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The Best Research is Me-search

by Aubrey Patterson


I know in my heart there's got to be a better way!

Do you too often land on this thought while lying awake in bed at 2 am, after a long day or dealing with some tough issues?

This is the kind of non-researched cardiac assessment we all do.

Much like real medical assessments, middle-of-the-night cardiac assessments for educational leaders can be painful yet lead to brighter days.  

The best research is me-search

Unfortunately, much impactful creativity begins with a breaking point, digging into a problem that’s eating at us, and finding a solution. 

We don’t really do our best work when we know the answers, but instead when we need the answers. 

These same axioms apply to the problems we encounter in our organizations. 

Most great answers, pathways, and systems begin with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance and an even healthier supply of humility.

Leaders are not discovered in the limelight; (they) gain...

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by Melody Stacy


When your school culture is all about positivity and that magical mixture of love and high expectations, there needs to be a certain amount of healthy conflict to combat artificial harmony and ensure the forces of mediocrity aren’t winning. 


In the last several years, our school has developed compelling and connected core values, vision, mission, and goals, but we've also found ourselves, at times, a bit love-heavy and unknowingly, and with good intentions, playing too nice.

As our teacher voice team was reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, we completed the team assessment activity and found the results confirmed what we suspected. We were really, really strong on the first three layers of the team pyramid (trust, conflict, and commitment) and our weakest area was in accountability. Our need to avoid interpersonal discomfort was preventing team members from holding each other accountable for...

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Smooth Stones Take Time

by Aubrey Patterson


It sure would be wonderful if we could avoid the bumps, bruises, and pain that comes with growing, right? 

Or would it?

Unprecedented Times

Certainly, what we’ve experienced in recent times is unprecedented. There isn't any class or internship to prepare a leader for all this pandemic has presented.

Warm demander leaders enhance the culture in difficult times by being compassionate, constructive, and courageous.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. (Frederick Douglass)

In good times, we don't move until we're uncomfortable, much like we might wait until we're actually shivering before we put on a sweater. Often, some of our best results come from discomfort or even pain. 

Every problem introduces a person to himself. (John McDonnell)

Smooth Stones

Imagine a rapidly flowing river replete with jagged rocks on the edge and smooth stones under the surface. 

The stones are worn down by bumping up against one another and the water...

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False Summits

by Aubrey Patterson


Some of our biggest successes can be pretty messy, right?

Be sure that as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building. (Stephen R. Covey)

False Summits 

When hiking in the mountains, we're likely to encounter a false summit - a hill that looks like the summit from our current position. Then, as we get closer we get to this false summit, we realize that the hill we're currently trekking is hiding another hill we'll need to climb.

We’ve all had our hearts sink a little facing false summits.

We build a vision, work hard to actualize it, and, just when we think we're almost there, the view changes. 

We need to be comfortable with adapting to a new perspective and abandoning our perfect plans.

Of course, we want everything to run smoothly and be in the right place. However, success is typically replete with exposing and creatively solving unanticipated problems.

When life...

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Leadership and Rubik's Cubes

by Aubrey Patterson


When we strive for perfection, we have a vision that not only includes an exciting destination, but also a smooth journey.

If you’ve ever tried to solve a Rubik’s Cube, you most certainly have experienced this.

Our first move is a fairly predictable move that gives us temporary satisfaction when we arrange a single row of the puzzle to be one color. With a little more thought and effort, we advance to having the colors match on one side of the cube. 

We might enjoy a momentary celebration and become eager to complete two sides!

But alas, we encounter a terrible dilemma: In order to complete the next side of the cube, we must mess up the perfection we just enjoyed.

Our next move requires messing up our previous progress in order to exceed our current achievements.

Whether we're trying to solve a puzzle, build new...

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Silence Does the Heavy Lifting

by Aubrey Patterson


Do you have someone on your team that always chooses negativity and loves to bring any room to the lowest common denominator? You know, the kind of person that you always love, but can be really challenging to like?

Silence does the heavy lifting

Trying times certainly lead to even more corrosive behaviors, but of course, we need to rise above the moment and choose compassion for someone who is obviously struggling.

We have a lot of options when such a person isn't in-person, as we can more easily choose to walk away from an email or phone call before responding or even have tools like prewritten scripts to quickly employ.

But when someone is right in front of us and seemingly enjoying the negative spotlight, how do we respond?

Sure, we know that arguing with a fool only makes two, but equally important guiding principles are if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything and what you tolerate sets the bar...

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Making Practices Practical: Being Mission-Driven

courageous May 24, 2021

by Dr. Danielle Bosanec


Knowing the purpose for the work one does helps move both an individual and an organization towards achieving a vision that is greater than oneself and connects what we do to why we do it.  Fullan & Quinn (2016) describe this purpose as a shared moral imperative.  If this moral imperative is shared and supported by staff, parents, and the community, the mission becomes a tool to define actionable goals for the organization.

Here is what we learned from some of Wisconsin’s top educational leaders about being mission-driven.

Missions serve as decision-making guides

Schools are busy places and there is not always the time, nor is it reasonable, to have every decision vetted by everyone.  The mission should serve as the decision-making guide.  Amy Levek of Whitefish Bay School District explained that the more you speak about the mission, “the more it becomes that march for decision making”.  The mission can,...

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