation and Teamwork Needed for School Leadership.


Register For The Instructional Leaders’ Network


The Instructional Leaders' Network is a forum to discuss educational leadership with like-minded professionals around the world. 

Featured Discussion

How do you deal with large numbers of tardies? What do you do when kids are roaming the hall?

See examples and share your own in this discussion in The Network.


Features:

  • In-depth discussions on essential topics
  • Go beyond the limits of Twitter chats and face-to-face discussions
  • Return to powerful conversations over time, when you have time
  • Include links, photos, quotes, and more in your posts
  • Focus only on the discussions you find interesting

Smart email notifications that you control:

You won't get notifications about anything you've already read

You can turn specific (or all) notifications on or off any time you want

You can reply by email, so you can participate without constantly visiting the site


Integration with your Principal Center account:

  • One login—no separate account or password to manage
  • Instantly comment on any Principal Center blog post, podcast, resource, or training
  • Get notifications so you can continue the discussion

Register Here:

Countdown to PBL: First Steps for Teachers and Leaders — Webinar Replay

What We'll Cover

In this webinar, you'll learn how to get started with PBL in your school or district.

We'll Explore:

  • How to take the first steps in your PBL journey
  • How to get ideas for compelling PBLs
  • The top 5 "rules of thumb" for a perfect PBL product & process
  • How to connect PBL to Personalized Learning, rigorous standards, and SEL
  • What makes successful PBL programs work (and why others fail)

 Dr. Amy Baeder 

Education Consultant

About The Presenter

Dr. Amy Baeder works as an independent consultant supporting instructional excellence in secondary schools, and remains a science teacher at heart.


She works closely with Educurious Partners to support the project-based Educurious biology curriculum. Her devotion to student success, interest in family-school connections and partnerships, as well as her commitment to quality teacher preparation drives her in her work.



Stay Connected

Contact Dr. Amy Baeder at [email protected] to discuss your PBL situation, or if you want Amy to:

•Write curriculum for you/your school

•Discuss a training for your school

•Help you think through unit design

Visit Amy's blog at www.amybaeder.com

Schedule a phone call with Amy at 800.861.1755 by emailing  [email protected]


Visit #EveryClassroom

What's the most important habit for instructional leaders?

To go where the work is being done. To get into classrooms.

In fact, let's make it a hashtag:

Take action. Get out of the office and get into classrooms.

And don't stop till you've visited #EveryClassroom.

If you don't make it on Day 1, keep at it, but within 5 days, you can visit every classroom in your school.

When you do, claim your #EveryClassroom sticker.

Tips for Visiting #EveryClassroom

  1. Visit systematically—a department or grade level at a time
  2. Keep track—print a staff roster, or have your secretary help, so you don't skip anyone
  3. Don't give yourself any homework yet—just show up
  4. Don't evaluate teachers or provide feedback—that can come later

For now, focus on getting around to every teacher in your school. Just make an appearance, so no one is surprised to see you next time.

Be friendly, say hi, pay attention, and build relationships.

As a bonus, you'll have a great deal of information and context you wouldn't have without these visits. So make it happen!

If you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #EveryClassroom and mention me (@eduleadership) to let me know you're in.​

This is the year to make it happen!

Recommended Reading

Matt Miller—Ditch That Homework: Practical Strategies to Help Make Homework Obsolete


Matt Miller joins Justin Baeder to discuss his book, Ditch That Homework: Practical Strategies to Help Make Homework Obsolete.

Interview Notes, Resources, & Links

  • Purchase Matt's book, Ditch That Homework: Practical Strategies to Help Make Homework Obsolete.
  • Follow Matt @jmattmiller on Twitter
  • Visit the Ditch That Textbook website
  • About Matt Miller

    Matt Miller has spent more than a decade teaching technology-infused lessons in public schools. As an author, blogger and education speaker, he encourages teachers to free their teaching and revolutionize their classrooms with mindset, techniques and curriculum to serve today's learners.

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