Where are the women keynote speakers?

This post was collaboratively written by:
Jessica Johnson
Melissa Emler
Heidi Hutchison
Iram Khan
Kaye Henrickson
Tia Henriksen
women

Image from Pixabay

In a recent discussion in our Women in Leadership voxer group, we came to the realization that opportunities for us to hear female education leaders speak as keynote presenters at conferences are a rare find. We can list numerous outstanding male keynote speakers we have heard at conferences and would be happy to listen to again:

  • Todd Whitaker
  • Eric Sheninger
  • Peter DeWitt
  • Andy Hargreaves
  • Michael Fullan
  • Joe Sanfellippo
  • Tony Sinanis
  • Jimmy Casas
  • Jeff Zeoul
  • Daniel Pink
  • Sir Ken Robinson
  • Kevin Honeycutt
  • Baruti Kafele
  • Josh Stumpenhorst
  • George Couros
  • Dean Shareski

The list could go on and on…

Yet, when we tried to list women keynote speakers…our conversation came to a halt. Within our group we could actually only identify six keynote speakers that we’ve heard:

  • Pernille Ripp
  • Marcia Tate
  • Becky DuFour
  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs
  • Angela Maiers
  • Kristen Swanson

All six are dynamic speakers who we want to promote and would love to hear again.  One interesting piece of these women keynote speakers is that they are all pedagogical goddesses and relentless advocates for student learning.  Liz Wiseman, another woman keynoter who was remembered later in the conversation, is the only woman that was hired to keynote on the specific topic of leadership and the impact leadership has on student learning.  We are connected to many great female education leaders; we’ve read their blogs/books, we’ve connected in social media to continue learning from them, and we’ve heard them speak on smaller scales (conference sessions, not keynotes). So why aren’t they being asked to be keynote speakers at state, provincial, and national level conferences? Why is the pool of keynote speakers so dominated by our male colleagues?  More importantly, why are we, the women leaders in education, not making a bigger stink about it?

This has been a difficult question to discuss as it has brought up some uncomfortable reflections, especially in the areas of how we support women colleagues. Some of the reasons that we discussed included:

  • Women can be our own worst enemies. Sometimes we compete with each other as though there is only one space at the top, when as we can see with the number of men who are keynote speakers, this is not true.   
  • Some women leaders feel isolated and don’t have a support group.
  • Speaking in front of others can be scary, causing us to question whether we really are an expert to present to others about it. It’s the own voices in our head that prevent us from stepping up. Many refer to this as the “Impostor Syndrome” which is common among high achieving women where, “Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved” (wikipedia).  According to researcher, Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, women who are in male-dominated professions are particularly vulnerable to this syndrome (Goudreau, ForbesWomen, Oct. 19, 2011).
  • Sometimes, we rely on “duty calls” and stay back to complete the work. Again, our own worst enemy by not prioritizing sharing our story (and the story of our teacher leaders) with others.
  • The reality of mom guilt; we already feel guilty about the many hours that take us away from our children and worry about the additional time spent away from our families.

According to Tiffani Lennon, the author and lead researcher of the report, Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, women hold 75% of all teaching positions across the U.S., but hold only 30% of leadership positions. Education is a field that is predominantly women, but we hold less than a third of the leadership positions. In looking at this report, education has the largest gap between number of women working and number of women in leadership. We have work to do.

What can we, the women in school leadership roles, do to help even out the influential voices in our space?  These are our suggestions:

  • Demand that the organizations we belong to recognize the imbalance and work hard to elevate our voices. We pay membership fees too.
  • Recommend women in leadership that we know would be excellent on the stage.
  • Submit proposals to speak at conferences on topics we are passionate about.
  • Encourage women colleagues to get out there and share their passions.
  • Recognize and promote the female speakers that we want to hear.
  • Continue to share our learning/reflections with others online (Twitter, Blogs, Voxer, etc.).
  • Read, reflect and discuss great books on women in leadership, such as Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg or Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.
  • Reflect upon our own self-doubt and bravely put it out there so that others can learn from it, support you and help you move onto reaching your leadership potential.
  • Learn more about the Impostor Syndrome and what that is and looks like for you. Get help from others, as you feel necessary.
  • Learn about some of the many successful people who have also identified themselves as “impostors”, as described in the article,  High achievers suffering from imposter syndrome News.com Dec 10 2013.
  • Get to know women leaders, so when the time comes to recommend speakers you have a list of good, potential candidates.

