Kirsten Richert is an innovation expert who works with leaders on transformational efforts. Kirsten teaches design thinking, communication, and innovation at a number of colleges in the greater NYC area. Her teaching draws upon her experience in three core disciplines: business management, ideation methodology, and facilitation. 

She received her undergraduate degree in social science from Hampshire college, her master’s degree in social studies education from Teachers College at Columbia University, and her training in innovation and facilitation methods from SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking) and ToP(Technology of Participation). 

Formerly vice president of product management and marketing at Pearson, the world’s leading educational publisher, Kirsten oversaw the creation of breakthrough “digital-first” K-12 curriculum. Trained as a corporate on-call innovation coach, she’s helped teams plan new efforts, generate ideas, and execute on strategies. 

Now, as an innovation catalyst, Kirsten guides change efforts for organizations, especially in the areas of education and human development. She is particularly interested in organizations that integrate the arts into their work towards social change, such as the Alliance for Arts and Health New Jersey, Real Beauty: Uncovered, and The Barat Foundation.

Shifting: How School Leaders Can Create a Culture of Change

by Kirsten Richert & Jeff Ikler

Jeff Ikler is director of Quetico Career and Leadership Coaching, a firm dedicated to helping individuals overcome career issues and leaders develop sustained changes in their leadership practices and organizations. He received his certificate in coaching from the Coach Training Institute, a firm recognized as one of the leading coach-training organizations in the world. His approach blends data-driven coaching and consulting informed by working for more than thirty-five years in the corporate world. 

Jeff holds a master’s in the teaching of history, along with a bachelor’s in history, form the University of Illinois.  He taught high school history in Maywood and Batavia, Illinois, for seven years. Like Kirsten, he is a certified innovation facilitator using the SIT(Systematic inventive thinking) process. 

He is a former executive vice president at Pearson Learning where he directed the development of test-and technology-based products for all disciplines. He finished his career at Pearson by leading the development of its multidimensional Leadership Development program for school administrators, working closely with authors Lyle Kirtman to support change in school districts and nonprofit organizations. 

Jeff and Kirsten also cohost Getting Unstuck-Shift for Impact, a podcast that helps individuals and organizations identify and overcome obstacles that stand in the way of implementing changes that lead towards achieving desired results and impact.

Kirsten Richert & Jeff Ikler: Shifting: How School Leaders Can Create a Culture of Change

Show Highlights

  • A perfect to start to the school year with this innovation exercise
  • Ruckus Makers need to ask who else needs to come to the table and how are you forming the dialogue?
  • Why you need the perspective of detractors first 
  • Kirsten and Jeff  build out the proper mindset to get you Unstuck as a leader
  • Arc model’s 3 steps to implementing successful change
  • Innovation needs to benefit who we serve and not a profit line.  

“When you’re running a complex change initiative, there has to be some vulnerability. You have to be able to say, I don’t have all the answers here. I need to bring in people who might have the answers.” 

Jeff Ikler

Full Transcript Available Here

Daniel (00:00):

Welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast. This is your friendly neighborhood podcast, host Daniel Bauer.

Daniel (00:09):

And this show is for you a Ruckus Maker, which means your a leader who has found freedom from the status quo. You’re a leader who makes change happen, and you’re a leader who never, ever gives up. Do you remember what it was like to be a first year teacher or a first year principal? I sure do. I had butterflies in my stomach. I was sweating through my shirt. My mouth was dry and my guest today had a similar experience, which she described as terrifying. You’ll love Kirsten’s story, but you’ll love more her first day warm up activities she used with students. I fully expect you to steal this activity and use it with your staff and encourage them to use it with their students. That’s what I call the ripple effect. You’ll also hear gems about innovation and why leaders are misaligned by what they say and what they do. My second guest today, Jeff will share more on those topics. So Ruckus Maker, thanks for being here. And before we jump into that episode, I’d like to take some time to thank our show sponsors, The Better Leaders, Better Schools. Podcast is brought to you by Organized Binder, a program designed to develop your students executive function and noncognitive skills. Learn more at organizedbinder.com

Daniel (01:36):

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Teach FX. It’s basically like a Fitbit for teachers helping them be mindful of teacher talk versus student talk, get a special 20% discount for your school or district by visiting teachfx.Com/Blbs.

