Jessica talks about her family, her background, and her very interesting career path from music therapist to special education teacher to education administrator (2:00)
Life in “Spam Town USA” is much more exciting than you’d think! (9:00)
When and why Jessica decided to make the move from teacher to administrator (13:00)
One of Jessica’s biggest challenges on her educational administration journey was putting the theories she’d learned into actual practice in the real world of working with students, parents, and teachers (16:40)
The importance of being patient, and taking the time to really listen to teachers and other admins when you’re a new administrator (or when you move to a new position) (17:40)
Jessica shares a moving story about one of her most memorable experiences as an Edu-leader (22:24)
The biggest difference between the impact teachers have and the impact administrators have is the ability to make change on a system-wide scale (29:05)
The best leadership advice Jessica has ever received is that each criticism or negative reaction can either make you bitter, or make you better, and the choice is up to you (30:54)
The importance of having a growth mindset, which inspires others to grow and take risks (32:15)
Some education leadership books that have had a powerful impact on Jessica (33:09)
Jessica’s favorite tools and apps (34:00)
Her favorite educational quote: “Kids deserve it.” (35:18)
Jessica’s advice for admins working with students – get in there and get your hands dirty (35:50)
Listening and asking questions are key skills for working with teachers and other staff (36:39)
If she had a time machine, this is the advice Jessica would go back and give herself when she was just starting on her educational administration journey(38:35)
Books mentioned in this episode
Apps and tools mentioned in this episode
Connect with Jessica Cabeen
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Podcast Session #22
Are Negative Interactions With Students and Teachers Making You Bitter or Better? It’s Your Choice | Inspire Others through Your Own Personal Growth
Show notes: http://www.educatorslead.com/jessicacabeen
Intro: Welcome to educators lead where we interview leaders in education to offer inspiration and Practical advice to help launch educators into the next level leadership. I’m your host Jay Willis and I want to thank you for subscribing to our show.
Jay Willis: Hello Edu Leaders! Jay Willis here and I’m excited introduce our featured guest today. Jessica could be. Jessica. Are you ready to launch.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh, I am super excited to launch today Jay.
Jay Willis: Awesome. Jessica is the principal of Woodson kindergarten center in Austin, Minnesota. Jessica has an interesting career path that I will let her share with you. But in the end she became a school administrator because of her heart for children. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy from University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. And a master’s in special education from St Thomas. And then her director’s license and principal license from Hamline University. That’s just a brief introduction Jessica. But tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh! Yes I think you kind of. I share a little bit before we got on the air that if I put all my degrees on the wall, the wall would come down. I just really had some interesting experiences. Prior to becoming a principal that led me to that and I’m just excited and actually Jay just truly honored that I get to be part of this and to share some of the learning I’ve had in hopes to inspire and encourage your principals and future leaders of schools to take on the challenge because it completely worth all the work.
Jay Willis: Yeah. Well we are excited to have you as a guest. So I guess tell us a little bit more we’ll get into your career path which is extremely fascinating to me when you kind of shared a little bit that with me before the show. But tell us more about just your personal life whatever you are willing to share.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh absolutely. Interesting question my personal life. I am a mom. First well I’m actually I’m a wife. Of course my husband wouldn’t like it if I didn’t go before he thought I’m a wife first and I am a mom of two amazing boys I have a ten-year old and a nine-year old and my nine-year old has been with us for 4 years we actually adopted him from Ethiopia. When he was 5 So that has been such an amazing dynamic for our family and my personal professional journey. So I love being a mom and I love being a principal. I’m enjoying I’m a runner. I don’t run well I don’t run fast. But I do it just to keep some balance of my life, reading and spending a lot of time with friends and family. So.
Jay Willis: You stay busy. Super busy.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh gosh. Yes two active young boys. And a boy dog I am female my house. But if you open my closet you would definitely see there’s a girl there. I wake up being the only female in my house with my wardrobe.
