Vince Bustamante, M.Ed., is a Calgary-based instructional coach, curriculum content developer, and author. Formerly focused on school improvement, Vince now specializes in working with teachers, leadership teams, schools, and school districts in implementing high impact strategies and systems. Vince is currently pursuing his Ed. Doctorate with a focus on the sustainable implementation of professional learning across school districts. Vince has co-authored two bestselling books with Corwin Press: Great Teaching by Design and The Assessment Playbook for Distance and Blended Learning. His most current title: Leader Ready: Four Pathways to Prepare Aspiring School Leaders is also available from Corwin Press.

Tim Cusak has over 30 years’ experience in K-12 education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. He recently became Dean of Education at Concordia University of Edmonton, supporting teacher and school leader preparation programs. Tim has a doctorate from University of Portland with a focus on preparing aspiring school leaders. He also serves in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Naval Warfare Officer.

Show Highlights

“Leader Ready: Four Pathways to Prepare Aspiring School Leaders.”

Challenge traditional leadership predictors to support younger educators and foster a culture of growth belonging.

Be the “dive master” your team needs to take risks and discover their voice.

“Hold the ladder steady” to help leverage the gifts of aspiring leaders.

Strategies for results over building a resume for leadership success.

How to create an environment for team members to flourish.

3 categories on how you run a school and navigate the policies, procedures, etcetera.

Pathways for leadership development and impactful school culture.

“What really impressed me the most was I was with a leader who made it abundantly clear that my voice mattered, that my opinions were important in that learning dynamic. He didn’t assume I knew something or presumed that he knew better in any way, shape, or form. But by really being authentic and getting to know who the aspiring leaders are in front of you, I think you can really take them to deeper levels of engagement and understanding.”
- Tim Cusack

“Listening is really important. Nonjudgmental listening. So if you’re in senior leadership and you have some sort of rising star or shooting star or someone who’s doing remarkable things, give them a platform to share what they’re doing and just honestly listen to how that came about.

Something that a senior leader needs to recognize and say, what are you doing? And how can we help you continue to do that within our district? Because every district has someone that is doing remarkable things. Everyone, every district has some sort of Ruckus Maker that’s doing something outside the box, whether it’s in their classroom or in their school or in their role. Oftentimes the Ruckus Maker or the ruckus they are making is perceived as negative, when really it may just be a misunderstanding of what they’re actually trying to do.I think honestly listening is really important.”

- Vince Bustamante

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Read the Transcript here.

“Redefining the Currents of School Leadership – Pathways to Innovation”

Ready to ditch the old school playbook and blaze a new trail in education? If so, you’re in the right place. I’m Danny Bauer, and this is the better leaders, better Schools podcast. It’s a show for Ruckus Makers reshaping the future of learning. This is your go to podcast to learn how to challenge the status quo and unleash the full potential on your campus. Today’s conversation is with Tim Cusack and Vince Bustamante. Tim has over 30 years experience in k-12 as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He recently became dean of education at Concordia University of Edmonton supporting teacher and school leader prep programs. Tim has a doctorate from University of Portland with a focus on preparing aspiring school leaders. He also serves in the Royal Canadian Navy as a naval warfare officer. Vince Bustamante is a Calgary based instructional coach, curriculum content developer and author. Formerly focused on school improvement, Vince now specializes in working with teachers, leadership teams, schools and school districts in implementing high impact strategies and systems. Vince is currently pursuing his EDD with a focus on sustainable implementation of professional learning across school districts. Both guys are here to speak about their latest book, Leaders Ready: four pathways to prepare aspiring school leaders, and that’s available from Corwin Press. We cover topics like what scuba diving can teach you about being a student and about leadership, why time and education is not a great predictor for leadership impact, and how to support younger educators you fear are outgrowing the system. So once again, thanks for listening and we’ll be right back after a quick message 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. When you subscribe to the Ruckus Maker newsletter on Substack, you get access to micro books focused on how to do school different tools and other resources that will help you make a ruckus and do school different stories and case studies of the world’s most legendary Ruckus Makers of all time. Access to my calendar to schedule coaching sessions, and you’ll also get bonus podcast content that won’t be released on the main podcast feed and podcast episodes without any advertisements. So if you love this show, if it’s helped you grow and you want access to more tools and resources that will help you make a ruckus in school different and become a paid subscriber at Ruckus Makers.substack.com. The truth is, most leaders weren’t taught a robust way to set their goals. Everyone knows how to choose a goal, write the to-do list, and pick a due date, and as a result, they’re not optimizing their potential. When you download the Ruckus Maker eight step goal setting tool, I’ll send you the tool in a short eight minute coaching video that shows you how to work smarter, not harder, and to create more value for your campus. Are you ready to accomplish more with less effort and in less time? Download the Ruckus Maker eight step goal setting tool by going to betterleadersbetterschools.com goals. 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 today@ ixl.com/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 Teach FX app by visiting teachfx.com/betterleaders and you can pilot their program today. Go to teachfx.com/betterleaders to see how you would serve your own kids the same food you serve your students in your cafeteria? Now, quest food management services elevates the student dining experience, serving scratch made meals using high quality ingredients that are sourced locally and responsibly. Now that is food you can be proud to serve. Learn more about Quest food management [email protected] or follow questfood on social media. That’s questfms.com Tim and Vince, welcome to the show. I think I wanna start with you, Tim, and ask you, what did scuba diving teach you about being a student in leadership?

