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Daniel Bauer has mentored thousands of school leaders through his Better Leaders Better Schools blog, books, podcast, and powerful coaching experiences. His newest book “Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader” is one we’re talking about today.
Past & Present
Daniel Bauer’s freedom dream is one where everyone gets a free, high-quality experience in education. He recalls the school he used to attend as a kid had hidden inequity that not every student noticed. But Daniel did. He wondered why students that didn’t look like him were missing in his classes. Now as an adult, he realizes that there are actions we can take to get more diversity and more equity in the classroom. We can dismantle those systems that are prioritizing some students over others. One step we can take towards a better quality education is to be more aware of our own bias. None of us are free of bias and that’s an important thing to recognize. We can choose to be responsible for changing our ways and work on eliminating old biases while we look out for new ones. Another thing Daniel recommends doing is to pick up some new books to read. Reading for professional development is fun and a valid way to grow the mind. Try out “Unconscious Bias” by Tiffany Jana for practical advice and activities. Speaking of book recommendations, let's talk about Daniel’s new book.
Why a Mastermind Will Change Your Life
It is called “Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader”. His book reimagines what professional development for school administrators looks like in order to meet the needs of all school leaders. After reading this, you may be thinking “How did I ever go this long without jumping in a mastermind group?”. Usually, as teachers, we put many others before ourselves because we want to make a positive impact. But did you know that your impact could be exponentially bigger by working with a coach who specializes in what you do and what you’re trying to master? Just to be clear, a mastermind refers to a group of people, usually in the same field, who meet regularly to help each other succeed. Having mentorship through a mastermind is highly beneficial for a number of reasons. The first is that there are members who will relate to your own goals or troubles. They’ll understand what your work environment is like. Secondly, the coach in the group can help you identify areas for growth and what could bring more success for you and your students. Finally, anyone can give you tools and help you implement it. You’ll get the support you need while learning new skills. The value of that is completely worth the price of coaches and masterminds.
“I have a motto that I live by: Everybody wins when you get better. You owe it to your community to do that too.”
Powerful Strategies + Diverse Thinking
In Daniel’s mastermind program, he focuses on what he calls the ABCs of powerful professional development: Authenticity, Belonging, and Challenge. Frequently, leaders in the mastermind will have to take turns facilitating and leading the group. It presents a good challenge while also amplifying more voices. The group will also read books together and discuss the strategies presented. The great thing about masterminds is that you get to present your questions and problems to your group and you receive feedback that—speaking from my own mastermind experience—is game-changing. Imagine getting a solution to something after weeks or months of struggling with it on your own. Everyone brings something new to the group because of their personal experiences and knowledge.
Curious on whether it’s all worth it? Well, Daniel shared that one of his mastermind students had incredible success after executing what he learned in the mastermind. Scott, who was in the mastermind, heard all about “sticky core values”. He decided to apply that method with his own school and said “It changed everything.” His school, already performing well, soared to excellence because of those ideas from the mastermind coming to life.
“The sticky core values is just one thing he’s taken action on, regarding what I teach in the mastermind; But he does that time and time again. And you can see just from a career trajectory, right, that it’s working for him. So that’s exciting.”
To close, masterminds are not a new concept. They’ve been around for centuries. Some of the most successful people in history have been a part of a mastermind. Whether or not that term was used, the concept remains the same. Something you could do at this moment to get the ball rolling is to set an intention on how you want to develop yourself this upcoming year. I hope this episode has inspired you to come together with others and make some amazing strides in your life and work.
Continue the conversation below in the comment section and join our community of educational visionaries on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Until next time leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.