Daniel (01:55):

I believe that school leaders are doing the best they can, but is it possible to be just a little bit better? According to Demetrius a school leader in California, the best part of the Mastermind is the hot seat. I learned so much from the challenges that we all shared during the hot seat because of the feedback that our members give is so insightful, invaluable. Lauren, a principal in Washington, DC, remarked that the best part of the Mastermind is access to tremendous thought partnering. If you would benefit from getting connected to other elite school leaders and would enjoy discussing education and leadership deeply each week, then we welcome your application to the Mastermind. Apply today at better leaders, better schools.com/mastermindRuckusMaker. I am joined by two all stars today. They have a book, they have a podcast we’re going to get into all that stuff. Well, let me introduce first Kirsten Richert is an innovation expert who works with leaders in organizations on transformation efforts. She’s joined by Jeff Ikler. He’s a coach who helps leaders at any level overcome career issues and develop sustained changes in their leadership practices. Kirsten, Jeff, welcome to the show.

Kirsten (03:21):

Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Daniel (03:23):

Oh, this is a pleasure. So it’s been really great getting to know you and I can’t wait to dig into the book, the podcast before we get there, let’s talk about being terrified. Kirsten, you mentioned how your first teaching gig, it was terrifying. What’s that story?

Kirsten (03:42):

So I came to teaching kind of backwards. Most folks do teachings first and then sort of rise through the ranks and perhaps do something else. I did actually the reverse. I come from a long line of teachers on both sides, and yet I went straight into publishing. In other words, I went straight into producing materials for teachers, got my masters in education while I was doing that. So working full time, producing materials for educators and then got my master’s. So I wasn’t able to do the teaching gig, right? So I actually became a teacher later in life as my second career, because after I left the organization that I was working for, I became an adjunct faculty member. It was really funny because I’d spent all these years deeply, deeply immersed in the science of learning and in differentiation. That was one of my areas of real passion.

Kirsten (04:42):

And yet there, I was standing up in front of my very first class with 36 students looking at me going, Holy crap, I’ve never actually taught before. Right. And yet it was amazing. All of the innovation work, facilitation work team, collaboration work and designing education for all those years totally came to the floor and I was so scared the first time. Dry mouth, how they talk about it I thought that was like, you know, fictional. No, that was real. Like I was so cared that my blood was pumping in my ears. I couldn’t even barely hear. Right. And yet there I was, I stood up in front of the class and the very first thing I did,uafter introducing myself and before they did, was actually get them to do a little innovation exercise. They created name tags for themselves that had their name very large, but also had a drawing that represented them.

Kirsten (05:42):

And I talked about how that was a metaphor for what we were going to do together. Both think about it from the sort of logical perspective, but actually also from the representational and the imagery and the feelings aspect. And it went perfectly and I managed to get through my first class and it was awesome and it actually set people up to do the kind of inclusive sharing that was needed for that course. And that is sort of in keeping with my differentiation approach. So I got through that and decided after that one class, I am a natural, yay. I am in the ancestor, I’m living into who I come from. So that’s kind of my teaching thing.

Daniel (06:28):

You were able to stay within the lineage is what I’m hearing.

Kirsten (06:31):

That’s right. That’s right.

Daniel (06:33):

Well, way to push past the terrifying aspects of the first days teaching. I’m wondering when you did that activity, what a brilliant way to set the tone for the class. Did you do it as well? Do you remember if you did, do you remember what image you use to represent yourself?