I always fancy myself as a lifelong learner. And being in the navy for years, I’ve seen lots of scuba diving happening, but I never thought to try it myself. One day I’m standing on a beach in Jamaica and a dive master comes up and says, hey, have you ever thought about scuba diving? So he talked me into trying it. So watching people learn, going on the boat, looking at the equipment, he really took the time to figure out who I was as a learner. And I thought it was amazing that as an instructor, he got to know who I was as a human being, found out what I knew about boats because I was in the navy.
And so he really was able to challenge me to literally take my learning to deeper levels of understanding and push and challenge me to grow in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t have done. So he really became like this more knowledgeable other to me and really enticed me to step outside of my comfort zone and take that step into something unknown. But the way he guided me just made me mindful of if I had a mentor or a leadership guide, like this dive master.And I thought, how could I be more like this divemaster to know where my people are, what their attitudes and dispositions are to leadership, and really push them and challenge them to grow and taking a risk and really just find a whole new world about themselves, that self discovery. Being a lifelong learner, scuba diving opened my eyes to how I could be a better mentor or guide to aspiring school leaders.

And if I reflect back to you, part of that is just sort of being curious about what drives that person you’re serving and what makes them tick and. Yeah, just being really interested in that. Am I getting that correct?

Taking the time to know who’s in front of you as a human being, as a person, not just, okay, you’ve got to do a, b, and c to get the title and move on to school leadership. It was, what do you already know? How do you feel about it? Let’s talk about it. Come watch. Take a look. Watch me do it. Now you try it. It was just a beautiful environment where I felt comfortable but challenged. I felt at peace to ask questions, to really pursue every aspect, whether it was equipment, the gear. What’s the dive going to look like? And what really impressed me the most was I was with a leader who made it abundantly clear that my voice mattered, that my opinions were important in that learning dynamic. He didn’t assume I knew something or presumed that he knew better in any way, shape, or form. But by really being authentic and getting to know who the aspiring leaders are in front of you, I think you can really take them to deeper levels of engagement and understanding. So that’s really what inspired me.

Love that. Especially this idea of what’s important to you and what you find meaningful and stuff and didn’t make any assumptions, which I’m gonna now pass the mic over to Vince and over here. On this show, right. We talk a lot about Ruckus Makers who want to do something different, and often people just think I’m nuts and like, what is this dude talking about? So part of being a Ruckus Maker, like a core component, if there was a framework, a big piece of it, is rejecting the premise. You know, things that were sort of spoon fed in education, and most people might accept, but it’s just not true.
There’s a nice transition here between the dive master and Tim and Vince, something that you’ve experienced and believed, too, like, talk to me why age and chronology shouldn’t be as big of a foundational aspect of ad leadership as some may think.