Jay Willis: Yeah sure. It’s funny. So, so I’m excited to share this for you to share this with our listeners tell us about your career path like from your degree. And then from once you graduated from college to where you are now just share that story with us.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh absolutely yeah and it’s just I do find that path. Less Travelled is what I would say I started right in the college I wanted to study music and music therapy so I went to college to become a music therapist and that was a number of years ago and so. Career path of music therapy looked a little bit different they were in it was an educational component so I left school I didn’t have a teaching life and. But I ended up in the workforce working at Juvenile detention centers. And then I ended up moving into Iowa and working at a residential therapeutic center. Working with adults with disabilities. Then I love the work and I love working with adults with disabilities and their support networks. But really started to see and miss working with younger children. And just knowing that that early intervention is so critical when you’re working with people with special needs.
So I had an opportunity become a music therapist in the St Paul. Public school in St. Paul Minnesota which is extremely large district. One of the largest in Minnesota and got some really great experience and I ended up being kind of a music teacher for special education kiddos. So I worked on in multiple elementary schools with a student with severe multiple disabilities ranging from autism and cognitive delays to emotional behavior disorders so. Really became passion about educating & advocating through music and building relationships with teachers and care professionals.
In that journey about two years into it the director of special Ed. And Asst. Director we’re looking for candidates for what they call the “urban educator program”. At that time and still continues in Minnesota the finding licensed Special Ed teachers is a challenge. And so I was actually offered an opportunity to get my Master’s in Special Ed and a teaching license. Completely free. So super exciting opportunity and in return then you worked in the district. For three to four years you know to kind of pay back that opportunity. So received my degree. Went right into an autism a self-contained autism classroom. And while I was in there really got a little bit more understanding sorry we have bells in our schools they have problems apologize for that.
We got very passionate about the law in supporting and engaging families in becoming advocates for their kids. Again that Special Ed director came down to me again and just let you know you really have some great leadership skills we’d like to encourage you to be getting your director of special Ed license. So went on to school while teaching and received that license as well and then. Due to some shifting of retirement in our district I actually walked right into a position that second semester when I was finishing my experiences and I became a due process person for the district so I spent a lot of time at a central office of a very large district from there and I learned a lot in a small amount of time so but that when that position ended. And I got my license. We decided as a family to move to a smaller setting very metro and urban. And my husband was from a smaller area in Iowa so we made the journey down to Austin Minnesota. Which is VERY don’t know what spam is. You move to Austin and that’s what we have here we are the home of spam and Hormel that help people know us. But I took a position as the special ed. Supervisor for the secondary programming in Austin. And that experience was amazing. Bec They really let me do some program development down here based upon my work up in a larger district so we created programming for 18 to 21 year old students at our local college. And then we created a neuro-biological program at our middle school. As we really started to recognize the needs for kids on the high end of the autism spectrum looking different than other populations. So really enjoyed that work. But while I was in the middle school setting I really started to be intrigued by the principal ship. More so because of the amount of interaction you get working as a principal vs. as a director of special Ed. And really intrigued by me never in a million years thought I would ever I always call it crossing over to the dark side. I was going to be in special Ed world and work with special Ed. And I never want to be a principal I never want to do any of that. And it just took a really amazing Principle at Ellis middle school that really encouraged and inspired me to go back and get that license and ended up having an opening underneath her. And I spent three amazing years learning so much as an assistant principal and she just really gave me opportunities outside of what I’m learning, other assistant principals have I didn’t do. Just discipline in that role even though we had three grade levels and nine hundred to a thousand kids in that building at one time. She let me spearhead. P.B.I.S initiative I got to be part of a grading for learning journey at that. At that building. And do literacy walk through so I really felt like I was more than ready to take on a building level position after three years. But I tell you going from a middle school where children run away from you when they see you. So moving into a building of 425 of five and six year olds that run at you at all times. Was culture shock beyond belief so that’s why I’ve been this is my fourth year. At the kinder learning center in our community so all kindergartners goes through our building and then they go up our elementary school so we are an extremely diverse and unique. Setting in Minnesota we’re probably the largest kindergarten Center in Minnesota. We tapped out. One year we had 425 now are. Hovering around 370. We are 51% students of color and we hover around 65% pre-introduce launch so extremely diverse people think you’re in you’re in rural Minnesota and they get down here they’re like. WOW there is a ton of diversity and opportunity for change and innovation. Just right. Right here in our community so I’m. I really love being here. Yeah.
