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Creating the Momentum to Achieve Organizational Excellence in Education Systems

Discover the keys to creating momentum and achieving organizational excellence in education systems. Explore how aligning with core values, fostering an inspiring workplace culture, and strengthening leadership can drive accelerated results and sustained progress.

EP328: Provide Excellent Service

Service excellence is a cornerstone of thriving organizations. Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she revisits past episodes with Donna Kirby, Vice President of Experience at the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, to hear how she’s created a culture of service excellence within her team.

Case Study: Burton Middle School Improves Reputation and Enrollment Through Transformational Leadership Practices

Explore how Burton Middle School improved leader engagement, increased enrollment, decreased staff turnover, achieved academic excellence, and enhanced its reputation by fostering individual connections with students.

Simple Recognition Ideas that Create Meaningful Experiences for Employees

Elevate your workplace culture with insightful strategies for meaningful employee recognition, fostering engagement, boosting morale, and driving exceptional performance.

EP327: Unleash Potential Through Constructive Feedback

Dr. Janet Pilcher, author of Hardwiring Excellence in Education, wraps up her deep dive into mastering the art of constructive feedback. Joining her on this episode is Jon Malone, the Director and CEO of the Northwestern Illinois Association, to discuss the use of the three to one ratio in providing positive reinforcement while also challenging employees to distribute their high performance.

Case Study: Burton School District — A Culture of Trust Impacts Student Success

Read the case study to learn how Burton School District Superintendent David Shimer sought an unconventional solution that would work for teachers and
students when his schools faced critically low math proficiency. Download the full case study and the improvement toolkit here.

EP326: Master the Art of Feedback

Dr. Janet Pilcher, author of Hardwiring Excellence in Education, continues the conversation from last week about the pivotal role of feedback in achieving important people outcomes within organizations. Joining her is Dr. KK Owen, a leader coach at Studer Education, to explore effective tactics for delivering genuine, timely, and specific feedback to employees.

Transform Feedback into Action: Engage Stakeholders by “Rolling Out” Results

This toolkit will guide you through the rollout process after a survey is completed to make positive changes by sharing the results and effectively communicating action plans. The toolkit will help you train team leaders in the rollout process that our partners use, get valuable input from stakeholders and make improvement decisions based on the data.

EP325: Foster Confidence with Constructive Feedback

Receiving positive feedback is transformative. It builds confidence, reduces anxiety, and helps individuals improve.

Building Bridges: A Superintendent’s Journey to Create a Community-Driven Strategic Plan

At our annual education leadership conference, What’s Right in Education, Dr. Candace Pelt, Superintendent of Central Linn School District in Halsey, Oregon, shared insights into her transformative leadership and strategic planning approach. Emphasizing the power of strategic planning, Dr. Pelt highlights its role as a roadmap guiding decision-making and ensuring alignment with community values.

Cascading Scorecards to Achieve Continuous Improvement: The Oxford School District’s Journey

Superintendent Bradley Roberson shares the transformative continuous improvement journey of the Oxford School District in Mississippi. Confronting challenges in an inflexible system, Roberson works to shift from ambitious goals to practical strategies. The process involves cascading the strategic plan through scorecards and action plans, ensuring engagement and validation across all levels.

Mastering the Art of Reflection: A Superintendent’s Guide to Progress, Strategic Planning, and Impact

Mark Martin, Superintendent of Meade County Schools in Kentucky, shares valuable insights into the strategic planning and progress monitoring practices that have propelled his district forward. Mark emphasizes the significance of intentional pauses and reflections to assess progress and maintain a steady course toward long-term goals.

EP324: Practice Goodwill Intentionally

What is goodwill, and how do we know if we’re practicing it? Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she guides us through the journey of measuring our own personal goodwill and explains how we can radiate it to others, even during the busiest season of the year.

EP323: Spur Success with Audacious Goals

How can leaders use Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGs) as a strategic tool to achieve successful outcomes? Join Dr. Janet Pilcher for the latest episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast where she defines what a BHAG is and urges organizations to set such long-term goals guided by core values and purpose.

Building Trust with the Community Yields High Dividends: Lessons from a Superintendent

Dr. Michael Barnes, Superintendent of Mayfield City Schools, shares insights on building trust, redefining success, and implementing innovative education practices for lasting impact.

Rounding for Success: A Superintendent’s Journey from Skepticism to Impact

Dave Kline, Superintendent of the Colton School District in Oregon, shares an inspiring journey from skepticism to success with the implementation of rounding as a strategic leadership tool. Initially cautious, Kline embraced rounding, recognizing its transformative power beyond routine check-ins.

EP322: Align Systems to Streamline Success

Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she engages in a conversation with Dr. Shelly Viramontez, Superintendent, and Ms. Whitney Holton, Associate Superintendent, of Campbell Union School District in Campbell, California.

EP321: Pursue Gratitude and Goodwill

Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she invites us to reflect on the power of small acts that, when multiplied, shape a more harmonious and compassionate world.

EP320: Build Trust to Strengthen Culture

Join us for part two of Dr. Janet Pilcher’s thought-provoking conversation with Superintendent Rob Clayton of Warren County Public Schools. In this episode, they dive into how Mr. Clayton has built trust, courage, ownership, and commitment with his team by leading with intention and transparency to achieve organizational excellence.

Case Study: From CSI to a Top 5 School – Erwin Middle, a Jefferson County Success Story

A school in crisis was turned around by a dedicated leadership team led by Principal Dr. Angela Bush who was committed to encouraging cultural change, leadership empowerment, communication improvements, and student achievement all while engaging the broader community in the success of Erwin Middle School. | Download the Case Study and School Improvement Toolkit >>

EP319: Achieve Accountability Through Consistency and Communication

Join us as Dr. Janet Pilcher sits down with Mr. Rob Clayton of Warren County Public Schools for a compelling conversation about accountability, leadership consistency, and the transformative power of intentional communication.

Leadership Tip: Break Down Your Strategic Plan into Short Cycles

Effective leadership is pivotal to student achievement and overall success. District and school leaders understand the unique challenges they face in ensuring quality learning outcomes. Short cycle planning and leader action strategies provide the necessary framework for leaders at all levels to navigate these challenges, driving academic excellence and organizational improvement.

EP318: Empower Your Team by Embracing Accountability

Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she delves into the core principle of leadership accountability from her book, “Hardwiring Excellence in Education.”

Celebrating Extraordinary Leaders: Meet the 2023 Difference Maker Award Recipients

At the 12th annual WRIE conference, the Difference Maker Award, a nationwide recognition of bold leadership, was given to two honored K-12 superintendents making significant impacts in their districts and organizations: Matt Hillmann and Terrie Morgan.

EP317: Transform Culture with Reward and Recognition

Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she interviews Dr. Jennifer Lowery from the Tea Area School District to dig into the core principle of Reward and Recognition from Dr. Pilcher’s new book, “Hardwiring Excellence in Education.”

Measuring Progress and Fostering Excellence: The Power of Scorecards

In every partnership, our coaches work with leaders to develop an organizational scorecard that identifies the most important measures of school, department, and district success. Each scorecard defines which progress monitoring tools will best predict success. Additionally, the scorecard defines what strategic actions will be taken to achieve goals.

EP316: Shape Culture Through Connection

Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she interviews Mr. Al Betry of CESA 9 to discuss the strategies he uses to drive improvement, achieve remarkable outcomes, and create a culture where people want to come to work.

Tools to Monitor Progress and Connect Employees to Results

Consistent communication and connections with employees through leader huddles and rounding increase employee engagement and keep teams focused on goals.

EP315: Embracing Mentorship: A Tribute to Georgia Blackmon

Join us for a special episode where Dr. Janet Pilcher shares four valuable life lessons from one of her most influential mentors and friends, Ms. Georgia Blackmon.

Empower Your Team: Using Plus/Delta as a Template for Making Improvement Decisions

The Plus Delta process is a valuable tool for continuous improvement because it helps to identify areas for improvement, prioritize action items, and foster a culture of learning.

EP314: Enhance Communication with Scorecards and Huddles

Would you like to strengthen communication within your organization? Listen along as Dr. Ryan Carpenter of the Estacada School District discusses how he establishes effective two-way communication through his implementation of daily huddles and scorecards.

EP313: Communicate at All Levels

In this Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Ryan Carpenter, Superintendent of the Estacada School District, to discuss his efforts at enhancing communication at all levels in his district.

EP312: Align Behaviors with Goals and Values

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Angela Bush, principal of Erwin Middle School in Birmingham, Alabama, to discuss how she has moved her school from low-performing to now the top-ranked school in the Jefferson County School District for attendance.

EP311: Develop Accountability to Develop Leadership

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Nannette Johnston, former Studer Education Leader Coach and 2014 Superintendent of the Year, awarded by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators. She joins us to discuss what it takes to succeed in the continually changing K12 education landscape and also share her experience serving one of our partners, Rob Clayton, Superintendent of Warren County Public Schools in Kentucky.

EP310: Facilitate Meetings People Want to Attend

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses her approach to designing better meeting agendas and strategies that have helped her become a better coach and facilitator.

Case Study: Sand Creek Zone-School District 49 Sets the Standard in Employee Engagement

Sand Creek Zone strives to provide quality education by developing tools and systems that allow their staff to focus on the people they serve. By adopting Huron Rounding, Sand Creek Zone improved their ability to connect often with staff and collect feedback to remove barriers and recognize colleagues who were making impact.

EP309: Boost Employee Retention Through Leadership Development

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses how professional development for leaders can impact employee retention and workplace environments.

EP308: Focus on Employee Engagement

Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses how leaders can foster a workplace environment where employees feel engaged and connected to their work in this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast.

The Value of Excellent Service

Great leaders place importance on how to become the best service provider for what they do. Donna Kirby, the Vice President of Operations at the Pensacola Blue Wahoos AA Baseball team, joins Dr. Janet Pilcher in this three-part podcast series to discuss building a culture around service. Listen as Donna discusses the value of customer service and how to treat your organization like a living room.

EP307: Continuous Improvement Through Leadership

Dr. Janet Pilcher interviews Superintendent Dr. Christi Barrett, of Hemet Unified School District in Hemet, California, on this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode.

EP306: Be a High-Performing Leader

Featured in this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast is Superintendent Matt Hillmann of the Northfield Public School System in Northfield, Minnesota to discuss leadership development.

EP305: Continuous Improvement to Support Students

Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Amy Mikesell, principal of Estacada High School, and Kate Dean, instructional coach, as guests on this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast.

EP304: Story Behind the Story: Hardwiring Excellence in Education

Recently, Dr. Janet Pilcher participated in a podcast hosted by Dr. Brendan Kelly, University of West Georgia President, called Off the Cuff. Dr. Kelly is featured in the second chapter of Janet’s newly released book “Hardwiring Excellence in Education.” In today’s episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, we share the recording of their conversation.

Guest Podcast: Dr. Janet Pilcher on Off the Cuff Podcast with Dr. Brendan Kelly

Dr. Brendan Kelly, host of Off the Cuff Podcast and President of the University of West Georgia, recently invited Dr. Janet Pilcher as a guest on his podcast. Their conversation details Dr. Pilcher’s leadership journey and how Studer Education partners in achieving organizational excellence.

