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This month, we are diving back into the archives looking at episodes from March of the season one. So this was last year, 2021 taking the most popular episodes from our mini planning series and revisiting them because this is relevant information for any year. Any year of your practice, even if you want to relisten, this is content that folks have said : They have actually gone through my course on this several times and found extreme value in looking at it at different parts throughout the pandemic, different year to year. Just having a different planning process, teaching different things, we're just needing a refresher on what that content reminded them to do. So I hope you enjoy, from the archives, our planning series. This is gonna be five episodes in March. It includes how do you spend your time, all of the tips on planning, the beliefs that get in the way, advancing wellness and efficient effective lesson planning. Be sure to listen to them all.
Or if you're just using a refresher, listen to the ones that you think a refresher would be incredibly valuable for you and inspiring for you to paint that picture of what it looks like to take less work home, be more efficient, effective and really your best teacher or educator or leader self.
How do you spend your planning time? If you're a teacher and if you're an administrator, an instructional coach, leader, how do you spend your time? What's the breakdown? If you could categorize exactly what you're doing and what themes that falls into, what types of activities make up the bulk of your work week? What would it be and how many of those activities are super high leverage? Today we are diving into talking about our planning process. How do we plan, How do we use our time? Are the activities that we are engaging in regularly giving us the big wins that we want and if not how do we shift our planning practice? This is going to be episode one in a mini series, all about strategic planning. So let's dive in.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about schoolwide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
Life as a teacher or instructional leader is challenging and while a lot of p.d. focuses on what we, as teachers can do better regarding curriculum, pedagogy, which it totally should, we often don't have any opportunities to talk about the inner workings of our planning time.
My 2021 word of the year is "strategic" and it stems from knowing I need to be strategic about how I spend my time, if I want to be the best educator I can be. It's like that 80-20 principle : 80% of the things you do generate about 20% of your results, whereas 20% of the things that we do generate 80% of our results. I just have to identify what that 20% is and double down on my time spent there. This strategy that I'll share with you today produced major results for me as a teacher and now I need to apply that as an instructional coach and leader.
This is the first episode in a series of episodes around planning and not just planning, but planning strategically, with purpose, with focus that gives us a lot of results with just a bit less input. We don't have to spend hours and hours and hours getting the results we're getting now if we can shift our ability to plan to be more strategic and focused. And so we'll talk about a lot of pieces to this puzzle but just today we're going to focus on a strategy for inventorying how we currently spend our time and setting a goal for a more strategic use of our time, based on what we aspire to do, based on an analysis of what are those 20% of activities that are getting us the 80% of our results,
and also thinking about the shift from how we currently spend our time.
So our goal breakdown of how we spend that time is going to be based in a shift that's likely substantial if we want to think big, but also manageable from what we're currently doing. So it's difficult to know how many hours of work teachers routinely bring home if we're not constantly talking about this stuff, if we're not having opportunities for teachers to sit in dialogue with one another in a staff meeting, for example whether it be in person or on zoom of course or you know what percentage of our planning time we actually spend on specific activities like grading or lesson planning or researching new lesson resources, which I know is a common concern for a lot of listeners. And I wanted to spell the mystery a bit. So at least for my own planning story I want to share with you on this episode today exactly how I spent my planning time as a teacher when I started teaching, and then after I made this shift and applied the strategy. There was, as you can imagine, a very huge shift from year one to the last several years I taught and I want to share both where I started and where I eventually ended up.
But first I want to talk you through the strategy that I used and today's episode freebie is going to be what I call a 50 40 10 planning bundle and that bundle is about eight pages of documents of kind of synthesized research as well as kind of a step by step checklist as well as planning templates that you could print or use a program like pdf editor like adobe to edit directly. But this is an opportunity for us all I think, to just dive in and just inventory. How are we currently using our time? Where do we get the biggest bang for our buck, so to speak And where can we shift so that we're more intentional in our planning, we spend less time on the things that don't get us the results and more time on the things that do. And this also opens us up to be able to bring our best selves to the work to be able to show up with that full energy because we didn't spend the entire weekend sunup to sundown each day trying to create something or work on something that didn't actually generate the results that we needed.
This is a really big shift that I made and I want to help educators get there as well. When we're thinking about growing and improving our practice and taking on new initiatives or implementing new strategies or shifts in our practice. It can be really difficult if we're not taking something off our plates. if we're constantly adding and adding. We just have an overflowing plate and that's not going to help anyone get anything done. And so this is all about really removing the unnecessary or the things that don't produce as big results as we could be producing in order to get to a place where we're really thinking strategically and making those big powerful high leverage tests. So let's dive in.
What I would like for us to do, kind of a high level overview is think about the buckets that your activities throughout. For example, one week of school, what buckets or categories or themes do the activities that you routinely do fall into? I want you to analyze how you currently spend your time and how many minutes or how many hours do you spend with each of those buckets,
and then do you have kind of an other category? A lot of times we have another category of things that aren't really high leverage. For example, meetings that they don't have a concrete purpose. They're just kind of meetings that you feel like you're not getting a lot out of, or paperworks, completing a lot of paperwork is often something that's found in other columns. So if there's something that feels not very high leverage, you can always throw it into that bucket. And then what we want to do after doing that is we want to cut or reduce those low impact activities and add or maybe revamp our high impact activities to give them even more leverage. A caveat to say everyone's planning time can absolutely look different and I'm going to share with you what my shift was, what my recommendation is, but just know that your ratio, your percentage, your categories can absolutely look different and so these are all open ended questions to think through as we go through this strategy.
So here's the breakdown that I recommend. I call it 50 40 10 because I have identified three different buckets and the ratio of time spent. If we look at the percentage breakdown of our hours in our planning time as a teacher, I found that the best ratio for the highest leverage instruction for me and the biggest results for my kids was 50% planning for quality instruction.
So designing the content, collecting resources, putting together the lessons, whatever that looks like, but I'm planning for quality instruction. Maybe I am adapting or personalizing for different students, creating different pathways. Planning for quality instruction is half of the time that I spent.
The next piece is typically the most shocking, and the biggest departure from what teachers do on a regular basis. And that's 40% of our time being spent on professional development. This doesn't necessarily mean just staff meetings. It could be listening to a podcast on the way to work, or stopping by a colleague's class, again in person or on zoom reading the latest educational research, following an educational blog, following a person on twitter, that's an educational consultant or constantly sharing great educational articles. Any of these pieces could be professional development and I want to just make sure that's a really broad category. But this piece is all about learning, what could I be doing better?
Student feedback is the third category and this is just 10%. And I say this because a lot of times we spend time on entering grades in a grade book and you know, sometimes that's because we have structures set up that we have to comply with. And so this might be a larger conversation around the school with administrators. If you are an administrator listening, thinking about what is that conversation going to look like at your school? Maybe jumping into that and asking teachers about this. I say student feedback explicitly here as opposed to grading. That naming is really intentional because it's not just about grades. In fact, when we look at the research formative feedback or feedback that is qualitative, over slapping a number or a letter grade on it, is actually way more productive in terms of student learning. And so I'm talking about that immediate, in the moment feedback, most of that's going to be during class time. But if not, we're grading a larger project or something and we need to grade outside of class, we're going to provide qualitative feedback. And if we're doing most of it in class, that enables our student feedback that we're working on outside of class during our planning time to take less of our time.
So if we do 90% of our student feedback in the moment in the class and we find ways to do that, whether that's using technology to auto grade really quick content based questions, or jumping into a breakout room, or jumping into have one on one meetings with students wherever possible to say, "hey, this is what I'm seeing here. Why don't we think about this." And just kind of push the thinking in small, small ways that don't need a great attached to them. One of the reasons that I came up with this breakdown as well is looking at the research of John Hattie and the effect sizes of different activities on student learning. When we think about the stuff, it is deeply rooted in the research. When we think about quality instruction, it's because when we deliver quality instruction, we raise student achievement two grade levels in one year. That is the potential there. When we invest in our learning and we have collective teacher efficacy, that is more helpful to student learning than any other activity that was inventoried in Hattie's research.
The professional development is critical.
Being able to be confident in our learning and our knowledge as educators collectively, not just as an individual teacher, but as a school, and then backing that up with the data and seeing that has an improvement on student learning, that's huge. So that's why that's 40%. And again, student feedback. When we look at the different types of feedback rating versus formative in the moment, feedback qualitative versus quantitative, again, we see that formative piece being really powerful and so most of that's happening during class time. When we think about student feedback outside, we can then reduce it to 10% if we're doing most during class.
So again, 50 40 10: 50% planning for quality instruction, 40% professional development of some kind, 10% student feedback. And this could look different. Your categories could look different, your percentages or ratios could look different. But here's what we want to do. First, I want you to take just one week and I want you to track what you're doing during your planning time. So down to the minute, you don't have to track what you're doing during a class. That's a different conversation. You can absolutely do that. And I highly encourage that things like teacher talk time versus student work time or talk time.
I think these are really powerful things to do. But here we're talking about our planning time, non instructional time. And for leaders, if we're not in classrooms, same thing. right? What are we doing all day, all week? So I want you to inventory the minutes that you're spending or the hours that you're spending on each kind of activity. And I want you to try to categorize them into approximately three, maybe four themes. Again, you can use that other category that feels like it's maybe not high leverage, but just things that can't be taken off your plate perhaps? I then want you to identify from that list, your biggest time drain. So the things that are in that other category, are there ways you could do that faster? Could you kind of techify it and make it automated in some way using some technology? Or could you, if you're teaching embedded into your class, if you're a leader or instructional coach, could you delegate it or even take it completely off the plate?
I then want you to identify opportunities for professional development. Again, this could look a lot of different ways but figure out what works for you.
And also try to figure out what are the big goals that you have as an educator, as a leader and what p.d. is going to get you there. So thinking about topic and as I've spoken about before in personalized pd conversations on the podcast, thinking also about format. What's the format that's going to work for you? Is it listening, if you're still commuting, to a podcast on your commute. Or is it merging kind of your well being goals around moving for 21 minutes a day? For example, 21 for 21, I just heard about that. I thought it was a great idea. And could we listen to educational podcasts for that 21 minutes of movement each day? So thinking about ways that don't add things to your plate, but maybe merging them with some other goals so there's overlap.
I want you to then set a weekly time limit for each bucket activity. One of the big things for me was I was taking so long planning each lesson, I had to set a weekly time limit. Once I set my ratio and I divided my total amount of planning time during a week, again this is when I was teaching, I then said, "okay, I have five hours total of planning time each week, 2.5 hours is going to be by 50% which is devoted to planning instruction."
