Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker show

Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker

Summary: William D. Parker from the Principal Matters Podcast reveals his school leadership strategies, insights from other leaders, and practical tips so that you can have the tools to achieve your own goals. Rediscover healthy motivation, resolve conflicts and challenges, maximize your communication, grow your instructional abilities, and learn to streamline responsibilities—all while building positive communities among your team members, students, parents, and patrons. A former teacher of the year and Oklahoma assistant principal of the year, he is also an author, blogger, speaker and education consultant. The former Principal of Skiatook High School, near Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Founder of Principal Matters, LLC, he also serves as the Executive Director for OASSP/OMLEA - state associations proudly supporting secondary leaders and middle level educators. He and his wife Missy are the proud parents of four children: 3 girls and 1 boy. When he is not serving his members and family, he is a sought-after keynote speaker for principal conferences and leadership seminars. He has learned to leverage his lessons through growing in-person and online communities. Listen in for motivation to create incredible momentum in your school community.

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  • Artist: William D. Parker: Principal, Author, Speaker and Blogger
  • Copyright: Copyright | William D. Parker, 2020


 PMP320: Tips for Seeking an New Education Position With Jen Schwanke (Part 2) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:10

Last week we introduced the topic of tips for seeking a new education position, and Will and Jen shared four of ten tips, they included: * Update your resume.* Talk to your leadership at the appropriate time.* Connect with your network.* Research your prospects. This week, you will find six more tips and some practical ways to plan in advance for transitions. Here are the remaining 6 tips: * Demonstrate your excellence. This should go without saying, but you should be good at your present job. In fact, you should be performing with excellence if you plan to be considered to lead others at a greater capacity. Promotions should not be an advancement out of something you’re not good; instead, promotions should be an acknowledgement of the capacity you’ve developed for doing more. For instance, if you’re currently an assistant principal looking for a principal position, continue being a great assistant principal. Hit your goals for managing and improving student behavior. Ask for opportunities to take on othe responsibilities in instructional leadership. Be involved in civic and community organizations. In doing so, you are modeling the kind of leadership that demonstrates your excellence and gives us other reasons to recommend you for future openings. * Make introductory calls/emails. Leaders are people just like you. We remember people who take time to introduce themselves, not the ones who don’t. A short introduction with an attached resume is a great way to let others know you are available when a new position may be opening. I have observed leaders who have not voiced interest in openings being passed over when they assumed the others must instinctively know they are qualified and ready for a promotion. Don’t make this mistake. It is our own responsibility to communicate the goals, dreams or aspirations we have. No one else should be expected to guess or discern that on your behalf. Keep your communication short and professional. Rehearse it ahead of time if you want to avoid miscommunication. * Subscribe to a variety of updates. Many state and national associations for leaders have places on their websites where you can subscribe for job openings.  In Will’s state, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association provides a place on its website for leaders to post openings. You can also use free services like LinkedIn Career Searches,, or Zip Recruiter as sites where you can enter keywords that provide updates on current positions being posted by location or region. * Create a backward timeline. Let be really practical here. If you’re looking for a move in a certain position by the end of a calendar year or the end of a school year, then start with the end date in mind, and work your way backwards to the present. Make a list of all the steps, conversations, and deadlines that would need to be met in order to see this move happen. Create a calendar outlining each of those benchmarks. Include the present responsibilities you also manage along that timeline to see where conflicts or other priorities may require you to reconsider due dates. All this backward mapping allows you to begin to realistically move toward the goals you are wanting to reach in pursing a new opportunity. * Adapt an ‘Odyssey’ plan with options. The earliest reference to the ‘Odyssey Plan’ framework appears to be in the book

 PMP319: Tips for Seeking a New Education Position With Jen Schwanke | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:51

