Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker
Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker
William D. Parker: Principal, Author, Speaker and Blogger
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PMP215: Reflections from Pause. Breathe. Flourish. with Sonia Lopez-Morales
During the summer, several principals from across the nation joined me for a Re-Opening Mastermind to collaborate, explore, brainstorm and support one another during the difficult days of planning for a new school year. Photo by Ben White – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@benwhitephotography?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit As I was wrapping up the final content for my newest book, I shared an advance copy of my new book, Pause. Breathe. Flourish.: Living Your Best Life as an Educator. Sonia Lopez-Morales was a Mastermind member kind enough to write an endorsement for the book. This week, Sonia joined me to reflect on ways she is applying those lessons to her own school leadership. We also explore the unique ways her school is serving the children and families of a diverse community with many immigrant families: Meet Sonia Lopez-Morales Sonia Lopez-Morales is Assistant Principal at Charles Graebner Elementary in San Antonio Independent School District.  Her bachelor’s degree is in music education. She earned her master’s degree at Texas A&M International University.  She and her husband of 32 years live in San Antonio and are the proud parents of three adult children. Sonia began serving as an administrator in 2008. The last three years, she has been serving urban, inner city school students. Charles Graebner Elementary serves 660 PK-5 students with over 95% economically disadvantaged. It is a dual-language school in the southwest part of the city.  WDP: Welcome to Principal Matters! You were a part of the Principal Matters Reopening Mastermind and read the early edition of my book. I remember when you began school, you shared with me the important lesson from your first week. What was that lesson? Sonia Lopez-Morales: Yes, the most important thing we can do is build relationships with students. Nothing is more than important than making connections with students. Students want someone who will be authentic with them and know where they are coming from. We are still living it and do not have history yet to tell us all we have done right and wrong in this new blended model. But in all of it, relationships must be there. WDP: You are in a part of the country that saw soaring numbers of positive Covid cases near the start of school. What has the start of school looked like for your community? Sonia Lopez-Morales: We began August 16 in distance learning. September 8, we began opening schools with 10% of our student body across the entire district. By September 21 we added another 10% of our students. We are cautiously doing well and providing simultaneous in-person and virtual instruction. Our metrics are looking better across the city as we’ve taken this cautious approach. WDP: So many leaders I’m talking to are managing weariness. How do you even find time to recharge your batteries? Sonia Lopez-Morales: If you are not disciplined with your time, this time will force you. But you must still be pausing for your family and person connections. It means adjusting your time for personal reflection and exercise. It may mean cutting your 30-minute routine to 15 minutes. I have a running checklist in my head and on my phone on a daily basis.  WDP: You serve in a border community. Several weeks ago, I interviewed Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj is an Associate Professor in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education ...
Oct 14
33 min
PMP214: Pause. Breathe. Flourish. Part 2, Review with Dr. Jeff Springer
This week I was interviewed again by Dr. Jeff A. Springer, Ed.D., Educational Leadership Coach – Spring Strategies, LLC, and 2013 TASSP Texas State Principal of the Year, as we explored the final chapters from my new book, Pause. Breathe. Flourish.: Living Your Best Life as an Educator. Photo by engin akyurt – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@enginakyurt?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit Listen to the podcast episode for more takeaways. Here is a brief summary of our conversation: Counting Days at School and in Life Dr. Springer: You refer to the book, 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now, by Robert Smith. The author explains how each of our days is literally numbered. By the age of 55, you’ve lived 20,000 days. How many days do you have left? The reality is we do not have any time to waste. What does this look like for educators? How are you maximizing your time? WDP: There is something powerful about perspective. This is an important conversation to have with students, which includes painting a picture for them of their ultimate goal in school or life. For high school students, for instance, I would ask my students to imagine graduation day together. This same perspective applies to adults. A friend once asked me what my personal goals were for the next five years. I had to admit I was mostly trying to survive. But the question haunted me. I began applying to myself the lessons I was asking my students to apply. For me, that meant investing in writing lessons about my experience in education leadership. Fast-forward and my work now with principals and educators is the outcome of those actions I began taking when I decided to make every day count. Dr. Springer: I agree. When I was leading a high school, I literally lined up chairs in our assembly room, and we had incoming freshman sit in the order they could anticipate for graduation practice. In front of their parents, I would invite them into those seats and then challenge them to imagine the experience of graduating four years later. Being mindful of each day helps us see the meaning in each day. Importance of Relationships Outside of School Dr. Springer: Next question. You also talk about learning to climb together, instead of going alone. Why is this important in regards to your friendships? WDP: I share a few stories in the book that provide some glimpses into more difficult moments in my life, like watching my mother-in-law struggle with Alzheimer’s. Or losing my oldest brother to an unexpected heart attack when he was in his 40’s. When our school work is over, who are the people still there for you outside that work? Those are the relationships that help sustain you when you are feeling hopeless – when no amount of self-talk motivates you – these relationships are essential during your most difficult days. If you haven’t experienced moments like this yet, you will. And relationships matter in helping you through them. How Your Faith Influences Your Actions Dr. Springer: How do you manage your faith in applying it to the work you do as an educator?  WDP: Faith and Transcendence are important conversations. As a believer in the Bible, I don’t expect others to share my faith beliefs. But I find such comfort and assurance in lessons that transcend the time and ideas we interact with every day. When is the last time you heard someone encourage you to love you...