I have 30 minutes each day to be able to develop my lessons for the next day, which was so much shorter. I mean maybe 1/20 of the time that I had been spending previously on planning lessons. So I mean it was drastic and I got there over time. But trying to figure out what that is for you. Once you do the ratio you figure out your categories, you figure out how many hours per week do you want to be spending, not what you are, but what do you want based in some degree on what you are spending now and then make it more ideal. You want to set your goals and so you want to set your time caps for each. And for some professional development, it might not be a time cap that you need to set. For me even still as an instructional coach and educational consultant in that leader role, I find myself not doing enough p.d., and so I know that's something that I need to set as something I need to work up to, not something I need to limit. Whereas other things like paperwork or things in my other categories, I do need to limit and set a cap for.
And then I want you, once you have all this done, you have your categories, you have your ideal ratio and you've converted that into minutes based on how many hours you're working or how much planning time you have, potentially converting it to hours whatever works for you,
I want you to practice for one week and I want you to stick to the set times, and this can be really difficult. when I was setting my 30 minute planning time per lesson or per day of lessons. I had to get really creative. I had to leverage some really low prep strategies that had high impact and I had to make it happen. And sometimes I looked at that clock particularly early on because I would literally set a timer on my phone and I would say, "oh my gosh, I have 10 minutes left." and I feel like I've done nothing. I've spent, you know, these 20 minutes just like Googling a new activity when I know I have some high leverage ones that I already used and I could have had something pretty much done already. And so in the last 10 minutes I would have to do that. I would have to pull from what I knew already worked. Instead of trying to get really creative every day. I would have to locate the key places. I would find really great resources consistently, pull from there, as opposed to just straight up Googling. And I would have to really figure out what's going to work for me. And of course you're going to revise and reflect this as you move forward. So please feel free to share any of your successes, your tips, your strategies, even take a picture of the planning time inventory document which is on this free resource for the week.
I'm going to share with you, and share it with us, share that picture on the time for Teachership community, ask for support.
There's kind of two ways to do this. One is retrospectively. There's one planning document in here that is an inventory for each week. And then another one that's aspirational. At the start of the week, a strategic plan if you will, for the upcoming week where it divides your percentages into your three buckets. It reminds you of your overall vision, your big thinking for the year or the semester, and then it also gives you a place with suggested activities for that opportunity. And you can feel free to make your own. So for example, for planned lessons, my activity bank looked like Socratic seminar, chat stations, student presentations, because those were three go-to activities that I knew if I was planning lessons in a very reduced amount of time, I could use those to pull really, really quickly. I already had a template for those activities in my class and I could use that. Or the learning category, the professional development one. My activity bank looked like podcast, book, blog, visit another class plan or problem solved with a colleague.
Again, just ideas for me to get up to that 40% of my time being about professional development.
For giving feedback, I would sometimes have to reduce the amount of feedback or streamline or automate the feedback I was giving. So my activity bank for that looked like auto graded quizzes, pure feedback protocol, conference during independent work time. And so again, these activity banks are helping us reach our goals for this. If you're a leader, this could look a little different for you. So I, in my template, have for you three buckets : supporting instruction, being 50%,, 40% being build leadership capacity and then 10% being the p.d. you're investing in your growth. For that, I have for an activity bank of supporting instruction, visiting classes, coaching teachers, having those one on one meetings, sharing strategies with teachers that you either looked up, research, or connecting them with educational blogs and podcasts that could consistently provide that p.d. for them later on.
Building leadership capacity could look like inviting teachers to lead p.d. around topics of interest or strength covering teacher classes so that they can go visit other classes in the moment, supporting PLCs.
And then investing in your own growth: podcast, spoken or blog, again, problem solving with other leaders or visiting another school. And if school is doing remote or hybrid learning that could look like just jumping on a call or a staff meeting, sitting in the back of a zoom room even with your your camera off, just being able to observe and see how other folks are doing things in this moment. So for me as a teacher in years one and two, really I spent 20 hours of time outside of the school hours and my process was really work intensive but super low leverage. It wasn't generating the results I needed. And when I looked at my time and how I was spending it, 90% of my time was on lesson planning, 10% of my time was on grading or feedback and 0% of my time was on professional growth. And this is so hard to think about. I feel deeply sad for myself and my students because that was just not at all what I knew would be working and I could see that it wasn't producing results.
And so when I shifted over time and experimented pretty boldly actually with different approaches to planning, I was greatly aided by p.d., either provided by the school or things that I sought out on my own. And I was really excited to tinker with that formula and it ended up saving me. I calculated at about 700 hours per school year, which is monumental. And so it reduced my time spent planning outside of school to just 0-2 hours a week, which is a world of difference. I experienced life incredibly differently. At this point, my process was really finding those high leverage pieces and being able to meet that 50 40 10 piece. What I was able to do with my life outside of school was again, also exciting because it was just a different life I was living. I did things that I had always wanted to do. I was able to run the New York City Marathon at the same time that I was in a full time PhD program, which I finished in three years while full time teaching. I mean, the possibilities are endless. Whatever it is that you want to do, It is possible, but it takes a lot of strategic planning and rethinking how we're currently doing things and what those high leverage pieces are. What's 20% of the work we're doing now that's producing 80% of our results and how do we double down on that?
Just as an educational consultant, I created a time inventory for myself. And what I figured out was I really want a goal of 50% creation, create podcasts, create blogs, create courses and content. 40% is going to be learning for me. And again, that's going to look like some online courses. It's going to look like following blogs and podcasts that I love. And I do have a lot of my learning in my meetings in my facilitation or support role, though there's some overlap between these categories for me, so I might still need to tinker with them a little bit and get clear on what they are and where certain activities fall into which category.
The last piece really is that 10% support. And so if I can enable teachers to use things like online courses where they can tap into the resources I've created whenever they have time, write a blog post or a podcast can be consumed whenever the listener or reader has time, that's probably best for everyone involved. It frees me up to create more things and it enables more people to be able to consume the content because they can consume it at time that they have.
But also live workshops are still a very real piece of what it means to provide support and so that's still a piece of my work, my 50 40 10 breakdown of educational consulting and instructional coaching does not look like that 50 40 10 I just shared. I wanted it to be right now. 31.5% is just planning and prep time. That's my other category. Creating is about 37%. Support is about 25% and learning is only 6.5. So again, I have some work to do alongside everyone else. Please please share with us what this journey looks like for you and tune into our next episode of our mini series, which will come in another two weeks. So get excited about more conversation about strategic planning.
Thanks for listening amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave a review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it. Until next time leaders continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
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Welcome to episode 65 of the Time for Teachership podcast. Today's episode is packed with talking about system, systemic issues around parenting, my own exciting announcements and what to expect in the next several months. Let's dive into the episode.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
So I am recording this episode in advance. By this point, I may just be on parental leave.
So I am excited to welcome a new child to the family and as a result I'm taking a few months of parental leave this spring. Now, what that means for you as a listener? Don't worry, we have a bunch of things coming.
So for the next few months we are going to have pre recorded guest episodes. They are new episodes with guests. They have been recorded a few months prior and we're also bringing back the how-to series, two how-to series actually, from last season that featured a lot of solo shows from me giving you really the how to deep dive into two different topics. And those topics are efficient planning for better work life balance, and also justice centered curriculum design. You'll see one in March and one in July. The other episodes will drop weekly. We may even have some bonus episodes for you that are just for subscribers, so make sure you're subscribed to the show that feature themselves kind of positioned at the end of each of the how-to series.
So this will be new episodes with guests
As we dive into today. I am definitely in the parental leave mindset in terms of just recognizing as the first time parent, how difficult and challenging it is to take leave from a job. I am self employed but you know, thinking about what it is like as a person who might be employed by a private company, a public company, government company, really all of these different situations that people may find themselves in. And I always bring it back to these systemic issues that impact us as people, regardless of what our jobs are, but also through an education lens. So I kinda want to talk about that today as I'm thinking about my own journey and also just recognizing that on this show, we really tried to call out inequity and injustice as it's happening at the structural level and then thinking about what we can do, so ending with an action step that we can take to address the systemic injustice.
So, when I think about childcare for teachers, for students, I don't know, we'll pivot maybe back and forth between some personal and then some some larger structural pieces here.
I had always heard that childcare was expensive and then going on this journey myself to find child care, to try to figure out how to budget for childcare, to recognize that so many people opt to not work because childcare is almost more costly than what they are paid, because people are so underpaid and childcare is incredibly expensive and not publicly funded as of yet, in many places.
There are all of these different factors that really take people and oftentimes women out of the workforce, right? And so as we think about this kind of systemic piece, you know, I'm going to go into a little bit more here, but I also want to just name that, in addition to being so expensive, it's also not super accessible. So finding a place for people to send their children is actually way more complicated than I had realized. And so there are so many structural factors, we're going to talk about what those are. Let's see why that kind of condition is the way that it is.
And so let's maybe just dive in there
In terms of federal inaction, right? The actions that have not been taken to the federal level. The US spends only a 3rd of 1% of GDP on childcare. Compared with an average of a set of, you know,.74%, so almost a full percentage point among the organization for economic cooperation and development countries. And so if we think about that, first of all, that's a very, very small amount, right? We're talking about less than 1% point in general. But then we have, you know, less than half, almost like almost a third of the cost that other countries who are in similar economic brackets to us are spending on childcare. So it just really does not seem to be a priority for the federal government.
In terms of access, as I mentioned, it's really hard to find childcare. And so half of people living in the states live in places where there's no licensed childcare provider or where there are three times as many children as child care slots.
So it's really challenging to actually find a childcare slot for someone who's planning to go back to work.
Childcare costs a typical family, about a third of its income. And I would venture to guess that that is even higher in particular areas. Often I've heard it referred to as a second mortgage, right? And I can attest that that absolutely rings true for my personal experience as well. In terms of the benefits, like what if we had a world right? Like the question of dreaming usually comes up at the start of my interview episodes, but you know, thinking about what that world could look like if we were to prioritize and fund childcare in a meaningful way. There are economic benefits of quality, affordable childcare in that those benefits economically extend for generations, research has shown. And some studies actually showed that it, you know, more than pays for itself. So it's not like we're actually spending money on it because that return is coming back to us as a country. Relative to comparable developed nations with more supportive family policies,
and I'm reading from a research report here conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, such as paid family leave protections for demanding a change to part time work schedules, publicly provided childcare services. The labor force participation rate of women in the United States has fallen behind, coming in between two and 14% points lower. The 19 other "developed nations in 2016". And so we see this pushing out of oftentimes women. But many family members and caretakers, we know just statistically that a lot of people with children are actually single moms and identify as single moms, and so this is a really important gender aspect to this conversation as well. They're being pushed out of the workforce, different from choosing, right? Because it's not a choice if you feel like it's your only option. And so we lose as a nation that economic output.
