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 serves as Chair of Wharton’s Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department, the largest department of its kind in the world. His forthcoming book, The Conscience 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. 

Lead With Your Values. Advance Your Career.

by Richard Shell

Show Highlights

  • “Changing curriculum in an academic setting is like moving a cemetery.”
  • Your job as a leader is to find the real reason for behavior.
  • “Trial balloons” bring out the best work. 
  • What pushes people to silence during tough conversations? 
  • Useful tools to sell compromise as a worthy victory. 
  •  The “magic sauce” of negotiations. 
  • Be more effective champions for their values. 
  •  Be able to speak truth to power effectively with the power of 2.
Richard Shell: Lead With Your Values. Advance Your Career.

“One of the reasons that it worked was because I did my preliminary due diligence, and then I started with two assumptions and they were non-negotiable. One was, we were not going to lead an initiative to make the students learn. The other was, we’re not going to lead an initiative to make the faculty change. A program that you design to make the students learn is going to fail because you have to bring students along. Education, the word means, “bring it out of you.” It doesn’t mean cram it in to you.” 

-Richard Shell

Full Transcript Available Here

Daniel (00:03):

Hey Ruckus Maker, I’m thrilled, absolutely thrilled that you’re here because this is your show. I serve you. Since you’re a Ruckus Maker, that means you’re an out of the box leader making change happen in education. We really have a treat because today’s guest Richard Shell is an absolute expert when it comes to making change and living out your values. The conversation that we start with the entry point is a change initiative that he was tasked at doing regarding an incredibly large organization steeped in tradition. Does that sound familiar? Is that something that you’re experiencing? However, Richard’s approach is possibly different than yours. Many leaders I serve or leaders I meet are so inspired by the vision of the future, which is an ideal version of the future that we should want to make a reality. We forget how hard the work is. How much we have to build trust and relationships with the human beings we lead and that’s a mistake. We cram the initiative down people’s throats instead of letting it slowly simmer and come to a boil to where it’s their idea. You’ll want to listen to this conversation because it’s a fascinating conversation. There’s tons of practical advice, and it’s absolutely going to make you a better leader. Hey, it’s Daniel. Welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast, a show for Ruckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We’ll be right back after these messages from our show’s sponsors.

Daniel (01:58):

Learn how to successfully navigate change shapers school’s success in leader teams with Harvard’s certificate in school management and leadership. Get world-class Harvard faculty research, specifically adapted for pre-K through 12 schools self-paced online professional development that fits your schedule. Apply now for our February, 2022 Cohort at betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Better Leaders, Better Schools is brought to you by school leaders like principal Katerra’s using teach FX. Special populations benefit the most from verbally engaging in class, but get far fewer opportunities to do so than their peers, especially in virtual classes. Teach FX measures, verbal engagement automatically in virtual or in-person classes to help schools and teachers address these issues of equity during COVID. Learn more and get a special offer from better leaders, better schools, listeners at teachfx.com/BLBS. That’s teachfx.Com/BLBS. All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning whether that’s in a distance hybrid or traditional educational setting. Learn more organizedbinder.com.

Daniel (03:27):

Well, Hey, Ruckus Maker today, I’m joined by G. Richard Shell, 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 serves as a chair of Whaton’s legal studies and business ethics department, the largest department of its kind in the world. His new 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. Welcome to the show, Richard.

Richard (04:15):

I really appreciate you having me. Thank you.

Daniel (04:17):

Yeah, this is going to be a great conversation. I say “leading is easy when the road is smooth ” and that kind of thing. When stuff gets off track and the temperature’s turned off that’s when we see what we’re really made of. This conversation is going to add so much value to the Ruckus Maker listening. Talking about turning up the pressure a little bit and turning up the heat, you are tasked to lead quite an extensive change initiative at Wharton. I know that took a handful of years and caused a lot of ruckus doing it. Can you introduce and share that story with our listener? What were you tasked with and what was the context of those challenges?

Richard (05:06):

Thank you. The Wharton school is the first collegiate business school of business in the world, 1881. It’s been around a long time. It has an MBA program and PhD program. It’s a pretty complicated institution within the University of Pennsylvania but education is our business. Just like education as a business for most of your listeners. Change in an educational institution is one of the most difficult things to do. When I set off, I was appointed by the Dean to chair this committee, to review and change the MBA program, curriculum and culture. The joke that I picked up from someone in New York City about this sort of effort was that changing a curriculum in an academic environment is like moving a cemetery. Many of the things in the cemetery are dead, but they have a lot more friends who are so alive.