Kirsten (06:52):

Absolutely. I had Kirsten scrolled very large, and also I had a spiral, which I introduced people. I said, Hey, my dad is a math teacher and one of the most impactful images from that he shared with me as a kid was a fractal. So that idea of a pattern within a pattern, within a pattern, within a pattern sort of making meaning from the whole and seeing kind of the larger organism all the way down to the small one. And I said, and not only that, the spiral reminds me of hypnosis. I am a master hypnotist. So that’s who I am and you’ll learn more about me as we go through the course and you can sort of see everybody’s faces going, okay, this one’s going to be a little different.

Daniel (07:44):

I love that. It’s just, that’s why we asked those questions and why you do those activities. You never know what you’ll find out about the other person. Ruckus Maker that’s listening that activity you can do that with your staff. Your staff can do it with your students and that’s the point is application, take these ideas, put it into practice. I love that so much. So Kirsten, thank you for sharing. Jeff I want to move to you and get you involved in the conversation a bit. I know that you have an interesting story regarding an innovation initiative that you’re involved in at a large education publisher. So can you tell us about that story?

Jeff (08:20):

Absolutely. Kirsten mentioned that she worked in the educational publishing industry. That’s actually where we met and I had worked in the same organization for about 35 years. The educational publishing at one point had over 50 different companies producing educational materials and today I think there are probably three major publishers left. Most people in educational publishing have worked for one of those big three at one of the times. But what happened was educational is kind of a unique animal because it’s a service to schools and people who work in educational publishing in their heart, our teachers, even if they’re not in the classroom, they want to develop educational materials that work for kids, but it’s also a for profit or price. It’s a commercial enterprise. We were owned by arguably the largest educational publisher in the world at one point. We have two masters, if you will, we have the educators that we serve, but we also have the stakeholders and the corporate officers that we support.

Jeff (09:34):

So what was happening, what we began is that none of the big three publishers had a significant higher market share then the other two. We discovered the reason for this is that we basically all did the same type of research. We did surveys of educators and we did focus groups of educators and we were all asking the same types of questions of educators, about what they wanted, what they liked and so on. What we began to notice is that our educational materials looked very similar to our competitors. In fact, we had customers saying, I can’t tell you guys apart, you’ve got a blue cover, they’ve got a red cover. So at the time I was working for an incredibly inspirational leader. She was a Ruckus Maker in her own right and she, and I decided to start what we basically called an innovation initiative, where we would go out and interview innovation companies, not in educational publishing, but innovation companies that served organizations around the world.

Jeff (10:39):

We interviewed a number of them and we settled on a, on a group out of Israel called Systematic Inventive Thinking. What had intrigued me about that particular group is that it’s, it was the antithesis of brainstorming. What they really relied on was a set of tools that literally anybody could use. Kirsten and I became a master facilitators for this group and we had people coming up after a session saying, I never thought I was creative. I never thought I was innovative, but using these tools they could be long story short. We trained over a thousand people thousands of editors across this organization and we implemented these tools in a number of programs. So it was really an effort to change thinking if you will, how we go about structuring our programs and we had some tremendous successes. We also had management that said, I don’t know, we can’t do this. It’s too, it’s too radical because management is thinking profitability. They may talk innovation. Innovation is sexy to talk about, but when it comes down to it, they want to protect profitability. But that was really, that was an amazing time to impact that number of people in a large, rather conservative organization.

Kirsten (12:08):

Yeah. And Jeff is not giving himself credit because he was the mastermind behind that. You know, he’s talking about this. So I’m not saying that there weren’t a lot of people involved because of course they are and that sort of organization, but he was the impetus, the spark of that and it really became for all of us who were trained as coaches, he was absolutely our go to person for how to continue to collaborate after we were initially trained. He was in regular contact with folks so that there was additional trainings and that we started applying the tools that we learned to the projects that were going on. So that was an amazing, amazing time there.

Jeff (12:53):

The interesting thing was it didn’t just involve in house people. We actually brought customers in and use the tools with them. So they became part of the development process. It was a very hands on activity

Kirsten (13:08):

And that has paid off for that organization. Not only do they regularly bring in teachers now they bring in students, they do co-design projects with students as a result of some of that effort over time.