EP303: Measures that Matter

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher welcomes Dale Shaver, Director of the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use in Wisconsin.

EP302: Commit to Excellence

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Janet invites two leaders who exhibit the first principle in the Nine Principles Framework, Commit to Excellence.

EP301: Develop and Apply Standards of Excellence

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Jon Malone, Regional Director and Chief Executive for the Northwestern Illinois Association, and Alicia Hulin, Executive Director for Human Resources and Strategic Engagement at South Louisiana Community College, as guests.

EP300: Recruit and Retain Excellent Teachers

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Matt Renaud and Dr. Kyle Thompson, who both serve as Regional Superintendents for the Regional Offices of Education in Illinois, to discuss how they each work to help recruit and retain teachers in their districts.

EP299: Getting Better at Getting Better

This episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast will be the first in a series to highlight some of the stories and results chronicled in Dr. Janet Pilcher’s newly released book “Hardwiring Excellence in Education: The Nine Principles Framework.” The first guest to be interviewed is Dr. Pat Greco, Senior Director of Thought Leadership at Studer Education.

EP298: Journey to Excellence

Listen to this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast where Janet discusses her newly released book and how it can help leaders on their journey to excellence.

EP297: Prioritize Student Health

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites CheyAnne Fant, Director of Nutrition Services at Barren County Schools in Glasgow, Kentucky, to the show.

EP296: Reflect to Improve Your Leadership

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Janet models how employees on every level in an organization can go about self-reflection to improve.

EP295: Ignite Your Passion

Dr. Janet Pilcher invites a multi-international award-winning photographer, author, and soon-to-be teacher, Mary Davis, as a guest on this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast.

The Importance of Grow Your Own Programs in Addressing Teacher Shortages and Increasing Diversity in Education

Grow Your Own programs can address teacher shortages and increase diversity in education. These programs provide more effective instruction and better academic outcomes. See the challenges school districts face in creating and sustaining GYO programs, and how to overcome them.

EP294: Creating Healthy Schools and Communities

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses these questions posed by Frances Hesselbein in order to understand the importance of creating healthy schools and communities.

EP293: Create Impact that Endures

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Sergio Mendoza, Superintendent of Burton School District in Porterville, California, to discuss his retirement announcement and journey as a leader in education.

EP292: Mindfulness and Reflection Practices for Leaders and Teams

Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Casey Blochowiak, Director Coach, as a guest on this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast.

EP291: Recruit and Retain Successful Teachers

Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Sarah Miller, Senior Director of TeacherReady, as a guest on this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast to discuss how the TeacherReady program can be a tool for districts to recruit and retain successful teachers.

EP290: Hardwiring Excellence in Education: The Nine Principles Framework

In this Accelerate Your Performance Podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses her soon-to-be-released book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education: The Nine Principles Framework.

Retain Employees in Education using Leadership Rounding

By rounding with employees, leaders can better understand their needs. Rounding also builds trust and shows employees that they are valued, resulting in better engagement, loyalty, and retention.

EP289: Create a Positive School Culture

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Matt Hillmann, Superintendent of Northfield Public Schools, to discuss the progress and successes his district has had along their continuous improvement journey

EP288: Build a Culture of Improvement

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Bradley Roberson, Superintendent of Oxford School District in Oxford, Mississippi, to share how he implements intentional systems with tactics such as rounding and scorecards to further continuous improvement in his district.

EP287: Rounding for Results

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum, Superintendent of San Benito High School District, and the district’s Board President, John Corrigan, to discuss the great impact leader rounding has had on their district.

EP286: Students are Treasures

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Lupita Hightower, Superintendent of Tolleson Elementary School District, to share about her district’s successes and learnings from their continuous improvement journey.

EP285: Go All In to Improve

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Sergio Mendoza, David Shimer, and Julissa Leyva, to discuss their improvement journey and the tactics they used to reach successful outcomes in their district.

EP284: Effective Leaders are Consistent

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites back Terrie Morgan, Superintendent of Hardin County Schools, to discuss how she uses different leadership and strategic tactics to improve her district.

2023 Superintendents of the Year

This year, we are proud to share that three superintendents from our partner organizations have been named Superintendent of the Year in Arizona, Kentucky and Minnesota. Join us in congratulating these outstanding education leaders for the contributions they make every day advocating for public education, our students and their futures.

EP283: Inspiring Young Futures

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Terrie Morgan, Superintendent of Hardin County Schools, as a guest on the Accelerate Your Performance podcast.

EP282: Building Transparency and Trust

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Rob Clayton, Superintendent of Warren County Public Schools, to discuss how he effectively models “cascading information” and leads with transparency and trust.

EP281: The Shift From Doing to Leading

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher utilizes this article to discuss the importance of a leader’s understanding of how to effectively delegate.

EP280: Bridging Community Divides

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Ed Manansala, County Superintendent of Schools for El Dorado County in California, and Dr. Ken Futernick, writer and educational consultant, to discuss how they worked together to find solutions for these issues.

2022 Difference Maker Awards

At the 11th annual WRIE conference, the Difference Maker Award, a nationwide recognition of bold leadership, was given to three honored K-12 superintendents and education leaders making significant impacts in their districts and organizations.

EP279: What Can I Stop Doing for a Strong New Year?

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses how starting the year with a “stop doing,” or bad habit to break, can help you be a better leader, employee, and person.

EP278: Preparing Students for Success from Kindergarten and Beyond

In this episode, Rina Irwin, CEO of the Child Development Centers, Inc. and a 2022 Difference Maker Award winner joins us to discuss her passion and commitment to preparing children for a successful educational experience as they transition into Kindergarten and beyond.

EP277: Great Leaders are Learning Leaders

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Mark Bielang, Superintendent of Portage Public Schools and winner of a 2022 Difference Maker award, to be a guest.

EP276: Be the Best Leader You Can Be

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Xavier De La Torre, Superintendent of Ysleta Independent School District and recent recipient of a 2022 Difference Maker Award, to share about his district’s improvement journey.

EP275: Lead Collaboratively and Transparently

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Jeff Dellutri, Superintendent of Fox Point-Bayside School District, to discuss his ‘why’ for committing to the work of improvement.

EP274: What it Really Takes to Prevail

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Pilcher discusses how you must often be a realist and address the hard facts while continuing to be persistent and motivated in your problem-solving.

EP273: From Input to Action: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Angela Frazier Arthur, Vice President of Student Services at Waukesha County Technical College, and Sherry Simmons, Chief Diversity and Compliance Officer at Waukesha County Technical College, to discuss how they gathered data through surveys and translated it into actions to improve campus diversity and inclusion.

EP272: Excellent Leaders are Intentional

In today’s Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher summarizes some of her favorite parts of WRIE and reflects on one of the key takeaways that surfaced throughout the two-day conference.

EP271: Unrelenting Commitment to Improvement

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites back a guest we have had the pleasure of hosting before, Dr. Jennifer Lowery, Superintendent of Tea Area School District in South Dakota.

EP270: Passion and Perseverance

According to Dr. Janet Pilcher in this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, you need passion to fuel your perseverance and enhance your skills as a leader.

EP269: Collaborate and Innovate With Your School Board Members

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dr. Nate Nelson, Superintendent of the Porterville Unified School District, and Lillian Durbin, President of Trustees at the district, to share with us how they foster a strong relationship and communication between school leaders and the board.

EP268: Communicate Clearly, With Simplicity

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares several tips on how leaders can work towards being better communicators.

EP267: Running Plays to Achieve Success

This week on our Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites back Dale Shaver, Director of Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use, and Laura Catherman, Director of the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board, to continue their discussion on how they implement their Playbook for Success to continuously build trust and enable success between boards and leaders.

EP266: The Value of Kindness

In this Accelerate Your Performance episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher explains the value of kindness and the profound impact it can have on ourselves and those around us.

EP265: Building Trust to Enable Success for Boards and Leaders

Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Dale Shaver, Director of Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use, and Laura Catherman, Director of the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board, to discuss how to build trust between the leaderships within schools, such as superintendents and principals, and their school boards.

EP264: Stomp Out We/They Culture

In this Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses tactics on how to overcome We/They communication and examples of how to identify and adjust your communication in ways that promote unity.

EP263: Essentials for Developing Leaders

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast Dr. Sally Sugg, the Superintendent of Shelby County Public Schools in Shelbyville, Kentucky, joins us as our guest. Dr. Janet Pilcher Interviews Dr. Sugg on the importance of Leadership Development.

EP262: Highly Effective Teachers Need Highly Effective Leaders

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses the importance of cultivating a highly effective school under a highly effective leader to retain highly effective teachers.

EP261: Building Trust with Teachers and Supporting Them

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Justin Barlow, a middle school teacher who has worked in the academic world for over two decades, to share his insights into why teachers are exiting the profession and ways leaders can work to support and retain teachers.

EP260: Creating a Great Place to Work for Teachers

In this week’s Accelerate Your Performance podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses the importance of cultivating a positive and supportive work environment for teachers.

EP259: Increase Teacher Job Satisfaction and Retention

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast, Dr. Sarah Miller, Director of Partnership and Student Services for TeacherReady, and Dr. Amy Fowler, Coach Director Studer Education Team join us to talk about teacher retention and recruitment.

EP258: Rethinking School Safety

In today’s episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Deanna Ashby, who recently celebrated her one-year anniversary as a Studer coach, to discuss the topic of school safety, why it’s so important, and her personal experience.

EP257: Stay Interviews

In this episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher explains how Stay Interviews can contribute positively to an organization and how they are more than simply convincing high performers to stay.

EP256: Dare to Lead Boldly

Listen as Dr. Mark Martin discusses with Dr. Janet Pilcher a program he’s launched called Close the Gap Kentucky and how it’s helping other school districts succeed.

EP255: The Big Picture: Synthesizing

In today’s episode, Dr. Pilcher helps explain how synthesis can help guide leaders forward with the big picture in mind.

EP254: Listen Intently

Listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher interviews the 2022 recipient of the Human Rights Award, Matt Hillman, the Superintendent of Northfield’s Public Schools.

Progress Not Perfection: Find the Wins and Capture the Learning from this Year

In this webinar, Leader Coach Kathy Oropallo shares how to target short-range outputs that align with our big annual goals and offer celebration opportunities throughout next year.

EP253: Fire Up Your Inner Drive

Our drive will get us through most anything. Listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher shares tips for fanning the flame of our inner drive.

EP252: Supporting Employee Health and Wellness

In this podcast, episode listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher invites Krystal Lomanto to discuss her journey in becoming an elected superintendent as well as some of her firsthand results from and ways to implement health and wellness ideals.

EP251: Belgium-Based TeacherReady Candidate Shares About Housing Ukranian Family

In this episode we hear as Max Bobbit talks about both his time as a TeacherReady student and how he is currently housing 3 refugees from Ukraine.

EP250: Stop Placing Blame

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares how you can stop placing blame in your organization with key tips and examples of alternative, positive communication approaches.

Rebuilding Trust with our Communities

In this webinar, leader coach Melissa Matarazzo shares concrete ideas to tackle the challenge of rebuilding trust and strengthening relationships with community partners and stakeholders amidst conflicts beyond our control.