Richard (06:01):

And so that proved to be true. Whenever you’re dealing with institutional dynamics that favored the status quo, the way we’ve done it, the way we do it, and the way it works you’re trying to get people to think about a new way of conducting themselves and especially in education where we all have some relative degree of autonomy, at least in some of the things we do in our classrooms, and here comes someone else is who is going to tell us to do something that we had very little to say about it’s, it’s a big challenge. It did take a couple of years. I would say, I teach negotiation and persuasion as well as author books, like the Conscience Code and these skills that I teach I’ve learned over the years. I’m a former lawyer too, a fully retired lawyer now, but I was once upon a time, a lawyer and all these skills of organizational effectiveness, interpersonal dynamics proved to be really the most important things that I turned to rely on.

Richard (07:05):

It matters who’s in your social network. It matters who trusts you, it matters what kind of information you can get from people. That’s true. You can talk to people in an organization, especially in a school district or a school administration and most of them will tell you whatever it is they think you want to hear, but will they tell you the actual truth? Will they tell you what’s really bothering people? Or what’s really got people torn up and twisted up in pretzels? They won’t, if they don’t trust you. A lot of what I did for the two years, it took me to lead this process and ended up with a vote. We had to get 250 faculty members at the Wharton School to vote in this new program.

Richard (07:52):

We got 85% of the faculty to vote for it and it’s a pretty political process. It was a lot of, one-on-ones, lunches, a lot of heart to hearts, a lot of getting past the obvious to the unstated. Another one of my favorite quotes in a sort of organizational effectiveness is something the banker JP Morgan said way back in the 19th century. He said “There are two reasons for everything a person does. A good reason and a real reason.” Your job as a leader is to find out what the real reason is. And that requires you to have relationships, requires you to have people’s trust, requires you to be a reliable partner for them so that you have their back. I would say it was all that plus a lot of imagination. We consulted broadly across the whole business school environment, took ideas from here and there that we thought would work in the Wharton culture.

Richard (08:49):

Every school has its own little culture, its own little way of processing, who they are and then a lot of trial balloons, a lot of focus groups, a lot of how could we make this better? This is a “no” idea. Do you have any thoughts? That’s time-consuming work. A lot of listening and patience, but at the end of the day, we got it done and the school has been running with it for a few years now. Student satisfaction is up. Faculty satisfaction is up. Depending on the poll, it is number one, two or three in the world as a business school. We were number one, two or three when we started so we weren’t dealing with a broken system. We were taking a functioning system, which is one of the objections people had, “Wait a minute, it’s not broken. Why fix it?” but we hadn’t changed schools in twenty-five years. We hadn’t done anything to change any of these Ricard courses or the way that program is sequenced or how we allowed students to make choices. It’s one of these things where if you don’t keep getting better, you’re gonna fall behind. We pulled it off and we’re still ahead,

Daniel (10:00):

When a principal takes over a failing school, in some respects, I feel like it’s somewhat of an easy job because the case for change is so apparent. When you’re performing at, like you said, the top one, two or three business schools in the world, that case is even more difficult. To hear that the consensus 85% of a 250 person staff was on board speaks to the diligence, relationships and trust that you built. I love the change that’s happening and as a result, the faculty and the students are enjoying the experience even more, right? Sometimes that’s the fear especially with a high-performing organization. What’s that going to do to the quality of the program that we’re offering, but here it improved.

Richard (10:49):

I think one of the reasons that it worked was because I did my preliminary due diligence, and then I started with two assumptions and they were non-negotiable. One was, we were not going to lead an initiative to make the students learn. And the other was, we’re not going to lead an initiative to make the faculty change. I just viewed a program that you’re going to design to make the students learn is going to fail because you have to bring students along. Education, the word means, “bring it out of you.” It doesn’t mean cram it in to you. I wanted that to be non-negotiable, we’re not going to force this issue. We’re going to create incentives and environmental changes that are going to excite the students into learning mode. I know higher education faculty, they got tenure.

Richard (11:45):

You’re not going to tell them to do it. You’ve got to accept who they are, accept what their values are, accept what their kind of priorities are and then craft a system that brings out their best for this aspect of their work. In our case, that meant allowing them more freedom to teach things that they wanted to teach, allowing them more control over the different courses that they had so that they could teach to their strengths and not teach to some PowerPoint deck that somebody handed them. I know public schools, especially this is a really tough sell because there’s a political process or state regulations. There’s all kinds of constraints that are put on teachers. I’ve worked a lot with high school teachers and principals over the years because of my negotiation expertise. I’ve been brought in for the American Federation of Teachers and a bunch of other things. I’ve actually consulted with AFC, but even so there’s the marginal degree of improvement that a good program will seek out and create white space in order for people to improvise and that’s going to be where the win is.

