297 episodes

William D. Parker from the Principal Matters Podcast reveals his school leadership strategies, insights from other leaders, and practical tips so that you can have the tools to achieve your own goals. Rediscover healthy motivation, resolve conflicts and challenges, maximize your communication, grow your instructional abilities, and learn to streamline responsibilities—all while building positive communities among your team members, students, parents, and patrons. A former teacher of the year and Oklahoma assistant principal of the year, he is also an author, blogger, speaker and education consultant. The former Principal of Skiatook High School, near Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Founder of Principal Matters, LLC, he also serves as the Executive Director for OASSP/OMLEA - state associations proudly supporting secondary leaders and middle level educators. He and his wife Missy are the proud parents of four children: 3 girls and 1 boy. When he is not serving his members and family, he is a sought-after keynote speaker for principal conferences and leadership seminars. He has learned to leverage his lessons through growing in-person and online communities. Listen in for motivation to create incredible momentum in your school community.

Principal Matters: The School Leader's Podcast with William D. Parker William D. Parker: Principal, Author, Speaker and Blogger

    • Education
    • 4.7 • 103 Ratings

William D. Parker from the Principal Matters Podcast reveals his school leadership strategies, insights from other leaders, and practical tips so that you can have the tools to achieve your own goals. Rediscover healthy motivation, resolve conflicts and challenges, maximize your communication, grow your instructional abilities, and learn to streamline responsibilities—all while building positive communities among your team members, students, parents, and patrons. A former teacher of the year and Oklahoma assistant principal of the year, he is also an author, blogger, speaker and education consultant. The former Principal of Skiatook High School, near Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Founder of Principal Matters, LLC, he also serves as the Executive Director for OASSP/OMLEA - state associations proudly supporting secondary leaders and middle level educators. He and his wife Missy are the proud parents of four children: 3 girls and 1 boy. When he is not serving his members and family, he is a sought-after keynote speaker for principal conferences and leadership seminars. He has learned to leverage his lessons through growing in-person and online communities. Listen in for motivation to create incredible momentum in your school community.

    PMP329: How do you set and reach goals? with Jen Schwanke

    PMP329: How do you set and reach goals? with Jen Schwanke

    Setting goals is a practice that I’ve used to help me grow in my own work. Not only is goal setting important in your professional life, but in your personal life as well. It helps you visualize where you want to be at the end of each year and gives you something to work towards throughout the year. In this week’s episode, co-host Jen Schwanke and I discuss how we each set and achieve our goals in our personal and professional lives.  Here are few takeaways:







    Jen’s feedback:









    * I see many people asking what else can I do…



    * What are the outcomes you want?  Fulfillment, balance, money?











    * Education as a path? 







    * Establishing goals and writing them down…







    * Knowing your professional appreciation language…







    * Gary Chapman and Paul White 5 Love Languages at Work: Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Tangible Gifts and Appropriate Physical Touch 



    * What are you looking for? Is it a genuine need, a hole that hasn’t been filled?











    * The value of goals that match your values…









    Will’s feedback:









    * Free LifeScore Assessment







    * Benefits of setting goals in ten areas and reviewing monthly and annually…







    * Examples in my reading, hobbies, content growth…







    * Examples of failure in reaching goals and lessons learned…







    * Sample categories for quick annual assessment:



    * Major milestones…







    * Positive outcomes…







    * Most difficult challenges…







    * Major lessons learned…







    * What are your goals for this year?



    * Personal







    * Family







    * Social







    * Physical







    * Vocational















    * Want to make them SMART goals?



    * S – Specific







    * M – Measurable







    * A – Achievable







    * R – Realistic







    * T – Timely













    More Resources:







    4 Stages of the Reflective Cycles: Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building Your Capacity for Success in the Classroom by Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral 







    Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

    • 36 min
    PMP328: Peer Driven PD with Michael Alpert

    PMP328: Peer Driven PD with Michael Alpert

    Michael Alpert is a Crystal Apple Award Winning educator, and has worked in both small, rural districts and large, suburban districts in the Portland metro area, even serving overseas as a teacher and Central Administrator in Prague, Czech Republic.