Daniel (13:22):

Yeah. I work with what is called Edupreneurs, Entrepreneurs that serve the education industry. We’re reading a book called Business Model Generation, and I will connect the dots for the Ruckus Maker listing. Maybe they have a side hustle and they’re interested, but what’s this have to do school and leadership. Well, here’s what it has to do. There’s a great tool in the book called the Empathy Map. What I’m hearing you guys talk about too, is design thinking as well. But it’s focused on who you serve, right? Who the end user is and it’s wild to think that we would build products or services or build schools and curriculum without consulting teachers or students and parents. You just miss it, so the Empathy Map, you can Google it for sure but it has you think like here’s a very clear example.

Daniel (14:18):

What does the person I serve? What do they usually think and what are the things that they say to themselves? And you’re trying to gain their mind and “walk a mile in their shoes.” Right. So that’s what the, the point is. So I really liked how you brought that out. A couple of other points that are very interesting was looking at innovation and companies outside of education, right? That’s an important point that I harp on all the time is reading broadly outside of education, just to learn great tools and bring that into our industry to make it better. And then red cover blue cover, we can’t discern between the publishers, it’s the same as the schools, right? This school, that school in the same community, they’re all trying to do the same things.

Daniel (15:03):

And the key is to have a purple cover. And so if you’ve never heard of the book Purple Cow, by Seth Godin. Oh, sure. Ruckus Maker, you need to pick that up. It is about marketing and building products and services and widgets, but it’s the thinking behind what makes you different, right? And that’s, to your point, Jeff, with the innovation, what makes you unique and special? I want to ask you about this job, the misalignment sometimes between what leaders say and do, because they said they wanted innovation and they thought that that was in competition with profitability. I would argue that it would increase profitability. You have to be able to leap. You have to not be afraid of taking that jump. But can you, can you riff a little bit on what causes that misalignment, etween what leaders say and do I think it’s it’s tradition at the end of the day, they’re beholden to certain financial interests.

Jeff (16:05):

There’s a stock price involved. And I do want to say though, that Kirsten and I worked for a very inspirational leader in this organization who had a mantra that “profits sustain us, but they don’t define us”. She was the CEO of the organization and layers below her there were still leaders at that level saying, yes, we want innovation. Innovation is great, but then they would often pull us back. So there was this, there was this push pull in the organization. I just think it’s how a lot of businesses are managed. They think of profitability and stakeholders first, as opposed to those who were their servings.

Kirsten (16:52):

Yeah. I think part of the reason why we developed the model for change, that we provide in the book, which is a simple three step model that’s called the Arc Model. So assess, ready change is that a lot of times leaders just jump into whatever is the new initiative, like the fresh new hotness of the day. And they say, we got to do X, whatever that new X is. And then people sort of get crazy and run around and come up with a lot of ideas for that X. Right. And then they may or may not get implemented before the next X and Y and Z and Q come along. Right. So part of that misalignment that happens is that there’s no intentional thought of marrying each effort to a greater, a greater good, like the why, Simon Sinek talks about why.

Kirsten (17:49):

Right. So part of that initial thrust of assess has to do with checking into the why, why are we doing this in service of what, how do we intend for innovation to drive us towards that? And how do all the things that we’re doing, pull us into that, into that thing. And a lot of that has to do with building out things like what you said, Daniel using empathy maps, really thinking about what you intend to happen for your, for your teachers in this case for your students in those classrooms, in those setups, and also what you, who you have on your team, what their strengths are and what they’re about and what their passion is. And by not just coming up with a bunch of ideas or a bunch of things to do, but tying it back to that bigger, why purpose? That’s the thing that creates the alignment that allows people to truly innovate on things that matter and drive an organization forward,

Daniel (18:51):

