Husband and father who teaches high school in Cedar Springs, MI. His blog, DaveStuartJr.com, is read by over 50,000 educators each month, and his bestselling These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most has been cherished by teachers and leaders around the world. Accomplished creator of professional development facilitator, having spoken on nearly 200 different occasions, both overseas and in every US state.

Show Highlights

Five key beliefs for cultivating student motivation and desire to learn.
Practical advice for teachers and school leaders for continuous growth
Two questions you need to answers as a school leader
Strategies to avoid sacrificing your personal life on the ‘altar of professional success.’
Pedagogy became so much deeper and simpler because of making that decision.
Tips to increase your ruckus ability and make the most of your year.
Free book opportunity to maximize your ruckus factor.
“More kids experience negative emotion in their high school days than experience overwhelmingly positive emotion. So that’s a problem. And it’s an interesting problem because that goes completely in contrast to everyone’s intentions. There’s not a single listener, it’s not a single parent, not a single teacher that wants that to be true. And yet it is true. And what I argue in the book is it’s because we’re not paying attention to belief.”
- Dave Stuart

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Read the Transcript here.

Dave Stuart Transcript

No student wakes up saying, I don’t want to feel connected to my school. Like, I just don’t want it to be a good experience. I don’t want any friends. I don’t want to do well in my classes. Nobody wakes up feeling that way. No teacher wakes up thinking, oh, I want to make this classroom experience just the worst for my kids. And there’s no Ruckus Maker leading a school who wakes up thinking, I’m just going to dump on my staff and really screw with the kids and just make this a lousy, lousy experience for everybody. Nobody thinks this way. And yet there’s many students who are 100% disconnected, right, from what’s going on campus. And there are students that are really struggling. Now, what if we could turn that around?

What if we could actually increase the student will and motivation across the entire student population? What would need to be true? Maybe one way to look at it is to consider, what are the beliefs that guide everything, my actions, my assumptions, how I show up? And how do we look at those beliefs? What are the beliefs we should even be exploring? Well, my friend Dave Stewart Jr. Is on the show today and he wrote a super interesting new book that you should pick up. That text is called the will to learn, cultivating student motivation without losing your own. And we’re going to do a deep dive into motivation, into beliefs. According to Dave, there’s five, and we’ll look at those today and we go really in depth into the student and classroom experience.

There’s so much great practical advice on today’s episode that you can leverage whether you’re a classroom teacher or leading a campus. Hey, I’m Danny, chief Ruckus Maker at better leaders, better schools. I’m a principal development and retention expert, best selling author, and I host two of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. The show is for you, a Ruckus Maker, which means you’ve made three commitments. You’ve committed to investing in your continuous growth, you’re committed to challenging the status quo, and you’ve committed to designing the future of school. Now we’ll be right back with the main conversation after a few short messages from our show sponsors. Hey, Ruckus Maker. I’ll make this quick. If you’re listening to this message right now, you’re missing out.

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After coaching and mentoring thousands of school leaders, I’ve identified seven key areas that make Ruckus Makers highly effective. When you download the school leadership Scorecard, you will identify the highest leverage opportunities for you to grow in the next 90 days, and you can complete this tool in ten minutes or less. Get your free copy of the school Leadership [email protected]. Scorecard if you could differentiate instruction in 20 minutes or less, would you do it for your students? Well, you can with IXL. Over 1 million teachers use IXL because it empowers them to use effective, data informed instruction. Get started [email protected]. Leaders that’s IxL.com leaders. 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 TeachFX app by visiting teachfx.com/betterleaders and you can pilot their program today. Go to teachfx.com/betterleaders to see how you know why. I love the book executive functions for every classroom. It shows teachers exactly how to create a predictable and empowering learning routine, one where every student on your campus would become more independent, focused, and better equipped to succeed academically, learn the system, and enjoy the success that will follow by ordering executive functions for every classroom [email protected]. Book that’s organizedbinder.com book. All right, Ruckus Makers, today is super fun because I get to talk to a friend, and we have committed to having fun on this conversation and this podcast that we do for you.

