56 episodes

FocusED is your educational leadership podcast where our mission is to dissect a particular problem of practice and/or pinpoint a place of progress so that you can learn to lead better and grow faster in your school or district with more knowledge, better understanding, and clear direction on what to do next.

FocusED: An educational leadership podcast that uncovers what is working in our schools‪.‬ TheSchoolHouse302

    • Education
    • 4.6 • 9 Ratings

FocusED is your educational leadership podcast where our mission is to dissect a particular problem of practice and/or pinpoint a place of progress so that you can learn to lead better and grow faster in your school or district with more knowledge, better understanding, and clear direction on what to do next.

    Teaching for a Lasting Impact with Meghan Lawson

    Teaching for a Lasting Impact with Meghan Lawson

    This is Season 5, Episode 8 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Meghan Lawson. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Meghan Lawson says about teaching for a lasting impact, creating a legacy of learning…and much more.
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    Meghan Lawson Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

    Meghan Lawson is a thought leader who studies and implements the conditions and systems needed for transformational change. A lover of learning who believes in the goodness of people, Meghan works to cultivate spaces that honor the humanity of all people.

    She promotes storytelling, the exchange of ideas, and risk-taking. She is passionate about disrupting the status quo and creating kinder, forward-thinking communities of action.

    Meghan is also intensely curious about how to enhance the customer experience in schools. Meghan began her career in the English Language Arts classroom. So, inevitably, her mantra is “Words matter.” She has worked in all levels of K – 12 education as a teacher, school administrator, district administrator, and educational consultant. She’s the author of Legacy of Learning: Teaching for Lasting Impact, and you can follow her on X: @meghan_lawson.
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    FocusED Show Notes with Meghan Lawson

    Meghan wrote her book because she’s finding educators all over the place who say things like, “I wish the work was fun again.”

    Meghan says that the stories in the book are authentic, real, and feel like “coffee conversations.”

    Joe asks what it means to “have fun at work.” Meghan talks about positive psychology research.

    Don’t miss what she says about what it means to talk to ourselves.

    When we can create environments where dopamine is high, we can be at our best.

    Meghan calls for teachers to do an inventory about what they can and cannot control and then focus on the controllable aspects of the work.

    She talks about the typical teacher’s perfectionistic personality and what to do about it.

    Small moves done consistently over time can leave to big impact. ~ Meghan Lawson

    If everyone contributes to growing by their 1% each day, imagine what can happen. ~ Meghan Lawson

    Joe brings up the pareto principle and the focus we need on the 20% of our work that leads to 80% of the results.

    Meghan says that one way to use the triangle in her book is to reflect on it in the aftermath of a mistake.

    She says that all students deserve hope and that hope is a stronger predictor of success than any other measure. Hope, belonging, and engagement work together; when one goes up, the other two do as well.

    Meghan calls out the fact that kids can go through the whole day at school (maybe weak) without anyone saying their name.

    She says that she wants to do work she enjoys with people she likes to be around.

    Meghan hopes that all of the unwritten books will get written. People need the confidence to write their stories.

    Life is too short to read books that you’re not getting much out of. ~ Meghan Lawson

    Don’t miss some of the strategies that she uses for reading.

    Meghan ends by genuinely thanking educators for what they do.

    • 25 min
    Systems Thinking for School Leadership and Educational Reform with Luke Roberts

    Systems Thinking for School Leadership and Educational Reform with Luke Roberts

    Luke Roberts Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

    Dr. Luke Roberts has worked in education in the UK for over 20 years to address issues of conflict, bullying, and educational opportunities. He worked on the national evaluation of restorative justice in schools before becoming a practitioner and trainer.

    He became increasingly concerned that the whole school approach was not working and did an MBA, M.Ed., before completing his Ph.D. exploring schools as complex adaptive systems. This reframing of schools is central to his book and seeks to address the challenge of why innovation does not last in educational settings.

    He has also worked in communities and prison settings to promote conflict resolution. He joined Highfive in the USA to promote sustainable solutions to educational challenges as Chief Innovation Officer.

    He also advises government departments on system approaches and is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Arts. His recent book is called Leading Schools and Sustaining Innovation. You can follow Dr. Luke Roberts on X: @LukeshRoberts.
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    FocusED Show Notes with Luke Roberts

    Following his PhD, Luke wrote this book to make sure leaders can understand complexity without being too challenged by academic literature.