Whenever leaders are looking for new opportunities, each situation is unique. Not everyone lives in the same setting, history or opportunity. At the same time, some common practices can be kept in mind when it comes to considering a new position or transitioning in your education career.  Here are 10 ideas to keep in mind (we will discuss 4 in this episode and the other 6 in next week’s episode): * Update your resume. If you haven’t updated your resume this year, you should. First, it allows you the opportunity to review your past achievements and update any new accomplishments since the last time you refreshed it. Second, if a new position opens up, this will be one of the first chores you’ll need to accomplish. Go ahead and do it now so that that barrier is already crossed. Plus, you’ll have some good reminders of the qualifications you may have for the next opportunities you are seeking. * Talk to your leadership at the appropriate time. Yes, some people work in places where leaders may feel loyalty is threatened by people looking for new opportunities. If that is the case, you are probably already in a place where the culture is toxic – a good sign that looking elsewhere would be a good move. On the other hand, sometimes perceptions are wrong. Most leaders are interested in the passions and goals that others have.  Your leader would not be in his or her own position had he or she not followed a similar path to the one you are interested in pursuing. With that in mind, set a time to talk to the person to whom you directly report. Let him or her know of your interests. Being honest and open about your intentions shows confidence and trust. This doesn’t mean that you should not do your homework first. If you give the impression that you’re a ‘free agent’ for instance, then you may be giving your leadership reason to question your commitment. The goal of speaking to your leadership is to let them know you value your current position and their input, but, yes, you also dream of making a bigger impact if future opportunities open for you. * Connect with your network. Every educator should be a part of a network, association or a collaborative group of others who share the same passions and interests for ongoing growth. For school leaders, your state and national principal associations are great places to find these networks. Also, you can find other ways to network by being a part of Mastermind groups or participating in ongoing learning through workshops or conferences. Networking groups provide another level for communicating your interests, sharing your dreams for growth, and staying aware of potential opportunities and job openings. * Research your prospects. If you are interested in a move within your district, know the demographics, outcomes, staff assignments and leadership structures of the place or places where you want to see advancement. Websites, conversations with friends or colleagues, or even visiting places where you have interest – all these opportunities to learn about others will build your understanding for the context, political structures and working environments of each. The most important question to ask when researching prospects: Does the organization or position your seeking match the core values you hold for reaching and serving others? Next week: Listen-in for the remaining 6 tips… Have other questions or interested in coaching on transitions, job interviews or problem-solving? Reach out to discuss options available at

 PMP318: Returning the joy to teaching, learning and leading with Jen Schwanke | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:57

This week Will Parker is joined by Jen Schwanke to talk about returning the joy to teaching in learning and leading. As the year winds down, teachers and school leaders are getting tired and working hard. It is important for school leaders to encourage themselves and their teachers to look for the joy in the middle of all this hard work. Will and Jen discuss Jen’s recent article with Dr. Tracy Deagle “Can We Still Find Joy in Teaching?” that offers helpful suggestions on what we should hold on to when it comes to the joy of teaching in school leaders and teachers. Jen and Tracy offer five suggestions of ways to find joy in teaching and leading: * I Get To, Not I Have To* “I get to lead this district”, “I get to have this conversation with teachers”, etc.* Feeling lucky to have the skills and the team and the background to do good work.* Taking time to feel* Spending too much time suffering through the difficult times really takes away from our ability to feel joy. * Slowing down and acknowledging your feelings to fully experience what you’re going through.* Joy is a place, not a transaction* Joy should not be an if/then statement; find and relish it on your own.* Celebrating the joy in others* “What brings you joy in your work?” or “How can you find it?”* Joy can help us overcome the things that may burn us out. * Find a joy partner* Checking in with each other to make sure that your joy partner isn’t struggling or in a dark place mentally. Now It’s Your Turn: What are some ways that you find the joy in teaching, learning, and leading? What suggestions would you add to the article written by Jen Schwanke and Dr. Tracy Deagle?

 PMP317: Discipline with Dignity with Jen Schwanke | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:35

This week, Will Parker and Jen Schwanke tackle the topic of discipline in schools. More specifically, they discuss how to discipline with dignity as school leaders. One of the questions that they explore is: As discipline ramps up this time of year, how can principals empower teachers to manage discipline in Tier One?  Some topics teams might discuss:  * 10, 10, 10 rule*  In what ways are policies only as good as the people who administer them?* Does the school handbook and district policies reflect your teacher’s approach to discipline and vice-versa?* What role do you think a principal should take in managing discipline? * Is a school-wide discipline approach or a class-by-class behavior plan better? * What are the limitations of PBIS?  What are the strengths? * What do we mean by “differentiate discipline”?  Other ideas from Will’s book, Principal Matters:  * Set high expectations* Let consequences fit infractions* Be consistent* Be creative (or flexible) when possible* Be specific and document* Communicate trust Now It’s Your Turn: What ways do you approach school discipline? How do you empower teachers to manage discipline in your schools?