Dave’s super cool, really just awesome energy and so freaking smart. You’re going to learn so much from this guy today. So in terms of Dave, he’s a husband and father who teaches high school in Cedar Springs, Michigan. His blog, davestewartjr.com, is read by over 50,000 educators each month. And his best selling, these six things, how to focus your teaching on what matters most, has been cherished by teachers and leaders around the accomplished creator of professional development facilitator, having spoken on nearly 200 different occasions, both overseas and in every US state. For real? Every US state. How about that?

Collected them all.

Do you get a badge or a patch?

Yeah, they send you a little plaque.

So, hey, Dave’s joining me on the show today too, to talk about his latest book that he did with Corwin. It’s called the Will to learn, cultivating student motivation without losing your own. So, Dave, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me here. My friend. Danny, good to have you.

Let’s just jump right now to the topic and you’ve got this great book out. The will to learn, cultivating student motivation without losing your own. How did you get on this topic?

When I was writing my previous book, these six things, the push inside of my soul for that book was I want to boil teaching down to just the fundamental areas of our work, that if we become expert in these few areas, no matter what we teach, we’re going to be able to make a much more sense of the basic requirements of the job and how to do it well, how to still have a life. And so the second chapter of that book was about student motivation, and there was just tons that I had to cut from that. So before these six things even came out, I knew my next book needed to be a deep dive into this topic. How do we help young people want to do the work of learning and want to do it with care?

And you talk about in the subtitle, too, to cultivate that motivation within your students without losing your own. Can you say a little more about that?

Thanks for queuing in on that because I think that’s kind of the, if there’s something unique about me as a teacher, it’s that I really can’t hold on to super complex ideas and need things to be simple. And I also still teach in the classroom. And I have a family, like you mentioned in my intro. So it’s really important to me that I have a lot of gas left in the tank when I go home. It’s important to me that I don’t sacrifice my kids, my wife, my family, my personal life on the altar of professional success. I’m really only interested in strategies that give you a high yield for your effort.

And that’s something I’ve always noticed and admired about you because you’re not necessarily in a rush to jump into something because other people are doing it or responding to emails and texts and that kind of thing, because you really center and care about family.And what you need as a human, right just to thrive. So if it’s not too personal, can you share some of the things that just work for you.With keeping those boundaries? Because whether it’s, there’s classroom teachers who are Ruckus Makers who love this show for sure. Then there’s a lot that have the title principal, assistant principal as well. Both of those educators, Ruckus Makers, want to center, I think, family, but struggle with it. What works for you?

A couple of things. One, I think the biggest ruckus you can make with your life, if you happen to have a family, is to do well in that domain. We as educators often see, we see with frustration how limited some of our tools really are as the people who necessarily have control of our kids’ home lives. So our classes are just changing. So Riley, if you want to sit right, then you won’t be on a video, okay? Independent studies. So like, for one thing, this idea of being a Ruckus Maker and how do I maximize the ruckus I can make with my life? I think family. To me, if you have a family, again, it’s really important there. But even if you don’t, I think having a well developed personal life enhances your ability to perform in a job.

In terms of really specific things, I have strict working hours for myself. It took several years for me to really, for that to become ingrained, to become a habit. Now it’s actually very difficult for me to work in the evening. Sometimes if my kids are all away or everyone’s in bed or something, maybe I’ll try to jump on and get caught up on emails. There’s an ever-present plague, now in my inbox. I love emails and writing with people, but that’s the area where I really struggle because of my boundaries. Tim Ferris is big on saying you can’t avoid problems if you’re going to live a prioritized life. So the key is picking your problems, picking the bad things that will come as a result of your choices.

So I would rather be a bit bad at some of these things, like email if it means that I can be more present for my family. So that’s just a real basic boundary. Work hours got you?

To rephrase and correct me where I’m wrong, it’s like choosing a priority and realizing that there’ll be a consequence or a challenge that comes with making that choice and then finding a way to be at peace with what that is. So you send her family, you’re not going to be able to get back to everybody via email or whatever, and you just have to live with that.
And I think one more for people in your audience, since they are tuned in to the literature, to the conversation. I could still recall distinctly when I realized I was just oversaturated with PD information. I was reading every book that came out and I just wasn’t getting a big bang for that buck. And I was often feeling inadequate because I’m always encountering new ideas. So I decided I was just going to read Mike Schmoker’s book Focus for a year. I was going to read and reread. If I ever wanted to invest in my learning through reading professional work, it’s just going to be him. And really, that’s where my book, these six things, came out of that year long meditation on his book. And my pedagogy became so much deeper and simpler because of making that decision.