    Mike is also a founding board member of Ex Novo Brewing Co, a benefit corporation donating all net proceeds to charitable organizations. Mike founded Peer Driven PD in 2019 with the goal of bringing streamlined, private sector solutions to public education. Mike’s corporate experience as a project analyst for an international renewable energy firm (Iberdrola Renewables) and as a financial services specialist (employee credit union of Intel and Microsoft) led him to realize the importance of education across all fields.







    Mike earned his MBA at Portland State University, with focused coursework in finance and innovation management, and took his expertise to the classroom and school office, where he worked over the next decade as a middle school humanities teacher before becoming a building administrator and later founding Peer Driven PD. On his “off days” (a little educator joke) you can find him training for his next half-marathon or at home with his wife and their growing family.







    In this episode, Will and Mike discuss the following:









    * Recognize that each of us is a specialist in our craft.







    * Learn to embrace the change instead of push against it.







    * Mike has learned the importance that you compensation (tangibly but also in other ways) should be relative to your ability to help others solve problems.







    * Teachers are looking for themselves to be represented in the PD we provide for them.







    * We must present high quality professional development from teachers TO teachers.







    * Teachers are world-class specialists! How are we utilizing their expertise?







    * Strong classroom management requires both structure and relationships.







    * Admins must learn to listen more to teachers.







    * If you have a struggling teacher, to to them and ask them to help you find solutions. Then take their advice and let them know you value how they help you solve problems.







    * Tap into the incredible ideas of those on your staff.









    Peer Driven PD resources can be found at peerdrivenpd.com/resources.







    Reach Mike Alpert at mike@peerdrivenpd.com







    Listen-in to the entire conversation for even more takeaways!

    • 38 min
    PMP327: Candid Conversations about Education with Dr. Eric H. Tornfelt

    PMP327: Candid Conversations about Education with Dr. Eric H. Tornfelt

    Dr. Eric H. Tornfelt is Assistant Principal at Sedgefield Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Furman University in 2003 and began his teaching career in the fall of 2004 at Sun Valley High School in Union County, NC, teaching Social Studies and coaching the Men’s Varsity Golf Team.







    From 2007-2013, he served on the inaugural faculty of Mallard Creek High School from where he also participated in their literacy design collaborative team. In 2012, Dr. Tornfelt was honored as Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the year.







    Dr. Tornfelt was named Assistant Principal at the nationally recognized Piedmont Middle School in 2013. Dr. Tornfelt joined the administrative team at Garinger High School in July of 2015 as a part of the Beacon school turnaround initiative. In 2018, Dr. Tornfelt became Assistant Principal at Sedgefield Middle School in Charlotte, NC where he currently serves. During his time at Sedgefield, Dr. Tornfelt has supported the transition of a major student reassignment plan at the school.







    His leadership experiences have also included fostering an exceptional IB learning experience for students, participating in grant programs with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-leading strategic task force initiatives. Dr. Tornfelt completed his Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and his Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership from Wingate University.  His dissertation is titled A Case Study Analysis of a Faith Based Partnership in a Middle School.







    He is also the author of the book, The Crumbling Schoolhouse: A Candid View of American Education which is available on Amazon.







    Highlights from the conversation include:









    * Eric was born in Egbe, Nigeria, and returned to the United States when he was six months old. He tells an inspiring story about his Assistant Principal, Mr. Dayton, who checked on him in middle school after Eric broke his arm.







    * He also operates from 3 core values:



    * Dignify all stakeholders.







    * Use truth to lead.







    * Teaching is an art.











    * Sedgefield is a Title I school where students are integrated from diverse income levels within the community. With 500 students, he has the ability to know students well. They created mentoring clubs for boys and girls, and they have a great sensory lab.







    * His dissertation identified ways that faith-based communities have strong collective purposes for caring for others, and schools can leverage these resources for mobilizing help for schools, including adult mentors for students. Eric believes in cultivating “high dosage” interactions.







