The 411 on Michael Shapiro’s background in film and theater and his education career (1:50)
Why Michael chose education when he switched careers (2:55)
Making the move from teaching to administration by taking over his wife’s job (4:10)
What motivated Michael to switch from teaching to administration (4:55)
Juggling building a family, working, and going to school to become an administrator (5:25)
How Michael and his family wound up at a school in Alaska (where the sun just came up at around 10 AM and will set at around 3:45 in the afternoon) (7:45)
One of the most difficult moments in his administration career (9:45)
Making decisions is one of the most basic functions of administrations and it’s also one of the toughest because there are so many stakeholders involved (12:00)
The art of knowing when to make decisions on your own versus when to get some collaboration (14:04)
Michael shares one of the most memorable stories from his career in administration (17:50)
Some tips to help you stand out from other applicants for education positions and why it’s so important to be completely honest in interviews (20:50)
The biggest difference between the impact teachers have and the impact admins have (25:13)
The importance of holding a “listening tour” when you start a new administration job (28:38)
The best leadership advice Michael has ever received – never shove people out of their comfort zones (29:58)
The ability to connect with everyone – kids, teachers, parents, bosses, colleagues – is crucial for success (30:12)
Some books Michael recommends for Edu-leaders (30:28)
Several great Twitter feeds for education leaders to follow (31:05)
Why “Fair doesn’t mean equal” is Michael’s favorite education quote (32:50)
The paramount job of any educator is to make a personal connection with the students (33:50)
How to make better connections with your students (35:00)
Michael’s tips for working with teachers as an administrator (37:03)
If Michael had a time machine and could go back to when he had just made the decision to move from teaching to administration, this is the advice he would give himself (39:52)
Books mentioned in this episode
Apps and tools mentioned in this episode
Connect with Michael Shapiro
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Podcast Session #16
Be a Servant Leader to Create a Culture That Lasts After You Leave
Show notes: http://www.educatorslead.com/michaelshapiro/
This is the Educators Lead podcast with Jay Willis, Session #16. Let’s go!
Intro: Dr. Michael Shapiro is serving in his second year as the principal of Highland Tech Charter School in Anchorage, Alaska. He previously served as principal of Shepard Middle School in Deerfield, Illinois for seven years, during which time the school earned a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award. Michael began his educational career as a computer applications teacher and director of instructional technology. He recently earned his doctorate in Administration and Supervision at Loyola University in Chicago. That’s just a brief introduction Michael, but tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Dr. Shapiro: I’m a second career guy. I was a theater major in undergraduate. And I actually acted professionally for about six years in route for film and television, nothing that you’d know.
Dr. Shapiro: And I started getting disillusioned with that aspect of life and my wife who at the time my fiancée had just been appointed the Director of Educational Technology at an independent school in Chicago. And I went to work for her, actually teaching computer applications and since it was a private school I needed to be credentialed but I found that I loved it. I was passionate about it. So I started taking classes to get my teacher’s certification and then just kept on taking them to get my administrator certification and 20 years later, here I am.
Jay: Wow, that is an interesting path so at what, at what point did you make the decision to move into school leadership? Or I guess there’s two things actually with that story because I just find that fascinating so at what point did you, was there an event or was there just kind of a gradual kind of realization that you’re a passionate about teaching and education, like so?
Dr. Shapiro: I think I always enjoyed working with kids when I was in high school and late high school and early in college, I was a camp counselor for about six or seven years and when I kind of stumbled backwards into this field, I just I took to it, I was making connections with kids and found that, it really energized me and so it was probably in the middle of my first year of being, I started out as a substitute, a long term substitute. They found somebody qualified to take my place and I stayed on sort of as sub and a tech support in the computer lab and I thought this is what I should be doing. So that summer we got married and that’s all I started taking classes to earn my teachers certification.
Jay: Ok, so now you’re so then you’re teaching in the classroom and how long was it that you’re teaching in the classroom?
