In part two of my interview with Jordan Collier, we dive into his plan for observations. Really informative stuff, and a good plan for any administrator.

  • Observations - daily schedule.
  • Jordan focuses on helping teachers when doing observations.
  • Attempting to alleviate fears of observations by building relationships.
  • How to facilitate a role-play to help teachers see what it is like to do an observation.
  • How a two-minute conversation can change a teacher’s practice.
  • The importance of set meeting times with teachers to talk about what they are doing.
  • The schedule process.
  • The greatest compliment in the world, “You’re never in your office.”
  • Trying to get kids to think you are following them because you are in their classes so often.
  • You have arrived when you are being invited to teachers’ classrooms.
  • How to have the positive conversation and still focus on improvement.
  • Dealing with uncomfortable situations.
  • Freaky Friday folder.
  • Staff Culture Check! Sign up fo
  • Leverage Leadership
  • Looking for consistency for staff culture check.
  • Friday newsletter.
  • What you can do to be a transformative principal like Jordan: Be obnoxiously positive about your school.

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Being Positive with Jordan Collier Transformative Principal 038


Jordan Collier, the principal of Central Arkansas Secondary School is an amazing principal. We barely scratch the surface of what he is doing in this first part of the interview!

  • Jordan shares how powerful this podcast has been for him, especially the interview with Sam LeDeaux
  • How it is different at a religious school compared to a public school.
  • Discipline issues at a private christian school.
  • Using Bible study time to work on issues with students.
  • Telling the story of @CACMustangs. How the students get in on telling the story.
  • Mustang Missions. - Helping kids serve others, love them, and be there for others.

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Part two of my interview with Sam LeDeaux. You’re going to love it. Here is his blog

  • How to balance the need for caring about the teacher with meeting the demands of the state and evaluation system. Evaluation in two simple steps
  • Perspective of evaluation “your performance” vs. “service to kids”.
  • I want teachers to invite me in for lessons that could go any way and possibly be really different.
  • Leaders, strive to be the weak link
  • How Twitter has changed his practice. Parents want to observe the classroom to ensure they like what is happening only when you are not transparent.
  • Dedicating entire days to being in classrooms, while still managing requirements of his job. The more I am out and about, the less things there will be that pin me in my office. Goal: 8 full days in the class per month.
  • Sharing what he learns and fails at with the staff.
  • Inspiring Twitterers: @gcouros @justintarte @8amber8, chats, and anyone who is willing to share something is really inspiring.
  • How to be a transformative principal: be patiently perseverant.
  • What inspires him: his son, is he meeting his son’s expectations for school, because all his students are his sons and daughters!

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Sam LeDeaux is a principal at a K–5 school in metropolitan Chicago. His forté is working well with his parents and staff.

  • 62 staff members and 869 parents working together to make things happen!
  • Learning that people “somewhere” doing things were actually people who were doing these things right around him.
  • Twitter and Social networking have been incredibly transformative and empowering. [#mannschool](https://twitter.com/MsKCairns/status/497443796661960704)
  • Transparency is what makes him effective.
  • Parents suggest and respond to ways to make his school better through social media.
  • We can grow in ways that we never before thought was possible.
  • Continuous sharing and positive collaboration makes technology transformative.
  • You don’t need to have common planning periods to have time to collaborate.
  • How to balance the difficult issues with being transparent.
  • It is not about personal performance, it is about service to kids.
  • When it is seen as a personal attack, you shut down when you are evaluated. When you see it as improving service to kids, you don’t get upset.
  • Peer observations - invite and show the value.
  • We do not let schedules get in our way of improving and service to students.
  • What is the purpose of peer observations?
  • Evaluations should be about growth.

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Shawn is a principal in British Columbia and is doing some amazing things with technology at his school, including having kindergartners use iPads to create amazing projects. In this interview, we discuss the following:

  • What Shawn is most excited about relating to technology in his school.
  • Why do we use technology in schools?
  • Learning as scaffolding and focusing on learning first, and technology second.
  • Blended learning as having digital and physical tools in front of the student at the same time.
  • Powerful for learning are situations that capture what a student is thinking.
  • Shawn’s role as principal to teachers regarding technology in the school: Permission to try, permission to fail.
  • How to gain trust from your faculty. We are in a relationship business.
  • They need me to support them when they need support and challenge them when they need to be challenged.
  • Reflecting in front of your teachers and being vulnerable in front of them.
  • H/T to @ChrisWejr about 5 things to roar about blog posts.
  • Positive blog posts went from no big deal to students finding those positive events in the school.
  • Key elements to 5 things to roar about posts: celebrate success (student and staff successes) and give parents an idea of what learning looks like in our school.
  • What can we do to be a transformative principal? Mindset, tell the story of your school and do it wherever you are comfortable.
  • What reminds him about why he is doing this great work? For his own kids.

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The second half of my interview with Dr. Briscoe, the new superintendent of Canyons District.

  • The strengths of Canyons school district.
  • The importance of the involvement of families.
  • We should try to do what we are doing even better. Teacher and principal input needs to be truly valued.
  • Making sure everyone in the organization feels valued.
  • Honoring the past before you build for the future.
  • Principal qualities Dr. Briscoe is looking for: having a vision compared to implementing a vision. Humility. Accessible and visible. Patience. Admit mistakes. Regardless of the other person’s opinion, you need to respect the person and take their opinion or concern seriously.
  • Focus on the vision and goal of your school, just take the time to meet with people and explain your rationale.
  • Most of the time, if you explain what you’re thinking, the people who disagree are OK with your decision, even if they don’t agree with it.
  • Don’t ask people for their input if you have already made your decision.
  • How to deal with taking the hits: exercise, without your health, you can’t do anything.
  • The importance of being recognizable. Walk up and introduce yourself to people out and about, and ask them if they have school-age kids.
  • A school leader is a leader in the community. You must get out and meet with local clubs and groups.
  • The benefit of being from a small district and being involved in every department in the district.
  • How to be a transformative principal: Take a risk!
  • What is in his office to keep him motivated? A poster that says, “If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t enjoy the view.”

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Doing Things You Hate So You Can Do the Things You Love

As a new principal, I want to get to know all my teachers. I also want to know what they see as the vision of our school. So, I am meeting with them all. I am really excited because meeting new people and getting to know them is something that I really love. In order to make that a reality, I had to something that I really don't like much: I had to use the phone. Despite the hours spent on the phone courting my wife, I have never liked talking on the phone. It is just not fun to me. I had to call people to set up the appointments, which, by how I was procrastinating and delaying, you would have thought was a much more difficult task than pushing buttons on a phone. 


When I approach a task that I really don't like to do, I deal with it one of two ways:

1. I reward myself by doing something fun. 
2. I make a game of it. 

Today, it was all about the reward. The reward for my (hard to me) work is that I get to spend the morning tomorrow talking in person to many of my teachers. That will be worth it. 

What has been fascinating for me to learn is that different people enjoy different things. To me, talking to people on the phone is near torture for me. For other people, they would much rather call than talk in person. 

What I think will be vital for me, is to be sensitive to what people prefer and meet them where they are. As the principal, I am much more willing to make myself uncomfortable in order to make sure one of my teachers is more comfortable. 

Have a Good Life.