 PMP316: Recalibrate Your Culture with Jimmy Casas (Part 2) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:10

Jimmy Casas has been an educator for over 30 years, serving twenty-two years as a school leader, including fourteen years as Principal at Bettendorf High School. Under his leadership, Bettendorf was named one of the Best High Schools in the country three times by Newsweek … and US News & World Report. Jimmy was named the 2012 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year and was selected as runner-up NASSP 2013 National Secondary Principal of the Year. Jimmy is also the author of eight great books for educators and the owner and CEO of J Casas & Associates, where he serves as a professional leadership coach for school leaders across the country. In January 2020, Jimmy launched ConnectEDD, a publishing company aimed at giving back to the profession by supporting educators to become published authors. This week, Will Parker and Jimmy Casas continue their conversation about Jimmy’s newest book, Recalibrate the Culture: Our Why…Our Work…Our Values. In the part of your book on See the Culture Through the Eyes of Others, you talk about the 4 Most Powerful Words. What are the four most important words and why are they important for seeing culture through the eyes of others? * “I need your help.” These four words can help leaders create a vision for their school and enlist the help of qualified teachers to build a plan to bring that vision to life.* Documenting progress and building momentum can create hope and get people to believe that things can be better.* Celebrating improvements to show how hard work pays off. * You will get more constructive feedback from teachers if you sit down with them and discuss it face to face rather than through anonymous surveys.* Invest time in having conversations in the front end rather than trying to pick up the pieces further down the line. Finally, in your chapter on Average Exists in Every Organization, you explain, “… in every community, three areas affect the morale and performance of each staff member, which I have identified as System – People – Fire.” Can you explain how “System, People, and Fire” help you identify areas where morale and performance may need to be improved? * Three levels within a system that make up an entire school district: classrooms, buildings, and district offices. * Spending time working on systems and people in a school district creates schools that can easily overcome adversity.* Constantly remind people what your mission is, focus on your strategic plan as much as possible.* Superintendents who are successful do strategic work on their system, intentional in growing and developing their cabinet team, and meeting with their board team to make sure that they are all on the same page. Now it’s Your Turn What are some ways that you have successfully used strategic work to improve your system? Connect with Jimmy at and on Twitter and Instagram: @Casas_Jimmy

 PMP315: Recalibrate Your Culture with Jimmy Casas | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:46

Jimmy Casas has been an educator for over 30 years, serving twenty-two years as a school leader, including fourteen years as Principal at Bettendorf High School. Under his leadership, Bettendorf was named one of the Best High Schools in the country three times by Newsweek and US News & World Report. Jimmy was named the 2012 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year and was selected as runner-up NASSP 2013 National Secondary Principal of the Year. Jimmy is also the author of eight great books for educators and the owner and CEO of J Casas & Associates, where he serves as a professional leadership coach for school leaders across the country. In January 2020, Jimmy launched ConnectEDD, a publishing company aimed at giving back to the profession by supporting educators to become published authors. His newest book is Recalibrate the Culture: Our Why…Our Work…Our Values. In this weeks episode of Principal Matters Podcast, Will Parker and Jimmy Casas discuss Jimmy’s newest book is Recalibrate the Culture: Our Why…Our Work…Our Values. It revisits the four premises of culturizing a positive school culture (Lead from a Core Set of Values; Cultivate a Community of Leader; See the Culture Through the Eyes of Other; Average Exists in Every Organization) with great takeaways and applications. Listen in as Jimmy explains: * How to lead from a “Core Set of Values”* How the “The Power of Why: Passion, Behavior, Change” are helpful ways to recalibrate core values* Why “Cultivating a Community of Leaders” is analogous to leaders sharpening their axes * Tips for rethinking changes in others* Jimmy says, “You may not see it, but in some way(s) you are contributing to this issue, so keep looking inward.” Listen-in to discover what he means by this and how you can gain better perspective on how you lead. Check out his new book Recalibrate the Culture: Our Why…Our Work…Our Values. Connect with Jimmy at and on Twitter and Instagram: @Casas_Jimmy

