Erika has been an educator for over 20 years, currently serving as the Assistant Superintendent in the Ashland School District. A special educator at heart, she is passionate about supporting all students through individual support to reach their limitless potential. She is excited about her new book, co-authored with Tiffany Burns, Connecting Through Conversation: A Playbook for Talking with Students.

Tiffany loves working with kids. In her two decades in education, she taught elementary, middle, and high school students, and worked as an instructional coach, curriculum writer, and university adjunct instructor in Oregon, Alaska, and Mexico. She loves her current role as an elementary school principal where she gets to lead, learn, and play with her favorite people–kids and their grown-ups.

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Show Highlights

Guide your children out of the tree with a heart centered approach to transform student impulsiveness post pandemic.

The micro-PD to create a systematic way to create a culture of connection.

Dig into equity and trauma-based practices to close the gap in lack of resources.

Three components to stop talking about why relationships are important, and show what makes a strong connected relationship.

Techniques to avoid power struggles and close the loop because emotions are contagious.

The book every teacher needs to construct day-to-day interactions and conversations to build a culture of connection in our schools.

Tools needed in our schools that go against instinct.

“I would encourage all of the Ruckus Makers listening to really focus on how each interaction you have with a student or a fellow educator is serving to build a connected relationship we’re learning. Know and give yourself grace. It’s not always instinctive or easy. Oftentimes it is really hard. So, prepare, write it down, make a plan. We got into this because we love kids so use your conversations to make sure that they feel that every single day.”
- Erika Bare

Madeline Mortimore

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Read the Transcript here.

Connecting Through Conversations

Daniel (00:02):
I wanna bring you to a moment, the early two thousands. I’m a teacher at Franklin Middle School. I just live a few blocks from the school. I ride my bike every day and I mow the lawn. The sun is out. It’s probably a beautiful spring day, a beautiful day. I’m listening to a podcast about parenting. One, because I always wanted to be a parent. And two, I figured there might be some insights in here that I could use and leverage to interact better with my students. What I learned is that I was the problem. That was the punchline. Let’s just get to that. If I dealt with said problem, which was me, then all the other problems in my classroom might just go away. And that actually turned out to be true. What I learned from this dad on this podcast was that he would give his boys a lot of choice. A lot of freedom to choose good and bad decisions. And then he let them live with the consequences. This could be another podcast in itself, but I thought that was a novel concept. The other thing I picked up from him was that he used this middle of the road language when his sons had this high negative energy because he didn’t wanna go on an emotional rollercoaster with the kids. I realized at that moment, as a teacher, I was jumping on the emotional rollercoaster every day, every class and that never ended well for my students, it ended up with them getting written up and sent out of class. I take things too personally, so on and so forth. I’m sure you can relate, or I’m sure you’ve seen this play out in classrooms on your campus. I learned a new way, a better way.

Daniel (01:48):
I learned how to respond to things that would be triggering or hurtful in the middle of the roadway that would not escalate a situation. And the kids just stopped. Once I stopped escalating and jumping on the emotional rollercoaster, I never wrote up a student again in my classroom. All of a sudden, overnight teaching became quite easy. That’s why I’m so excited. This longer intro. I’m so excited to bring today’s guest, Erika and Tiffany, who wrote a beautiful new book for our profession called Connecting Through Conversation. The subtitle is A Playbook for Talking With Students. This is the book I needed as a teacher. It would’ve taught me so much more than what I just explained in this brief intro. It’s really a book that every, every teacher needs. Pick this up for the teachers on your campus, for sure. Hey, it’s Danny, chief Ruckus Maker over at Better Leaders, Better Schools. I’m a principal development and retention expert. I am a bestselling author. I host not one, but two of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. And this shows for you a Ruckus Maker, which means you’ve made three commitments. You invest in your continuous learning and improvement, you challenge the status quo, and you’re committed to designing the future of school. We’ll be right back with our main episode after some messages from our show sponsors.