There’s a couple things that I always experienced in my career. The first thing is, I think you don’t know what you don’t know. So when you’re coming out of a credentialing program in your first year in a classroom, you’re kind of seen that. You kind of see this linear path. You spend x amount of time in a classroom, and then you’ve qualified for, because of time served to become an assistant principal or a vice principal. Then you spend a certain amount of time in that chair before you’re almost, like, deemed worthy of approaching school leadership or principalship. And I don’t know if that’s always the best case scenario. I mean, experience is important, expertise is important, and sometimes those don’t always go hand in hand. I think that traditionally, we’re taught to believe that more time served equals greater potential for leadership. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that. I didn’t subscribe to that in my career. In a previous school district, I spent a lot of time in leadership positions at a young age and was constantly being reminded by others who subscribe to the traditional reality of school based leadership, that I’m not ready yet. You haven’t served enough time. You haven’t seen all those things you need to see. And that was the impetus for me to join this project from that aspiring leadership perspective, which was, I don’t necessarily think I want to wait anymore to go into some sort of leadership role. And the only thing that’s holding me back is a certain someone or a certain group of people who believe I just don’t have enough time.

So I need to serve more time in the classroom before I become approached to be an assistant principal or a principal. So I like to think of it oppositely. I think we need to look much like what Tim said. We need to look at our aspiring leaders. We need to determine what their passions are, what their desires are, what experiences they have, and then leverage that with the experience. In terms of. I’m not saying someone should come directly out of a credentialing program and jump immediately into an assistant principal or principal’s chair. But I also don’t think they need to wait twelve to 13 years before they become an effective principal, especially now with the realities that certain school districts are facing with a lack of available leadership, or the pools of potential leaders are becoming smaller and we’re struggling to fill those chairs. Oftentimes those chairs are filled with whoever’s been serving the longest. And I think there’s probably, in many cases, more suitable candidates out there if we expanded our view to experiences as lived experiences throughout their career, rather than just time served in their career.

Such an important point because you miss out on so many talented individuals if you have this narrow definition of who fits the mold, that kind of thing. But Tim I think you saw in Vince a Ruckus Maker who wanted to do school differently as a teacher.What did you see in him? Working with him was like, man, I need to elevate this guy.

I was a principal at a junior/senior high school, and Vince was a newer teacher.Getting to know Vince and observing his teaching style and just the way he interacted with the students was so engaging. And he approached me and said, ‘I’m looking at the course syllabi, and I think I can do it differently to have the kids have a deeper understanding of what they should learn and how they’re going to progress.’ And I thought, this is good, so go for it. Let’s see what comes of it. And lo and behold, he shared the idea at the school, and I encouraged him to talk to some of the other teachers in other departments. And soon other department chairs were coming forward saying, hey, what’s this all about? And so I had an opportunity to appoint Vince as social studies chair. And to his point, like somebody might have said, well, has he been teaching long enough? And I said, look what he’s doing. Look at the craft and the art and how he’s engaging and taking the curriculum and making it come alive and breathing passion and energy into this. And we soon were going around the other schools in the school jurisdiction, sharing that model of a mastery learning model in a course syllabus. And so I thought, like, who am I to get in his way when he’s demonstrating these characteristics of leadership and instructional design and engagement and students just love being in his class. I thought, I want to really support that and steady the ladder and let him climb and see where he goes. He didn’t need two or three more years or this extra course or that extra course. In my mind, he was ready. I just had to convince him or help convince him that he was ready. And I mean, Vince can talk about that, too.

I think as this was kind of unrolling, I was very much just kind of flying by the seat of my pants because I’d never been anything like this before.

You know, everybody is.

Honestly, everybody is. Dirty secret.