Oct 7
27 min
PMP213: Pause. Breathe. Flourish. A Review with Dr. Jeff Springer
This week I talk with Jeff A. Springer, Ed.D., Educational Leadership Coach from Spring Strategies, LLC, and 2013 TASSP Texas State Principal of the Year. In this episode, Dr. Springer turns the table and interviews me about my new book, Pause. Breathe. Flourish. Living Your Best Life as an Educator. In his endorsement of the book, Dr. Springer shares, “Will Parker has discovered many truths along the way throughout his educational journey – all truths transferable and valuable to those areas of our lives that matter most. In his book, Pause. Breathe. Flourish., Will’s words offer transparency of both pain and victory, fears and faith. His style of storytelling creates a brilliant bridge between the writer and reader. Lessons learned and shared in this book are applicable to anyone in education; but also delivers the principles vital for all desiring to maximize balance, while infusing the power of play in their lives.” Jeff’s Questions about Pause. Breathe. Flourish. Listen to the episode for our full conversation, but here are some takeaways: Dr. Springer: I earmarked 24 pages during my first read. Then I highlighted 17 specific areas that I wanted to ask you about. We won’t be able to cover them all. So I’ll start with your dedication to your parents, Jesse and Polly Parker. Can you tell us what motivated you to dedicate your book to them? WDP: My mom and dad are amazing examples of people who have lived and modeled contentment. They live in rural northwest Tennessee, and although they were hardworking, our family always had limited income. I didn’t realize until I was a teacher that I was a Title I student. I always qualified for free and reduced lunches. But even with limited resources, my parents always provided me with a safe, nurturing environment. They also modeled finding joy and contentment, no matter what circumstances they faced. Dr. Springer: You wrote in your forward that you had no idea this book would be published in one of the most monumental times in the history of education. What motivated you to write a book like this in the first place? WDP: Over the years, I hear a consistent refrain from education leaders. Over and over, people have told me one of their biggest concerns is how to grow individually. Many principals are asking: How can I be a leader without losing myself? This book is a response to that question. It is a book for the heart of what you do. Dr. Springer: When a crisis hits, who breathes first? You talk about the image of a flight attendant instructing others to place the oxygen mask on your own face first before helping others. Why is this such a hard message for education leaders to hear? WDP: First, it was a message I needed to hear. When I realized in my early years of administration that I was burning out, I had to dig deeply into other areas of my life (health, learning, family, spirituality, and even finances) so my work would still have meaning. Dr. Springer: Yes, when your wife told you that you were the shell of the man you had once been, how did you handle that? WDP: That was the night I wrote my first resignation letter, placed it on my desk at school, and told myself I’d either find a better way to lead and take care of my own growth – or I’d find a different profession. I didn’t find a quick fix, but I began to slowly re-invest in what brought me joy. And I stayed in the profession with a newfound sense of purpose. Dr. Springer: I remember a similar experience when I was an assistant principal. For me,
Sep 30
36 min
PMP212: Strategies for Helping Gen Z Students with Dr. Tim Elmore
When this pandemic began, many of us were asking what lessons we may learn from something none of us ever experienced before. Dr. Tim Elmore began asking similar questions to survivors of the Great Depression and other crises experiences. The result? He has just published his latest book, The Pandemic Population: Eight Strategies to Help Generation Z After Coronavirus. Dr. Tim Elmore Dr. Tim Elmore, CEO and Founder of Growing Leaders, is a best-selling author and international speaker. A world-renowned expert on Millennial and Gen-Z trends, Dr. Elmore uses his knowledge to equip educators, coaches, leaders, parents, and other adults to impart practical life and leadership skills to young adults that will help them navigate through life. How Can We Help Students During Times Like These? Listen to this week’s podcast for the full interview. But here are some takeaways from this week’s podcast episode with Dr. Tim Elmore: WDP: Hi, Tim. Fill in the gap on that intro, and tell listeners something they may be surprised to know about you.  