Dr. Shapiro: I taught for about two full years and then my wife left the school to go into the private sector and I actually took over her role as Director of Educational Technology which was at that time sort of a quais-administrative role and I found my thought process in the way I felt about education is more bigger picture and I think that I had always been sort of an informal leader and all of the things that I have done throughout my life and so it seemed a very logical next step for me as an educator.
Jay: So was there any particular event that caused you to want to go into school leadership or was it just kind of once you’re in the teaching role, you just kind of always felt like you wanted to make a larger impact?
Dr. Shapiro: I think it was the experience of being sort of a tech administrator and being able to see my impact not just limited to the 24 kids that were in my room at that time but I was able to impact all of the kids in the entire school K through 8 at any given time of the day.
Jay: So tell us about the journey from you know kind of when you decided to, you know just the journey, the pathway to becoming an administrator. Share a little bit more about that just extra classes and how did you find time to joggle all that with the rest of your life that was going on?
Dr. Shapiro: It was tricky, you know. We were just starting a family, so you know I was taking my class for certification in the evenings and that took me a couple of years and I basically just cut taking classes to earn my administrative certification. The tricky part for me was getting my foot in the door because if you were to look at my resume back then, I hadn’t taught for an incredibly long time. I’d been teaching for 5 years I think, 6 years maybe when I started to look for administrative jobs and as someone vetting my experience, you have to kind of look and see, there’s something interesting about this guy. He was a theater major and now he’s playing with computers. Now he wants to be an assistant principal, what is with this guy and so that first spring/summer when I went looking, I only got a handful of interviews. I actually got an offer, I’d been working in a kindergarten through 8th grade school but actually got an offer to be an assistant principal at a high school but it was an hour and a half from our house and there was just, it wasn’t the right fit at the time and then a week later after turning that job down, I got another offer for an interview at a Junior High School in LaGrange, Illinois which is in the west suburbs and it was just the right fit. They found something interesting about me in the resume and interviewe me. They decided this is our guy and I went.
Jay: And then what was the next step after that?
Dr. Shapiro: I was an assistant principal in LaGrange for two years. And then they pretty much eliminated my position and I became an assistant principal in Wheeling School District which is in the North suburbs of Chicago. I was there for 3 years and before getting the principalship up in Deerfield where I was for 7 years. Before coming up to Alaska but you wanted to know how I got to Alaska?
Jay: Well, I’m actually curious. Yeah.
Dr. Shapiro: I’d been a principal for 7 years, really high performing middle school and fairly affluent suburb of Chicago and during my last year there, we started to do a lot of work with standards based assessment and standards based reporting. And I found out about this network of schools around the country, that actually started up here in Alaska called the Reinventing Schools Coalition. And it’s a standard to mastery based learning approach to education and I was fascinated by it. I was in the midst of my doctorate and trying to get finished with that and just feeling sort of a, a need for a change. It was sort of a professional midlife crisis and I found out about this School in Anchorage called Highland Tech Charter School. It was a part of the RS coalition. With my wife’s support, I took a flyer and applied for it and ended up here, so it was a pretty unexpected life and career twist. But I’m in the midst of my second year and I love it here.
Jay: So how you like it in the winters up there?
Dr. Shapiro: Winters up here are nothing compared to Chicago.
Dr. Shapiro: But when I first moved up here really, people were like “oh winter, winter”, but the winter is nothing compared to Chicago. Can’t scare me with your winter. We really actually had a much milder winter last year than Chicago. The harder thing is the darkness.
Dr. Shapiro: These days the sun is… its about ten AM right now, and the sun’s just starting to peek and so that’s weird.
Dr. Shapiro: And then the sun will start to go down today at around 3:45 to 4 o clock. But as a principal I’m used to go into work when it’s dark and going home when it’s dark so …
Dr. Shapiro: It’s only really weird on the weekend.
Jay: Yeah, I bet that’s nice in the summer time where you’re getting lots and lots of daylight.
Dr. Shapiro: Oh yeah, oh yeah the sun’s up about a quarter to 5 in the morning up until 11:30 at night.
