Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker
Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker
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PMP177: Cha Cha’s for Making Learning Stick with LeAnn Nickelsen
30 minutes Posted Dec 18, 2019 at 4:38 am.
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    A few weeks ago, I was sharing with a group of principals one of my favorite video-clips from the movie, The Incredibles.
    It’s the scene where Lucius, aka the superhero, Frozone, is watching as his city is under attack from his apartment window. He pushes a button on his remote control to open a wall in his living room. When the secret compartment opens, the space is empty where his supersuit should be hanging. Thus ensues the following dialogue:
    Lucius: Honey? Where’s my super suit?Honey: What?Lucius: Where – is – my – super – suit?Honey: I, uh, put it away.Lucius: Where?Honey: Why do you need to know?Lucius: I need it!Honey: Uh-uh! Don’t you think about running off doing no derrin’-do. We’ve been planning this dinner for two months!Lucius: The public is in danger!Honey: My evening’s in danger!Lucius: You tell me where my suit is, woman! We are talking about the greater good!Honey: ‘Greater good?’ I am your wife! I’m the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get!
    After watching this clip, I then asked the principals to reflect: How does this scene remind you of the tension you sometimes feel between your school responsibilities and your home life?
    After we talked about their responses, I then shared three ideas for them to keep in mind as they feel the tension of managing crisis while also managing all the other important duties of their school leadership:
    1. Staying mindful: Really seeing the great learning moments happening around you even as you take care of business. 
    2. Staying intentional: If you don’t schedule and prioritize what’s most important, it probably will not happen.
    3. Moving the needle: At the end of everyday, reflect on one step you took toward reaching your targets or goals. And make sure you’ve done at least one action to move in that direction.
    I then asked them to repeat back to me the three takeaways. Based on their responses, I summarized and reminded them that school leadership allows involves a balance of putting out situational fires while also focusing on the many other important tasks of building a school community. 
    And then I asked an important follow-up question: Now, can you unpack the instructional methods I just used in this short mini-lesson with you?
    They were quick to respond: We began with an attention grabber. They had given feedback and input. We engaged in reflection and dialogue. We discussed three actions to consider in their leadership. I had checked for learning. We summarized our learning.
    After this quick lesson, I reminded them that the cycles of learning happen in every setting. Whether you are leading a faculty meeting, a small group discussion or covering a classroom lesson, this cycle is important for us to model for our teachers as much as it is for us to encourage them to use it in their own teaching.
    How Do You Make Learning Stick?
    As you think about the ways to make learning meaningful, I am excited to introduce you to this week’s podcast guest, LeAnn Nickelsen, as we discuss her newest book co-authored with Melissa Dickson, Teaching With the Instructional Cha-Chas: Four Steps to Make Learning Stick. In her book and our discussion, LeAnn unpacks the learning cycle and provides practical ways for educators to increase learning for all students.
    LeAnn’s Bio
    LeAnn Nickelsen
    LeAnn Nickelsen is the Founder and CEO of Maximize Learning, Inc.