Jay Willis: Well that’s fascinating I did not know that Austin Minnesota. Was the home of Spam? I have a spam. T. shirt from college that I think I still have it somewhere just because it was kind of funny and I thought it. You know mess with the kids sometime and wear it.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh you know what Jay. If you ever come to Austin Minnesota I will take you to the Spam Museum. I am not even kidding you. Oh there is Spam Museums, Spam Videos, Spam Samples, Spam interactive things I tell you this it is quite an interesting community but it actually because it’s the corporate for Hormel. The opportunities that that our organization gives our school is unbelievable the amount of funding. And even this year and the last two years in our school. We have corporate VP’s come in once a week and read to students. Wow. For a dedication eight week. Program through everybody wins which is a program in Minnesota but it’s also nationally. And we were together with the H.R. director to get that up and rolling here and that opportunity is the first out state that Minnesota’s ever tackled so you’re not hearing anything about me I think you hear that I like to take on challenges and obstacles. It really stop
Jay Willis: That’s great! Well I would kind of be inherent with that position right you kind of like the challenges to be an administrator of or a school especially with five hundred kindergartners right?
Jessica Cabeen: Oh yeah oh yeah and it’s just such an interesting piece because honestly you never know what’s coming at you every year. Yeah we’re at an elementary. Building or a middle school. You can go and visit the elementary schools and see the incoming sixth graders or. My elementary colleague can come. And I can explain and give them the nuts and bolts out of some of our kiddos that might need some support in transition. But day 1 every year you get that show up they want to YOUR like I had no idea this was coming at me and so being flexible in this position is absolutely critical. Because you just you don’t quite know what being flexible. But being very patient and understanding and working with some very diverse families and situations as well.
Jay Willis: So at what point along the way. Did you makes a decision like what point in time you kind of decided to move into school leadership I mean you kind of briefly. Maybe mentioned it but when would like was there a specific point in time or was a kind of a gradual progression.
Jessica Cabeen: I believe I was really reflecting on it was when I became by my second year of being a special education teacher. I really got a better understanding of the building and building relationships within that. And was able to bring in some unique pieces to the building just about and I like to research things I like to stay connected with people outside of my 4 walls and was able to bring enough phonics program and trainers. And do some phonics on kindergarten for second third and then we brought in a reading buddy program that was actually featured in one of our local T.V. stations that at that time. That principal was like “You continue to challenge yourself and support. Other teachers outside of your own work.” You know it really kind of made me think you know. Professionally I could do it because I could influence and work with my colleagues but moving into a leadership position. I could really have so much more impact on so many more kids and build relationships with so many more people that’s really what drove me to move me forward into it. You know.
Jay Willis: So tell us a little bit about the journey to becoming a school administrator so you. You had the degree. Let’s see here. You had you bachelor’s degree in music therapy but then you went on to get your master’s in special education so then. So then I guess just tell us about it because it’s a time did you have you were you married you have children yet?
Jessica Cabeen: yeah. I got married. I remember too this is kind of funny because I got married over like an MIA break in October we have a couple days off. So I got married and I remember taking like a midterm. In my graduate program. But having to run across the street and get my bridesmaid dresses and my professor let me store them in his office. So that that the balance right there. Yeah right as is and getting married. With coursework but. Well, being that that principal ship. You know one of the pieces too. Was when I was looking at programs? Because of having a family and my husband working. He was in construction at that time. A big boom in the metro suburbs he was working eighty hours a week. Certain times of the year. The program I chose I. I actually chose that with location in mind as well. It was actually the school was only about two miles from where I was teaching. So that helped a ton and I like the model of being evening courses or weekend courses. So I didn’t have to take time off work to do it. And I could coordinate and find childcare when needed. Either with my family or you know, working in a special Ed I had a lot of peer professional friends the needed extra income so they would help me with caring for my son. Became interesting you know. Planning meals. Really had to be planned full. We have a calendar up. So we knew which days I was in class. So my husband know which days he needed to pick up my son. And then setting time aside for completing papers and pieces like that in. When you work in a more urban setting just my commute alone was a good hour into the city so I have to be thoughtful about making sure I was intentional with time when I was at work and at home and using that car time for reflection and listening in on the radio to things just to kind of stay connected but getting that balance during that time was a little bit of a challenge.
