Episode 42 to 48

Episode #42: Danny Bauer


A former principal and English teacher, Danny hosts masterminds with school leaders across the globe,

Danny Bauer is the Founder of Better Leaders, Better Schools, podcast host, author of the #BLBSRoadmap. Danny provides coaching to leaders, aka “ruckus makers” to bring them out of the isolation that is often found in school leadership in order to help them #levelup their leadership, as well as providing them with tools such as vivid vision and ideal week. 

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: He shares it’s normal, but sometimes you find yourself in a lot of muck! He was new to a community. It was his last principalship-he started there when kids got there. Things were great from Aug-Oct. The principal supervisor gave him good feedback at the beginning. Then he was written up for the first time in his career, it was a shock to his gut, then got messages from his supervisor along the lines of “we have serious concerns”. The “lived experience” like what was present on social media was positive. He had to dig into his gratitude journal, leaned into a community around him like the Mastermind he was part of. They helped him see straight. Entrepreneurs are successful because often they got pushed out of a job. It was a toxic culture, tough relationship, but it segwayed into his current reality. He did take it personally and it hurt at first. The #BLBS brand was being used against him. His boss was giving him the impostor syndrome. He composed himself with fight or flight. Write ups didn’t have to do with student achievement, culture, or climate. He wanted to figure out “how do I prove them wrong”. How did his perspective shift? A year later, he was visiting his mom in FL. Sitting there seeing the FL sun, had just released his #BLBSRoadmap book. He took a screenshot. Looked at people in the Mastermind- almost 60. A year prior, he’d asked his wife to give him a year to do #BLBS fulltime, in 2017 moved to Belgium. At the kitchen table, he looked at how his business performed, had made more $ through BLBS than as a principal. It took about a year later to not take it personally. He’s thankful for the trenches experience, it pushed him to be where he’s at now. 

Talk to me about your evolution of interviewing guests, how you think your hosting the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast has changed in the past 5 years? He feels like he started yesterday. He thinks, woah those old episodes. Just jump in, iterate, evolve. He hired a podcast coach in 2019; he heard some things from his previous supervisor that was correct. The coach gave him some feedback. In terms of interview style, he wanted the podcast to sound more like a conversation. He wants to personalize it to make guest more like a hero. He learned to do the hard work to spend a little time to get to know the guests first. Sometimes they have mutually agreed, “this isn’t gonna work”. 

Talk about how go about choosing the books to read in the Mastermind. It is fluid, sometimes he makes changes related to what happens in society. He doesn’t mean the book’s perfect, but he wants to have the conversation around it. He wants Mastermind members to read as little about education as possible. His belief is we already read too much about education. He wants to find books from female authors + authors of color.  He wants folks to work on their mindset. The Mastermind is currently reading “Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke. Why are we reading about poker? It’s about making smart decisions.  

Are you working on anything in particular common to all the Masterminds? You have to have boundaries and exclude generously. He used to let teachers in. Often, it wasn’t right for the group. Superintendents- tried to launch one twice, but interest fizzled out. He defines school leaders locally: principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, assistant superintendents.  He has loose + tight rules for what is discussed in the Mastermind, the structure is similar for all, it allows members to facilitate, they bring their own unique strengths to show. You get to accelerate your own journey, figure it out within the hour on the “hot seat”.

Talk a little about your upcoming book which will be out next summer- “Unlocking the Talent within each Principal” is a possible working title. It’s about helping people start their own Mastermind. 44,000 words had been written at time of recording with 2 chapters to go. His first draft was submitted in November. It should be out in July. His first book, #BLBS Roadmap- was written in only 3 months. Was self-published so he could include tips. This new one is being published by Corwin, so he has to include research. If you serve consistently and how you serve, if it’s valuable, you’ll get rewarded. He knows every district has unlocked potential. Sometimes districts overlook leadership training. They don’t talk about vision, enrollment. He fills in that gap through the mastermind. Includes tips you can apply to your small internal leadership team, gives tips to start their own.

Talk about PD, keynotes you’re currently doing? He doesn’t have any scheduled for the moment, due to the ongoing pandemic. In the past, he’s often talked about personal presence related to weather, climate tied to routines, rituals. How you show up impacts how you do. Science around being constantly connected to work. He talks about his personal philosophy- his is to be an intentional catalyst. It’s going to have an impact how you show up. He journals every day. Needs to start the day the right way.

