Jason P. Dropik (Babaamii-Bines / Eagle Clan) is the School Administrator for the Indian Community School (ics-edu.org), in Franklin, WI, which serves Native students in the metro Milwaukee area. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (BadRiver-nsn.gov), Jason is committed to supporting students, families, staff, and the community both near and far. Having recently completed a two-year term as President of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA.org), he advocated for and spoke on the importance of tribal sovereignty, policy, appropriations, and student support across the country. As a Board Member of NIEA, Jason continues with that work, championing training and providing information for schools and community organizations, while creating visibility and understanding of Indigenous perspectives. He is involved in many organizations throughout the state, doing his best to ensure that Native voices are present in diverse groups. He has served as a Board Member for the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education (WAEE.org), an Advisory Council Member for the Midwest Environmental Advocates (MidwestAdvocates.org), and many other community organizations. He is a graduate of the Urban Indian American Indian Teacher Training Program from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2004). He holds a Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership from Concordia University (2017), and recently completed his Superintendent’s License from UW-Milwaukee (2023). His greatest passion is creating spaces for Native students to develop their identity, take pride in their language and culture, and to celebrate the rich legacy and the promising future of Indigenous communities. Jason, along with his wife and children, share a home in Franklin, WI.

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Show Highlights

Retain and attract more leaders of color by understanding the leadership lens they look through.

Training and information for schools to create visibility and understanding of indigenous and other marginalized perspectives.

Create spaces where people feel valued, loved and appreciated for all that they bring.

Avoid forcing your students or staff to blend in by eliminating the “other” option.

Take a seat at the table and avoid “being on the menu” to broaden perspectives.

Designate affinity spaces for representation reflective of the communities that you serve.

Eliminate barriers to ensure diverse safe places that navigate challenging situations with balance.

Join the BIPOC Mastermind specific for leaders of color to expand the room with a trusted environment to overcome isolation.

Read my latest book!

Learn why the ABCs of powerful professional development™ work – Grow your skills by integrating more Authenticity, Belonging, and Challenge into your life and leadership.


Apply to the Mastermind

The mastermind is changing the landscape of professional development for school leaders.

100% of our members agree that the mastermind is the #1 way they grow their leadership skills.

Read the Transcript here.

Starting a BIPOC Focused Mastermind

Daniel (00:02):
Instead of an intro story, I am going to cut straight to the punchline of the episode, which is we now have a Ruckus Maker Mastermind cohort specific for leaders of color. You can learn more at BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/bipoc. And if you are a leader of color and would like an affinity space to grow your leadership skills with other leaders that look just like you, we now have that available. Hey, it’s Danny. I am a principal development and retention expert. I’m a bestselling author. I host not one, but two of the world’s most downloaded podcasts. In today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about school leadership with the lens of what it’s like to lead in education as a leader of color. My guest has a lot of experience and expertise on this topic. Now, this show is for Ruckus Makers, which means you’ve made three commitments. You’ve committed to investing in your continuous growth, you have committed to challenging the status quo, and you’ve committed to designing the future of school now. We’ll have the main conversation right after a few messages from our show sponsors. Develop your structures, systems, supports, and culture for excellent teaching and learning in every classroom. For every student as a part of leading learning, a brand new certificate of school management and leadership course from Harvard. Get started at Better Leaders Better schools.com/harvard

Daniel (01:44):
School Leaders know that productive student talk drives student learning, but the average teacher talks 75% of class time. Give your students more opportunities to learn in class by monitoring the talk time for teachers and students. Check out Teach FX for yourself and learn about our special partnership options for Ruckus [email protected]/BLBS. 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 (02:43):
All right, Ruckus Makers today. Listen, we are in for a treat. I get to connect with a good friend. I remember meeting, was that Philadelphia? Got some food and coffee. My buddy Jason is an awesome leader and we have some very exciting announcements to make today. Stay tuned for that. The bio usually I do is a shorter form bio, but today I’m reading a longer form one, and the purpose is I really want to talk about Jason’s credibility and expertise, because that’s really important for our announcement and the framing of today’s episode. Jason Dropik, from the Eagle Clan, a school administrator for the Indian Community School in Franklin, Wisconsin, which serves native students in the metro Milwaukee area. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior, Chippewa Indians.