Dr. Elmore: I love popcorn. If you’re ever in Atlanta, stop by the office to enjoy my favorite snack with me! WDP: Let’s talk about your new book: The Pandemic Population: Eight Strategies to Help Generation Z After Coronavirus. You have published other books analyzing generational trends. What prompted you to begin sharing lessons educators should keep in mind during a pandemic? Dr. Elmore: The Pandemic Population is a timely treatment on how to lead youth in a crisis. Students today are being influenced by a 24/7 news cycle covering a pandemic, protests, and panic attacks that will either make them wither or will make them stronger than ever. Generation Z is graduating into a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. They’re already the most anxious generation in modern history and now they live in a most anxious time. This book provides best practices for leading in a crisis as well as creative ideas to sustain morale and collaboration among students. It’s designed for educators, parents, and coaches who want lead kids during this specific time in history. WDP: Could you unpack a few strategies that people have used in previous pandemics and crises? Dr. Elmore: Yes, we must help people see the silver lining in the dark clouds. As I’ve talked to survivors of past difficulties, here are some takeaways: First, make a pro and con list. Ask what have been the good and bad outcomes that have happened in the past and are happening right now? Issac Newton came up with calculus during his own time of pandemic. We might not have calculus or the law gravity without his contributions. The same lessons apply now. Millions of children may experience PTSD because of this pandemic. But crises are also accompanied by PTG (Post Traumatic Growth). Students need a caring adult to walk them through the hard times, process the situation, and find lessons to apply to their lives. The trauma does not bring on growth; it’s what you DO with the situation that can provide opportunities for growth. This means educators must provide safe spaces and facilitate truth walks so they can apply these lessons. WDP: How are you balancing the cons and lists in your own life and work?  Dr. Elmore: Just like so many other organizations, Growing Leaders has had to dig deep on innovative ways to flex during the pandemic. But we’ve also been exploring ways to analyze our memories.
Sep 23
20 min
PMP211: Reflections on Reopening Schools, Part 2, with Jen Schwanke
As you are re-engaging with your school community, what lessons are you learning as you walk through this new journey with your staff, students, parents and community? Photo by Julian Wan – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@julianwan?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit This week, Jen Schwanke joins me again to share what she’s been learning during re-opening school. Jen is the Principal of Indian Run Elementary in Dublin, Ohio. She’s also the author of You’re the Principal, Now What? and The Principal Re-Boot: 8 Ways to Revitalize Your School Leadership. Listen to this week’s episode for valuable takeaways. Here is a summary of some of our conversation: 10 Lessons for Principals to Remember: 1. This hasn’t been done before. When things are new, they feel unstable. This is all brand new for all of us. Reassure yourselves with this knowledge and comfort yourself that it’s new for everyone else too! 2. This has revealed how much we depend on schools. I’m not sure we realized how emotionally healthy our communities are because of our schools. Now that parents are unable to be as dependent on schools with COVID precautions, the instability makes everyone question if what they are doing this right. We need to give each other a lot of grace during these days.  3. As people re-connect, principals are rediscovering their purpose. National surveys showed an increased number of principals considering leaving the profession. I’m curious if that sentiment has changed now that principals are reengaging with teachers, students and parents. When we are not connecting with those whom we are serving, we lose our purpose. Now we’re re-connecting. 4. It’s all about keeping your students safe while providing them the opportunity to learn. At the end of the day, the question is not what do I prefer. The question is how can I still reconnect with the purpose of my leadership: serving students.  5. Principals need to be the ones bringing others back to calm and rationality – poking holes in the outrage around us. We are living in an age of outrage before rationality and empathy. When others have a knee-jerk reaction to become angry, it should remind principals that others do not need to hear our ranting. Leaders have a different purpose: bring people back to compassion and calm and civility. At the end of the day, outrage is not productive. Just because we do not agree does not mean someone is always right and someone is always wrong.  6. Do not forget the promises we made about race relations and equity.  These are still important conversations where students need safe places to learn how to talk with civility. Also, think about how you will lead during a time when teachers may be introducing topics that were front and center during the pandemic. For instance, in race relations, as teachers may be introducing content or books that raise these issues, go back to your board policies and previous practices that guide the curriculum or books teachers use in classrooms. Principals do what you always do in these challenges: focus on instruction, standards and intent of lessons. 7. Communication is more important than ever. It is exhausting but it pays big dividends on the back end. Everyone needs to know what you know when it comes to processes and protocols. Even as you are overwhelmed with the various tools for communication, keep evolving as you find a new groove for this time...
