Welcome, welcome!! Today's episode is special to me and is easy to write about as a blogpost along with the recording. In this podcast episode, I take on two roles: the role of an etymologist and the role of a story-teller. Why? Because both roles are necessary if I'm going accurately bring life to the phrase "UNLEASH YOUR IMPACT"- the idea that is the foundation of all of my teaching and content.
As you read or listen in, here's what you can consider and reflect upon:
Role #1: Etymologist
Too often we use words flippantly, without considering the great power they have, or what picture they can paint for us, or what they can persuade and push us to do and become. That's why I find it imperative to pause and decide what we actually mean when we use certain words or phrases. In this case, we're investigating the etymology behind two terms: UNLEASH and IMPACT.
Check out the definitions below from Merriam-Webster Online dictionary! If you think about the term "unleash" in regard to the role we take on as leaders, specifically definition 1, doesn't it almost make you think about a glass ceiling? When we think about "freeing from" something, we instinctively believe there is something holding us back- an invisible barrier, a mindset, a fear, a physical person. And when we "unleash our impact", we are not doing so unintentionally. We are throwing ourselves into the great work, shooting TOWARD something bigger, or setting things into motion with HIGH intent. The term "unleash" has many synonyms, two of which stand out significantly: influence and release. I find it no accident at all that these synonyms stand with this word. To influence means that we have an effect on others. To release means that we are "allowing something to act or move freely". In other words, isn't it true that when we unleash our impact we are simultaneously influencing others to move forward into action?
IMPACT. (NOUN, VERB)
Now let's dive into the term impact. Check out Merriam-Webster's definitions. "Impact" is used not only as a noun, but also as a verb. Many of the definitions here give the impression that an "impact" is a physical thing or action. And many of the synonyms of the term are intense- not necessarily in a positive way. But we know this is not what we're going for. We, as impact leaders, are not going for intensity and force, but instead for subtle, but powerful, effects on others. This alludes to the synonym for "unleash"- influence. It is quite obvious that we're targeting the first definitions for the noun and verb forms of "impact".
BUT here is what's interesting: we sometimes notice people putting on their coats of intensity as defined in the more authoritarian definitions of these terms. Why is that??
Sometimes we have the tendency to believe that people who are able to make a great impact are those who are highly intense: they "go out with a bang"; they are loud and boisterous; they lead people with a charge and stomp grounds to demand change. While it is true that these types of people do in fact have an impact, THIS IDEA IS SIMPLY A LIMITING BELIEF.
Let me caution and charge YOU to remember: there is not a certain type of person or personality that is able to make a greater impact than another. Let's also keep in mind that ANYONE can make either a positive or negative impact. EVERY person, regardless of their personality, has the ability to unleash their impact AND has the ability to do so in a positive way. This is where stories of GRIT and GRACE are important...
Role #2: Story-Teller
As I tell you these stories of grit and grace, I want you to consider what they have to do with IMPACT? Consider the different personalities of the women in these stories. In each of the stories, who has a greater impact?
The picture to the left shows my grandmother- she goes by Nanny in our family. This woman is a story of grit. She began her marriage with her husband with not a penny to their name. At a very young age, they bought their first home with a whopping $25 (money they had to borrow). Nanny did anything and everything she could, first, to make ends meet and, second, to make a name for her family. She is loud as all get out (like a lot of my family), strong AND strong-willed, and scrappy as hell! When we were kids, she was always making us do things that pushed us out of our comfort zones, whether it was playing in a murky, questionable mud pit or making friends with strangers (who inevitably became close friends). Nanny let us try on her gaudy, hand-made jewelry and dress up in her fancy business outfits for her job as a treasurer at the courthouse- a job she worked her way toward without even a college degree! When people talk to me about my Nanny, they don't usually say, "She's such a sweet lady..." But, man, am I proud to hear them say instead, "Your Nanny is a spit-fire!" And when I was young, I wanted to be JUST LIKE HER!