Loving it. We’re in a pause here just for a moment for a message from our sponsors. But when we get back, let’s dig more into your book, Shifting how school leaders can create a culture of change and this arc model that you just brought up Kirsten, Better leaders, Better Schools. Podcast is brought to you by organized binder. Organized binder is an evidence based RTI, tier one universal level solution, and focuses on improving executive functioning and non cognitive skills. You can learn more and improve your student [email protected]. The better leaders better schools. Podcast is brought to you by Teach FX school leaders know that productive student talk drives student learning, but the average teacher talks 75% of class time Teach FX is changing that with a Fitbit for teachers. Automatically measured student engagement. It gives teachers feedback about what they could do differently. Learn more about the teacher effects app. You can get a special 20% discount for your school or district by visiting TeachFX.com/BLBS that’s Teachfx.com/BLBS

Daniel (20:09):

All right. We’re back with Kirsten Richert and Jeff Ikler. They are wonderful guests and true Ruckus Makers. And we were just talking about the arc model of change. Jeff is there anything you’d like to add to that model for the listener?

Jeff (20:24):

Oh yeah. Absolutely. A lot of books on change will offer a model. And I think what differentiates our model and what makes it more valuable is that we talk about those three stages that Kirsten mentioned, not just in terms of the mechanics of change, that you need resources, you need skills, you need, et cetera. We talk about it in terms of who was leading the change and who is actually implementing the change. And those to us are the missing elements in a lot of change driven programs. In my 35 years with that publishing company, I saw many instances where people were put in positions of leading a change.

Jeff (21:07):

They had no business leading a change initiative, and there wasn’t good training around the people that were actually implementing it. So fully half of our book is spent discussing the conditions of leadership, the behavior of leadership it’s really, you can almost call it a leadership book if you will. And then half is, is around implementing that part, the human part into the mechanics, so that it increases the likelihood that the change will be successful.

Daniel (21:36):

That’s good. Kirsten, what do you think leaders often overlook in regards to change?

Kirsten (21:42):

I feel like one of the fundamental prejudices, or let’s say an unconscious bias that a leader has is this idea that if I don’t see this happening in my school, or if I don’t see this happening in my organization, it’s because the people here don’t have it in them, right. I need to get more people or I need to get more money, or I need to, I need some other do say Mokena outside intervention in order to make this happen. And one of the innovation principles that Jeff and I feel very passionately about is this idea, the solution is contained within the problem. In other words, your own people, the resources you have, the students, you have, the things that you have, especially the people you have contain their own solutions. And by actually sort of calling forth that you can make the change that you intend to happen, and you can get to that new reality and that new possibility. And Jeff and I have have used that principle. And I feel like inherently a leader, even if they say they know that their people are amazing at some base level, there’s a fear or a unconscious assumption that it’s not there. They need something else and rreally what we find is when they focus on the, who, when they focus on the people and broaden their idea about who those people are, then all sorts of things are possible.

Daniel (23:19):

Follow up question, Kirsten, To focus on the who and to see that the organization has the tools and resources to solve the challenge? I don’t know if it’s a question that they might ask themselves as a leader, or if a Ruckus Makers it’s like a presence or like a mindset or something, but is there some that you see as essential to being able to uncover The solution there?

Kirsten (23:46):

One of the things, I’ll tell a little story about Jeff and I working together with a school to illustrate this. I think so Jeff was working with the school and that school was struggling and the students had difficult things they were working with. The faculty was sort of disjointed. There was a lot of distrust between the administration and the faculty. It was a school that had a lot of challenges. And so Jeff was working with them on a number of fronts, but he really had this idea, Hey, there really has to be a breakthrough here. And the thing that sort of seemed to be the pervasive complaint was discipline and where it happens, the worst was in the hallways. And there had been a couple of like scary incidents just recently. And so he proposed that we do an innovation session, brought people together and had them come up with a new possibility around discipline.

