Dave Schmittou, Ed.D. is the author of 4 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬, has 4 𝐤𝐢𝐝𝐬, ran 5 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐬, has done 2 ultras, was the 2014 Principal of the Year; 2018 College Educator of the Year and host of the #𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 podcast, along with being the Director of Leadership & Development at Teach Better Team. Dave is currently a professor of Educational Leadership at Central Michigan University, a former elementary school principal, former middle school principal, assistant principal, coach, and teacher. His books can be purchased on Amazon: “Making Assessment Work”, “Bold Humility”, “It’s like Riding a Bike” & “Omniscient”.
Out of the Trenches story: Dave says he is living in the trenches right now, digging in, he thinks about WWI, “trench warfare”. We have to take the 1st step, getting out of the trench. Getting up and starting a new day. He says he doesn’t necessarily have a positive mindset. A lot of what’s happened in the world isn’t bringing new problems, it’s giving us the leverage to focus on our vision. He’s using the 2020-21 school year to clarify on how he sees himself. He’s finding his own future.
Let’s talk a bit about your running story, when did you start and how long did it take to work your way up to the marathon? What was your last race? Dave was a military brat. Joined the track team in 9th grade. Friend’s mom took a pic of him running the mile. He had long hair, looked like he was dominating, but was so far behind everyone. Gave up the sport. Has run for 11 years. In 2008, Dave was a MS track coach. There was an 8th grade student Justin, who in 2009 challenged him to race around the world, which is 25K miles, the weekend of the podcast recording, Dave hit 12,500 miles. Bet was to pay the other $100. He has a tattoo with the world on his shoulder. Dave completed Boston and Chicago marathons in 2019. Chicago was an “agonizing party”. Ran 33 miles on the beach for spring break. Miles 4-9 are his zen. After his first marathon, he ended in the fetal position It was San Diego Rock & Roll. Didn’t have a great routine. Dave runs between 10, 15, 20 miles every day. Did you use endurance nutrition? He runs to eat.
Do you think of ideas for your books during runs? He has 4 kids, so running is opportunity to get away, so he goes where his mind takes him. He has internal debates with himself. He gets ideas from presentations because he gets push-back and discourse. During runs, he thinks of debates he’s having on Twitter, i.e. his “poking the bear”. His books are based on his presentations. They’re a reminder to self of pushing through hard things.
Another Trenches story is his missteps as a leader early in his career. He thought he knew everything after his 1st year teaching. After his 3rd year teaching, he tried to interview for leadership jobs. Didn’t get the job, then went to law school so he could sue districts. Eventually he went into administration after 7 years in the classroom. Superintendent told him directives about how to manage, not serve. He was constantly focused on how to please the central office. He did all the dirty work year 1. Created “itty bitty schmittys”, thought he’d create mini versions of himself in his teachers. Took a while to climb out of (this trench). His book “Bold humility”- that’s what real leadership involves. People will work for people they like.
Talk about your working this year helping schools & districts as a consultant: He helps schools & districts this year at a reduced rate with new teacher support & making assessment work. His newest book is “Making Assessment Work: For Educators who Hate Data but Love Kids”. Data is a four letter word in many schools. There are the eye rolls. It’s a new swear word in schools. Assessments aren’t about #’s, it’s how various stakeholder groups see it from their own lens. He’s a firm believer of standards vs. no standards. It’s a Pandoza’s box now with grading. Like pass/fail in the spring 2020. Grading inequities we’ve been having for years. Students are having less engagement online than when were in the classroom. Admin or the superintendent will often decide to implement a form of SBG after going to a conference. Everything often isn’t aligned to the standards. Does it work for all grades? His example is that 6th grade is based off common core, 257 standards for 1 year. If we threw in electives, it comes to 1451 standards. St’s don’t “master” a standard in .7 days. The expectation is for students is to learn and master. We come up with a pacing guide, 15 kids have mastered, 15 kids aren’t even close. Then we have to move on. We do the exact same thing, year after year. We’re not seeing an uptick in accountability scores because we’re doing what we’ve always done. There is a difference between SBG and SB instruction. Assessment should lead to instruction. It’s a big mindset shift. If you’re trying to take quick fix you’re using “formative” and “summative” in gradebook. Using assessments formatively & summatively. That way it informs instruction, but the assignments aren’t very good. A true SB classroom treats all evidence as good evidence.
When did you make the move from being an E.S. principal to a college professor & why? What do you miss in the K-12 setting? Dave worked as a turn-around principal. 60-70% of his time is still consulting, with the grading piece. In 2008, his school implemented SBG. Became an assistant superintendent and started it as a district. Took a pivot into consulting. He teaches University courses at M.A., research and doctorate level. Last year was offered ½ time professorship, was going to still be asst. superintendent. Let the asst. superintendency go and is just a consultant. College prof gig was a 40% pay cut. It allows him flexibility. With a 9-5 day job he was unable to travel, speak. He does research as part of the university gig. Currently researching what he did for his dissertation 10 years ago. The Assistant Principal position how it’s like a stepping stone job. Research on turnover of APs. Other aspect is role social media has on PD, especially during the pandemic. It’s often gathered through twitter chats, Teach Better Team Mastermind. Most AP’s enter that role because they see it as a stepping stone. Subjectively it could be an intriguing job for some people, most AP’s conceptually understand they will have to do discipline and make hard phone calls to parents. They don’t say that in the interview. We add on to AP’s load many things that aren’t a training ground for the principalship.
Key quotes: He makes sure everything in his life is aligned in order to ”focus on your focus and measure your priority. Look at yourself in the mirror”.