Daniel (13:00):

Oh, you shared something that really resonated with me. We have change agents. I believe I attract these kinds of people to the show or my leadership community, the Ruckus Makers, that’s the whole point of it. To get excited about the initiative and the change you’re proposing and not cramming it down people’s throats is an interesting tension. I think we too often get so excited about the vision, how things can improve. We forget about the human beings we’re dealing with. One, you were working with a ton of people, 250 and two, because of your human centered approach. Part of the reason it took you two years to get the change through. I’d love to ask you about some of the practical things you did. I heard you say a lot of lunches, a lot of one-on-one. You might even mention a term I’ve never heard before, like “trial balloons” or something. I could be totally making that up.

Richard (13:58):

Yeah. Yeah. If you had to divide this process up into two buckets, the first year was spent deciding what to do and the second year was spent selling the idea so people would vote for it. It’s one of the weaknesses of people who haven’t had the kind of training I have in negotiation and influence to think that once you have the right idea, game over. Of course, everybody’s going to say, “yes, no, no, no, no.” That’s where the fun begins. The trial balloon is something you do between those two stages. You’ve come up with a design or an idea that’s better and perfect than never, the goal better is always the goal better on some important dimensions and then you go out to constituencies and you float the idea in a trial balloon. You blow it up and put some air in it and then drift over them and say, what do you think about that?

Richard (15:02):

How do you think that might work? Get their input and they go “Look, it’s okay. Probably gotta be a little smaller, maybe a different color. It might be fun if we take shots at it.” Whatever the feedback is and then you do that with multiple stakeholders. You come back and say, “Okay, where’s the convergence point on this input about this part of what we wanna do.” You realize that actually everybody pretty much agrees that this part of whatever it is, is a good idea. They’re willing to buy into that and then this group has a problem with this part of it. That group has part of this other thing, and this group wants it to start at eight in the morning and that group wants to end at five in the afternoon.

Richard (15:47):

You realize where the conflict is so then you seize on the convergence points and bake them in, it’s going to be solid, and then you look at the trade-offs that the others are presenting you. And go, “Well, okay. We know there’s multiple dimensions and this group is gonna lose on this aspect of the thing. Where can we give them a win? That balance that will make them think the whole thing is still a better idea than not. And then you have to go back to the group. That’s going to get a win on this, and you have to tell them, “We’re going to go along with your suggestion on this because we think it’s the right thing to do, but you’re going to have to recognize that you’re not going to win on all of these, and this is going to be a big win for you. I wanted to make sure that your people know that they’ve gotten something here and they value it.” They don’t think that it’s all about the things they didn’t get. It’s about the stuff they did get and the disappointment about some of the things they didn’t, but you have to really treasure it a little so that the people you’re dealing with who are the leaders in these constituencies, have the tools to sell it in as a victory. That was hard fought. They didn’t, it was not possible. They weren’t going to get it, but they did get it, that it is a worthy high priority for them. They should vote in favor because, and then you go back to, “it’s not a perfect world. You can’t have it all and we’re getting some stuff here and we’re going to have to give some stuff up too.”

Richard (17:16):

It’s deeply political. I believe in politics in organizations, people, nobody raises their hand when you say, “Do you like politics and organization? No, no, no, no. Get it away.” No, not someone else. My view is that politics is inevitable in organizations. It’s not whether there’s going to be politics. It’s only if you are skilled and effective at managing it or not. You have to have some patience and a little bit of a gleeful attitude about it. “We’re Going to make this work. We don’t know exactly how we’re going to make it work yet, but we’re going to make it work because we’re going to be a force, like a prowl of a boat. We’re crossing this channel and we’re not sure what rocks are in a way.”

Richard (18:06):

We may have to guide steer a little left a little, right, but we’re not stopping. We are the forces that can’t be stopped. As long as you have that attitude and you have a little fun with it, you get the energy. You have setbacks, you have bad days, but you’re learning as you go. That’s always important. You can never learn enough about human beings and their needs. People always surprise you in good ways, as well as bad. If you take that attitude, I like to say in my negotiation classes, which is a shock to many of the people that take them, “No negotiation is ever over. Never. It’s just another chapter in a book called the relationship.” Even in negotiations that don’t look like relationships like going to buy a Toyota at a Toyota dealership. It’s actually from the point of view of the dealership in our relationship. As long as you take that attitude that no negotiations ever end, it’s just another chapter in the book. You’ll have more patience. You’ll see that you lose today. Win tomorrow and build that trust. That is the magic sauce that makes it into something that makes life better for everybody.