Sep 17
33 min
PMP210: Re-opening Reflections with Jen Schwanke
This week I reconnected with Principal Jen Schwanke, Principal of Indian Run Elementary, author and education consultant, for reflections on what re-opening has looked like for her school in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by sudama – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License  https://www.flickr.com/photos/35468150609@N01 Together we explored some lessons she’s already learning that may be helpful for your leadership. Listen to the entire podcast episode for even more valuable takeaways in Jen’s own words. Here’s a condensed summary of our talk together: Lessons Learned in Re-Opening School with Jen Schwanke Jen Schwanke has been an educator for 23 years, teaching or leading at all levels. She is the author of two books: You’re the Principal! Now What? Strategies and Solutions for New School Leaders, and The Principal ReBoot.: 8 Ways to Revitalize Your School Leadership. She has written for Choice Literacy, Education Week Teacher, Principal, and Principal Navigator. Follow her on Twitter @jenschwanke. WDP: What are some lessons you’ve been learning while leading in a pandemic? Jen: Be careful with the comparison game. It’s easy to look at others and ask if you should be doing what they are doing. Stay focused on your community and what you can control, not what you cannot control. Remember the essentials that work in the conditions you have managed before. Teachers are struggling, not only with teaching, but if they are parents, they are also managing the learning of their own children. As my school started all remote, some families have opted to stay remote through the end of first semester. This meant reassigning some staff to support these fully remote learning options. Reassignments have been a challenging but important time.  Soon students will return for in-person instruction with only a percentage of the population returning on certain days. As numbers change across the state, guidance also changes. Sometimes this has created a lot of stress for schools as they adjust to different messages coming from health officials. Thankfully, students are resilient. When students return, teachers will be focusing first on new processes and procedures.  WDP: Even with careful planning, I’m sure you’ve had to manage resistance. How have you managed resistance in these new expectations? Jen: First, our district leadership has been modeling well for us. By creating a hybrid model that is slow, deliberate and careful, all parents are getting a little of what they want. When resistance comes, there is an answer (including talking points) for how to navigate the questions. The majority of people do have a lot of patience and grace. But it has been helpful to create a website where parents can go to see plans and samples. Also, we provided sample student schedules for how they can manage learning at home. With sample schedules in hand, teachers were able to build their lessons to support and match those expectations. I’ve also had to learn how to push back on the overwhelming number of vendors trying to sell digital and curriculum tools to teachers. As these came into the school, we provided a list of approved providers so that teachers were not purchasing or subscribing to unvetted resources. WDP: How would you describe how students are coping? Jen: Every student is different. Some love distance learning while others loath it. Some have parent support. Others have less support. If I had to choose, I would say students are feeling OK. They are coping just like the rest of us with something they cannot contro...
Sep 10
33 min
PMP209: Supporting Students from Immigrant Families in a Pandemic
Last week I talked a high school principal who told me she has already referred more students than normal to therapists and counselors for social emotional supports for this time of year. I imagine you are more aware than ever the anxiety surrounding the start of school for so many families. In addition, you have the added stress of trying reach families who may not be reaching back to you or who may be struggling with protocols or distance learning because of unknown barriers. For instance, how are you reaching out to families whose language or cultural situations may create additional barriers to doing school during a pandemic? This week, I want to share a conversation with one of three authors who recently published the brief, Supports for Students in Immigrant Families. Together we talk about the factors influencing education opportunities for children in immigrant families, what schools should be doing to serve them, and what practices school leaders should be avoiding.  Meet Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj is an Associate Professor in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on issues of educational access and equity for immigrant-origin students. Her work includes studies of school choice policies, the educational impacts of immigration enforcement, and school leaders’ responses to xenophobia and racism in schools. Carolyn is author of Unaccompanied Minors: Immigrant Youth, School Choice, and the Pursuit of Equity, Matching Students to Opportunity: Expanding College Choice, Access and Quality (co-editor), Blueprint for School System Transformation: A Vision for Comprehensive Reform in Milwaukee and Beyond (co-editor) and Educating the Whole Child for the Whole World: The Ross School Model and Education for the Global Era (co-editor). She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in international education from New York University. Prior to earning her doctorate, Carolyn worked on secondary school reform at the New York City Department of Education. Supporting Students from Immigrant Families: You can listen to the entire podcast episode for more helpful explanations and additional content. Below is a short summary of our conversation: WDP: Welcome to Principal Matters. Fill in the gaps on that intro and tell us something else that may surprise listeners to know about you. Carolyn: I’m originally from Connecticut, now living in California. In 2018-2019, I lived in Sydney and interviewed school leaders in New South Wales about ways they are dealing with racism.  WDP: What prompted you and other researchers to publish Supports for Students in Immigrant Families?  Carolyn: This brief is part of a series of briefs being released by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, partnering with Results for America as part of a larger initiative called EdResearch for Recovery. It started by reaching out to educators to find out what they were thinking about and asking where they needed help when planning for the re-opening of schools. Supports for immigrant students was one of the buckets of concerns that came up, so I was invited to work on a brief for supports for students in immigrant families along with Veronica Boix-Mansilla and...