Daniel (03:47):
Jason is committed to supporting students, families, staff, and community, both near and far, having recently completed a two year term as president. He still makes me call him Mr. President, which is unbelievable. No, that’s awesome. President of the National Indian Education Association. He advocated for and spoke on the importance of tribal sovereignty, policy, appropriations, and student support across the country. As a board member of N I E A, Jason continues with that work championing training and providing information for schools and community organizations while creating visibility and understanding of indigenous perspectives. He is involved in many organizations throughout the state, doing his best to ensure that Native Voices are present in diverse groups. He has served as a board member for the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education and Advisory Council member for the Midwest Environmental Advocates and many other community organizations. He is a graduate of the Urban Indian American Indian Teacher Training Program from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He holds a master’s degree in admin leadership from Concordia University, and recently completed his superintendent’s license from UW Milwaukee. His greatest passion is creating spaces for native students to develop their identity, take pride in their language and culture, and celebrate the rich legacy and the promising future of indigenous communities. Jason, along with his wife and children, share a home in Franklin, Wisconsin. Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason (05:32):
We thank you so very much, Danny. That is awesome. I appreciate you did awesome.

Daniel (05:36):
Thank you for being here. This is such an honor. We’ve known each other forever. We are good friends and you have so much to offer. We’ll make our exciting announcement in just a second. I wanna talk for a minute or two about your service as president, which is like such an incredible honor, I’m sure president of the National Indian Education Association. I remember when you announced it and you were so cool like a cucumber. Like it wasn’t such a big deal, but it’s a big deal. I give you a hard time. You never made me call you Mr. President, but that’s such a ridiculous honor. It’s amazing. Take us to the moment when you found out that you were gonna be president. What was that day like?

Jason (06:30):
Thanks for that Denny. I wanna start with BJO, everyone out there, Bai Benet Milwaukee. My name is Bai Benet the Thunderbird traveling about, I’m a member of the Bed River Band of Lake Ojibwe, Eagle Clan. It’s really important to continue to honor those that came before me and continue to fight for not only indigenous languages and culture, to continue to thrive within communities were often in our country, it was actually illegal to practice and to speak your languages. I wanna honor them because being president of the largest Indian Education Association in the United States was a pretty big honor. I was a little bit surreal. I was actually in my basement because this was right around some things were happening around the country that were causing a lot of us to work from home in different spaces. Our conference, which is when the board members vote on their president, I was in my basement for that virtual board meeting and you don’t really know what’s coming up to it. I ran to be on the board of directors for N I E A, which has an over 50 year legacy of advocacy for indigenous people across the country and beyond. To be able to be around other really inspirational leaders, people that have taught me so much and inspired me, It was just an honored to be in the same room and room with them and continue to learn and to support all communities. Try to create spaces where people felt valued and loved and appreciated for all that they bring. And with all of our diverse tribes with all those different perspectives, just being able to learn from them as well as share some of my perspectives as well as, some of my thoughts on how do we continue to support that in and of itself was a huge honor.

Jason (08:11):
We vote on it. The board of directors votes a couple of us on the board of directors to run for the presidency. And it was the first two year term, it used to be one year terms, so it was the first two year term right around a pandemic in my basement. My wife happened to hear what was going on and she comes down and on a little piece of paper she just writes, did I just hear your president? And I did make her, I did make her call me president. Just because I didn’t think that I was ever gonna be possible. My wife actually is a teacher in the school that I am an administrator at. She definitely inspires me and helps teach me more than I can teach and share with her. Hey, you can call me Mr. President, that’ll be okay. It was pretty funny. She humored me for a minute. But then my son who’s currently a freshman in high school, he actually Google searched for me as President Dropik and he said, dad, you’re Google searchable. And so that moment in and of itself is unreal. I wanna say thank you to you and because we’re on your show. I remember listening to the podcast as I drove to Florida. I’m like, man, I gotta meet this guy someday. I didn’t ever think that was possible, but yet you just said, continue. To dream big and think big and things will happen. I emailed you, I was like, Hey, listen to your podcast. You got me through some long drives overnight to Florida on a vacation.