    Luke wants leaders to have a usable framework for sustaining innovation.

    Luke says schools are much more like beehives than machines. In machines, you can take parts out, but beehives are much more interconnected.

    He talked about the hub and spoke model of school leadership whereby all of the spokes are centered on the leader. Then, when the leader leaves, the innovations die. Dr. Roberts tells a real story about this happening.

    One problem that we discuss is that humans like power and actually like the fact that the system revolves around them.

    Listen to what he says about being in a production-mind versus being a gardener. This requires an identity shift for the school leader.

    The conversation about the network effect in schools is fascinating, especially since it deviates from the traditional hub and spoke model.

    Joe asked about the next steps that leaders can make to work toward the networked model.

    No one perspective is going to solve the problem.

    Don’t miss what he says about zooming out and validating history before moving forward.

    Systems thinking is much different than change theory, which Luke says is part of the problem. Change theory is often linear and “beehives” are not linear organizations.

    Luke calls for a greater focus on young peoples’ futures and schools that spend time on students’ sense of identity and how they will interface with society in the future.

    Joe underscores the fact school is often something that is done to students rather than for them.

    Dr. Roberts talks about injecting creativity into the system so that more educators are working in a safe space where they can be creative in the way they think about changing their school.

    We need the ability to play with boundaries, including time and the way the day unfolds. The structures of the day can limit the ability for people to think creatively and change the future of the environment.

    Luke says that once you start to see systems, it’s so hard to unsee them. He references Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a systems thinker.

    Luke asks the audience to ponder how we think about change, not reduce but increase what we should do.

    • 32 min
    Failure is Not an Option with Lee Roland

    Failure is Not an Option with Lee Roland

    This is Season 5, Episode 6 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Lee Roland. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Lee Roland says about his journey as a school leader and radical change in schools.
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    Lee Roland Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners
    Lee Roland has been a leader in education and the community for more than 35 years. He has served as a teacher, administrator, Board member, principal, Executive Director, and pastor.

    Lee is a passionate speaker, practical trainer and dedicated advocate for a better future for all. His book, Fantastic Voyage, chronicles his journey of leadership and radical change at Tulakes Elementary.

    Voyage Consulting was born out of a desire to inspire, equip, and empower others to believe, pursue, and achieve equity and success for all individuals, especially children, in our community.
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    FocusED Show Notes with Lee Roland

    Lee wants readers to take his content and make it their own. “Take what he says, personalize it, put your name on it,” he says. We have to borrow from one another.

    Joe asks a direct question about imposter syndrome and Lee’s thoughts about writing and publishing a book.

    Lee talked about his early years and that failure was never an option. People always have looked to him for inspiration, and he has embraced the charge.

    He talks about how the staff and community are looking to school leaders for hope.

    Lee isn’t shy to point out that there’s often an elephant in the room…race and poverty are two that we have to face.

    Wearing uniforms made a difference in a school where many of the students didn’t have regular outfits. This created a team feel.

    Lee addressed the thoughts and motivation that comes from fear…the fear of change. He encourages school leaders to work with “designated leaders” as well as “undesignated leaders.”

    Don’t miss what he says about building relationships. “We’ve heard it said, but we have to make deposits with people.” ~ Lee Roland

    One sentiment that we take away from his message is that we have to lead with our hearts. People can feel it, and it’s contagious.

    Joe underscores that fear presents itself but it’s often not real.

    Lee encourages the concept of “collaborative leadership.” What he says reminds of the “shirtless dancing guy video.”

    You’ll want to hear what he says about the fact that educators often return to schools to work in a scene of a “non-crime” but the community is often returning to school as a “scene of a crime” that they remember when they were in school.

    Listen to what Lee says about being intentional with every single event that the school hosts.

    Lee says that we make things too complicated. Just think about a student who doesn’t come to school regularly and what can happen if we get them to come to school 5 more days this year than last.

    Students at Lee’s school received an effort grade every day. This was born out of a desperate love for them and making sure that everyone worked toward excellence.

    Lee wants to see a whole-child approach to learning (some call it social and emotional learning), but Lee says that we need to address trauma. Plus, he wants the energy in a school to be about the students. Every Student: “I am the agenda.”

    He points to Ron Edmonds’ work.

    As a final point, he tells listeners to “lead with love.” No one can follow if you don’t lead first.