 PMP314: A New Kind of Diversity with Dr. Tim Elmore | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:53

Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and CEO of Growing Leaders. His work grew out of 20 years of serving alongside Dr. John C. Maxwell. Elmore has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today, Psychology Today and he’s been featured on CNN’s Headline News and Fox and Friends. Tim has written over 35 books, including Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes and his newest book A New Kind of Diversity: Making the Different Generations on Your Team a Competitive Advantage. Will and Tim discuss some takeaways from A New Kind of Diversity: * Who are today’s clashing generations?* Giving guidance to leaders when working with multi-generational teachers and staff.* A little over half of the workforce is made up of people from the millennial generation.* Managing preferences, tensions, and expectations: conflict expands based on the distance between expectations and reality.* Having assumptions about individuals of different generations can lead you to miss what they bring to the table and to a missed opportunity.* It’s in the best interest of a school leader to learn how to encourage the innovation and creativity of younger educators, creating a space where “Yes” is a more common answer than “No”.* Some ideas that leaders should keep in mind in order to be flexible while still maintaining the direction they want their organization to go are: -Recognize how the brains of people from younger and older generations are different and embrace those differences. -Stop stereotyping and ditch the niche. Find someone from another generation and have them share their superpowers with you.  -Senior veterans on a school campus need to meet with a rookie teacher and have both of them mentor each other. * Leaders need to be listening as much as talking.* Mixing generations to get timely and timeless advice.* The Generational Quotient Assessment: A resource recommended by Tim to help leaders learn the language of generational diversity. Now it’s Your Turn: What are some ways that you recommend to bridge the generational gap between teachers and staff at your school? Listen in for more takeaways!

 PMP 313: Ideas for Teacher Recruitment and Retention with Kristi Kirschner and Danny Massey (Part 2) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:03

Last episode, guests Danny Massey, Superintendent of Brazosport ISD and Kristi Krischner, Chief Human Resources Officer at Brazosport ISD shared ways their district is using innovative approaches for teacher recruitment. This week they share more ideas as well as ways they are working for retention of highly effective teachers. Question: As you look forward, what other ways (grants or additional partnerships) are you considering to attract educators? Answer:  * The apprenticeship program will keep our focus and attention as we are in the early stages of implementation; however our reach with state agencies will continue to expand as we work to build a shared understanding and language between workforce development and education.  * As our learning continues to develop in the space of apprenticeship, we hope to identify opportunities to expand our thought partners to engage in areas focusing on quality, policy and access to increase opportunities for funding including public and private partnerships.* Pre-apprentice & youth apprenticeship opportunities* Pathway for para vacancies and difference in number of applicants (not sure where to add…) Question: Across the nation, teacher shortages have become a major crisis facing most schools. What lessons/practices have been helpful for you that may be applicable for leaders in other communities? Answer: Not only is teacher recruitment an important factor to help combat the teacher shortage, but also teacher retention.  We have to be able to address why teachers are leaving the profession. Campus culture and climate are vital.  We believe this starts with campus leadership. Investing in highly trained and highly skilled campus leaders is paramount for an effective school climate. Teachers must feel supported, be a part of a team and not work in isolation, take on qualities of highly effective teams.  Some other programs that have served well for Brazosport in recruitment and retention of teachers are: * Wellness initiatives * Local Perks – ways to show teachers that the community values public school educators. * Innovative Compensation: -TEA Distinctions ($200 per) -EOC Retester Bounty ($100 per student) -Lanier Middle School- Master Level Teacher ($10K). This resulted in rating improved from IR (F) to 88 (B). -Secondary Science and Math Stipends ($3,500) -Student Teachers Paid & Discount Housing ($3,000 per month) -Low cost tuition for staff full day PreK -Perks That Work – Staff Discounts from local businesses -Teacher Incentive Allotment Stay Connected: or  Learn more about Brazosport programs: Lanier Middle School 10K Stipend Recruiting Video Being a BISD Employee video Beutel Elementary video Clinical/Internship page and video Grow Our Own

 PMP312: Ideas for Teacher Recruitment and Retention with Kristi Kirschner and Danny Massey | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:41