EP249: The Power of Collaboration

Listen now as the Superintendent of Daviess County Public Schools, Matt Robbins, and the Superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools, Dr. Matthew Constant, have a conversation with Dr. Janet Pilcher about how they partner together for their community.

EP248: Why it’s Important to be an Owner of Your Work

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares key characteristics of those who own their work as well as tips for living this idea out in the workplace.

EP247: Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Today, Tom Livezey, Superintendent of Oakridge Public Schools in Muskegon, Michigan, joins us. Listen as he shares about what it takes to create this kind of culture.

Solve Problems with Community Collaboration

Institutions and community organizations have a unique opportunity for greater collaboration as they navigate similar challenges while leading change.

EP246: Let Your Leaders Lead

Listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher references an article written by this former park ranger who offers leaders five tips and discusses why leaders will want to rethink swooping in to save people “lost in the forest.”

The Maturity Model: Phases of Improvement in Organizational Excellence

Implementing five phases of improvement to achieve organizational maturity and excellence.

Impactful Irreplaceables: Recruit and Re-recruit the Best

In this webinar, leader coach Deanna Ashby shares helpful tips for re-recruiting those you have and for attracting your next, best team members. Through intentional performance feedback for current employees and behavior-based interviewing aligned to values for the next ones, you’ll be equipped to staff the most impactful team ever.

EP245: Stay the Course

In today’s conversation, Dr. Kelly Thompson and Jeff Petersen from Muskego-Norway Schools in Muskego, Wisconsin discuss what has enabled their success.

EP244: Build a Sense of Belonging

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares practical actions leaders can take to help create a culture of belonging.

Case Study: Improving Culture and Performance Through Feedback

A case study on how the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District leadership team approached their ailing culture with feedback from all stakeholder groups.

EP243: Make Way for Improvement

Today, the Superintendent of the Estacada School District, Ryan Carpenter, joins us, along with Studer Education Leader Coach, Dr. Kathy Oropallo. Ryan and Kathy recently co-authored a chapter in Teaching Improvement Science in Educational Leadership, which they will share about.

EP242: Rethinking Teacher Preparation Programs

In this episode, Dr. Sarah Miller, Director of Partnership and Student Services for TeacherReady, joins us to discuss the impact of alternative teacher credentialing and what she and the TeacherReady team has learned is creating access for a diverse range of candidates.

Analyze Impact to Accelerate Forward

In this webinar, leader coach Amy Fowler shares how to analyze impact during this current year to accelerate performance in the future using PDSA cycles.

EP241: Creating a Culture of Recognition

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher talks about the power of sincere appreciation and discusses how we can establish recognition systems in our organizations.

EP240: Champions for Improvement

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher and our guest, Senior Director of Thought Leadership, Dr. Pat Greco, discuss great improvement work currently taking place across the nation, why committing to this process is so important, and what attendees can expect from this year’s conference.

EP239: Analyze Impact to Accelerate Forward

In this episode, listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher and our guest, Leader Coach, Amy Fowler, discuss how leaders can harness their learnings over this past year to make even more progress moving forward.

EP238: The Power of Reward and Recognition

In this episode, listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher explains why now is a great time to revisit Episode 50, Increase Employee Engagement with Recognition.

Case Study: Creating a Culture of Unmistakable Value at Northwestern Illinois Association

Northwestern Illinois Association embarked on a new journey to increase their value. These are the steps they took to create a culture of “unmistakable value”.

EP237: Build Culture Through Authentic Leadership

Listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher asks Heidi to share what the other biggest difference makers have been for creating a strong workplace culture.

Leader Superpowers: Culture and Communication

In this webinar, leader coach Tim Wyrosdick shares helpful tips on using your superpowers of culture and communication to improve student and family experiences and make for a better workplace for all.

EP236: Communicate With Precision

In this episode, we offer tips for crafting messages that will help leaders communicate more precisely, clearly, and effectively.

EP235: Harness Your Superpowers of Culture and Communication

In this episode, find out practical ways you can activate your superpowers of culture and communication.

How One School District Hardwired Continuous Improvement Practices to Change their Culture and Adjust through Disruption

To execute continuous improvement well, continuous learning is a must. Learn how a school district used disruption as the greatest innovator to achieve results.

EP234: Balance the Heart and Mind to Thrive at Work

In this episode, find 9 tips for creating a better heart and mind balance to help us thrive at work.

EP233: Essential Components of Healthy Workplace Cultures

In this episode, find out simple actions you can take to create healthier workplace cultures.

A Six-Step Process to Improvement that School Districts Can Replicate

How well does your team execute on improvement plans? Don’t plan just to plan. Bring improvement plans to life by monitoring, adjusting and reflecting.

EP232: How to be Proactive at Work

In this episode, learn about the qualities of proactive leaders and how cultivating more of this spirit can impact workplace culture for the better.

Making the Most of Mid-year Adjustments

In this webinar, leader coach Wanda Creel talks about how to identify, communicate and reinforce mid-year adjustments to reduce anxiety, increase implementation and have a great second half of the academic year.

EP231: Lead Boldly and Authentically

In this episode, learn what it means to lead authentically and how it looks in action.

EP230: Be Happy at Work

In this episode, find out actions you can take action to manage your happiness at work.

EP229: Strategic Moves for Impact

In this episode, Dr. Lisa Herring, the Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, joins us for a candid conversation about overcoming challenges.

The Nine Principles Framework: A Foundational Guide to Organizational Excellence

These components of excellence that are consistently present in high-performing organizations provide a roadmap for organizations on a transformational journey.

EP227: New Year, Positive Mindset

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher challenges us to shift to a positive mindset. Listen as she shares tips on how we can shift our minds to focus on the positive and to find the good in every situation.

EP228: Be Curious

Through the experiences Mary shares about her path from TV news anchor and reporter to her current role as Creative Content Analyst, we’re reminded of the value of being curious.

Pause, Reflect and Plan

In this webinar, leader coach Deanna Ashby shares new ways to slow down, reflect and reset to make the most of mid-year check-ins.

EP226: The Best Gift We Can Give

In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher challenges us to get creative. Listen as she shares ideas for making memorable experiences with others as well as examples of spending quality time with team members at work.

EP225: Getting the Groove Back

In this episode, Student Orchestra Director Christina Clark Frierdich joins us to share about overcoming challenges, finding creative opportunities and staying fueled with purpose in difficult times.

EP224: The Winning Mindset

Listen as Janet shares some powerful takeaways we can put into action to help us commit to a winner’s mindset and overcome adversity.

EP223: Using Student Voice to Help Shape District Plans

In this episode, listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher and Gayle discuss how to effectively gather and use student input as well as the norms and considerations for these conversations.

EP222: The Danger of Victim Mentality

Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses what victim thinking can look and sound like and why it’s toxic to workplace cultures. Listen as she shares action steps for identifying and overcoming victim thinking.

EP221: Finding Purpose Outside of Work

Dr. Janet Pilcher and Whitney discuss what she’s learned from the experience and what others can do to find a little spark in their lives.

EP220: Reflect to Overpower Hate

Dr. Janet Pilcher reflects on her recent experiences and leads listeners through a loving kindness mediation to break the barriers we feel inwardly and outwardly.

EP219: Find Your Pack & Find Your Voice

To become a first-choice University requires winning the hearts and the minds of young people. While this is no easy feat, Universities are filled with untapped talent and resources.

Sustain Yourself and Your Leaders

In this webinar, Leader Coach Gayle Juneau-Butler shares practices to sustain yourself and other leaders through challenges and seasons of continuous change.

EP218: That ‘Blah’ Feeling

Using this article, our host, Dr. Janet Pilcher, helps us name this blah feeling and provides tips to help individuals go from languishing to potentially flourishing.

EP217: Changing Education Through Improvement Science

Hear about bright spots in education who are making improvement simple and sharing their work to fundamentally change education in America.

EP216: Commit to Excellence: Be the Best

As Dr. Janet Pilcher reflects on What’s Right in Education, she reminds listeners to never lose the purpose of helping students be their best.

EP215: Critical Communication in Times of Crisis

Listen as Superintendent Ryan Carpenter shares the most important communication tactic in times of crisis.

Prioritize to Achieve Small Wins

In this webinar, Leader Coach Melissa Matarazzo shares tips on how to narrow your focus, meet important goals and celebrate wins, even amidst the whirlwind of daily operations.

EP214: How to Collect the Student Voice

We often think about how students are feeling from our adult lens, yet they don’t have the adult experiences we’ve gained. How do we really know how our students are feeling?

EP213: Using Local Culture to Improve the Student Experience

During this conversation, we discuss how the local Native American Ojibwe Tribe is an integral piece of Lac du Flambeau’s history and the ties between its school system and local cultural values.

EP212: Break Down the Disconnect Between School Leaders and Teachers

Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses why there is a disconnect between school leaders and teachers, and what administrators can do to get teachers to stay.

EP211: Focus on the Fundamentals to Improve

This episode revisits an interview with Dr. Pat Greco, who shares how the School District of Menomonee Falls stayed 8 months ahead of other districts.

How Estacada Schools Delivers Best-in-Class Communication

To meet the needs of today’s families, schools must be laser-focused and innovative in how they communicate with stakeholders. This is why, in Estacada, best-in-class communication isn’t just an always action, it’s a core pillar of the strategic plan.

EP210: When It Comes to Change, Less is More

Janet shares three important suggestions to apply 100% of the time to best manage change.

EP209: Define Values to Guide Your Decisions

Our school systems, leaders and educators have role-modeled tremendous resiliency since March of 2020. Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought, there have also been bright spots and bold leaders encouraging their teams to thrive. Today, we revisit a conversation with Tea Area Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Lowery, to highlight the difference their district makes by leaning on its values and focusing on its entire community.

Provide Performance Feedback Aligned to Values

In the roundtable and the discussion, Leader Coach and former Florida Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick shares how to provide effective feedback that supports and challenges each employee to achieve better outcomes for students.

Let the Student Voice Be Your Guide

How do education leaders create a school culture that prioritizes students? By collecting and acting on student feedback to shape the district’s values.

EP208: Bold Leaders, Bold Decisions, Bold Results

Bold leadership isn’t about a position. Bold leaders use their hearts and minds to make a difference in the lives of others. Our professional calls on you to help young people realize their hopes and dreams – that is where educators find purpose. Bold leaders focus on the right small things that make a difference for employees, students and their communities. In this episode, hear how our host, Dr. Janet Pilcher recommends you connect to purpose through continuous learning and improvement.

EP207: Save Time with Proactive Communication

Have you ever felt like you’re running around your organization putting out fires? Today, Superintendent Ryan Carpenter, Estacada School District shares the communication tactics his team has in place that help him feel less like a firefighter. You’ll also hear how these decisions were deeply rooted in data and continue to be analyzed on a consistent basis. As a result, people in Estacada are jumping ALL IN on the decisions its school district is making. Listen as Janet and Ryan discuss why his team stays laser-focused on communicating innovatively with their community and employees.

Organizational Values Are More Than Words on a Wall

Education leaders diligently seek organizations with strong organizational values to align with as a driving force to serve students. Use these five tactics to bring your organizational values to life.