    * Eric is a realist. Even as he leads a school, he knows educators face teacher shortages, tensions in student development, and weaknesses exposed by the pandemic. His book explores these issues and provides guiding questions for educators to dig deeper into solutions.







    * His parting advice: “Be committed to what is important and stay centered in your core values.” 









    You can connect with Eric via Twitter @drtornfelt or email at: eric.tornfelt@cms.k12.nc.us







    Have other questions or interested in coaching on school culture, student engagement, or problem-solving? Reach out to discuss options available at will@williamdparker.com.

    • 37 min
    PMP326: The 7 Levels of Intimacy in Leading with Jason Jedamski

    PMP326: The 7 Levels of Intimacy in Leading with Jason Jedamski

    Jason Jedamski is a 24 year educator who has served schools as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, activities director and school culture coach.  While serving as the activities director of Broken Arrow (OK) High School, Jason ignited a school culture turnaround that …..resulted in the Varsity Brands company recognizing Broken Arrow High School as the Nation’s Most Spirited High School in 2017.  Later that year, Jason began working as a school culture facilitator for school culture expert Phil Boyte and his company Learning for Living, Inc. 







    In 2020, Jason started Ignite2Unite, LLC, a school culture focused speaking and consulting company.  In 2022, Ignite2Unite acquired the renowned school culture program Breaking Down the Walls from Phil Boyte and Learning for Living, Inc. Jason is a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma where he lives with his wife Kristin and 12 year old twins. 







    This week Will and Jason will be discussing school culture, interpersonal connection, student engagement, and the seven level of intimacy.







    I’m excited to talk to you about school culture. Can you share why you believe engagement is the first intervention for working with students?







    Dropout intervention summaries show the number 1 resource all students need is family connectedness. The number 2 resource they need is school connectedness. This requires an emotional commitment on the part of educators.







    I know you also live by the motto “people before professional.” Why is this an important principle for school leaders in caring for students, staff and communities?







    “People before professional” means being intentional about investing time connecting with staff, students, and communities on a personal level. High levels of connectedness boosts school culture and improves relationships between all members of the school community.







    What are the 7 levels of intimacy, and how can they apply to the work school leaders do in improving school culture?







    Matthew Kelly’s work with 7 Levels of Intimacy include:









    * Cliche







    * Facts







    * Opinions







    * Hopes







    * Feelings







    * Fears







    * Needs









    Intimacy means “Into Me You See”. Tiered systems for student support also mean turning the dial to facilitate relationship building among students.







    If someone invites you to their school, what will they see as you teach practical ways for engagement with students?







    Strategies include teaching students to interact with partners through 5 unique handshakes. Layer these with levels of questions like: 









    * What do you like the most about this school? 







    * What do you like the least? 







    * What are you the most proud of from this school? 







    * What has disappointed you the most here? 









    Allow these discussions to facilitate ongoing ideas for growth and improvement. Wrap up these conversations with three questions:









    * What?







    * So What?







    * Now What?









    How can listeners stay connected with you or invite you to work with their students or staff?







    Follow Jason Jedamski on Twitter @jjedamksi or find him at ignite2unite.com.







    Have other questions or interested in coaching on school culture,

    • 37 min
    PMP325: How Do Others See Me? Listener Questions with Dr. Jen Schwanke

    PMP325: How Do Others See Me? Listener Questions with Dr. Jen Schwanke

    What is the best way to find out/gather information on how others see me?  Should I create a questionnaire and have teachers/staff respond or hold conversations with teachers to find out how they view/see me and my leadership? Do you have any suggestions for questions? Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated!







    Jen’s feedback:









    * Proceed with care: where is the line between YOU knowing you do good work and wanting them to agree with you? 







    * Who do you want to impress?







    * Picture a Venn diagram: where do courage to stand alone and responsiveness to unrest cross over? Pleasing your staff is not necessarily the goal







    * When you stand alone and do the right thing, you develop respect







    * Staff sometimes want immediate satisfaction that they get what they want.  What they really need, though, is confidence and consistency. They’ll understand they don’t have to like what you do every time in order to like who you are and what you stand for. 







