Bob talks about his background, family, and his education career so far, which has taken him to Scotland, Italy, Japan, and China (2:06)
Some lessons Bob has learned from being an administrator at some very large public high schools, with 3000-5000 students (9:10)
Advice for building personal relationships and trust in large institutions with hundreds of staff members and thousands of students (13:00)
When and why Bob decided to make the move from teacher to administrator (17:30)
Some of the biggest challenges Bob had to face when he became an administrator, and how overcoming them helped his team take some students with huge challenges and help them grow into high achievers (20:04)
You can’t manage time; you can only manage your commitments, and why it’s critical to plan your week before it starts (24:07)
Some of the most valuable lessons Bob has learned from the challenges he’s faced (28:40)
Some of the questions you should be regularly asking in order to be an effective administrator (30:30)
How Bob’s impact on his school changed when he moved from teacher to administrator (32:28)
How to identity students that can benefit from some nudging in the right direction (35:50)
The best leadership advice Bob has ever received (38:40)
Bob’s top book recommendation for school leaders (39:00)
Bob says if you’re not using Twitter and Google Apps for Education, you need to start (39:40)
Bob’s favorite quote about education comes from Haim Ginott: “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” (40:04)
Bob’s advice to admins on working with students (40:48)
His advice to admins on working with teachers (41:40)
If Bob could go back to when he first started on the path to school admin, here’s the advice he would give himself (44:00)
Books mentioned in this episode
Apps and tools mentioned in this episode
Connect with Bob McBride
[ultimate_modal modal_title=”SEE TRANSCRIPT” main_heading_color=”#020202″ btn_size=”block” btn_bg_color=”#ffffff” btn_txt_color=”#020202″ btn_text=”SEE TRANSCRIPT” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″ modal_border_style=”solid” modal_border_width=”2″ modal_border_radius=”0″ main_heading_typograpy=”” notification=””]
Educators Lead Ep. 25
How To Lead A Large School | Empathy Is Critical To Your Success
Show notes: http://www.educatorslead.com/bobmcbride/
Welcome to Educators Lead where we interview leaders in education to offer inspiration and practical advice to help. Launch educators into the next level of leadership. I’m your host Jay Willis and I want to thank you for subscribing to our show.
Intro: Dr. Robert McBride currently serves as a principal at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville Illinois. His school serves approximately 3900 students on a campus of two buildings. The goal building for freshman students in the main building for sophomore junior and senior students. Bob has served as the principal of Glenbard East High School and the English department chair at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Bob’s academic interests are in curriculum instruction as well as literature. Particularly African-American literature. Bob earned his doctorate of law at Loyola University. And he defended dissertation on mathematics education. That’s just a brief introduction. Bob but tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Bob McBride: You bet Jay! You know in so many ways being an educator. Is not really the path that I thought I would take? As a matter of fact when I was a senior in college. I thought I would be a United States Marine I was all ready to go to officer candidate school and two things happen I met my wife who was an educator was very inspirational. I saw the work that she did as a teacher and that drew me to it. And then I had a number of voices, one a very good friend who actually talk me out of the military and then went into a military career himself. And then some really good professors who saw teaching in me. So from my senior year of college I went to the Harvard Graduate School of Education and aside from my wife probably most important thing that happened in my journey to being an educator was working in the Boston area at noble 80’s where some of the effects of urban declined. Were the worst I remember my first student teaching assignment was a middle school in Roxbury. The Timothy middle school, I stepped off of a subway train I saw a tree and it was just festooned with gym shoes hundreds of them all a sign that students had left school and gone over to drug dealing in 1988. It really reminded me and sort of shocked me for the first time in my life the needs of education could address particularly in that neighborhood I did my graduated studies at Harvard. Then I was very lucky I was able to come back to Oak Park and River Forest High School where I actually went as a student and begin my work as an English teacher.
Jay Willis: Wow. Tell us something interesting about your personal life or just something that other people might not know about you.
