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Read the Transcript here.
You Really Over Deliver
I want to just quickly shout out my buddy Brian McCarthy. He has coached me a number of times and it’s been super duper useful because I don’t know about you. I can really get stressed out. And the reason I get stressed out is because I put all this pressure on myself. There’s nobody putting pressure on me. And even within systems as a principal or whatever, yes, there was pressure from supervisors from the system, but that pales in comparison to the pressure I put on myself for other things that I just identified as important. And so what Brian helped me realize is like, what’s the game you wanna play Danny? If it’s not this thing in terms of growing Better Leaders, Better Schools, and serving more leaders, which it is. But instead of the number of leaders or the amount of money that the business might generate, what’s the game you really wanna play?
I started thinking about that and some of the things I’ve been considering is that I want to be playing a game that is more fun. I want to be playing a game where people feel appreciated and dare I say loved when I work with them. When I think of the sort of brand and what you get when you’re working with Danny, I want to be known as somebody who over delivers, who is there with you, present, personable, connected and offers practical things that’ll get leaders results. So that’s a little bit of a description of the game I’m trying to play, which is a great introduction for today’s show. If I do say so myself, because I wanna challenge you here just in the beginning, two minutes. What game are you playing? And how do you wanna be known within your community? Is that how you’re known now? I started this show with that brief story and some of the things I’m personally wrestling with. ’cause Today my guest, April Gaydosh is an incredible leader outside of Salt Lake City in a place called Jordan School District. And she stuck her neck out there. She brought me in as a leader, and she was saying, I believe this guy is gonna offer us a really powerful and transformational training for our leaders. And so today’s episode is just unpacking, how did she go through that decision process? And what was the value? What were the results? What were the pivot points and changes that she saw within herself personally and with her team of 250 leaders. What she saw throughout the system, after working with me over two days doing leadership training.
And I also wanted to share this episode too, because you might be wondering, what is it like to work with Danny. What’s it like to bring him in to empower our leaders? But now you don’t have to guess April. Shed some light on that. Again, April, thank you for being my guest, and thank you for bringing me in. Hey, this is Danny. I’m a principal development retention expert. I’m a two-time bestselling author, and I host two of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. This show is for you, a Ruckus Maker, which means you have made three commitments. You invest in your continuous growth, you challenge the status quo, and you design the future of school. Right now. We’ll be back after a few messages from our show sponsors.
The truth is, most leaders weren’t taught a robust way to set their goals. Everyone knows how to choose a goal, write the to-do list, and pick a due date. And as a result, they’re not optimizing their potential. When you download the Ruckus Maker eight step goal setting tool, I’ll send you the tool in a short eight minute coaching video that shows you how to work smarter, not harder, and to create more value for your campus. Are you ready to accomplish more with less effort and in less time? Download the Ruckus Maker eight step goal setting tool by going to better leaders, better schools.com/goals. Even the most highly effective Ruckus Maker can’t be in all classrooms offering incredible feedback all the time. So what if teachers could gather their own feedback without relying on you, and not only their own feedback, but meaningful feedback that would improve their instruction?
Well check out the Teach FX app by visiting teach fx.com/betterleaders, and you can pilot their program today. Go to teach fx.com/betterleaders to see how, why do students struggle? I’d argue that they lack access to quality instruction, but think about it. That’s totally out of their control. What if there was something we could teach kids, then what if there was something within their control that would help them be successful in every class? And it’s not a magic pill or a figment of your imagination. When students internalize executive functioning skills, they succeed. Check out the new self-paced online course brought to you by our friends at Organized Binder that shows teachers how to equip their students with executive functioning skills. You can learn [email protected]/go.
Well, April, welcome to the podcast. This is super exciting to have you join us today.
Thanks for having me.
I got to know you when you reached out via email. We were negotiating and have a good conversation about what it would look like to come and serve leaders in your school system. We’ll get to that story too, before the Ruckus Maker who is listening to this show. How would you like to describe yourself in terms of your role in anything like fun or family related that you wanna share?
I’m a mom, a wife and a mother. I have a husband who is also an educator. He’s a high school teacher. I was originally a high school teacher, so that’s kind of the background. And then have become a principal and administrator, now administrator of schools. I work with elementary schools in our district, supervising principals and helping them grow and develop their teachers and leadership in their building things. This is my third year, but in education, probably 15 years. So, that’s me in a nutshell.
Brilliant. What do you love about this new role?