Not that I think we should measure quality of life and success as a country in terms of purely economic output. But if that's the argument being made for why we're not spending money on childcare, it makes sense to actually look at the research and find that it does pay for itself, right?
And it does create more economic wealth for the country as a whole.
There's also a wealth of social benefits for children, for parents, and academic benefits for children later on when we enable family members to choose and set up policies for child care that works for them. When we think about, you know, what's going on in the childcare provider lens, the average hourly wage for educators who are in these early childcare centers is slightly more than $12 an hour. So we've been having these conversations about $15 minimum wage and really making sure that our living wage is, is that a living wage or minimum wages living wage? I should say $12 an hour is under that, right? So home based providers even make less than that and their income is really tied to how many people they can get into their homes. That's subject to lots of fluctuations, right? Being a business owner is challenging.
20% of early educators have lost their jobs in the pandemic In the summer of 2020 and countless programs have permanently closed their doors as a result of COVID as well.
And so we think about all of these various constraints on the childcare providers themselves. We can see that the value of having a federally funded, federally subsidized, federally prioritized child care system is really going to be important for us as a nation to create all of these benefits that we ultimately want and help people live their fullest lives. It's also about what we value, right? And so when it comes down to it, if there are economic benefits to choosing this, and we still haven't, like what's really going on here? And so the only time that the United States has actually done something similar to universal public childcare was during World War Two. So the Lanham Act in 1941 directed federal funding to high quality government run child care centers. And the goal for this was just that women could work as part of the war effort, because the war effort was deemed priority, right. That was something that we valued. In all the legislation, it was highly emphasized that this was an emergency procedure and these were not permanent centers.
Interestingly, researchers found that children who went to these centers, particularly if they were from low income families, performed better educationally and economically throughout their lives compared with children who were too young to be eligible for the care. So this is a beneficial system. We have tried it before because we decided we valued it in that moment as a nation. It has worked. It has created lots of benefits for the children.
Universal child care also had strong bipartisan support when it was proposed in the Comprehensive Childhood Development Act in 1972, but President Nixon vetoed it because it "had family weakening implications". So as we think about that piece, right? We also see this idea of this preservation of what I would name as you know, similar to Bell Hooks' white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, right? She calls that system that those interlocking systems there by their name. And she calls out that this is a huge part of a lot of our our social problems. That preservation of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy rings
so true in the case of childcare and parental leave, right?
We value certain types of labor, right? We have a temporary childcare program during World War Two for the war effort, but it's temporary. We overrule where we veto legislation that has bipartisan support because we want to control the role of women, people who identify as women right? Here is what a woman is, it's equivalent to a mother. And also there's a racial component here as well. So, we're bringing in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy part, right? BIPOC women are not even seen as mothers in this context, they're caretakers to other people's children. They are not invited to stay at home. We're looking at this, we're looking at the role of the white women, right? And so this is really interesting to see the intersections of how not only this gender dynamic is at play, but also the racialization of women within gender roles,
that again fuses together the weight supremacy and the patriarchy that is at play here.
If we talk about parental leave here, right? This all of this carries over to parental leave policy and thinking about why we don't have that, in addition to why we don't have paid childcare. In an international context, among 41 countries, only the United States lacks paid parental leave. There's actually an article entitled just that. And so what we found is that the smallest amount of paid leave that is required of any of these other 41 countries is about two months. So two months is the bare minimum of paid leave internationally among similarly economically well off countries. Several of these countries actually provide a year or more of paid leave. The United States does not have such a thing, although we're working on policy to equip all workers to have this in terms of current access for US
workers. In 2020, only 20% of private sector workers have access to paid family leave to care for a new child or a new family member. When we look specifically at low-wage workers, there are a lot less likely to have access to paid leave. So for example, 8% of workers in the bottom wage quartile, so these are folks who earn on average less than $14 an hour, had access to paid family leave in 2020. Again, that's 8% in the bottom quartile. Black and Latino ex workers are less likely than white non Latino ex workers to have access to paid family and medical leave. Again, a racialized aspect of this white supremacist capitalist patriarchy piece.
After the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act went into effect on October 1st in 2020, an estimated two million federal employees then had access to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. But again, this is just if you were a federal employee. Also, there are state specific access points. So California, New Jersey, Rhode island, New York, Washington and Massachusetts, as well as Washington D. C.
have established paid parental leave via a payroll tax. So it's also interesting to determine how they have successfully funded that tax, right? And that is through a payroll tax for higher earners. And it has been working well.
The other piece of this that I want to bring into the conversation is what about student parents? And so these are folks who are in either high school or college who are students and they are also parents. So they have their own children. They're still trying to go to school, get their degree. These students are often left out of conversations about equity and justice. We don't see these students oftentimes in larger conversations about policy or supports as an identity group in and of themselves, right? In terms of that access to their identity is often missing from the conversation. And so starting with college, because oftentimes we have these conversations, I think my perception is that these conversations exist a bit more at the college level. So you know, about 22% or so of undergrads are parents, 70% of those student parents are mothers,
so identifying as female, and 62% of them are single mothers. Over 44% of student parents, these are all student parents, work a full time job. And I think as a result of all of these things, right? 52%, so just half of student parents drop out of college before earning their degree. So more than half drop out. Less than half are making it to graduation and actually earning their degree. This is a critical piece of the college experience. If you are a parent and going to college, you're also likely to be working a full time job in many, many cases and you are parenting, right, and trying to figure out daycare, and trying to figure out the cost of your tuition, and trying to stay on top of your grades. This is a conversation that needs to continue in terms of support for this group of student parents at the college level.
I also want to make sure that we're naming and thinking about high school student parents. So 30% of all teenage girls who dropped out of school at the high school level cite,
It's because of pregnancy and parenthood. Rates among Latin ex students and African American students, black students are higher than for white students. Only 40% of teen mothers finish high school. So these are all statistics that are really pointing to this gendered racialized dynamic here. And again, only 40% of teen moms finished high school, being, you know, again, less than half. Fewer than 2% of those students who are pregnant during high school finished college by age 30. So even given a few extra years there, a few, basically an extra decade, fewer than 2% are going to go on to finish college. And again, I want to emphasize this is not an individual student issue. It's not like being a worse learner, right? It's these structural pieces that are in place or not in place to make it more difficult, more challenging, lend less support to these students who are in this particular situation.
Now, many solutions that we talked about
focus on pregnancy prevention and of course, I am a huge proponent of comprehensive sex education. Super important. But I also think that conversation ignores the students who have children currently, right? And so having a look at some of the legislation that has been passed and the considerations that have been made. In California in 2015, there was a bill passed by California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. They wrote the bill and the bill was entitled A B 302 Lactation Accommodation. And it was passed. So it allowed lactating students to bring their breast pumps to school, store their breast milk and provide private and secure rooms to deal with any breastfeeding needs that they have. And so this, the policy manager for this organization who wrote it really emphasized that there's so much, you know, so little support that it impacts so much the decision to make parenting decisions like breast feeding or not breast feeding based on whether you have that support in your educational environment.
So it's important to enable children, students to parent their children in whatever way that they would like.
One positive case study I want to name is New York City's Free Department of Education run daycare centers, which are currently housed in 33 public schools across New York City. This is known as the LYFE program, L. Y. F. E. And it's existed since 1982. This is a program that enables students who bring their children to the school that they attend, but if they attend a school in which the program is affiliated, leave them in the high quality day care center, go to school themselves, come back, get their child at the end of the day and go home. They don't have to worry about daycare. They know that their child is right there if they need to run down, if they their child gets sick, if there is a fire drill, they have people who are, you know, bringing them outside, all of that is taken care of. They get to be full students as they enter the school building, right? They have this taken care of. This is something that I believe we can do. We can advocate to your own Department of Education to create a system like the LYFE program. Or if you're already part of the LYFE program where you're in New York where you have a system like this, advocate for increasing the number of schools involved in the program.
And again, this is a D. O. E. funded, Department of Education funded program that has a high success for students in terms of graduation rates. I think it's like 90% of students who have this support will actually go on to graduate.
So in conclusion, I've gone on a long ramble of the structural factors that really are important to consider, both as adults and employees of an educational system, and also for our students who are navigating the educational system. As I go off on my parental leave and we are on a personal note, very fortunate that my partner's job just added a parental leave policy this year which will give him three months of paid leave, the show will go on as I am gone. So again, there's new prerecorded guest episodes that will air weekly. We are bringing back those two how-to series: around efficient planning for better work life balance and justice centered curriculum design. You have access to my website for tons of free resources as well as self paced courses that are open for enrollment at any time.
That's www.lindsaybethlyons.com. And again, there might be some bonus episodes that are for subscribers to the podcast only. So make sure you are subscribed and I will see you in a few months. Continue to think big, act brave and be your best self.
Thanks for listening, amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave a review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it. Until next time leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
Links from the episode:
Lindsay: Today, you'll hear from Dr. Richard Shell. This conversation was recorded on July 8th of 2021. G. Richard Shell is a global thought leader and senior faculty member at one of the world's leading business schools, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as chair of Wharton's legal studies and business ethics department, the largest department of its kind in the world. His book, The Conscious Code: Lead With Your Values. Advance Your Career, addresses an increasingly urgent problem in today's workplace, standing up for core values such as honesty, fairness, personal dignity and justice, when the pressure is on to look the other way. Shell is a skilled communicator across many diverse audiences. His students have included everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 CEOs to FBI hostage negotiators, Navy seals, and the United Nations Peacekeepers. In addition, he has worked extensively with public school teachers, labor unions, nurses and hospital administrators to help them become more effective professionals. Can't wait for you to hear from Dr Richard Shell.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities,
take brave action to make those dreams a reality, and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, If you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
Dr. Richard Schell. Welcome to the Time for Teacher Ship podcasts.
Dr. Richard: My pleasure Lindsay. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Lindsay: Of course. I think there's so much alignment between what we do that this will be really relevant for leaders, for teachers, for family members of kids in the education system today. So I'm excited to dive in. I just read your professional bio. So I was wondering is there anything else you wanted to add to that professional bio about yourself or anything that feels relevant to share?
Dr. Richard: Sure, thank you. I think the only thing is to realize this guy was coming on to your show how deeply embedded in teaching I am. I've taught in a daycare center. I've taught in elementary school and then, I, you know, late in life when I was 37, I became a professor teaching undergrads, MBAs and executives. But you know, it just reminded me of how important teaching is to me personally and what, how much I've learned essentially from being a teacher.
Lindsay: That's amazing. I love that I just learned that about you, right, when we hopped on the call and so important for our conversation today. So the big question that I always start the show with is, you know, what your dream for education is. And I like to ground that in Bettina Love's words around the idea of freedom dreaming. She says that it's dreams grounded in the critique of injustice. And so, knowing what we know about the education system, even about workplaces more broadly, I'm curious to know, you know, what your dream is there?