Daniel (03:20):
Deliver on Your School’s vision with Harvard’s Certificate in School Management and Leadership. Learn from Harvard Business and Education School faculty In Self-Paced online professional development, specifically designed for pre-K through 12 school leaders. Courses include leading change, leading school strategy, and innovation. Leading people and leading learning. Get started at BetterLeadersBetterschools.com/harvard.

Last year, teachers using Teach FX increased their student talk by an average of 40%. Teach FX uses AI to help teachers see the power of high leverage teaching practices in their own classroom level data. It’s like having a personal instructional coach on your phone, your tablet or laptop. Start your free [email protected]/betterleaders. If executive functioning skills are integral to student success, then why aren’t they taught explicitly and consistently in classrooms? I have no idea. I have no idea why that doesn’t happen. What I do know is that our friends over at Organized Binder have created a new course that will teach your teachers how to set up students for success via executive functioning skills. Learn [email protected]/go.

Daniel (04:49):
Ruckus Makers, today you get two for one special, which is really great.Erika Bare, who’s been actually on the podcast before is here again, and she’s been an educator for over 20 years, currently serving as the assistant superintendent in the Ashland School District, a special educator at heart. She’s passionate about supporting all students through individual support to reach their limitless potential. And then Tiffany Burns is here as well, who loves working with kids. In her two decades in education, she taught elementary, middle, and high school students and worked as an instructional coach, curriculum writer and university instructor in Oregon, Alaska, and Mexico. She loves her current role as an elementary school principal where she gets to lead and play with her favorite people, kids, and their grownups.Erika and Tiffany are here today to talk about their new book, connecting Through Conversation, A Playbook for Talking with students.Erika and Tiffany, welcome to the show.

Erika (05:51):
Thank you so much for having us. We’re thrilled to be here.

Daniel (05:55):
Pleasure. Great to have you here. Tiffany kids were quite impulsive, pre-pandemic, and now they might even be more impulsive. Tell me your kid in the tree story.

Tiffany (06:09):
I’ve had a few of those actually, but there was one a few months ago that really stood out to me. I was in the cafeteria with our kindergarten, first and second grade students, and this group of students came up to me and let me know that another kiddo was having a pretty hard time. I went over to check out what was going on and he was having a hard time. He was yelling, he was doing some name calling and he was really talking about how upset he was that one of his friends had told his “top-ist secret.” Top dis was clearly a big secret. I’m trying to de escalate, get him calm, kinda remove the audience because it was causing a bit of a scene. And before I could do that, he bolted, like he took off, he ran out of the cafeteria, he ran kind of behind this area of our building. I took off after him. And when I got there, I found him about eight feet up in the tree. I had a choice at that point. I did not have an opportunity to just let him chill out and cool down. He’s eight feet up in a tree and climbing. I took just a minute and took a beat, took a deep breath and gathered myself, made sure my feet were firmly on the ground and I was centered. I didn’t start by telling him to get out of the tree. I started by, I used the strategy that Erika and I talk about in the book, acknowledge, validate , and coach. I started by acknowledging and saying like, “Wow, bud, you are super angry. You are so angry. You’re mad that he told your top dis secret and you’re really upset.” He paused and stopped climbing. I was like, okay, I’m getting some traction here. We’re in the right direction and then I moved into validating. I’m telling him, “I get it and I totally get it. That hurt your feelings.He told your secret, you feel pretty upset about that. I get why you’d wanna run up here and hide.” And he pauses and he looks at me. And so I was like, “okay, we’re getting there. We’re getting there. And I was like, I get why you’d wanna hide.” And this is the point where I start moving into coaching. What I said is it’s really not super safe to be up here this high hiding in this tree. But what we can do is, there’s a place in my office that you could hide. There’s a super cozy bean bag and you can hang out in there for a bit and you can hide in there. Nick’s kinda looking at me and I’m going, all right, I’ve got him. At that point then I said “I can either help you down out of the tree or you can get down on your own. What do you think would work best?” And he just started kind of working his way down the tree. I was able to walk with him back to my office where we had a more connected conversation when there were a couple things that happened there. Like I stayed really calm, I did acknowledge, validate the coach in that order. I think a lot of times as educators, we jump straight into coach, like down out of the tree now, but when we stop and when we don’t do that, acknowledge and validate, students don’t feel like we hear, like we’re understanding them.