Daniel (09:27):
I gotta pause you there because I remember the email because I felt so bad for your family. You were talking about our trip to Florida. And you’re like, I listened to the podcast the whole way down with my family in the car. I’m just thinking, oh man, I feel so bad, for the kids and everybody, but I’m glad that I was there to provide some PD for you and everybody.

Jason (09:52):
Tthe good news was, is so I drove through the night and so I had my earbuds in, they were sleeping and so it was just us hanging out, but they definitely got to hear a lot about you and all the work that you do and how you just continue to expand your community so that you could continue to learn and grow and share your expertise as well as learn from others. And that’s really what’s something I’ve always been committed to. And so to be able to, thank you for inspiring me to continue to push and then all those leaders those that believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, my family, the staff, the students, the community really, to be able to be president of a national organization. That’s, that wasn’t anything that I did.

Jason (10:27):
It was the communities that I’ve been around, the people that I’ve continued to engage with that help me grow and to see those diverse perspectives, to continue to push myself to get better every day. I really, that opportunity came from the work of many others before me as well as those that continue to work alongside me and that I’ve learned through the course of two decades in education. It was surreal. And then to do it during a pandemic while I was finishing my superintendent’s license and trying to run a school, it was a little bit busy, but it was such an amazing opportunity and a great time that I’ll always be thankful for.

Daniel (11:03):
Absolutely. It’s been cool to see your growth in the things that you’ve been able to do. It’s so awesome and you know, I’m glad you felt like, hey, you’re reaching out, but we did develop a friendship and now you’re a part of what I call, considered the inner circle. We’ll be talking about your role within that, coming up here in the second. I wanna at least start this first half of the episode just talking about some of the challenges that I’ll never experience as a guy. As a white male, I know that leaders of color have a completely different experience than I do in school leadership. I’m curious how you think about that. I look at conferences or I remember just even doing an audit of the books we read.

Daniel (11:58):
There were a lot of white males and it was happening unconsciously. This is all I care about. What are we doing here? And then we made a shift and we’ve definitely done much better in that area. But it could be books, could be conferences, it could be the schools that we lead in and you find yourself in the minority. Or not represented in the faces you see presenting or leading or whatever. I’m sure a lot of questions may come up in your mind and you also probably consider where’s the safe space for me to grow? But what’s it like for you?

Jason (12:37):
Thanks for asking that Danny. I think that, the biggest thing, it’s even just growing up. When I grew up, I was in a predominantly white community working class in and around Milwaukee my whole life. My parents worked super hard to give me opportunities that I might not otherwise be able to have. First college graduate within my immediate family, but then followed by, my mom went back to school later, got her degree, and then my brother and sister both as well.Being that the eldest sibling kind of navigated these fields. I remember, checking boxes on ethnicity within forms that I was filling out for the federal government or applications. And I had to check the other box. When you think about it, just a kid, whatever age, 14, 15, in middle school and beginning of high school and I’m starting to fill out some different forms for different reasons then going into college at 18 and you’re identified as “other.” Thinking about what that meant to me and how I internalized that, how I navigate, that fact of, I knew I was American Indian, I knew I was Native American, I was continuing to grow in understanding exactly what that meant, but my mom raised me to kind of blend in. Your life’s gonna be easier. She’s called some pretty horrible names based on the color of her skin. My mom’s one who’s Native American in my family. She raised me to know who I was but didn’t really embrace the language and the culture. So she felt that she was gonna protect me by having me not acknowledge that as well and really trying to protect me from the stereotypes that derogatory terms, just the feelings that she had of am I good enough? And that really imprinted on me at a pretty young age about that idea and that thought, am I good enough? You’ve done a lot of work and talked about that idea of imposter syndrome and I’ve worked a lot on looking at, what does that mean to be valued in spaces? I went into teaching, part of an urban American Indian teacher training program, trying to get more native people in front of native kids teaching shared collective understanding. We talk about how we want more people that represent our communities, teaching and leading and being in those spaces. How are we creating spaces that are comfortable, that are that value, those perspectives, that value that experience. And it just continues to be an area that many places struggle, including where I’m from, Milwaukee.