We believe women in leadership is a diversity issue and doing this important work is the responsibility of all educators. It is important for girls to see women in leadership roles so that they can imagine and dream their own possibilities. It is also important for girls to see women being celebrated as speakers whose opinions are honoured and valued. It is just as important for boys to see women in this role and on the stage.  This issue is not just about girls and boys though; it is also about women and men.  If most of our teachers are women, they deserve to learn from women and aspire to be like them.  If they only see men, some of the best and brightest may never choose to elevate their position.  On the flip side, there are certainly some amazing men in our classrooms who may feel forced to enter leadership positions because it is seemingly expected.  The field of education needs all of us to be in roles that fit our strengths.   Furthermore, we need to challenge our own thinking, and have courageous conversations that move us forward. It is important for everyone to acknowledge and value the importance of our voices as women to the educational conversations, including as Keynote Speakers at major conferences, both locally, nationally, and internationally.  In doing so, we are doing the work of creating a brighter future for all of us.

Breaking Out of Isolation

Being a principal is my passion; a role that I am grateful to have and enjoy *almost* every day.  While their are many positives to school administration, one of the pitfalls is the isolation that comes with being an administrator. I have previously written and shared in presentations (along with Curt Rees, Jay Posick and Matt Renwick) that is like being on Admin Island. Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 9.34.11 PM

 

I have to honestly say, that I don’t know how I could do this job without being a connected educator.  I learn so much everyday from other educators across the world on Twitter, Voxer, Blogs, and Pintrest everyday. I am certain that if I were to go back into the classroom, I would be a far more effective teacher today than before I was connected.

One of my greatest connections has been with Spike Cook and Theresa Stager through creating the #principalpln podcast, a weekly (ok, almost weekly) podcast focused on providing current and aspiring school leaders with advice, support and ideas. About a year ago we embarked on an exciting journey to write about how getting connected can help break out of isolation, but also address how being connected can also lead to isolation (quite a pardox!)

Breaking Out of Isolation Cover

Getting connected is one thing, and many educators are taking the plunge to become connected. Once connected, how does the leader avoid the isolation inherent in leadership? We have learned from conversations with others that many educators need help balancing their connected journey, and working with their peers. We wrote this book to ensure that the leadership wheels do not fall off.

In this book we help the readers understand the importance of being connected to benefit individual professional learning, mindfulness, and avoiding the traps of isolation . We use vignettes of leaders to give a picture of what the connected leader looks like. We also address the common challenges that come with being connected, such as criticism, isolation and battling mindset.

Pre-orders are available by visiting the Corwin site.

I am excited to announce that this book is now off to the printers and should be out by the end of this month!

Can principals have a life during the school year?

School has been out for three weeks and I have:

  • Read 5 books (mix of fiction and personal development)
  • Enjoyed a family camping trip filled with fun and relaxation
  • Enjoyed fishing and water skiing/tubing outings
  • Acquired enough sunlight to get a tan (for me anyways)
  • Ran 33 miles (one run was a 5K race with my son for his first race) and signed up to run my first 10K
  • Watched 12 baseball games that my kids played in
  • Enjoyed ongoing learning great conversations with members of my PLN at a conference
  • Spent time writing (for what I hope is a future published book)
  • Enjoyed meditation and coffee on my back deck with the sunrise
  • Kept my house clean (ok, that may be a bit of a stretch!)

 

I am still working this summer, however, I am fortunate to be able to work half-days Monday-Thursday (following our summer school schedule). I am thoroughly enjoying the sense of calm I feel, with the only stress I’ve felt has come from bee stings, a dog on the loose and my 5 year-old’s first experience tubing on the lake. A much different pace than the school year.

Why do I blog about this? Because I’ve shared before on the #principalpln podcast several times about my journey to try to become more mindful and frankly, get a life outside of school to be more balanced. By nature, I am a workaholic, and have a hard time slowing down and relaxing. Just today I found myself with two hours of no kids in the house and had to stop myself from pulling out my laptop to do some work (I had to remind myself that I had no pressing deadlines to meet!).