Bob McBride: Well you know if you go to Neuqua Valley High School most people know this about me but I’ve been married for all of those 27 years that I’ve been a public educator. You know it’s my wife who’s an elementary school teacher. Well one unique thing about our journey as a family is that we adopted our 2 children from China. One daughter who is 1-years old in 2002. And then another daughter from a different province. In 2004 some Sometimes all we like to say is we are really in the business of taking care of other people’s children and I think that journey that you need, the journey to parenting has opened so many things up and taught us so much about raising children being parents. Going every step of the way with two children who are adopted in navigating that probably been. Aside from my wife whom I said is an inspirational educator, my daughters teach me so much about what children need and the kind of schools the kids deserve.
Jay Willis: Wow that’s neat 27 years congratulations.
Bob McBride: Thank you very much. Yeah. It’s been a great partnership and you know I think both of us being involved in education has made that conversation very rich. In our home and might drive my daughters crazy. You know being the children of a principal and an elementary school teacher there’s an obvious emphasis on education maybe too much in our home but I you know I hope in the long run that pays off for our children.
Jay Willis: Yeah what exactly then was your career path we graduated with what was your degree. Undergraduate degree?
Bob McBride: My undergraduate degree was actually in English literature with specifically a fine arts focus in writing poetry from a classically trained poet. I was in the writing program at Northwestern University and that I did my Master’s in curriculum and teaching. And as I said I was lucky enough to be able to return Oak Park River Forest High School community where I grew up the school that I went to myself and become an English teacher. I taught English for 7 years then I was lucky enough to apply for a sabbatical. Oak Park River Forest High School still grants sabbatical to teachers which is a great idea. And I was able to spend a year in Scotland working at St Andrews University as a school teacher fellow working in the School of English working with 3 University professors I think that was probably the thing for me that opened up my interest in international education and subsequently I’ve had experiences in Japan, Italy and then the People’s Republic of China where I’ve been able to do educational work. Number of years later and I was able to apply for and successfully become the English department chair and Oak Park River Forest High School where I served for three years in so many ways. My career is really a story of opportunities opening for me and I was lucky enough when I was a teacher to have an excellent mentor her name was Brandish Nady she was English department chair at the time I think she saw some leadership in me. When I became an English department chair I met another mentor her name is Maria Ward. She encouraged me to become an assistant principal for instruction at Glenbard East High School so I moved from Oak Park River Forest High School to Glenbard I serve in that role for two years. Maria who is the principal lack for another principal ship in there’s a little bit of a crisis at our school. About what would happen next based on some of the work we had gone in accomplishments we had made and I was encouraged to apply to be the principal probably a little too early in my career. To take that job n while I just adopted my second daughter but I jumped into the principal ship. I was really only about 38 years old at that time and that was in 2005. After serving 3 years as principal in Lombard East I was recruited by another mentor. Dr Kathy Bearcat who really encouraged me to come to Neuqua Valley very young school. Right now in 2016 were only 19 years old but a very dynamic school at the time almost had 5000 student Dr Bearcat thought I was the person to try to pull that campus together and move it forward. In many ways my mission was we had significant fine arts achievements, significant athletic achievements but really that academic piece was the mission when I arrived. Neuqua Valley High School. and I’ve been serving there now this is my 11th years of high school principal that’s a long time to be a high school principal with going to roll that’s just spend. Tremendous for me.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So what would you say is the biggest difference just in. You know that you’ve noticed managing how big was the school that you left before you go?
Bob McBride: Glenbard East was 2600 students and I jumped 2000 at that time and three building campus of almost 5000 students.
Jay Willis: Yeah. Which both are larger than probably a lot of our listeners maybe even have a chance to be a part of both of those schools are pretty large. But what’s the difference like what do you have to think differently about managing a maybe a smaller school versus one that says large the one that you’re managing now.
Bob McBride: That’s a great question Jay. I got a great piece of advice from a science department chair in Glenbard East named Jim Carter and his piece of advice for me was that being a department chair is like driving a speedboat with a number of your friends on board. But large public high schools in the area is like being the captain of the aircraft carrier. And you obviously can’t drive to in some way. But I think the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make from department chair where you’re working with a department you’re leading a group of people with a content area that you’re familiar with to the principal of a large public high school is really shifting into the role of being the person who empowers other people and giving them the feedback. Giving them the le- way, giving them the latitude. Allowing them to be as creative as they can to really carry out the jobs they need. It’s been a lesson in how not to micromanage and it’s been a lesson and ultimately I think by role is to try to connect various parts of our school into a coherent experience for students and for parents.