Tiffany (09:12):
Like I didn’t when I did that, I was letting him know, I get that you’re angry and I get why you’re angry. As soon as he felt heard and understood, then he was more available for that coaching piece. The other thing I did is I offered choices, but I didn’t ask a question. I didn’t feel like coming down from the tree now. Like, no, that’s not a question. I need you down from the tree. But I offered a choice, do you wanna get down on your own or would you like me to help you? I gave him agency and autonomy there and it ended up being a really successful conversation once we were not so high up on the ground.

Daniel (09:50):
Eight feet up a tree. That’s quite impressive. I think I would ask what the view is like up there. But I really appreciate your heart-centered approach. Acknowledging, validating and like you said you’re communicating to that kid, I get where you’re at and why you’re upset and that’s literally the words you use too. And then gave some forced choice. So you’re coming out of the tree, would you like to do it on your own or with help? What a successful way to do that. Thanks for the kid in the tree story. Let’s move on to talking about when you gave a micro PD to some education assistance. What’s that story? What did you learn?

Tiffany (10:36):
Those kinds of things happen frequently. You’re in this situation, those are not super comfortable situations and you have to think on your feet really quickly. When I do professional development, I’m an administrator, I’m a principal, but I’m a teacher. So to me it’s really important when I do professional development that it’s really engaging, that I’m using best practices, that I’m allowing opportunity for people to make meaning. They’re doing think -pair shares and group talk and different activities. We were having a meeting with our educational assistants and our student advocate who’s just a fabulous human. She said do you think that when you’re sharing the educational assistants today, you could share some of your tips and tricks? I don’t know what you’re talking about and she said just those little things that you’ll sometimes the little nuggets that you share with me when I’m going to talk to a kid. I was like, oh yeah, I could do that. And so I started jotting down some ideas of like, don’t ask a question if it’s not a choice. When kids are getting louder and faster, we’re gonna go lower and slower. We’re not gonna force eye contact. A bunch of little things like that. I wrote ’em all down and we’re having this meeting on Zoom. It was still during a time where we couldn’t gather together and I’m sharing these little, little ideas that I have. And I’m looking at the educational assistance and they’re writing everything that I’m saying down in this very, what I thought was a not engaging PD opportunity. And when I realized how much they were writing it down and how serious they were taking it I realized how important and helpful those ideas can be when really connecting with students and when you’re in those kinda intense, moving situations.

Daniel (12:22):
Makes sense. And Erika, let’s bring you into the conversation. Tiffany was just talking about sort of these things that we almost devalue or discount because it’s natural to us at this point, but you see people writing it all down because for them it’s paradigm shifting or a completely new worldview. Why do you think, Erika, that this information isn’t such common knowledge?

Erika (12:49):
When we first started kind of working with groups and sharing this information out, we were a little kinda nervous that we were gonna offend some folks who’d chosen to go into education by an idea that they didn’t already know how to talk with kids. I think most of us got into it because we love kids, we love talking to kids, and that’s not what we’re saying at all, that folks don’t know how to do it. It’s really just that through our experience, through trial and error, through all of our kind of work digging into equity-based and trauma-based practices, we realize there’s just a gap of resources. It’s not something that’s explicitly taught in our teacher administration prep programs. We found ourselves doing a whole lot of coaching with the folks that we worked with. Like, here, try this, use this sentence, think about this framing for that conversation. It’s not intuitive. When we’re really coaching folks around building connections, we were feeding them a lot of tools that had started to feel intuitive to us, but really had come with a lot of time and practice. It’s only when it’s done in a really thoughtful and systematic way that you can truly create a culture of connection and a classroom or school. The tools just aren’t intuitive. but writing them down felt important to us.

Daniel (14:03):
Part of the book closes those gaps for readers.