EP206: Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

We all know that a leader’s behavior has a significant influence on the employees of an organization. Great leaders are reflective, have self-awareness and are connected to the people they serve. On the other hand, bad leaders often cause employees to seek out another work environment. How can we become the type of leader that contributes to building an inspiring workplace? To answer this, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares the 5 Questions Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Ask Themselves Every Day written by Harvey Deutschendorf.

EP205: Hiring the Right Principal

Hiring a High School Principal is a can’t-miss situation. Due to decreases in qualified applicants for these positions, one school district found a unique way to find the best candidate. Joining Janet today is Sand Creek Zone District 49, Superintendent Sean Dorsey, who shares how to hire boldly and authentically engage staff and students through challenging times.

Drive Employee Actions that Support a Culture of Belonging

In the roundtable and the discussion, Leader Coach and former Kentucky Superintendent Deanna Ashby shares how to drive employee actions that support a culture of belonging.

Process Improvement Tool: Stoplight Report

The Stoplight Report is a way to communicate how ideas, concerns, and barriers are being resolved. Items added to the Stoplight Report might be collected during check-in conversations, team meetings, or a process audit. The Stoplight Report is shared to keep the team informed of priorities for improvement and progress.

EP204: Sending Hope to Louisiana

The northern gulf coast is home to millions of residents who are no strangers to natural disasters. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher reflects on our education partners who have suffered tremendous damage due to Hurricane Ida. The storm has brought major loss to the students, employees, and community members of Fletcher Technical Community College and Nunez Community College in southeastern Louisiana.

EP203: Tackle Student Learning Gaps

Ensuring learning progress despite disruptions to learning has been no easy feat since the pandemic began. However, at Erwin Middle School leaders worked together to decrease student absences by over 40% and decrease the number of F’s and incomplete assignments by 51%. Today, Principal Dr. Angela Bush joins Janet to share how her team continues to close the academic achievement gap and move students forward.

Do You Want a Culture of Belonging? Start with Employees

As we kick off the school year and communicate expectations, what better time to offer about how each employee can contribute positively to every student’s daily experiences in schools? With a combination of leader modeling and communication of what’s expected, organizational culture can provide a powerful growth environment for all.

EP202: Do What’s Right for Students

The skills that students need to be successful after school ends are rapidly changing. What it means to be career-ready tomorrow, will look different in 2025. To best support students for the future, leaders and community members in Oak Ridge School District have made a collective commitment to advance their strategic plan and include a focus on college, career and life success. Listen as Dr. Bruce Borchers shares how his district aligns its Portrait of a Graduate from Pre-K to Graduation using the district’s strategic plan.

Plan for the Unexpected

Use scenario thinking to calm uncertainties and move quickly to action when the unexpected occurs. You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it.

EP201: How to Dodge Those Silver Bullets

Are you trying to find the next silver bullet solution? Or are you focused on evidence-based leadership and improvement practices? Focusing on the next shiny silver bullet will often lead to organizational chaos. Today, Janet shares another way leaders can prepare their teams for change and build leadership capabilities to improve organizational systems.

EP200: How Leaders Stay Grounded

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s a saying you’ve likely heard before, and one that today’s guest says applies to being a Superintendent. As an educator for 29 years, Deanna (Dede) Ashby, recently retired Superintendent of Hopkins County Schools joins Janet again to share how she helps others develop a vision and mission that leaves a huge impact on their community. Listen as Dede explains why it’s important to have the right people around you and stay grounded as a Superintendent.

Realigning with our Values and Expectations in our “New Normal”

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Dr. Gayle Juneau Butler shares tools, tactics and resources for sustaining your organizational commitments to core values and expectations as we transition to a “new normal.”

Build a Strategic Plan Around Educational Equity

Participating in conversations about equity isn’t enough. School leaders must design a more equitable learning environment starting with the strategic plan.

EP199: Two Tactics to Hardwire for the New School Year

New academic years begin with new faces everywhere you look. Whether people are new to the organization or new to their role, Janet recommends two tactics that build confidence and support employees in a new position. To be an excellent organization, we strive to apply these practices and train all of our team members to do the same.

EP198: Even Rockstar Leaders Need Development

Being a Superintendent can bring out the best in people, as well as highlight our most glaring mistakes and blindspots. Today, retired Superintendent, Tim Wyrosdick joins Dr. Janet Pilcher to share what he has learned from 36 years as an educator in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Listen as Tim explains why it’s important to embrace new challenges and never be satisfied.

How to Reinforce Traditional Values in the ‘New Normal’

An organization’s traditional values are core to its culture. As we approach the ‘new normal’ guide employees by realigning to these values.

EP197: Unlearn to Improve

How can we tackle declining student performance? After over a year of difficult transitions and decisions, Janet shares why we need to rethink and unlearn what schools have done in the past. Most people in our educational systems want to contribute to student success – it is our purpose. Using the book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant, Janet explains how we can question and challenge our current thinking to prepare students to perform at the highest levels.

EP196: Leadership Development is a Lifeline

Leadership development is often viewed as a “nice to have” in organizations. Today’s guest, Dr. Pat Greco, shares why leadership development is core to the capacity of the organization and a lifeline to everyone it supports. School systems aren’t static – they are continuously changing with new students, teachers, leaders, support staff and board members. Listen as Pat and Janet discuss why building leadership capabilities across all team members is a must-do.

How to Create a Culture of Belonging for All Students

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Dr. Kathy Oropallo shares research from NASP and asset-based teaching tactics that educators can use to provide the best support possible through a culture of care that heightens students’ sense of belonging.

Onboarding for Success in a Virtual Work Environment

You’ve interviewed and hired the perfect candidate. Next, review these four tips to virtually onboard new employees in a meaningful way.

EP195: Count Your Words

The words we use matter. Messages that focus on the customer’s perspective build relationships and reinforce how important the customer is to an organization. Customers are always seeking to understand, ‘what’s in it for me?’ Communication with this as the focus engages the people we serve. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares four steps to address customer questions and respond with a focus on the customer.

EP194: Pay Attention to the Right Work

Organizations sustain high performance when people are aligned and understand where the organization is headed. Although there will always be people who are resistant to change, the best leaders persevere through pushback to help create incredible results in our school systems. Such as, Hudson School District Superintendent Nick Ouellette, PhD, who understands that even though reaching agreement is important, so are his non-negotiables, as well as the ability to move quickly to positively impact the students we serve.

Create a Culture of Belonging for All Students

Our students have an innate need for connection and belonging. Try these four tips to create a culture of belonging and connection for student success.

EP193: Families are Valuable Team Members

Families are a great resource for educators. They offer a unique perspective and window into the life of our students. When we approach building relationships with families the same way we approach building a team within our organization, students are more successful. Today’s guest, Dr. Holly Ellis shares how leaders can invest their effort into relationships that increase student engagement and confidence.

EP192: What do Employees Need from Leaders?

Leaders want employees who are happy, productive and invested in the organization’s future. However, retaining these people requires leaders to become aware of what it takes to meet employee’s needs in the workplace. Hear about those needs and the fundamentals we use to support confident and engaged employees from Leader Coach and employee engagement expert, Dr. KK Owen. Today, KK and Janet discuss what leaders can do to increase confidence and engagement on their team – and what we might be doing that causes employee engagement to decrease.

Build (or Rebuild) a Powerful Leadership Team

In this roundtable, Dr. Julie Kunselman shares examples and lessons learned from partner organizations on building powerful leadership teams and ensuring that your team models the way for everyone else’s success.

EP191: Saying ‘No’ to Manipulators

What can we do when an individual hoards conversation time, constantly interrupts, provides unsolicited advice and puts others down? These behaviors can be interpreted as manipulative and can damage individuals on our teams and organizations. To maintain working relationships, and be authentic to ourselves and those we lead, we have to firmly and diplomatically say no to manipulators. Today Janet shares examples of how to take control when working with a manipulator.

Leading Boldly in a Rural Community

Rural leadership isn’t for the faint of heart. Students are most successful when bold leaders like Superintendent Drost connect people to embrace change.

EP190: Simple Strategies for Classroom Improvement

As educators, it’s our goal to help students progress, achieve, and build confidence in themselves and their learning. We are witnessing schools do so by using simple continuous improvement strategies in the classroom. To share what this looks like, we’ve interviewed Leader Coach, Dr. Kathleen Orapollo, an expert in designing unique adult and student learning experiences. Today, Kathy and Janet discuss why classroom improvement is critical for students and staff, simple strategies to implement, and how a middle school is actively using improvement cycles.

Build a Bold Leadership Team

A leadership team is the foundation of successful school districts. Use these nine tips to start building a bold leadership team with your leaders.

EP189: Dealing with Manipulators

Within our organizations, there are people who will do whatever it takes to be successful. Sometimes people who we believe are high performers are actually lethal employees and manipulators. To gain power, people hoard information, shut others down, avoid seeking input and insist on always have control. Saving employees from manipulators in our organizations is one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader – especially if the manipulator is an executive leader. Today, Janet shares 8 tips for dealing with manipulators on our teams.

Empower the Board to Lead through Challenges

In this roundtable, Dr. Melissa Matarazzo shares how to support your board members to sustain themselves and serve effectively during times of community division.

Why Does Recognition Matter?

If employees don’t feel valued for their work they’re more likely to become disengaged. People may become unmotivated to put forth their best effort thinking, what’s the point? The good news is engaging employees isn’t complicated. Most of the time, people just want appreciation for the effort.

Communication Tips for School Board Members

When and how can school board members best communicate with the community? Offer school board members support with these four tips.

How Do You Answer That? Managing Tough Questions

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Dr. KK Owen shared a recording from a recent Destination High Performance conference where she was joined by Dr. Janet Pilcher to tackle tough questions with effective responses.

What is Bold Leadership?

As society evolves, education is always needed to transform to help students prepare for the workforce. Equally so, this evolution creates demand for leaders to respond and empower people on their teams to make a bigger impact. The type of leadership required today looks different than it did a decade ago. Leading a team into the future requires bold action and the following characteristics.

EP188: Are You a High Performer?

What does it mean to be a high performing employee? What if we all had an athlete’s mindset at work? Today Janet closes this series about defining high performance by discussing the final 8 personality traits of high-performing athletes from the Sports Management Degree Guide. Ultimately, it takes hard work and commitment to grow ourselves to be the best we can be. Do you see that commitment on your team?

EP187: Connecting Operations to Student Success

We all want to attain excellence – some of us are just more systematic and focused on how to get there. Today’s guest, Dr. JoAnn Sternke cautions, “You’ll never achieve excellence if you don’t have purpose, focus and alignment.” In this episode, Janet and JoAnn discuss how to better align operational leaders and teams to realize their impacts in academic organizations. When we bring operational and department leaders together with school and classroom leaders, good things happen.

Effectively Using Data to Make Tough Decisions

In this roundtable, Dr. Pat Greco was joined by SDMF Superintendent Cory Golla, Director of Teaching and Learning Casey Blochowiak, and Leader Coach Robin Largue for a roundtable discussion to learn from in-the-field experts have built an “army of improvers” in the district, where staff are learning how to increase student engagement, improve parent confidence, keep their people safe and sustain learning outcomes in 45-day cycles of improvement.

Did That Question Catch You Off Guard?