Sep 3
29 min
PMP208: New School Year Celebrations and Challenges
This is the time of year when the green stalks of corn begin to brown and yellow, and the once moist kernels begin to harden into dry grain. Photo by Arne Hendriks – Creative Commons Attribution License  https://www.flickr.com/photos/31774856@N00 If you’ve ever shucked corn, you may know the difference between the sweet smell of corn-on-the-cob versus the drier, dusty smell of corn harvested in the fall. When I was a boy, my granddaddy would pull an ear of corn from a nearby stalk and peel down the feathery husks. Then he’d hand it to me and say, “Take a bite. When it’s young like this, it’s kind of sweet.” I’d take a bite and be surprised by the little bursts of flavor even in kernels that had not yet been cooked. Later in the fall, I’d climb into the cab of his John Deere combine tractor, and watch as the rows of stalk and corn were combed into the bowels of what I thought was a magic machine. With rumblings and racketing sounds, the combine would cut and thresh the grain, shooting clean piles of golden corn into an awaiting tank. Seasons help us keep time. And this time of the year, I not only miss memories of watching my grandad at work, but I’m also missing the normal rhythms of school. During normal times, buses run in lines down community streets. Family vehicles line up in front of schools to drop off children. Boys and girls wrangle thick backpacks, band instruments or sacks of lunches while weaving and stumbling their ways into buildings.  During normal times, principals stand out front to wave at parents and say hello as they deposit these motley crews of treasured love and labor at the school house doors. Teachers stand proudly outside their classroom doors to greet them with high-fives or fist-bumps. Crossing guards move them across busy sidewalks, and cafeteria workers usher them through long lunch lines. Remember those times? When life seemed so normal with the rhythms of schools, work, business and activiites all intertwined into what we used to know as life in general? And during those past seasons, you saw lots of faces without masks or shields. Changes Rhythms But this year, our rhythms are not all the same. Some schools have opened for in-person instruction with a variety of protocols involving masks or disinfectants. Others are providing remote learning options. Some families have their children in full time virtual learning. Even schools that have started back in person are doing so with various levels of success and challenges. But whatever choices they have made, they cannot stop the arrival of the start of school – in whatever form they are experiencing. Some schools are cancelling band programs while others are moving forward with specialized bags over instruments that can be sanitized between classes. Many schools have set up lanes in hallways so traffic only moves one way. Others are concerned about safety protocols for outside activities. As more teachers want students in outside places, school officials wrestle with how to ensure adequate supervision. Some districts are cancelling extra-curricular activities all together while others are still on schedule for after school events.  I’ve talked to high school principals whose lunchtimes mean students are staggering times so fewer kids eat together. Others in middle and elementary years have students eating in rooms with teachers and assigned classmates. Some schools are extending advisory periods so that the incremental time increases allow longer times for students to begin their days with just one teacher.  Keeping the Enthusiasm In whatever ways schools are beginning,
Aug 27
12 min
PMP207: Equity in Education During a Pandemic
Last week I was in a conversation with a principal from South Carolina, a member of a Mastermind for Reopening Schools that I have been leading. Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@lunarts?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit Each week more than a dozen principals join me from across the U.S. to discuss the specific scenarios unique to their own school communities while beginning the new semester during a pandemic. The principal from South Carolina shared some data from his school with the rest of the group. His school has offered students the option of returning to in-person instruction or receiving their instruction virtually from home. When he looked at the percentages of students staying home, his numbers matched what I had heard from many others, representing around 30% of his total population. Surprising Demographic Data When he broke down his numbers by demographics; however, he saw something surprising. 