Dr. Richard: Well, you know, I'm social justice warrior from time was because my generation, the big pushes were the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam, which had effects on people of color and minorities and people who are poverty in a much bigger way than it did on people who were in college and elites.
But I was a conscientious objector actually in the Vietnam war, became a pacifist and peace work was a very important part of my early sort of life. That's when I actually was working. I was working at a daycare center in the ghettos of Washington D. C. I mean, sometimes the adults who were supposed to pick up their kids didn't show up at the end of the day. They were prostitutes or they were you know, they were involved in something that made it impossible for them to show up. And so I got my introduction to sort of the social conflicts of American society right there at the very beginning. And then I became a social worker in D. C. as part of my pacifist work during the Vietnam era. So all that is very sort of formative to my approach to what I do now, which is of course teaching people in the business school.
But it's interesting how much concern there is for issues of social justice and inequality in the generation of people now going into business.
Lindsay: Yeah. And I think that's really interesting to think about. As you're saying, it's kind of a generational thing that's really important. I know you talk about this a lot in the forward or the introduction to your book and I think when we're thinking about like the mindset shift for people who have been in workplaces and education settings for a while and now seeing people come in who are new to the field, new to the workplace and having these set of values and this set of, you know principles that lead them to want to advance justice in their work settings. I'm wondering what mindset shifts, the people who are entrenched in the systems have been working for a long time. I really need to take on or adopt to be able to transform workplaces and workplace cultures to help people coming in who are passionate about justice and wanting to advance it.
Dr. Richard: Yeah, I think that's a great question. you know, I think a lot depends on what you think your work is as well as who you think you are. But in general across all domains of work, including education, there are three ways to think about work. One is, it's a job, the other is, it's a career and the third is, it's a calling, and I've always approached my work and education as a calling. If it's just a job, then values are kind of things you try to keep at arm's length because they complicate it. You're just there to earn money to support your family, to get through the day. And there are plenty of teachers who have jobs. There are plenty of ministers who have jobs and doctors who have jobs. This is not anything unique to any particular field. So it's really hard to convert someone who thinks of their work only as a job to someone who's going to think about it deeply in a different way.
That doesn't mean they can't be brought to it. It just means that they have to have something happen in their lives that flips the switch to see that what they're doing actually has a profound opportunity embedded in it to bring something else that they are, which could be leaders in their spiritual community or leaders in their local communities that do all kinds of interesting things that they can bring all that to work and then the work becomes something different than it was before. So that's the job. The career person has a little more commitment to some of the norms that are embedded in their workplace because in order to succeed as a career that get advancement and so on, they're going to have to play by some set of rules that are broadly understood to be the way you get ahead.
And so, you know, it's funny though, I've met a lot of people who are teachers. I've done workshops for public schools and for principals and superintendents of school districts.
And um what I've heard from them is that for many of them who are in administration, um they took the career approach and they regret it because what they loved about teaching was teaching, what they found they were good at in addition to teaching with administration. And so they allowed themselves to get promoted to get more money and to get more status than to have more insulin. But then pretty soon they were never even close to the thing that they actually were passionate about and they become um distressed, they actually can get a little depressed because they've lost touch with the core meaning that was going on. So the people who approached work as a calling another term for this is meaningful work. Um and it doesn't have to, you can have meaningful work and it doesn't have to be for money, meaningful work is what you do that's meaningful, that is work.
Uh but it generally combines uh your values and opportunities to express their values every day, not just once a year at a corporate retreat, it involves some reward system. So you're, you feel appreciate it and there's some currency, whether it's money or, or influence or something that allows you to feel that sort of, I'm a player in this space. Uh It involves your talents that say you're doing something that actually utilizes your native abilities and it allows you to grow and improve those abilities and then finally your passions. So what is it that when you wake up in the morning, you feel excited about what you're gonna do instead of, oh no, I gotta do that again. So, so when you put all those little, these little things together, you can advance from a career to a calling by having more wisdom about what promotions you take, you know, a promotion may not be a good idea.
Uh And also um you, you feel like a good test, I find the people who are bringing it all in their everyday life is that when you engage in whatever it is you do after engaging in it for a period of time during the day, you feel more energy than you did at the beginning of the activity. And and when it's the reverse, when you feel depleted, it's generally the case that there's something, some element of those four items I ticked off is missing. It may not be your talent. So you're stretching something, you're not that good at it and you're never going to be that good at it, or it may be that it's um the rewards have disappeared, and so you're not getting the validation that you need in order to kind of be energized, There are a lot of different parts of it, but I think a good test is like from when I teach a class at Wharton, um I love it and I feel energized at the end of it in a way that I didn't feel at the beginning and that that's a good class.
I know that I'm doing what I should be doing. So I think educators, that's a test, you know, are you in a job career or calling? And and what parts of what you do? Can you elevate to the to the context of sort of being called to it? I love how as you were describing that I was thinking not just of of adults and, you know, teachers and people in those professional roles, but also of how we connect with students and and the questions we ask students write, what job do you want when you grow up, what do you know, what career do you want to have? But like what is your calling? And can we create the conditions to have? You know, the ability to express your values every day in the class? Um your your passions, is there a reward system that, you know, is not um P. B. I. S. Or some of the things that are kind of happening now that are almost divorced from values right? Or divorced from that calling peace and have that growth potential for the talents that they have and can build on their strengths. So I think there's so much value in that framing not just for adults but for how we educate our Children. Well I I teach a whole class at warden for undergraduates that is nothing but that I we spent a whole semester while they think about those factors and how they can implement them in a career, you know, in a work in their work.
I had a, you know, typical story for me is no warden is a pretty high potential place, it's hard to get into. Uh and they're pretty, it's driven people. Um But the but I you know, I tend to maybe attract that the students who are on journeys as opposed to already think they know what they are. So I had this one student who is um in our health care program as an undergrad, very bright. She graduated from Wharton and went to work for consulting firm in healthcare, but two years after she graduated, she got back in touch with me and said, you know, Professor Shell, I wonder if I could ask you for a letter of recommendation, I've sort of come to the conclusion that I want to be a nurse and she had written about wanting to be a nurse in her final paper for my class and I said of course leah I kind of wondered what that might look like when you got into consulting. So she got into another to N.
Y. U. S. Has got a great nursing school. Uh spent an extra year did undergrad again which is you know not all of it just to you know enough of it to do nursing and then got one year extra for masters degree in nursing. And now she's a nurse. And um and she is of course a really high potential leader. Uh huh. And um and and you know she had the courage to understand what her calling was and she realized she really needed to touch people to have her hands to help heal people. And uh and that that just that insight was critical And you know I think people can redo a lot of things that look like Oh dear I've already gotten this degree that's the end you know I have to stay on this path. I don't think so I didn't I didn't start teaching in this business school until I was in my late 30s and I and and I was forever thinking about what do I want to do what I want to do, who am I who am I what am I going to do?
And at one point I actually made a list Of you know when I was about 30 of all the things I could do and all the things I could never do. So on the list of things I could do was I could teach english um because I've been an undergrad english major, you know, I could be a carpenter because I kind of like to work with wood at the top of the list of the things I could never do was teaching a business school and here I am, I'm a senior professor, chairman department at the best school, one of the best schools in the world in business. So there you go, you know, uh follow your talents. Sometimes they lead you to unexpected places, wow, that's such a great group of stories and I think inspiring for people both coming into education because I was part of a teacher prep program that was alternative certification. So similar to um, it was called new york city teaching Fellows. Similar to like teach for America where sometimes you have people coming in that were, You know, 20 years into a career and something else and now they're in education because they are trying to find that calling.
And then also for people that are like career minded educators who are just not loving it anymore, you know, and who who maybe need a shift. And so I love those as, as those stories are potential I think and they give potential for people who maybe are feeling stuck in whatever they're doing now to to find that calling. Yeah, it was funny and the first time I ever taught this class that I just mentioned, um it's called success. That's what the class is called, sort of, what is it, you know? Uh but the first time I taught it, Angela Duckworth's was a PhD student in, in at the positive psychology center pen and she took it uh which meant that really she taught it, I mean, you know, she's brilliant person, um and she's actually written a blurb for the conscience code and I'm a friend of hers now and uh but her passion is education um you know, she she's really deeply when she was a senior college, she set up a program up in Cambridge massachusetts. That was just sort of a head start kind of program for kids to, you know, give them disadvantaged kids to get them, you know, a jumpstart on, on certain skills like math and her whole grit thing is about uh you know, trying to give kids a sense of resilience so they can, you know, sort of take on whatever it is that that the society is dealing them, which is a lot, but then find the inner resources to pick themselves up and keep going towards their goals and you know, so so you know, there's I've I really feel that the education environment, you know, is where you can have the highest impact on helping people to discover who they are and what ways they can be of greatest use to others.
Yeah, I love I love that your book offers so much in these stories you're telling offers so much in so many different dimensions. Both, you know, the student lens, but also the the educator lens. And I want to talk a little bit more about your book. It's called the conscious code and you talk about the ethics refugee phenomena. And I think this is really interesting, um for a variety of reasons, but a lot of what people have been asking me as educators and as leaders in education lately, um particularly as we have this kind of awakening of social justice kind of nationally, globally. You know, we want to be anti racist. We want to be inclusive of various identities in the education space and in some cultural context, in some environments of particular school district communities, there are rules or in some cases laws for particular states that are banning conversations about anti racism, where, you know, there are these um kind of places that are or things being put in place that are confining their ability to live out who they are in the workplace and, you know, advanced justice and teach the way that they know they got into education to teach and lead for leaders.
And so the question I keep hearing again and again from teachers and leaders is how can I teach and lead for justice while also keeping my job or does it mean I give up my job, And I think your book just kind of addresses that question in great detail. The subtitle is the conscience code. Leave with your values, advance your career. So, uh there is there is a there is a needle that we're trying to thread here, which is not lead with your values, lose your career. That although sometimes that is the cost of having values. Uh, you know, I think, you know, that the ethnic, the ethics refugee is that inspired this book, are the people I've met in my M. B. A classroom, and there are people who uh come to warden, come to grad school, pivoting out of not some sort of dissatisfaction with the work they were doing, but dissatisfaction with the values of their workplaces. They were victims of sexual harassment, sometimes sexual assault. Uh, they're victims of racism, there are victims of um of being ordered to do what they knew to be immoral or unethical things and what they didn't have, the reason they they quit was because they didn't have the tools to stand and fight and they did have the option to cut and run.
