Show Highlights

After Action Review and the Ruckus Maker Eight Step Goal Setting Tool are two tools you need in your leadership toolbox.

Resources and game changing ideas to equip and empower you to have an incredible 2024.

Create talent incubators to avoid the turnover in education.

Tap into your inner Ruckus Maker to confidently create the future of schools.

Get Danny’s last two books Build Leadership Momentum, The Remarkable Vision Formula and the Ruckus Maker Newsletter FREE!

“The future of school is a place where teachers and students and all adults and kids co-create wisdom. Currently, many schools are stuck in being told how to play the game. What are the rules, how do you win versus school of the future, or making a ruckus? In education, they’re defining the rules, not being defined by them. They’re designing the rules of the game and how to win. It’s a much more proactive and empowering posture to hold. I believe everybody has a Ruckus Maker inside them.”
- Daniel Bauer

Dr Chris Jones

Episode’s Resources & Contact Info:


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The School Leadership Scorecard™

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Month-to-Month Principal Checklist

As a principal with so much to do, you might be thinking, where do I even start?

When you download The Principal Checklist you’ll get

  • 12-months of general tasks that every campus need to do
  • Space to write your campus specific items.
  • Space to reflect and not what worked as well as a space of what didn’t work

Go to https://betterleadersbetterschools.com/principal-checklist to download now.


Ruckus Maker Mindset Tool™

The “secret” to peak performance is ot complicated.  It’s a plan on how to optimize the five fundamentals found in The Ruckus Maker Mindset Tool™.



The Positive Spotlight Tool™

Energy flows to where attention goes!

If you want to get more of what you want, when you want it as a school leader I have a tool for you…

Download The Positive Spotlight Tool™ for free here:



The Ruckus Maker 8-Step Goal Setting Tool™

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With less effort and in less time?

When you download The Ruckus Maker 8-Step Goal Setting Tool™  I’ll send you the tool and a short 8-minute coaching video that shows you how to work smarter, not harder…and create more value for your school campus.

Download The Ruckus Maker 8-Step Goal Setting Tool™  for free at



Read the Transcript here.

How To Make a Ruckus in 2024

Thanks for hitting play. If you love exploring how to do school differently so you can make a legendary impact on your campus, then you’re in the right place. I’m Danny Bauer, and this is the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast, the original Ruckus Maker podcast for visionary leaders, innovators, and rebels in education. Thanks to Ruckus Makers. Just like you, this podcast ranks in the top 5% of over 3 million worldwide shows. So once again, thanks for tuning in. In today’s show, I really want to talk about 2024 and how to set yourself up for success. There are two tools that I’m going to teach, one called the After Action Review and the other being the Ruckus Maker Eight Step Goal Setting Tool.

In addition to that, I will point you towards a handful of resources that will also equip you and empower you to have an incredible 2024. With that set, I want to also let that I’ve started a new creative project. It’s called the Ruckus Maker Newsletter and I’m posting it on Substack. Substack is a way for thought leaders to share game changing ideas with the leaders they serve. And so I am now riding over at Substac, and that is something you can participate in and enjoy either for free or for a very inexpensive investment. Now, the return on investment, the ROI is incredible because I’ve already put the last two books I’ve written, which would build leadership momentum and the remarkable vision formula on the substac for free. So if you’re a subscriber, you get access to that.

I plan on releasing all my books that I publish on Substack in really digging deeper, doing in depth articles and creating tools and sharing those with you over there. By the way, that’s included in your Mastermind membership. If you are a Mastermind member and just email me if you haven’t gotten your complimentary subscription, you can go over to Ruckusmakerssubstack.com to check and we’ll be back with the main content of today’s episode after a few short messages from our show sponsors. As a principal with so much to do, you might be thinking constantly, where do I even start? It’s a good question, and that’s why I created a twelve month principal checklist just for you. When you download it for free, you’re going to get a twelve month checklist that identifies general tasks that every campus will want to do each month.

But the checklist also includes space where you can write campus specific items and two opportunities to reflect. To reflect on what worked and what you want to continue doing and what didn’t work and what you want to change or improve. When you take action on this checklist for a year, you will have built a leadership playbook for your school, and you won’t have to reinvent the wheel or feel like a first year principal all over again. Go to betterleadersbetterschools.comprincipalchecklist to download for free. Right now, 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.com/betterleaders to see 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 more organizedbinder.com/go. All right, so let’s talk about how to make a ruckus in 2024.