Key quotes: He hopes listeners heard “give yourself some grace”, put out a video on social around the time of recording about being gentler, kinder, self-care, grace. Don’t think you need to have it all figured out. When you have solid routines and rituals, things fall into place.

Where can ppl find you online? Follow Danny on Twitter @alienearbud, visit his website at: www.betterleadersbetterschools.com or email him at daniel@betterleadersbetterschools.com View his episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/OCIvfCPgmPc

Episode #43: Darrin Peppard


Darrin is the author of the book “Road to Awesome: Empower, Lead, Change the Game”.

Dr. Darrin Peppard, the self-proclaimed recovering high school principal, is a school district superintendent, speaker, and consultant. Darrin’s expertise in school culture and climate, along with coaching and growing emerging leaders has made him a leading voice in school leadership on an international level. Darrin has served kids and adults as a superintendent, principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach. Darrin was recognized as the Jostens Renaissance Educator of the Year in 2015, Wyoming Secondary School Principal of the Year by WASSP/NASSP in 2016, and in 2019, he was inducted into the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame. In 2017, Darrin earned his Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Wyoming.

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches: The transition to being a principal from Assistant Principal in the same school in SW Wyoming. He had 3 different superintendents. He got lost deep in the trenches, and had to scaffold his way out. What does being the “instructional leader” of the building mean? How did he help everyone maintain balance in spite of massive, sweeping changes with new superintendents? He had to rebuild a lot of culture that had been torn down with the first superintendent. Thinking of that, it was 40’ down the hallway, but might as well have been 200 miles. Enormous struggles. Road to Awesome comes from that particular point. He had to understand the value of teacher/leader coaching. One of the keys in his book- 2 questions that changed his life. First year as an AP, there was a broken culture. They were preoccupied by catching both adults + kids doing things wrong. As he went though the process, he was in charge of discipline and attendance. Teachers wanted to focus on punishment to gain compliance. Finally someone said, “find out what they do right”. This allowed them to change over time how they looked at school culture. They went from a horrific attrition rate/graduation rate to great attendance. Darrin spent 5 years as AP and 6 as principal. He started his Ed.D. 6 months before accepting thee principalship. Focus was on “let’s recognize what we truly value”.

Tell me about your work with Jostens Renaissance (made video for the district). He loves video because it features the high school where he was principal. It highlights wanting to build connections with students at their school- they’ll be more likely to go into great post-sec choice if they have a significant connection in their school. It reinforces the importance of relationships. This is an opportunity to really change the face of things, especially in high school. We should start looking at high schoolers as adults, give them leadership opportunities as adults, for they can be incredible at what they do. In his district, the grand visioning project was to create the profile of a learner, which used to be done by a committee. Every student was involved in this process. It was like a puzzle piece with different symbols, ideas came directly from learners.

When did you change your doctorate dissertation topic? He changed it to perceptions principals had of first principalship after his first year as principal. He was interested in processes that were involved with tech-instructional implementation prior to the change. One of his superintendents connected him with a leadership coach. It changed the thinking in his head. There were some traditional staff members who weren’t all that welcoming to changing school culture. “This too shall pass”, he thought- since some people still contribute to a school’s negative culture. You can’t change school culture alone. His dissertation was then focused on leadership coaching. Th biggest mistakes novice principals make is they feel they have to solve everyone’s problems and be the purveyor of knowledge. His previous principal delegated “sandboxes”. Changed leadership dynamic in the high school. In his current district, he feels “it’s not our job to solve problems, it’s their job HELP them”. Principals he researched for his dissertation struggled with the ability to build cultures and lead PD. It’s critical to get outside feedback as a pricipal, someone who isn’t right there with you in the job. They can stand outside on the balcony. His leadership coach said, “You’re not a firefighter, you have AP’s to do that”. He had to spend time to help improve student outcomes. Challenges with principal leadership mentioned above him led to him becoming superintendent.