From the executive level to the front-line manager level, leaders are confronted with tough questions often. Although we can’t eliminate tough questions altogether, we can communicate effectively and prepare to answer the questions that remain.

EP186: The Winning Trait Behind Underdog Teams

What if we all had an athlete’s mindset at work? What would that look like? Today Janet discusses 6 more personality traits of high-performing athletes and how we can use those to assess ourselves and further define high performance in the workplace. The best teams provide opportunities for people to feel connected to the work and each other to achieve results. It’s the responsibility of every team member to ensure that no one feels alone when we are working as a team.

EP185: Strong Teams Don’t Happen by Chance

How can we really make improvement work across an organization? What enables people to solve problems and make the best decisions at every level? We begin by helping people understand improvement is a connected, system-wide process deeply rooted in the capabilities of the people within the organization. Today, we hear from an award-winning Superintendent, and our Director of Thought Leadership, Dr. Pat Greco, who has supported an organization through hardwiring improvement from the boardroom to the classroom. Listen as Pat and Janet discuss the fundamentals of classroom improvement and the problem with viewing people as job titles in our organizations.

Powerful Communication Practices that Build Connection

In this roundtable, Dr. Gayle Juneau-Butler was joined by Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Lowery and Business Manager Chris Esping to share how Tea Area School District is using powerful communication practices and focusing on decision-making that sustains people and deepens relationships.

EP184: Be Dedicated to Being the Best

What if we all had an athlete’s mindset at work? What would that look like? Today Janet discusses 6 personality traits of high-performing athletes and how we can use those to assess ourselves and further define high performance in the workplace. To be a high-performing team, we need all people engaging in the self-discovery work required to be their best every day.

EP183: Prioritizing Local Culture in Schools

Why is it important to align your district values to the values found in the homes of students in the community? Today, Superintendent Dr. Larry Ouimette shares how his small northern Wisconsin school district incorporates the local Native American Ojibwe Tribe into all aspects of education. Dr. Ouimette explains that public respect of local culture has a significant bearing on the success of his students. Listen to learn more about how the Lac du Flambeau School District prioritizes community values in its mission, vision and strategic plan.

Improving Outcomes: Align, Empower, Persist

In this roundtable, Dr. Melissa Matarazzo was joined by West Allis-West Milwaukee School District leaders to share how the district has laid the foundational building blocks that support improving student outcomes with consistent leadership, aligned action and systemic persistence

The Key To Success: Continuous Leader Development

The constant change we are facing in our industry calls for bold leadership. Oftentimes we see rapid change cause leaders to pause on leader development activities. While it’s valid to think that focusing on managing change itself is most important, there is another way.

EP182: What Makes an Employee a Productive One?

What makes an employee a productive one? To garner our high-performing team, all employees are expected to be productive – and we say all very purposefully. Chris Porteous outlines 7 Traits of Supremely Productive Employees in Entrepreneur, that we can use to communicate expectations to everyone on our team. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses these traits and what we can do this week to be more productive employees.

EP181: How Can We Improve Employee Engagement and Communication?

Last September, one of the largest wildfires in central Oregon’s history came within a mile of schools and downtown Estacada. While still navigating the ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic, all 1800 of Estacada School District’s students, families, and employees were evacuated from their homes. However, Superintendent Ryan Carpenter and his team prepare proactively to prepare for these events and were able to quickly move to action. As he joins Janet today, he shares how his team collected data to make the best decisions for their district and community.

Productivity, Engagement and Culture: The Trifecta of Resilient Organizations

In this roundtable, Dr. Kathy Oropallo was joined by Oregon Superintendent Ryan Carpenter to share how the Estacada School District focuses on productivity, engagement and culture to create resilient leaders in a resilient organization. 

EP180: Powerful Practices That Build Connection

There is no greater compliment than trust. As educators, we have a great responsibility to do what is best for children entrusted to us. This is the foundation of the moral compass used by the Tea Area School District team led by Superintendent Jennifer Lowery. In this episode, Dr. Lowery shares how her team created a central location to connect its community and the sometimes heartbreaking burdens of leadership.

Integrating Local Culture into Student Learning

In this roundtable, Dr. Gayle Juneau Butler was joined by Superintendent Larry Ouimette to share how the Lac du Flambeau Public School district authentically engages in partnership across cultures to create a safe and productive school environment for all. 

Does Local Culture Have a Purpose in Schools?

INTEGRATING LOCAL CULTURE TO INCREASE STUDENT LEARNING Are culture and context of learning really that important? Yes, absolutely! Yet in traditional academic settings, culture is often presented as a series of facts separate from students and their lived experiences. Hence, this disconnect is a dire opportunity lost in and of itself. Did you know that […]

EP179: Rounding with Purpose

The time has come in which organizations are thinking about how to return to work with a new perspective and understanding. As we begin to engage with each other again in person and come to work in new ways, one simple tactic will be more important than ever. Rounding with purpose results in a better culture of engaged employees and leaders working together. Today, Janet shares 8 steps to create an approach for applying rounding with purpose in your organization.

EP178: Measures That Matter and Decision Rules

How can we engage people to become champions of improvement? Today, we share how one school district stayed eight months ahead of the national conversation by investing in the brainpower of its people to solve its toughest challenges. Listen as Dr. Pat Greco and Janet discuss how the right measures and processes support an army of improvers in the School District of Menomonee Falls.

Strong Leaders Manage Change Effectively

5 WAYS TO BECOME A BETTER LEADER Those who work in education and those who are leaders in other industries have at least one thing in common. People are our greatest assets. It’s our responsibility to develop students, employees and the future leaders of our workforce. Education systems need strong leaders who know how to […]

EP177: Leading Change with Creative Tension

Change has accelerated for all of us over this past year. External demands and pressures are calling for leaders to change the way they do business. While the majority of our employees want to help the organization achieve excellence, not everyone feels this way. Our responsibility as leaders is to focus on building work environments that empower solid and high performers to be accountable and see their value to the organization. Today, Janet shares how leaders can master the ability to lead and manage with creative tension.

EP176: Accountability in Closely Connected Communities

Leadership is a full-time job that requires relentless commitment. For leaders in rural communities, there is an added challenge of everyone knowing you personally as well. Today, Randy Drost, Superintendent of Rice Lake School District joins Janet to share about leading in his hometown community, Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Listen as Randy and Janet discuss the connectedness, challenges and role school leaders play in rural communities.

Improving from Here: How Systems Can Accelerate Student Progress

In this roundtable, Dr. Kathy Oropallo shares stories of improvement and progress that took place during the most challenging times we’ve faced in education.

Move Students Forward with a Focus on Strengths

USE AN ASSET-BASED APPROACH FOR POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT It’s our mission as educators to keep students engaged and accelerate learning. We strive to create the best learning environments for student success. We want to help low performers excel and progress. It’s time to pause and ask ourselves, what are we really doing to focus on progress? […]

EP175: Being Aware of Our Cognitive Biases

A goal of many organizations is to build an inclusive, positive workplace culture that achieves positive results. Doing so requires us to address how our individual behavior contributes to the culture. The truth is, we are all biased at times, and those biases can cause conflict and even toxicity in the workplace. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher will discuss two cognitive biases we all experience from time to time and four ways to assess ourselves.

EP174: Lead Through Mission and Values

It’s no secret that higher ed hasn’t worked at the speed of business. Yet the past year left institutions with no choice other than to transform – and transform quickly. This week, Georgia Southern University President, Dr. Kyle Marrero joins Janet to discuss how his institution has used its mission and values to maintain focus through the uncertainty. With accelerated communication, self-reflection and leadership transparency GSU invests in the success of people.

Build an Army of Improvers to Achieve Student Success

In this roundtable, Dr. Janet Pilcher and Dr. Pat Greco highlight how specific organizational teams are using the Organizational Excellence and Improvement Maturity Model to align to what matters most, care for their people and keep their students learning in all conditions.

Building the Conditions for a Learning Culture

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT STUDENT AND ADULT LEARNING? When was the last time you tried something new? New experiences such as tasting foreign cuisine or starting a job forced us to leave our comfort zones. We may not know what to expect and may even be curious or excited to try something new. In contrast, […]

EP173: Symptoms of Low Emotional Intelligence

Do you know someone who seems to be unable to control their emotions? Maybe you feel this way yourself at times. We all have varying degrees of emotional intelligence. Although it’s difficult to face our challenges and shift our behaviors, it can be done. During today’s episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares 9 Signs of Low Emotional Intelligence from Kendra Cherry via Very Well Mind as well as her own reflections about how we compensate for these behaviors. When we commit to a defined change in behavior, we make a difference in the way we interact with others.

EP172: Higher Ed Isn’t One Size Fits All

How do we maintain the momentum and elevate an already outstanding higher education institution? The way we’ve defined transformation in the past has been put to the test over the past year. Today’s guest, South Louisiana Community College Chancellor, Dr. Vincent June, explains to become the best resource for his community takes more creativity than he anticipated. Listen as he shares about leading a multi-campus organization during a global pandemic, leadership transition and transformational change.

From Conversation to Action for an Inclusive Environment

In this roundtable, Dr. Gayle Juneau-Butler shares specific examples, key questions to ask, a shift in language and other tools to guide leaders to a place to start and continue creating an environment of inclusion.

Five Questions to Create an Inclusive Environment

DIVERSITY. EQUITY. INCLUSION. Although these are independent, all-encompassing nouns, their interconnected success relies on the transformation of the words from nouns to verbs — from serving as thoughts to becoming actions. We want to create space for more and deeper inclusivity. This requires us to shift from examination of thinking to the work of belongingness […]

EP171: We Are All Connected

Although there are differences between rural and urban communities, many of our problems are the same. We are all interconnected as we are solving these critical issues in America. As Janet reflects on our Strengthening Rural America event, she explains, “the quality of life in our country is dependent on our ability to connect with each other and strengthen America.” Our communities are relying on professionals in healthcare and education to create places where we care and love each other – where no one problem is too big to solve.

EP170: Embrace the Call for Transformation in Higher Ed

How can higher education transform to inspire a new generation of learning, thinking, and imaginative invention? We can start by listening to those we serve and embracing the call for diverse learning and experiences to overcome the status quo. Today, Dr. Brendan Kelly, University of West Georgia President, joins Dr. Janet Pilcher to discuss the positive progress UWG has made despite a year of challenges, criticism, and anxiety. President Kelly shares the actions UWG is taking to position their institution for the future and his relentless commitment to making higher education better for the people we serve.

EP26: Coaching Friendship

Children need social connections in order to be successful in school and in life. Amid the shifts from building to at-home learning, the opportunity to build social skills and make new friends have taken a hit. It’s important for parents to remember that, like everything else, children LEARN how to be social. They learn by watching the example adults set for them in their own friendships. In this episode, we share specific actions parents can take to teach friendship and how they can coach children to be a good friend.

Using Key Words at Key Times

CREATE CLEAR MESSAGES THAT ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING When used incorrectly, communication can build a barrier between people in the workplace. Time is often wasted trying to clarify and reiterate information. Meanwhile, employees become frustrated and disengaged due to lack of understanding. People depend on leaders to deliver clear, effective messages that inspire a vision and drive […]

EP169: The Harmful Effects of Absentee Leaders

Have you ever worked with a leader who is physically there, yet psychologically absent? Someone who avoids ownership, meaningful engagement, and shifts the blame to others? This type of leader can be difficult, if not impossible to please – slowly killing productivity and engagement in the workplace. While an absentee leader’s behavior may not come across as toxic, it can be more harmful than it appears on the surface. Today, Janet discusses the impact of absentee leadership and how we can instead build a community of great leaders.