Jay: Wow. That’s intense. So somewhere along the way from teacher to administration, I’m sure that you had some just on that pathway you had to have some ups and some downs. What would you say was one of your most difficult moments in that journey?
Dr. Shapiro: Having to deal as a fledgling administrator with my first major discipline issue. I was an assistant principal. It was probably the first month of school, so I’ve been there since late July but it was very early in the school year. And we had a dance and a student brought along a guest who did not go to our school. And we caught them in the middle of the dance, we sent them both home and we ended up suspending the student. I had a call from his father the next day and right away, even though his son transgressed and he knew it, he went on the offensive of me, “Well, what are your credentials, what qualifies you to mete out punishment, who are you?” What I should have said was, “The issue is not my credentials, the issue is what your son chose to do” I let him put me on the defensive and I let him force me into a corner where I was defending myself even though I hadn’t done anything wrong. So there’s a big learning curve there. I think as a new administrator and finding the confidence and the wherewithal to know that you’re, you’re in that job for a reason. You know, I mentioned before, the biggest stumbling block initially was just getting that first job then you know getting the job, once you get the job, you gotta do the job. And that was the first major learning incident for me as a fledgling administrator. And so I guess, if I were to turn that into a piece of advice, what I would say is, “A new administrator has that job for a reason and they’ve got that trust me.” They’ve gotta trust that they’re gonna make mistakes but they’re gonna make more right decisions and wrong decisions.
Jay: So, I’m guessing that you’ve had probably, I don’t if that’s the exact situation but similar probably difficult situations like that and how did that experience and the lessons that you glean from that, how has that changed, like how have you dealt with other similar situations now that you’ve gone through that like what did you learn from that I guess?
Dr. Shapiro: What I’ve learned is, if you really distill the job of the school administrator to its most basic function or functions, one of them that stands out to me is the deciding. You’re always deciding and you sort of have to pick your spot as an administrator and gauge from your community, from your faculty, from your students and parent population. One of those decisions that people expect you to make as the leader, either with input or just top down and what are those decisions that should be made collaboratively with more than just input but using the process tool or using a process that gets input from the proper stakeholders and allows the decision, this is gonna be very rare but you make a decision that has 100% buy in and support but you have to make your decision based on what is best for students at the end of the day and what is going to be manageable for the adults. You have to enact that decision. And that weird little incident with that student made me realize that I had made the right decision, the consequence was appropriate, that was sort of the first time where I questioned myself as a leader and the decision that I had made and the idea of decision making just kind of stuck with me throughout.
Jay: Yeah. So what, how do you differentiate between you know those times that maybe, maybe you already addressed this by the question that you asked yourself, but how do you differentiate between times when you just have to kind of make the call and times when you really need to get more feedback?
Dr. Shapiro: I think it’s art rather than science. I think there’s a feel only you get as an administrator. You know, fortunately for me I’m in my 14th year as administrator so I think my experience is a good barometer of the types of decisions that require input and the types of decisions that require collaboration. I forget what it is right now but I remember in my doctoral class work, we were looking at one of the decisions, one of the decision making models and there were sort of a five levels of decision making. It’s very rare that a decision has to just be made by me, you know very often those types of decision have to do with pedantic issues, schedules and buses and things like that or a discipline issue that in which I may collaborate with my assistant principal or I may collaborate with the teacher in whose classroom the transgression took place. Before the most part, I don’t have to whip around the entire faculty and say, “Ok, is this an in school suspension or an out of school suspension.” You know, we’re grappling with some changes right now in our assessment model and how we assess students. That’s a decision making process that needs to be fully collaborative that eventually will have a decision made added with administrative level and then be approved by our academic policy board. So some decisions have multiple layers of collaboration and input decision making. And then there are those few that are just, you know that’s what I decided, we’re moving on.
Jay: And I guess you probably get better instincts, the more experience you have with those decisions?