Walk me through the application process to become a superintendent? For him, it was a several year-long process. When his daughter graduated, he wanted to look at stepping to the next level. He knew he needed to go to a different location. Not all states require superintendent licensure. Not all people in Colorado as superintendent have doctorates. It’s not necessarily about thee letters behind your name, but your experience, ability to lead. The job he holds in Western Grand County, CO, is vastly different than in Denver Public Schools. It was his belief that he needed to just apply to assistant superintendent jobs. Then the “perfect” position opened when his daughter had graduated. He hasn’t worked in an urban district, rules are so different. He was able to visit different communities. Other superintendent said “keep in mind you’re looking for fit, that you’re going to fit the values of the district”. Now he is able to impact at the system level. Enjoys hanging out with some urban-area superintendents. We have to do everything we can to control the narrative of our schools. Every district has amazing things happening. Whether or not we’re willing to have coffee chats, that’s where he’s at.

How long did it take you to finish your book Road to Awesome and when did it get released? The day he got a call that he was a finalist for the superintendent position, he defended his dissertation. Then realized he had something to share, book-wise, in Jan. 2018. Took a lot of starts & stops. He didn’t want to write a “don’t do what my last boss did” type book. He wanted to land in between that and philosophical books. Early on, he couldn’t stand what he was writing. In Dec. ‘19 started writing again, it started to flow. Was inspired by Jonathan Alsheimer. Reached out to a publisher in February 2020 and shared 3 chapters. His full draft was in complete in April. Published in July. Other authors helped him connect his story with his passion. Once he did so, it took him about 4-5 months to write. It’s like his own leadership manifesto. He has a great work/life balance. You need to have a formula as a leader, but don’t necessarily follow his leadership. For him, it wasn’t so hard to go from principal to superintendent. He doesn’t struggle with being comfortable not being the only one doing the work. He has developed a strong leadership team who shares the lift. Intentional on modeling taking care of yourself. In his district, they’re back full-time in-person. Community was thrilled, they really wanted kids back in schools. Visit his superintendent’s page at West Grand Schools: https://www.wgsd.us/superintendents-page-c7f58e46

Tell me what your Keynotes are about? The one he gives the most has evolved into his book- a 30,000’ view, about what he’s spent a lot of time with. Breakout sessions- rapid fire ideas about culture builders that will give you results right away and what will help you reinforce the culture you want, PD workshops.  

Key quotes: “leadership matters”, bottom line. We’re at a critical time. It’s the single most powerful lever to make differences in student outcomes. Teachers who are willing to innovate, create.

Follow Darrin on Twitter: @DarrinMPeppard    IG: @darrinpeppard     FB: darrinmpeppard or visit his website: www.roadtoawesome.net  Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/a3cKrwDIhYg

Episode # 44: Will Winfield

Episode #44: William Winfield (podbean.com)

Will has over 5 years of experience in public speaking, mentoring and coaching

Will Winfield is a young millennial certified professional speaker, educational consultant, Minister, Authors, and DISC consultant. Will is also a Father of two wonderful sons, and beautiful daughter, a husband to Jennifer. He is one of the most sought-after motivational speakers for inspiring and activating students and educators in America. His own life experiences such as being in foster care, homelessness, losing a football scholarship, raised by a single mother, and being molested have prepared him well and have made him an expert in his field. His transparency, honesty and heart-felt desire to inspire people to achieve greatness is what sets Will apart.

Tell me about a time you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: He became homeless after he lost his job at a manufacturing company. Supervisor called him out, was RIF’ed. He was able to reconnect with a friend, contacted his friend Gilbert. He tells students at his speaking engagements that they need to cultivate real friendships. He got a job at a shelter. Was a reality shift, gut check. A guy named Anthony who had suicidal thoughts, he was always on the floor, spoke with Will. Anthony said “life isn’t worth living”. Will said “you will get through this”. When Anthony came back from hospital, he said “because of you, you changed my life”. He then got a job at drug rehab facility. He was 25 years old, speaking to much older men. His speaking strength came from being homeless and that’s how he’s able to share his story.

What led you to speaking at high schools & colleges? Will reached out to community members and wanted to share his story. He did a presentation to 7 students. They were inspired, motivated. He had a presentation to present to larger groups gradually. He didn’t want students to make the same mistakes he did. He speaks mostly to high schoolers and at colleges. He has been giving a lot of speeches virtually for the time being. When he speaks, he wants to add value in different areas, such as confidence, self-esteem. He often works with kids in small groups.