Obviously anytime you’re a teacher, you stress the farther away you get from students, because that’s why we came into education, to be with students and to grow them. And that interaction I miss for sure. I’m at the point in my career, I feel like I’m still fresh enough out of the building, that I still have that connection, but also have some experience behind me that’s helped me guide some principles, but still very curious and very much growing as an administrator. So I think it’s a good balance that I’m not at the end of my career, but I have enough behind me that I feel like I can really help other people and lead them and their growth.
For sure. Can we talk a little bit about what I guess leadership training was like before I came in? ’cause If I understood correctly, you had been doing it a certain type of way for a few years, but I could be wrong.
We’ve had leadership development or leadership training for principals and administrators. It’s been a little bit more focused on kind of a keynote speaker with some excitement for the year, but maybe not as tactical or practical in terms of things for takeaways, things that are it’s more of a getting the principals administrators excited for the year, but maybe not something that they necessarily walk away and implement in their building or use in their work. So that’s what we were really looking for this year.
What would you consider maybe the biggest challenge or struggle that you had around this sort of principle beginning of the year training and that kind of thing?
I think it’s you know, we want to instill in them that they, that their time is valuable but we also want to grow them. So there’s always this balance of spending time on their development, but making it really meaningful. And so I think that’s been the biggest challenge, is trying to find that balance between, we’re excited for the year and we have some things we have to talk about, but also giving them some strategies and some tools that are gonna help them personally in our professional level. Not just things for their teachers, but things for them to develop as leaders in their building.
Right. Was there a moment as the cabinet, or I don’t know if you were completely in charge of this leadership training, if you were, Great job by the way. I thought we did a good job together, but was there a moment with the cabinet or something where you realized, Hey, we wanna do something different this year?
Yeah, I mean,we kind of lead, like one person from our cabinet each year kind of takes the role of leading that. And we really just based on feedback and not that they’ve been bad in the past, they’re great and every year there’s a different flavor and a different feel. But we really wanted to bring them back to being a little bit more collaborative. In the past we’ve been in an auditorium and it’s been very much a keynote with a kind of a sit and listen kind of feel. And we really wanted it to be more collaborative and more interactive, and that was what we were going for.
Got it. Would you say that that was the number one goal then, to have an environment where it was more collaborative and practical?
Absolutely. Building connections. Absolutely.
Got it. So how’d you find out about me? Like how did we get connected?
In doing some looking online, and I know you’ve had some connections with our state and just there was some resources, some YouTube, I don’t know if they were YouTube videos, but some videos online where you’d spoken and I felt really connected to the Better Leaders, Better Schools book message, but also the latest Mastermind book, just talking about authenticity and being your best leader and growing yourself professionally. A lot of those tools and ideas aligned just with what we were working on, trying to have principles kind of own that role and be in that role and doing it their way and putting their personal spin on it. All of those things were very interesting. And so when I went through the website and looked at some of those, I bought the book. I felt like you would be a great person to bring in.
Thank you. Did you have a fear or reservation about working with me?
no. I mean, I think it’s typical, like I’m somewhat new in this role. Somewhat new our cabinet. And so a little About bringing someone from another state and is this gonna be, will it work? Will it be out of the box too much? Is it too deviant from, or not deviant, but too divergent from what we’ve done in the past. Maybe a little bit.
Yeah. ’cause they could keep you up at night, I’m sure a little bit. ’cause In some respects you’re putting your neck out there right? Saying like, I’m bringing this person in. And I can only imagine how stressful that might be. So thank you for taking A risk on me too, by the way. Can you tell me about the moment when we decide, all right, we’re gonna move forward with this.
Yeah, so I brought the idea back to our leadership team, our cabinet level administration, and we just talked through what kinds of things we wanted. I loved that as we interacted, you were very open to hearing what we wanted and what we felt like our goals were. So we were really able to tailor it to exactly what we needed, which I think they really appreciated. I really appreciated it, and they appreciated it as well. I think that was the biggest discussion point, was really honing in on what we wanted and needed, and then aligning that to conveying that to you so that you could help with that message, which I think you did, hopefully.
Okay. Well, let’s dive into that a little bit. I show up. It’s day one and we’re digging into stuff with 250 leaders, so not a small group by any means. I loved the energy, it was super exciting and rewarding, satisfying for me to be there. But yeah. What were your first impressions, like when we first started going with pd?
Well, first of all, my first impression was the day that you got off the plane and you came in to sign the 250 books, which.