Kirsten (24:55):

And he thought that the hallways were the like sort of magic moment to make that happen and a reality. And so he brought me in, and if I think of myself as a Ruckus Maker, this is that moment because typically, so I was brought in and we sort of started setting up this innovation session and this is what happened. I said, who’s invited, who’s coming to the meeting. And we heard, Oh, you know, it’s the vice principal and the principal. And there’s these a couple of teachers that are really great, that are on the discipline committee that we just formed. So they’re the ones who are coming. So the question that I asked, which is the same question, all the Ruckus Makers can ask out there is who else needs to be there, who else needs to come to the table? And we started, we started expanding the circle.

Kirsten (25:52):

Okay. There’s the trusted few that were already coming. Right. And then it was like, okay, so who works with students when there are discipline issues? Oh, okay. So guidance. Oh, okay. So maybe somebody from security. Oh, okay. So actually the teachers that they have, the strongest bonds with are the core teachers. Right. Well, we have to make sure to get some special ed teachers, maybe. I said, okay, that’s awesome. That’s great. Who can we bring in from the district who represents, thought leadership on this, or who has access to key resources at the district level on this? Oh, okay. Yeah. There’s that person, there’s that person. And then I said, great. Who could represent parent interests in this? Who could represent the community here? Who could represent the students, maybe you don’t, maybe you’re not ready to do a students only kind of thing, or have key students in there.

Kirsten (26:48):

They kind of weren’t ready yet. I said, okay. So tell me who on your faculty can have those students in their head as we’re doing the innovation session. And then like all of a sudden there was such an amazingly more diverse group of thinkers in that room, diverse age wise, diverse ethnicity, race and orientation. Like there was a very different pool of people sitting at that table coming up with the problem. And it’s not like they didn’t do what everybody always does in these things. They come in with their hands crossed. But by the end of working together in this way, not only had they come up with a bunch of really cool ideas, but they had a totally different level of respect for each other than they ever had before. And we heard afterwards from, from the assistant principal. Wow. I have never seen that person step up to the table like that before I’ve got to get them on the committee that rolls this out to the rest of the faculty. Yes. That’s the thing we’re talking about. So the question is who’s at the table and how are you forming the dialogue so that they can unlock their gifts and share their gifts with you?

Daniel (27:56):

Beautiful example, and the question of who needs to be at the table, or maybe a slight spin of that is who’s missing. What I love about it is that you are able to expand their perspective and this shows the value of bringing more voices to the table so that you incorporate their experiences and perspectives, but also the value of having a coach because they could have done that. Right. The answer’s right here, but you know, it was you who unlocked it. Jeff, do you have anything to add?

Jeff (28:27):

Yeah, I think Kirsten was being a little modest here because it wasn’t always so great. Let’s bring that person in the head of this team had a very command and control mentality. When you’re running a complex change initiative, there has to be some vulnerability. You have to be able to say, I don’t have all the answers here. I need to bring in people who might have the answers. And so part of what Kirsten did relentlessly was helped to break down that barrier and express why we needed these diverse voices, including people who were detractors from the whole thing we needed to hear that perspective first.

Daniel (29:06):

Well, what I like about folks who sort of resist change, we see them as an obstacle that needs to be removed, right? And so we can keep going forward with how we want to do things, but that seems to be online with that command and control and very much tunnel vision, but the person who’s resisting there could be a kernel of truth of what they’re saying, right. And often that question or that obstacle they have, they want to be on board, but they just can’t be because there’s this thing that’s glaring to them as a problem that everybody else seems to be ignoring.

Daniel (29:44):

So I think that’s a great lesson for leaders to learn too. So that was great. Talk about your book, Shifting how school leaders can create a culture of change. I know that you also have a podcast out as well. Would you like to highlight that? Maybe the Ruckus Maker listening here at better leaders can jump over and subscribe and check out the content you’re putting out.