Yeah, that is a dirty CPA. I just have to kind of make sure I’m not showing it too well in front of everybody else. But Tim had approached me and said, ‘I think it would be good for you to take on a more formal leadership position as a department chair.’ And at the time in the school we were both working at, I was the least experienced. I had the least years of experience as probably a better way to put that. And it was an open application position. And I was nervous that I was going to be perceived as whatever, perceived as maybe overexcited or eager, too eager. And I didn’t know if I wanted to. Ambitious. And sometimes, for some reason, in our careers, in our school districts, ambition is not always the best of things, depending on who you are. But nonetheless, he tapped me on the shoulder and recommended that I take that position. And I did. And then fast forward a couple more years. Tim moves on in his career, becomes an assistant superintendent of our curriculum and innovation team. And similarly, an opening came up for our district wide social studies consultant. So in charge of 95 plus schools, the curriculum, instruction, resource development, professional development, workshop delivery, all of those things encompassed in this role. Similarly to that, Tim gave me a call and said, listen, I think you’d be great for this. And I had the same reaction. I don’t think I’m ready. I haven’t served enough time. I don’t know if I have all the experiences. And Tim just recognized something in me and he said, I think, honestly, you should just trust me. Put your name in the hat, see if you get selected by an interview panel. And I did. And that came with its own challenges as well, because I beat out a few people who thought they had a shoe in based on years of experience. And so the perception of me taking that role was, oh, he’s too young. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He hasn’t seen enough. And I really had to lean into Tim as a mentor to say, listen, you are ready. I recognize that in you. You may not see it in yourself yet, but trust me to follow this path and you’ll be successful.
And I was, and I’m very fortunate to have someone looking out for me like that and also understanding that not all of us have someone like that to kind of shine that light for them and show them which way to go.

And mentorship’s key. And Tim, I don’t know if you’d agree with me or not, but you can see over my curly hair here. One of the things I teach is to create results, not a resume. And I think that’s what you saw in Vince and that’s what we see in any sort of top performer. Like, yeah, okay, you need the resume to formally apply to jobs, but really, if you’re out there doing spectacular, remarkable things, the work speaks for itself and then you go through the process the resume is not what get you the job, it’s the reputation you built because of those results that you’re known for. So amazing to call that out in Vince’s life because it brought so much value, you know? Vince, I might bring it back to you, but, like, since it’s kind of you’re younger and growing in the system, maybe in some respects you’ve outgrew the system. And if you have anything to share with a Ruckus Maker listening, I think it’d be useful, right, to system level and campus level leaders to think about how to support aspiring leaders who are growing at a rapid pace. What insights do you have for them?

I think just listening. I think listening is really important. Nonjudgmental listening. So if you’re in senior leadership and you have some sort of rising star or shooting star or someone who’s doing remarkable things, give them a platform to share what they’re doing and just honestly listen to how that came about. Tim and I are both no longer working in that school district. For various reasons, I became too busy outside of my formal role as consultant within that district. And I think for a long time I had a little bit of an identity struggle there where I had 1ft in the district and 1ft out of the district, and I was trying my hardest to do proper diligence to both roles and I had mixed support. And what I mean by that is certain people within the district were excited to support me, and were excited to share some of the great work I was doing outside of the district. And then the other half or the other half of the population, they were a little. I can’t speak for them, but whether they were intimidated or there was a degree of, he shouldn’t be doing this outside of the district. He belongs to us. He’s kind of, his work is our property, et cetera. And so I think part of that was just a misunderstanding of desire. I think I never had desired to outgrow a district. I just didn’t have time for that district in the capacity that I was currently serving and decided to continue on in my role of writing books and consulting across North America.

But I think a conversation with the people who were in charge at the time probably would have shed more light. But that’s not something that I think would have been my responsibility. I think that’s something that a senior leader needs to recognize and say, what are you doing? And how can we help you continue to do that within our district? Because every district has someone that is doing remarkable things. Everyone, every district has some sort of Ruckus Maker that’s doing something outside the box, whether it’s in their classroom or in their school or in their role. And oftentimes the Ruckus Maker or the ruckus they are making is perceived as negative, when really it may just be a misunderstanding of what they’re actually trying to do 100%. And so I think just honestly listening is really important.