Schools across the U.S. continue to respond to teacher shortages. On September 1, the White House announced recruitment partnerships to addresses the challenges. Groups like the National Center for Grow have partnered with states including California, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming, to design apprenticeship programs to help shape policy and provide feedback to the Department of Labor. In Brazosport Independent School District, south of Houston, Texas, education leaders have launched innovative programs addressing the need as well. This week I’m joined by Brazosport ISD Superintendent Danny Massey and Kristi Kirschner, Chief Human Resources Officer, to talk about ways their district is responding to teacher recruitment and retention. Danny Massey has been in public education for 33 years. He has been an educator in the Brazosport Independent School District for 31 of those years.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri Southern State College, holds a master’s in education from Texas Southern University and a superintendent certification from Region 4 Education Service Center and St. Thomas University in Houston. He served as a special education teacher and athletic coach, an Assistant Principal, Principal, Executive Director, Assistant Superintendent and beginning his 8th year in his current position of Superintendent of Schools.Danny has been recognized for numerous achievements including:  * 2020 Region 4 Education Service Center Superintendent of the Year;* 2020 Brazosport Area Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year; * 2020 Ambassador of the Year in by the non-profit Friends of Texas Public Schools In 2016, the Brazosport LULAC Council selected Danny as their Educator of the Year for demonstrating nthe values and characteristics of leadership to improve the economic and educational opportunities for the Hispanic community. Danny is known for his transparency, visibility, and positivity throughout the district. He is most proud of the student academic improvements throughout the district, and the passing of two bond referendums which are transforming the district with new state of the art campuses and facilities. Kristi Kirschner serves as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Brazosport ISD.  After graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University, Kristi started her human resources career in the manufacturing and oil & gas industries, where she served in both client support and leadership roles. After 12 years in industry, she continued her human resources career in education, with the most valuable product of all: our youth. Kristi has a passion for connecting with people, finding innovative solutions and utilizing her knowledge in human resources to support the organization and human capital initiatives. 1. Can you summarize your district’s efforts in teacher recruitment and retention and how you have enhanced those efforts in light of teacher shortages? Danny and Krist share innovative programs including: * Ghost Organization Hiring – filling positions ahead of attrition* Grow Our Own – 2 Opportunities (Earned Associates degree and complete Bachelor’s or ACP)* Paid University Interns* Apprenticeship Program -> Residency Pathway The partnership has developed a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) to address an employer driven need to grow and develop high-quality teachers in a profession that is high growth, high demand, high skill,

 PMP311: Politics and Advocacy for School Leaders with Jen Schwanke | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:16

In this week’s episode, Will Parker and Jen Schwanke share some thoughts on how to remain focused on service to your school communities while also remaining aware of what is happening in politics and advocacy that may also be affecting your school. Will references the following book as a resource for understanding the difference between old power structures and new power structures in the ways people are communicating and advocating: New Power: How Anyone Can Persuade, Mobilize, and Succeed in Our Chaotic, Connected Age by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms. A survey by NASSP’s Survey of America’s School Leaders and High School Students details that “the majority of school leaders (70%) and students (51%) report they have personally been threatened or attacked, physically or verbally during the past year…3 out of 4 of school leaders (73%) and students (74%) report they needed help with their mental or emotional health last year.” Ideas for tackling politics and advocacy while staying focused on students from Will & Jen: * As a school leader you need to know where what matters and where you have influence intersects.* Do you have power and control over an issue? What actions are going to lead to the best outcomes?* Don’t create crises where they don’t exist and don’t respond to someone else’s crises.* When feeling overwhelmed by political and social issues, ask yourself what is it that you can do today that aligns with your goal as a teacher/leader?* Remember that historically, none of this is new. Whenever society is in unrest, the population turns to schools to push their issues. Don’t let the push for political change influence the way that you interact with students.* Draw boundaries when having conversations that are uncomfortable or rude.* How do we recognize the positives of old and new power structures within schools?* Advocate for schools with one hand and be the champion for your school with the other. Remind people why schools are such a great place. Resources for school leaders mentioned by Will: * Messaging Matters by William D. Parker* Live school Now it’s Your Turn Reflect on the suggestions Will and Jen made for school leaders in regard to staying involved in politics and advocacy, while still making students a priority. What would you add to the conversation?