And so there they are sitting in my classroom and I'm thinking to myself, well, this is great. It's kind of an expensive way to pivot off of a job. You know, NBA education is not cheap. Uh and they're never going to get a chance to play that card again because next time this happens and it will happen, it's not whether, what are they going to do, they're going to just quit again. Uh, so, uh, you know, they've got to have some tools. So I, the conscience code really is kind of, I actually think of it as like a manual for guerilla warfare from the bottom up to stand up for your values, rally coalitions to um, spread the word about what your values are and to effectively become agents for change now. And, and, and that means keep your career and advance your career now. If you're, if you're in a legal system that makes your value illegal.
And let's say you're in Saudi Arabia and you're a female and you want to drive a car. Well, it's illegal in Saudi Arabia to drive a car. So, uh, so if you're um, trying to be effective as an agent of change in Saudi Arabia and your woman, um, you know, just driving a car is not going to actually do the trick because they'll just put you in jail and that, you know, that's, that's really not a, that's not always the best place to be, we know from history that, it's sometimes a really good place to be if you're nelson Mandela or uh, you know, some other person who's able to transform their prison experience into movement, but most of us don't have that gift. Uh, so I think there are times when exiting is the right way and then you become an agent for change from the outside in um, in a, in a state that's passing progressive legislation.
I think it it's um, you know, you run for office, you turn your turn your or you or you become politically active in whatever way that it's appropriate to actually work on the system. Because the hardest I there there are five pressures I talked about in the book that push against our values. One is peer pressure. So everybody does it. It's hard to stand and say, well, I don't do it. Um, Authority pressure, which is people in positions of power order you to do it. And that's a pretty strong push, especially if the boss controls your paycheck. But even if they don't where humans are wired to obey authority, it's not, it's not a kind of distortion of human perception that we think people in authority have some influence over us. It's a way of coordinating society. So, um, we can push back when they think when we know they're giving us bad orders. And so, but authority pressure is number two.
Um, then you get incentive pressures and that is the pressure of the paycheck. The pressure of the deadline, The pressure of the, um, uh, the client demand or the investment demand or the school board's demands or the parents demands, uh, and uh, so those can push you in the wrong direction. Um Then you've got rolls and rolls pressure can mean, well you're just a soldier. So you you know, you don't have the you don't have the place, it's not your place to stand up and say wait a minute. We're torturing prisoners. Uh, this is wrong and I'm going to call the new york times to tell them about it. So you just have this self inflicted wound of limiting your effectiveness by embracing your role as powerless. And then the final and this is the one that education is facing in the examples you gave is what I call systemic pressure. So P. A. I. R. S. Spells pairs and Pierre authority, incentives, roles and systems and the systems pressure is the hardest one because systems like racism, systems like sexism, systems like um intolerance or bigotry are are really embedded in the culture.
And so when you're when you're up against system pressure, you're going to have to use political tools. There's no other way individually. You don't stand a chance against system pressure. Um and that's why I kind of think of this book as sort of a manual for guerilla warfare because um you're the first thing you need to do is find the like minded people and rally and gain confidence and power from the group that have similar values. Then you have to be smart and figure out strategies that will advance the ball incrementally. Um, but I I take some heart from gay marriage as a system systemic revolution. Um, one of my sons is gay and you know, when he was born gay marriage was like something close to Pluto as a imaginary state of social life. But enough people in small ways started with massachusetts and I was a court case in massachusetts, then another court case, then another legislative initiative.
And then, and then pretty soon people got stronger and could declare who they were. And it turned out that gay people were living next door and we're our Children and we're uh, you know, just people we knew respected and had nothing to quarrel about with. And that turned out to be non political. In other words, it turned out that conservatives, you know, have gay Children in the same percentage as liberals too. And so then all of a sudden this social agreement which had been thoroughly oriented one way, which is this the systemic cultural pressure, It just went boom, boom, boom boom. And when it flipped it flipped all the way to the other side. Just And uh, now we're still plenty of people in America who think that uh, you know, that, that uh, that there's something evil about uh, you know, people's, you know, way of living, but they, but that, you know, you never get 100%.
So, but what we have is the society by virtue of these systemic incremental activities, same way, water sort of works, you know, on a hillside just gradually erodes things and creates channels to create channels, create, you know, wider riverbeds and then and it takes time, but it's relentless and I think that's where um, you know, someone who has a conscience, they know their values, they know that injustice is in front of them. Okay, okay, now, what do we do? And um that's what the book's about. And I love that you lay out kind of the 10, the 10 pieces to that to that framework. And I just wanted to say my favorite, I think I love the idea of committing to your values early on just knowing what they are and committing to them is a huge piece. Um you talked about the power of two, which I think, you know, you were just speaking about even like I was thinking about kind of multiple scenarios, there one being, you know, when you're saying like find your people and and connect with people who who share those values for a teacher who might be pre service right now and is going to now go look for a job being able to interview the people who are interviewing you and seeing, you know, that I think is something I didn't realize I could do as an early career teacher um and became really important to me as I switched schools.
Um but also if you do find yourself in a school and you're listening to this as an employee in a current school district to be able to find someone else and just have a conversation with someone else in your organization who may agree. I loved your examples in the book and that chapter that we're just about, you know, finding having the conversations, finding someone who can be either a person who echoes you or you echo them that you're standing up together and it's a lot easier to stand up against injustice. I mean, the research on these pressures that I just mentioned is really telling because both Pierre and authority pressure are are well researched and an astonishing really the experiments that demonstrated them show just how how malleable humans are. But in the famous experiments dealing with peer pressure and authority pressure, standing Milgram's experiments on, you know, they have these fake electrocution devices that they got people to actually induced, they induced people to give lethal doses of an electric charge who are just people off the streets in New Haven.
Uh and peer pressure. Uh Solomon ash got people to agree that two lines of different lengths are the same length by having everyone else in the room say they were the same length. And then the poor person who was the subject kind of got pushed along into saying, well, okay, everybody says so, so it must be the same length. But in both cases all they had to do, the experimenters had to do to change the dynamics of those conformity ease was introduced one other person who told the truth, all you needed was one person in the room and said the lines of different lengths. And then the subject went, of course they're different lengths. And the peer pressure even though there was still 10 to 1 or 10 to 2. Now the 10 to 2 made it possible for it to be too uh and in the authority condition these experiments, you know, with these fake electric shocks friggin. They put one person in the room with the subject who said after a couple of rounds, this is immoral, this is unethical. I quit, I'm getting out of here. And then the subjects went, hey, that's exactly what I was thinking. I'm out of here too.
And so so this this this this um, there's a concept in psychology called pluralistic ignorance. Have you ever heard of pluralistic ignorance, pluralist? It's a, it's something you should definitely wiki look up pluralistic ignorance is the um the the phenomenon That you're in a room with six people and someone tells a sexist joke and everybody in the room thinks that it's a sexist joke and they're offended by it. But nobody says anything and they all think that the other people think that it's funny and so they're ignorant about what is actually going on in other people's minds and they're all fearful of being the one who stands up and makes themselves an issue. But in fact, if one of them speaks up and says, that's an offensive joke, all the other ones will go, that's exactly what I think too. And now the person who's the sexist joke teller is been told where they stand and they probably won't be doing that again.
But pluralistic ignorance is what keeps us in silence. We were afraid that everybody else thinks something that they don't think and all. That's what leadership is. The leader is, the one who says sorry, but not funny and they take a risk. Maybe everybody's going to disapprove, but you'd be amazed at how often, if not all of them, at least one or two, the rest of them are going to say Me too. And and that's when the values change, that's when the organizational culture starts to change. That's when people find courage, uh, and ability to speak up. It's, you know, but but it takes it takes the one to break the pluralistic ignorance, uh, and break it open. I love the example that that you just shared. And I, and I'm I'm wondering if you can, my third favorite chapter was the ask for questions and I don't want to give too much of your book away, but I'm just curious if you could, if you could share a little bit about those four questions that someone would ask as they're determining, you know, what do I do in this situation, like the sexist jokes scenario you just gave or or you know something else.
Like my administrator just told me I can't teach uh you know the 16 19 project about slavery in the United States or something. Um Yeah. Um So yeah the chapter I asked four questions and it's really just a way to check list of the factors that um that you ought to be thinking through when you decide how to take action on on a values conflict problem. And um so you take the 16 19 teaching project problem. Uh Alright first um consequences. So this I'm big on acronyms. So we have the five pairs pressures and now we have the four clip questions C. L. I. P. Um I worked with a student when I wrote this book and every time I sent him a chapter he come back and say where's the momentum I wanted alone and I can remember this. Uh so I came up with them so clip cli p stands for consequences, loyalties, identity and principles And um and they all have deep philosophical roots and they you know, they go back and and into like antiquity, but these are the four things that people need to think about.
So you're you want to teach the 1619 project? The school principal said can't do it. All right. So so I mean I think in that case you already know what you want to do. And so the question is how are you going to go about doing it? So as you analyze the options of how to go about doing it. Um and one maybe go to a school board member that's that's friendly to you and see if you can engage an ally that way. Another might be to confer with some parents that are stakeholders that might exert some pressure on this principle, that it could be taught in some way. If if not exactly like let's just memorize the 1619 project, but you know, let's see what part of it are interesting and informative. So so there there but you're going through the different options of what to do and these clipped things begin to help you think it through. So the consequences, okay, what are the relative consequences, costs and benefits? Things that could, you know, move this forward or set us back about option a option B, option C and consequences is the way most people think about almost everything, you know, should I drive to the store or walk to the store and implicit in there is going to be well what are the consequences?
I walk and get exercise? I drive, I pollute uh on the other hand, I drive to get there faster, you know, so, you know, I can carry more groceries. So so we're doing consequences every day all day about everything moral case is important because the consequences are going to have higher stakes. So we work through the consequences. ele what loyalties do I feel now this is a personal thing. So let's just say that in this system, this principle who's now given this silly order is actually someone that was a mentor for you. Uh you know, they hired you, they brought you along, they gave you opportunities, but now they they they themselves have been pressured by some people to did this rule. So loyalties would be well, what do I owe this principle? Um what do I owe my Children? What do I owe? Uh and not about values, We're going to get to that in principle. So the but the the loyalties are the individual, the personal loyalties to think through what the what the factor, what that can help us inform our decisions and loyalties actually are not a western philosophical principal uh loyalties are Asian, uh they come more from sort of Chinese culture having you with family loyalty and loyalty to ancestors and things like that.
But everybody thinks about loyalties to and they make these important, different, difficult decisions. So, Alfred loyalties, you have to think that through i for identity, which I think is really important. And the whole book is really premised on, I think you should think of yourself as a professional and a person of conscience. The person of conscience is an identity factor and you sort of tested by asking Well in this situation, what would a person of conscience do and principally what you're doing is you're, you're sort of forecasting, who will I be if I make the decision this way, but that way, after the decision is over, and will I be someone I'm proud of? Will I be someone I'm ashamed of? Will I be someone who feels enormous guilt? Will it be someone who feels a degree of satisfaction or fulfillment? And um and and that's where conscience comes in, because conscience is fundamentally wired to guilt? Uh you know, we we have values, we feel guilty when we don't live up to them, and conscience is that little voice that's saying, no, no, no, you know, this is not the way you really should be.