And this show in my work is all about helping Ruckus Makers do school differently. And what’s that all about? Because it sounds a little crazy unless you define it. And so when I think about helping Ruckus Makers do school differently, I’m thinking about the shifts from the way we operate in education these days to the way we will do education in the future. It’s an ideal. It’s a future focus, bigger future type of focus. And it’s something that we strive for and that I see. But right now, we’re in the gap. Because we’re not there yet. But some of the things that we do currently, like right now, schools operate as talent treadmills. It’s the outlier school district that isn’t struggling to keep staff, teachers, principals, counselors, and everyone. And so that’s where things are.

Well, school of the future. And those outlier schools that I’ve been supporting, they’re actually creating talent incubators, they’re not experiencing the terrible turnover that we see other districts experience. Schools operate mostly as analog places, and in the future of education, there will be more analog and digital spaces. And of course we see that depending on the desire to be innovative within a school district right now, I think that schools and teachers specifically impart knowledge. It’s almost like Frerry’s banking model of education, just pouring that knowledge into kids’ heads. And the future of school is a place where teachers and students, well, really, all adults and kids co create wisdom. Currently, many schools are stuck in being told how to play the game. What are the rules, how do you win versus school of the future, or making a ruckus?

In education, they’re defining the rules, not being defined by them. They’re designing the rules of the game and how to win. It’s a much more proactive and empowering posture to hold. I believe everybody has a Ruckus Maker inside them. I spoke to one superintendent, and the ruckus he’s making is he bought a whole used amusement park and he turned it into a learning lab for his school district there in Missouri. Now, that’s the most innovative stuff that you could do. But maybe making a ruckus for you is just getting students to talk more in class, and that’s totally fine. So the point that I want to make is that everybody has a Ruckus Maker inside them and everybody has something they want to do school different with and create the future of school right now.

Now, some of the things, if you ever worked with me as a coaching client or maybe in the Mastermind, or maybe you’ve just been on a zoom when I’ve been doing some teaching or something, you see these beautiful culture tiles? They’re made by a company called gaping Void. I don’t make any money if you reach out to them and contract and partner with them as I did. But what they do is they help you take your values and bring them to life. So I want to talk about a few of those really quickly because they are game changing ideas, and they’ll help you make a ruckus here in 2024. One thing in the lesson here is always have good friends around you that can help you see things that you don’t even see.

For example, my buddy Mitch Weathers over at Organized Binder, he told me, Danny, what’s that thing you always say about how to treat people? And I had no idea what he was talking about. And then it clicked for him, and he told it back to me, and he’s like, you taught me that, and it’s really great. And I didn’t even know I was saying it all the time. So that’s why the lesson is, have great people around you, good friends that can reflect back the value that you bring and your superpowers. Anyways, the phrase is this. You can never go wrong treating people right. Very simple idea, but sometimes I don’t know why. Leaders build walls. They play a bit smaller, they’re a little more withdrawn, internal, and they don’t want to share or be vulnerable or develop those really great relationships with staff. But I believe tough education is in a tough spot to get out of. This. One way is by building radically generous relationships with the community. And so you can never go wrong treating people right. That’s one way you can make a ruckus in 2024. So how will you lean into connection to relationships, to being generous? Another idea that I say is 1 hour is all you need. A long time may feel like actually maybe even too long for you, depending on if you’re still a firefighting principal or somebody who’s actually playing a more significant game.

But if you can get out to do deep work uninterrupted, and it’s okay to close the door to your office, you can really get a heck of a lot done. Focus is to follow one course until success. There’s research out there that literally you cannot multitask. And yet we try, and yet we think kids are good at it. But again, they’ve been studying, and multitasking makes them dumb as well. So don’t do it. Interestingly, too, an hour is all you need to join the Ruckus Maker, Mastermind, and to have powerful conversations with colleagues that get it, that sit in the same scene, that face all the same struggles, but are able to effectively navigate around them or turn those challenges into opportunities and to win.

In this game called education, another idea is there’s two sides to every coin, and with that, there’s either fear or there’s opportunity. It’s the same experience, whether it’s hopping on a roller coaster, or maybe you’re giving your first talk at a principal’s conference and there’s 200 people in the room. Either way, the fear is there because it’s like, hey, I hope I don’t mess this up, or I hope people find this valuable. But there’s also excitement and opportunity. Because what if I show up confidently, give my best, do my best teaching and sharing of ideas and empower these leaders to better. So it depends on how you want to look at any situation, whether it’s a personal one or professional whatever. But there’s two sides to every coin.