Jay Willis: so speaking with challenges. You know I’m sure that. Along the journey there are some ups and some downs. What would you say was one of the most difficult moments in the journey to becoming a school administrator?
Jessica Cabeen: balancing of theory with the application. I learned so much in my program. And really thought of some really innovative ideas that I would want to try. And so I tend to be a talker. And so I would go back to school the next day and talk to people like “what do you think about this as there what do you think about that. Like oh we would never do that or that would never be able to happen” you know also trying to figure out OK So one theory this. This is excellent but then trying to talk things out in practice and not getting frustrated or being deterred about moving forward and try something that would be excellent for kids and families. Even though. You know on the outs that people were really excited about it so really. That was hard because I’d see where I would want to go but I just didn’t know quite how to get there early on in my career either.
Jay Willis: Well so. So what have you learned through that like. I mean I guess. Have you effectively learned how to kind of go from a really great idea to getting by in from people in her. Like way so what are the greatest I guess some of the greatest. Takeaways that came through that frustration in some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned through it.
Jessica Cabeen: I feel like if I could go back to when I first became like an assistant principal. There are things I would totally do different now. I think probably the biggest thing is I wish I would have just been quiet and listened. I think I felt like I was new to a building I was new to a position and I was in my mid 30’s and so a lot of the teachers there were older than me and more experienced at that level all in so I felt like I needed to show and talk. So they saw my competence. And I really feel like that might have not started the trust on as well because they didn’t take the time to listen and observe and learn about the. The building practices and why they were there. Instead I just kind of started to kind of bulldoze ahead and say but these are the places we need to get to and I think in hindsight had I just slowed down and listened. I probably could’ve made better headway even moving into my principal position to moving into a building that had been established for eleven years and had little turnover in the teaching staff or the administrator. They had a lot of practices that were rooted in their own belief system and then here comes this middle school woman who you know barreling through with standards been breeding for learning what are play centers I don’t even I don’t even understand this? Why are we building Lego’s? You know I think I probably shouldn’t really just taken a step back and listened that would have been a huge. I think that would have benefited me but I also know that when you get that. That license you’re so excited and you want to use it and you want to share all the learning that you’ve got figuring out how to just kind of sprinkle or plant a few seeds here or there and then kind of watch them grow is probably a much better route I would give anybody that advice for sure.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So two takeaway as I get from that one is I guess. Patience. So that is one Because I know when you’re young and new and your excited about something you want people to keep that excitement but I had experiences myself I mean where I’ve you know you start off with a new role and you’re just really excited you think about billions of ways you could make it better in. And you’re just. You want people to keep that enthusiasm. But obviously it may not be super well received especially if the people that you’re trying to lead are older than you and they already have a lot of systems in place. So would you would you say that probably the biggest improvement. That you’ve made I guess like the difference between that point where you kind of were constantly frustrated because you had all these great ideas and you fill it kind of like your hit a brick wall is the biggest difference now. In you being able to implement some of those ideas is it really just that you. Listen. First and then you’re more patience is that kind of what I hear you say?
Jessica Cabeen: yeah. Listening as specially. It was a culture shift for me going from a secondary administrative role to an elementary role the personalities and the heart. That elementary especially primary elementary teachers have for their students and their crafts. They wear their heart on their sleeves and you really need to care for that you need to care and take that consideration. When you make any statements or question things you really, really… I am just amazed at the work at these teachers do every day and I’m honored to be a part of it and I think you just have to be careful about how you give any feedback because they take it so personally they just want to do the best for this kids each and every day. And so I really learned just to listen and provide feedback. More individually based upon just going on relationships with the staff.
Jay Willis: Yeah and I’m sure that’s a complete one eighty from middle school I mean you have to have thick skin with those middle schoolers right.
Jessica Cabeen: Some of the middle school teachers that may definitely may have thick skins. To deal such diversity. Like “Oh yeah that didn’t go so well, so I’ll try that way different way” where at this level is just such a caring and kindness and you know a Whole Child approach here that they just. It’s such a unique. Shift. So I am grateful for that. But I learned a ton. In a very short amount of time in adjusting my leadership style to meet the different levels of the principal ship
Jay Willis: yeah. So I’m sure that since you’ve been in a school administrator. You have some just great stories. Some really amazing stories to share about the impact you’ve had a chance to be a part of but what you would say has been on of your best moments as an administration.