Dr. Shapiro: I think so, but I think you also have to remember that if you’re faced with a situation where you have to make a decision, you may have that, you may have the answer right then and there as a leader. But you always want to show that you’re being considerate. So it’s very rare that someone present a situation or a challenge or a problem and boom, I have the answer right away because sometimes that makes people feel like they really haven’t been heard and taken seriously. So we really try to make people feel that they’ve been heard and listened to. And even if they disagree with the decision, they at least feel heard.
Jay: Yeah, I in kind of that with my wife frequently, if I just kind of because you know. As a guy, I’m just I jump right to fix it mode so she’ll want to share something with me and I’m just like, “Ok, so here’s the solution then” and every time I do that, she always like, “I don’t feel heard” She’s actually gotten really good about communicating that to me and then I’m like, “Ok, yes, ok back up tell me everything you want to tell me” and then I realized that she really wants for me all of the details before I just jump to a solution which is good because sometimes I can just miss some things because I’m kind of in that you know, quick fix mode and there’s other details that she wanted to share with me that may have swayed my decisions so …
Dr. Shapiro: Yeah, I definitely see the analogy there.
Jay: So you’ve been in school administration for a while, I’m sure you’re just in education for a while, I’m sure you have some great stories to share, just ways that you’ve impacted the lives of students, teachers, the school but what has been one of your best or most memorable stories that you could share with our listeners.
Dr. Shapiro: When I became a principal, I had come from a middle school as an assistant principal. That was a very progressive, interdisciplinary middle school, when you think about the middle school model and the idea of teams and blocks scheduling and a focus on students first and content second. It was really progressive and then I became the principal of a very traditional, very content focused junior high school. And it was my goal to transform that learning environment to more of a collaborative student centered middle school and it took some years and it took some change on the part of staff, support from the board. I always had the superintendent support. And then my second to last year there, we put together a team of teachers and administrators to really make this conversion from junior high to middle school. And the first year that we had changed over in, we created teams for example, 7th grade. For years as a 7th grade you could have any combination of teachers. These language arts teachers, those math teachers, these social studies teachers. Well, we finally put it together so that we had a team. A team with one math teacher, one language arts teacher, one science, one social studies, one special education teacher. And those five teachers share the same 80 to 90 students. Those five teachers had common planning time in which they could collaborate on curriculum integration. During which they could collaborate on problem solving, students who are struggling. And it was really powerful and I will never forget the time that the highest functioning team early on came to me and said, “One of the things we feel like we’re missing is some really concentrated discrete social emotional learning time with our students so we would like to modify our schedule to add in more advisory time, a couple of times a week and we’ll done it a way that it’s not gonna impact their exploratory classes and it’s not gonna change their lunch period” and I said, “Go for it” and it was this team that really got and understood what we were to trying to create in our new middle school environment and it was a tremendous celebration for me.
Jay: So this is a different question here. This actually came in from one of our listeners and you had mentioned early in the conversation just about this struggle, the pathway trying to get that first administrative position but what advice would you have for aspiring school administrators to help them stand out in the application interview process?
Dr. Shapiro: That was a great question. I guess the way I answer that is how I looked at teacher applicants as an administrator. If you’re looking for something unique, something unusual, not just you know when you, when you vet candidates, you know you come up with the list of things that you hope to see in them and as a candidate, you can’t predict from job to job what it is they’re going to be looking for. So I guess, stripping everything away I would say, honestly, just present who you are. What do you bring to the table? Try to highlight what’s unique about you. Try to, I like to look for people who have what I called experience that I don’t have to pay for. That I’m looking for teacher candidates, so things that are unusual to me …it’s interesting that someone has had a different career and then gone into teaching and then is pursuing in administration so any work that people have done, I would say this field of education to me is intriguing. The other thing I would say is work on your writing because when you are presenting yourself up as a candidate, how you think is reflected in how you write. And now everybody uses I think that’s same online application system, the Apple Tract which I wish I’d invented 20 years ago because I would’ve been retired by now.