That’s when I really earned, I was telling you, I’m very comfortable speaking and doing that kind of stuff, but I said I earned the paycheck, signing all those books.
It really meant a lot to me and to our team because it’s something that we’ve done in the past. And you know, just had someone maybe sitting out the speaker coming and, it’s something that I think meant a lot to the principals. It seems like a silly thing, but I think it really did mean a lot to them. So that really spoke to how committed you were to making the experience. Great. Awesome. Even though that was a thing for you, probably.
What about that? Like, why, like, was that? It was the day before. Speaking and that kind of thing, and it wasn’t necessarily like on the agenda, but it, I don’t wanna put words into your mouth, but I showed up in the evening or late afternoon to make it happen?
I think it goes above and beyond. I mean, you had obviously just got off the plane. It was a very personal experience. Whereas and working with some other speakers or people that come in from out of our district, sometimes there’s not that personalized touch and communication and it maybe felt very authentic and you were listening to what we wanted. And even though it didn’t fit within the day necessarily, I think you even actually asked about coming the night before. That was your suggestion, which I was really surprised that you’re willing to do that. So I think it was that commitment to making it all we wanted it to be, that really meant a lot to us.
That definitely really means a lot to me, that feedback. In terms of authenticity, In the mastermind book, that’s a big part of the foundation of how we do stuff. But the personal touch and trying to over deliver where I can in I mean, everybody’s time is important, but to me it was just like a way to serve. And leadership is service. So I just again appreciate the opportunity. So we’re into day one. We could even talk about day two as well, but over the arc of those two days, what do you think were some of the more helpful lessons or takeaways?
For me personally, observing it and watching I loved the mix of both giving tools that were practical. It is kind of this mix of storytelling with a tool with some time to collaborate and workshop, which I think was a nice balance because you were able to kind of hook them with that story. And it wasn’t like this big long drawn out thing. It was very, very quick and very digestible. And then they got to actually work in their teams at their table. And then we moved to the next, then reflected and then worked, moved to the next. And I think that that tempo was really nice throughout the course of the two days. It kept them involved and focused, and I think they really liked it. I think they enjoyed that for them.
Great. What surprised you most working with me?
The thing that surprised me again was how well you connected with our principals. You know, principals can be
Yeah, that is great. I love the idea that they felt connected or the time was useful and all that kind of stuff. So, was there a hard part, and if so, like what was the, what do you think the hardest part working with Me to come in was?
I can’t think of anything that was hard. Again, the challenge was kind of trust. I’ve read the book books and a little exposure experience with some of your talks, but there’s always this worry of, is this gonna be what we want it to be? It was a really nice balance again, of being able to work together. Little tidbits, storytelling with a little bit of fun excitement in the middle. You know, like you did a great job breaking up the time. It wasn’t, it didn’t feel like a long time. It felt like it was over in a second, in a good way. It felt like it went by really quickly.
Great. You said you received some emails from principals and that kind of thing, and I’m really honored to hear that. Did any of them describe, if they went into detail, but did any of ’em describe like a win that they might’ve got or a moment when they’re like, Hey, that thing Danny taught, or that tool you shared, like I put into practice and look at this result?
Yeah, one of them that two of them talked about was the reflection tool where they were at the end of the day reflecting on, I can’t remember the exact specifics, but where they’re reflecting on something that went well. And I think taking that moment and being reflective, I think it’s something that has been, it’s always a struggle. When you’re so busy and you’re rushing here and there and in between everything. So I think they appreciated that practical tool on how to reflect. The other thing that they talked about was the hot seat protocol. I think there were pretty great discussions that were being had. And even with some new teams that was the first time they’d sat down together, was that training. Principals and assistant principals.Being a little bit vulnerable and forcing that procedure protocol in that hot seat was really valuable. Even at my own table, There Was a situation we had been struggling with in the cabinet, and I was actually on the hot seat for high.
Okay. That was you. Great.
And we came to some really great solutions, ideas that we had not really explored before that. And we all reflected on how meaningful that was for us. Really a lot of very, and that’s again, another piece that I think I liked about it was, it wasn’t like this one message with this one tool, and they we’re gonna kind of belabor this. It was, here’s this great story. Here’s maybe a problem you’re dealing with. Here’s a great tool, let’s practice it. And then another so there was, you were able to touch on different things that people were connecting to in different ways. It wasn’t like this one and done, there were multiple levels, multiple tools that they could connect with. Which was great.
Why do you think that the protocol worked so well for you in the cabinet?