What is your vision for how you want your leadership role to evolve in 2021?  He says “don’t make life deep”. He will still share his authentic story. Principals are the “head coach” of the school. He will attack the “pain points” of the school. Right now during virtual engagements, he will build off of his evolution as a public speaker. He didn’t want to speak into a role of speaking. He thinks it was something that was thrown. He was focused on being perfect. When it comes to public speaking, it’s about you being yourself. Public speaking is the second greatest fear besides death. Don’t focus on what the audience sees. How he evolved was studying the greats, Les Brown, looking at the game film of his speeches. It’s not about the speaker, it’s about the audience. When he started, everything kind of fell into place.

When you’ve travelled where do you go? He goes wherever he needs to go, east coast, FL. Wherever the mission is, that’s where he’s going. For him, it amazes him that people request him. He’s been a lot of places, and is thankful for that. He’s done a few corporate engagements. 

Share a success from a building that you’ve spoken at, how they’ve followed up with you after speaking there. Feb. 2020 he did a presentation for Black History month, 45 minutes, but was there the whole day. All students came up to him after, one specific student came up, started crying. Will embraced him, said “these painful moments will make you who you are”. Got feedback that it was so quiet during presentations. He was looking at his phone, they sent him msg via Instagram. 55 students sent him messages, he responded back.

Key quotes that resonate with him: Geno Auriemma, head coach of the Huskies “Without pressure, it’s hard to do great things”. Pressure is what makes you great. Be in a mindset that you will be in your full potential.

Connect with Will on Twitter @williamwinfield IG: willisblessed LinkedIn / FB: williamwinfield View his YouTube channel @williamwinfield which has episodes from his speaking. View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/amzv20hU9eQ

Episode #45: Jessica Cabeen

Episode #45: Jessica Cabeen (podbean.com)

Jessica is the author of “Leading with Grace”, “Hacking Early Learning”, “Unconvential Leadership” & co-author of “Balance like a Pirate”.

Jessica Cabeen was named the 2017 MN Principal of the Year and the 2016 NAESP/VINCI Digital Leader of Early Learning. Jessica is the Principal of Ellis Middle School in Austin Minnesota. Prior to that, she was the principal of the “Happiest Place in Southeastern Minnesota”, the Woodson Kindergarten Center. She has been an assistant middle school principal, a special education supervisor, and special education teacher. She started her career as a Music Therapist and worked with adults with disabilities and adolescents in residential settings in Iowa and Illinois. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Music Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, a Masters in Special Education from the University of Saint Thomas, and her administrative licenses from Hamline University.

On social media, Jessica co-moderates #ECEChat as well as engages with other educators looking to make all things possible for our young learners, and learners that are young at heart. She enjoys quality time at home with her husband Rob and her two sons.

Tell me about a time you were in the trenches: Last fall, there was a social media incident at her school. Through this experience, she learned you have to share your story or someone else will share it for you.

How are we becoming more resilient in this season of COVID so we can come out of it stronger? The pieces she was most afraid of in the summer were “listening sessions”, it was intimidating to start. The governor released expectations for return to learning early August. She heard from students, parents, and ALL staff. What she thought were the pressing issues were not . It helped with resiliency to know what we can’t control. It set boundaries around what she couldn’t control. It made her a happier person. For the listening sessions, she practiced beforehand, was super nervous, contacted peoplee she knew from the kindergarten center.

Talk about experience with the hybrid model at your school so far. To highlight the positive aspects of hybrid, she gathered feedback from the spring that 7 periods per day weren’t going to be ideal in a hybrid setting. They have a block schedule. It’s led to a platform for relationships. Classes are 12-15 kids. The kids are just receiving instruction those days they are in-person. Block schedule reduced the cognitive load for students. She co-teaches an advisory-type class AVID with SEL.

Your self-care- talk about what you’re doing to take time for self-care: She did take a free online course on resiliency at the beginning of the summer. She wasn’t taking care of herself 4th quarter of last year. Her head makes it out to be 100x’s worse. It could be an opportunity to build on relationships. We’re really restless with worry during the pandemic now, it can be hard to sleep. Make sure you’re getting optimal sleep.  She has done just a few keynotes during the pandemic and she made an effort to decline speaking engagements virtually. She senses she won’t be the only one making life changes. COVID gave her a chance to connect with her boys more. She has been spending more time connecting with women in general, in their own leadership, what they’re doing.