I’m sure that many principals (and teachers) can relate to the sigh of relief being felt right now. But it makes me wonder why I can’t find a sense of balance and mindfulness all year? Why do I have to be stressed during the school year? Why can’t I continue my passions and self-care while working full time?  Is it possible to be a principal and have a life?

The Mindful School Leader

This is a cross post from the #PrincipalPLN podcast:

 

How do you handle to stress?

 Does this sound like you? Maybe you just feel that way at times, which is certainly common in our overwhelming roles as school leaders. But, it doesn’t have to be!
In this episode, the #principalpln crew have an amazing discussion with the authors of The Mindful School LeaderKirsten Olson and Val Brown share their amazing wisdom with us on the importance of mindfulness for school leaders and how we can get started.  We felt a sense of peace and calm come over us just in listening to them speak!
We highly recommend you read the book, but until it arrives you can start with these recommendations from Val and Kirsten:

 


  • You eat a meal every day…choose one meal to really taste your food. Put down your devices and taste your food!
  • Look at the sky.
  • At times throughout the day, stop and notice your breathing.
  • Make a commitment for 10 minutes of alone time in your office.
  • Schedule these things so they become routine.

 


 

 

Do you have your own tips to share with being mindful or just taking care of yourself so you can be a better leader? Or are you (like us) a work in progress and just starting your path to mindfulness? Share your comments below or tweet your tips/reflections/progress using #principalpln.




 

Using Google Calendar for my To-Do Lists

A common topic of discussion on the #PrincipalPLN podcast is on productivity, because principals have a LOT of work to do while wearing mgoogle calany different hats and never enough time to get it all done (seriously, time could stop and we still couldn’t catch up). One of my favorite apps for keeping my to-do list in is Remember the Milk, however, this past year I got away from using it and just started scheduling my to-do work in a google tasks calendar.

 

I have several calendars in Google:

  • My main calendar that the secretaries can see and add appointments to. This includes any meeting or duty that they will need to know where I’m at (as will I!)
  • Staff events calendar-all staff can see this and it’s for any meeting or school-wide event that they need to be aware of.
  • Tasks calendar-I use this to schedule work that I need to do. Anything I used to write on a post-it note (or put in Remember the Milk app) I now put in my tasks calendar. No one else can see this.
  • Student Discipline-only I can see this. I enter in any students I meet with for discipline. This is often used for scheduling when I’m going to meet with someone (usually at the end of the day when I get a parent phone call or call from the bus company about bus referrals from the pm route).
  • Personal Calendar-this is just for me and is shared with my husband. We use this to schedule our own family events, medical appointments, etc.

So, why the tasks calendar? When I have a long list of things to-do it can be overwhelming to look at and decide what to do. I never really want to do any of them! :) But, when I schedule them when I think would be the best time to work on it, then I’ve already made a commitment to work on it at that day/time. When I look at my calendar, I know what I need to do. What’s even better is the reminder feature that pops up and tells you what you need to do; it’s like having my own little personal secretary to remind me what to do. Now, my day is just as hectic as any other principal and my days NEVER go as planned so at the end of each day I review my calendar and often have to move several tasks to another day/time, because I didn’t get to them on that day due to x, y or z happening.

When I shared this on one of the #principalpln podcasts, Spike asked how I can “cross off” that it’s done? I know that crossing things off gives a great deal of satisfaction, but I couldn’t figure out a way to do that in google calendar.

I recently came up with a solution…well, almost.  I created a new calendar and called it “completed tasks” and made the calendar a different color. So now as I complete a task, I simply edit the event and change what calendar it is so I can visually see that it is completed (a different color on my calendar).

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.15.17 AM

 

#WEMTA15 Presentations

wemta

I’m super excited to attend the WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association) Conference this week as a Spotlight Speaker while getting the opportunity to hear some great educators.