Erika (14:10):
Yeah, I think so. Tiffany and I had been talking about doing a project together for years. We had worked together for a long time and we were in a meeting just last fall and debriefing some powerful conversations that Tiffany had with students. She was actually talking about that PD that she had done with her educational assistance. I’m leaving, she’s like, that’s the book, how to Talk with kids that we need. I was like, oh yeah, that does sound like a great book. I’m thinking she likes to read by herself to read myself to kind of build up our skills. I went and I’m searching everywhere. I’m Amazon, I’m on Google, I’m at Barnes and Noble and there’s nothing. I went back and I’m like who’s the author? I can’t find this book and she burst out laughing at me. She’s like, no, that’s the book we write. And I was like, oh, okay that makes sense. There is a huge gap in resources and how to construct those day-to-day interactions, those conversations that we have every day, and then those higher stakes conversations in such a way that really builds that culture of connection in our schools. Educators aren’t always aware of the importance of paying attention to their own emotions, how they’re expressing care on that daily basis, how to plan for those conversations and just all of the different ways that communication plays a role in our school culture. A lot of what we talked about really goes against instinct. So for example, we’re super polite, so we always say, please, I’d really appreciate it if. And that really can set us effort, pilot store rules. If we’re asking for something that’s not a choice, we provide a perspective on eye contact that really goes against what’s typical in White Western culture. Look at me. Look at my face when I’m talking to you. Those kinds of things, really. A lot of us were raised that way. A lot of us had that ingrained in us just in the culture that we came up in. It’s not instinctive and we needed to write it down.

Daniel (16:12):
There’s a lot to learn there. Well, that’s really cool. I love that about your book. When you see an opportunity and a gap you fill it so it becomes very useful. I have a book coming out too on principal entry plans and I didn’t see a lot out there, you know what I mean? It was like deep searching. If you put in an entry plan. Principal entry plan, nothing came up and now one other book is out, but whatever. Anyways, that’s really great that you found that opportunity in. I love that you worked Erika and Tiffany together on it. I know Erika, you really resonate with this idea of isolation as a choice. How has your relationship with Tiffany benefited you?

Erika (16:58):
I appreciate your platform because it really is a job where you can become isolated. Bringing leaders together is so critical. Tiffany, I can’t even count all of the different ways that she’s benefited me, both personally and professionally. We connected really early on. We went through the administration prep program together down here in Ashland. I wanted to collaborate with her right away. She asked such good questions. And like any good Ruckus Maker, she was not satisfied with the answers oftentimes, especially if it was like, it’s always been that way or it’s not possible. There’s things that can sometimes close the thing down and she always has a gentle push that moves, moves folks out outside of the box. We connected there and we both ended up becoming administrators in the same district and at the same time. We really relied on each other early on. We would get together at least once a month and just talk about how we were getting through every day, running scenarios by each other, asking for advice and just making each other better. I’m really grateful for having Tiffany in my life. She shaped me as who I am as a leader today. Continued for at least 10 years now, days keep ticking by.

Daniel (18:15):
I’m really enjoying our conversation, excited about your book, connecting Through Conversation, a Playbook for talking with students. We’re gonna pause here for a second and I’m gonna share some messages from our sponsors. But on the other side Tiffany, I’d like to talk more about relationships, but this time in terms of building strong relationships with kids. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school’s success, and empower your teams. With a Harvard Certificate in School Management and Leadership, you can get online professional development that fits your schedule. Courses include leading change, leading school strategy and innovation, leading people and leading learning. You could apply today at BetterLeadersBetterschools.com/harvard. You know what student engagement sounds like. Students ask questions, they build on each other’s ideas. The classrooms are alive with conversation. Creating that kind of classroom is much easier said than done. Teach FX helps teachers make it happen. Their AI provides teachers with insights into high leverage teaching practices like how much student talk happened and which questions got students talking. Teach FX is like giving each teacher their own on-demand instructional coach to help them boost student engagement and learning as well as their own. It’s eye-opening for teachers and scales. The impact of each coach and principal. Ruckus Makers can start a free pilot with your teachers today. Go to teach effects.com/blbs to launch a free pilot for your school. If your students are struggling to stay focused and your teachers are showing signs of burnout, you need to act right now. The good news is that there’s a path forward. It is possible to lay the foundation to learning and re-energize teachers. And it’s found through executive functioning skills. When students get practice with these skills, they can better self-regulate and they are more successful academically.