Dr. Shapiro: But everybody always asks some combination of questions about how would you define an excellent administrator? What’s the place of technology in education? What are your three strongest attribute as a leader? I would recommend taking those questions seriously and really working on your written response. Now to me, how someone writes is a window into how they think and like I said before, you cannot predict what someone is looking for and you know when you get an interview, it’s because they looked at your materials and said, “Ok, on paper this is someone who we think can do the job.” So once you get that in, you know you bring in your 9 or 12 candidates who at that point are ok, on paper they look like they could do the job. Now we’ve got them to the table and we’ve heard them talk. These are now the three or four people who we really think can do the job. And then at that point, it just becomes about fit. You could, you could be the most highly qualified person for that assistant principalship they’ve ever seen but that team needs a certain personality or certain skill set and so it’s going to be about fit which you can’t fake and you can’t control.
Jay: I like that, so be authentic and really just accept the fact that who you are may not be a fit for wherever it is you’re applying.
Dr. Shapiro: Yeah, some years ago I was thinking of applying for a job. I was really uncertain about whether I should apply for this specific job. And I was speaking to one of my closest friends which is also a principal now and he said, “Look, the way I read this, you’re not who they’re looking for” so you can try to make yourself look like you’re they’re looking for. If you just want to know throw another application away but I don’t think you’re who they’re looking for and you know what, if that’s the case, what can you do about it? You can’t be who you’re not. So the way you face it authenticity, absolutely.
Jay: Yeah, That’s great so another question, what would you say, what’s the biggest difference between the impact or what is the difference in impact that you had as a teacher versus the impact you now have as an administrator?
Dr. Shapiro: I think you feel, you hear, you sense the impact more immediately as a teacher. You see tangible words on a daily basis. You really have those little victories in the classroom where the light bulb goes off above the student’s head and you know they made a connection. As an administrator, if there is a sense of movement, and good administrators try to spend a lot of time in the classroom and I do but it’s the teacher’s environment, so I think the rewards as an administrator are when you sense or you feel or you see evidence of a cultural shift in the right direction. A climate shift in the right direction, you know, you may go into a situation where you are taking, you know in my first principalship, I took over for a living legend. He’d been there forever. They wanted to name the school after him and so if I’d met him before I took the job; my decision might have been different. But once I started to see over time over a period of years. The climate of the building shifted; the culture of the building shifted toward wanting to become a more child centered middle school then that was a victory. When that team of teachers said to me, “We want to change our schedule because we believe in what you’re trying to do here” that was a victory. So I think the rewards, take a little more time as an administrator.
Jay: Yeah, that’s it. It’s that you’re changing an entire culture of a school versus your classroom.
Dr. Shapiro: And sometimes tremendous change and upheaval is not needed. You know I think one of, one of my strengths is I’ve been able to go into two very different situation as a principal. And understand what that community needed at that time and when I went into my first principalship, they were a very successful school, very happy parent community, very good kids and contented teachers. So we didn’t need to tear the place down and start from scratch. We needed to nudge slowly forward and make changes gradually. When I took over here in my new position, I came to a situation that needed… a staff and a community that was ready for some more drastic changes to our climate and culture and some of the structures that we had in place so then you have to kind of gauge, What does our community need? What are your superior’s expectations? What are your constituent’s expectations? And kind of find the happy medium and the common ground to move the institution forward in the way it’s ready for, did that make sense?
Jay: Yeah, so what is something that you did to discover those expectations?
Dr. Shapiro: I think the best thing to do is start with kind of a listening tour. When I took over both places, I insisted that every staff member, teacher, support staff, custodian, everybody make an individual appointment with me and I basically asked them three questions you know, “What is absolutely working and we should absolutely not change? What’s kind of working but if we tweak it, we think it could be more effective for kids? What’s got to go?” And then you know kind of try to, try to triangulate those responses to gauge what were the high leverage issues that should be addressed right away. What were the things I needed to just sit back and observe and listen to over the course of the first three to six months and then come back around at the constituents and say, “Ok, this is what I’ve seen and these are my ideas for making the change and what did I just need to leave alone?