Share a story of a student who was almost up for expulsion. She’s had 5 students in 20 yrs she’s been involved in the life of, outside + inside of school. Sadiq was a kindergartener with challenging behaviors, was gifted. They stayed connected, when her son was born she went to visit him. Worked as a liaison with him later. He graduated 2 yrs ago. Guardian passed away when he was in 6th grade. She grew as an educator, mom. Made such an impact on her.

Talk about being your son’s principal. Adoption of Isiah when he was 5. Her void was filled by helping Sadiq. Isaiah entered her family when she was starting as a K principal. It helped her see talents of ELL teachers and how they supported him. In her current 7-8 building relationships with kids, and seeing them when they come back. She’s out at parent drop-off. She’s open to staying connected. She calls herself a “grand-principal”, 2 students of hers have had babies. She does have boundaries, have relationships with kids when they leave, they need some encouragement.

Let’s talk about your re-branding and next steps for the future and how you’d like to continue to serve. She was working on changing her site color scheme, elevating, doing 1 thing differently: purpose, passion, peace. Purpose is really beneficial to her coming back to school. She is also rebranding outside education.

Key Quotes: celebrating success, think back to the beginning of the year and think: what are you most worried about? What did you learn from it? What are you really proud of? Mini-wins and success.

Follow Jessica on Twitter/IG @jessicacabeen FB: @principalinbalance Visit her website: www.jessicacabeen.com to sign up for her monthly newsletter Watch this episode on Youtube:https://youtu.be/h08O8hr18Yw

Episode #46: Alexis Shepard

Episode #46: Alexis Shepard (podbean.com)

In her work, Alexis seeks to create pervasive perceptions of wellness that will improve teacher outlook and sustainability.

Alexis Shepard is a 9th year educator in Upstate, South Carolina with both middle level and elementary experience. After multiple encounters with burn-out, a desire to take steps towards self-care led to the creation of her brand, #TheAfroEducator. Originally intended to facilitate connections with like-minded educators, a passion was ignited in Alexis to empower teachers towards wellness. She champions teacher self-care through education, reflection, and dialogue.  Alexis believes that by sharing stories, she can inspire and empower teachers to take control of their own narratives so that they can teach and live with joy. She currently teaches 6th grade ELA.

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: She had her first run-in with burn out year 4 into teaching, is currently on year 9. Year 6 she had an easy year. At that time, she thought it would have been a perfect year to get out. Applied to 6 jobs in order to exit the classroom. Was frustrated with the system (this was in 2017). She felt kind of micro-managed. She applied to jobs were like instructional coach, tech facilitator. When she didn’t get offered any of those jobs, she was bitter, but put more effort into how to do lessons incredibly. She was still creating everything from scratch. Stress led to bitterness and resentment. She figured it was just a part of teaching. Was angry all the time, devoid of energy. Was kind of “an island onto self”. Realized she was her own hindrance. Was able to restart the year in a better emotional space. She realized she’d have to facilitate a paradigm shift. Pulled herself out of the hole. She read Angela Watson’s book “Unshakeable”. It was really affirming that what Angela wrote was OK. Alexis connected with educators outside of her school, found conferences to attend that weren’t just required. Invested in herself professionally intentionally. She connected with people outside of those in her building. Created #TheAfroEducator first with Twitter. Using the term “educator” is more holistic than “teacher”. Tweeted about her experiences. Her site wasn’t intended to be a wellness site. She got micro PD through Twitter. Dr. Will (ed tech podcast) contacted her. Was invited to talk on a podcast about self-care, but wasn’t really into it. Through that podcast recording, she realized she was passionate about self-care. Was nervous to create a niche. She starting speaking on the teacher self-care circuit. Spoke about how we connect to that through stories. It becomes about connecting through similar or shared experiences. This all started in 2018.