Jay Willis: Well so how do you differentiate between, because obviously you just don’t have time to spend at ton a time managing any one person. But how do you differentiate and identify quickly those areas of need where you actually do need to kind of spend more time and versus the ones that are kind of more autonomous and they can just kind of do their own thing and you can trust them do their own thing.
Bob McBride: You know I think I rely so much I have tried to build in my principal ships. A lot of trust and reliance on the leaders that I lead I have a lot of in department chairs an Neuqua Valley High School 4 assistant principals and 1 athletic director and so listening them is probably the most important thing that I can do. And trusting their feedback and trusting that their feedback about what their portfolio of responsibilities of their area that they’re leading truly means. that’s really where we’re I begin to understand what the direction of the school is, where we need to go is through other people and through being a good listener and trusting that I’ve hired the right people their judgments are sound. That’s one route another route is through faculty participation one of the things that I try to do much like our school we’re always trying to put students at the heart of anything we do. I try to put the faculty at the heart of decisions that we make so when we are conducting professional development it’s a professional development committee that guides that when are doing school improvement planning, it is a school improvement committee of faculty members who were guiding them. When we do just recently a week ago today had a professional development take that was entirely faculty lead from the point of view that faculty meetings should be faculty meeting with each other not meeting with me. And so really doing everything I can think very carefully about what it is that faculty and leaders need I guess I like to give it to a baseball analogy or a coaching analogy. You rarely see a coach in baseball or even high school I want to play the game. They have to prepare the players and then they have to trust the players to play and that’s probably what my leadership has been about in a large public high school.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So knowing that you are limited with the amount of time that you have but you have a larger just more numbers to deal with. What are some things that maybe you do to get that buy in from the other teachers and you know because obviously you’d have a limited amount of time so it’s difficult to build really deep relationships I would assume? But how do you still get that buy in from the teachers and even get that buy in from the students. Just knowing that you’re spread so thin.
Bob McBride: Well that’s a great question and that is a reality and it’s probably. You know first and foremost I think about that question Jay every day and I think that’s probably the most important thing I can do understand that reality that that there is a limit to your personal capacity. If you don’t understand that question every day you probably will miss the opportunities that you have to build trust. I usually think about it in 2 levels one, Institutional trust with almost 417 employees it is difficult to have personal relationship in a deep way with almost 4000 students per say. So in an institutional way what I’ve tried to do is be very consistent in my leadership. Building institutional trust with parents, students and with our staff for me in an institutional way is all about being consistent, being you know someone predictable. So that you are not constantly surprising or zigzagging or sporadic in the decision making that you make. On a personal level I think it is all about trying to take advantage of every opportunity that you can to develop those personal relationships. Most people in the others schools I would say for me it all starts with me. I seem to have an ability where I can remember people’s names. Use that to my advantage because I think if you know someone’s name even in a large institution. That opens up a connection to them so I certainly know every single one of my employees by name in a good portion of my students by name and I never miss an opportunity to try to support them personally whether it is yesterday I was at the wake of a teacher whose mother died. That’s worthwhile to me to make that connection or it’s being in an event where students are in a different role. Like in an athletic event or a sporting event those are all very important to me and things that I try to do to make that connection. The final thing I often times say to my parents try to make a really large school small. So thinking of ways that you can organize the school you can use communication, you can use teacher organization to make every student every parent feel like they just had a personalized experience and there’s a number of ways we do that in Neuqua Valley.
Jay Willis: What are a couple things that you do if you mind sharing?