Jay: Yeah, yeah yeah it’s good, so I’m gonna kind of transition with the conversation and roll into some rapid fire questions if you’re ready for those?
Dr. Shapiro: I’m ready.
Jay: Alright, so first one, what’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
Dr. Shapiro: Never shove people out of their comfort zones. A leader, a good leader nudges.
Jay: I like that. What would you say is your biggest strength as a school administrator?
Dr. Shapiro: My ability to connect with people – kids, teachers, parents, colleagues, superiors.
Jay: What are one or two books that you would recommend for other school leaders?
Dr. Shapiro: Mindset by Carol Dweck will totally reorient with thinking about kids and the way brain works and and praise And even if you’re not a middle school person, Taming of the Team by Jack Berckemeyer.
Jay: What’s the take away from that?
Dr. Shapiro: Taming of Team, it’s about collaboration and the power I think of educators working together on behalf of kids.
Jay: Ok. Do you have a technology tool like an app or software that you’d recommend to other school leaders like Boxer or Twitter?
Dr. Shapiro: I was a reluctant Twitter user but now I believe in it. The nice thing about Twitter is where as email is an obligation, Twitter is a choice and you can go to it when you want and throw your ideas out there when you have them and you can go looking for ideas when it suits you.
Jay: So if I were an aspiring administrator and I was just kind of new to Twitter, are there any chats or where do you recommend that I get started?
Dr. Shapiro: I wouldn’t get started with chats, I’d get started with you know just looking at some of the bigger names and institutions out there. Marzano Research Laboratory, ASCD, Education Week, those are some of the big ones, there’s a Twitter feed on Mindset, I like to follow people like Will Richardson and oh I haven’t looked at my Twitter for a few days, so some of the names aren’t popping at me right now.
Dr. Shapiro: Cathy Schrodk, oh Daniel Pink, Tom Slaski
Dr. Shapiro: I’m sure I could think of 10 more names if you give me 10 more minutes.
Jay: We’re just getting out of the holidays so I know I haven’t really been following Twitter as close as I normally do either. What would you say, what’s your favorite if you have them, what would you say is your favorite educational quote?
Dr. Shapiro: Fair doesn’t mean equal. Which reminds me, you should also follow Rick Wormeli on Twitter.
Jay: Ok. Could you expand on that a little bit – the quote that you just gave?
Dr. Shapiro: Sure, sure we have this you know we say, I think as educators that we believe in you know individualizing education and what one student needs isn’t necessarily what another student needs. So when you say fair doesn’t mean equal, what is fair to offer one student in terms of support or in terms of a way for them to demonstrate their learning? It doesn’t have to be equal to what you offer to another student so that it doesn’t mean it’s equal but you can still be fair.
Jay: What advice do you have for working with the students that you serve?
Dr. Shapiro: The advice I would have about my students is the same advice that I have to anybody working with any group of students. The first most important job of an educator is to make a personal connection with the kids. A colleague of mine had a sort of trick question that he likes to ask in interviewing potential teachers. The question is: “Without using the word respect in your answer, is it important for your students to like you?” And the answer that he and I are looking for is Yes. If your students like you, they’re gonna work for you. So, it doesn’t mean you are supposed to be friends with your students but you want your kids to like you.
Jay: Are there any, do you have any practical tips for teachers or administrators who have just heard that…any advice that may help them to better connect with the students?
Dr. Shapiro: Yes. I think you know I worked with now kindergarten to 12th grade and it doesn’t matter if you’re five or eighteen, you’re most basic need are the same. You know, you want to feel safe, you want to feel accepted, you want to belong, you want to have fun, you want to be happy and if we can remember that about our kids then we’re able to think of them not just as learners but as people. You know the minute that they walk in the door in the morning. They’re carrying their life with them. They’re carrying whether or not they have something to eat, whether or not their mom yelled at them this morning, whether or not they got enough sleep and when we find ourselves frustrated with kids because they’re not producing the way we want, they’re not responding the way we want, they’re not turning in the work we want. We need to dig in and find out why? And remember that they’re people, now. I have two kids of my own and well I don’t believe you have to have kids to be great educator. I’ve known plenty who aren’t. You know it helps because I think when I talk to parents, kids how would I feel if was on the other side? How would I feel if my kids were hearing what I was telling your kid right now? How would I feel if my son’s teacher was talking to me the way you know, my teachers are talking to parents so there’s a, we’re a human business we’re in the people business and we have to remember that always.