Now, I have a lot more of these phrases like ideas are great, but not the greatest. Remember rule number six, create results, not a resume. And I could riff on all of those, but I just wanted to highlight a few today. You can never go around treating people right. 1 hour is all you need. And there are two sides of every coin, and I hope you found that valuable. Now, I promised I was going to talk about the after action review and the eight step goal setting tool, so let’s hop into that. Now, the after action review. This is something that my colleague Kareem Beldhone introduced to me.

And from what I’ve been told, too, I didn’t serve in the military, but I guess this is used quite a bit after missions because it’s really a reflection and thinking tool to see what went well and what could be improved. And after action review is sometimes commonly called AAR as well. Now, I think you can do an after action review of 2023, and this is a great way to set yourself up for success in 2024. And I’ll walk you through those steps in a second. But part of being able to use the after action review is that you had goals for the project. So before we get to reviewing the goals, I just want to check in and say, do you have a great tool for actually setting up goals? And if you could use that tool, it’s available for free.

You can download it on the website. So betterleadersbetterschools.com. Resources and just go to the box that says the Ruckus Maker eight step goal setting tool. Alternatively, you could go to the substac. Ruckusmakerssubstack.com and I am going to put the goal setting tool and the after action review available there for subscribers as well. But let’s talk about the tool and hopefully this will provide some value. Many of these ideas you already know, but there are a few game changing nuances that make this tool really useful. And that’s where I’ll spend the most time. So everybody knows to identify their goal. That’s step one. Everybody doesn’t do step two. This is a game changer. So this is about significance. It’s about playing a bigger, deeper game. It’s about legacy, which is why we usually get into school leadership for the bigger impact.

Step two, I want you to pause here and think about what’s in it for me. Why is this goal so important? Step three, nobody does as well except Ruckus Makers. With step three, I want you to stand in the future and consider what now you are able to do, what doors have been open? What will achieving this goal allow you to do next? And so that’s a pretty cool idea to consider, too. Nobody does that. Step four is something I’ve taught a lot, and very few people do this as well, which is a pre-mortem. What are all the obstacles, potential obstacles, that can get in the way of you achieving this thing? Post mortem, somebody passes. We identify the reasons for this person expiring pre mortem in terms of leadership.

We look at a project, we think about all the things that can get in the way. The ways we waste our time, the distractions we might get involved in, the other mission critical stuff that we need to do as a school leader that might take up our focus and get us away from the goal that we’re working through here. So that’s step four, do a pre mortem. What are the potential obstacles in your way? And think about how you can get around them. Step five, also not commonly thought about who is in your network that can help you accomplish the goal. So there’s a book called who not how, written by one of my coaches, Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. But that’s a great concept as a high up performer. Right.

We always or often default to how do I do the thing? And instead of thinking about who should think who, because there are people that have done it before and can accelerate your learning, which is one reason the Mastermind is such a powerful way to level up in 2024. There are people who are just experts in it, and you can delegate either because they’re on your team or you can hire them. For example, I don’t edit the podcast. That would be stupid. It wouldn’t be necessarily stupid, but it wouldn’t be effective or efficient. It’s not my superpower. I’m not an audio engineer. But Dragon, who does the show, he’s amazing, and he’s been doing this podcast for very long, multiple years, probably like over five years. And this show has done quite well. I think we could agree he should be doing the editing, and I’ll create the content. We form a good team. So, anyways, who’s in your network that can accomplish the goal? Step six, is there any gaps in your knowledge or skills that you need to learn to accomplish the thing. Then step seven, everybody does, what’s your plan? So most people identify, goal and go to the plan. Step seven, so you miss those other steps that I just shared. And then step eight, when do you want to accomplish it? And so that’s a thinking tool for you. Again, available on betterleadersbetterschools.com resources. Or you can go get it at Ruckus Makers substac.com. Now, assuming you had goals for 2023, here’s the after action review that Kareem taught me.

And this template is not available on the website, but it will be available on the substac. So I want to encourage you to subscribe there and make sure you do that so you can get access to this tool. If you want to type into it today, I’m going to talk you through it. So you can hit pause and create your own, or you can just grab it. Plus I get so much more on the substac and can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it until this moment. Totally forgot one other reason to subscribe to the substac. Not only do you get the micro books right and get them before they’re even published and turned into a real book, not only will you get the tools and the in depth articles, I am releasing for the first time ever, a sponsor free, ad free version of this podcast.

