4 Ways to Deal with Dead Weight

One of the best posts I have read in a long time.  All truth, written by someone who is not only seasoned, but more importantly understands how dead works and how dead weight is scattered.  It can weigh everyone down. All school leaders should keep the concept of dead weight in their heads when scheduling and planning out an effective program.  Mostly, dead weight needs to have the least impact in schools. Placement is critical!  Read the superb post below.

Successful leaders deal with people who take up space but don’t contribute.

12 ways to be deadweight:

Complain about entitled millennials. Have you noticed how entitled older leaders expect young people to bow down to their experience? I can’t tell who’s more entitled.

Commit fully to your comfort zone. Do your best to make people dance around your preferences.

Beat down infant ideas with questions about details and definitions.

Cling to offenses. You’re still upset about the policy change of 2005.

Smile and agree in the meeting. Drag your feet when the work begins.

Refuse to adapt. Policy is policy.

Reject all attempts to update systems and software. It can’t be better if it’s working for you.

Say, “We already tried that,” at least three times a day.

Disagree because it’s fun to throw your weight around. Remove the word “constructive” from dissent. 

Encourage people to worry about the people upstairs. Just bringing up the CEO is enough to stall any initiative.

Demand perfection. Reject better.

Remind everyone about something that’s lacking, when things are going good. “That’s great. But what about …?”

4 ways to deal with deadweight:

#1. Figure out the strengths of deadweight and apply them appropriately. I’ve found that deadweight isn’t always dead. I’ve been frustrated with fellow leaders because I didn’t understand or respect their strengths.
Just because someone sees things differently, doesn’t make them deadweight.
#2. Put all your deadweight on the same team. Don’t spread poison through your organization. Who knows, the deadweight may come up with something useful. At least they won’t be polluting everyone.
#3. Assign deadweight to established projects. Don’t expect historical obstacles to magically get behind new initiatives.
#4. Help deadweight take their talent to an organization where they’ll be appreciated.

Read more of the leadership freak at his website

The Educators Lead Podcast is amazing!

I was recently featured on the Educators Lead podcast talking about how I worked my way up to become a Superintendent here in New Jersey. I always find it a little odd to listen to yourself, and I say the sound “uhhh” way too much, but overall, it was a great conversation with Jay Willis.

Check it out!

iTunes Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/educators-lead-jay-willis/id1068590753

Stitcher Link: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=79340&refid=stpr

Google Play Link: http://www.educatorslead.com/googleplay


Some resources for dealing with Orlando

Dealing with grief in schools is tough.  Very tough.  Some schools are out already; some are just wrapping up, but regardless — questions will be had. Below is a simple letter I sent to my staff and included some resources to help your students deal with tragedy. 



It is with great sadness that I find myself writing another email addressing gun violence and terrorism.  With the shooting of a pop star that grew up down the road, and the deadliest mass shooting in American history taking place last evening, we are all in a state of pondering how such senseless acts could take place. 

With seven school days left, we are still charged with the well-being and educating our students.  While I know you will be teaching, packing, and partaking in end of year activities, I am assuming that at some point that questions will be had by students.  I know that you are the professionals who will address any issues appropriately and accordingly.

School Counselors  and social workers will clear their schedules to be available tomorrow; if anyone is in need of additional resources, please contact your supervisor and we will get them to you.

Below are some links and resources you can use if you need them.  A kind reminder that if you do address Orlando, please use your discretion when sharing any images or any news clips. 

Disney & Grief: http://efuneral.com/Articles/Top_10_Kids_Movies_Dealing_with_Loss_Death__Grief/375

Sesame Street and dealing with grief: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/topics/grief

Edutopia – Dealing with Grief in schools: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/tips-grief-at-school-2-chris-park

Talking to students about tragedy: http://www.fosterparents.com/articles/borba3.htm

Jerry Blumengarten’s  grief webpage: http://cybraryman.com/guidance.html

Even in the wake of tragedy, schools continue to be one of the safest places for children to be on a daily basis. Below are some conversational tips from Dr. Michele Borba personally shared on her Twitter feed today. I trust Michele with my own child’s well-being and consider her a personal friend and colleague. I hope you find her thoughts helpful.