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    Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ theschoolhouse302.com where we publish free leadership content. Go to the site, subscribe, and you’ll get all of o

    • 29 min
    Be The Driving Force in Your School with Don Parker

    Be The Driving Force in Your School with Don Parker

    This is Season 5, Episode 5 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Sam Crome. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Don Parker says about being the driving force in your school, and so much more.
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    Don Parker Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

    Dr. Don Parker is a transformational keynote speaker and professional development provider. He specializes in SEL, supporting teachers to build trusting relationships with students, restorative practices, trauma-informed practices, and improving the culture and climate of schools to enhance students’ and teachers’ feeling of belonging.

    Dr. Parker is a former principal and served at Posen School in Posen, IL where he improved the school climate, staff collaboration, parent engagement, and student achievement.
    Before that he was the principal of Lincoln Avenue School, a K-8 school in Dolton, IL, where he improved the culture, implemented a resilience program, managed the implementation of restorative justice, and increased attendance and student achievement.

    Dr. Parker is the author of the book Building Bridges: Engaging Students At-Risk Through the Power of Relationships and Be the Driving Force: Leading Your School on the Road to Equity. Follow Dr. Don Parker on Twitter: @DrDonParker1.
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    FocusED Show Notes with Don Parker
    Don starts with the fact that equity issues aren’t new. The achievement gap has been static for too long. Don says that leaders are driving this work or pumping the brakes.

    Don says that equity work starts at the top.

    Don talks about the fact that people will follow a person before they follow a cause.

    Don’t miss what he says about sharing data to create a sense of urgency. We need to take an honest look at our practices and start the conversation with empathy.

    Don talked about the fact that 72% of students feel that they need social and emotional support but don’t get it.

    We need to take an inventory of our academic supports to ensure that we’re reaching all students.

    Don says that we often make assumptions about the community and what they need, but the better strategy is to ask them. Are our family engagement and education strategies targeting what the community needs?

    Dr. Parker says that we need to use surveys more often to gather information about what our families want from the school, maybe there’s something they think we should be providing that we’re (even though we can).

    His story about a family who had a food-deficit is inspirational.

    If Don could improve every school, he would make sure every student felt valued in the school environment. His water bottle analogy is incredible.

    Don talks about strategies to create belonging and says that it’s not rocket science.

    “99% of education is encouragement.” ~ Don Parker

    Don tells our audience to listen to podcasts, go to conferences, and read books. He names Anthony Muhammad’s book, Transforming School Culture.

    Joe asked if anyone outside of education inspired Don, and he pointed to a touching story about his uncle.

    Don mentions the leadership of Barack Obama and overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. Find out what Don believes are the skills that Obama used to be successful.

    He wants to see more on the topic of educator empathy…how to be more empathetic for the sake of our students. We came up with this title for a future book, The Empathetic Educator.

    As final words, Don talked about the professional development that he’s doing around the country and how he helps educators to work better with students who have trauma in their lives.

    • 29 min
    The Power of Teams with Sam Crome

    The Power of Teams with Sam Crome

    This is Season 5, Episode 4 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Sam Crome. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Sam Crome says about the power of teams, creating and leading thriving school cultures, and so much more.
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    Sam Crome Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

    Sam Crome is a school leader, currently a Deputy Headteacher and Director of Education for a Multi Academy Trust in Surrey.
    He has been a Head of Year, Head of Department, Head of Sixth Form, lead Teaching and Learning, and most recently lead pastoral teams across a secondary school.

    For the last few years, Sam has studied high-performing teams, trying to better understand how teams can become more than the sum of their parts. He regularly blogs, speaks, and works with schools regarding their teams, helping educators to maximize their effectiveness.

    He remains convinced that this is an area that needs more attention and exploration. Sam is an accredited coach and loves working with coaches to help them realize their potential and make strides towards their career goals.

    He’s the author of The Power of Teams: How to create and lead thriving school teams.
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    FocusED Show Notes with Sam Crome

    Sam saw a lot of competition in the world of education, not necessarily using teamwork, which is why he wrote the book.

    Here’s what Sam wants to know: how do a group of people come together to seamlessly strive toward a common goal?

    Sam talks about learning to coach and the impact that the process had on his work with leaders. The form of coaching that he mentions is “non-directive.”

    Don’t miss what he says about his former self in terms of his past perspective on teams and what he believes now.

    We ask Sam about what makes for a great team and how to lead a team. You’ll want to hear this.