Bob McBride: One of the things that we do is we have a typical guy to model. We organize our school into 4 different class houses. So we really track building identity in a student’s class kids come in and there are one of almost a thousand students and so what we do is we assign them to kind of a unit that also has a physical space. 1 Dean, 3 guidance counselors and a social worker and those individuals move with those students all four years. We are very lucky in that we have a separate freshman building. And so we really try to use that freshman building to onboard. 8th graders in high school and build a sense of class identity and make the place feel very small. When you move up with the same unit of guidance professionals. You feel like you have a personal relationship with the school and with these people. And there are another way that we do it is we really try to do it with I’m very blessed to have an assistant principal who has outstanding visual talents and we have really tried to give our campus and our school a brand a visual look. That is consistent and replicated kids buy into it parents buy into it or faculty buy into it that builds an overall sense of belonging. You know Wildcat wear it might seem like a small whole detail but it actually gives people a sense of belonging to the institution they affiliate with a brand. Almost no difference with Nike.
Jay: So I guess backing up just a little bit. Was there a point in time that you made the decision to move into school leadership or is it like one of those was isn’t a Teddy Roosevelt that said some leaders are born great and some just have a leader inner have greatness thrust upon them isn’t that the quote?
Bob McBride: Yeah I think, I don’t know if I would say yes it is the quote now when I don’t know if I would say greatness but I do think that in many ways leadership position picked me. More than me picking them, because of every jumps someone who pushed me a long probably the hardest decisions that I’ve had to make would be moving from being a department chair I mean excuse me, From being a classroom teacher to being a department chair and my mentor shared to me that once you move into leadership. Where when I was department chair of part time teaching she gave me a warning and she said that you’re teaching might suffer because you would take on the responsibility of almost 40 department members and that would have to be your first responsibility. More than the intensity of your teaching that was a very hard shift and she was right. And she was very prophetic in that case there was a hardship. Another hardship was going from being department chair to a full time administrator. Because when you step into full time administration you are no longer. Day to Day week to week involved with teaching students. And one way that I try to compensate for that is the entire time that been a full time administrator. I have managed to have some group of students that I mean they’re directly teaching or that I am involved with on a regular basis for example right now I’m in a partnership with a great author name Maui Askedam and together we teach a blended online learning class. So it’s good for me professionally I have 62 students enrolled in my class I’m experiencing online learning. I have a face to face component. Twice a month. So I have to get my classroom teaching chops on or it’s not very meaningful and it’s not anything like what my classroom teachers experience on a daily basis but it certainly reminds me of what it’s like to be a classroom teacher. And probably for me that was the toughest thing to be behind was day to day classroom teacher I also think the difficulty of leadership is your decisions are on a bigger stage and influence more people and you’re dealing with the Psychology of adults and you’re trying to preserve relationships build trust and that is sometimes not be easiest thing to do.
Jay:7:20`12 Yeah. Yeah can imagine. So during the journey tell us a little bit more I guess about the journey to becoming the administrators what are some of the biggest challenges that you had to face.
Bob McBride: You know probably some of the junctures when I became principal of Glenbard East. I think one of the challenges was just been diversity of our school we had. We’re almost 35% low income. Almost 40% English language learners. We had students who were coming from an attendance area that was strange in that they were very far away. So we had we served two villages and Glendale Heights and Lombard and Lombard because we were located in Lombard very connected. Glendale Heights somewhat distant very disconnected. And I think was difficult for our staff to try to imagine that some of our most challenge students could actually grow beyond the expectations that we sat for them. So it was. It was a shell and you tried to on board our faculty to the idea that we might push our students. Further than they might think they could ever go. Probably were my proudest moments as an educator was a decision that we made just to run a pilot with 6 students all who were 1st generation immigrants all who began their schooling in first and second grade in bilingual programs they were Spanish speakers. But very early in their high school careers they’d seen. Great academic progress. But they were all scheduled there for your planes to go into technology or cosmetology great fields or military great field. But we invited them with support to maybe take a look at advanced placement and honors classes and it was not an easy journey. There were tough roads ahead there were different. Well please with rigorous coursework. There were fights. Literal fights in our hallway we get some of the kids suspended and we had to get them back on track. But now they’re in their mid to late 20’s they all went to 4 year universities. Some of them very elite universities one went to my Alma Mater Northwestern. They are all Executives, Programmers one is an Attorney and they’ve all been very successful and we can trace back that success to the doors that open when we were able to put more rigorous coursework at their foot may also opened up doors for all other students and we expanded that program from 6 to 20 to 60 to almost 120. By the time I left Glenbard East we had a situation where we have to have our advance placement US history classes take their tasks in our field house. Because we had so many kids testing in advanced placement US history. It was a challenge but also you know it gave us great pride I’ve tried to replicate those experiences in Neuqua Valley you know it’s about finding students who might not see greatness in themselves and might not have an advocate and opening doors that they never realize they can walk through.