Daniel (20:20):
As a result, our friends over at Organized Binder have released a new self-paced course that will teach you how to teach executive functioning skills and set your students up for success. The goal of this course is to help your students be more successful and get teachers back to the world in the work they were called to do. Learn [email protected]. And last but not least, I have an awesome event. It’s happening July 14th through 16th in Denver, Colorado. And the guiding question of the event is, what would be possible on your campus if you were consistently operating at your best? You’ll answer that question, and 49 other school leaders will answer that question. Right now we have two tickets available, so go to Better Leaders Better schools.com/denver 2023 and I’d love to see you there. Back to the show with Erika and Tiffany. We’re talking about their new book, which I highly recommend picking up. That book is called Connecting Through Conversation, A Playbook for Talking with Students. Before the sponsor break, I mentioned that I’d love to hear your formula for building stronger relationships with kids.

Tiffany (21:37):
For Erika and I, we really believe that at the very heart of education is connection. We’re talking about connections between educators and students, educators and each other, educators and families, connection all around with the humans that are in the school. At the foundation of that is really building connected relationships for learning. As educators, we hear all the time that relationships are necessary for connecting with kids. Any educator will tell you that relationships really matter. I realize that a lot of people talk about why relationships are important, but we don’t necessarily hear so much about how to do it. We spent some time really talking and thinking about what makes a strong connected relationship for learning. We believe that there’s three main components that must be in place.

Tiffany (22:28):
Those are listening, dignity, and untrust. When we truly listen, kids will speak their truths. In order for that to happen, we need to listen actively. When we’re talking with students, we need to seek to understand before we take action or move forward, we need to put away distractions. We don’t want our phone out or checking our email. We don’t wanna be thinking about what’s the next thing I’m going to say. We really wanna be present and actively listening so we can truly hear what the student has to say. When we do that, students feel valued and seen and understood, and that in turn helps really acknowledge their identity. When we’re acknowledging our identity, then we’re treating them with dignity. That’s our next piece. We really wanna know our kids. So we wanna learn their names, know how to pronounce them correctly, find out about their interests, what kind of music they like, what are the cultural trends that they’re into right now. We wanna appreciate who they are, celebrate who they are, celebrate their differences and their unique characteristics. All of those things together really help acknowledge and affirm their dignity. When their dignity is affirmed. It helps build and foster, it helps build belonging. It fosters safe, welcoming and inclusive environments. And those are environments where students trust us and we know that kids need to trust us to learn from us. You know, learning is really risky. When we think about the last time we learned something new, like really learned a new concept or skill, there may or may not have been someone watching us as kids. We ask them to engage in this productive struggle every day. A lot of the time we ask them to do it publicly for a whole bunch of kids that can be just unbelievably terrifying. They need to trust us so that they can make mistakes so they can ask questions. To be able to set that up, to have this connected relationship for learning, we really have to have all of those components in place that listen to dignity and trust. When we have those, we can move mountains. We can do all kinds of things.

