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Channeling Russell Wilson to Create a Culture


Channeling Russell Wilson to Create a Culture

Our teachers are overwhelmed with several significant initiatives. Midyear student achievement data is in. It’s raining every day. Amid the grey that is February, how does a principal sustain staff’s focus on essential learning conversations for ongoing improvement? (Creating a Culture 1.1, 1.2)

Principal David Kennedy, of Glenwood Heights Primary in Battle Ground Public Schools, adapted a video of the Seahawks’ exciting finish to win the NFC Championship to illustrate several messages critical to his team’s school improvement work. He added leadership messages from Russell Wilson about how he kept going even in the face of adversity, “… after every single throw — whether it was a tipped ball or an incompletion or a touchdown — I’d turn back toward the huddle, close my eyes and think of a table in an empty room. On that table was a big red RESET button, just like in the movies. I’d imagine pressing the button. Boom. On to the next one…”

David integrated the idea of, “the glass half full,” as he challenged his team to become masters of their own self-talk.

David delivered his lesson and video as a lead-in to midyear meetings with grade-level teams. He integrated key messages drawn from various leadership perspectives to create questions for his team’s consideration:

  • The Crucial Conversations framework tells us that when we see/hear something, our feeling of response and subsequent action are influenced by the stories we tell ourselves about the information we are taking in. What are the stories we are telling ourselves? Are they positive (like Russell’s) or negative? How can we become masters of new, positive stories about our students, our school, and our possibilities here?
  • Will we choose to view our situation with the glass half full or half empty? What assets do our students present? What ideas and strengths can we leverage from each other where the data suggests things are working in classrooms? How can we build on those?
  • When we don’t get the results we want, can we hit the ‘reset’ button and move forward in a positive, determined way?

The ideas and language raised in these discussions set the stage for productive planning meetings between the principal, instructional specialists, and teachers as they planned to meet student needs in the coming weeks. Staff have a shared language for maintaining a positive focus as they continue with very challenging work – meeting the ever increasing needs of students.

Way to create a culture, David!