Jay Willis: Yeah. Our awarding to see them being so successful now as adults.
Bob McBride: It’s very rewarding we the people who started that program we go out to dinner with them every summer. And its fun to watch the shift from us by them dinner to them buying us dinner. And then also to see them grow as individuals. You know to get married to have children to encounter the challenges of adulthood but I have to think in some small measure. You know ultimately what we taught them was not to equate struggle with failure and you see that they’ve developed resilience in their life that does make me very proud and makes me think that’s what really public education is all about.
Jay Willis: That’s neat. So just talking about I guess your own journey. As you were. You know taking classes and doing what was necessary to prepare you for the role that you currently and. How did you find time to juggle all of that?
Bob McBride: I don’t know how I found time I think in the end you know I lost my way. There was a gentleman a strategic planner names the Barone he would always say when he was doing strategic planning you can buy time. You’d only manage your commitments that really tried to follow that with my doctorate. I wasn’t serving principal when I wrote my dissertation so I just decided it was going to be a 4 A.M. in the morning to 5 A.M. every day writing. So that I would not fall behind and I think what I’ve tried to do is little bit of what you mentioned earlier Jay. Select the things that require my attention in my time the most and then commit to them. And then really have the humility to realize I’m only one person and there’s only 24 hours in the day. So every day I’ve got to make time for the things that matter at school the people that matter at school. I’ve got to make time for my home life. And I’ve got to make time to feel rewarded in celebration when things go well with my daughters do well with my wife does well when I when I Well. Trying to find all the time. The best organizer that I have found is I went back I found a stack of old lesson plan books I don’t know if any of your listeners will remember all the lesson plan books even if there’s anybody out there that use them. But it became a metaphor for me of how what I started my career I organized my week. And I didn’t just organize it into lessons, I organized it into the most important commitments that I could make his final put up that lesson plan week every Sunday night. And I not only plan out the meetings the things I have to do. But the important commitments that I want to satisfy that week can how I want to show up what kind of person. I need to be in that situation. And what I like about that lesson plan book it divides the day and discrete parts and reminds you that you know the day is a finite space and you can’t be all things to all people. I enjoy that very much because it just bring my thinking.
Jay Willis: So that’s a practice you still do every week.
Bob McBride: I still do every Sunday night. Opening up the same type of book. Paper that I opened up when I was a first year teacher 22 years old 27 years ago. It’s just a metaphor of how you made commitments in a week and how you. Accent what is the most important and for me I had another really good influence I run a group by a teacher for 27. Now I’ve been teaching a group of Dupage area principals. Dupage that’s a county were in the Dupage high school principals collaborative and so I have a group of about 30 high school principals that I meet with 7 times a year. One of those principles had a great Chicago Cubs or a baseball analogy. What’s the most important commitment a principal could make you know where is the manager of the Cubs during the game. He’s with the players and that’s a metaphor to being with the team so to speak your staff and the school day. So I try to organize my presence and my emphasis to be in classrooms to be with students to be was the after in the school day. But some of those more office things I need to do outside of the school. Yeah.
Jay Willis: What I love about that though is you’re. You just you realize it probably most important things aren’t just going to happen by accident and you’re being intentional about that by your playing on Sunday night so that how long does that take you on Sunday night
Bob McBride: It used. It takes me about an hour and a half because it’s one part. I journaled in their lesson plan book occur to use those small squares to reflect on the week before. And then actually laying the week out and the journaling about the week before is very helpful. Because it’s a good predictor. About the week to come. So many things flow one week into the next the same projects the same meetings. The same touch base meetings I have with my assistant principals. So I try to every Sunday night just reflect on the week that was even before I started into the week that is or will be.
Jay Willis: So kind of thinking about the journey and some of the struggles that were involved with whether it be time management. Whether it be. Just some of the things that you learned in your 1st year as an administrator. What do you think have been some of the greatest lessons that you learned through that journey into some of the struggles.