    He describes a “team debrief” as a critical aspect of teamwork. We discussed the need for Before Action Reviews and After Action Reviews.

    Sam talked about the reasons why teams aren’t effective.

    He mentions a simple remedy to team meetings: planning. We talked about this with Dr. Liz City.

    Don’t miss him describe his BIG secret--start every meeting with a short burst of learning. Plus, this should be enjoyable and not too sensitive.

    Teams have to believe that what they say they’re going to do at the meeting is what they actually do after the meetings. This means that the leader has to start meetings with an update about what has happened since the last meeting.

    Sam talks about accountability from the leader for the people who attend meetings.

    The survey data that he talks about is incredible.

    Sam talks about the ResearchED Network and getting so much value from that group.

    We asked Sam about what he would do to support the student experience, and he talked about a disruptive-free learning zone. Students need safety and belonging for learning to take place
    Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

    We wrote about teams in an early blog. Check it out and comment on the site.

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    Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ theschoolhouse302.com where we publish free leadership content. Go to the site, subscribe, and you’ll get all of our content sent directly to your email.

    FocusED is your educational leadership podcast where our mission is to dissect a particular focus for teachers and school leaders so that you can learn to lead better and grow faster in your school or district. Let us know who you would like to hear from next.

    • 30 min
    Motivation, Action, Courage, and Teamwork for School Leaders with William Parker

    Motivation, Action, Courage, and Teamwork for School Leaders with William Parker

    This is Season 5, Episode 3 of FocusED, and it features our guest, William Parker. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Will Parker says about effective school leadership, motivation in schools, taking action as a school leader, and so much more.

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    William Parker Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners
    William D. Parker is the Founder of Principal Matters. He’s an educator, author, speaker, and executive coach who uses his expertise in school culture, leadership, and communication to equip educators with solutions and strategies for motivating students, inspiring teachers, and reaching communities.

    An Oklahoma educator since 1993, he was named Broken Arrow Public School’s South Intermediate High School Teacher of the Year in 1998. He became an assistant principal in 2004 and was named the Oklahoma Assistant Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary Principals in 2012.

    As principal of a Title I school, his school’s innovative approaches to collaboration, remediation, and mentoring resulted in marked improvements in student performance.

    For six years, he served as the executive director of Oklahoma’s Association of Secondary Principals and the Oklahoma Middle-Level Education Association. As founder of Principal Matters, he provides virtual leadership academies, masterminds, executive coaching, and keynote presentations to equip and inspire educators.

    His podcast, Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast, has more than 1 million downloads with more than 360 episodes available. He’s the author of Principal Matters, Messaging Matters, and Pause. Breathe. Flourish.
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    FocusED Show Notes with William Parker
    Will starts with a vulnerable story about his second year as a school leader and almost not making it because of the practically impossible nature of it. Don’t miss the part about the letter that he wrote to himself.

    Will dives into the importance of self-care. If the leader runs out of energy, there’s no capacity to continue.

    We talk about habits, and lowering the bars of resistance. TJ asks about decision-making fatigue.

    Don’t miss what Will says about asking for help and networking (borrowing ideas).

    You’ll love the story about the composer, and his response to preparing for a season of hard work.

    His insight about “the capacity to sustain” is important for new leaders.

    Joe asks about mindset and perspective, and Will responds with the dynamics of overcoming skill and will problems.

    “Who else can I reach out to for help in this area.” This is a prompt that Will uses when he’s reaching his limit.

    “One rake at a time.” This is a saying that Will uses to ensure that he’s taking small steps forward.

    Will brings up Harry Wongs’ First Days of School as a go-to for every teacher every year.

    Will tells us that he takes a ton of leadership lessons from The Lord of the Rings.

    Joe digs deeper into instructional leadership books, and Will calls to attention Transforming School Culture by Anthony Muhammad. He also talks about Jimmy Casas’ book Culturize.

    Will mentions Hidden Brain and Guy Kawasaki’s podcasts as important to him for learning.

    Don’t miss Will’s reflection questions for when he reads and learns.

    Will ends with two contradictory statements that are both true. You are less important than you think you are. You matter more than you think. You want to hear what he means by this.

    Books that William Parker Mentions on FocusED

    Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg

    Atomic Habits by James Clear

    Think Again by Adam Grant

    You’re the Principal Now What by Jen Schwanke

    Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

    • 31 min

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4.6 out of 5
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