Jeff (30:09):

Thanks Daniel. Yeah. It’s called getting unstuck educators leading change. And we focus as the name says, we focus on educators leading change, why they’re attempting to change how they’re doing it, what obstacles they run into. It’s not limited to just a school educators. We do bring in outside voices who we think have something to add to the conversation. We just had an amazing interview on mindsets and everybody thinks immediately thinks of Carol’s works, work on mindsets. The person we came in has been researching mindsets and he’s talking about four different types of mindsets. So he’s expanding the conversation that’s already there. And we did a series recently. This was a series of 15 interviews over a couple of weeks where we interviewed educators, superintendents, assistant soups principals were able to get permission to talk to one teacher on how they were wrestling with COVID-19. And we’ve limited the conversations to 15 to 20 minutes, but we wanted to hear what was first on their mind and how they were trying to overcome the expected problems of working remotely. That was incredibly rewarding to talk to these people who were putting in 12 hour days trying to overcome these problems. So it’s something I look forward to. Every time we get in front of the microphone I always walk away from these conversations about what did I learn? What can I take away from this? And what are we able to share with people that could impact them positively?

Daniel (31:42):

At the end of each show, I love to ask about the school marquees and Kirsten, we’re going to start with you and move to Jeff, but if you could put a message on all school marquees around the world for just a day, what would your message say? “The Solution is contained within the problem” I could have maybe predicted that that’s a good one. And Jeff, “what would you put the walls that prevent my success are within me, not outside of me.” And everybody gets this one too. It’s a thought experiment based on your work, I think this will be interesting to see how you answer since there’s two of you. I’m going to ask for just one priority instead of three. You’re building a school from the ground up. U’re not limited by any resources. Your only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your number one priority? Curious, Oh, go ahead, Jeff. It looks like you’d like to share. And then Kiersten, what would you like to share?

Jeff (32:29):

Okay. So I would build a system and structure whereby kids are given more voice in what they want to study and they’re helped to develop and express the passion that’s already inside of them, as opposed to the traditional curriculum that’s handed to kids, whether they’re interested in it or not. I think we’ve got to pull kids into the discussion and help open them up about what it is that they want to learn and how they want to learn it.

Kirsten (33:12):

And my dream school would really be focused on innovation and actually helping students become more innovative as a result of the instruction rather than less though. I think I would really focus not only on personal creativity, but actually what does it look like to generate creativity as a team? How can you work in teams? And I would actually spend a lot of time in the instruction in team collaboration because that’s, what’s going to be successful when they get to the workforce. And it’s amazing how little that’s done in a cohesive way as an undergraduate.

Daniel (33:49):

Jeff Kiersten, thank you so much for being my guests on the better leaders, better schools, podcast of all the things we talked about today, what do you think is the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember? I would say make sure that you understand your why, and you have a commitment to your why, and by why we mean what it is that you’re trying to accomplish on behalf of the kids that you serve. If you can keep that in mind, if you can use that as a lens or a filter for any change that comes to you, you can decide whether this is the right change to do at this time, or it’s not the right change to do at this time, but you have to know what you’re about, how you’re trying to serve kids. And, and to keep that in the, in the forefront.

Kirsten (34:34):

And I would say when you are taking on something new, ask yourself who is here at the table and how can I blow out and expand my thinking about who’s here in order to foster.

Speaker 3 (34:55):

Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast from Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel F better leaders, better schools.com or hit me up on Twitter at alien earphones. If the better leaders better schools, podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway. From the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter @alien earbud and using the #BLBS level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed.




  • Organized Binder is an evidence-based RTI2 Tier 1 universal level solution
  • Focuses on improving executive functioning and noncognitive skills
  • Is in direct alignment with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework
  • Is an integral component for ensuring Least Restrictive Environments (LRE)

You can learn more and improve your student’s success at https://organizedbinder.com/



School leaders know that productive student talk drives student learning, but the average teacher talks 75% of class time! TeachFX is changing that with a “Fitbit for teachers” that automatically measures student engagement and gives teachers feedback about what they could do differently. 

Learn more about the TeachFX app and get a special 20% discount for your school or district by visiting teachfx.com/blbs.


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