Bob McBride: I think the greatest Lassen in it’s a cliché is listening. Sometimes you know when you’re a young teacher in your in the from the classroom department chair in front of a department Principal in front of a school you. You put it all on you and you think well you’re the person in charge so you need to make the decisions. And that’s probably what I look back over a rookie mistake in and then occasionally when I get really busy all find myself making that same mistake again. But to slow down to listen and listen to people that you trust and I have the expertise in the classroom departments. Assistant principals I think that along the journey has been something that I’ve worked on and develop and then probably right after listening is asking the right questions. It is always going to help someone that I’m working with either a district office person that I work for or other people that I lead to ask them. The kind of cooperation. That will get them thinking about where they need to go next. It’s the best thing I can do. When I was a classroom teacher if I wanted to get students thinking I had to ask them the right questions rather than lecturing. And so I tried to do that when I mean one on one with an assistant principal what I mean with the whole group. Department leaders. Weekly be the person who asked the right questions and take the time to listen to the answers.
Jay Willis: So what would you say would be the best way for someone to I guess figure out the right questions to ask I mean was there were there any resources that maybe helped you get to the point where you felt like you’re asking better questions and obviously listening effectively is probably the largest component of that because if you listen you kind of figure out probably the right questions to ask during the course of the conversation suggest really being engaged and fully present. But more than that though because I know that in your question you’re trying to direct their thoughts right a little bit and so what would you say helps you develop that skill.
Bob McBride: I think I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had many great mentors who were great to ask great questions and to this day I question because their hinge question the questions that open up greater dialogue. The department chair who mentored me and I took her role brandished and she had a great question. At the end of anyone’s long explanation or frustrate or you know quagmire. She would always ask. What would you like to see happen next and that was a hinge question it really would make you think it would empower you to make some choices. I have another friend who also coaches Executives and his hinge question is always what options are there, what options we can have, what options to study together. He’ll converse Lee sometimes when people throw their arms up. He’ll say I guess there are no more options laughter right. And usually people respond and say wait that’s not what I’m saying and they begin to think about the options and feel like they can move forward so I’ve been a great borrower of hinge questions from other great leaders and listening to them and how they. They ask those questions.
Jay Willis: Yes So what would you say is the biggest I know that there are obviously there’s some struggle with just adapting to the fact that you’re not in a classroom. Like once you move into the administration there are some challenges with that just accepting that maybe you won’t have quite as deep a connection or relationship with some of your student. But what have you noticed has been the biggest impact that you’ve had a chance to make as an administrator to versus when you were a teacher.
Bob McBride: Well I think the biggest impact that that I’ve had has been the opportunity to impact the type of relationships. In the tone or a tenor in a school in its sound self-aggrandizing but I certainly see it in myself that the. You know the attitude demeanor disposition of any leader really. It gets reflected in the attitude demeanor of the department or the institution that they leads we just recently and we took a look at the issue of stress and workload on our teachers and each of the administrators we took a look at time. How we’re modeling time spent is there anything inadvertent that we’re doing that’s modeling something that could be causing stress on students and staff so you begin to understand that your attitudes and dispositions what you say. Actually does have an impact on the way people work and see their work so that that have been the biggest impact that I’ve seen. But also I think the biggest impact that I’ve had is giving people permission that they already have to do great things. You know oftentimes people will come to me with a great idea. Asking is this possible. Can we do this and being the person who says yes? Just open so many doors up. We have a great teacher who had this vision of having something called writer’s week. Spending a whole week. 40 sessions’ student’s staff and professionals sharing their writing. He did all the work. I just said yes. And put resources at his disposal. But it’s really changed the attitude, the tolerance. The caring at our school. And an event like that last few a whole year until the next. Next session. So sometimes just being the person who says yes. Is the greatest impact and you can do that you can do that for a whole institution when you’re in a. You know a principal or a superintendent leadership role
Jay Willis: have a chance to influence an entire culture that way
Bob McBride: you do that and then probably Jay you know coming back to you know what I mentioned earlier the passion for me is just looking. Sometimes large institutions are normed through their regular routines. If you break a few of those routines. Looking for that student who has the capability to go further than they even think the whole institution needs a nudge in that direction and that’s one of the accents that I’ve had in my career of asking people around me especially at this time Me year when students are signing up for classes next year we’re placing them in programs. Do we have an opportunity to engineer those choices in ways that. That no one dreamed of that. That influence not nudging means a lot of communal lot for a student for sure.