Daniel (24:37):
Absolutely. And shout out to Carlos who is just really resonating with that idea of active listening and staying in the moment. So thank you Carlos, for the comment. I just wanna highlight too. It’s such low hanging fruit, but like knowing everybody’s name and learning how to pronounce, just do that. My wife’s surname, she’s Zimbabwe Muk, is very fanatic. It’s so easy to pronounce, so easy. But it’s got a lot of letters. What’s so interesting is when we lived in Scotland, let’s say that for example, the post carrier would come by and say delivery for Muamba and they would attempt it and get it right most of the time. And here it’s just, it’s an observation and it’s disappointing to be honest, but so often on the phone or whatever, like people in America will see that name and say, oh I can’t even, like, they say, I can’t even do that. Like, what are you talking about? It’s so phonetic. We live on Tecumseh Road, but when I’ll tell people on the phone like, here’s where we are, oh, you’re gonna have to spell that for me. Those kinds of comments boost so much privilege or I don’t know what the opposite of curiosity is. it is saying I don’t even wanna attempt to learn this thing. I’m opening up a can of worms, but get to know people’s names, learn how to say them. Is there anything I’m sharing that you’re resonating with that you wanna comment on as well? Or can we keep moving on?

Tiffany (26:23):
No, I think absolutely for students, if somebody knows their name and, and really pronounces, as a principal, I work really hard to know every single student’s name. It matters. They light up when you say their name and you know how to pronounce it correctly. I’ll say things like remind me your name, or can you remind me how to pronounce that. I wanna make sure I get it right and then I’ll practice it with them and make sure that I’m getting it right. The other thing that I’ll do at school is if somebody’s pronouncing someone’s name incorrectly, really gently, I’ll help them pronounce it correctly. It’s important that we help each other out with that as well.

Erika (27:02):
It’s really about knowing our students and our families too. It’s knowing the kid’s name, knowing a little bit about them, figuring out who’s their mom, who’s their person they’re living with, what’s their dog’s name. As much as we can integrate into our conversations with them about the fact that we see them, we value them, we appreciate what’s unique about them goes so far in building those relationships that will allow us to really make connections.

Daniel (27:31):
It’s not rocket science. You want to have a great campus, agreed school value, people do whatever. Communicate that you value them and great stuff happens. Erika, I wanna go back. You mentioned how you appreciate being polite and sometimes that might invite a power struggle. If anybody’s listening or watching and thinking, what advice do you have for Ruckus Makers in terms of avoiding power struggles

Erika (28:03):
We’ve all been there and I think you ask a student for something that feels really small or a really quick redirection and all of a sudden they’re responding with this invitation. To rumble in some kind of way. What we know for sure is that as soon as we’ve engaged in a power struggle with a kid, we have lost. The best course of action, of course, is to just avoid them in the first place. Something as basic, and we talked about this a little bit, but making sure that we don’t frame non requests is questions can make a big difference. For example, instead of saying to a student, can you please take your seat? You might say, you can take your seat now or you may take your seat. That subtle word change can make a really big difference.

Erika (28:46):
A technique that I really like is the say it and run technique, which is essentially share the expectation and then get away as fast as you can. For example, if a student puts their phone on the desk right after you remind everyone to put it away, you might yell next to them and say, Hey, I’m gonna enter attendance. You can either put your phone in your pocket or your backpack and then get out of there and start entering attendance before they respond. Sometimes just by removing yourself, you’re allowing them to save some face. Like they’re not gonna get into it with you. And it makes it easier for them to follow the expectation. Another kind of favorite quick reframing is to let students know we wish we could do whatever it is that they were wanting to do. Tiffany’s saying before, I wish we could climb trees at school. For example, when I was at the high school, we had a tardy problem when I was chatting with a student about why they were late again, and they started to go on and on about how in the world can we expect them to show up at time when school starts so early? It’s unreasonable that schools start so early. My response was I really wish we did start later. Like, I would love to get a little more sleep. We know what research says about later start times. I wish that was true. I think you should really consider writing the letter to the school board. Let’s see what we could do to change this. And until then you need to be on time. It just took all of the fight out because there was nothing to convince me of. I’m with you. I really wish we did start later. And that did have a happy ending. We didn’t have a power struggle and we did end up moving the start time later. So it was a win. Taking out that need to argue is really helpful. And we have a ton of really specific kind of tips, techniques, sentence stems on our website. Would love for folks to check that out if they wanna learn more free resources. www.connecting through conversation.com.