So I recommend they read that new joint coming out from about starting the year off strong. I know this podcast supposed to be about my book, but I’m putting the shine back on you, Danny.

I’m not going to shy away from talking about, you should pick up, for sure, build leadership momentum. It’s about how to create your perfect principal entry. I think there’s some common themes between our work, at least in our conversation here, too, because I was talking to this guy, John, and I’m going to bring this back to you. But John’s a principal in Arkansas. In the content of the book, I taught life right through whatever, an online challenge for five nights. They were like hour and a half type coaching calls, and it was called the back to school bootcamp. Okay, come up with the entry plan. John does it. And how’d your life change, John? And he said, listen, I used to always be up at night, just with all the complex stuff that needed to happen.

Just worried, anxious, stressed out. And after I implemented what you taught in the entry plan, I can honestly say the stress was all gone. Wow, that’s kind of really important. And so that’s the promise of the book, a stress free start to the school year. And I delivered that result with our friend. Somebody we both love Ariel Curry, the co author here. And anyways, we deliver the result in as few words as possible. So you were talking about high yield strategies.

Exactly. That’s such a good example. Everyone knows. I mean, that’s another, I think, connection between our bodies of work, Danny, is we’re not writing like these crazy, groundbreaking ideas, but we are reminding us, like, no, this stuff really is important. Having a plan at the start of your school year really solves so many downstream problems. You just all of a sudden will realize halfway into the school year, like so many problems from the previous years I haven’t seen this year, it’s because you erased them with that investment in the high yield strategy of having a plan, having a great plan at the start.

Thanks for sharing that. Let’s get back to student motivation. And your book is in resource, right, like you said. Okay, I’m focused only on smokers’ work for a year. There’s a lot of books on student motivation. So why is this the one to read? How’s it different?

Well, that’s something I’m very proud about, is that it’s super different, because it dips as much into kind of commonsensical, proverbial type observations about human nature as it does into really hard, sturdy, empirical research. And it takes all that and reduces the problem of student motivation down to five beliefs. Five key beliefs. And if students believe these five things in a given situation, whether it’s writing an essay or sitting in their first hour math class getting dressed and ready for their physical education class period, if they believe these five things, they’re going to tend to want to do the work of learning at hand and want to do it with care. And if they don’t, then they’ll tend not to. And we could talk a bit more about those beliefs real briefly in a second.

But it’s just like such an important concept, I think, because thinking about student motivation this way really honors the humanity and agency of each human being because it basically says what you believe matters. What you believe is substantial, is predictive, and it’s not like something to be treated as a problem in the sense of like, my book doesn’t blame students for demotivation. It doesn’t blame teachers. It just tries to describe this really painful reality that no one wakes up in the morning thinking, I really can’t wait to be apathetic today. No human being desires to experience apathy, to experience no confidence that they can succeed, to experience feeling alienated from their peers. No one and yet that is a more common experience for especially high school students in the US than the experience of motivation.

More kids experience negative emotion in their high school day than experience overwhelmingly positive emotion. So that’s a problem. And it’s an interesting problem because that goes completely in contrast to everyone’s intentions. There’s not a single listener, it’s not a single parent, not a single teacher that wants that to be true. And yet it is true. And what I argue in the book is it’s because we’re not paying attention to belief.

Well, you’ve piqued my interest. You certainly want me to. I want to ask, so what are the five beliefs?

They’re not going to sound super new, so I organize them hierarchically. I really do think that there’s an order of priority for cultivating these beliefs. At the bottom is credibility, teacher credibility, which any student of John Hattie will recognize as something with a super high effect size. It’s just a belief. The kid has a good teacher. My teacher cares, my teacher knows what they’re doing. They’re in it today to win it. Those are part of that credibility constellation. Next is value. Value is much more difficult because credibility is really my responsibility as a teacher. Other things have an influence on my credibility, but primarily it’s what I do and signal that’s going to determine whether or not I’m credible with kids. But value, like school, is worthwhile. World history is interesting. I can use this someday. This is beautiful. This is meaningful.