So if that sounds interesting to you and you just want the content and that’s it, well, you can go over to the Substac and that will be included in your subscription. I plan on posting them on the substac and I’ll also, I believe, get you a private RSS feed, which you can add. Spotify doesn’t allow you to do it, which is annoying. But on Apple or if you have Android, I have an app called pocket casts. You just hit the plus button. You enter in what looks like a website URL, but that’s an RSS feed. And boom, voila, the private podcast will show up. Okay, so the after action review, who’s doing it? What was the name of the project? Maybe this would just be your 2023 year in review. And first part, what were your goals?

What were your goals for the year? And that’s why I just taught on the eight step goal setting tool. And then part two, how did you perform against those goals? Okay, after that, identifying goals and how you performed, let’s do analysis. So there’s really four parts here, kind of like a strength, weakness, opportunity, threats, but different. And so there’s four steps. Step one, what do you want to keep doing? So what’s going well, let’s keep it up. Number two, what do you want to improve? And here’s where you must confront reality. You wanted things to turn out one way, it didn’t happen that way, and you see an opportunity for improvement. Three, what do you want to stop doing? Maybe these are energy vampires you want to exclude from your life.

Maybe these are things you poured a lot of resources into but realized that it wasn’t worth the time, the energy, the intellectual deposit, and maybe money. So whatever you want to stop. And then step four, what do you want to start doing? Net new things. What do you want to keep? What do you want to improve? What do you want to stop and what do you want to start? And then from there, and I recommend just doing on bullet lists in those areas. We’ve done goals, we’ve done analysis. Now let’s do planning. And here I encourage you to keep your list small. There’s always a million things you can do, but not a million things you can do effectively. What are the three biggest improvements you can make? And just three. And then what are your goals for next time?

I guess in this case for next year? And identify those three things. So that’s the after action review. I’ll make it available on Substac. The other thing to consider, too, when preparing how to make a ruckus in 2024. It’s really easy to get caught up in the planning and all the to-do’s. The how, not the who. But it’s really essential that you celebrate the good stuff. So in the after action review we talked about what we want to keep doing? But I’d encourage you also to consider, like, what were the biggest wins in 2023 and why did they matter so much. That’s great, because you’ll create your personal highlight reel for the year, and you also, again, tap into the significance of why they really mattered.

And that will produce some really positive feelings within you and create some momentum as you start heading out into 2024. In post pandemic classrooms, student talk is crucial. And when classrooms come alive with conversation, teachers and students both thrive. TeachFX helps teachers make it happen. The TeachFX instructional coaching app provides insights into student talk, effective questions, and classroom conversation quality. TeachFX professional development complements the app and empowers teachers with best practices for generating meaningful student discourse. Teachers using TeachFX increase their student talk by an average of 40%. Imagine that 40% more ownership over the class by students. Ruckus Makers can pilot Teach FX with their teachers. Visit teachfx.com/betterleaders to learn how. That’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?

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 executive functioning skills not taught? Rather, they are best learned when students get practiced 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 succeed@ organizedbinder.com/go. I hope that’s helpful.

Here’s a few more resources in the last year, one thing that I’m proud of and became a bestseller, build leadership momentum. How to create the perfect principal entry plan. That book’s there. And my run of the next four books, the whole vision with me and my co writer Ariel Curry. And one book, my buddy Glenn Robbins actually partnered with us. It won’t be out by the time this audio is out, but it’ll be out probably a month or two after. Anyway, the point was to write very practical books on sort of gap topics, things that we all need to know as a school leader. But really, there’s not a lot of guidance or teaching on it.

For example, if I surveyed all the listeners of better leaders, better schools, my gut would tell me that less than 20% of school leaders were actually intentionally trained, were shown models, and got coaching and mentorship around an effective entry plan. It just doesn’t exist. So that’s why we wrote a very practical book. And so these books, you could read them in an hour, and then if you give yourself like a four hour block, you could read in an hour and actually do your entry plan the rest of the time. Two or three more hours and you’re done. Boom, you’ve got a solid plan for the next 90 days. The punchline of the entry plan book is that a lot of people think about that as they get the new job or they start at the new school.

And yes, you should make your entry plan your 90 day plan when that happens. But what people miss is the nuance. Oh, what an opportunity. I get to do this four times each year. Even over the summer, even when I’ve been at a school for a decade, because it’s with leadership intention that we drive incredible results. So check that out if you want to build leadership momentum. How to create the perfect principal entry plan now, the second of four super practical books that will be released at least in 2023, this one is called the remarkable vision formula. A guided school leader retreated. I called it a guided school leader retreat because since I think it was 2020, 2021, either way, I’ve been teaching how to create a remarkable vision at your school, right, for years through live events and workshops, either in person or virtually.

