5 Ways Leaders Can Show Empathy

“The highest form of  is knowledge empathy.” By Bill Bullard

Empathy is an essential skill for all leaders. It is one of the most important ingredients to building strong, trusting relationships that allows leaders to connect to others. It also can be hard taking on others concerns so it is important that leaders make sure they give themselves grace and also have someone to lean on as well.

  1. Be Fully Present – Remove all distractions. Turn your cell phone over so the screen is not shutting or if you are in front of your computer put it at a 45 degree so it shows the other person you are present.
  2. Actively Listening – Let others share their stories without interrupting them or adding your opinion. Instead ask questions and let the other person drive the conversation.
  3. Show Vulnerability: Share the risks you take, the failures you have, be transparent with your communication and share your process on how you make decisions. Sharing this information shows others that you are not perfect and that helps people relate to you as a leader and builds your empathy muscle.
  4. Withhold Judgment- Understand the other person perspective, let go of the idea of a right or wrong answer. Reflecting on what others have said helps to better understand their perspective as well.
  5. Be a Servant Leader: Help others such as by highlighting their strengths. You also can do this by developing others in ways that unlock their potential, creativity and sense of purpose. 

Want to know how empathic you are? Take this quiz created by UC Berkeley, you will then get a report that gives you more suggestions based on your results.

You might also like my previous blog post on Building Empathy with Educators.

Shifting from Desires to Habits in Education

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous

This past year, when visiting a school, the leadership team was frustrated with the school culture. They wanted the staff in the building to have more gratitude toward each other. Through some guiding questions and honest discussions I helped them reflect on themselves as leaders to think about what they did for the staff to model their gratitude. They soon realized that they were not doing anything to help build a culture of gratitude, they just wanted it to happen.

Traveling across the country working in all levels from classrooms, to school to district level I often see this. We want (fill in the blank of desire) but we want it to magically happen. The below process has helped educators breakdown their desires and make it into actionable tasks.

For this school we backwards mapped what our desire was for the school; have a culture of gratitude. We then thought about the goal we needed in order to make the desire happen. Then we thought about what habit we needed to create in order to be successful with our goal.

DesireGoalHabit
Culture of Gratitude Write two notes of gratitudeWrite notes of gratitude per day when eating breakfast, put them in teachers boxes first thin when I arrive.

It is important to note, a habit is simply a regular tendency, behavior, or practice. Habits are the things we do so often they become second nature.  For a habit to take root it needs to be learned, practiced, and used regularly. For this Principal he chose to stack it with a habit he already had, eating breakfast daily.

Three weeks later I received my own note of gratitude from the Principal, “Over the past three weeks, I have written one to four notes each morning and have placed them in boxes when I arrive at school.  Usually, by lunch, I have received a thank you from the people I had given them to.  They are touched, feel cared for, and can not express enough how the words I shared positively affected them.  The whole building has transformed.”

This backward map process can be used to obtain any desire you want for your classroom, school and/or district. The most important piece is making sure you take the time to reflect on what your true desire, goal and habits are. Here are two more examples to see what it looks like at the district and classroom levels:

LevelDesireGoalHabit
DistrictIncreasing student achievement Use Instructional Framework as anchor in all PDAll professional developments will reference which instructional framework component the pd is connected to.
ClassroomSelf-Directed LearnersStudents reflect on their learningAt the end of the day, I will give five minutes for students to reflect on their learning for the day.

Teachers as Leaders

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell

A few years ago I wrote a blog post called, 10 Ways to Build Teacher Leaders.  I feel it is such as important topic, I wanted to add to it because enhancing teacher leadership can help schools and districts with:

  1. Improve teacher quality
  2. Improve student learning
  3. Provide opportunities for professional growth

Teacher leaders assume a wide range of roles to support school or districts. Some roles that teachers can take to become teacher leaders:

  1. Instructional Coach
  2. Mentors
  3. Professional Learning Specialist
  4. Data Coach
  5. Lab Teacher

To recognize all teachers, here are some ideas to try that can help build teacher leaders:

Super Teacher of the Week: Each week at staff meetings, one teacher is recognized as “Super Teacher of the Week” based on nominations from other staff members. Their nomination is read out loud at the staff meeting. Reward: They’re given a superhero pin to wear all week.