So, so identity is about the who am I question. Uh, and who am I if I agree not to teach this, who am I, if I um if I take action, but I fail, who am I, if I resist this and get fired? Um, and then finally, the principles are things that you might bring to the profession as matters of, um sort of overarching ways that this profession must work in my world, academic freedom is a principle. And so when someone tells someone they can't teach something because of its ideology, when you're in higher education, you go, sorry, academic freedom. Uh, that doesn't apply as cutely in secondary education and public education as it does in in post secondary, but that is an example of a principal Now, a principal might also be um Children first. And so whatever is going on, I always ask myself what's best for the Children.
And so whatever your principles are that apply to how you do your professional work, that's the last checklist. And then you know it's, you have to survey these four questions. They all come and have some balancing features, some plus some minus some unknowns and then you have to do the hard, hard work of exercising judgment and that's where having someone else in the conversation helps because you're just in your own little bubble and you may be overweighting or misunderstanding or misperceiving potential consequences of something and that if you can expand, you know in in success leadership, they call it mastermind groups uh in the there's a book called the extended brain which is sort of a psychologist view of like bring brains together and that's the way social systems work. The extended brain, no one has just an individual brain. We've all got an extended brain because we've been input by all these people that influenced us, our families, our culture, our communities and so on. And so think of yourself as sort of a loan decision makers, a bit of an illusion.
Uh and my viewers be explicit about it. So once you're in the clip framework and you thought things through then go to your colleagues and say well I'm going to lead us through a facilitated discussion of these things and here's my perceptions, but let's see what other points of view might help us make a wiser decision. Uh and so that, you know, though, when you figured when you've gone through those four clip factors, that's it, That's it. Those are the dimensions of a moral decision. And I'm confident in saying that because two or 3000 years of people, much smarter than me, have gone to back for those, and that's what they've come up with. And I think there's some wisdom in sort of you know, centuries of smart people trying to puzzle about stuff and the clip factors is just a distillation of those centuries. I love that. I think that's my favorite chapter in the book. It's just so concrete and practical in terms of helping people through those difficult decisions. And I also love that you really emphasized that identity can really be a huge factor for people in that.
Um one of the things that resonated when I was reading the book were the stories of your students who were reflecting back and many of whom did not regret doing something and taking action and standing up to an injustice, but many who did not stand up to an injustice, kind of felt guilt or, you know, looking back on that, like, oh, I really wish I did do something. And so that resonated with me there. There's there's a marvelous quote from uh it's actually a mystery series on tv that uh some public television I was watching. But there was, it was about, it was a story about police corruption and there was a police chief and their assistant and they were walking together and they were the two people trying to fight the corruption. And there was this big crisis in the story and the big conflict was about to happen. They were going to confront all the bad guys and their careers are at risk. And the older one turns to the younger one and says, well here we are, a moment of courage or a lifetime of regret and you know, the moment, you know, you know the moments you you don't, you don't you don't get to do over on some of these.
And so that's what the book is trying to do is help people prepare. So they're better able to meet those moments. They come up when you don't expect them. They come up often unwelcome, uh, you know, they divert you from some other thing that you were doing that you thought was all like ready to go. And then here comes this value of conflict. This annoying ah upsetting conflict that you just as soon give to someone else or talk yourself out of involving yourself in. Well, okay, you're either ready or not to meet that rationalization and if you're not ready, that's where the remorse will happen later. If you're ready, then you'll be able to do it. If you've got a second. I just want to tell you one story about that because leah the woman I told you it was a nurse, she read the conscience code, She's a big fan of mine so I can count on her to be a reader. She she emailed me from her nursing job in new york uh you know a couple of weeks ago and said well I read the conscience could I think it helped me.
And I said I emailed her back and said tell me. And so she said she'd been at a nursing con you know at a team meeting at her nursing station and the boss come in and said okay team I need you all to initial this paperwork that shows that the safety checks were done on these given days. And leah looked at it and said well I wasn't at work on any of these days and and he said well it's okay, it's just paperwork, you just need to initial it uh you know be a team player. And then uh leah said well I'm not going to sign off on something that happened when I wasn't at work. And and then of course the other nurses, this is pluralistic ignorance. The other nurses all said neither are we. And uh she said I wouldn't I have visualized my I wouldn't have sort of stepped into that situation with the same degree of confidence. If I hadn't just read your book. Um so so I think you can be better prepared. It sort of primed you to be ready to do the right thing when the moment happened. That's an amazing story.
And yeah, those moments happen all the time, they are inevitable, they're going to pop up. And so it's good to be prepared for them. And your book does such a wonderful job of that. And we just talked about a lot of different things. I'm wondering, as a listener is kind of wrapping wrapping up this episode and kind of going about their lives, what is maybe one thing that they could take away to kind of put into action or to remember? Um if they could only remember one thing the next time something comes up. Really, really simple. Thanks for asking that. I think the most important thing is when you confront one of these moments like leah did, for example, or when the principle tells you to do something, you you uh you object to ask yourself what would a person of conscience do in this situation, Forget it, forget about all the rest of it. Just what would a person of conscience do? And then if the answer is they would act then, okay, now we have to think about what to do. And that's that's not that personal conscience doesn't stand up and jump off a wall.
You know, it doesn't jump into the ocean. Doesn't doesn't go to the top of the building and start sheet screaming with a loudspeaker personal conscience acts effectively to address the issue and to advance the value. So, but you have to start with that. What would a personal consciences? That is such a powerful question. I love that. And then, um, one question I usually used to wrap up the show is, since we're all learners, educators, I feel like our amazing learners are lifelong learners, they're always learning and growing as professionals. What's something that you have been learning about lately? Oh wow. Um that's a that's a great question. Well, I have actually, you know, been learning about child development. Um, I four months ago I became a grandfather. Thank you. So my oldest son had his first child little mirror. And so as a grandparent, you look at this baby and you don't see it the same way as you did your own Children because your own Children, like, you know, urgent necessity. Uh you know, the theory of child rearing, it's not really like, you know, you don't have time, but for a grandchild, you see them from a distance.
You know, I sort of have been going back and reading some of the classic books about sort of nature and nurture and the role of genes and behavior and personality and you know, and just taking some some perspective on, you know, how she's gonna develop and grow and how little her parents may have to do with it. I mean they're going to love her of course. But it is interesting how much of our um the way we, we handle and present to the world and understand ourselves is really given to us as a, the architecture of, of who we are and and um so so it's a, so I've been learning about that, that is fascinating and congratulations again, that's so exciting to be here. Um and the final question is just where can people learn more about you, get your book or connect with you online? Sure, I can be found at all the stuff about all my books is my fifth um at G Richard Shell, S H E L L dot com.
Uh and so they'll learn about the, I've written on negotiation, persuasion influence success and now the Conscience Code. And um and the book can be found anywhere. It's on, it's a harpercollins. Leadership is the publisher. Such a big trade publisher. And there's a, if they go to harpercollins Leadership, Conscience Code, they'll find it uh amazon dot com, they'll find it Barnes and noble, they'll find it. Um and so it's uh it's easily found in that way. Excellent, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. That was such a pleasure talking to you Lindsay has been a pleasure. Thank you.
Thanks for listening. Amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me at Lindsay Beth Lyons or leave a review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. You can head over to our time for Teacher ship facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time, leaders continue to think Big Act, brave and be your best self.
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Lindsay: I am so excited to welcome Bronwyn Harcourt all the way from Australia onto the podcast today. For reference, this episode was recorded on September 27 in the United States, the 28th in Australia of 2021. Bronwyn is a principal at Croydon Community School, a position she has held for 21 years. Since 2008, Bronwyn has also managed a range of engagement, re-engagement and capacity building programs across Melbourne's eastern suburbs under the name of OPTIONS on behalf of the Department of Education and Training. In previous years, she also managed a re-engagement program for children and young people who had been forced from their homes by domestic violence. And another program that redirected impulsive and violent children so that they could engage in learning. Bronwyn was pivotal in developing a suite of martial arts therapy programs for children and young people, including peer education for students at Croydon Community school, teaching the code of: "Be Strong, Be Calm, Be Kind, Try Hard" to students at other schools and enabling them to adopt impulse management strategies into their lives. Croydon Community School is a proud member of the Big Picture Education network in Australia and passionately delivers personalized inclusive education for its students, meeting them at their point of need and interest.
The uniqueness of every student is valued and celebrated. Bronwyn's school is that every young person who graduates from Croydon will know their worth and make positive change in their worlds. In 2013, she was the D. E. T. Victorian Excellent Award Secondary Principal of the Year. She is widely recognized for her knowledge in effective education strategies for disengaged and at risk children and young people. Her sales are frequently sought out by schools, organizations, D.E.T. and government to contribute to their planning. Bronwyn is a fellow of Australian Council for Educational Leaders at both the Victorian and national branch level, was a finalist in Herald Sun Pride of Australia Medal in 2012. She was a board member of the Outer Eastern Local Learning Network for 13 years. A member of the ministerial advisory committee on out-of-home care at the invitation of Minister Mikakos and a member of the School Leaders for Gender Equality and Respect to Prevent Gender-based Violence and Sexism established by the education minister, the honorable James Merlino In 2017. She has a Master's in Education Administration, a graduate diploma in Special Education and her Bachelor's comes from health, physical education and recreation.
So excited to welcome on Bronwyn Harcourt.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality, and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about schoolwide change like I was, you are a leader and if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast, let's dive in.
Bronwyn Harcourt, welcome to the Time for Teachership podcast.
Bronwyn: Thanks Lindsay.
Lindsay: I'm so excited to have you on and I read your professional bio at the start of the episode. But is there anything else that you want to say to further either introduce yourself or to share more details about, you know, the school that you work on, the students that you serve?
Bronwyn: I think the biggest thing for me is that it's never what one person does, it's how a team operates together and how they enable others to do that work collaboratively. So for me, it's whatever it is that in my achievements. I actually am not particularly fond of sharing and celebrating them. My celebrations are more about what the young people have been through my school have achieved and what they continue to achieve. So yeah.
Lindsay: That's beautiful. I love that and it's very much in the spirit of kind of what we, what we talked about on the podcast too, in the realm of shared leadership and all of that. So that's perfect as we think about like the dreams that we all hold and kind of what we're all striving for as we work in these educational spaces. I love Dr Bettina Love's quote about freedom dreaming, she says their dreams grounded in the critique of injustice.
I just find that really powerful and with that in mind, you know, I'd love to ask you, what is the big dream that you hold for the field of education.