Are you currently providing PD in district? Alexis’ primary presence is through instagram. She couples stories with tips that have helped her. Is currently not providing formal PD, has in the past provided in attachment to conferences. Was on IG stories in the summer, spoke about targeted resources and paradigm shift. Quick talk about the essence of what you wanted the audience to receive. IG stories are so popular. Recorded “Good teacher narrative” with a virtual gallery walk. Teachers need real support, as much as we talk online, we need real ways to implement what we learn. With everything being mostly virtual in terms of PD this year, it opens up for more opportunities. Teacher wellness is catching on but there are still spaces where people say “that sounds selfish” or “how can you turn your teacher off”’. Fall 2019, she expressed passion for the principle + coupled it with growth mindset. Did this through getting certified via Happy Teacher Revolution with Danna Thomas. Meetings are sharing spaces, not advice or judgement spaces. It’ll be less daunting to teachers. Focus right now has to be on student engagement in the online environment. Change focus for teachers as well. Many teachers have to take on additional classes in 20/21. Time is ripe for burnout. Teachers she knows sound like teachers usually sound close to the end of a semester, if there’s no support to help us manage. 

How is your schedule this year? Is currently a 6th grade ELA teacher, 1 period online, 1 period in-person (and so on). District is still requiring all major or minor grades so she needs to formally assess something every week. F2F she has 20 students. Is managing it by being intentional with what matters most. Angela Watson’s book helped her focus on what what matters most so you can say “yes” to better things. Simon Sineck’s works are also critical. Teachers are focused on learning tools, more than on the “why”. Why you do something matters most. “What” and “how” are just manifestations of the “why”. Do you feel like you’re doing what matters most? It all has to do with how the child feels. The vibe they get. She will stand on a hill and defend what matters most. 

What are some inequities in education you’re seeing in your area? She teaches in a rural setting. In the spring of 2020, there were lots of families who didn’t have internet access, some families don’t have a vehicle. There is no stability, yet to expect to have 100% students log on, even though there is free wifi is a daunting challenge. Those families who decided to go virtual had to sign paperwork to say they had internet access. Some signed because they wanted to do what they felt was best for family’s safety. There is no hybrid option. Those students are having to be supported by classroom teachers every time the student doesn’t show up or turn things in. Educators are in a tough position. Theey try to keep open lines of communication. She suggests to parents they reach out to xyz organization. Parent reaches out with HELP questions, what can she do to help them? The districts should have more responsibility to train parents more on how to access the tech.

Key Quotes: #1: start with the “Why”, when you’re experiencing self-doubt or you’re being caused to experience it, revert back to “am I doing what I feel matters most to kids?” No matter how much content you get through, you need to meet SEL needs, academic achievement.  

Follow Alexis on Twitter, IG & FB @theafroeducator

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/6QSTWq4kqhQ

Episode #47: Rob Breyer

Episode#47: Robert Breyer (podbean.com)

Rob makes time to coach aspiring leaders who are looking to make the transition from teacher to administration.

Robert Breyer is the proud principal of Cameron Elementary School in Cameron, N. Carolina. He is the host of The Guiding Principals Podcast, where he encourages visionary school leaders to share the stories of their own leadership journey, and celebrates their successes along the way. When Robert  made the transition from classroom teacher to school administrator, he made a promise to himself and the teachers, students, and parents with whom he would interact on a daily basis. That promise was to go beyond the desk and to become an active school leader who would engage with the school community both inside and outside of the building. To accomplish that, he drew upon his pre-service experience in leading teams in the private sector and his principal preparation program with the Sandhills Leadership Academy. Both of these experiences helped to shape his philosophy that leading and managing are two completely different mentalities and that for him, he would choose to be a transformative leader who works alongside his staff to implement positive change. 

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out? He was short-handed at the beginning of this school year. He had to teach 4-5th grade as well as running the school. He went through the learning process, learned to use different tools, engaged in the learning process. This allowed him to work with, talk with teachers and for them to support him in this temporary time back in the classroom teaching. He was finding what teachers needed RIGHT AWAY! It made him appreciate the work they do every day. 

What led you to get The Guiding Principals Podcast started? A friend shared info about Better Leaders, Better Schools in 2018, about new ideas people would share on that website and through the mastermind. He loves the idea of sharing stories. It helps make things better for students + staff. Better Leaders, Better Schools was first podcast he listened to. Danny’s (Bauer- see top of page) story about finding like minded individuals that you resonate with piqued an interest in Rob. Often, in districts, they are all jockeying for the position. He asks 3 colleagues (of the guest) to give feedback about the guest on the show. Why was summer of 2019 the right time for you to launch the podcast? Rob’s Mastermind group said he needed to set himself apart from other podcasts. Lighthouse idea comes from living in N.C. He wants to help younger leaders. He uses Anchor to publish the podcast, everything’s free, they give him sponsors and put it out to google play. The first summer, he recorded 15-16 episodes. Found out producing the podcast is more work than he thought. Season 1 ended after 16 episodes. He is currently over 24 episodes into Season 2.

