9 times when leaders need to shut up and listen

Culturally Responsive Leadership 9 times when leaders need to shut up and listen

Leaders do a lot of talking.

Too much.

You may have the gospel pouring out of your mouth, but that doesn’t mean that you will automatically have disciples. But, great schools need great leaders in order to create focus, coherence, and align supports, especially for underserved students. A Malawian proverb reads, “If you are leading and no one is following, you are just taking a walk.” Many leaders are just talking, but want to be leading.

So what can you do about it?

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Help, my school’s courses are culturally irrelevant!

Students deserve to take courses that are interesting, relevant, and engaging. Sure, we can make all content more relevant and responsive, but you can also simply offer alternative classes. Better yet, you can make the alternative, mandatory. Ask yourself, what can happen when you make the interests of marginalized students central and essential?

What if?

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Interrupting patterns of participation in staff meetings

You want to disruptpatriarchy and white supremacy in the curriculum and in our learning outcomes. But, these patterns of oppression start in our adult interactions, and boy does it show up in meetings. Although difficult, it is possible to take action with some critical reading, radical norms, and the use of process checks.

In order to change outcomes, your staff needs to talk about teaching and learning in different ways. This requires new mindsets, tools, and ways of being.

Many times, white male staff feel very comfortable speaking up, speaking first, and filling the time. Sometimes, this gets disguised as “the voice of experience” because many staff of color tends to be younger, newer to teaching, and more transient in large urban school districts. But, the result is that people of color and women are often quieted and marginalized.


It’s time to turn up the volume. But how?

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5 interview questions to find equity warriors

It’s hiring season in schools and getting the right people on the bus is a leader’s most important task.

All aboard.

But first, you have to ask the right questions.

Nowadays, with lower salaries, a lack of national respect for education, and the increasing difficulty of the job, it is HARD to find good folks. Therefore, we have to make the best decision. And, the fate of humanityrests on you being able to find the best people.

So, how in the name of Paulo Freire, do you find them?

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Can white leaders be culturally responsive?

Our identity has an incredible effect on our ability to make a change in schools. Whether you are a person of color or a white person, understanding of your culture, ethnicity, and race matters.  A lack of understanding creates intentional and unintentional harm. It can be a limiting factor and contribute to institutional oppression. In the meantime, students are failing and being pushed out of schools.  But, identity can also be a source of power.

It can be a tool, used to engineer for equity. How can you start building?

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Burn those individual student desks!

Leaders are pressured to improve test scores and schools, which usually spark discussion of teaching practice, hyper testing, and an elimination of the fluff. These changes are often met with extreme resistance, shallow compliance, and overly simplified new strategies. These often do not work. What if I told you, that there was a way to change instructional practice without talking much about instruction? What if I told you there was a way to get folks to discover the change needed for themselves? Cue the inception bassy soundtrack. What if I told you it all could start with getting rid of those insidious individual desks?

Round them up. Build a pile. Add gasoline, a match, and watch them burn.

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Share your equity purpose with these 5 prompts

An equity-focused purpose can be a source of power to create urgency, build momentum, and transform your school. It can also build community. Leaders who know their purpose and know when to share it can inspire change, through tapping into our emotional core.

We show up to work every day and fulfill the duties of our job. The work, if you are in urban or inner city schools, is especially challenging. We work long hours, deal with setbacks, and keep pushing. But why?

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