Jason (14:47):
You can go on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instructions webpage, and you can look up demographic information from school leaders in the state of Wisconsin, which has 11 federally recognized tribes and a state tribe that we recognize as well. And the fact that you have a total of three, not even three, 2.9, because one of them’s a 0.9 fte, 2.9 district administrators that are American Indian or Alaska native out of 408 in this last year. Thinking about that representation less than a percent is really significant. And then even thinking about principals, 5.75 when you talk about FTE’s, American Indian principals in the whole state of Wisconsin. That is something that we’ve just been experiencing. It goes from not just teachers, which we know that we’re missing a lot of native educators in front of our kids, but this is true in other ethnic groups too.

Jason (15:45):
When you think about that perspective of what our Asian Americans are experiencing as well as our African American and Hispanic Latino communities still under representation though, there’s progress that’s made in some areas, in some communities overall as a system, we’re failing. We’re failing our kids and then we’re failing those communities that just continue to have strong advocates that are supporting kids but also don’t have the shared experience that some people do that come from marginalized communities. And so it’s been important to me. I heard one of our famous elders, Oren Lions, speak once at the International Conference on Indigenous Language and Culture, and he talked about the idea that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. And that stuck with me. That phrase that he said is that, in many ways that we have to just really continue to make sure that we’re not just pushing for acceptance, because that’s not enough, but it’s really to have a seat at the table to help in decision making, to help share perspectives, to broaden everyone’s understanding.

Jason (16:43):
And it’s not just for our native students or it’s not just for our marginalized communities. All communities benefit when we do that. When we are more empathetic, when we’re more reflective of our communities, when we’re more knowledgeable in many different areas. That helps every community. It doesn’t help just the community that I might come from or some other leader of color comes from, but those spaces that don’t have the representation that I believe is reflective of the communities that we serve. When I go to a conference on educational leadership, I see very few people that look like me. I see very few people that speak the languages that I speak. And so, how do we continue to expand those perspectives? How do we continue to inspire others? I continued to push, I got my superintendent’s license, not because I necessarily wanted to go into district leadership.

Jason (17:29):
I get to lead a single school currently that serves students in the Milwaukee area, which is really powerful for me. I didn’t have that growing up. To be able to provide that opportunity for students and even my own kids who went through my school, like that’s meaningful for me. And to be able to serve all students of this area that come to our school is really important. But then to expand it, to serve n i a and to see all the different per perspectives and communities and, and the challenges that they, they face each day and be able to, to provide some opportunity to help grow those communities, share effective practices, learn from others, and continuously learning, which is awesome, but just trying to continue to create those spaces where conferences, aren’t, that are more reflective of the communities that we serve.

Jason (18:12):
And so that’s been important to me. I’ve invited my way into different community organizations, the environmental education organization that you talked about as native people we’re the first caretakers of this land and to be able to provide, but there was no native perspective there. And in a state that is so strong, our name is, has an indigenous roots in it, and talking about those ideas of how we are, just sharing those perspectives in the community names and, and, but it’s not just historical. Really shifting it too from not just appreciation of the legacy and the impact our communities have had over time, but today, all of the amazing things that are happening within communities and continuing to support diverse populations is something that I’ve really been, advocating for and really excited about, some opportunities here in the future.

Daniel (18:59):
Let’s talk about isolation. Often I learned this from an author, Greg Sato wrote that In Means of Excellence, he said the number one enemy of excellence is isolation. I think you and I read that in the early early, you’re an OG of the mastermind, like an original,

Jason (19:17):
That was a long time ago. We’re getting older, Danny. That is for sure.