Jay Willis: So what are some ways you found to identify those students who could use some additional nudging? You know. Speaking about the group earlier you talked about he had a chance to watch into adulthood now and. They’re successful executives in you know. They’re successful whatever is they’re doing now so how do you identify those students.
Bob McBride: We’ve identified. Sometimes historically at the schools have lad. There are populations that. Shown achievement gap with other large populations. Looking in those populations. But also looking at all students who are high performers at one level and haven’t even given a thought of moving to the next level. We spend a lot of time the schools that I’ve led looking especially at grades. Because they do reveal a student’s attitude towards his or her work. The relationship that a student has with classes and so when a student is doing. You know. Almost all A or B. work. Maybe in a regular class it’s probably time to invite them. And what I found is the personal invitation mean so much. When a teacher says I think you can do it. I think you can do more difficult work or a counselor says. I think you can jump to a different work that made a huge difference so in part. It’s looking at a student’s performance. But also finding out who that student is an encouraging teachers and guidance counselors to seek them out. Coach them up and push them towards maybe a slightly different path the following year.
Jay Willis: are there are situations where grades aren’t necessarily an indication of their readiness to move that next level.
Bob McBride: Yeah there are plenty of times and our freshman building we see all sorts of students with piece students in a regular level class of students in support classes who have charisma. They have natural talents. They might not have the organizational skills quite yet to take them where they’re going but we try to think of students as you know entry level high school students and. Sometimes it is just their character and the way that they carry themselves in the hallways and with their teachers a lot of times I’ll ask. Middle school principals or our 9th grade teachers who are the first things that come to your mind. And it’s those students. Sometimes the ones who are not is on track is that teacher would like. And sometimes those who are farther ahead than the teacher expected. Those students. Inevitably have something that’s worth looking at because they stand out. Good or bad. You know.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So I’m going to roll through some rapid fire questions if you’re ready for those yet. First off what’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received.
Bob McBride: Best leadership advice I’ve ever received is. You know your time you can only manage your commitments.
Jay Willis: What would you say is your biggest strength? As a school administrator.
Bob McBride: I probably think my biggest strength is being articulate energetic and presence. I try to be present as much as I can.
Jay Willis: Do you have a book or two that you’d recommend for other school leaders that have made a big impact on you.
Bob McBride: Probably a book that has made. The giant impact is “The five dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni” It’s an outstanding book. All schools are teams now and Lencioni is a great person to read if you want to think about team dynamics
Jay Willis: Yeah, I heard that one before I think maybe I should read down.
Bob McBride: it is actually.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So is there a technology tool like an app or a software like Voxer or Twitter that you’d recommend for other school leaders.
Bob McBride: I recommend Twitter highly because it allows you to get a massive out. I also recommend Google apps for Education a huge that’s a huge field but I found leading a building into almost being entirely Google Apps. It’s opened up. So much creativity for our staff and. So much access for our students.
Jay Willis: What is your favorite educational quote?
Bob McBride: My favorite educational quote is a very long quote. Anybody could look it up. It’s from a and Israeli educational psychologist name Haim Ginott and I’m going to out wrote a long quote I won’t quote the whole thing. But basically the essence is that the teacher is the absolutely most pivotal able factor in the classroom to humanize to dehumanize the student to make a student’s life enjoyable and hopeful or more miserable it’s a quote. You know that the teacher is the decisive factor. I think that goes for all educators so Haim Ginott Israeli psychologist.
Jay Willis: What did Vice do you have for an administrator working with the students that they serve.
Bob McBride: The advice that I borrow from a gentleman named Dr. Michael Bradley who is a speaker about parenting at least on the high school level I think the most important thing you can remember is to look at your students. As large children. Not small adults.