EP168: Now is the Time to be Bold and Courageous

Conversations about the need for transformation in education aren’t new. However, this past year has demonstrated that transformation is possible – and at greater speeds than we ever realized. As we look ahead to the future of higher education, it’s filled with both excitement and uncertainty. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher is joined by Dr. Natalie Harder, President of Coker University, to discuss leadership, transformation, and the importance of integrity and excellence in higher education.

Empower Your Teams with Purpose and Pride

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Sabrina Hebeler shared tactics to connect purpose and five key focus areas to re-empower our teams with pride and purpose.

EP25: Student-led Conversations

The events of last spring and the pandemic exposed a role in the parenting gig most of us rarely considered – the parent as learning coach. Many parents have now been up close and personal with what goes into making sure their children are successful in school and they want to know if they are “doing it right.” In this episode, we introduce School House as the space where school and house meet. You’ll also hear why consistency is foundational to the learning process. Children thrive when they know what to expect and what’s expected of them.

I believed there was no “I” in team – I was wrong

HOW CAN LEADERS BRING TEAMS TOGETHER? Over the course of our careers, whether in our foundational education or our first “real” jobs, we all remember hearing one particular quote – There’s no I in team. In fact, I said it many times myself as a young leader. Well, we were wrong. Teams, whether made up […]

EP167: The Ingredients for a Winning Team

Loyalty and trust go hand and hand. Great teammates have both loyalty OF the team and create loyalty TO the team. Listen as Janet shares insights from the article, Why Loyalty is Crucial to Basketball Excellence and how we can transfer those to our work teams. A good coach can’t play the game with their team, but a good coach can set the team up for success. Create winning teams with the right talent and connections to become unstoppable.

EP166: Refresh Strategic Goals to Move Forward

Strategic plans and goals are created with the best intentions to propel an organization into the future. There are also situations that require us to refresh these goals and readjust the next steps. Today, Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis, Superintendent of the third-largest school district in Wisconsin, Kenosha Unified School District, joins Janet to share how her leadership team made the decision to refresh their goals with a strong focus on measures to drive success.

News of Relief Funds, Now What? Build Foundations for Sustainable Impact

How can we best build sustainability with one-time funds? What impact are we striving for? In this roundtable, Dr. Melissa Matarazzo shared important principles for decision-making and achieving the best return on investment with federal relief funds.

EP24: 4 Tips for a Schoolwork Meltdown

When it comes to schoolwork, meltdowns happen sometimes! In this episode we share four tips to help make meltdowns less frequent and also discuss how you can help your child move through them faster.

Plan Strategically to Make a Lasting Impact

THROUGH INTENTIONAL ALLOCATION OF FEDERAL RELIEF FUNDS As news of the latest COVID relief package from Congress trickles into the inboxes of superintendents across the country, it can be tempting to move quickly with these funds to shore up immediate needs and return our school systems to as “normal” as we can in a continuing […]

EP165: The Fragile Line Between Trust and Distrust

As leaders of teams and organizations, it is never our intent to create distrust. However, there are times when employees will observe our behavior and distrust can ensue. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher, continues her conversation from episode 163 Lead by Example, to reflect on what leader actions contribute to team mistrust.

EP164: One Team One Purpose: Rural America

Rural communities are inspiring places to live – people are always there to lend a hand and support one another through challenges and disasters. Rural communities also face unique challenges – the outmigration of talented workers, aging infrastructures, and consolidation into larger, less local systems. A Huron senior director, Tad Hunt, who oversees the rural and critical access segment, discusses with Janet how we can collaborate to overcome the challenges facing rural America, ultimately creating stronger communities for people to live and work.

EP23: STEAM-powered Learning

STEAM-based learning is an integrated approach to learning that prepares students for success beyond the classroom. It stands for Science, Technology, engineering, arts, and math. Integrating STEAM-powered learning activities into children’s day to day can be easy– and a lot of fun to do! In this episode, our Studer Education colleague, Basil Kuloba, who is also Executive Director of Inertia, joins us to share tips for parents to help bring learning to life and make it fun for children.

The Future Looks…? Planning Amidst Uncertainty

As leaders, we must organize and prepare for the future, even when future conditions are unclear, unknown or uncertain. In this roundtable, Dr. Pat Greco shared how best to apply the tool of scenario planning to make forward progress when multiple possibilities are still ahead.

Remain Confident Despite an Uncertain Future

ANTICIPATE AND GUIDE YOUR TEAM THROUGH CHANGE Anticipating and leading change isn’t a new concept for most leaders. For decades now, John Kotter’s work has encouraged leaders to lead organizations through increasingly rapid changes. We know it’s our role as leaders to anticipate the future and help our teams navigate through change. However, if we’ve […]

EP163: Lead by Example

People in leadership and government roles, teachers, and sports coaches have one thing in common: their roles are positions of power. People look to leaders like these for inspiration and to provide guidance and direction. Just like leaders in society, if we say one thing and then do another, we may lose our team’s trust in our organization. Today, Dr. Janet Pilcher reflects on the importance of organizational values and operationalizing these values into standards of excellence.

EP162: The Intersection of Healthcare and Education

n rural areas and small communities, we often find health and school systems are the largest employers. These industries are more alike than different in several ways. Today, Quint Studer and Janet Pilcher discuss the intersection between healthcare and education, and how these two industries have the power to transform their communities into successful, thriving places filled with talented workers.

EP22: Teachable Moments

With learning at home being something so many students and parents are doing, there are now more opportunities than ever to turn regular experiences into learning experiences. In this episode, we’re hoping to help you know when you might be in the middle of a teachable moment and what to do in that moment. Our guest and colleague, Dr. Holly Ellis, joins us to break down teachable moments and how to seize those opportunities.

How are our Students Doing? Student Learning Despite Disruption

What do we do when students’ learning slows or regresses? What do we do if that doesn’t work? In this roundtable, Dr. Kathy Oropallo shares how to apply an improvement cycle to address learning gaps that have arisen this year, especially to inform your plans for the year ahead.

Improvement Cycles to Sustain Progress

HOW ARE THE STUDENTS? As leaders make difficult decisions to create the best possible conditions for learning during constant change and disruption, we also face another emerging challenge. There is growing fear among the public that students may be experiencing irreparable learning loss. This fear, however, is not a new concept. Districts have historically grappled […]

EP161: 5 Leadership Lessons for the Future

As we progress through phases of transitioning back into something that resembles life before the pandemic, people will need their leaders to lean into the emotional side of the workplace more than ever. This change won’t happen overnight, rather we will move through stage after stage – each requiring us to build energy into our workplaces. To help teams thrive on the other side, Janet shares 5 lessons for leaders to carry into the future.

EP160: Creating a Culture of Shared Leadership

Inspiring an entire organization of people to commit to continuous improvement and service excellence is an admirable goal – one that will also pay off through challenging situations. Returning from episode #158, three leaders from the School District of Menomonee Falls share how a foundational culture of shared leadership and consistent communication empowered people to collaborate and transform their school system.

Lessons From a Virtual World

What have we learned about leadership in a virtual world? What have we transformed for a virtual setting that we’ll want to continue for the future? In this roundtable, Dr. Janet Pilcher was joined by Dr. Melissa Matarazzo to reflect and share five lessons learned from recent months as take-aways for how we lead, every day.

EP21: Coaching Kids to Identify Emotions

It’s natural for kids to experience different emotions as they learn. When they have the ability to identify and process emotions, it enables them to move through those experiences so that they don’t get stuck in a negative or unhealthy space. This is a skill that sets up kids for success in the classroom and later in life. In this episode, our Studer Education colleague and Leader Coach, Dr. Gayle Juneau-Butler, joins us to share tips for parents who want to coach their children to identify emotions. Gayle works with leaders in school systems and other organizations all over the country. She has a background in higher education and she also has two children, who light up her life.

Keep the Team Connected in a Virtual World

To support the basic needs or our employees, our workplaces must prioritize conversations that honor all employees.  

EP159: Blending 80% Emotional 20% Rational

Change is continuous, and in our organizations, leaders have the responsibility of balancing employees’ emotions with the rational side of work. This past year has taught us that it’s easier to lead with agility to manage change when we hardwire leadership fundamentals in our organizations. Today, Janet shares the foundational tools and tactics to advance our leadership and provides the framework we use to do just that – the Nine Principles for Organizational Excellence give teams an opportunity to thrive and truly accelerate performance.

EP158: Listen to People to Continuously Improve

What happens when an organization committed to improvement has to transform everything they do in 5 days? People let go of being perfect and rely on their relationships, values, and communication to achieve results. Joining Janet today are three leaders from the School District of Menomonee Falls; Casey Blochowiak, Tina Posnanski, and Sue Lee. Listen as they share how their team has remained agile, aligned, and committed to SDMF’s values, from the district, school, and classroom perspective.

EP20: Movement and Learning

Movement is fuel for the brain. Is your child getting enough of it? In this episode, we give you ways to get your child moving through play and coordinated activity.

EP157: DHP West Coast 2021 Kick Off

As the world continues to change at a rapid pace we need to help people in our organizations more than ever hardwire leadership fundamentals. To do so, we focus on the Nine Principles for Organizational Excellence. The best organizations continuously transform and review their practices to identify opportunities to improve, because we are only at our best when we strive for excellence in everything that we do. Today, Janet shares a preview of the Destination High Performance West Coast virtual experience over the next two days.

Focus on Employee Satisfaction

DEVELOP PEOPLE, RECOGNIZE WHAT MATTERS AND SHOW GRATITUDE You’re likely familiar with the saying people don’t leave their jobs, people leave their leaders. Although it may be overused, there is ample evidence to support that the relationship between an individual and their leader is key to employee satisfaction and engagement. There are many reasons for […]

EP156: Transform Culture with Communication

What makes employees engage, commit, and connect with their organization? Leaders that listen and use feedback to transform the culture of the organization. Today’s guest, Tim Hire, Superintendent of Schools, Tulare County Office of Education reminds us that there will always be plenty of work to do – make sure it’s the right work. If your organization doesn’t live by its values – that’s a great place to start. Listen as Tim shares the process their team used to develop core values and break down silos to truly engage employees.

Relentless Resilience: How to Finish Strong

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Sabrina Hebeler shared the key components of resilience and tactics to practice the pause to build the resiliency muscle.

EP19: Overcoming Overwhelm as a Parent

Most children can relate to feeling stressed or overwhelmed at some point in school, and amid a pandemic, parents are experiencing these exact feelings. In the previous episode, our social worker friend who works with students joined us to share tips for parents looking to coach their kids through tough moments. In this episode, Robin Matarazzo returns to share tips for parents who are feeling overwhelmed as they try to support their child’s learning. Listen as Robin discusses ways parents can overcome overwhelm.

The Power of Pause

The power of pause is an essential component of building our resilience muscle. Practice pausing before you respond using this simple tactic.