Daniel (19:20):
Kind of crazy. I feel like it just happened yesterday. But I do have the recalls I guess to show that it wasn’t just yesterday. But that’s wisdom. It’s been an awesome ride so far. Greg said the number one enemy of excellence is isolation. I often like to gently challenge leaders saying isolation’s also a choice. The research is very clear, the Learning Policy Institute and AESP, they did a pretty substantial yes study of hundreds of school leaders and found that under a quarter 23% of school leaders have access to a coach or a mentor in the last two years. I’m thinking, okay, if insanity is a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, how do you grow? How do you eliminate blind spots? How do we evolve as a leader if you don’t have that coaching and mentorship? And sometimes, if you’re just waiting for that coach or mentor to appear like a fairy godmother or something in your lap, like I guess that’s one approach. Or you could just say what, I’m gonna join the Ruckus Maker Mastermind at BLBS type of thing. Let’s talk a little bit about isolation. I don’t know if you agree that isolation’s a choice, but what I really want to hear from you is, put on that lens too as a leader of color, what is that isolation like as well?

Jason (20:52):
Absolutely. I do agree with both of your points. One is that isolation is that enemy for certain. I think that it can be a choice, but I’ll get into that in just a second. School leaders, I think that one of the things that come into that in and of itself can be pretty isolating when we think about, sometimes people are fortunate, they’re in good size districts where they can network, but sometimes across buildings, time is that resource we don’t have tons of on being able to connect and grow and to bounce ideas off of each other. As school leaders, that position in and of itself can be super isolating. It can be that you’re on an island where everything’s rolling in different directions at you from different spaces and you’re just like, who do I go to?

Jason (21:31):
How do I talk about this? Who do I go with? And then as leaders of color, it is even in my opinion, more isolating because then not only are you on that island that you’re kind of by yourself, but then it’s also, well if I ask for help, does that then put some kind of value judgment on my abilities? You’re always in this kind of perpetual state of like, I have to prove myself, I have to be good enough, I have to be worth it because I, I don’t see enough people like me, I don’t see many people speaking at the conferences as much as, represents the, the population that I serve. So just thinking about how we’re missing all these examples in many ways, in many spaces that, sometimes I’m, I’m afraid to ask for help, afraid to bounce ideas off of other people.

Jason (22:10):
Or I could be if I wasn’t, from the mindsets and being able to be in really powerful communities where we don’t have to have all the answers. You said a long time ago that the smartest person in the room is the room. And like, yeah, yes. Like, so how do I expand my room? How do I get these walls down and open them up? But in many of these, coaching opportunities or professional developments in spaces, it can be intimidating to be, one of one or one of a few in terms of being able to be around other leaders who are confident in who they are, know that they’re still growing, but continue to have that vulnerability to share about their experiences and not have to teach others that you’re around about those experiences.

Jason (22:53):
In many ways that isolation is like, do I feel comfortable in this space to be able to share all about who I am and what makes me up? You know, will that take away from people’s perceptions of me or their value of what I have to offer? So that fear of being good enough, which came from just some of the names and the experiences that people of color have had in different communities. Just to give you an example, when I was growing up, I lived in that predominantly white community. It was pretty working class, but it was interesting when I’d go into a store and yet, I’m with a bunch of people and we’re with kids, teenagers and that in end of ourself we should have been followed because we weren’t always great decision makers as teenagers, but why am I the only one being followed?

Jason (23:35):
My friends were not followed when they broke off into groups. But I was like, there’s these experiences that we have that just kind of compile and they, they, they solidify this idea of, someone’s watching me and judging. And so whether it was said or not internalized and then different opportunities that come up in experiences and just wondering, why is that the case? Why don’t people want to get to know who you are before making judgments of who you are? And so those types of spaces, that isolation can definitely be a choice. But I think that one of the areas where we can grow in communities, in particular communities with leaders , is to create spaces that feel safe. And you can, some people choose to be in spaces where, listen, I don’t wanna be with all native leaders all the time.

Jason (24:17):
I wanna hear diverse perspectives too. Like that’s important. And in some cases though, some people are like, I don’t know if I can trust some of these spaces based on their experiences. And so then why don’t we eliminate some of those barriers where experience has put up some walls and those walls are to help support people and have helped them navigate really challenging situations. And so there’s definitely that balance. And so I think that in many ways the ways that we can create more comfort around getting rid of that isolation is by creating a multitude of spaces that are very diverse and mixed. And so you can hear those perspectives so you can have others share their perspectives too with you. And then some communities where I can feel safe because I thought I may not come from the exact background or same location or same experiences.