Honestly, I think it was because it forced me to talk through the problem or the issue With No interruptions, because I do think we sometimes jump to conclusions or jump to solutions too quickly. It allowed the group to ask questions where first I interacted and then I did not, which was really challenging. And the more that I listened to them as a kind of a fly on the wall talking about this challenge or this issue, it made me think about other things that we had not discussed. So it was just exploring it in a deeper way with multiple perspectives where people were really listening. Yeah, it was really interesting. I did not expect that it was a true experience where we really came to and actually acted on one of the solutions that we had come up with in that protocol. So we plan on implementing that tool in our principal meetings moving forward as a piece of some of our problem solving and working through issues.
Great. So It sounds like the two days I perceive it as a success, I think you would as well. But what are you excited about next?
I think we’re excited about continuing the conversation. A lot of the tools that as administrators of schools, you sort of supervise principles and working with teams. We want to kind of touch back on some of those tools that we learned and have them in our pocket as discussion points as things come up through the year. You get busy and you kind of forget some of your tools in your toolbox. And so we’re excited to be able to continue that work and give those tips and tools throughout the year, really.
How would you describe the two day experience with me? Either in one word or a phrase? You could have a sentence if you’d like.
Sense, I think maybe intentional, intentional collaboration, intentional application, and very targeted. I think our audience, the first day was all administrators. So every administrator in our district, district office, principals, assistant principals, you were able to tailor that message to be very practical to our accounting administrator who works the books and our assistant principal intern that’s just fresh into the building. And many of those groups, all of those groups felt a connection. And then the second day to be able to tailor it to specifically building principals, sort of leading your team and some of those stresses and things that are specific to principals, that, that very intentional, intentional messaging, intentional to, to different audiences, I think was really appreciated. ’cause They were two different days sort of focused in two on two different groups, and that, that really came through. So that phrase was very long.
There’s no right or wrong. With any easy answers.
Messaging. I love intentional messaging. I’m thinking that you built that message in a very intentional way based on what we wanted and based on what you felt like they needed in each of those groups, and it came through.
I will do my best. What do you see in your classrooms and how did you see it? As a principal, you can’t be everywhere at once, so how can you help support every teacher in the building? With Teach FX, teachers can gather their own feedback without relying on classroom observations. The Teach FX instructional coaching app is like giving every teacher their own instructional coach whenever they want it. Ruckus Makers can pilot teach FX with their teachers, visit teach fx.com/better leaders to learn how it’s teachfx.com/betterleaders, teachers give it their all to empower their students. But what is it that truly lays the foundation for learning what sets all students up for success? As you know, unless students develop a solid foundation for learning, it doesn’t matter how great teachers deliver content or how emergent the technology is, or even how engaging a lesson might be when students hone executive functioning skills, those seemingly intangible suite of habits and behaviors, teachers efforts find fertile ground and everyone succeeds.
Ironically, did you know that executive functioning skills are not taught, rather, they are best learned when students get practice using them by virtue of engaging in a predictable daily learning routine? Our friends at Organized Binder have created a new course that will teach your teachers how to set students up for success. And you can learn [email protected]/go help your students [email protected]/go. I guess let me ask one personal question and then we’ll end with the last couple questions I asked all my guests. But I’m just curious. So you had that experience from your role in seeing the results for the system, that was great, but how about for you individually as a leader was there a success or win personally that was really meaningful for you?
I think definitely in thinking about myself as a leader, giving and as a leader that leads out in a lot of professional learning communities with principals and meetings being able to apply some of your the way that you presented and what I do. I learned a lot just watching you do that. But also personally as a leader and again, I go back to the hot seat protocol ’cause that was probably the most Connected I was in the training with that tool is just being a good listener. I mean, I feel like I am a good listener, but really using a protocol is really helpful in some ways just to give people time to talk and to not be quick to jump to solutions. I think that’s really powerful and something I’ll take away as a leader.
I’ll just encourage the Ruckus Maker who’s listening either to reach out to me or grab Mastermind the book, because it describes that protocol in detail. But just to highlight April, some things that you said in this conversation are just the piece where you were able to speak uninterrupted and it’s only three minutes, which doesn’t feel like a long time, but not getting interrupted for three minutes actually feels like a really long time. And then I think about the other piece you were talking about, and it forces people to be curious because within the protocol you have to ask questions. And like you said, sometimes people jump to conclusions or whatever, and there’s a lot to get done every single day. And a lot of really important work has to happen. But again, it, yeah, I think it challenges people to be open-minded and be curious and ask those questions. So cool. Any, any last words regarding me and speaking in training with a district?