The picture to the right shows my aunt- she goes by Aunt Pete. This woman is a story of grace. She is the sister to my Nanny and has a similar story, but with a very different personality. Aunt Pete is the oldest of her siblings. She made sure to take great care of her family while also taking very seriously her schooling. In fact, she made a decision at a very young age to become a teacher and did exactly that. She taught young children, older children, and continued to teach adults well after retirement. She is highly regarded by all who know her because of her eagerness to connect on a deeper level with those she cares about. She has poured into the lives of SO many people, JUST LIKE my Nanny, but has done so in such a reserved and quiet way. I visited her home regularly during college for meals (and to do my laundry) and conversation was never lacking. But she was full of questions that kept her visitors talking and kept her listening. She is truly sweet as honey. And while my Nanny was one to push us beyond what we thought we were capable of, Aunt Pete helped us to remain tethered and conscious of our decisions with her calm, wise words. In my college years, I wanted to be JUST LIKE HER!
Who, of these two women, had a greater impact? The woman who exhibited a great deal of grit, or the woman who exhibited a great deal of grace?
The truth is, they both have exhibited grit and grace over their lifetimes. They BOTH have made (and are still making) an incredible impact, even with their strikingly different personalities. And I find myself now wanting to be JUST LIKE THEM BOTH. Because this is where the greatest impact lies- through stories of both grit AND grace.
UNLEASH YOUR IMPACT
I began this post asking you two questions:
My hope is that you are considering what pieces of the definitions you stand in. What pieces of the definition are you going to clad yourself with as you live out stories of both grit and grace? Who will you influence and who will you release so that we experience collaborative communities of people who feel empowered, valued, inspired, and fulfilled? As a leader, with a whole personality of your own that no one else can claim, how are you going to fully UNLEASH YOUR IMPACT?
If you are an instructional leader or teacher who is eager to amplify her impact, this workshop series about Marco Polo is a perfect start! If you didn't catch the LIVE "crash course", Why & How You Should Be Utilizing Marco Polo as an Instructional Leader, you can watch the replay here: www.catchingupwithcasey.com/blog.
In this live Facebook session, I teach about how to effectively introduce the app to colleagues and teams so they actually will use it.
Here are the five best practices I share about:
To grab the downloadable PDF from this session, simply register as a member here!
Catch the #replay!
This week I was BEYOND excited to lead a live session on Facebook to share about an app that I utilize on a daily basis as an #instructional #leader, #coach, and #consultant.
If you have any desire to foster a greater sense of #collaboration and #collective #efficacy, this is a tool you MUST know about! I'm going to share a few ways it can be utilized so you can capitalize on the thing that sits in your pocket day in and day out- your phone!
What is Marco Polo, anyway??
"Marco Polo allows you to send private video messages at your convenience, and for friends, family members, or colleagues to respond at theirs. More meaningful than text and more convenient than Facetime, Marco Polo is the social app that brings authenticity and everyday joy to your closest relationships." -Marco Polo Team
Why should instructional leaders use it?
Marco Polo can serve as a way to foster a culture of collaboration and promote collective efficacy. It also can significantly help in building teacher capacity. Instructional leaders will find that effective use of Marco Polo can...
How can instructional leaders use it?
Marco Polo can be used in three ways, but all three platforms can be used in tandem.
Connect with individuals to share ideas, questions, or information related to the classroom, school building, district, or community!
Connect with teams of people to collaborate around instructional strategies, curriculum development, program development, and so much more!
Create an individually owned sharecast to provide professional development content, implement flipped faculty meetings, share school news, celebrate faculty and staff!
Catch the #replay here!
Check out the Follow Up Sessions!
Coaching Through Overwhelm Using the Enneagram
If you didn't catch the last podcast episode, I'm encouraging you RIGHT NOW to pause here and go check it out! We know that the world of education is positively overwhelming right now. As instructional leaders, we have a deep urge to support our colleagues and help them get past this sense of being overwhelmed. Therefore, you'll notice the last podcast episode is prudently titled: "How to Coach People Through Overwhelm with Empathy and Practically". We want to give you practical ways to do this and that's what we're focused on in this post again today.
In this podcast, I'm joined by Allison Petersen, Michelle Bulin, and Lindsey Babczak to dig deeper into the work of coaching educators through overwhelm. Allison Petersen is an Instructional Coach and Consultant and the founder of the #NewtoCoaching Facebook Group and The Breakthrough Circle, an exclusive coaching group. Michelle Bulin is Social Emotional Learning Coach and founder of SEL in the Middle. Our last guest in this podcast is the curator of the great tools and resources that are included below. Lindsey Babczak is a K-4 Instructional Coaching in Reading. She is a first year instructional coach and changing the world one conversation at a time!