Jessica Cabeen: I have to I have to get through this one without tearing up a guy I have to save my friends Sadeek, He was a student of mine. When I’m at my second year teaching on the autism spectrum. He with his grandmother was actually his mom had a horrific. Life story when he was a young child. Significant abuse. Fetal alcohol. But just amazing kiddo. Went through a lot we struggle mom and I struggled a lot through that first year. I was pregnant that was interesting for him to understand that I was gonna take a leave but I just love this child and this family so much for everything may have overcome that even on my maternity leave I went and visited him and we kept that relationship. As I moved into leadership roles in the district and even when I moved down here to Austin. I would consult that parent for IP meetings giving her feedback about what she should advocate for or working with the schools director. You know helping to try to build a bridge with that. And I while it’s still in the summer my son and I would still go and visit him when he was at summer school and programming and. My second year of being an assistant principal I got the call from grandmother. Her cancer had returned and. She was dying. And she said. You’re the only one that can tell Sadeek. So my husband, my Son and I made the journey back up to help them with some social stories and coping skills that Grandma is going to heaven and we worked through that process and. I think the moment that it really hit me that I make a difference was at her funeral. She asked me to speak at her funeral and it was me and her son were the only two people have spoken her funeral so you know just never know the relationship you’re building with people. And since that time. We still visit him, I think we just visited him over Christmas. And he freshman now and in high school and a giant. I knew him when he was 5. But he taught me and his family taught me so much about taking the time to get to know people because on the outskirts. She was a tough cookie. Bad Mom, Good, cussed me up and down left and right I’d have to hold the phone out when she was passionate about her son she was brawling. If I wouldn’t be given a time to really get to know their story and their journey. I could have had a different reaction to her and not really built this relationship up that I think helped me grow as a leader and as a mother myself. It’s been the most beneficial thing in my life is to have him part of my life and my husband too. We still connect with him we read stories to him. He loves going to the zoo so we take him to the zoo and we have story books about that so I mean you just you know granted you’re not going to have that type of a relationship with every child but just to know it’s been 14 years. And we still have that connection that definitely has been the biggest impact for me.
Jay Willis: Yeah that’s neat… That’s a really neat story. You know it’s so funny too because we have a special needs. Our son is in a motorized wheelchair he has muscular dystrophy. And it’s just it’s funny in I know you’ve experienced this firsthand as well but just how people if they really take the time to get to know someone. And don’t just judge by outer appearances. How much richer. Both lives are gonna be, both lives of the student you know the person who has the maybe that the special need. And then of course the person who takes the time to actually dig in a little bit I mean I’m guessing that. From what you’re saying that this student made as much of an impact on your life. If not more than you did on his
Jessica Cabeen: And I think that relationship that not only I had with number. My husband and my older son. Really drove us to look into adoption. I think that really helped us to decide that we wanted to expand our family through adoption. And we kind of walked in eyes wide open just because we have been able to work with him and experience working with young children with trauma. With special needs. So when we brought our son home. We kind of knew that it wasn’t going to be a happy Lifetime movie that. Sometimes you get think. Adoption is. I think I just I became a much better principal because now when I have parents that may come at me really harshly, or yelling or are those pieces I really take a moment to think about What’s behind that what’s the story how many times have they gotten burned before or how many people have written them off what were their life experiences that they’re projecting on to me and then how can I respond in a way that still loving and caring and start to set those boundaries in a safe way and build that relationship moving forward.
Jay Willis: That really you know one of the things that I learned early in my career. That was it something from Stephen Covey that was “Seek first to understand. And then be an end to be understood” right. Because like our natural tendency is “No no! I have to kind of like I have to jump up on my soapbox and everybody has to know how I feel” about this but if you really take the time to understand. First just things always go better you know.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh they do and it’s not easy. I will be completely honest with you and your audience that I maybe hitting a 70% accuracy on this you can’t be perfect and there’s going to be days where your buttons have been pushed and tapped and you don’t have the energy to respond in that way every time but you just learn to get better the next time. So it’s just always take a step back and in kind of reflecting on interactions. Just like he was a teacher what can you do differently next time.
