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Making Room for Council

I am spending July at home, with the three kids, trying to be at peace with my pact to not do work and just enjoy time with my kids... But the baby is taking a nap and the older kids are occupied, so I am breaking my pact for just a little while to write just a short blog post on advisory and Council.


I left the math classroom last August and entered administration as a middle school dean. While deaning gave me plenty of opportunities to counsel students and talk shop with teachers, I really missed being in the classroom. Teaching is part of my identity. Discussing ideas with a room full of 14 year olds is exciting, inspiring, challenging and incredibly fulfilling. 

So while the new gig didn't afford me the chance to teach math, it did give me a mini class to take on: advisory. While not quite the same as a class that meets everyday, the weekly hour-long advisory sessions and daily attendance encounters, were my favorite parts of my daily routine. Social-emotional learning is a k…
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We started with a quick round of speed dating to share tips for effective meetings, interview questions and how we use storytelling at work. Here are the interview questions we shared: - Tell me a story about how you deal with conflict. - What are you excited about these days? - How do you create an inclusive classroom? - Why are you choosing to leave your current school? - With so many schools to choose from, why are you applying to this school? - What makes you smile? - Share a challenging moment with a student and how you handled it. - What buttons of yours do students push? - (A question for their references) If had PD money to spend, how should I use it to best support t…

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Storytelling is essential for connection. Stories engage people and help people relate to us. But, how
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Overheard… Real listening is being willing, actually willing, to change your mind.Practice is failing.Finding allies, wherever you can, is key.Rarely is something actually an emergency. Take a breath and wait a day.We get upset in conversations because we are trying to please and fix.Nothing good happens at 11pm; that email can wait a day.Read Brene Brown’s new book and consider this: People are hard to hate close up. Move in.Recharge your mindset before a difficult conversation - that little voice is more powerful than you think.Consider reframing a di…

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Last week we had a lovely evening at Josie’s home (I am a bit behind on things). Thank you to Josie for being such a generous host. Our conversation centered on feedback - both giving and receiving. We chatted most about the difficulties of giving feedback both in a way that it is received as it was intended and so that it contributes to positive faculty culture. We talked about the value of feedback being hot it allows the receiver to be seen, to feel like their actions matter. As such, the format for feedback proposed in this Quartz article on giving praise is helpful: describe the actions you like, describe the impact and express appreciation. It was also said in our conversation that the point of feedback is highlight the behaviors that are “vision building.” The impact peice of the praise formula might be the hardest to phrase, but it also might be the most important.
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For our first meeting we were lucky to be joined by Malika Williams, sister of Azizi, Actor and body language coach. Framed by Amy Cuddy's familiar Ted Talk, Malika facilitated a discussion about our mind - body connection, as it relates to how we are perceived. She made the point that as we meet new people, in a way we are the commodity and the new people are…