These amazing coaches each bring something unique to the world of coaching, but they all center their work around understanding and using the Enneagram. This blogpost was written and podcast recorded so that YOU have strategies to equip yourself as you're working through your own overwhelm which will equip you to coach others through overwhelm.
The problem is that, whether you are a teacher leader or you are an instructional leader or administrator, obstacles get in the way of making change happen. Sometimes the obstacles come in the form of individuals remaining stagnant in a state of overwhelm that causes resistance, resentment, or restlessness.
What causes overwhelm??
One of the things that really could sum it up is this meme that we recently found of Louisa from Encanto.
This character is trying to keep her perfect face up front, but under the surface, she is literally feeling all the pressures. It's funny... but it really is a great visual to define what we have found is going on with teachers right now: they're feeling extremely overwhelmed, they're feeling like they have to keep it all together, and they feel like they've got all these things they are managing.
Maybe it would even help to put a meme next to it with Ross from Friends screaming "pivot!!" What we need to be able to do, instead of sitting in the overwhelm and allowing it to crush us is pivot. I think we can agree that we want our fellow educators to be able to be their best and we don't want them to feel stuck and overwhelmed. So how do we help them with that?
It boils down to self-awareness...
Part of self awareness is really understanding who you are, where you come from, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses, and being able to make adjustments (pivoting if you will) and addressing those those things that make you who you are. It takes a bit of quite time, of really choosing, to be self reflective. Something that we have found extremely paramount in becoming self-aware and self-reflective in order to overcome overwhelm is the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that has come back and become a modern piece. Ian Morgan Cron's book, The Road Back to You gives a great deal of information about this personality typing system and is highly recommended. Basically, there are nine numbers on a circle that each represent a different personality type. What's important to note is that each type has an underlying motivator.
These numbers will start to give clarity to your personality, your why, and why you're why you're overwhelmed with things. Because the REAL FACT IS THIS: you have to be able to be self aware and self reflective before you can coach anyone else through their overwhelm. If you have not dealt with or do not know how to address your own overwhelm there's no way for you to effectively coach another.
When you do the Enneagram, it starts with the nine core numbers. These different numbers each have that core motivation and when you start coaching people at the level of core motivation, you get to real change. Simply getting to understanding your own Enneagram type can give you a sense of relief from overwhelm.
The whole idea of the Enneagram is that you would be able to change your behaviors so that you can really transform internally and become more whole. It's all about self awareness.
"I know my Enneagram... now what?"
Let's say that you have done this work: you know your Enneagram type, you reflect regularly, especially in seasons of overwhelm. How then do you know when you're ready to coach someone else through overwhelm?
We believe that you can coach anyone, anywhere, and through anything- even if you're not an expert on them! You can come in to a coaching partnership as an equal player and pour into them. When you have just a slight advantage on them because you have done some of the work first- you have started by understanding your number, you have read a little bit more about it, you've come to a little bit of self awareness- you're just three steps ahead of them and to us that's what coaching is! It's turning around and recognizing that what you've come through can be used to help another come through it, too!
Making use of the Enneagram to become self-aware and to self-reflect is just one little key that might unlock a huge door for you in your ability to coach teachers through overwhelm!
What do we mean when we say educators are overwhelmed?
Here's what Merriam-Webster states about overwhelm...
1: overcome by force or numbers
2: completely overcome or overpowered by thought or feeling
Overwhelm is exactly the problem we're addressing in today's episode! Educators are frequently encountering obstacles to making change happen due to individuals remaining stagnant in a state of overwhelm, and that overwhelm causes resistance, resentment, and even restlessness!
I'm joined with fellow educators and coaches, Lindsey Babczak, Michelle Bulin, and Allison Petersen to discuss this problem. After today’s episode we're hoping you’ll leave feeling more confident and prepared to coach teachers and colleagues through overwhelming seasons empathetically and practically!
Want to know more about the things we referenced in the episode? Check out these links below!
Check out the episode below!
I recently wrote a guest blogpost for Samantha Shields, Instructional Coach and creator of Your Coaches Corner, an online organizational platform built specifically with instructional coaches in mind. When she asked what I could possibly write about, I gave her a few options, but she was quick to choose this topic: How to Identify the Native Genius in Teachers. This topic should be one of great importance to leaders, but we're not quite there yet because it's such an abstract type of work. But in this blogpost, I give you ways to begin doing this work!