It sounds like that was a bit of your story. That’s certainly my story. And a lot of people that I sort of attract through this podcast, it’s a bit of their story, too. Tim, what I’d like to ask you is, how do you view these amazing aspiring leaders and not perceive them as a threat? Because they could bring so much more value to the system, if you’re open to it, versus being like, okay, we need to shut this down, or even at worst, start disciplining for great stuff that they’re doing.

Vince raises just tremendous points. So for me, I think I am a Ruckus Maker, and there’s reasons why I moved along, and I’m doing something different now in my role as dean of education with pre-service teachers and aspiring leaders, where I think I can have an even more tremendous impact. But I think what systems leaders need to really understand is that a Ruckus Maker, as Vince says, needs to be listened to and needs to be engaged and further needs to be embraced. Like, look at what they’re doing and how they can help move us forward. And so to see it as championing them, or I always use the phrase hold the ladder steady.

The ladder, I think that’s the navy officer in me is I want to see who my team is and what gifts and strengths they bring and leverage those gifts and strengths. As a leader, I don’t have to know it all. I don’t have to have all the answers. I just have to create an environment that my team can flourish and share their ideas and bring that forward. And it kind of, it’s disheartening. It breaks my heart when some of our best people are feeling they have to move on or leave because they’re flying too close to the sun and somebody’s eye. Whereas look at the great teaching and learning opportunity we have, look at the engagement for children and learning. And so to me, that’s the cautionary tale. I’ve seen many good people have to go further afield just to find someone that’s really going to engage them and embrace them and hear them out. And it doesn’t cost anything to listen to someone, to listen to an idea as a systems leader. Make the time, don’t just take the time. Make the time to sit down with employees at all levels and all walks of careers and employee groups that help a school system thrive. Because if you’re not listening to all of the voices as best you can, sometimes one or two drown you out. And that’s the one or two maybe naysayers who are like, well we don’t want this or we shouldn’t have this. So that’s a conflict of interest. So the brightest leave and then we hire them back and pay them to come.

The staff member said that’s a good point. Vince, Tim, I’m enjoying our conversation. We’re going to pause here just for a second to get some messages in from our sponsors. When we return, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned asking aspiring leaders what they needed in professional development. 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, IEXL 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 Teach FX, teachers can gather their own feedback without relying on classroom observations. The Teach FX instructional coaching app is like giving every teacher their own instructional coach whenever they want it. Ruckus Makers can pilot Teach FX with their teachers. Visit teachfx.com/betterleaders to learn how. That’s teachfx.com/betterleaders. Here’s a few reasons I love quest food management services. Quest provides high quality, scratch made food in k twelve schools and universities across the country. Quest provides solutions for school cafeterias of every size, including multistation dining halls, cafes and coffee shops, marketplace grab and go catering and events, satellite programming and more. The quest food philosophy is to prioritize the health and wellness of students by cultivating chef crafted recipes containing high quality ingredients and using scratch made cooking techniques and responsible product sourcing. Learn more about Quest food management [email protected] or follow questfood on social media. That’s questfms.com. All right, and we’re back with Tim and Vince, authors of Leader Ready: four pathways to prepare aspiring school leaders. I know you’ve learned a lot talking to aspiring leaders in terms of what they need out of professional development. And actually, I’ll just plant this seed. I know we’re talking about aspiring leaders, but I just have to share this. I was speaking to quite a big group of teachers. I find that normally I speak to school leaders, but here I am and somebody asked me to come in, so I did it. And I talked about being a Ruckus Maker and rejected the premise. So we’ve talked about that in today’s episode and rejected that you need to be a certain age to be a leader. And one of the things, when I was talking to them, I had a suspicion that teacher evaluation isn’t working for teachers. Right. That’s how I see it. But I just wanted to lead with a question to find out how they experienced it. And I think it’s important to note here because of the big crowd. Okay, who here is teacher evaluation in terms of your personal professional growth? Who’s it working for? Raise your hand. Big group, no hands. Not one, it was like, are you serious? Because there’s, like, at least in the states, I’m not sure about Canada, but there’s, like, three or four frameworks that all the systems use, they recycle. And what I’m hearing from teachers is that it’s not meaningful to me. And that’s just. That broke my heart, honestly. So if you want to riff on that, you can. But what I’m interested in is whether you took the same approach. Asking aspiring leaders, what do you need out of professional development? And what’d y’all learn from that question?