Value is hard because on the one hand, there’s so many different ways to arrive at it. Like think about competition. Sometimes teachers will tell me, well, I get kids motivated through competition. Well, competition works really well to motivate some, but really well to demotivate others. Because some think competition is fun, think it’s interesting, but others think that it’s boring, it’s gross, they have no interest in it. So I’m not saying don’t use competition in your class. I’m just saying you must realize when cultivating the value belief that there are just a lot of different ways to arrive at it. And so value is so fun. I love that part of the book. And then you have this double part of the pyramid that’s effort and efficacy.

The belief that effort is cool, desirable, useful, will pay off, and the belief that you’ll succeed at a given task. And typically, the problem with these is that we just don’t do a good job in school of defining and demonstrating and reinforcing what is good effort. Like, we just glamorize effort, period. Which now corded to Carol Dweck. One of the worst things that you can do to build a growth mindset, by the way, is growth mindset. Effort beliefs are fundamentally the same thing. So we make effort really vague, unclear, and then we make success really vague and unclear. We leave it undefined or we define it like one time. But human beings need success articulated well for them many times. And they also need a chance to reflect on what success is for themselves many times.

They can’t just set a goal at the start of the year in a classroom where there’s high efficacy, you’re typically going to have a lot of really the strategy in the book where I talk about this is define success wisely, early and often. Wisely, early and often. And all three of those are so important for advocacy to flourish. And the last one is belonging. It’s just about identity. Context fit. I fit in here. And I often tell people that if you can take care of the bottom four beliefs, belonging is more than likely to take care of itself. Because who doesn’t want to identify with a space where they think that they can succeed and the work matters and the teacher cares and effort is cool. Like, everyone wants to be a part.

Of that type of group 100%. When I’m talking to school leaders, ruckus, bakers, I try to let them know I think their staff, you’re a teacher, so I’d love your feedback actually on this idea. But I tell them, really your staff is, they’re trying to answer two questions. If we boil it down and try to make it simple, the two questions are, does my leader like me or care about me? Right. And then am I doing a good job? Like, that’s it to Matt.

You’re so dead on, Danny. I love that. Just my heart knows since my audience is the. I get all the emails of someone who’s experiencing pain, emotional pain, because of relationship problems with their boss. And it so often comes down to exactly what you just said. But you’re bringing up an important point. This five key beliefs model can so easily apply to a principal’s work with their teachers. Am I doing a good job? That’s an efficacy question.

And the problem is, for most teachers, success is poorly defined. It’s defined by the three items on the eval rubric. And I’m not saying you can throw away your rubric, most Ruckus Makers and your audience can’t. But I am saying that you can have a shorthand that you repeat a million times a day. My principal this year is a great example. He constantly tells us he expects our personal best. It’s a meme around our school. He says the same thing to students. Literally, kids have made t-shirts about it because he’s so over the top and repeating it. But that’s brilliant from an efficacy cultivation standpoint because, well, just. Yeah, the phrase, Danny, you got to interview this guy sometime because I think you would have connected us. Connection point. Your two questions. That’s a book, man. I don’t know. That’s your next book. I love it. How can principals answer those two questions? Yeah, write that down.

I’ve got the next four mapped out, so that’ll be.

I was going to say, you’re not a guy I’ve ever known to lack for things to do, so let me just give you something to do.

It’s on the to do list, Dave, so thank you for that. I just appreciate your generosity and warmth and insight into our profession. I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation. Let’s pause here just for a second to get some messages in from our sponsors and when we get back, you sort of hinted that this work connects to what principals do, and I want to explore that a little bit further on the other side. As a school leader, time is your greatest resource, and there is a real sense of urgency when it comes to getting students what they need right now. That’s why I love the IXL universal screener. In 20 minutes or less, you can identify students in need of intervention. And IXL’s adaptive platform makes differentiating instruction easy.

As students learn, Ixl adjusts to the right level of difficulty for each individual kid. Get started [email protected]. Leaders. That’s ixl.com leaders. 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 TeachFX, teachers can gather their own feedback without relying on classroom observations. The TeachFX instructional coaching app is like giving every teacher their own instructional coach whenever they want it. Ruckus Makers can pilot TeachFX with their teachers. Visit teachfx.com/betterleaders to learn how. That’s teachfx.com/betterleaders. If you’re a leader who is passionate about creating more engaging and impactful learning environments, executive functions for every classroom is for you. Many teachers find themselves spending too much time on managing their students, which leaves little time for actual teaching.