· Turn off the TV and media when kids are present. Image can negatively impact children regardless of your zip code.
· Talk to the kids if they have questions. Open with “What have you heard?” Kids need the right facts. YOU not their peers provide the best source.
· Kids need to know it’s OK to share their feelings. It’s normal to be upset. Be calm and give only age appropriate information.
· Don’t give more information than the kid is ready to hear. More importantly, let your students know you’re there to listen.
· Don’t expect to help alleviate a student’s  anxiety unless you keep your own in check. Kids are calmer if we are calmer.
· Please don’t think because a student isn’t talking about the events that he/she didn’t hear about it.
· Give the information in small doses. Listen. Watch their response. Kids need processing time. Kids don’t need to know all the details and numbers. End with “I’m here for any questions you may have at anytime.”
· Here’s a great way to curb anxieties: Find proactive ways to alleviate fears about the tragedy.
· Stick to classroom routines. This soothes the stress and helps kids know that despite tragedy, that the world goes on. The sun will come up tomorrow.
· Draw kids’ attention to heroism in the tragedy. Use police, doctors, etc so kids see the goodness in the heartbreak.
· Kids respond to tragic news differently. Let your students know their feelings are normal. Help he/she express them. Follow his/her lead.
· Keep ongoing dialogue. Don’t explain more than they are ready to hear. Kids process and will want more later.
· T.A.L.K.

o Talk to the kid about the tragedy in an age-appropriate way

o Assess kid coping skills

o Listen, give some information and listen some more

o Kindle hope that the world goes on

· Plan what you’ll say to your students about the tragedy to boost their confidence and calmness. It’s OK to say “I don’t know” or “Good question. Let me find out.”

Armchair Quarterbacking 

Like most of you, I have kept tabs on the shooting of Harambe that occurred at the Cincinnati  Zoo. We have heard opinion after opinion, expert after expert, share their thoughts on what should or should not have been done. Then comes public opinion and what others would have done if they were in the same situation. This practice is often referred to “armchair quarterbacking,” the practice of trying to be an expert on something the individual knows only a modicum at best.

While it is certainly a part of our First Amendment rights to speak freely, we often get lost in what actually happened.

An incident occurred and professionals responded.

We often forget this before criticizing. We see it daily in the news from police procedures to government responses. While we may not agree with the way things are handled, in most situations, professionals are trained to deal with the incident.

When I was teaching, I often heard from non-teaching friends about how easy the job is, how we get the summers off, how they would teach and make our schools better. My response was (and will always be)

If teaching is as simplistic and uncomplicated as you make it out to be, get your cert and walk in my shoes for a day. Then we’ll talk.

In my current role as a superintendent, I’m the main target when it comes to criticism in schools. It’s a part of the job. No matter what happens, you can’t make everyone happy, and you’ll burn yourself out if you try. Just as when I was teaching, I tell folks the same thing when they start criticizing every move I make: get the cert and help those of us in these positions fix the problem. 

Sometimes my biggest criticizers are fellow educators. In a previous district, there was a small pocket of folks where, if I said the sky was blue, they would be the first to disagree. While that wasn’t bothersome, what was is that they spent 24/7 talking about whatever it was. They tried to sour colleagues, parents, and stakeholders; they tried to take anything I said and twist it into something else. Their paranoia or guilt drove them to do or say anything and use their own time doing it. Why would I care if it’s their own time? Those educators (not in my current district) could have actually invested in their lesson plans or their students to make their classroom an amazing avenue of learning.

I close with this.

Before you start criticizing something you have no relevant background in, think about the professionals who are charged with making the decisions. Yes, it’s not going to work out every time, and, yes, mistakes or intentional actions will be made on occasion, but those professionals are trained and are experienced, whether you like it or not.

Put your energy into something positive and productive. Those who surround you will thank you.