I’ll start maybe even before, what do you need? Who are you as a leader? That’s the first question that we asked. Prior to us engaging in specific professional learning opportunities for these leaders are what we call guided leadership experiences, which I’m sure Tim’s going to talk about next. We ask, like, who are you? What’s your skill, will and thrill of leadership? And we adapted some of that from John Hattie’s work. But what is your prior knowledge? Who were you before you were this aspiring leader? Are you a second career teacher? Are you someone who’s been in a managerial position at the bank for 25 years or 15 years, and you just got sick of the mundaneness of it and you decided to try teaching? Can we leverage some of those skills to move you further along? What are your dispositions towards leading? How are you? What skills do you lean on? And then, most. Most significantly for us is, why are you motivated to lead? Why are you motivated to become one? Why are you motivated to become that type of person who wants to be in school? Leadership? And through that, we can then design those plans, those guided leadership experiences, which I’ll let Tim talk to.

When I was in the role of deputy chief superintendent, one of my responsibilities was to look at the professional learning and development of 150 assistant principals. And part of my wondering was, okay, who wants to be a principal? And what I found out is 20% were like, no, I don’t ever want to be a principal. So I asked, tell me more about that. Why? And they told me that work-life balance or the workload they saw on their principal, whereas about 35% were, I can’t wait. I want to lead a learning community. I feel I have skills. I’ve had great mentorship. I want to do this. Then I had that 44% undecided. And for me, that was a nebula of wonder. I wanted to press into that and say, well, why are you undecided? And some of them said, well, the principals get a certain level of pd, and we feel we’re kind of still at the little kids table. We’re not quite getting what they’re getting. And if the division is serious about having us become principals, shouldn’t we have more opportunities or similar opportunities to kind of get some of that training? And that was an epiphany for me. And I thought, okay, how do I level the playing field to help assistant principals feel more visible and heard? So I did a crazy thing. I asked them, what do you feel would be helpful? What do you think would be value added for you? And so I got this wonderful list of areas of inquiry, some of it tied to our professional practice standard, some of it tied to what they have observed and learned. Kind of three general categories that we looked at in terms of the management and operations, that instructional leader and engagement, and kind of the moral, ethical wanderings of how do you run a school and navigate the policies, procedures, etcetera. And what was brilliant for me is they felt very capable and confident in the instructional pieces, which that’s great, that those aspiring leaders are still mindful of children first and great teaching and learning. Some of the operational pieces, some of the budget aspects and the staffing aspects, and some of the more of those broader base support of how do you staff a school and run the school? And so in short order, we were able to cater to those needs. And we came back to scuba diving. We created a model where it’s kind of that gradual release of responsibility as your divemaster demonstrates how to do it well. The learner gets more efficacy and feels better and more capable and confident. And so we kind of had a graduate at level one, two, three, where level one is very much. What is it that I have to learn? What can I read about it? What can I watch? Who can I talk to? Level two is more of that. Watch me now. You do it. Let’s do it together. Let’s learn from mistakes. Let’s make it okay to make mistakes and build on those mistakes and extend our learning and scaffold that learning to a level three, which is mastery, where you, as the assistant principal, you can run all the fire drills, you can do a teacher evaluation or supervision.