Jason (25:05):
I know that they’ve had experiences that are similar to experiences that I had. And we can find some common ground on those to move forward in really positive and meaningful ways. And by creating those spaces, I think we create additional opportunities for healing. That’s really important because our nation amongst other nations has a tremendous opportunity to really have some beneficial healing in, in the challenges that we face. We don’t have to live in the adversity, we can also live in the resiliency, but we do have significant healing to do across, this country and beyond around people’s experiences and what they faced.

Daniel (25:38):
Perfect points. And we’re gonna pause here just for a second to get some messages in from our sponsors. And when we return, we’re gonna talk about having a specific space for our leaders of color and the Ruckus Maker Mastermind. The Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast is proudly sponsored by Harvard’s Certificate in School Management and Leadership. I know many mastermind members and many Ruckus Makers who listen to this show that have gone through the program and have loved the experience, but don’t just take it from me. Let’s hear how some of the Harvard faculty describe the impact and their heart for this program. Leadership is Joyful work, empowering others to do their best work. Principals do that with teachers and teachers do that with students. And empowering others to educate themselves or to be educated is just one of the most important things we can do in this world building. We’re building people, we’re building the next generation

Daniel (26:43):
Leaders and educators Learn more about the program and apply at Better Leaders, better schools.com/harvard. Hey, Ruckus Maker Teach FX has been an incredible sponsor over the years and they do great work helping educators be mindful and reflective about how their talk right and how much talk they have in a classroom impacts student learning. Now, don’t just take it from me that Teach FX is awesome and it surely is, but check out what some real educators have to say about using Teach FX in the classroom. What I love about Teach FX is it lets me see how myself and my students are interacting. Who’s doing all of the talking? Is it me or are they interacting with each other? It lets me see a snapshot of what’s happening in my classroom so that I can improve what I’m doing. When you have the ability to see the question you asked and hear the responses, and it’s that immediate feedback right there from Teach FX, it allows for teachers to really dive into their instruction.

Daniel (27:46):
If your students are struggling to stay focused and your teachers are showing signs of burnout, you need to act now. The good news is that there’s a path forward. It is possible to lay the foundation for learning and to re-energize your teachers. And that’s found in executive functioning skills. When students get practiced with these skills, they can better self-regulate and they are more successful academically. Our friends at Organized Binder have released a new self-paced course that will teach you how to teach these 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 work they are called to do. Learn [email protected]/go. Help your students be more successful and get your teachers back to the work they’re called [email protected]/go.

Daniel (28:42):
We’re back with Jason Dropic, my friend and excellence leader. We were just talking earlier about his experience as a president. We were talking about what it’s like to be a leader of color, the isolation and the nuance of isolation too as a leader of color as well. And sort of towards the end of the first half of this conversation, Jason was mentioning how it’s really important to have these safe spaces for leaders that reflect me. It was maybe two years ago or when I was actually researching for the book, Mastermind, which tells the story of our community. I was deeply interested because we have this proprietary framework that’s the foundation of why the mastermind really is the best or most powerful PD you could experience as a school leader.

Daniel (29:40):
My experience is that PD is often too tough, too late, unhelpful, disconnected. And what we create is something that’s relevant, responsive, and results oriented pd. And the foundation of what makes that work is what we call the ABCs of powerful professional development. A is authenticity. I could show up like myself. B belongs. So not only can I show up that way, but I feel connected to others around me. I can admit and not feel bad about celebrating my accomplishments. You know, it’s not about an ego stroke here. It’s like I need to slow down as a leader and really experience deep gratitude for things I’ve accomplished and take off the mask or say, Ooh, did I blow it here? What do I need to do to fix things? Or I don’t know what to do in this situation.

Daniel (30:30):
Which brings us to the sea in the ABCs. That’s the challenge and that’s where we are. Team Jason or Team Danny or whatever, just supporting you to be successful. Doing research. I was just curious, what are my female counterparts in education, what’s their experience like? I know there’s a lot of women teachers, fewer principals, even fewer superintendents. And I looked at that. I don’t only have the data memorized, but it significantly drops. In terms of representation. And I looked at my colleagues of color too and what their experience is like and it’s a similar story. So affinity spaces are really important. A few years ago we launched some women’s only specific cohorts. And this is my way of now being super excited to announce that Jason’s gonna lead our first BIPOC mastermind cohort. Now this is exciting, a space for just leaders of color. Jason’s the head coach. Why are you excited about this group?