Jay: Those are powerful questions just putting yourself in the shoes of the students. That’s great. Great advice. What advice could you have for working with the other educators, the other teachers that are in the building.
Dr. Shapiro: You mean in my building?
Jay: Yeah, well as an administrator what advice could you have for working with the other educators that you lead?
Dr. Shapiro: Oh I see, you know I think a lot has written about the difference between managing and leading. You know, there’s a great book called, I feel I’m blanking again, More Leadership by Thomas Giovanni and one of the things he talks about is the idea of servant leadership and how I’d like to think of myself. My teachers like to say, “Hey boss, what’s going on boss? And I don’t mind it but I feel like I work for them, I work for the kids, I work for their parents, I work for the teachers. Most teachers will be in a school longer than the administrators. Not always, you know, I think the average tenure of an administrator in a building is something like 3 years and maybe I just made that up but whatever you create as an administrator needs to outlive you. So if you think of yourself as a servant leader and you rely on a sense of esprit de corps and collaborative leadership then you’re going to have an effective institution, you’re going to have structures and philosophies and a climate and culture that outlive your tenure.
Jay: So this, what would be the best way after the show if people want to reach out to you, what would be your best way to connect?
Dr. Shapiro: Probably via email or the Highland Tech website which is really just highlandtech.org, I also have a blog that now that I’ve defended my dissertation I can get back to. It’s a shaprincipal@edublogs and I write about my experiences as a leader up here in Alaska and try to make some cultural observations as well. Don’t think I’ve blogged in a couple of months because I was really in the stretch run of my dissertation but I’m gonna have a new post up by this weekend come hell or high water.
Jay: So last question …
Dr. Shapiro: Or I supposed …
Jay: What’s that?
Dr. Shapiro: Or come hell or high water or ice.
Jay: Right. Last question, and it’s kind of a unique question but if you, if you had a time machine and you could hop in it and go back to the point in time when you’re a teacher and you had just made, maybe as a substitute teacher, but you had just made the decision to move into school leadership. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Dr. Shapiro: Take advantage of every opportunity to be a teacher leader. If you’re in a good system, you’re working with leaders who give teachers the opportunity to lead. Teachers for the most part I think, really respond well to their colleagues. When they speak from the place of authority and so if you have a structure that has team leaders or if you have curriculum revision committee or if your principal’s putting a committee together to look at the schedule, take advantage of it. Any opportunity you can to lead formally and informally as a teacher.
Jay: So and how do you recommend for the for the teacher who says, well, but you know how I’d be received, what would you suggest as far as doing that without coming across as you know as bossy, your telling people what to do or being overly assertive? What advice would you have for that?
Dr. Shapiro: I think if you are, if you’re doing it authentically, if you’re doing it with purpose and people see the benefit of what you’re bringing to the table, the people will have a problem with it, are the people who I would have questions about as their leader and then if the climate, if the leader, if the school leader has set up the culture of the building in such a way that teacher leadership is respected and appreciated, it shouldn’t be a problem. But I also recognize that there are some cold climates, in which teacher leadership is resented so if you find yourself in one of those, take response …
Jay: Get away from it.
Dr. Shapiro: Yeah, don’t be on every single committee but pick your spots.
Dr. Shapiro: And when you get the opportunity, do a good job, under promise and over deliver.
Jay: Great advice. Well, edu-leaders this has been a great interview today. And for the show notes of today’s show and other resources visit educatorslead.com and type the word michael into the search tool to find his show notes. Michael, thank you for sharing your journey with us today!
Dr. Shapiro: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
Jay: And that represents another episode of Educators Lead.
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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.
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