 PMP310: Questions from Listeners on Teacher Shortage and Staff Development with Jen Schwanke | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:31

This week Will Parker and Jen Schwanke are answering questions from listeners: Q1: “Administrators doing double duty as teachers”:  “I was listening to your podcast this morning and cried a good part of my drive to school today.  My director (principal) and I will very likely be in classrooms full day this year due to the fact that we are short multiple teachers and cloning hasn’t been invented yet.  We are short 3 classroom positions, a specials position, and a special ed position.  We are both overwhelmed and sad yet happy for the opportunity to create community and connect with kids.  I thought I’d email and ask what you’d suggest we do about our ‘office with a window’ jobs, coaching teachers, discipline, attendance follow up, family and team meetings, and all the other things we aren’t going to be able to handle while we are with kids each day. I guess I am just looking for both encouragement and advice. What would you do?  Who would you tap for what? How do we re-prioritize the things we do beyond “kids first”?  Thanks for being willing to share your expertise…we appreciate it.” -Teresa Brown, Director of Student Support, Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning, Colorado Springs, Colorado Will’s response:  * Jimmy Casas, a fellow ed leader and friend, likes to say the most important words a leader can ever communicate is: “I need your help.”* This goes for communicating with parents, community members, board members, students and anyone else who cares about the outcomes of your school. Asking directly for others to help keeps them aware of the need and can help create solutions in times of crisis.* Don’t be afraid to pull together a circle of staff whom you trust and brainstorm together what tasks you have in front of you. Sometimes just sharing out loud and making a shared list provides a sense of control when there are so many factors out of your control. Jen’s response: * Think outside the box. Are there any seismic changes that could be made to this listener’s day, school, or world? Could you adjust time for teachers and staff? Flex time, comp time, an adjusted day? Shut down one afternoon a day to have meetings? * Utilize your community. How are you recruiting the members of your community in the hiring process? Parent volunteers are one way to get through staff shortages.* Communicating with parents and staff in a positive way that the teacher shortage is affecting student instruction. * Understanding the problem and the current solution creates an easy path towards a new solution. Q2: “Development in schools”: “I heard your 2 podcast [episodes] for first year principals. That is me. You discussed reading Dr. Wong’s book yearly. I love that book and it is driving my school PD this year. Our school is in major need for setting procedures and better class management. Just curious about any other tips or advice you have about using Dr. Wong’s material. What were key procedures you established? Trying to develop a vision for our school, so any help with that could go a long way…” -Alex Short, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, De Soto, Missouri Will’s reply:  * If you are using Dr. Wong’s book for staff development, one suggestion would be dividing sections up among staff members and asking them to help summarize takeaways that would be helpful in their classrooms and for others. Allow time for feedback from experienced staff. * If you do not have teachers with that kind of experi...

 PMP309: Leadership that Matters with Jordan Master | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 39:36

Jordan Master is Assistant Principal at Johnsburg High School located in Johnsburg, Illinois. JHS serves just under 600 students grades 9-12. … . Jordan’s journey as an educator began after graduating from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she double majored in Secondary Education and Writing Intensive English. In 2014, she accepted a part time position teaching at a small Catholic School in Johnsburg, Illinois. The next year she accepted a position at North Boone Middle School in Poplar Grove, IL, and in 2016 she applied to an opening at the high school in North Boone School district where she taught English until 2020.  Her interest in taking the Educational Leadership path actually began in 2015, where she worked in the summer as a Day Camp Coordinator for our local YMCA until 2019. This sparked an interest in Administration, as her role was very similar to that of an Assistant Principal. In 2018, she began a Masters program through Concordia University Chicago. In May 2020, during the pandemic’s beginning, she graduated with a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership with a Principal Endorsement before becoming Assistant Principal at Johnsburg High School. She resides in McHenry, Illinois with her husband Bob and their new puppy Pongo. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, biking, going to farmers markets, reading, and chasing Pongo around.  As a long-time listener of Principal Matters, Jordan reached out to me this summer after reading a copy of my first book, Principal Matters: The Motivation, Action, Courage and Teamwork Needed for School Leaders. Her feedback was so rich that I wanted to explore how the shared lessons may inform takeaways in your leadership journey. Here is some of Jordan’s feedback on managing requests: * “I enjoyed the chapter about Better Managing Requests, as when I started my role as AP I definitely had the “savior complex” and tried to immediately respond with solutions when it came to staff and parents for non-emergency things (I am still working on it!). But the 24 hour rule and taking time to reflect before jumping into action is something that Kevin has taught me as a young administrator.” Takeaway on setting timers for tasks: * “I am going to use the tip of setting a timer for tasks that can consume too much time. While I cannot control high level discipline scenarios and when I am needed urgently, I can better manage my time to conduct more walk throughs and get into classrooms. I am always in such a good mood when I get to go visit classrooms- instructional leadership is really important to me and something that I need to dedicate more time to if I want to be an effective leader.” A favorite application: * “One of my favorite points was ‘remember that you are not always in complete control’ as this is something I have struggled with as a person. My husband has helped me balance that feeling of always needing to be productive and busy; I got to a point where I realized if I continued to go at that rate, it would not be healthy for me. Your story about writing your resignation letter is something that sticks with me. Taking time to balance your life (which I always feel like you emphasize) has been a challenge for me. But I feel more fulfilled and purposeful when I am able to do that.”  Listen-in to the entire conversation for more takeaways, including Jordan’s tips for new administrators: Advice for new administrators… * Take time to build positive relationships.