But executive functions for every classroom offer a solution. It provides teachers with practical strategies to help students develop critical executive functioning skills. When teachers create a predictable and empowering learning routine, every student on your campus will become more independent, focused, and better equipped to succeed academically. That’s what you can expect on your campus when you implement the system as described in executive functions for every classroom. So head over to organizebinder.com book to get executive functions for every classroom. Grab it for yourself and all your teachers [email protected]. Slash book we’re back with Dave Stewart Jr. And he has a book that I want you to pick up. It’s called the Will to learn, and we’re really focused on student motivation. Prior to our sponsorship slot of the podcast, we were talking about how this work might connect to the principal’s work.

Ruckus Makers, their lead in schools. And how do these five beliefs in the will to learn connect to their role?

Let’s talk about credibility to start with. And you touched on it with one of your questions. So I often tell teachers that, well, first I like to ask teachers, and I mean, you could do the same with principals. We know that credibility is at play in any context where people are being led by someone else. Okay, credibility, the belief that you’re good at your job as a leader, whether you’re an administrator or a principal or a coach or a teacher, credibility is at play. The question I like to ask people is, what goes into that? How are people often subconsciously making that assessment? Because everyone is. The credibility researchers say that you are judging the person that you’re listening to, the person that you’re being led by, whether you know it or not, you are.

And so people will come with just like a bunch of different factors, and they’re all true. So I like to use this shorthand. CCP. Care, competence, and passion. Care, competence, and passion. When you are consistently signaling care, competence, and passion to an individual, signaling meaning the words you say, the words you don’t say, the way that you handle problems, the things that are on your wall in your email signature line, your body language, like all the things that you do, when you’re consistently signaling these things, people are going to tend to find you credible as a Ruckus Maker. So care, I think, comes down to two specific types. If you want to be a credible leader, administrator, et cetera, then you need to demonstrate care for them personally. So this is your question, do you like me?

But then you also need to demonstrate care for them professionally and for teachers. I would say academically. If all you do is demonstrate care personally, then you’re going to be not a good principal. You’re going to be a good person, a good guy, a nice person. But that’s not credibility. Credibility isn’t just being liked, it’s being respected as good at your job. So you need to make sure that everyone’s getting signals from you that you actually do care about their growth as a professional, that you see what they’re doing well, you see what could be better where they’re struggling and you care to see them get better. So that’s the care signaling. Competence is harder to quickly fix.

I argue, based on tons of anecdotal evidence, that you can fix care just by printing off the name of everyone that you’re responsible for and putting a check mark next to their name each time that you intend to signal care to them. And you try to do that. If you keep filling up checklists like that every week, two weeks, whatever cadence makes sense and doesn’t burn you out, then you’re going to increase the sense that people know that you care. But competence, it’s just hard. You got to read books that help you to work smarter, not harder. I don’t want to turn this into a giant commercial for your book, but seriously, like how you start the school year, that’s one of those things that’s going to send a ton of signals.

And as people in the classroom have to grapple with too, like the first days, they’re not the only days that matter. The daily humdrum is often neglected by people. But the first days do have an outsized influence on credibility determination. So how do you respond to emails in a timely fashion? How do you give feedback after an observation? How do you handle discipline in a way that’s restorative and people feel heard and you came to a good conclusion. These things are all very difficult, but all signaling our competence are not. At this point, people begin to feel stressed out, Danny, with this idea because it sounds like it’d be perfect to be credible, but it’s really just about sending. It’s just making your ratio positive.

And when you do make mistakes, inevitably seeking to do what you can to repair those mistakes, and then that passion piece is just about expressing urgency. Basically in the book I call it gentle urgency because some people can be too high strung and they make it feel like every minute matters. But it’s in a way that feels very anxious. So you want to demonstrate to your staff every minute matters you want to have really tight, like, for example, lesson plans for your pds, but at the same time adding in some of those pieces that communicate warmth. And hey, we’re all human beings here, so I see that too.

Yes, I’m passionate about us making the most of our year, but also I’m passionate about you being, well, I think that’s a lot about credibility that administrators could go and take and use to increase their ruckus ability. Ruckus.