You can do some elements of what it is to be a principal to a greater degree than you could before, and that’s getting you increasingly more ready to make that step into the principal’s chair. So we wanted to be more efficient and effective in creating a model of what every aspiring leader knows, understands, and is able to do at a systematic level so it wasn’t left to chance of, well, if I have this principle, I’m going to learn this. If I don’t have that principle, I’m not going to learn that. So less chance, more design. And that’s what our PD model now looks at, is how do we make sure every aspiring leader is getting an equity of opportunity to learn the things that they feel are important, but also a level of what the division feels is important as well. It’s kind of the handshake of what we need to do to best prepare and equip the feelings of self efficacy for these aspiring leaders that they will want to step into principalship. And two years after my initial study, we did a follow up, and lo and behold, that’s after the pandemic. Eight more people raised their hand and said, hey, you flipped me from a no to a yes, or you flipped me from I’m. And I’m not sure I want to do it now. So that means I had eight more principals in the hopper ready to roll who I didn’t have before.

At a time when we’re trying to attract more leaders, even more teachers into the profession, it was a good model to help prepare and build that sense of, I got this, I can do this. And to me, that’s the value of a leader. Ready?

I’m glad you brought up that last point, too, because districts are hurting for educators in the classroom, with certainly aspiring leaders, too. And if they don’t start building that and meeting people where they’re at, like, I have some deep concerns about what does the future hold for us? September 2, 2015. That’s my story. That’s why this podcast started. I was not getting any development right now. I was certainly getting some mentorship from my principal, and he was wonderful, and I learned a lot from him, but also a busy guy, being principaling. I knew I had more to offer. I knew I had gaps. I wanted to close those gaps and be a fuller version of myself. I started the show, and you figured I’d learn from the Tim’s and the Vinces and most importantly, take action on something you taught. So I want to remind the Ruckus Maker listening, even though the show’s not over, have you gotten at least one thing? I’m sure you’ve gotten more, but what are you going to take action on? That’s a really important piece. Thank you for sharing that. I don’t know. So is that your answer? I know you’ve broken away from the principle pipeline construct. What you just described there is sort of the better way for leadership development or is there anything else to add to that topic?

I think we don’t disagree that we need a supply of capable, enthusiastic individuals who want to step in. I mean, that’s the pipeline. But we think more than a pipeline, we need pathways with multiple on ramps and off ramps. Vince is a perfect example of. I don’t have to have ABCDEFG number of years in this course and that course. I saw him, who he was as a leader and where he could go, what he could do. And so we feel that a pipeline you put in oil, gas, water, white wine, whatever, you put it in it, that’s what you’re going to get out at the end of it. We think that the leadership preparation has to be more dynamic, there has to be change. When you’re thinking about maybe I want to be a principal, that pathway, you’ve got your height, master, you’ve got your guide, you’ve got that more knowledgeable other who’s going to help point out the highlights and help you find your way. And eventually you’ve got the compass and map and you’re going to find your way, but you’ve had people helping push you along. So a pipeline in terms of we need a supply of people. Yes, but we can’t just. It can’t just be static and flat. We can’t just take for granted that we’re going to get them, we have to go looking for them and invite them onto the pathway.

Yeah, for sure. White wine, though, threw me off. I thought red wine, like a nice chianti, Bordeaux, maybe a pinotage, but that’s.

I’ll let you work on that.

Yeah, I’ll let you slide.

No sour grapes here.

Vince. Back to you. But. So in your book, Leader Ready and I think there’s four pathways and Tim kind of queued you up, but maybe we’ll end here before the last questions I ask all my guests. But what are those four pathways in that book? Leader ready.

So the four pathways, the first pathway is raising the bar on leadership standards. So within the leader ready framework or within the leader ready book that we put out, we looked across multiple geographic areas, countries that have leadership standards and kind of drew the commonalities between them. So in Alberta, we have the lQs, leadership quality standards. But we looked at the principal standards in the United States and the head teacher standards in Great Britain and all these other ones. And basically what we wanted to do there is use the standards as the common language of leadership. So where do we need to grow? And for those people who don’t have leadership standards, we just decided to kind of create our own in house, just for the book as well. So that’s the first pathway. The second pathway is creating a culture for implementation.