Bronwyn: That whatever school young people go to, that they are treated as individuals and not factory fodder, that then they become more engaged in their learning, more interested in it, more curious, more wanting to find out what's out there, more like 4-year olds than right, that love of learning that we knock out of them. And I guess that, you know, the big dream I hold is that we have more creative, persistent, brave, courageous leaders who are willing to say, hang on, I hear what you're telling me to do, but the people I actually serve are the young people and it's them who I need to be.
Making sure that I'm translating whatever it is that you want me to do into something that is useful to them and not just to you think that, you know. I work in the public school and I very much hold that I serve the public and as much as it is, the bureaucrats who pay my salary and send me the policies and complaints and whatever it else that is that they wanted said, it is the students who I serve. And you know, that the community that they form and that we try and build so that when they leave, they the biggest qualities that they take away, that they are change makers in their local communities. Like they raise happy healthy children, that they make others feel good, that they are happy in what it is that they want to be pursuing in their life, that they have a choice.
And I think for me that's probably, I'm very much a "values driven later" rather than a "we must all reach this point". And look, I can advertise that my school has got 95% of its students to the... In Australia, We have ATAR which is for university entry. You know, but those things to me, it's there's so many bad things that have resulted in schools reaching that point that I would like them to not that not be the way that I leave my school. So yeah, that it changes. I guess that's my big dream, that it changes, that young people walk out their front door to whatever school they choose to go to and it provides for them wholeheartedly in everything that they individually mean.
No, not on the basis of equality or equity, but on the basis of inclusion. So yeah.
Lindsay: Thank you so much for sharing that dream. And it makes me think of a couple questions I think related to one another. So one is, I love that you said you're a values driven leader. And so I'm almost wondering typically the next question I ask is you know, what mind shifts are required? So like we're thinking about someone coming from that traditional, maybe school, like you're saying we want to change from what it has historically been. Are there like mindset shifts that someone has to undergo as they come into your school and have this more like personalized approach to teaching and giving those students that choice? You know, is there something that they undergo? And then I think a related question is or I don't know if this is an and or but do you end up hiring for the values that teachers bring into the school and see if those are truly aligned with how the values that you hold as a school and how you lead?
Bronwyn: We actually put in our jobs advertisement that at the very front, this job is not for everyone and we have to do it through it.
There's a system called recruitment online that my department requires us to advertise all through and after their normal gulf, we put: this position is not for everyone. We are looking for a teacher with the qualities of and usually, you know, we'll list particular qualities because we're not, I don't even want everyone to have the same qualities because, I have a very diverse student cohort and much like a baseball team that's full of pitchers, there's no one to catch the balls or field them more bat. So we need that diversity of strength in order to be able to provide for a diversity of students. And to remind all of us on staff that there are other perspectives as well and an important one.
I think that the biggest mindset shift is to go from closed to open. That's, you know, just that very simple one of, and no, we can't what one incredibly powerful word. I think it's, you know, it's like yet, and sometimes new staff go: What? yet, we can't do that yet. What steps can we put in place in order to make that happen? Because that's what, you know, that's our end goal. But sometimes it is, it can be confusion I think in their minds and just trying to bring it down to concrete ideas that they can relate to. So, an example I was using just in the last term with the staff members, they were feeling really frustrated and we are officially the most lockdown city on the planet,
and in our sixth lockdown. So we've got staff at the moment who are exhausted trying to deliver and not just trying, but delivering personalized, individualized learning, remotely to highly vulnerable young people. And, you know, there's just got to the point where, you know, I can't, and I just said to them : I know what drives you is, at home and it's 20 km away. Yet you ride in a bike here to get here every day. And if I said to you that the bike track was blocked at a particular point, what would you do? And you'd say, well, I'd go around it this way and what if that ways blocked? Well, I'd find another way around because your ultimate goal is to be at home with your children and your wife or your love. And he said, yeah, and I said, well, it's the same thing here.
We don't have to change our goal. We just look and go, oh, there's a barrier, can I get over this or around it? Or do I, you know, reroute completely. So I think that the, that yet is important. How can we not, why can't we? And you know, it doesn't mean everything is always possible. Sometimes it can be, it's like, he was like, yeah, I really still want to do that, but at this point in time, I don't have everything in place to progress it and it just becomes about the low pocket. It doesn't go away. I just park it and approach it as much as I can and then come back to it. You know, never forget about it. Just constantly come back, to have exercise books that just got ideas written on the front of them. And I started those in like the 1980s and I look at them and I see how, okay, so you have done that, we've done that, we've got that grounded.
That's right. We want to do that or you were getting closer to that. But I noticed how my values have never changed over that period. Like they've constantly been, even though I've been in different schools and different systems, even that my values haven't changed. So, but yeah, I think that close to open and add the word 'yet' to most responses that you have.
Lindsay: That's excellent. Yeah, that's excellent. I love that, add the word. 'yet', close to open. I also love, there's so much in what you just shared that. I love your ideas book. I found that I never thought of it like that, but I find little scraps of paper that I had written ideas on and collect them and there's so much value in looking back on them to be able to say "I succeeded in this". And I just think that would be a really cool practice for colleagues and also for students to be able to just have those reflective moments, thinking about specific brave actions that either colleagues could take, leaders could take.
What would you recommend people do as they're kind of working towards this dream that you've described and doing these, you know, shifts from closed to open and using words like 'yet' at the end of responses? What are the specific steps that you would encourage someone listening to this episode, who's like, yeah, I'm ready to start doing that stuff, but I just don't know what it looks like in practice. What would you say to those folks?
Bronwyn: I think that the changes before you say them in practicing what you're doing, they have to be in within yourself, within your own mind, so that it's too hard, has to leave vocabulary. I think that the question becomes more: is this the right thing to do? Yes, then that's what I'm going to do, even though it's hard and to me, I find that it can leave you very much alone, I guess, or by yourself and sometimes you're the one standing there and everyone else is a little bit shy or nervous about coming forward because there is a cost, and everyone is doing it, they have to assess what their cost is.
So the cost for a young teacher maybe, well, you know, I can make these changes in my classroom. I'm not at this point where I'm changing the system, but you're changing everything for those students in your classroom. So you are changing the system and their ability to speak up versus mine, I guess? And I go, is this the right thing to do? And for me, the loss of stepping off that, what's the right thing to do is a greater cost for me personally, because I live with me. So that's a greater cost personally than other things. You know, for others, it may be, well, you know, but this is what I do without this pay and I can't keep arguing this argument and you know, and my principle is never going to change the way they think and those around me aren't as well.
What elements do you have control of? Do you get to choose where you work? Yeah, you do. And do you get to choose whether you're happy or not? Well, if you don't take control of that, nobody else is going to be like, hey, it's my job to make you happy. It's like, it's not, it might be a clown's job to make you laugh but not happy. So those things I think about, you know, going internally before you go externally. And then just the smallest little theme, what's, if people think what's, I can't do all these big grandiose things. Like what's the smallest thing you could change tomorrow morning? Right now that would make that change? Just to start with the tiniest little thing you could do and it might be, notice the kid who doesn't want to be noticed, just hi, how are you?
Just, yeah, it might be Lindsay how's it going? Keep walking, don't wait for a response and just say that over and over and over again and you know, because barriers will take a long time to break down. And speak up in a staff meeting. If that's what you want to do, nod your head in a staff meeting and if you normally sit there and trying to blend into the background. But I think, ask yourself different questions: what, as a teacher who needs your attention most? Who's communicating to you that they need your attention more? And usually that's the young person who is communicating in the most inappropriate way. And then as a principal, I look and I say, okay, so my classes, my staff, I'm responsible for the success and I have this on the wall in my office : I am success...
"I'm responsible for the success of every student in my school". So if someone is not achieving success, then that's on me. So, and I have to analyze the data and it might be, well, it's what approaches are we putting in place to connect with this young person and to connect them to what it is they need? And then I have to step in and provide what it is that's needed to do that. How do we we get in place? So modeling, just constant modeling, but so much has to change. I think that being disruptor take the view from those who serves these students. Do what's right, even when it's hard. And I guess that you know how you practice doing what's right, even when it's hard when you've got a choice between donuts and apples. What's, I really want that one, but I'm gonna take the apple. So but yeah, I think that's the yeah, they're not to me, they're not actions as in, here's a playbook step one, you do this. Step two, you do that.
It's you know, what are your morals? What are your character strengths? What are the ones that you need to build on? what people do you need to draw around you to make sure that you've got a strong team in place. What are you short on? How do you, where do you find what it is that you need to add that? There's no one person can be everything to everyone and you know, it's like I've been at my school for 21 years now and just ticked over, happy birthday. And I guess, you know, I'm going to change the world, change the planet and do all this stuff and it's like, it's not revolution, its evolution, its every step forward. And sometimes it can be a very uncomfortable place to be in being that person and but it comes back to what does my moral compass tell me I must do? Tell me in order for me to be comfortable with me. So, that's, you know, people say : why do you do what you do? It's right thing to do.
So I think I've offered for you Lindsay, sorry about that.
Lindsay: No, that was brilliant, thank you so much. And I'm curious to know, I think one of the things I was really excited about to talk to you. Mitch, who is the person who connected us, has said, oh my gosh, she has so many great stories. She has so many stories of student success or you know, school success. And I think one of the things that I think sometimes as educators and leaders, we often focus on like, what can still change, which is great because we absolutely need to do that., I love that evolution piece that you brought in right, it's one step at a time, we're constantly evolving and changing. Are there some success stories that you would want to share around, like a practice that really had a great impact or just something that kind of fits with the dream that you described in some sort of success towards that dream that you want to share with listeners?
Bronwyn: I think persistence and that on character strengths, which is something that I'd been quite passionate about in positive education for quite a while. As in before I knew that there were things, the persistence is my top character strength and I know that means I will show up and I will keep doing and I'll keep doing it, I will keep doing. But I also have learnt the hard way that my greatest character weakness is persistence because I will keep showing up and I will keep doing and I'll keep doing it, I'll keep doing and it's made me unwell in the past.
And so I had to learn about, well you got some other character strengths as well, it's not just about that one, you need to be using the others as well. I am a storyteller because I think people relate well to stories. But the success is for me have, you know, it's not the theory of blah blah blah blah, it's the story of David or the story of Colleen or the story of Matthew. And just knowing what they were, who they were as children when they started with us and then you know, watching them just open up and blossom. So yeah, there's on our school website, there's some stories there. So you know, a young man Matthew who when he commenced with us was very shy. There's a lot of kids that come to us have been really badly bullied and excluded by others and teased constantly,
you know, for their differences and rather than having their uniqueness celebrated, so, you know, he could be lots of what we're seeing with others is that they look to be invisible when they first come in. And so you'll see that there's the cap on and then the hoodie over the top and the heads down and it's just that, you know, giving them the chance to trust you. I don't deserve trust or respect because I'm the school principal or I'm an adult or anything else. I have to earn those things and I have to earn them every day through, you know, fairness and treating each person in the same way, which is not everyone gets treated the same. It's, everyone gets what they need when they want it, when they need it.