 PMP308: Leading with a Humble Heart with Zac Bauermaster | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:03

Zac Bauermaster currently serves as principal at Kissel Hill Elementary School, located in the Warwick School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Zac has the tremendous opportunity to lead teachers, support staff, families, and most importantly, the next generation daily. His greatest joy in education is seeing adults leverage their God-given talents and abilities through inspiring kids to find and use their gifts.  Before becoming a principal, Zac served public education in various K-12 roles such as assistant principal, administrator of online learning, teacher, and coach. Zac received his undergraduate degree from Millersville University in secondary education and completed his Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from Pennsylvania State University. Zac returned to Penn State, where he earned his Principal Certification. Most recently, Zac earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from Drexel University. He is a lifelong learner, always looking to learn and grow. His family jokes that he went to school in Kindergarten and hasn’t ever stopped. Zac continues to grow his leadership influence and share encouragement and positivity through various social media platforms, magazine publications, and speaking events. Most importantly, Zac is a husband to his wife Carly, and father to three young kids, Olivia, Eliot, and Isaac. Zac is a firm believer in leading his family first. The family resides in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of the new book, Leading with a Humble Heart: A 40-Day Devotional for Leaders. * Zac explains how scripture has been a foundation for his leadership and the lessons it provides for in service to others. * He calls the book ‘Leading with Humble Heart’, and explains how the message of humble leadership different from the ways leaders are often perceived or expected to behave in positions of influence. * He explains how the life of Jesus is one of humble confidence. He has some advice for education leaders who receive harsh, sometimes threatening behavior from community members who claim their criticism is based on biblical principles. * The format of the book is designed for daily meditation and reflection. Zac illustrates how this helped him manage his own anxiety and depression with a favorite example from the book of what readers may expect. * He explores how leaders must navigate the important role of serving others with authenticity without crossing legal and social boundaries that exist when serving communities of diverse backgrounds, including religious and non-religous beliefs. * Finally, Zac shares encouragement he would you offer educators beginning another school year knowing they will be facing ongoing opportunities and challenges serving their communities. Zac talks about the difference between confirmation bias and impressive empathy as well as the wisdom of knowing when to just listen. We also discussed a new survey from NASSP. August 2022, NASSP shared a new survey of 1,000 principals who reported the following: * Three-quarters of school leaders (73%) and students (74%) report they needed help with their mental or emotional health last year.* The majority of school leaders (70%) and students (51%) report they have personally been threatened or attacked, physically or verbally during the past year.* One out of two school leaders claim their stress level is so high they are considering a career change or retirement.