No, I mean, we’re just so thankful. I mean that you were able to come with us for those days. Even in-between times we’re able to do a really great hike with you and eat dinner and connect with you in different ways. We just really appreciated you being with us. We felt like you were with us Those days. And we really appreciated getting to know you, and you definitely left a lasting mark and some things that will carry forward after your talk, so thank you for that.
thank you. The dinner April’s talking about was with first year principals, and we did that the night of day one and just got to hear about where they were nervous and what they were excited about. And gave everybody my entry plan book just to hopefully support ’em and build some more success and momentum into their year. And then in between, because I spoke on maybe a Tuesday and a Thursday, so that Wednesday we had the unofficial first ever butts in gear workshop, the big workshop butts in gear. And we went hiking on, I think it was called Circle All Peak. Cody, I think picked that one for us. And it was a very challenging hike, which I enjoyed. I love to be in mountains and I think it was 1500 elevation in elevation about two miles up and then down. And it was just a beautiful hike, with the most picturesque right views from the top. And certainly a memorable moment for sure. And it was fun hanging out with the cabinet folks. Thanks again for that opportunity. Last two questions of the show would be, if you could put a message in April on all school marquees around the world just for a single day, what would your message be?
April (30:41):I’ve used this over the years, but I think all students are our students. I’ve worked in a lot of Title one schools and schools with different cultures, different backgrounds, different types of students, different communities. And I think we’ve always tried to push this message and really believed this message of all kids in our building are, are our kids. And we treat them the way we treat our own kids. We care for them and we support them and we have high expectations for them. All kids are our kids. Probably be my marquee.
Okay. And if you were building your dream school in April, you weren’t constrained by any resources. Your only limitation was your ability to imagine how you would build your dream school? What would be the three guiding principles? And even who knows if Dr. Will Godfrey will listen or not? So you don’t have to say curious and intentional and united, it’s okay if you don’t.
Oh, you stole it. I was gonna use it, I was totally gonna use it. Our district has an incredible superintendent, that is to be curious, be intentional, be united, and you know, be curious and always ask questions. Listen, be interested in what’s going on and how can we be better? And intentionality, focusing on goals and how we can really use our time wisely. All of our resources towards what we really need and prioritize in our, in our day and in our school year and be united. I mean, we need to all be on the same page with what we think is the most important thing and that students, and so, yeah, be intentional. Be creative, be united, or sorry, curious. Intentional United is definitely our, that’s what I would use.
You would keep it. Okay. Cool. You could tell Dr. Godfrey, I’m staring at my bookshelf and I have my limited run Saturn pin right on the bookshelf, so that’s super fun. We covered a lot of ground today, April, of everything we discussed, what’s the one thing you wanna Ruckus Maker to remember?
I think just constantly being a lifelong learner is kind of a catchphrase. But I think that curiosity and, and knowing that you’ve never arrived, that you always need to learn and grow and be open to what you can learn today in the next day. And I think that the most important thing is that learning. And you’ve never gotten to that point where you’re gonna stop learning. There’s always something else to learn and something else to collaborate and communicate about. So I think that’s what I would say.
Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, better Schools podcast, Ruckus Maker. How would you like to lead with confidence, swap exhaustion for energy? Turn your critics into cheerleaders and so much more. The Ruckus Maker Mastermind is a world-class leadership program designed for growth-minded school leaders just like you. Go to BetterLeadersbetterschool.com/mastermind. Learn more about our program and fill out the application. We’ll be in touch within 48 hours to talk about how we can help you be even more effective. And by the way, we have cohorts that are diverse and mixed up. We also have cohorts just for women in leadership and a BIPOC only cohort as well. When you’re ready to level up, go to BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/mastermind and fill out the application. Thanks again for listening to the show. Bye for now and go, make a ruckus.
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With TeachFX, teachers see how much student talk happened, the moments of students sharing their brilliance, and the questions that got students talking. Learn how to pilot TeachFX with your teachers. Visit: teachfx.com/betterleaders
Why do students struggle? I’d argue that they lack access to quality instruction, but think about it. That’s totally out of their control. What if there was something we could teach kids there was something within their control that would help them be successful in every class? It’s not a magic pill or a figment of your imagination.
When students internalize Executive Functioning Skills they succeed.
Check out the new self-paced online course brought to you by OB that shows teachers how to equip their students with executive functioning skills.
Learn more at organizedbinder.com/go
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