Jason (31:38):
I got tingles just thinking about that man. Once again, I’m just fortunate and thankful to be in spaces and communities where opportunities like this become possible. To your point on that challenge, I was noticing this disconnect between opportunities for leaders of color to be able to gather and to be able to share experience and to be able to connect. And I could sit in that for a little bit or just be mad about it or I can challenge and say, Hey, let’s do something about and who else to go to? Then Chief Ruckus Maker himself, like Danny, let’s make this happen. This is what I’m thinking. And of course, because you’re always gonna hear people out and listen to it. And whenever you can help support and level others up, like you’re gonna try to find ways to do so.

Jason (32:18):
And so it was a natural next step to at least let me put it out there because if I say nothing, it’s gonna likely continue going the same way that it’s always gone. But if I have an opportunity to be able to continue to learn and grow, but then provide spaces for elders to learn and grow, in particular in marginalized communities where you don’t often have those experiences or being able to have that space to just come together to be our authentic selves, to be able to know that we belong and then to support one another. Like that’s where I am most excited for that opportunity, as I had stated right before the break, was that idea of how do we heal together so that we can be the best leaders that we can for our communities because our students and our communities need it too.

Jason (32:59):
I know how isolating it can be and how challenging it can be on any given day. I have been able to see that across diverse communities in the country. I’m most excited about the opportunity to create and to know that in every experience that I’ve had in my life, knowing that nothing happens by yourself. And to know that not only can we create these spaces where others can share the amazing work that they’re doing in communities, that they can offer value to each other, that they can share what they’re experiencing and that we know that we’re not in it alone. That is what excites me and gets me fired up just thinking about the possibilities. Because then what that ultimately does, it’ll keep more of our leaders of color, hopefully in the profession quite honestly, because they’re leaving, they’re either not taking it on because they don’t see themselves in the rooms that they’re in. They don’t have the support to be able to overcome the challenges and obstacles that are in front of them by being a leader, but then also by being a leader of color. Being able to keep those strong leaders in their communities, being able to have them support, it’s gonna then trickle down to students and to staff and to families. And so for me, that is the greatest gift, that opportunity to be able to give back, to be able to broaden our collective empathy and understanding of one another that goosebumps. I have goosebumps on my arms. It’s exciting. It is so overdue and needed and just thankful for the opportunity for it to even be possible.

Daniel (34:24):
Absolutely. I’ve been hoping and dreaming for somebody to raise their hand, and you reached out and I said, let’s do it. This is the absolute right next move in terms of the evolution of how we support school leaders and creating these affinity specific spaces. I think just like the women’s groups we have, this will grow and multiply actually quite quickly because it’ll be fulfilling a need, and taking our process, which is a very unique way of supporting school leaders and then saying for leaders of color specifically, if that’s what you’re looking for we now have it available. In the beginning of the show, I like to say that the show is for Ruckus Makers and so is the Ruckus Maker Mastermind, the professional development we offer to remind the Ruckus Maker listening, what that means. It’s three commitments really. You’ve committed to investing in your continuous growth, which obviously you’re doing if you’re on a weekly basis discussing all things education, leadership and depth. The second commitment is that you challenge the status quo. We’re thinking of issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, that is like right there what I mean. Challenging the status quo, creates a more equitable and welcoming experience for all our students. The last piece, the last commitment designed in the future of school now, which is also pretty exciting because why wait, you don’t have to, and it could be tiny little experiments that you run, but if you think in 30, 50 years we should be doing X in education, what would it look like to run one class like that? And what do you learn from the experience? How do you expand it? That’s how we like to dream and play, within our community. So that’s broadly what, who I say this experience is for. Is there anything else you’d like to add in terms of an ideal leader that joins your cohort? Anything you wanna say to them?