So I think that watching them blossom over the years is the, yeah, new staff come in and they'll come in and we've got a whole bunch of Year seven, so Grade 7 to a previously been excluded from attending their primary schools. They weren't allowed in for full days. They would be restricted from the yard because they would behave poorly in the yard and we've taken the view of, well, let's teach them how to behave in the yard and let's spend less time in the classroom and more time on personal social capabilities and get them ready for learning. And the staff in there who were new to the school and they're driving me crazy. It's like why can't we have more kids like those other kids who are up there? Why can't we have more like them? And it's just like, well those kids up there were them 4, 5 years ago.
It's just, you know, it's taken them 12 years to get in this position where they were at, so we can't expect just a magic flick of a magic wand or fairy dust or whatever to change it. And if that is what would change it, then, you know, but you're not responsible for the change. And I just want to present every young person with the the possibility of change when they're ready. And that means over and over and over again. Yeah, lots of funny stories over the years. I think I told Mitch about one was a young man. His name's Robbie and he was tiny tiny. He came from a background of domestic violence and seeing his mum pretty well bashed by numerous significant men in his life.
And he started, he just would hang out with some other kids who were enrolled in the school and he was... think it's great six, five or six. We started just appearing on site. It's like obviously not connected with another school. So, and it was just kind of there and I tried to speak to him and he was just in terror constantly and used to climb up on the building's little monkey climb up the, it's set the roof on the toilet block that was like high edge, but then it was a sunken space and they've got some cushions from hard rubbish or something and put them up there and so when class was on, he'd screwed up there and I didn't even know he was doing this to start with, but he just nestle in to his little cubby until the kids came back out of class again or and go and hide in the corner in the classroom and just let him be leave him be, we know he's there, it's okay, he's safer here. And he, you know, slowly connected in and rather than me try and speak with him, I'd just say to the kids just can you get him get him to get off the roof.
Do that, can we check that? He's not, you know, he's not about to set fire to that, those cushions up there because he's smoking up on top. And then, you know, he came down and he could see him and you know, the first time you see him smile, it just, it just hits you. It's just like, wow, that's such an open beautiful face. And then he became this, you know, the kid that doesn't know their leader, but everybody follows them. He had this little bunch of kids following him everywhere around and they were allowed up the street, this is a long time ago they were allowed up the street at recess to get something and they... I used to go up every morning and buy chocolate milk in the cardboard containers. And there was a younger student who would follow him, meet him at the gate every morning, coming back in and hi Robbie, can I have some of the milk and have some of your milk and just ignore him.
And then one day he, you know, decided he'd give it to him, give him some but he's picked up an old nail and put it on the in the container just as a, you know, like a joke or whatever. As soon as you rattle that you knew something was in there. But he kept talking while he was while he was walking and then he put the container on the ground and he stomped it to flatten it and managed to drive the nail right through his foot, his own foot and pin the container to his foot. And all I could hear was this screaming and then go outside and someone's trying to pull the container off his foot and he just scooped him up and took him into first aid because he was so tiny and just put his foot on my shoulder while we culture an ambulance because we couldn't transport him and hit his foot from him but just you know, and he was a daily user of marijuana.
So you know just talking to him and ambulance arrive and they come with the magic green sticks, do you have those in America?
Lindsay: I don't think so, I don't know.
Bronwyn: They're whistles that have painkiller in them. So they tell you to breathe on them. And some people, very funny blue beads. So anyhow he was only taking short breaths in on it and the the ambulance officer kept saying to him, you need to take deep breaths, you need to take deep breaths. And I said to him like you do with your bong and the ambos looked at me and was like just ignore it just and he went Robby went and took a big breath in and just you know it's just that you've got to say or provide what the right thing is at the right time, not condoning him smoking marijuana and I but for him in his language in his world that made sense.
So you know he managed to miss everything important all bongs and stuff. They just pulled the nail out of his foot. He turned up to school the next day with the same pair of shoes on, the same sock on, with the same blood on it from the day before and just came into the office and said, "did we have some tape so that we could tape around?". "So how about we take you up the street and find you a new pair of shoes." But then he, you know, you can see the family connections. He want to ring his mom every recess time and every lunch and so just come in and we'll let him do that. He'd always finish off with "love your mom". And, so, but I'd love to know what he's doing now. I don't know. I know he, you know, he finished up when he graduated from us, he was a very different young man than when he started. And I think the biggest thing was that when he left us, he had hope. When he started, he didn't.
So yeah, but I think that's probably the thank you. They didn't have hope for themselves and that they leave with it. That's would be a constant strings through the stories I think.
Lindsay: And such a powerful emotion to feel. I don't know if it's an emotion, if that's the right word. But you know, such a powerful thing to experience right? Hope. And when you're feeling hopeless, you're a very different person, right? And you experience the world very differently. So that's really positive, wow, Thank you.
Bronwyn: That's really tiny little things like I said to you that, you know, the cap and the body and then you have, you know, you have an open day and the kid who has not spoken to you, even though you've said hello to him every morning since he started, and then you hear him as he walks past and he's with a mate from out-of-school and he says, you know, I've said "hello" as usual. And he said "Bronwyn," It's the first time he said it to me and I kind of stumbled and I was like, "yes?".
And he said, "that's my principal's first name basis.". And you just laugh at those little things that, you know in their own time.
Lindsay: That's great. Yeah.
Bronwyn: They bring joy.
Lindsay: Excellent. I love it. Thank you so much for reminding us about that joy, right? Things can feel hard in the moment and and often do. But that importance of finding that joy and remembering and holding onto that joy is so important. Thank you. I think you've shared so much great stuff with us today. If you were to just tell folks who are kind of closing up the episode, really inspired to go about their days about their work. What is one starting point for people who are trying to inspire hope in students and trying to lead in the way that you've described throughout the episode? Where do you think that first step lies
Bronwyn: Gratitude. You know, what are you looking forward to most today? What are you you grateful for? What's the, you know, it might be the smallest, smallest thing, but that gratitude.
So what are you grateful for? I sit here and I'm grateful. That is the sun is just looking, so it's probably cold outside, but the sun is just so beautiful streaming in it And you know, the bark you heard before I'm grateful. I've got my dog, she's 15.5 years old. I'm grateful that I have my job. I'm grateful for the people I get to work with. I'm looking forward to, even though it's my vacation, I'm looking forward to doing some work planning for the students that I'm working with at the moment. I've, but you know, I'm, you know, what do you need? I think that is what needs to happen. It's got me back teaching in the classroom two days a week at the moment with kids who live in and out of home care and loving it.
But yeah, great gratitude. I think it's a great place to start.
Lindsay: That's amazing. Thank you. And I think this question that I usually ask as kind of one of the closing questions is really just for fun, we always kind of see educators and leaders as like kind of these self described lifelong learners. They're constantly learning and growing and evolving to your word that you mentioned. And so I'm just curious to know what's something that you have been learning about lately.
Bronwyn: The Wellbeing Lab. Spent time, we're working in The Wellbeing Lab, Michelle McQuaid and Positive Education, the PERMA Model, so Martin Seligman, those kinds of things and I think it's, I think the biggest learning for me and it was that it's the way I lived, it's the way I've always lived. It's the thing, I thought I'd, I knew a lot about and in making myself vulnerable to maybe you don't know everything about that,
I've learned a lot more.
So, you know, sometimes it's, Oh yeah, you used to do that because why did you stop? I don't know. Start doing that again. And so I don't think it always has to be new learning. It can be going back and consolidating what you've learned previously. But yeah, I think I look at, people are trying to come up with the new big best thing and I don't think the answers in the future. I actually think the answer is in reflecting backwards and doing what we've known, doing what we do know. Socrates ran Socratic circles like, but it's not new learning. That's a good way to learn. You know Ken Robinson wandered around the world for a couple of decades saying, "this is what we should do.", with huge crowds going, "yeah, this is what we should do.", but and put it into action.
You know, the people, teachers sit in staff meetings going, I hate it when they were not asked what we want to learn, you know, what we're doing and why we're doing this sheet at this professional learning day. And, but then they completely forget about that when they walk to their class and go "turn to page 65.". And so it's like people say it's not new learning, it's just it's not even new thinking, it's just new acting. That's why I think it's the change has to come from going within. And if when you go within, you find that your motivator is making yourself bigger better whatever, and please get out of public education and go and do something in private industry because, public education is the place of people who serve.
Lindsay: That's so powerful.
Those reflective kind of moments of pause are things that I think often we skip over because we don't have time or you know, whatever. And they're so important and they're the critical moments where we're going to make a decision about what we're teaching tomorrow, or pausing to think what is most important? It is actually acknowledging that student who hasn't been acknowledged by anyone yet, not getting through page 65 today in the lesson book. So I really appreciate you naming that.
Bronwyn: Pleasure Lindsay. I think that what am I going to teach tomorrow should be replaced with, Why am I going to teach that tomorrow?
Lindsay: Yeah, that's a great question.
Bronwyn: That's the Big one. May be more like a three year old. Why? Why?
Lindsay: I love it. And finally, where can listeners learn more about you or connect with you online or learn more about your school?
Bronwyn: the school is online at croydon c s, I think it is dot vic and dot e d u dot au, If I've got that wrong, it's croydon dot cs.
Lindsay: I can find it and link to it in the show notes.
Bronwyn: I'm on LinkedIn, but I'm actually quite a private person. So the city at the beginning, this is the first podcast I've done. So I'm not a big one about pushing myself forward. I'm not in a lot of places and I think I just have always done what is right in my little patch, what I believe is right in my little patch. And probably only now in my early 60s, starting to speak up and take those opportunities to believe that maybe stuff I have to say and stuff I know is interesting or of importance or value to others because I just have, I think trotted through most of my professional career thinking, why doesn't everybody just know this, but not being a big one on self promotion.
Lindsay: Well, I'm so glad that you agreed to come on to the podcast and that you agreed to share all your wisdom because I think it's incredibly valuable and I know our listeners will feel the same. So Bronwyn, thank you so much for coming on today.
Bronwyn: Pleasure Lindsay. Thanks for the invite. Thanks Mitch for the connect.
Thanks for listening amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave a review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it. To continue the conversation, you can head over to our Time for Teachership Facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
Lindsay is a educator and leadership coach who helps teachers develop engaging project-based curricula, fosters student and teacher voice, and works to advance racial and gender equity and culturally responsive practice.