 PMP307: The Stolen Year with Anya Kamenetz | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:28

Anya Kamenetz has covered education for many years including for NPR, where she co-created the podcast Life Kit: Parenting. She speaks, writes, and thinks about learning and the future. Her newest book is The Stolen Year: How Covid Changed Children’s Lives, And Where We Go Now. She has been a senior staff writer for Fast Company magazine, contributed to the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Magazine, and has won multiple awards for her reporting on education, technology, and innovation. She is the author of four other books: Generation Debt, DIY U, The Test, and The Art of Screen Time. Kamenetz grew up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, in a family of writers and mystics, and graduated from Yale University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.  In her newest book, The Stolen Year: How Covid Changed Children’s Lives, And Where We Go Now, she reveals how the public school system was decimated by the pandemic, and how years of short-sighted political decisions have failed to put our children first. When schools closed, children went hungry. Mothers and other caregivers were forced from the workforce. Some children were physically unsafe and unhealthy, and many more suffered emotionally. Our peer nations quickly prioritized schools and childcare centers for reopening as soon as May 2020; here they stayed shut for months longer, and social support to families was spotty.  Her new book explores just why this happened and where we go from here. In this episode, Anya Kamenetz, discusses the following: * Why U.S. public school students suffered so dramatically during pandemic shutdowns compared to schools in other nations. * In what ways some school districts are still leaving students behind. * The need for “a generation-long process of redressing harms done to children”, and why the paradigm we need to reach for is post-traumatic growth, not moving backward. * The disparities between affluent and poorer communities and how these were exacerbated during the pandemic.  * How public funding for early-childhood or pre-school in the U.S. compares to other developed nations. * Other disparities influencing the ways we priortize education for children, ie. toxic individualism, lack of support for mothers, etc.What shifts we should hope to see in the years ahead to address this in public policy and civic practice. Stay Connected You can find out more about Anya Kamenetz and her new book at her website: Now it’s your turn Listen in for more takeaways. What are some other ways that we could address the harm done to students as a result of the pandemic? How do we move forward in a way that is beneficial to students?

 PMP306: Courageous Leadership with Sapna Hopkins | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 39:30

This week, Will interviews Principal Sapna Hopkins. Listen to the entire show for her inspiring personal story and journey in education. Plus, learn ways she is engaging her new school community that can motivate any school leader with ideas for connecting your story with your core values and school mission. Sapna Hopkins is the principal of Tilden Middle School in Rockville, Maryland. She is originally from India.  After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Physics, she began teaching at a secondary school in India.  About 22 years ago, she emigrated to the United States of America and stayed home to raise her two sons. She resumed teaching with Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) in Maryland as a high school math teacher.  After 3 years, Sapna joined the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) system as a high school teacher where she served for twelve years in various roles, from a math teacher to math resource teacher to assistant school administrator (ASA).  Since then, she has been an assistant principal for four years and a principal intern before becoming a principal at Tilden Middle School in MCPS. She belongs to a family of three generations of teachers; her mother was a fine arts and language teacher in India and here son is a math teacher at a middle school in MCPS. Q & A with Sapna Hopkins 1. How has your background and journey influenced your education philosophy and practice? You cannot equip students with all the technical knowledge they will need, but you can give them the problem solving skills necessary to accomplish anything. 2. What lessons have you learned from your journey in education that may be helpful for those new to education leadership? Adaptability: It is my responsibility to take initiative, not forgetting about my identity and roots, but knowing my current environment and where I can add value. Everything else is outside of your control. 3. What hurdles or challenges have you overcome in your education journey that provide you perspective for the road ahead in school leadership? I have had to learn to shift my mindset – recognizing I must earn the respect of students through building relationships. I have also stayed committed to growing in digital leadership and seeking challenges that will help me grow. 4. How has Principal Matters influenced or supported you personally and in your service as a school leader? No one else has your story. When I learned to leverage the power of my story through my work with Principal Matters coaching, I began to be able to build the bridge with others where they could entrust me with more responsibility. 5. What are you most excited about as you start a new school year? What are some practices you are employing to engage your teachers, students and community? With a diverse school community and a district committed to reaching every student, I feel it is important that I build trust, take school outside the building and ensure well-being, excellence and first-class customer service to my school community. This means I will lead from my core values, be data-driven in accountability and results, and build on digital leadership through celebrating student learning in newsletters, social media and our school website. Now It’s Your Turn You can find out more about Tilden Middle School on our website, or reach out to me by email: or via Twitter @PrincipalTilden. Interested in connecting with Will for executive coaching?


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