You also host “Bring More STEAM” podcast for your school. Is that student-led? No it’s a district podcast. More of communication piece. There is lots of competition between private, public, and charter schools (in terms of recruiting students). He highlights differences between STEM and STEAM teachers throughout district. People can then learn more what STEM is about. Another podcast Rob is hosting is called “Stacking the Deck” with an AP in the district for beginning teachers. Based off “Stacking the Wildcard” book. They share experiences with teachers in the county. It’s a good opportunity to get word out to employees. He put hosting podcasts in his professional goals. A podcast is a way of getting word out about what public schools have to offer. His school is an engineering school of choice. It needed to be celebrated, publicized.

What got you interested in being in a Mastermind, how did you hear about it? Danny (Bauer) and Rob connected on Twitter. As Rob explored Danny’s site, he came across his story about the leadership dinners he tried to host. Rob easily related to this story, as we all have different  leadership styles and future aspirations, and it was hard to find people who were driven by the same things that drive him.  After inquiring about the Mastermind program, Danny invited him in, and he remembers being unsure about the process.  Chris Jones answered a question for a colleague on the “hot seat” and Rob distinctly remembers hearing him talk about ideas and concerns that he had, and Rob instantly related.  This was shocking in his mind because Chris is the principal of a large HS in MA, so what could we have in common?  Rob senses a lot of people feel like they don’t have the skills to be a leader. We learn our skills through life. Rob is also involved with the Teach Better Mastermind. Teach Better helps with problems he’s currently facing. It’s more of a problem-solving group. BLBS (Better Leaders, Better Schools) gives him the leadership skills he needs to do better. Others in both Masterminds are constantly helping him grow. The Teach Better Team is run with Jeff Gargas, they meet Tues @ 7 EST. What Danny says is “the better leaders get in schools, the better the educational system gets”. Great leaders need to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Better the leaders gets the better. The Mastermind experience is inspiring. He started to excel.  

On your website, robertbreyer.com, you talk about wanting to help support aspiring school administrators to become visionary school leaders by helping them move past the title. How did being part of the Mastermind lead you to following your vision of supporting school leaders? The mastermind he is in is all about bouncing ideas off others. He has always wanted to coach teachers, not go over data as a principal. They build relationships based upon trust & love. He is constantly looking for ways to get better. He would say he’s a people person. Extrovert. Loves helping people, that’s why he loves being a principal. Rob got into the coaching aspect, teachers who want to be leaders reached out to him. He worked on interview skills. Helped support them. Now his focus is about getting them into leadership. Your road to principalship can be a difficult road to travel.

What are typical struggles leaders face when not part of a leadership (coaching, PLN, committee)? You don’t know what you don’t know. You get stuck on an island. You can constantly feel self-doubt. Leaders struggle with their own fears. You have to learn to be OK with not knowing everything. He’s been able to talk those issues through. The other members want to work with you and find answer. Mastermind members pointed out weakness his wife sees. It was an epiphany for Rob. It drove him back to vision to help push his school forward. It allows you to start reflecting, being more articulate.

Key Quotes: “You’re not alone, there are people who want to help you. Reach out, find your tribe. Trust them to help u get through dark days, trouble spots”. Rob wants others to hear the stories of school leaders on The Guiding Principals Podcast and learn from them, be inspired by them, and implement these ideas back at their own schools. When discussing his podcast on social, use the hashtag  #tgkp podcast. He wants every leader to keep pushing  forward, building up their leadership toolboxes. Connect with Rob on his website at www.robertbreyer.com or via Twitter or IG @rbreyer51.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/JRimKldSzXM   

Episode #48: Lindsay Deacon

Episode#48: Lindsay Deacon (podbean.com)

Lindsay is a Professional Learning Facilitator & 6th grade teacher in Portland, Oregon.

Lindsay Deacon is the co-author of The EduCoach Survival Guide (2020), Coaching & Visible Learning Consultant at Corwin Press, and School Improvement Coach at Portland Public Schools. She lives in Portland, OR. Lindsay has worked under Dr. Jim Knight’s leadership on his Instructional Coaching team and on Professor John Hattie’s Visible Learning team at Corwin Press. Outside of her professional work, Lindsay’s greatest passions are exercising and rereading A Game of Thrones. She also impersonates flight attendants from time to time.