Well, to make this content in this framework easily accessible and to help Ruckus Makers at scale, this is another book. And there’s a lot of teaching around vision statements. Those miss the mark. They’re two to three sentences. They’re generic. They sound like every other school. They are not inspiring. They really aren’t. Be serious about your vision statement. One, do you even know what it is? Two, does it wildly excite you? Do you jump out of bed because you want to accomplish this thing? Does that happen for you? Does it happen for your staff? What’s the solution? Well, to create a remarkable vision formula, which is not a three to four sentence vision statement, but a three to four page or more vision story.

And not only does it touch all aspects of school, it has you consider the more important parts of your life, too, which is just you personally and your family. It gets all the domains of your life in order. Over the next three years. My wife and I are about to sit down and think about where we’re going, and we’re very excited to do so. And it’s great to have that alignment and team effort within a family, as well. But there’s plenty and plenty of content around books, excuse me, books, schools. And when you get this tool as well, there’s a five page document, which, now that I’m saying this out loud, making a note, is going to put that five page document on Substac two.

And that document is actually a checklist of every aspect of your school that you really need to consider and what you want to accomplish over the next three years. And it has a bunch of guiding questions to get your brain creatively thinking and dreaming about how to create that remarkable experience. If you haven’t really been coached or mentored about how to plan out an intentional three year vision for your school, this book is for you. When you get the book, there’s also recordings, over 5 hours of content teaching this. And I’ll put that on Substac. Just making a note. Anything else I want to say about vision? And once you have that sort of sketch, of a vivid vision of where you’re going over the next three years, then you take your 90 day plan and you do that twelve times.

Not all at once, do 90 days at a time, maybe two. But you’re going to need to write those in pencil, because things change. And as new data, as new information comes in, you need to reserve the right to make pivots, right. So that you serve your campus at the highest level possible. So anyways, these books go really well together because it’s about how to plan in the macro and in the micro. It’s the best of both worlds. You can get Amazon, my website, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, all the places. You could also get them on Substac. Again, ruckus makers, substack.com. And the last thing I’ll say, really, the best way on how to make a ruckus in 2024, of course, is to join the Ruckus Maker Mastermind. I probably talked at length about this.

Some of the highest performing podcast episodes are when I talk to one of our members and just hear about all the cool things they’ve been able to accomplish. If you go to the betterleadersbeerschools.com website and type in the search magnifying glass bar, just type in case studies. There’s some really cool stories as well of our members. Again, the great things they’ve been able to accomplish. There’s all sorts of examples, like growing your confidence. Like becoming a principal that people will love to work for and promise to never leave the school. Talent treadmill versus talent incubator. What do you want? I’ve worked with a handful of clients at this point, one one, on how to build more trust, and they’ve accomplished these things. We’ve had these discussions in the Ruckus Maker, Mastermind, how to build trust in these great cultures.

And you will see the benefits, right. By being around other like minded school leaders. The job is incredibly less isolating, of course, but you’re exposed to innovative thinking. You’re exposed to how other school leaders process the most important parts of the job on a consistent basis throughout the month. And one of those other values that we have at better leaders, better schools is that when you get better, everybody wins. By pouring into yourself, investing in yourself, developing yourself, you make a much more remarkable experience for your campus. So if you want to explore what it looks like to either join the Mastermind or maybe you’re not a Mastermind potential client, maybe it would serve you better just to have someone one time with me or one of our trained coaches. Then just send me an email.

[email protected] and I do exploration calls for 15 minutes just to hear your story. What are the challenges you’re working on? And if it makes sense, and I know that we can over deliver on the goals that you have, then we could talk about what it looks like to join the Mastermind or work one on one. If those things are too big of an investment of time and financial resources. Then again, check out the Substac because there’s going to be a ton of training there and that’s a very affordable way to start thinking differently and doing school differently and making a ruckus in 2024. Thanks for listening. Seriously, it means the world to me that you have literally changed my life by listening to this podcast. And it’s an honor. It’s an honor to serve you. Have a great year and go make a ruckus.

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 betterleadersbetterschools.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.



How much student talk happened today?
When classrooms come alive with conversation, learning improves, students feel a sense of belonging, and teachers feel inspired.

The TeachFX instructional coaching app gives teachers powerful insights into their student talk, student engagement, and classroom conversation.

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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