Saturday, August 24, 2019

Leadership resources for new and aspiring leaders

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I have been blessed during my long career in education to have had many pivots, roller coaster rides, and unique experiences. (You can listen to more about my journey on the In AWE Podcast, hosted by my friend Sarah Johnson.)

Working through the challenges has always been because I had a support network -- a group of family, friends, and colleagues who were able to give advice, encouragement, and the gift of their time. Because of them, it has led me to be even more intentional and passionate about mentoring others along their journeys. 

L.E.A.D. is an acronym that I use when coaching others to find their greatness. Before we can lead others we must be able to lead ourselves, and L.E.A.D. provides a framework towards living our confident truths. 

In a previous blog post, I shared resources to help Listen, Engage, Act, and Deliver. 

In today's post, I'm sharing even more resources with you to add to your leadership toolbox.

During coaching sessions, I have the people I work with to do an exercise around the 80-20 rule. It can be a real eye-opener, and it also serves to create a greater awareness of really listening to others and not just hearing what is said. 

Another practice that supports becoming a good listener is asking good questions. Curiosity sparks questioning, and one way to cultivate curiosity is to try something new. The act of discovery and learning will help to create a curiosity habit. 

Additionally, ask clarifying questions whenever you're communicating with someone, especially when you may not see eye to eye.

Curiosity can also be sparked by reading. Shane Safir's book, "The Listening Leader," is a must-read for anyone in school leadership. (You can follow her on twitter @ShaneSafir)

Want to test your listening skills? Take the free Listening Quiz on, create an account, and it will give you your score along with tips on improving your score. 

In education, we stress that relationships with students are crucial. It is also crucial for leaders to build relationships with staff members. Employee engagement is a crucial component to effective leadership. 

 >Employee loyalty is decreasing
     >43% of workers would be willing to leave their companies for a 10% salary
increase, and weak company cultures are to blame.

>Most cultures are decidedly mediocre
     >We found that less than one third of people believe they have a strong culture

Culture is the biggest factor of employee engagement, and leaders have a huge impact and influence on an organization's culture. 

"Employee-manager relationships have a big impact. How comfortable
employees feel about providing upward feedback to their supervisors is a major
indicator of overall happiness."

     Reflection questions for leaders: Are you listening? What do you do with feedback from employees? Do all employees have equal opportunity to provide feedback? Do you encourage all types of feedback - positive and negative? 

"First impressions affect long-term happiness. Effective onboarding is a crucial
part of the employee experience, and correlates to how employees feel about their companies overall." 

     Reflection questions for leaders: Are you being intentional about your induction/onboarding programs? What kind of first impression are you making at the interview? On the new employee's first day on the job? Are you being intentional about creating and sustaining a positive experience for new employees?

Simple actions to engage employees:

     1. Get to know them
     2. Look for strengths
     3. Create opportunities for employees to contribute, lead, and use their strengths
     4. Celebrate and recognize them
     5. Show you care

Treat others like they will make a difference and they will.

-Jennifer Hogan

"We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their actions."

I'm not sure where or when I first heard this quote, but it has stuck with me for many years. It is one of those quotes that serve as two reminders for me. 

The first is a reminder that we need to extend grace to ourselves and others for missteps as well as inaction. There is always more to the story, whether it's a private one or one that is not accessible to us. 

The second reminder from the quote for me is to TAKE ACTION.

One speed bump in the leadership journey can be a lack of knowing the "how." Often, we have a purpose and a "why," but we lack the resources, ideas, or experience to know the "how," and it can halt us in taking action. 

When I work with women through individual coaching, we work on pinpointing the exact speedbumps, then together we formulate strategies for overcoming the hurdles. Even without individual coaching, you can use the 80-20 principle to collect ideas and solutions. The next step is up to you. To act.

If you prefer to work alone and research your strengths to determine your next steps, an awesome must-read is the national best-seller, Strengths Based LeadershipUnderstanding your strengths will assist you on taking action on your leadership path. 

**Each book comes with an access code to take Gallup's CliftonStrengths Assessment. 

Leaders have a lot to deliver. We want strong, healthy cultures led by people who walk the walk. 

With consistent, positive action, leaders can deliver value and results to staff members and the organization. 

A checklist of 7 deliverables (Not all-inclusive):
   > Praise
   >Consistency in words, actions, and expectations
   >Clear and effective communication
   >Personal accountability
Leadership is a mindset and a skillset, and I encourage others to view it as a journey instead of a binary destination (you either have it or you don't.) There are highs and lows, successes and failures, and it is always filled with growth opportunities. 

If you are a leader or aspiring leader who would like individual coaching, contact me for a free discovery call so that we can see if it would be a good fit for you. My desire is to encourage and empower you to be your very best. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ideas to Support and Celebrate New Teachers

It's that time of the year when school is starting and a new crop of teachers are joining the teaching ranks.  

Richard Ingersoll is a professor of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, and he does a lot of research in the area of teacher recruitment, retention, and the teaching force. 

In the National Teacher Principal Survey of 2015-16, he tells us that there are more beginning teachers than before and that teaching has a higher attrition rate than police officers. 

How to support new teachers

Knowing these statistics, we've got to be intentional in our schools about providing support to our new teachers. 

How can school leaders support new teachers and impact retention? The four items below are from an Edweek article titled, "What do Beginning Teachers Really Need?"

1. Being accessible. Can I walk to his/her office door and have a quick word?
2. Being instructional. Is he/she sharing strategies that help me be a better teacher in my classroom?
3. Being protective. Does he or she “have my back” if a parent is angry or a student is disrupting class?
4. Being communicative. Am I always aware of what’s going on, or do I hear things first from students or from the community?

I worked with a team of experienced teachers to create a new teacher orientation experience that would allow our new teachers to get to know each other, get to know me, and walk away with practical knowledge that they would need to have a smooth start to the school year. 

new teacher ice breaker
We modeled "Get to know you" activities with our new teachers that could be easily implemented during the first few days of school.

new teacher activities
Teachers worked in groups to solve clues for the building scavenger hunt. 

new teacher activities
An experienced teacher guided them through the building, and they picked up office supplies at every other stop.

new teacher activities
We invited "newish" teachers (3 years or less experience at our school) to talk about how to survive floating, tips for success, and what they wish they had known before taking the job.

As another layer of support in our new teacher program, each new teacher is assigned a mentor. It is generally someone in their PLC or department, and it's a person who is organized, caring, supportive, and passionate about teaching. 

During the year, I hold small group meetings during teacher off periods where we discuss parent communication, culturally responsive classrooms, personal wellness, classroom management, and more. 

new teacher activities

One of my favorite events this year was our "New Teacher Signing Day."

new teacher signing day

new teacher signing day

The news covered the event, just like they do when our athletes sign college scholarships.

new teacher signing day

new teacher signing day

new teacher signing day

It was a huge hit with our entire staff, especially our "signees." It's a tradition that we'll continue every year!

Share your ideas for supporting and celebrating new teachers. You can leave me a comment below or reach out to me on twitter