Here are the slides/resources for my presentations:

Teacher 2:0: Social Media Tools for Teachers 

Using Twitter to Build Your Professional Learning Network

Evernote for Teacher Organization

Developing Wild Readers

I’ve previously shared my learning from reading Donalyn Miller’s book Reading in the Wild, but am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear her keynote on her research and practices within this book at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention (#WSRA15).  I am always inspired by hearing and reading Donalyn’s work and want to go back into my own classroom to inspire students to read, but then I remember I don’t have a classroom.  So, as a leader, I just continue to share my learning with our teachers and model myself as a wild reader for our entire school.

Lunch conversation selfie with my PLN: Donalyn Miller, Tom Whitford, and Pernille Ripp

Lunch conversation selfie with my PLN: Donalyn Miller, Tom Whitford, and Pernille Ripp

 

Here is the Monday Musings post I’ll be sharing with my teachers:

The-single-factor-most

Over the years I’ve shared my learning with you from Donalyn Miller’s books: The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild (previous posts are HEREHERE, and HERE). I’ve seen many of the practices we’ve learned about from her implemented in your classrooms: reading choice, book talks, stealing reading minutes, sharing your lives as readers, reading goals posted (students and staff), etc.

Even though I have read both of Donayln’s books, I was re-inspired by hearing her speak last week and to hear her story of how she came to research reading habits and write the book, Reading in the Wild. As the well-known Book Whisperer, she always got her students to read voraciously and couldn’t understand what happened in the next grade level up when her students stopped reading, because their classrooms didn’t include the same practices. Instead of blaming other teachers, Donalyn realized that she needed to help her students to truly develop the habits of lifelong readers, not having to depend on her to get connected to their next book to read. How do you do this?

  • Instead of requiring reading logs to track minutes (which most students and parents “fudge” anyhow) having students track their book titles read (that’s what adults do!).
  • Instead of having required amounts of time to read, having students learn and find times to “steal reading” minutes like most adults do, by always having a book with them.
  • Instead of making a specific book recommendation to a student when they finish a book, ask first: “What’s on your to-read list?” (After setting up the structure/habit for students to have a to-read list.)
  • Instead of recommending a specific book to students, she started making a preview stack of books that included books she knows the student will like but included different types of genres to expose them to.
  • Never give up on having a read-aloud, kids are never too old (that’s why there’s such a large market for audio books!) Use the read-aloud to expose students to different authors/genres/series that they may never try on their own.
  •  Help students to build their reading community. If you are their only source of book recommendations, then they will be lost without you next year.
  • And just for fun: skip the “selfie” and take a “shelfie”: a picture of yourself with a stack of books you want to read (or your favorite books)!

If you want to read more “nuggets” from her keynote presentation, there were many attendees tweeting from it and you can find them all HERE.

Take a moment to reflect on how you share yourself as a reader with your students and how are you promoting the habits of lifelong learners in your classroom?

A Principal’s Tip for Keeping Focused on 1 Task

For those of you that are great at time management and staying focused, there’s no need for you to read this post…

For those of you who know me, you know that I am the queen of the procrastinators club (although we haven’t met yet, because I keep putting off scheduling our first meeting) and that I have ADHD…I do my best work at the final hour, I can be completely random, scattered, lose things, etc. I have also decided that I think the principalship induces ADHD, because we are interrupted about every 4 minutes, so how could one ever become completely focused on any one task for too long?

After a wonderfully relaxing Christmas vacation I was ready to get backScreen Shot 2015-01-02 at 3.46.04 PM into a work schedule today with a quiet school building to catch up on work in the office before school officially starts.  Perfect day to catch up on EVERYTHING, right? WRONG!  Nope, no one interrupted me…except for myself.  I feel like I could rewrite the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to be If You Give a Principal an Email.  Left to a quiet office with a list of 7 major things to accomplish, I added at least a dozen other tasks to my list today and only because I already led myself astray to complete them and then added them to my list to cross them off.

For those of you laughing with me now (or at me), I do have a point to this post. I’ve made great efforts over the years to learn everything I can about productivity as I’ve written about in previous posts, but today one lesson came to mind that I learned from Justin Baeder in a webinar at The Principal Center:

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the available time.

Horstman’s Corollary: Work contracts to fit into the time you give it.