Jason (36:28):
Absolutely. Just welcome aboard. First of all, anyone that’s interested, we’re gonna find a way to make that happen. So just let us know. But I think that the biggest thing is, what I’ve seen from leaders across the country and in so many different spaces, they are so giving of themselves to everything that they do and often without any sort of, expecting anything in return. It’s really about what they can continue to give. This is your opportunity to continue to learn and grow and to share. It’s really what I’ve found is that by giving of yourself, you end up receiving it and you get that little bit of a piece of like, man, I’m not in this alone. The struggles that I’m facing, they’re real, the experiences that I’ve had. Yep, they are absolutely happening.

Jason (37:10):
Maybe not in the exact same way, but there’s way more similarities than there are differences and you have a space where you can just be valued and appreciated and loved and supported through it all because we need it. We need it because what we do is hard. There’s no easy way of saying it, but it is also the most important thing that we can do for our communities is to be able to shape places for learning for students, staff and families to come together and to really feel valued and loved and supported. That is what a great calling, what a great mission that we get to live each and every day. Why not help support yourself so that you can do it in the best possible way so that you can always, you’ve also mentioned before, Danny, that I did, we can’t fill from an empty cup.

Jason (37:51):
Like you gotta fill yourself up. We need those. It’s exhausting, tiring work. And being a part of the mastermind myself, being able to learn from others and to grow is one of the highlights of my week is to be able to just gather together with other leaders and just talk about the challenges and successes that we’re experiencing to bounce ideas off of each other, to be able to ask for help without any fear or worry of judgment or any kind of preconceived notions. It was kind of interesting because we brought this up to the group that I’m in No Pockets, Big shout out to No Pockets, no offense to the other groups, but we are the best group until other groups come up.

Daniel (38:24):
According to Jason, by the way, to make it clear, according to Jason.

Jason (38:26):
According to me, not according to Danny, he doesn’t play favorites. It’s like he has all these kids, all the kids, but we are all valued. I love no pockets and they’re like, you’re gonna start this group. You’re gonna leave us. No. Like, I still need to learn and grow and have that space too. This is just an opportunity to continue to expand that. I’m still participating in masterminds because I truly value every single thing that they have to offer and know that when we get leaders together, that we can create that comfort and that relationship, those connections that we’re gonna continue to expand that connection and those feelings for others. I’m just thankful for that opportunity. If you’re ready to learn, ready to grow, ready to share yourself, ready to ask questions. And quite honestly, really, if you’re not ready for all that, you should join anyway because you will immediately being around others, be inspired to continue to know how important you are and how valued you are and be able to then, just feel really good about what it is that we’re doing as a community and what we’re doing within this educational system to be Ruckus Makers, to be that change. We work for our communities that we serve.

Daniel (39:29):
Absolutely. Super, super well said. For the Ruckus Maker listening, if you are a leader of color and would like this cohort to be the mastermind experience that you decide to invest in, just go over to betterleadersbetterschools.com/bipoc. You’ll read about the group and there’s a short application to fill out. Within 48 hours, somebody from the team, often that’s me, will give you a call to set up yeah, just let me hear about your leadership journey, how would you like to grow and, why might the Mastermind be the right fit for you in this moment? I’m happy to answer any questions that you have. Again, go to betterLeadersbetterschools.com/bipoc to fill out that application. The other thing I wanna say before we end here is actually the, just the next episode that you listen to is gonna be Jason’s mastermind case study. Like he said, and all of our coaches are actually still members because we’re all growing. And that’s an important piece to how we do things. We’re gonna talk about Jason’s mastermind experience in depth. How he’s grown would’ve been the biggest benefits, results he’s experienced, so on and so forth. And so that’s the next episode just to get you excited. Jason, yes, I wanna invite you to have the last word. Everything we discussed today and there was a lot. What’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Jason (41:06):
Just remember that everything that they do is so valuable and important. Invest in yourself. It’s the greatest investment that you can do to help support the work that you do. And so know that we’re definitely here and on board to help support you in that journey. I thank you for the consideration and the opportunity to be a part of that because it will be a ride without a doubt. So do not hesitate, can’t wait to see you.

Daniel (41:32):
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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