Daniel (19:20):

I like the Toyota example. I’m just going to unpack this real quick and speak to JP Morgan. I opened a business banking account with Chase so it was a local. I had a very good experience. I wanted to go above and beyond showing gratitude for that experience. I quickly shot a video, highlighted my business manager, put it on LinkedIn, tagged her and her supervisor, et cetera. Nobody does that. It didn’t go viral. But in terms of people who care about that, it went crazy. I’ll tell you what, with a mask on, because of COVID and stuff, I can walk into the bank, everybody comes and says hello to me. I didn’t do it out of a selfish reason but,I got even better service because I went above and beyond and wanted to highlight great things.

Richard (20:17):

I couldn’t agree more, Danny, the Toyota dealership near my house. I went even further than you did the last time I bought a car. I’m not a fancy guy, I bought a Toyota Camry. I worked with the salesperson, I’m a negotiator. I asked for stuff, but I try to be really thoughtful and respectful of people in their professional careers. They’re at their jobs. A salesperson at a car dealership has just got a job like the rest of us, trying to make an honest living. He did such a good job as I saw it that I actually took him when we signed the papers. I said, “Where’s the owner of this dealership having their office?” He showed me, and I said, “I’d like to meet him.”

Richard (21:06):

We went into the owner’s office and I pointed to my salesperson. I said, “You are so lucky to have this guy working for you. He’s honest, transparent. He wants to solve problems. He’s just an excellent person with people. I just want to congratulate you on this person as an employee.” The owner stood up, he shook my hand. He wanted to know all about me, blah, blah, blah. Then I said, “Thank you very much.” And I said, “Where’s your supervisor” and there was a group of people. The managers were gathered around having some sort of meeting. I took him into that meeting. I said, “Can I interrupt for just a second? I’m one of your customers?” They all stopped and looked at me. I said exactly the same thing to the five guys that were all standing around, doing whatever they were doing and pointing to my salesperson.

Richard (21:54):

I shook his hand and I said, “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.” I get Christmas cards from this guy. I felt honestly, that was true. It was true and they don’t get commended enough. Usually they see their customers and our customers think they’re the enemy. Car salesman have a saying,”The thing is the customer always lies.” And what do we think about the car salespeople? They are trying to get there so you break through that. I’ve never had a bad negotiation situation. It can’t be fixed by a great relationship. I always just try to leave a good name because I know I’m going to return wherever it is. It always goes better than that and I never ever sacrifice an element of price or conditions. It’s a matter of just setting goals and being persistent about fairness.The relationship piece wins friends forever.

Daniel (22:56):

Thank you. I think this is a good moment to pause our conversation just for a second, to get some messages in from our sponsors. When we get back, I’d love to dig into your book a little bit more. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school’s success, and empower your teams with Harvard certificates in school management and leadership. Get online professional development that fits your schedule. Now enrolling for our February, 2022 cohort courses include leading change, leading schools, strategy and innovation, leading people and leading learning. Apply today at betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard. That’s betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Are you automatically online student participation data during COVID? Innovative school leaders across the country have started tracking online student participation using Teach FX because it’s one of the most powerful ways to improve student outcomes during COVID, especially for English learners and students of color.

Daniel (24:04):

Learn more about Teach FX and get a special offer at teachereffects.Com/BLBS. That’s teachfx.com/BLBS. Today’s show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, Organized Binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom. Learn more at organizedbinder.com. We’re back with Richard Shell, who is a global thought leader and senior faculty member at Wharton. He also has a new book that’s out right now and I highly encourage all Ruckus Makers to pick up a copy. It’s called the Conscious Code: Lead With your values, Advance your Career. We were just talking from a high level about change, how to make change happen,the importance of relationships, and trust. I want to pivot a bit, talk more about the book. What is your, what is your hope for the book now that it’s out there?

Richard (25:24):

Sure. Thank you. I teach a course on responsibility for MBA students support and Wharton students come from and go to the educational industry. I’ve had students who were secondary school teachers who come to Wharton to pivot their careers. One of my favorite former students started a charter school program in Washington, DC. It’s now in five cities and is a huge innovator in terms of secondary education. When we get to the end of the program, I think you’re going to ask me a question. I want to answer with reference to my former students, educational entrepreneurship, my reason for writing this book. What I’ve learned from this course is that employees, managers are sort of not the people who are leaders, but they’re leading from the middle or the bottom.