Out of the Trenches story: She’s left the classroom several times and gone back. Sometimes it was by choice and sometimes not. Her mindset evolved this past fall in terms of that all spring 2020, she felt like she was missing out on something important. From an outsider point of view, it’s an amazing shift she wanted to be part of. In her mind it was very exciting to take all pedagogy from being out of the trenches and come back in. There are those of us who leave and who want to dig in from a learning standpoint. She will maybe teach now a few more years. After being back in the classroom, she knows the toll that it takes on teachers (to teach during the pandemic). She wants to model that you can go back and flex a different muscle. “No one is distinguished in everything all the time”. There are so many strands within the teacher evaluation system. By teaching again now, she has a way to pause and see what’s more important today with the coaching experience. It makes her think of Jenny Donahue’s work on Self Efficacy “Collective Efficacy”. Her first week back (teaching virtual) was about getting them connected and logged on. She teaches 6th grade at a K-8 school. Many neighborhoods didn’t have internet (at the time of recording) because of the wildfires. At same time, most kids managed to log on. She attended a conferences in the summer with Peter DeWitt about distance learning. It’s not the same as pandemic learning. In regards to student engagement, if they’re logging on, they’re there, teachers have to present themselves so much more across a screen. She’s so impressed with the acceleration of learning. In terms of connecting students- Lindsay found a graphic that says “caught in the riptide”, visual wave to check in with kids. Ask kids why they picked “under water”, “surfing the waves”. It’s a great way to facilitate conversations in our time together. She asks her kids to give her feedback all day long. Typically that PD will be monthly on-site PD with her + her team. In a typical year, Lindsay would go back on-site to support teachers. She was mindful not to overload folks. Now the district is offering a monthly book study for PD. It’s ½ day, come if you can. Coaches themselves are peer coaching to help in smaller groups. She has thought a lot this year about what the students’ instructional needs are. When Portland P.S. wasn’t invested in coaching, she spoke about how they needed a coaching program. She advocated for a coaching program there. After several years of building from the ground up, she feels like the coaches are pretty prolific in schools, have had impact especially in Title 1 schools. She feels lucky to have the opportunity to build the program.      

How did you get involved working with Corwin? It was random, in 2008, her principal asked her if she wanted to be an instructional coach. She was sent to coach training with Jim Knight. She was resistant to learning more but when she arrived, she found her niche. Her coaching mindset was sparked. It fit her belief on how to treat teachers as humans. Spent own $ to get more coaching training when positions were cut. Emailed Jim Knight randomly, he responded and asked her to apply for a team he was putting together at Corwin. She had to put together a lot of videos. When she got there, she felt like small fish in a big ocean. She felt like the plankton in the ocean being in company with those “big wigs”. It was an incredible opportunity. Was introduced to visible learning through Doug Fisher 5 years ago. Asked Corwin how she could get trained. She likes to take risks. Lots of opportunities have “fallen into her lap”. 

Your book, The EduCoach Survival Guide (2020) was released late July. She chose to self-publish. She went in blind. Her co-author + her had a concept in mind. Wanted to write about the 50 most common coaching issues. She chose a student to be her illustrator. Co-author + she started teaching together and now both have been instructional coaches. She felt like every coach had the same training with books like by Elena Aguilar, but they don’t address what to do when you’re in a toxic school. She wanted to see if there was something that wasn’t already out there. She spontaneously wrote her co-author a text Nov. ‘18 and the book was published July ‘20. Lindsay also host a Young+ the Restless podcast. The book is a reference guide for coaches who have formal training. It’s more of a compliment when things aren’t going well. It’s also a collection of lived experiences. Every chapter starts with a quick vignette. Coaching isn’t like it looked like 10 years ago. She + her co-author went through the book and thought about what could be applied in a distance learning environment. She wants to acknowledge that coaching can be a great job and have an impact. It can feel like the worst job at times.  

Key quotes: “You got it!”, “Take risks & experiment”. “Try something you never thought you’d try”

Follow Lindsay on Twitter & IG: @TheRealLindsay2 Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/nAtVbaV9WzU

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