EP155: Reduce Exhaustion with Time Batching

How can we leave our workdays feeling less stressed and exhausted? This is a common question for many leaders. After days filled with meetings and unexpected interruptions, there is often little time left over for deep-thinking or other critical tasks that contribute to our organization. In today’s episode, Janet reflects on this challenge, sharing her own exhaustion and desire to manage time efficiently and productively. With gratitude for the advice from Mark Murphy, Janet shares the research and technique behind “time batching” to help us balance our lives and feel energized.

EP154: Different Types of Leaders

Sports and athletics have offered many of us an opportunity to develop critical leadership and life skills. Today’s episode features a special guest who faced a unique set of circumstances requiring him to remain agile and authentic to himself throughout his childhood and young career. His focus on being persistant and developing personal relationships recently paid off as he was selected in the 2020 NFL draft. Listen as New Orleans Saints Rookie, Zack Baun, shares his take on leadership, a few of his goals, and inspiring messages for us all.

Purpose + Process to Accelerate Improvement

In this roundtable, Dr. JoAnn Sternke shares how to align your purpose to the best process that will drive the improvements that matter most.

EP18: Overcoming Overwhelm as a Child

School can be overwhelming for children at times. Amid a pandemic, feelings of stress and anxiety are understandably heightened. In this episode, a social worker who works with elementary, middle and high school students joins us to share insights for parents looking to coach their children through these tough moments. Listen as our guest, Robin Matarazzo, offers valuable tips that can help you help your child overcome overwhelm.

Purpose, Personalities and Personalization at Work

LEADING A 5-GENERATION WORKFORCE Recently a new generation of young professionals has begun to enter the workforce. With the broadest range of ages than ever before in the workforce, this presents new challenges for today’s leaders. Organizations have the responsibility of engaging employees who are in different stages of their careers and with a variety […]

EP153: Shifting Workplace Culture

What are the signs of a workplace culture in need of shifting? Are you noticing a disconnect between what leaders are trying to accomplish and what employees are internalizing? Do your employees continue to ask questions about what the organization can do for them, rather than speaking to how their lives are better because they work there? Today Janet provides 6 actions to stop doing and 6 actions to start doing to positively accelerate your culture

EP152: Monitoring Covid Transmission in Schools P2

Dale Shaver returns from epsiode #151 to share the biggest challenges their data reveal and key takeaways for all leaders willing to collaborate to find creative solutions to community wide problems. Waukesha County Government was no stranger to partnering with schools, however, this pandemic brought about an opportunity Dale refers to as, “Snow days on steroids.” Through their collaborative community effort, Waukesha County has safely returned students to in-person learning and put 13 thousand people back to work.

Sustaining Trust Through Difficult Decisions

In this roundtable, Dr. Kathy Oropallo shared tips and practical examples of how to sustain your stakeholders’ confidence and commitment, even through hard decisions.

EP17: Communicating Concerns to the Teacher

Communicating concerns to the teacher can be nerve-racking. Parents sometimes avoid bringing things up because it’s uncomfortable. Every teacher wants every parent to feel good about their child’s learning experience. In this episode, we give parents a framework for communicating concerns. This solution-seeking conversation leaves both parent and teacher feeling clear and confident about next steps to support the learning.

Communication that Increases Support of Decisions

People want to know how decisions are made. Communicate about decisions in clear and transparent ways to increase trust and support.

EP151: Monitoring Covid Transmission in Schools P1

Recently we’ve been hearing conversations around data demonstrating that with certain approaches to safety, students can return back to school in classrooms. Dale Shaver from the Waukesha County Government returns to the podcast to share the strategic efforts their county has applied to connect public health and k12 education. The results of this high-performing, collaborative community effort reveal incredibly positive outcomes for their surrounding school districts in Wisconsin – one we can all learn from and model in our regions.

EP150: How Can We Build Strategic Agility for Continuous Change?

A leader’s most important challenge is to keep the organization from falling. To remain good, or even great depends on how we roll strategy, people, and service into how we approach leadership in the next decade. As change becomes ongoing and more complex, a traditional strategic plan will no longer suffice. To continuously improve and continuously adapt to change we need a fluid, dynamic, agile strategy and a workplace focused on continuous learning. Listen as Janet shares 5 ways to lead and work differently as learning organizations of the future.

EP16: Build Ownership of Learning

Taking ownership and initiative can be taught. It might take time, but it is possible. In this episode, we talk about reflection, self-assessment, and small wins as keys for parents who want to build ownership of learning.

Courageous Leadership for Inclusive Conversations

In this roundtable, Dr. Gayle Juneau-Butler shared tips on preparing and facilitating inclusive conversations while navigating the compelling and emotional topics that impact our teams and those we serve.

Conversations that Honor All Employees

To support the basic needs or our employees, our workplaces must prioritize conversations that honor all employees.  

EP149: The 3-Stage Framework for Inclusive Conversations

Some topics are easier to approach in the workplace than others. Conflicting issues and viewpoints often leave leaders stuck between a rock and a hard place. Discussing topics like diversity and inclusion can feel risky for leaders who don’t know how their teams will react. With these leaders in mind, Dr. Gayle Juneau Butler and Dr. Janet Pilcher collaborated to develop a 3-stage framework to have positive, inclusive conversations. Listen as Gayle joins Janet to walk us through that approach.

EP148: Feedback is a Gift…or is it?

Reflect on the last time someone gave you constructive feedback… did it feel like a gift? That likely depends on the intent of the person providing the feedback. Within our own teams and organizations providing constructive feedback to one another is a necessary step in the improvement process. Yet feedback that is littered with generalizations does little to help others improve. Listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher describes how to provide feedback as a gift, instead of an insult.

Lead the RIGHT Actions: How to Maximize Stakeholder Feedback

In this roundtable, Dr. Julie Kunselman and Melissa Matarazzo share tips to maximize stakeholder feedback using the results rollout process.

EP15: It’s All Great Until I’m on a Call

Working from home while your child is learning from home has its ups and downs. We invited our virtual colleague and parent-friend, Dee Dee Thompkins to give us her best tips for minimizing interruptions during work calls and meetings. Her ideas are mind-blowingly good.

Are We Leading People or Managing Problems?

DEVELOP A TEAM OF PROBLEM-SOLVERS  When we are approached with a problem by an employee, it can be tempting to rush in and be their hero. We may even feel like it’s our job as a leader to run around managing emergencies and obstacles. This can be exhausting. Additionally, if we are always swooping in to solve people’s problems, how will they grow to become […]

EP147: Modernizing the Learning Pathways of New Teachers

To have any chance at alleviating the growing number of teacher shortages, traditional and nontraditional institutions responsible for educating teachers have to consider new business models that meet potential teachers where they are in their lives, careers and educational journeys. It’s time for a wholesale rethinking of how we recruit, educate and support teachers for the workforce of the future. Today, Janet shares how she brought this vision to life, and how other leaders can approach innovative solutions to meet people where they are.

EP146: The Ritual that Keeps People Aligned

Routines provide structure and comfort within our teams. Rituals go beyond providing structure to instill a deeper meaning behind a sequence of actions. As we continuously navigate change, we need structure to reduce people’s anxiety and increase their confidence. People need to know their work has purpose and is worthwhile in helping an organization achieve results. Today, Janet shares one of the most important rituals we can instill in our teams along with 6 suggestions to consider.

Breaking Down Silos, Building Agile Teams

In this roundtable, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares tips to build cross-functional, agile teams to follow an iterative approach to getting things done without going through layers of review and approval.

EP14: Keeping Up with Schoolwork

Does your child need help keeping up with schoolwork? Coach your child to keep track of the work and to figure out when to do it. In this episode, we break down two ways to get your child organized and set up for schoolwork success.

EP145: 3 Changes to the Major Role of Leadership

What skills do we need to cultivate now to lead our organizations into the future? In this episode, Janet challenges the solution of reorganizing the hierarchical structures within our organizations and recommends we focus on increasing agility to manage through consistent and continuous change. As leaders our most important job is to develop and coach employees to work across boundaries, transforming people into leaders.

A Roadmap to Break Down Barriers

CREATING A CULTURE OF CAMPUS INNOVATION AND OWNERSHIP We recruit and hire talented people to generate new ideas, solve complex problems and help us achieve our mission. Yet within large organizations and systems, our employees may find there are barriers to communication and inefficiencies in processes. They also may lack the resources they seek to […]

EP144: Employees are Waiting to Hear from You

Politics, violence, hate… These topics aren’t often discussed in our workplaces. Yet people on our teams are feeling pain, disbelief, fear, anger, confusion, and frustration. As leaders, our teams are looking to us to lean in and provide support to manage these feelings. In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares an approach she created and followed to encourage inclusive conversations on her team.

3 Qualities of High Performing Education Professionals

More than ever, educators face continuous pressure to reform established practices in order to improve outcomes. For many organizations, this means moving from an episodic to a continuous approach to improvement. This can be difficult for education professionals who have only ever seen improvement addressed with a variety of initiatives that put out disparate fires. There are three qualities that most high performing […]

EP13: Boost Learner Confidence

“I’m just not good at it.” If you’ve ever heard this statement, your child might need a confidence boost. In this episode, we offer parents 5 tips for boosting learner confidence, especially when they are working on new skills.

Listening to Parents and Students via Pulse Surveys

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Nannette Johnston was joined by Kentucky Superintendent Deanna Ashby to discuss the power of seeing your system through the eyes of the closest to the work and the ripple effect that taking action can have on your school and district culture.

EP143: Avoid Choosing the Status Quo

Continuous improvement is a process, a mindset, and a set of tools. It’s organization-wide and specific to each individual. At its core are the people who do the work. Through sustained, system-wide improvement, teams can deeply understand and solve problems, while thriving through crises. Two experts in continuous improvement, Dr. John Toussaint and Dr. Christina Dixon join us again to discuss the biggest obstacles to sustaining improved results over time, and how to prioritize improvement as the real work to be done.

EP142: The 5 Behavioral Traits for Sustaining Improvement

John and Christina will be back in episode 143 to share more about their experience using continuous improvement to eliminate gaps in student achievement and their recommendations for leaders who are struggling to prioritize improvement.

EP12: When Homework Is A Challenge

Does homework feel like a struggle for you and your child? In this episode, we discuss 3 common reasons for homework reluctance. We also give tips to help you overcome this challenge with your child.

Agility and Pulse Survey Success

In this roundtable, Dr. KK Owen was joined by Superintendent Matt Hillmann to share the pulse survey process and strategies for success.

EP141: Becoming an Improvement Organization

In this ever-changing climate, continuous improvement is more vital than ever, and it’s something today’s guest, Dr. Ed Manansala, County Superintendent of Schools at El Dorado COE, and the President of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association are deeply committed to. Listen as Janet and Ed discuss how to engage people in continuous improvement, 5 bold steps for implementation, and why it makes a difference in critical times.

Hope as a Strategy: Leading with Resilience

In this roundtable, Leader Coach Sabrina Hebeler shared a four frame approach to lead with resilience to navigate organizational trauma.