Richard (26:14):

They’re not leaders with titles and positions. They’re crying out for tools that can help them be more effective champions for their values. They see something going on. There’s deceit or a lack of accountability, or people doing things that they shouldn’t be doing with respect to student test scores or administration. And there’s some corruption and the school district at some high level. The tendency is to sort of look away, keep your head down, go home to your loving family and complain about work and then go back the next day and do it again. My thought is, you’re going to live a more satisfying and fulfilled life if you commit to your values as being part of your every day at home, at work and everywhere in between and your community. It’s sort of who you are.

Richard (27:11):

More often during the day you are at your best being who you are, at your best, the more you’re going to feel like you’ve left the planet. Having occupied it as much as possible while you were here and all the rest of the time, you’re alienated for yourself. You’re talking yourself out of doing things. This book is a book to listen to your conscience. Follow some simple rules that the book outlines about how to handle conflict. When your conscience is activated it’s usually because somebody is doing something wrong. It may even be because you’re attempting to do some work on yourself and it’s going to cause some turmoil. It’s going to need some Ruckus making to be done. And so this is really a Ruckus Makers handbook for being effective at managing that conflict so that it comes out successfully.

Richard (28:00):

One of the critical tools is if you can get the change done without a ruckus, that’s a good thing, but you can create a solution that finesses the collision and gets the right thing done and keeps everybody’s egos in place. So no one gets out of place and doesn’t accuse other people of being immoral or unethical or bad. You’ve succeeded. I mean, that’s elegant. Sometimes you can’t do that. Sometimes you can’t finesse that. Sometimes you have to figure out how truth can speak to power and do it effectively. The book talks about that too. A lot of it has to do with self-confidence, commitment to values, creativity, and then a really important, huge piece of it is creating good social alliances. Being able to find your partner, the people that will be on your side and working with them so you’re not alone. One of the biggest problems comes from people thinking they have to do it all by themselves and then they pull away because they can’t do it all by themselves. No, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. So your job one find your friends.

Daniel (29:17):

Yeah. Those social alliances. I really appreciate you bringing that up because what was going through my mind is doing it on my own feels risky and scary. What I’m hearing you say and correct me if I’m wrong, if you can find your partners within your organization. It goes back to the political savviness. That’s been a thread throughout this conversation, but that makes speaking your values, speaking that power at work less risky, less scary. I get this intellectually and it’s the right thing to do, but emotionally I can be a coward. It feels scary to address or address or wrong or whatever it is. I’d love to leave the Ruckus Maker listening with another practical tip. I don’t know if it’s a case study or a scenario or something, but anything. It’s like Spidey sense, right? When Spider-Man, the spidey sense goes off, it’s our gut. We have wisdom in our bodies and it’s saying, “Okay, something’s wrong here.” And then it’s up to you. Are you going to address it or not? What do we do in those moments?

Richard (30:25):

I have a chapter in the book and I’m going to go back to a point I made a second ago. The chapter is called the power of two and you don’t have to form a social movement. You just have to have one other person. The most recent vivid example of this it’s October. There’s a big trial that was going on, it may still be going on when this podcast airs of Elizabeth Holmes, who was the head of Theranos, as a drug device company. I was a big darling of Silicon Valley and it blew up a couple of years ago, but it blew up because two 23 year olds started working there on the same day. They both independently observed that something was not right in this firm that there’s stuff being covered up.

Richard (31:15):

There were test results, being rigged. They saw this, they met at lunch and they looked at each other and they said, essentially, do you see what I think? They both looked at each other and said, yes, yes. As those two people both saw the same thing and they weren’t crazy. They didn’t get gas lighting. They both said, this is actually happening here. That Alliance was what it took over a period of time. A lot of adventures, it had a lot of twists and turns, the book, Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, is a long story. At the end of the day, because they had their trusted partner, they were able to speak truth to power. The company was brought down and the CEO who is corrupt is on trial for fraud. Their COO is also on a trial for fraud.