So what does the culture of your school look like? Is it. Are you talking about leadership openly? Is it something that just lives in the office space? Because if leadership is only living in the office space and it’s not transferred outside of the walls of that office, it can be problematic within that culture as well, or the environment as well. That’s where we look at understanding the leader before. Who are they as a person? What’s the skill? Will and thrill? So that’s the second one. The third is kind of what Tim described, which was those guided leadership experiences. How are we interacting with the level one, level two, and level three experiences to ensure that aspiring leaders are as prepared as possible according to that specific piece of leadership they’re trying to develop, whether that’s leading PD or scheduling or PTA meetings or anything like that. And then the last is what we called attaining mastery experiences, which is taking time to celebrate those victories when your aspiring leader has made it to level three, rather than just begin a new thing at level one, let’s celebrate those. Let’s understand that our leaders grow at different rates and at different speeds and through different experiences. And lastly, within that, attaining master experiences, we look at how does that development of the aspiring leader have an impact on the greater school culture?

And one of the things that these pathways do, and just to kind of tie it back to what Tim said as opposed to a pipeline, is there are multiple ways in and out. And right now, in 2024, if you look at who is working in schools, there are four generations. We have boomers, millennials, Gen X, Gen Z. So now we have four different generations of people who view leadership differently. And a pipeline doesn’t suffice because they’re not all going to fit in that very linear, rigid structure. So these four pathways, as they kind of work interconnectedly, will help develop that leader from aspiring to as prepared as they can be. Obviously, you can’t replicate the experience of a school principal when you get the keys to your office for the first day, but it’s our hope that through these pathways, the aspiring leader can be as prepared as possible to assume control of the school.

Awesome. So, Ruckus Maker is listening. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation, a lot of the content that we’ve been discussing, Tim and Vince dig into in depth, right in their book, leader ready. Four pathways to prepare aspiring school leaders. And that one’s Ruckus Maker approved. All right, so let’s get to the last questions we asked all our guests, and it’s fun. So if you could put a message. And, Tim, we’ll start with you. If you could put one message on all school marquees around the world, what would it be? Vince, I’d love to hear what you have to think as well, after Tim.

Yeah, I think for me, it’s an affirming statement to the effect of, there is no greater investment than in the education of our children. No greater investment than in the education of our children. I think given where we are, with some of the struggles and challenges in society, I think teaching our children to be critical thinkers and good citizens and working for the common good, that starts with an investment in their education.

Mine would say something along the lines as you are, welcome as the person that you are, and you’ll grow into the person that you need to be. Something along those lines. I fundamentally believe that schools, in many cases, are some of the safest places for our children and our teachers, as long as they are those places where they are welcomed as their unique, true person that they are. And we foster an environment that they can grow into the person that they’re designed to be, which takes into account the personalization, the understanding of them as a human being and the creation of an experience that blends the humanness with the curriculum.

Let’s pretend you’re building your dream school. You don’t have any constraints in terms of resources, your only limitations, your ability to imagine. And so, Tim and Vince, what’s just, like one guiding principle that would be a pillar of this community?

So my guiding principle would be the who before we do, getting to know the person, whether it’s student teacher leadership, we want to know you, who you are before we do anything with you. Or in the case of students, sometimes it feels like what we’re doing to them. But who before you do. Yeah.

And for me, it is absolutely about building that child centered culture, that we create conditions for leaders to support their teachers, who ultimately support great teaching and learning of students. So it’s that concentric circle of always seeing the student that every decision that we make should be about enhancing and maximizing great teaching and learning in our schools.

Tim, you had the first word with scuba, so I’m gonna let Vince have the last word here at the end of the show. We covered a lot of ground, obviously, and it was really great. So thank you for your time and attention to our conversation. But of everything we discussed, what’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

I want Ruckus Makers to remember that oftentimes there are leaders in your building right in front of you, and they just may not know that they’re leaders yet. And so take the opportunity to get to know them, get to know their passions, get to know what they like to do inside and outside of school. Leverage those opportunities to connect with them, because you probably have your greatest talent right in front of you, and you just may not know it yet.

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.



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