You can read this guest blogpost on Samantha's site or listen to the podcast episode, both included below. Happy Learning and Leading!
Talk about perfect timing...
Are you an instructional leader looking to lead well alongside your colleagues? If so, this book study is exactly for you! .... Okay, so maybe that sounds a little too much like an infomercial selling a too-good-to-be-true product. The difference in this book study and whatever an infomercial might sell you is that this book, studied with like-minded leaders from all over the country, can actually get you to a place with your organization that seems almost too-good-to-be-true!
Here's the reality:
You are most likely beginning to prepare for the coming year. Maybe you are a current instructional leader or maybe you are anticipating this role next year. Regardless, your team will certainly have new members be it the leadership team, your broader leadership staff, or your faculty of teachers and staff. When we begin to prepare for the "new" of "next year", we often decide to start with the all familiar get-to-know-you events and initiatives. These are quickly followed by training and professional development on the products, programs, and procedures that are required for the start of the year. While these may be necessary and may seem important, the impact on school culture and student achievement may likely go unseen, unheard, and not felt. Your fluffy meet-and-greets or product and program trainings are brief and the results you desire from them are often short-lived.
Inevitably your year will begin as per usual, maybe even with a bang-up start. But as the year goes on, you experience many of the same issues, both in student learning and school climate, that have been present in years past.
WHY?? What gets in the way??
You can change the reality above. It is only a reality until someone decides to do something different. That different thing is to begin building a culture of collaboration. What gets in the way of sustainable and impactful development as a whole organization (and it's important to note that by "development" I'm referring to a MULTITUDE of positive elements that propel an organization forward) is the lack of a collaborative culture... a lack of collective efficacy... and when we lack these things, people are much less likely to access and utilize creative and critical thinking skills as well as communication skills... and when people are not provided those opportunities, we see joy seep away and darkness creep in ever so slightly throughout our community.
Now it starts with you!
You can become the leader that bridges the gap between a short-lived culture of collaboration to a sustained culture of collaboration where collective efficacy is realized and student achievement soars! You can start by joining our book study! We're reading Peter DeWitt's Collaborative Leadership: 6 Influences That Matter Most.
The great thing about this book study is that it is completely virtual AND implemented in a "come-and-go" environment through the Marco Polo app. You can also access content and engage with fellow book study members via the Facebook Group!
Have more questions! Shout them out in the comments below!
Hey Fellow Educators!! You don't want to miss this episode all about four major collaboration killers and three mindsets you can take on to combat them! In this episode, I talk with Aimee Gilbert and Valerie Ayers, two instructional coaches from across the nation about what kills collaboration. They share their experiences with collaboration and we dive deep into the work of what makes the most impact when trying to build a culture of collaboration!
Catch the episode HERE!
You can read Valerie's blogpost about these on her website, On Deck Teaching.
Are you a teacher leader, instructional coach, or an administrator that is tired of sitting through lame PLCs, planning meetings, or faculty meetings that feel unproductive, boring, or monotonous??? Are you itching to be in an environment where collaboration with colleagues leaves you energized and inspired? If you want to add value to your professional learning community, this episode is for YOU!
YOU are the runner who's ready to implement things that will have greatest impact on student achievement and educator morale. And that is what this episode is really all about.
In this episode, I share about the problems we face with lackluster PLCs, four ways to combat these problems (based on my recent blogpost with TeachBoost), and about what I'm offering next month on Marco Polo to help you, as the runner, step up and do the fulfilling work of fostering a culture of collaboration in your community!
You've made it to my site, now why not gain a deeper understanding of why I do what I do and how I can help YOU do what YOU do! This episode shares exactly that- my why, my what, and my how (full disclosure- I have a hiccup in the very beginning of the episode... let's see if you can catch it!).
As an instructional impact consultant, I focus on partnering with schools to collaborate around high impact strategies that solve the problems that programs and products aren't solving. Yes, that's right, I said it- programs and products are NOT solving the problems that come up again and again in our schools- lack of student engagement, motivation, and ownership; low morale due to overwhelm; an overabundance of resources; minimal gains in student achievement or increasing gaps; and lack of knowledge transfer and application.
But as an attempt at a quick fix, we bandaid the problems we encounter with curriculum programs and technology products. Imagine the time, effort, and money spent on these things that have only minimal lasting and positive impact, or worse, NO positive impact! The solution to these problems does NOT lie in the THINGS we purchase. The solutions lie within the walls of our buildings- in our leaders, our educators, and our students.