Richard (32:07):

These two young people are now a little older and they’re having their careers. They did it, it didn’t didn’t end their lives to do this, but they both were very incremental, very careful, thoughtful. They asked people for options, they consulted legal advice, which is usually not a bad thing when you’re in a high stakes situation. But that power of two, I think you start scared, you start worried, you start on certain, find one other person. In an ideal world, there’s someone who has a different personality than you do because maybe you’re conflict averse. Maybe confrontation is scary, you’re just confrontation. It could be over anything, but somebody who’s a little more conflict capable they seem to be able to be a little air, but they also believe what you believe. They see what you see, partner with them. Your combination will allow you to be effective because you’re probably a better diplomat than they are. They’re probably a little more assertive than you are so you can compliment your skillset with understanding everybody’s different and you bring different skills even to something. Figuring out how to correct a wrong in an organization. It’s brilliant.

Daniel (33:20):

Thank you. So, Richard, I love asking all my guests the same last two questions, and one of them is,if you could put a message on all school marquees around the world, just for a single day, what would your message be?

Richard (33:34):

My message would reflect the governing philosophy at Maria Montessori, the great educational innovator who created the Montessori school system. It would be a message that would go right across every classroom and right across the front door of the building. It would be don’t change the child, change the environment because I think most children are curious. Most children want to get along with other children. Most children are creative and given the chance, given the right environment will blossom and thrive. When you start down the road of disciplining the child for not doing their ABCs or condemning them with judgements that make them lose confidence. When the whole thing goes wrong. So don’t change the child, work on the environment.

Daniel (34:32):

Now you’re building a school from the ground up. You’re not limited by any resources. Your only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be the top three priorities?

Richard (34:44):

Alright. So this is where my former student who I mentioned earlier comes into play. His name is Eric Adler and he was an MBA student. His parents were entrepreneurs. When I met him, he wanted to be a consultant business consultant, like many, hgh energy, young, 20 somethings who want to have a fancy business career. A couple of years out from his MBA, his consulting thing didn’t work out. He partnered with another individual from another business school and they decided to put together their dreams for a perfect school. They wanted to do it in a way that was very entrepreneurial. They created something called the FEED schools, F E E D. They strike me as close to perfect as you can get. What they did that the first day I had a mission to serve underrepresented young people in very, very poor neighborhoods in urban locations.

Richard (35:39):

They located their first school in DC. They had to lobby like crazy, but they actually got a variance from a lot of regulations and stuff that requires certain degrees of unionization and standardization and all that stuff. They were clever politically and they got some charter school buys. And this is crucial. They’d both gone to private school when they were in high school. They realized that residential setting was the missing link because you take kids in a very challenging, traumatic environment and you send them back there every day. Chances are pretty good. They’re going to get traumatized and that’s going to be this, that where it stops. They actually raised money and built a building that kids could sleep in and go to school in the middle of the DC.

Richard (36:33):

It’s a charter school. They went out and found the best and brightest, young frustrated teachers who were from a lot of different places. They offered this vision. You’re going to live in this school. You’re going to teach these kids, they’re going to be yours and there you’re going to be theirs. The goal was they all go to college and the public schools in DC at the time, a certain percentage, like a third didn’t even finish high school. Among the ones that did finish high school, it was a very low percentage that actually was able to go on to college of some kind. Residential 24/ 7 open tickets for how you make the curriculum residential teachers,they did go home on the weekend. So they have them for five days a week.

Richard (37:20):

After the first five years, and they had a whole class go through and graduate, every single one of them got into college and they have a followup system so that they track them in college so that they don’t abandon them. They don’t say, “Here is your college, we’re done.” They have counselors that stay in touch with them from high school to make sure that they stay on track, that they are doing the things they need to do because they’re still from challenging backgrounds and traumatized childhoods. A lot of things can go wrong for people anywhere along the way. Immersion would be one of the principles to create an immersive environment in which learning is just everybody’s life and it isn’t just the classroom. They’re learning from everything that happens in their social environment and their social relationships.

Richard (38:09):

In the learning clear goal, everybody goes to college. If somebody wants to go in the military, they’re not going to say you can’t go to the military, but they go to college,they have the infrastructure to allow them to do that and then follow up. That is, you don’t leave, these are your people. They’re yours for life and say, you provide resources to them. You’re there for them. As their journey continues until they decide that they don’t need you anymore. Then they’ll come back and be a teacher for you. I said, that’s my dream school. It’s interesting because it’s not a dream.

Daniel (38:51):

Well, Richard, thanks so much for being a part of the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts. We covered a lot of ground in basically everything we talked about today. What’s one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember,

Richard (39:04):

Always put your values as your top priority work.

Daniel (39:08):

Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts for Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at alien earbud. 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 @alienearbud, and using the #BLBS. Level up your leadership at betterleadersbetterschools.com and talk to you next time. Until then, class dismissed.




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