Absolutely. Ruckus factor. Now that’s an interesting title too.

The ruckus factor. ATwo book ideas, man. Got some work to do, buddy.

To be honest and since we’re about, I’m writing everything down, high leverage ideas. It could be both fans. The Ruckus factor could just answer these two questions. The supercharger school leadership.

Might have titled it too. Since we’re talking about this book. Do you want to write the forward one afternoon?

Yeah, write me down for the forward.

Okay. All right, sweet. I wrote it down, so I’m not going to forget that. I appreciate you keeping it up, it’s cracking me up. You keep saying like, go get Danny’s book. So here’s what I’m going to do. Go get Dave’s book. And if you already pre ordered my book, I would really appreciate it. Get the will to learn. So pick that up. Email me, [email protected]. So show me the receipt that you purchased Dave’s book. I’ll send you the book that he’s telling you to buy, which is also my book. I will send you that book for free if you buy Dave’s book. First ten people. Okay, first ten. Because a leader says undefined success repeatedly and often. First ten leaders to buy Dave’s the will to learn and email me, [email protected]. Include a picture. I need to see that you bought Dave’s book.

I will send you to build leadership momentum, the principal entry pan book for free. So we’ll do that one as a little bonus.


My pleasure.

There you go. Your summer readings all taken care of.

Summer reading is taken care of. And if you’re looking for a summer event, come to Denver. I actually want to ask a question that I didn’t have queued up. And I know the beliefs and everything we’re talking about is important. I’m just curious. I have the sense that your students really enjoy having you as a teacher, and I get the five beliefs and all that kind of stuff. But what I’m asking is, in addition to those beliefs that you create the environment you create for your classroom, what’s that one thing also that sort of sets you apart and helps you have that kind of impact in the classroom, basically. What do you think your secret sauce is? Or superpower?

Yeah. Well, I think that I’ve always really been concerned when I don’t like my students. It’s just been untenable for me to live with that tension. And every single year, there are students that I just come to, not like they bother me or personalities don’t jive. This is something everyone in education experiences but I’ve just.

But doesn’t talk about. So thank you for bringing this up.

Yeah, we just think, like, well, that’s not allowed. But, no, that’s humans beings that are forced to be together in this kind of new idea in human history called school. So, yeah, even in the first years of my career, I would take walks. I mean, as a person of faith, I would literally pray, like, God, please help me like, these kids that I’m listing you right now, because I really don’t. They’re driving me. Help me like them, help me love them, help me appreciate them. That really is kind of unconscious for me at this point of just finding things in every single kid. I don’t care if that kid just openly says every day, like, school is stupid, this is dumb. Why’d you do this with your life, Stewart? That’s a kid that I just still takes work. Okay?

But it is inner work that I do and prioritize to sit there and process through. Like, oh, that made me feel pretty bad today. Like, I felt pretty small with what that student said. But I also can remember being that age and just saying things, not realizing the power of them. And there’s just so much about these kids stories I don’t know. So I’m going to accept that happened. Maybe I’ll say something to them tomorrow and just say, hey, think about that. Yesterday, it did kind of ding me what you said. I kind of took that air and had to process it, but I’m one of the star fresh few are, so, yeah, I would say this is secret sauce, man. I do just generally like getting to work with my age group, and I like getting to work with teachers, too.

So it’s the same when I lead. Like, I don’t care if it’s a teacher that comes in with the stack of papers and the earbuds. Like, just found it determined to ignore this guy from, like, I love the.

Slow process and with.

I just. I love the process of watching them unfold a little bit and open up a little bit and realize, like, okay, this guy’s not. Treat me like I’m down here. Talk me like a colleague. He’s giving me things that are useful to think about. So, yeah, maybe that’s my good secret sauce.

Maybe. I love it. I love the approach, and I love the authenticity with the answer. Approaching it as a colleague, too, like a keynote or a workshop. I mean, there’s an actual application for the Ruckus Maker who might be leading PD for his or her staff or whatever. Maybe it’s a post observation feedback, but working colleagues here, let’s have being curious, being open minded, socratic in your method versus top down. Here’s what to do. This is the only way to do it. So that’s something that I kind of pulled out from there. What you just.