Jay Willis: Sometimes from your staff members to right
Bob McBride: Occasionally! you know it’s kind of coming back to you know the kids that kids on the high school level they look so old and so mature. But in truth they still have. You know childlike needs and. And when you think of a student at the high school level as a child. You can reframe your approach to them.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So along those lines. What piece of advice would you have for an administrator working with the other teachers in the building?
Bob McBride: I think Working with teachers is ultimately about putting yourself in their shoes. High school in Illinois is teaching 5 classes a 150 to 160 students a bell ringing to begin the class a bell ring into end the class and empathizing with that existence. It’s so important. If you do side of that then you definitely lose side of the people your leading.
Jay Willis: Is there anything you do on a consistent basis to keep you kind of refocused on that.
Bob McBride: You know I think the thing is I try. International Education is an important part of what I try to do I was lucky enough a year ago that my district allowed me almost to spend in the People’s Republic of China and travel with the College Board to China to work with high school principals in Hainan province. and that was amazing about that trip that really refrained everything that I do was the Chinese think we overemphasize standardized testing and they believe we have the best public education system in the world and there have been in some of that is we have the best university system in the world. So they simply say that we must have been outstanding system if we have almost 500 what they would consider top tier universities that any of their students would want to come to. We’ve got to be supporting that with outstanding public education. That always reframes and reminds me of what we’re doing here in the United States.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So if a listener wants to connect with you after the show what would be the best way to do that?
Bob McBride: The best way is either through e-mail and you can find me at Neuqua Valley High School. That’s N-E-Q-U-A Valley High School really only one of the country. E-mail address is Bob_McBride(at)ipsd.org or follow me on Twitter @McBridecats97
Jay Willis: So last question. If you could go back if you had a time machine. And you could hop in it and go back to the point in time. When you had decided to make the move into school leadership. And you could go visit your former self. Your younger self and you could give your younger self a piece of advice what advice would you give.
Bob McBride: Well strangely enough approach a given two piece of advice and courage by younger self to be a classroom teacher department chair. A few more years. I was recruited into building administration and by a great mentor it just seemed like the right time but that classroom experience is so invaluable. I also probably would’ve given myself some advice about some of the things that talked about today just listening to people working through other people. You know not underestimating. Two things presence and availability. Those are such important parts of what I think you do is over the present and to be available for people. When you when you take a mindset. You make it other. You know the people you meet it’s their agenda. More than your agenda and I want to send that to my younger self you know. 13-20 years ago.
Jay Willis: Great advice. Educators this has been a great interview today for the show notes of Today Show and other resources visit educatorslead.com and type the word Bob into the search tool to find a show notes. Bob thank you for sharing your journey with us today.
Bob McBride: You bet. Thanks so much for asking for hosting this podcast.
Jay Willis: Outstanding. It’s my pleasure. And that wraps up another episode of Educators Lead.
This podcast is brought to you by Mometrix, the #1 test preparation company. Mometrix offers study materials for over 1800 different exams including the SAT, ACT, GED, and of course, state standards exams like the STAAR, teacher certification exams, Advanced Placement, CLEP, ASVAB, GRE, and so many more. Mometrix takes the mountain of information students could be tested on for any given exam and boils it all down to just the golden nuggets of information that are most likely to be on the exam. They get all that along with some great study tips and test-taking strategies to help students maximize their test scores. With our interactive tutorial videos and a layout that makes lesson plainly easy. Mometrix study guides, flashcards and practice questions are a great fit for individual or classroom use. To learn more about our products and our vault of hundreds of free tutorial videos, please visit educatorslead.com/testprep. That’s educatorslead.com/testprep
Edu-leaders, thank you for joining us on Educators Lead. Visit us at EducatorsLead.com for everything we talked about today, free resources and much, much more!
Educators Lead is a podcast created to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. This show is for you if you are interested in educational leadership as an assistant principal, principal, superintendent, teacher or someone who hopes to be a school leader one day. Educators Lead offers inspiration and practical advice to help you lead more effectively. Jay Willis interviews school leaders weekly to discuss why and when these educators made the decision to move into school leadership, challenges along the journey, and stories that made it all worthwhile. Educators Lead is a great resource for any educator looking to make a greater impact.
Educate. Inspire. Lead.