48% of his black students are planning to stay home while 52% are planning to return in-person. The same trend was present in his Hispanic student population. But when he looked at his white student population, 20% were staying home while 80% had elected to return to school. When I asked him to reflect on these percentages, he told me some feedback he had been observing: First, many of his minority families depend on buses for transportation. Whereas white families were more apt to drive their students to school during a pandemic, some of his minority students did not have that option. Second, many children in the minority families live with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or in families with mixed generation members. Their concerns of infecting older family members seemed more pronounced. Third, many of his minority families have less access to high quality health care. The possibility of infection or hospitalization are leading some of them to difficult decisions in finding care or the fear of facing financial hardship if they do so. Possible National Trends As I have thought about these numbers, I came across a recent article from August 7, 2020 in the Hechinger Report, Why Black Families are Choosing to Keep Their Kids Remote When Schools Open, by Bracey Harris. In this article Harris explains the similar trends school leaders are seeing in Oxford, Mississippi. She has found data suggesting this may be a trend across the nation. “Almost 70 percent of Black households with school-aged children said they support or strongly support keeping all instruction online, according to a recent poll. Only 32 percent of white parents indicated the same,” Harris reports. As more schools begin to open nationwide, we may find these trends are more pronounced than school leaders realized. These numbers have caused me to think about some of the other statements I have heard about why schools must re-open. Many leaders have reminded us that re-opening schools is the best way to serve our most disenfranchised or marginalized community members. While it is true that our schools are often the best options for providing equity to communities, the emerging numbers may suggest that these same students are the ones most concerned about returning during a pa...
Aug 20
18 min
PMP206: Growing Through a Mastermind with Anthony Fisher
Especially during difficult times, leaders need support from other leaders. Photo by Clay Banks – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@claybanks?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit Each week this past year, I have been hosting virtual one-hour conversations with select groups of school leaders through Principal Matters Masterminds. Together we have studied books, provided times for self-reflection, and allowed leaders to take turns in “hot-seat” opportunities. The result? I have built new friendships and found new ideas for my own leadership practices. Others tell me that they have a newfound inspiration for their own practices. Together we have a shared sense of unity and collaboration in serving others. Have you ever thought about placing yourself into a setting where others consistently challenge you to grow, encourage you to reach goals, and provide you a confidential setting for feedback and problem solving? Maybe you are already a part of a professional learning community like this. Or perhaps you are already serving on a team that provides this context. If not, a Mastermind may be a possibility to consider as a way to intentionally commit to this kind of personal and professional development. Meet Anthony Fisher Anthony Fisher, M.Ed. is the Principal and Chief Academic Officer of Dayton Business Technology High School, a high school dedicated to helping older secondary students with credit recovery, leadership skills, lifelong learning and community stewardship – all within the context of curriculum focused on the business and technology aspects of careers. In this week’s conversation, Anthony talks about lessons he has learned in leading a school for challenged youth who require both meaningful relationships and resilience to meet their goals.  He also talks about the power of being in a Principal Matters Mastermind – how it has has played a role in his own leadership and expanded his capacity to more effectively serve his school community. Here are some takeaways from the conversation: WDP: First, can you tell us more about your school and its mission? Anthony:  We are a credit-recovery program for youth 16-21 years of age. As a community school, in downtown Dayton, our location places our students into a unique surrounding – they see both the benefits and consequences of life right outside the doors of our school. In a partnership with St. Clair Community College, Montgomery County Career Services, and others, our teachers help students discover how to solve problems and tie all content to five pillars: food, shelter, clothing, health and finance. Our goal of the school is equip students with the ability to manage each of these areas of life with knowledge, skill and community partnership. Then learn how to apply these lessons to the business and technologies of whatever careers they are interested in pursuing. WDP: What prompted you to join a Mastermind? Anthony:  A Mastermind is like a panoramic view to leadership. Think what it is like to march in a parade. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. Most leaders are marching along in the middle of a “school parade” without really knowing what it looks like from the outside. A Mastermind allows you to identify your work from the outside and find tools for improving your ability on the inside. It is an opportunity to let your hair down, connect with people who are of a like mind,
Aug 13
37 min
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