You can trick yourself into that mentality, Danny, by. Just use that word colleague. I remember when I first started doing that, it was all my kids were listening to Mr. Rogers. Like, we had a rule for a couple of years where you could only watch in the car, the tv show Mr. Rogers. And so I’d be listening to all these Mr. Rogers reruns. And the dude’s a master educator. He’s the first distance.

You learned a lot.

He’s the first distance learning guru. He was in distance learning, like, 50 years for the rest of the world. But anyways, he just always calls the kids neighbors, and I just realized it’s kind of absurd, but it’s deeply wise. So I think calling your people, whatever you call them, it’s a principal say.

T ruckus makes you.

Yeah, ruckus. Right. But just saying that calling them something that you also identify as, I think tricks your heart in a good way, because people can just smell fake. So you got to do these things to mean the strategies.

Yeah, 100%. Hey, I just want to go back to one thing, offer a tip, and then we’re going to move on to the last three questions. So Dave was talking about also, like, hey, that made me feel small in the moment. And he opens the door. Right. I’m willing to start fresh if you are. What an incredible, generous gesture to a student, because actually, that is lowering your status, too, and putting yourself as teacher on their level. I’m willing to do this if you are. And so that builds credibility, relationship, and care, and all that kind of stuff. So my quick tip is this. And the second I learned it, I never wrote up a kid again. That’s how powerful this tipthey ask you, Stuart, why’d you do this with your life? Be a teacher.

So, believe it or not, most students actually loved me. There were some that were like, f you, Bauer. Right. You’re the.

Yeah. What?

And that. That stinks, too, because normally that’s the feedback I got.

That’s right.

That used to set me off. That would trigger me. And then we get into an emotional roller coaster, which maybe the kid knew what he or she was doing, maybe not. I assert that it’s really funny to watch an adult act like a kid and lose their cool. So what I learned to do, Dave, was when a kid said, fu hour or you suck, I’m not doing your homework. I’m not coming to class. I would say, okay. Or maybe I would give middle of the like, I could take it or leave it type answers. And when I started meeting high negative energy like that, kind of like a Zen master, it was sort of my Jedi tread. They would say, what do you mean, maybe? And they’d try to escalate again, and I’d just be like, that’s your choice.

And I just keep moving on. Once I figured that out, the behaviors decreased with all those students. And I never wrote up a kidjust want to share that. All right.

That’s a great.

Okay, cool. Last three questions, Dave. So, if you could put a message on all school marquees around the world for a single day, what would your message be?

Do good work. Enjoy the process.

Yes. How about building your dream school? If you had no constraints in terms of resources, your only limitation was your ability to imagine. What would your three guiding principles, building this dream school be?

Yeah. So, this is so hard. I think the four principles of my classroom are academic success, social success, plan for the future, and enjoy the process. And basically, I think if you can do those four things in your high school career in a way that makes sense to you with where you’re at. Right. We have to define academic success as including the kid who goes to the career center and knocks it out of the park in his auto mechanics shop, because it is. Auto mechanics is a discipline. And I think that there’s beauty and need in that excelling there, just as there is in physics or calculus or whatever. Social success that’s going to push some of those academic success kids where it’s easy for them, they struggle more on the social side plan for the future.

I think it’s really important for high school kids to know that doesn’t need to be set in concrete, but it should exist and then enjoy the process. If you do all this stuff, everything perfectly and you haven’t enjoyed it, then I think that you failed. And a portion of my kids are those kind of high ambition kids, and so I just have to constantly remind them, like, guys, this ride goes quick and we got to enjoy what we’re doing. It’s not success. You get the top score at the end of the semester, and you were miserable the whole semester. That’s abject failure to me.

So I would cheat as I get to do whatever I want in this scenario, and I’d have four principles, and our goal would just be as a faculty, let’s really get rigorous, but also inclusive of that definition of academic success and so on.

Awesome. We covered a lot of ground in today’s conversation, Dave, of everything we talked about. What’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Belief forms the bedrock of assumption. If you’re not paying attention to the beliefs layer of your school, whether it’s your faculty or student body, then you can say words to people and just pretty much count on those words being received differently than you intended. See beliefs. Got to see the belief layer. Got to train yourself to do that.

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 slash mastermind, learn more about our program, and fill out the application. We’ll be in touch within 48 hours to talk 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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