Jay Willis: Right yeah and we should really be constantly learning and growing. I mean there’s really no point at which we just arrive. And we’re just awesome all the time. I mean it’s just a constant growing process. What would you say is the biggest difference between the impacts that you had as a teacher in the impact you have now as an administrator.
Jessica Cabeen: System Change, know when I was a teacher I could write grants and bring really great things into my classroom. But now I can work with teachers empower them and support them in making big changes for building as a whole you know looking at technology initiatives looking at developmentally appropriate place structures, seeking out grants with other districts and find other resources. I can just take it to a larger scale. I can take the things but I wanted to do in the classroom but make that available for all teachers in the building or even networking with other administrators and working together not only here in our school community but I have just really love Twitter and Voxer this year and. I have gotten so many wonderful Ideas from my colleagues in my PON. That I’m able to take to scale so much quicker because I can process with them in real time. I can Voxer with them right away and say “Hey which part you get for your makers for you Kurt” and a minute later Bret got this and is replying into any pictures of exactly what he got but I know that this is what I want to tell that’s just you.
Jay Willis: Yeah. It was great having Bret on the show a few weeks back it was neat.
Jessica Cabeen: We both seem to have the same energy. Even though we’re miles apart we tend to be quite energetic in our conversation.
Jay Willis: you know if you look at the guests to that I’ve had on the show it’s been a lot of Wisconsin Minnesota I don’t know what it is about that area but you get some gist charged up people yeah it’s great. That’s great. So I’m going to run through some rapid fire questions real quick if you’re ready for those. So first off what would you say is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received.
Jessica Cabeen: I would say. “Looking at each interaction you have and especially negative ones and reflecting on it. Are you going to be bitter about that or can you get better with it?” Bitter or Better that would be my…
Jay Willis: And maybe both right like initially you’re bitter and then…
Jessica Cabeen: I know otherwise especially for people looking into going in this work. You tend to slide into Assistant Principal ship first. And you’ve got it going into that job you are never going to please anybody. You’re gonna do discipline and you know the kids going to be mad the parents gonna be mad the teacher’s going to be mad about that. And you can either let that weigh on you like a heavy rock and buried under it. Or you just got to say “I’m a try again tomorrow.” You know keep building relationships and keep moving forward but especially if you move into that role because you can’t take that all personally. Learning that thick skin and using bitter or better was kind of my way of surviving that. First on that position.
Jay Willis: that’s great. Well you know. To be willing to fail but just learn from those experiences and don’t let them make you bitter just learn from them.
Jessica Cabeen: Yeah absolutely.
Jay Willis: What would you say is your biggest strength as a school administrator?
Jessica Cabeen: I actually I got a feedback on that. My growth mindset. I’m always willing to grow as a person and I try to exude that people around me. So it makes them feel more comfortable giving things tries and opportunities to grow themselves to.
Jay Willis: Have you been able to kind of help inspire some growth in other people.
JESS: Yeah. And I think because I’m a very open person. I don’t mind sharing my personal stories or my professional stories that I think it’s going to help people grow and so I think they see my role ability that I’m not perfect and that I’m willing to put myself out there make mistakes and try again. So then they have a comfort level. Giving it a shot themselves to.
Jay Willis: Yeah that’s great. Is there a book or two that you’d recommend for other school leaders that have made an impact on you?
Jessica Cabeen: Anything by “The Four” for building communities and PLC’s. He’s kind of the Bible of that I mean that has been super helpful and Ken Williams is another author that talks about creating movement in mind shift in schools but this year I’ve really spent a lot of time reading and rereading. Dr Adams Singh’s book The Power of a teacher. And it really talks about the. The different components of well-being as a teacher and I use it quite a bit as a principal because I think ultimately if we’re not taking care of ourselves. First we’re not going to be good for our families our students or the staff we supervise. So that’s been a journey for me this year is seeking that balance a little bit more.
Jay Willis: Is there a technology tool like and I know you mentioned Twitter and Voxer But is there any other software or tool that you’d recommend for other school leaders?