    * Think backwards:  What do you want them to say about you when you’re gone? 







    * “I always got what I wanted.” or “She tried too hard to please people”  *OR* “She did hard things.” “She always considered perspectives and then did the right thing.”









    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”― Theodore Roosevelt







    Will’s feedback:









    * Am I staying true to the core values and mission?







    * Am I being fair, firm and consistent?







    * Think about completing a 5 Voices Assessment on yourself and ask someone you trust to complete it on your behalf.







    * Then compare the feedback. If you’re unaware of the assessment, check out this interview with the author Jeremie Kubecek (PMP 184).







    * Have coffee with a couple of trusted colleagues. Ask them to share their perspectives on your strengths and areas where you could grow. This requires courage but could be eye-opening.







    * I do not suggest anonymous surveys. They normally lead to unfiltered feedback from sources you may be unsure whether or not you can trust. 









    Now It’s Your Turn







    What are some ways that you would answer this week’s listener question? Is there anything that Will or Jen left out that you would like to add to the conversation?







    Submit your feedback and any other questions you may have to will@williamdparker.com.

    • 33 min
    Bonus Episode: Making Every Moment a Learning Moment – Year in Review and Big News for 2023!

    Bonus Episode: Making Every Moment a Learning Moment – Year in Review and Big News for 2023!

    A quick note: This will be the final post for 2022. Our next post will be January 4. Please use the “time off” to enjoy your loved ones. If you are curious what lessons or guests you missed in 2022, please enjoy some past episodes.







    If you’d like to skip to the “Big News for 2023” scroll ahead. Anyone who takes time to read this entire post or listen to the audio version, you are a really good friend! 😉 







    Let’s begin this lengthy post with a story. 







    When I was five years old, my family moved to West Tennessee from San Diego, California. My father had had a long career in the Navy, and he decided it was time to move his wife and five children back home. During his years in the Navy, my dad had bought 120 acres adjacent to the farmland of my grandfather back in Tennessee. 







    The first time we saw the property, I remember large oak and walnut trees surrounding an empty space that held the remains of the foundation where an old farmhouse had burned years before. This would become the spot where my dad and his brother would dig a 50×30 foot hole for a basement lined with cinderblock walls, including a single entry with ground-level side windows, a chimney in the middle of the structure, and covered with a flat roof. Someday, a two story home would be built on the structure, but for six years, that basement would become our home.







    The same day we visited the property for the first time, my dad took all five of us children for a walk across the land. A forty acre field carved out the northern point of the farm, which touched the gravel road that divided our land from my grandfather’s. The southern half of the farm was another eighty acres of field that could be used for crops or grazing pasture. The rest of the land was woods, creeks, and gulleys.







    We walked with my dad to the farthest end and through some wooded areas where an old field road lined its way through a tunnel of trees. We stepped out of this enclosure into knee high sage brush. Woods of pines and oaks walled us in from both sides of the large pasture. 







    I was only five years old, and my goal was simply to keep up with my dad, my three older brothers and younger sister. 







    Suddenly, my dad stopped. 







    “Listen,” he said, “We’ve walked a long way from the road, and I’ve been leading the whole way. I’d like you all to find our way back without my help.” 







    We looked at each other puzzled and curious. 







    “Well,” said my oldest brother, Harvey. “I think we came from that way.” 







    He pointed in the direction he thought we should go. 







    “Are you sure?” asked my second brother Jesse. “I think we’re supposed to look at the sun and figure out which way to go.” 







    The arguing continued until one of us suggested we walk in the field until we saw something familiar.







    So we walked. My dad kept his place behind us so that we were forced to discuss our progress and choose our way forward without his help. Before long, we came to a bend in the field, and ahead of us, we could see where the field led to a familiar space. Not long afterwards, we found the old homeplace. 







    It is one of my first memories there, and I still remember the sense of relief and joy in knowing we had found our way home – even though we hadn’t yet built the one we would live in.







    Lessons in Learning







    I think a lot of my life has been inspired by moments like that walk in the field.

    • 29 min

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