But what we know is that taking a step back to analyze the effectiveness of our people can be daunting work. Each individual in an organization comes with their own perspective of problems and solutions, alike. This can make it challenging as a collaborative group to get to the heart of the real challenges at hand, much less the real solution to the challenges. And THIS is where I come in!
I'm able to take a seat in the balcony of your school to analyze the challenges your school faces from all perspectives. I ask the instructional leaders the right questions to get to the real challenge. I have the right conversations with teachers to gauge the school culture and mindset. And I observe students and classrooms with just the right lenses to analyze the current reality. Finally, I strategically and intentionally partner with teams to facilitate collaborative learning around the strategies that will have the highest impact on student achievement and teacher empowerment.
A great deal of what I do revolves around not only facilitating collaboration, but more specifically modeling and explicitly teaching about collaboration. Why? Because I believe that the greatest instructional impact lies in our ability to and our success in collaborating with colleagues and students. I believe that collaboration can be hard, complex, and challenging work- but this kind of work is often the most inspiring and empowering. And I believe that products and programs DO NOT empower and inspire.... PEOPLE empower and inspire.
It is through successful collaboration that our continual problems can be solved. And I would love nothing more than to partner with you and your school to solve the problems that products and programs aren't solving!
Do you ever have those moments where you feel like TIME simply does not allow for additional professional development opportunities with your teachers? It's something we, as instructional leaders, wish we could implement regularly. After all, as educators we know it is best practice to continuously learn and hone our craft so that, in the end, students are the primary benefiters. But you probably hear it from teachers and colleagues as much as I do: "I don't have time." And to an extent, there is a lot of truth to this statement. Conference times are sucked up by mandatory meetings, lesson planning, gathering materials, completing stacks of paper work, and simply sitting back to take a breath of air! Finding subs for half or full day PD is near impossible in this day and age. Even if we did have subs, teachers find it difficult to lose any instructional time with their students- understandably so. And asking a teacher to stay after school can feel like asking them for their left kidney! Even if we did have teachers willingly stay after school for a brief PD, exhaustion from the day significantly limits the functions of our brains making it rather challenging to pull off a successful PD session.
So what are we to do? How do we ensure continuous learning for our staff with all the aforementioned barriers?
Enter: PD IN A...
Stephanie Affinito originally wrote about this idea of "PD in a (fill-in-the-blank)" a good while back. It's a strategy I latched onto when I started thinking about how to launch collaborative studies. The idea is that you provide "on-the-go" PD for educators that can come in multiple different and fun formats.
There are three major things I love about this kind of PD:
Here's how I implement PD in a (blank):
All the Ideas!!
How Creative Can We Get?? Here's a list to help spark your creativity:
While the preferred method of delivering PD is face-to-face with multiple staff members, this is another method that can prove beneficial. When implemented strategically, you can get that face-to-face time and promote collaboration between and among colleagues.
What would you like to try? What other create ideas can you share that get your teachers on the path of continued learning and improvement?!
It's the last episode in this series! I take you behind the scenes of a collaborative study and show you how to LOCK IN learning so participants experience the effects for the foreseeable future! Guess what... yep, it all has to do with the QUESTIONS you ask! Asking questions sounds like a pretty simple task, right? But there is a craft to asking questions and I share with you FOUR broad questions (along with some implementation strategies) that will yield maximum results! Have a watch or listen and use the note-taking guide to jot your thoughts!!
Here we are again catching up on what goes on Behind the Scenes of "Collaborative Studies" (to learn more about collaborative studies as a whole, visit this link to find out more)! Last week I shared about the practical steps it takes to actually plan one!
In today's episode we'll learn about the face to face sessions that can take place during a collaborative study! This is, by far, one of my favorite blog posts to date! It is applicable and relevant to ANY instructional leader- superintendents, principals, instructional coaches, teacher leaders, and support staff! Today, I'll be sharing about 4 key strategies to mastering face to face sessions that result in an increased culture of collaboration.
In this episode, you'll hear me reference the work of:
Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook (Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals)
Liz Wisement, Lois Allen, and Elise Foster (The Multiplier Effect Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools)
Simon Sinek (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action)
Have a watch or listen ?? and comment below!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- Collaborative Leader and Culture Changer!