Three Ways to Build Remarkable Schools

It may be the start of the summer, but it’s prime planning time for educational leaders. Join Dr. Janet Pilcher as she explores three ways to think about building inspiring workplaces for our staff and inspiring classrooms for our students for the upcoming school year. Listen now as she highlights how educators and leaders can create remarkable experiences for all students all the time.

This episode addresses questions such as:

  • What are some key lessons in building inspiring schools and workplaces?
  • How can we provide remarkable experiences for our students?

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Episode Transcript

Janet Pilcher: As leaders, teachers, and staff, we are remarkable for our students so they can have a remarkable experience.

[Intro music plays in background]


Janet Pilcher: Hello everyone, I’m Janet Pilcher, the host of Accelerate Your Performance. Well, I think we can say we’re getting close to school’s out for summer. I remember as a teacher, it’s a bittersweet feeling. And yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve been a teacher in a classroom, but you know what? I’ll never forget the feelings that go along with the start of school and the closing of school.

And you have such pride for the work that you’ve seen your students do all year, the relationships that you built and knowing that they’re going to take that next step in their schooling life as they move from where they are this year to where they are next year. And for me in high school, sometimes that was from one grade to the other. And sometimes it was a graduating senior taking that next step in life.

And when I talk about it now, there’s a feeling that you have as you think about the stories and the connections that you made with the young people in our lives. And there’s nothing more rewarding than the teaching profession and helping us know the difference that we can truly make in the lives of those who are going to be part of our future.

And here’s what a teacher, Ms. LaTonya Smith, reflected on at the end of the school year. She said, “It’s not about me. It’s about becoming the best version of me.” Wow. What a reflection. When we become the best version of ourselves, we serve others well. That’s what we do in education, isn’t it? Serve students and families by giving our best to students every day, all day.

Next week, a principal and teacher from the Oxford School District in Mississippi will join me on the show, Principal Patches Calhoun and teacher Ms. LaTonya Smith. We had an opportunity to see them in action in the school district. So I invited them to the show to share their experiences. And when I watched them, it took me back to the organizational flywheel.

Let’s focus on that flywheel for a few minutes and how it connected me back to the significance of the work that we do every day that connects to how we spin that flywheel. I’m gonna start with the first part of spinning of the flywheel, which is inspiring workplaces. It reminds me of three things that I see when I look at principals and teachers like Patches and LaTonya.

First, it reminds me of the importance of being genuine, that it’s not about us, it’s about everyone around us. To pay that ridiculous attention. We speak, we listen, we process, we probe, we write things down, we act, and we improve, constantly working every day to get better. And we challenge people to do their best all the time, including challenging ourselves to reach beyond what we think is possible and helping our students do the same.

The other thing it reminds me of is this idea of being remarkable. How do we help students be remarkable? Isn’t that what we’re doing every day as teachers? How do we design classrooms that prepare students to be remarkable every day? Well, LaTonya talks about when her students come in every day, they know what’s expected. They have a goal every day. They’re trying to achieve that goal. And they know that that goal helps them achieve a weekly goal into a long-term goal, and they’re monitoring their progress each and every day so that they know what they need to work on to get better and better and better and achieve beyond what they thought possible. And that’s making it remarkable for students because that’s when they’re remarkable.

And how do we make every aspect of our organization, our schools and our school districts remarkable from the grounds, the cafeteria, the student experiences each and every day in the interactions that we have with people?

And the third thing that part of the flywheel, “Inspiring Workplaces,” reminds me of is being kind, purposefully understand what it feels and looks like to live the life of our students as they’re entering our school, every aspect of what they experience at school. It’s not about us, it’s about them and what they experience and consistently providing excellent service to make students’ experiences feel remarkable. All students, all the time, no excuses.

At the end of the day, it’s what we do as leaders that help our teachers build remarkable experiences for our students. It’s intentional acts of creating inspiring workplaces. As leaders, that’s what we have the power, and the responsibility to do.

Principal Calhoun says this, “I’m very passionate about education and very passionate about making sure that all kids receive the best possible education, no matter what room they’re in. I don’t care if you’re in room 141 or you’re in room 168. I want every child to receive the best. So I think that our teachers do a great job of doing that because they also care passionately about kids. And I just feel like my energy from that carries over into them.”

As leaders, teachers, and staff, we are remarkable for our students so they can have a remarkable experience. From the time they wait at the bus stop, get on the bus, walk in the school, start the day and complete their day, they are experiencing something remarkable so that they can be remarkable. Our job is to be the best versions of ourselves. I think to myself, “it’s not about me. It’s about becoming the best version of me to provide remarkable experiences for our students.”


[Outro music plays in the background.]

Janet Pilcher: I hope you all have a great end of the year and a restful summer where you can get rest, but also great reflections that take you into another year where we can provide a remarkable experience for our students and families. Have a great week, everyone.

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If you enjoy the podcast, explore Janet’s latest book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education. Each chapter focuses on the Nine Principles® Framework offering tools and tactics to enhance leadership skills and elevate organizational performance.

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