EP140: The Little Things Pay Great Dividends

Have you ever felt a particular duty or aspect of your work was insignificant, small, or maybe even meaningless? No matter how small, every action has a ripple effect and contributes to the greater good for our organizations and teams. In this episode, our host Dr. Janet Pilcher shares a story that exemplifies this– the humble beginnings that led to Kyle Johnston becoming the head athletic trainer for the Miami Dolphins. Listen as Janet shares key takeaways from Kyle’s journey to success.

Leading People in Times of Stress

HOW CAN LEADERS BUILD RESILIENCE TO STRESS AND CHANGE? The events that unfolded in 2020 were unexpected by most. People experienced an array of disruptions including job loss, work or school relocation and additional responsibilities at home and at work. Many of us have suffered from a lack of in person connection and have likely […]

Great Leaders Listen

Good leaders make it a priority to hear from their people. However, in most workplaces, people don’t feel heard. According to Gallup data, three out of ten employees in the US agree strongly that their opinions don’t matter at work. The reality is we all want to be heard. We want our voices to matter. Effective listening is essential for successful leadership, and it is a key part in meeting 5 critical employee needs. Listening helps your people feel valued. When your people feel valued, they will be more engaged and will go above and beyond.

Start With an Organizational Assessment to Make Measurable Improvement in Culture

When organizations take an honest look at where they have the greatest oportunity for improvement, they take a real step toward making continuous improvement a part of their culture. Learn how a small Missouri school district use an organizational assessment as the first step in a journey to become a top place to work and learn.

EP139: Are We Energizing Others?

2020 has been the kind of year where we’ve all felt more stress and anxiety due to continuous change and uncertainty. As we turn our heads to 2021 now is a good time to reflect and self-assess. Has the stress we’ve understandably felt led us to be impatient with others? What kind of energy are we bringing home and to our workplaces? Do we drain energy from others, or do we energize others? In this episode, listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher dives into this topic.

This will be our last episode of 2020. We will take a break and resume releasing episodes beginning on Thursday, January 7th. We wish you all a wonderful holiday!

Vulnerability and Leadership

In this roundtable, Dr. Janet Pilcher shared tips for vulnerable leaders to create ways to let others in their heads and hearts, especially in difficult situations.

EP11: A Case For Curiosity

Humans are curious beings. Coach your child’s curiosity and open their minds to new learning. In this episode, we talk about 3 ways to help your child tap into their natural curiosity. As a bonus, these tips relieve adult stress, too!

EP138: Take Off the Armor

“When you shut down vulnerability you shut down opportunity”– the words of Brene Brown challenge us to get honest with ourselves and self-reflect. What does vulnerable leadership look like? We know it involves opening up and being real, but how do we approach vulnerability in our organizations? In this episode, Janet shares characteristics of vulnerable leadership and practical tips for leading with vulnerability.

Celebrate Your Heroes

Showing your team members you care about them as individuals and value their great work is a powerful way to boost morale and increase employee engagement. Create heroes of those employees going above and beyond in their service, and celebrate their great work as a team.

EP137: Are You A Curious Leader?

Great leaders are curious leaders. Curiosity makes us more aware, opens our minds to new possibilities and solutions, and leads to better communication between people and teams. In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses why curiosity is critical in our workplaces and what we can do to increase our curiosity.

EP10: Whose Project Is This?

It’s your child’s project. Every parent wants their child to be successful, especially when it comes to big school projects. In this episode, Annie, Kate, and Reggie are back to weigh in on why and how parents can slowly back away from the project table.

Reward and Recognition: Connecting to Mission and Values

In this roundtable, Dr. JoAnn Sternke shares gratitude tools and examples for how leaders can apply award and recognition tactics that will sustain your team’s motivation to give their best every day. 

Educating Students for a Lifetime of Opportunity

A MULTI-YEAR IMPROVEMENT FOCUSED APPROACH Based on the average human lifespan, most students will spend 60 years beyond their K-12 education. Therefore, high school graduation is actually the starting line for students, not the finish line, explains Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District (CFAUSD) Director of Educational Technology Sarah Radcliff during her What’s Right in […]

EP136: How Can We Help Our Colleagues?

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best, let’s rate ourselves for each statement: I make a difference on my team, I’m refreshing to work with, and I’m always willing to lend a hand. Now, how would your coworkers rate you? When it comes to relationships with colleagues, every interaction counts. In this episode, our host Dr. Janet Pilcher shares tips for managing good working relationships with those we work with.

Inclusion Improves Results for Special Education

One district’s shift to an inclusion model for special education services has resulted in success for students, teachers, and leaders.

EP135: Questions for Continuous Improvement

The end of a year is a great time to reflect. How far have we gone over the year? Did we hit our goals? If not, what kept us from achieving them? In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher describes a process that engages employees in reflective conversations to keep our organizations moving in the right direction.

EP09: When Your Child Struggles

It’s hard to watch your child struggle. It’s also an important part of the learning and growing process. In this episode, we talk about why and when to let struggle happen. We also provide you with 4 tips on how to coach your child as they face a new challenge.

Connect to Purpose

In challenging times, connecting our teams to their core purpose will sustain and empower their continued effort. A combination of the head and the heart are critical to successful leadership, especially in unprecedented and challenging times. In this roundtable, Dr. Melissa Matarazzo shares tools and tips for integrating this core leadership tactic in your practice.

Creating a Collaborative Network to Improve Performance

A NOVEL APPROACH TO FAMILIAR CHALLENGES: CREATING A COLLABORATIVE NETWORK Situated in rural California, Tulare County faced some challenges that are not too unfamiliar to many districts. In addition to experiencing a siloed effect due to decentralization, 83 percent of students were not meeting fifth grade math standards. Using a collaborative approach with a cadre […]

EP134: We are Headed to a New Place

While the holidays are often times of joy, they can also be difficult times for some, and this year has sure brought challenges for all of us. With this in mind, let’s consider how we can recognize the people in our lives and how we can effectively express our appreciation. In this episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares tips for practicing gratitude and creating an environment where people feel valued.

EP08: Coaching Kids To Be Grateful

“Gratitude helps us create and spread meaning out of the goodness and kindness we experience.” In this episode, Dr. Giacomo Bono describes how gratitude is “growable.” He explains the relationship between gratitude and learning, and provides practical tips for parents who want to coach their kids to be grateful.

“Thank You” is Powerful

GRATITUDE IS A GAME CHANGER Think about the last time you received a thank you note. It probably felt good, right? When we are thanked it makes us feel appreciated and valued. It sparks a desire in us to want to help more. As the late Randy Pausch put it, “Gratitude is one of the […]

The Beginning of an Improvement Journey

USING A SINGLE PILLAR SCORECARD TO DRIVE SUCCESS Jefferson County School District in Alabama serves over 36,000 students and is the second largest school district in the state. Considering their large number of students, it’s no surprise Jefferson County focused on student success as their starting point for their improvement journey. At What’s Right in […]

EP133: Give the Simple Gifts

Since March, we’ve all understandably felt more stressed at times. Research shows gratitude can help balance out the impacts of uncertainty on our wellbeing. In this episode, listen as Dr. Janet Pilcher shares ideas for how we can cultivate more gratitude on our teams after weathering a long year of living in a constant state of uncertainty.

EP07: How Does My Child Actually Learn?

“Parents are brain changers.” In this episode, Dr. Anne Gutshall joins us to break down the learning process. She describes how connections form in the brain when we learn something new. She also gives us simple steps parents can take to support this important brain work. This is an episode you don’t want to miss!

EP132: Connecting to Purpose Gives Us Courage

When challenges seem numerous or even insurmountable, it’s important we stay connected to our purpose and that we help our teams do the same. It is the fuel that will keep us going and infuses meaning into our work. Having a sense of purpose calls us to growth and to step out of our comfort zones. Staying connected to our purpose is so vital, we’ve chosen it as the theme of this year’s What’s Right in Education virtual conference. During this free conference, you’ll have the opportunity to hear stories from leaders and partners who are living out their purpose and making a difference. In this episode, listen as our host Dr. Janet Pilcher discusses how we can cultivate a fresh sense of purpose in our work.

EP131: How to Ask Meaningful Rounding Questions

When humans are faced with change, we often deny, rationalize, and negotiate before we accept our newly found situation. Within our organizations, change can amplify stress and hinder productivity. Our goal as leaders is to build relationships and help individuals move through their anxiety. We do this by asking meaningful questions that connect our organization’s standards of behavior to the work people are engaged with daily. Today our host, Dr. Janet Pilcher shares her framework for connecting with employees.

Using Purpose to Inspire Action

HOW CAN WE COMMUNICATE WITH PURPOSE TO INCREASE MOTIVATION? One of the many benefits of working in education and service organizations is the ability to see there is a deeper meaning, beyond profits, for our organization’s existence. It’s likely many of our employees draw a connection to the impact on children and communities. People who […]

EP06: Is My Child On Track at School?

Most of us are non-stop throughout the week and none of us want to be blindsided at report card time. This episode is all about helping you get a better grasp on how your child is doing with schoolwork. We offer busy parents three tips for keeping track and a bonus tip about celebrating progress.

EP130: Innovation for the Whole Child

Children who experience a strong early education are more likely to be successful in life. This is why today’s guests strive to support families and seek out innovation for children and early childhood education. In this episode, Rina Irwin, CEO of Child Development Centers (CDC) in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Scott Cartwright, Director of Medical Services share about how they do things differently to lead a change in culture and mindset within the CDC.

EP129: Education Will Never Look the Same

When we are faced with change we have an opportunity to respond with creative solutions. Today, our guest shares how her organization is inspired to navigate change by the vision: one team, one mission, one community. Superintendent of Hopkins County Schools, Deanna Ashby explains, “our mess has become our unified message together.” Listen as Deanna and our host discuss how this district has become more than just a part of their community, and the deeper connections they’ve made as a result.

Find Harmony Between Prioritizing People and Organizational Outcomes

IT’S POSSIBLE TO BALANCE BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH MAINTAINING A FOCUS ON IMPROVEMENT If there is only one lesson we could all learn from a year like 2020, Casey Blochowiak, Director of Curriculum and Learning at the School District of Menomonee Falls, identified it precisely during podcast interview #76 Make Decisions that Build People and Sustain […]

EP128: Service in the Relationship Business

Building relationships with our people is more important than ever as many are working in virtual environments. Not only are relationships key, they also help us all get through crisis times. In this episode, we are joined by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Chris Hartly, and Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Colby Smart, from Humboldt County Office of Education in Northern California. Listen as our host Dr. Janet Pilcher asks them about overcoming the challenges that come with improvement work and how they’re developing relationship capacity within their organizations.

EP127: Vulnerability is at the Heart of Service Excellence

To deliver exceptional service we need to embrace vulnerability and courage. When leaders model this behavior in organizations, employees are encouraged to take risks and know that it’s okay to fail. Today, Jon Malone, Director and CEO of Northwestern Illinois Association discusses his organization’s commitment to service and how vulnerability impacts trust and accountability on his team.

EP04: Am I Bugging the Teacher?

“Teachers are busy. I don’t want to add to the load.” Our parent-friend, Kate Hendrickson, tells us she has these thoughts every time she reaches out to the teacher. Rest assured, “You are not bugging the teacher,” says educator, Dr. Reggie Todd. In this episode, Kate and Reggie, offer reassurance and tips for reaching out. They also share some key words you can use in your next message to the teacher.