Teacher Shout Outs: Celebrate teachers accomplishments and/or failures to show it is okay to take risks.  Reward: Shout outs are given at staff meetings. If you have sponsors or PTA, gift cards are a nice perk.

Above-and-beyond the Call of Duty: This recognition would go to a teacher that went above and beyond the regular job requirements. Reward: You can take a teacher’s duty for a day.

Spotlight on Support: Establish a bulletin board in the workroom that ‘spotlights’ a different support staff each month. This would be a way to recognize TA’s, Custodians, Bus Drivers, etc. Reward: Hang a bucket or envelope from the bulletin board where staff can fill out notes to recognize that support staff member for his/her special talents etc.

Other teacher leadership resources:

Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders

The Many Faces of Leadership

 

 

12 Books Every Principal Should Read

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” By John Green

Below are ten books I highly recommend that all Principals should read in no particular order. I would love to hear what books you think should be on this list as I love growing my library! Please add in the comments.

  1. Innovator Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity  by George Couros
  2. Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life by Ron Clark 
  3. Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf 

  4. The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact by Michael Fullan (He has a lot of great books but this is my favorite)

  5. Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the New Innovation Era by  Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith  
  6. Embracing a Culture of Joy: How Educators Can Bring Joy to Their Classrooms Each Day by Dean Shareski

  7. Anything by Jon Gordan, I love all his books! Soup: A Recipe to Create a Culture of Greatness is probably my favorite. I am currently reading, The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World

 

Creating Sticky Notes with Google Slides

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Edward de Bono

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This week my blog post is different because I want you to read Tony Vincent‘s blog post, Print Custom Sticky Notes with Google Slides. It is chock full of amazing ideas, tips, tricks and templates for you to utilize in your classroom. The directions are clear, concise and so easy you could implement this tomorrow in your classroom. Happy reading!

Reviewing Google’s Project Oxygen

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. ” By Warren Bennis

I was reviewing my notes on Google’s ‘Oxygen Project’ (yes I know that is from years ago – 2012 to be exact) this week and it got me thinking about why I never took actions on the notes I had down such as how does it fit into education?

Let’s back track a little. For those of you that never heard about Google’s Project Oxygen. “Google’s Project Oxygen was designed to identify what successful Google managers do. Too often, training departments try to help managers improve their competencies — traits of good managers. But changing traits rarely works. Instead, Google chose to teach managers what to do.” They took their extensive research and found that there were “8 Behaviors of Great Managers”.

1. Be a good coach.

2. Empower; don’t micromanage.

3. Be interested in direct reports, success and well-being.

4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.

6. Help your employees with career development.

7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.

8. Have key technical skills so you can advise the team.

With a few minor tweaks, I think these 8 behaviors also fit any leader verse just managers.

Be a Good Coach

  • Provide specific feedback
  • Solution orientated
Empower Your Staff

  • Don’t micromanage
  • Be a lead learner
Be interested in your staff

  • Know their passions
Be productive and results-oriented

  • Help prioritize tasks
Be a good communicator and listen to your staff

  • Two Way Street
Help your staff with career development

  • Let them lead PD/trainings
Have a clear vision and strategy for the school

  • Involve the team
  • Keep them focused on the goals
Have key skills so you can advise the school

  • Change Agent
  • Problem Solving

 

“Google’s Project Oxygen Pumps Fresh Air Into Management – TheStreet.” 2016. 19 Jun. 2016 <https://www.thestreet.com/story/12328981/1/googles-project-oxygen-pumps-fresh-air-into-management.html>

Shadow a Student Challenge

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” By Conrad Hall

Calling all school leaders….want to learn more about your school’s culture? Step away from the desk and join IDEO’sShadow a Student Challenge.” School leaders from across the U.S. will shadow a student for a day to gain valuable new perspectives. This FREE crash-course in empathy is taking place the week of February 29 – March 4.  

Welcome to the Shadow a Student Challenge from School Retool on Vimeo.

The site’s got a toolkit on how to conduct the most productive observations and a 15-minute online tutorial on how to make best use of the challenge—plus, you can connect with other administrators. #SHADOWASTUDENT

Help Spread the Word: Shadow a Student Challenge_E-mail Templates

Read the below articles for learn more about #SHADOWASTUDENT

For a Day, School Leaders Urged to Immerse Themselves in a Student’s Life by Edweek

Shadow A Student Challenge by New Tech Network