Daniel (30:43):
Brilliant. I’ll have that in the show notes for folks too. I resonate with everything you’re sharing and I wish I had this book when I was still in the classroom, I came across a podcast episode, it was discussing parenting and I learned so much about how this dad interacted with his kids. I applied the lesson into the classroom and what I’m sensing is that this book delivers, like that podcast episode did because it gave me an approach. What I realized is to manage my emotion, manage my energy, stop getting power struggles with students, and when they would say things that were hurtful or embarrassing or even might trigger me and make me angry. They do that. Sometimes intentionally I realized I would get into an escalating relationship with them. It would only make things worse and it would end up with them getting written up and sent out a class. I never gave myself a timeout, by the way. Once I had that epiphany and that aha in the language to essentially kind of it was almost like a Jedi, a kid would say something and I would not agree or disagree, I would have a very in the middle response, like, maybe, right, you’re the worst teacher. You’re probably right, maybe right. And they’re like, what do you mean? I just insulted you in front of all my peers. You’re supposed to now fight back and tell me I’m a bad kid and write me up. And I wouldn’t, I refused to do that. Once I learned that lesson, I didn’t write up a single kid ever again. And that taught me it was me. Because the kids didn’t necessarily change, we stopped with the escalation. My response to those behaviors changed and then the behavior started going away, and then there was no, no more need. I highly recommend your work, it’s so practical like that and shows you how to teach with kids. What a gift to our profession. Let’s move on to the last three questions I asked all my guests. This is for both of you. This one we’ll start with you Tiffany, but basically if you could put one message right on all marquees on every campus around the world for a single day, what would your message be?

Tiffany (33:03):
At the heart of education is connection.

Daniel (33:06):
Gotcha. Second message. Get out of the tree.

Tiffany (33:11):
Get that you’re angry. .

Erika (33:12):
Safely get down.

Daniel (33:17):
Erika, what would your message be?

Erika (33:19):
I would say we build connected relationships for learning. If we just put that out there as this is what we do here, then we can work together as a community and it might happen.

Daniel (33:29):
EriKa’s been on the show before. Tiffany, I’m gonna give you the dream school question. You’re building your dream school. You have no constraints in terms of resources, your only limitations, your ability to imagine. How would Tiffany build her dream school? What would be the three guiding principles?

Tiffany (33:46):
Oh my goodness. Danny, I just built my dream school. We actually opened on Monday where we last Monday where we invited kids in. It’s a family filled place. We had a family. We have a family room that is fully equipped with a washer and dryer, a coffee maker, a dishwasher and a microwave, and a really comfy place for families to be able to come in and connect and gather, and then really kid-centered spaces. We have sensory spaces kind of all around the school. We have a quiet corner in every classroom with different sensory tools for calming and deescalation. We have a restaurant style cafe, so there’s no industrial tables, like it’s more of smaller circle tables or bigger bistro tables or different oval areas or spots for kids to connect with one another. And then off to the side, we have what’s called a sensory cafe. So it’s still part of the cafe. There’s all glass windows on the side, but it’s a noise reduction. Students that have different sensory or overstimulation issues can still be part of our, part of our school. Lots of outdoor learning spaces, so an opportunity to be outside. We have a huge courtyard and a garden, but if there were no limitations and I could totally make it my own school, I would hire a bunch more staff and pay him a bunch more money.

Daniel (35:11):
EriKa, you can have the last word. We covered a lot of ground today. Of everything we discussed, what’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Erika (35:20):
I would encourage all of the Ruckus Makers listening to really focus on how each interaction that you have with a student or a fellow educator is serving to build a connected relationship we’re learning. Know and give yourself grace. Like it’s not always instinctive or easy, it’s oftentimes really hard. So prepare, write it down, make a plan. We got into this because we love kids. Use your conversations to make sure that they seal that every single day.

Daniel (35:54):
Thanks for listening to The Better Leaders, better Schools podcast Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @Alienearbud. 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 at @Alienearbud and using the hashtag #BLBS. Level Up your leadership at BetterLeadersBetterschools.com and talk to you next time. Until then, “class dismissed.”



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