I’ve always said that if time stopped, I would still never catch up on everything that I have to do.  It’s just not possible. We have to make choices about what’s most important, what has to be done now, what can wait and what can be shifted elsewhere.  On days like today, I do best when I remind myself of Horstman’s Corollary.  I do this by setting a timer for myself for the one task I’m working on and try to beat the timer.  I’m currently loving the google chrome extension “1 click timer,” because it just runs up in the corner of my browser or I can expand it to see it.  It is a reminder to myself to stay focused and finish what I’m doing before I distract myself with something else.

Full disclaimer: I should have been working on something else when I wrote this blog post, but it came into my head and I had to get it out! 

My Reading Resolutions for 2015

Books I read in 2014:

books

This is my 3rd year in a row of writing Reading Resolutions with the new year. You can find previous Reading Resolutions I’ve written in this post. I began using Goodreads two years ago and wrote about Everything I Love About Goodreads as I got started with it.

My goals for 2014 included:

1. Read 55 books (not including picture books)

2. Read one professional book a month

3. Have family “Read to Self” time

This year I did not meet my goal of reading 55 books, yet I wonder how few books I would have read if I didn’t have a goal at all? As I review the books I did read, what is not reflected are books that I have reread this year as I read them for staff/admin book studies or gone back to books that had such an impact on me like The Miracle Morning, High Impact Instruction, Lean In and Digital Leadership. Although I do not have statistics to prove this, I also believe I read fewer books, because I read more blog posts, read a few book drafts as a peer reviewer (so I couldn’t log them on Goodreads), and spent more time writing (a future book to be published!) I also realize once again that when I don’t read much fiction, I don’t read as much overall. I’ve written about this previously in Sharing My Reading Life.  Just in time to make my Reading Resolutions, my good friend, Leah Whitford posted that she’s going to take on the following Reading Challenge:

2015 Reading Challenge

In the words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge Accepted!” 

In all seriousness though, I think this is exactly what I need to get out of my reading comfort zone for 2015. I don’t feel like I need a goal of reading a professional book a month, because it’s such an ingrained habit for me to always be reading one, that I know I will do it anyways (or close to it).

When I shared this with a teacher in my building she said that her class already made a 2nd grade version of this list for their class to challenge themselves. What a great idea!

So, my Reading Resolutions for 2015 are…

1. Read 50 books

2. Get out of my reading comfort zone and read different genres

3. Have family “Read to Self” time

 

Next on my list…post my new Reading Resolutions at school for students to see and decide how else to share with them and challenge them to read a lot and challenge themselves.

 

Growth Mindset, #SAVMP for December

This months’ School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program blogging/discussion prompt is on Growth Mindset.

Mindset-concept-in-word-tag-cl-342584841

Image from Lakeside Connect

I feel that I have always had a Growth Mindset by nature, which I credit for having the drive to learn how to do many different things and have a hard-working ethic.  It was only once I read the book Mindset by Dweck that I fully understood this mindset and the incredible impact it has on students, educators and everyone.

After I read the book I shared my reflections with my staff in these posts:

Knowing what I know now about growth vs fixed mindset has impacted me in so many ways: as an individual, as a parent and as a leader. It helps me to realize that, at times, I do have a fixed mindset and need to change my thinking. It has helped me change the way I give feedback to my children, students and staff. I have also seen students who had struggled for years make a complete 180 change when their teacher took time to discuss mindset with their class and have individual conversations about mindset.

As a school leader, I feel it is essential for myself to have a growth mindset:

  • I get into classrooms and give feedback with a coaching hat (vs evaluative).
  • I admit when I don’t know about or how to do something and seek to learn more/how.
  • I don’t hammer down on mistakes made (unless they affect student safety or are ethically wrong), rather I focus on growing from the mistake.
  • I share with staff what I am reading (in my email signatures and staff blog) and what I am learning.

I also cannot help but make the connection between the concept of growth mindset and the new qualification criteria for a Specific Learning Disability/Response to Intervention process…time and time again we are finding that when students are given intensive intervention and frequently progress monitored, most students do make growth.

How do you lead with a growth mindset? I can never get enough of reading about Growth Mindset and how to share it with staff, students and parents and look forward to reading more posts.

Jennifer Kloczko wrote a great post that is filled with video clips to help promote Growth Mindset HERE.