My (former) school district recently hired a new superintendent, and I was able to sit down and chat with him. I think he is just what the district needs and I am really excited for what he will bring to the table. We talked about the following:

  • Where Dr. Briscoe got his start in education and in administration
  • His diverse experience as a leader of schools that were from incredibly high-achieving to greatly struggling.
  • Engaging in the community by being involved in community issues (building new police station, hospital, etc.)
  • The political struggles that lead Dr. Briscoe to retirement from his school district.
  • Why he felt like Canyons School District was a good match for him.
  • Why it is so important to be out and about and seen.
  • How to build trust. Time.
  • What happened in the past, is in the past. Let’s not worry about it.
  • The culture he wants to create: Trust & Collaboration.
  • Honoring the past.
  • How he measures the success of his superintendency, not to be confused with his job description.
  • Why that measure of success is so important.

Sanebox

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Transformative Principal on Stitcher

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New Episode of @TrnFrmPrincipal


My wife and I decided that we wanted an adventure a few months ago, and so we started looking around for principal positions that would be new and different for us. 

 

We found one! 


New Episode of @TrnFrmPrincipal

Moving to Alaska!

In case you haven't heard, we are moving to Alaska. I will be the principal of Kodiak Middle School! My family and I are really excited! You can follow our journey here:  http://wearedrivingtoalaska.com

PLCs and RtI with Bob Sonju Transformative Principal 032


This second interview with Bob Sonju is really great. You will enjoy every minute of it! We talk about the following:

  • How to deal with cynical stakeholders.
  • Why people need to be ready to change to make things better.
  • How to make a good school even better.
  • Why you wake up with panic attacks in the middle of the night as a transformative principal.
  • The best time to change education was 20 years ago, the second best time to change education is today!
  • The excuses we make to not make changes.
  • There is no such thing as an optimal time to make changes, but we need to have a sense of urgency.
  • The state of Utah lost 19% of students (that didn’t graduate with a diploma). That is 1 in 5 kids! Unacceptable!
  • If you don’t find a better way… You fall back to how you did it before. We need to focus on using research-based best practices to help our students.
  • The importance of the Professional Learning Communities and Response to Intervention.
  • We don’t need to find new things, we just need to get good at PLCs and RTI.
  • There is no quick fix for schools.
  • We need to remove the things that
  • A super quick overview of PLCs and RTI in case you aren’t familiar with them. Based mostly on the work of DuFour and Eaker in Learning by Doing
  • What a principal can do to be a transformative principal today: Identify the research that drives your day-to-day work and recognize the sense of urgency we have to ensure that learning is not optional.
  • What he has in his office or a story: Simplify and focus. Story about teacher telling him that he is right in pushing forward.
  • How to get ahold of him (He is not on the Twitter, but he is willing to help you by giving his email address. Bob [dot] sonju at wash.k12.ut.us)

Sanebox

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New Episode of @TrnFrmPrincipal


Bob Sonju is the Director of K–12 Learning in Washington School District in Southern Utah.

In this first part of the interview, we discuss the following:

  • A little about Bob’s history and what he learned to help him become prepared for being a transformative principal.
  • Bob focuses on making sure all students are doing their best, not just particular subgroups.
  • What prepared Bob to be a principal: being a coach and a special education teacher.
  • What barriers prevent a school from being ready for change.
  • Three fundamentals that are needed to change:
    1. Why do we exist
    2. Describing a perfect school
    3. What are we going to do to make sure we get there!
  • Conversations about structural change take time and informal and formal conversations with teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders.
  • All the voices have to be in the room!
  • Establishment of norms are critical for the success of our school, and while we want to hear everyone’s concerns, we will move forward with the will of the group.
  • The norms for Bob’s schools.
  • The need for “critical friends”.
  • How he deals with the fact of hearing that he is doing something wrong.
  • One of the best interview questions: “Anticipate a mistake you are going to make, and how you will resolve that!”

Sanebox

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New Episode of @TrnFrmPrincipal


This second part of the interview with Tom Whitford delves deeper into the great things he is doing. We discuss the following:

  • Working with 3 different schools
  • How he manages dealing with all that they have going on.
  • Dealing with the new teacher evaluation system using the Danielson model
  • What he has been focusing on as a leader in the three schools: PBIS and RTI.
  • What RTI looks like on a day-to-day basis in his school(s).
  • What ICE looks like at his school(s). What data they use, and how fluid their groups are.
  • Why some students might get less support by entering Special Education than if they stay in their intervention groups.
  • How to create opportunities for fluid movement and appropriate support between groups to meet the needs of the students.
  • WADITW (We’ve Always Done it this Way)
  • What advice would he give to principals? Relationships
  • How being out in the hallways is beneficial (even during parent teacher conferences).
  • What is in his office to motivate him? Great sayings in his office and his kids.
  • Voxer usage helping him communicate with other principals.
  • Shoutout to @gcouros and @mmiller

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Transformative Principal on Stitcher

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New Episode of @TrnFrmPrincipal


This week’s interview is with Tom Whitford, an amazing principal of 3(!) schools in Wisconsin.

  • His mentor that taught him a lot about how to be a leader and how to push yourself and others to be better, book reads, and more.
  • Professional Learning Communities in Tom’s ideal world.
  • PLCs require a whole philosophy change to be effective.
  • How to set the stage to be successful in having discussions with teachers. Power of change comes from stories.
  • Create opportunities for conversation.
  • How can administrators tell stories? Start with true stories. (Don’t make things up.) Provide opportunities for real conversation.
  • What can we do to make this work, and what will prevent us from being successful?
  • It is too easy for things to get said behind closed doors, and we need to address challenges early on, and then address issues as they arise.
  • Focus the conversations on continuous improvement on faculty meeting time.
  • “Jumpstart Fridays” - aides and others work with kids so they can do collaboration times.
  • How Tom gets teachers to feel comfortable sharing their stories with Tom and the other teachers.
  • Speed of Trust” By Stephen M.R. Covey
  • We don’t get better, unless we can talk about the mistakes that we made.
  • How Tom figured out that his faculty did not like his strategy for getting them to have fun with his emails. (Background blog post - “Learning with your mistakes”)

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Sponsor: Sanebox

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Transformative Principal on Stitcher

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New Episode of @TrnFrmPrincipal