Jessica Cabeen: I used Twitter and Voxer and actually this year I purchased a mini iPad. And I walk in the building with that thing all the time because I feel like I can check emails. I call it my mobile opposite. And I’m odd about it because I can take that little i Pad into a classroom. Support some kids in the learning center and then a quick look over and check an email or a look up a website or take a picture of it. Put it on Twitter or Facebook Page. So its real time keeping parents involved and their student’s education and I’m not getting bugged down with 800 emails when I get back to the opposite either. So that’s been a little bit of a balance piece but you know I said earlier Twitter and Voxer and then my newfound friends in support not only professionally but I got. Two side groups. Principals that are endurance runners and so we talk about our training for different races and then I have another a small group about just well balanced and working in this role so we’re working on those things and like that so Twitter and Voxer has been just amazing for me.
Jay Willis: What is your favorite educational quote?
Jessica Cabeen: I would say this year I have gotten to know Adam, Wilson and Ted. I think you had Ted at earlier too. Yes. And “kids deserve it” That’s my new favorite. They are doing really remarkable things so yeah that would be my quote this year. I actually have their postcard up on my wall right now, I have that on my phone. I just keep looking and reflecting on it.
Jay Willis: So what advise do you have for working with the students that you serve?
Jessica Cabeen: Get dirty! You are not going to understand Early Learning. Unless you are in the work. You can read a book about it. But until you go and see how a teacher. Remarkably craft a learning center for five year old or how they get kids, a heard of kids through a one room without any tears or bite or tripping over each other or interacting with clay and how they can ask such detailed in-depth questioning are students are play centers. You have to actually get in there and observe it in be a part of it.
Jay Willis: along those lines. Well. What one piece of advice would you have for administrators working with teachers in the building?
Jessica Cabeen: I have learned. Again like I said earlier to really listening and asking them questions about. You know. “So tell me a little bit more about your class or tell me why. You know you’re using this tool or what you’re trying to get out of this lesson?” Because at this level. You know it may just look like. Oh they’re just doing. Addition one plus one. But they’re using creating sparks. Then used dolphins because the student really doesn’t like math but loves talking about dolphins so I went out and bought a whole thing of dolphins and that’s what they’re counting with. I mean it’s just it’s so intriguing to see the investment that teachers that does well have with their students and they will go at any length and any dollar amount to find that spark to get them to learn.
Jay Willis: Yeah. So if there’s listeners who want to reach out after the show. What’s the best way to connect with you?
Jessica Cabeen: Twitter @jessicacabeen and then I also started a blog and it’s “The Sunday Principle” WordPress it’s a WordPress site. But if you search in Google you search on the Sunday and it’s principle. Not P-A-L and I did that intentionally because I never want my title to be who I am. So I took that Sunday Principle about and also a Sunday being a day of rest and reflection and so some of the things on my blog are taken on the work of Dr. Sighns and just my own practices how you sprinkle a little bit of Sunday throughout your week. How do you navigate an 80+ hour job? But try to get it down to a Holy 50 weeks so you can have a life outside of it.
Jay Willis: The last question that I have. If you had a time machine. And you could jump in it and go back to the point in time when. Maybe you were in college or you had just got your degree but actually for you I guess there’s a little bit after that but the point in time when you made the decision to go into school leadership. If you could give some advice to your younger self what advice for that be
Jessica Cabeen: never turn away an opportunity. I think I had I known what I know now I’ll you know I initially thought I would never ever do a principal ship, I would never go to the other side of the world. You just never know, what might actually be the best fit for you I don’t think I ever hold a thought I’d be in a Kindergarten Center. After being at the secondary level for as long as I was. I thought oh I just love middle schoolers I love high school and I thought what am I doing down here and now I just I truly love it so I think. Just always being open minded about opportunity and not this think “I only want to this” you can always build leadership capacity in new roles. Even if it’s not the title you initially thought would had you started out.
Jay Willis: Great advice. Edu leaders this is been a great interview today. For the show notes of today’s show. And other resources visit. Educatorslead.com and type the word Jessica into the search tool to find her show notes. Jessica thank you for sharing your journey with us today.
Jessica Cabeen: Oh I can’t thank you for the opportunity and I’m just. I am truly honored to be one of the people you had interviewed in this podcast I’m listening to them and learning a lot so please keep it coming!
Jay Willis: Thank you very much well it’s an honor and that wraps up another episode of educators lead.
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.
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