Reading Notes: The One Minute Manager

When I read I usually take some reading notes (in Evernote) to help me retain the main points and some learnings. I thought it might be a good idea to start publishing these in an occasional series, in case they may be helpful to anyone. They are unedited; just notes that I take while reading about what struck me. There won’t be any commentary, just lots of bullet pointed ideas. Let me know if they are useful, interesting, or both.

The One Minute Manger by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

“The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people” (63)

“People who feel good about themselves produce good results” (19)

One Minute Goals
1. Agree on your goals.
2. See what good behavior looks like.
3. Write out each of your goals on a single sheet of paper using less than 250 words.
4. Read and re-read each goal, which requires only a minute or so each time you do it
5. Take a minute every once in a while out of your day to look at your performance, and
6. See whether or not your behavior matches your goal.

One Minute Praisings
1. Tell people up front that you are going to let them know how they are doing.
2. Praise people immediately.
3. Tell people what they did right – be specific.
4. Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there.
5. Stop for a moment of silence to let them “feel” how good you feel.
6. Encourage them to do more of the same.
7. Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the organization.

At first, praise things that are approximately right, and help people move towards desired behaviour.
If, instead, we leave people alone and then punish them when they don’t do exactly the right thing, then they start to do as little as possible.

One Minute Reprimands
1. Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know how they are doing and in no uncertain terms.
the first half of the reprimand:
2. Reprimand them immediately. [reprimand the behavior only, not the person or their worth]
3. Tell people what they did wrong – be specific.
4. Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong – and in no uncertain terms.
5. Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel.
the second half of the reprimand:
6. Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side.
7. Remind them how much you value them.
8. Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation.
9. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.

Never save up negative feedback, always give it immediately and in very small doses.
Definitely don’t have surprises at performance management time.
“When you ____, I feel ___.” Then reaffirm their worth.

“We are not just our behaviour, we are the person managing our behaviour.” (93)

why does it work?
“the number one motivator of people is feedback on results” (67)

“feedback is the breakfast of champions” (67)
there would be no point playing golf in the dark; people need to know how successful they are being

“most companies spend 50-70% of their money on people’s salaries. And yet they spend less than 1% of their budget to train their people” (64)

Vital Behaviours

It’s orientation week for new teachers at my school and the head of school gave a welcome talk. In it he mentioned vital behaviours for teachers and students for success at school. Afterwards I did a bit of reading about vital behaviours. (Here are two posts that helped me.) The phrase is from a book called Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change. Vital behaviours are those actions that lead to our goals. They are the smallest possible actions that make the biggest impact towards meeting goals.

Our head of school identified three vital behaviours for successful students:

  • attendance
  • completion of homework
  • leadership outside of the classroom

He also identified three vital behaviours for successful teaching staff at our school:

  • collaboration
  • use of data and evidence to guide decisions
  • high expectations for all students

The idea of vital behaviours really stuck with me. And made me wonder if I can generate some of my own. First I would need to think of a goal and then identify the fewest essential actions to meet that goal.

And since it’s goal setting time for the new school year, I thought I would give it a try.

2013-05-14 16.39.13

Goal: Coach my grade 9 students (two classes) to communicate meaningfully in their maths portfolios/journals. (I’m not sure yet what I am going to call these books.)

First I brainstormed the steps I might take to work towards this goal.
introduce journals
provide exemplars (I already have some pictures of these.)
examine with students: What is meaningful communication and reflection?
establish thinking routines
provide rich tasks
provide reflection time
give summative feedback on tasks
have students give regular presentations in front of class
peer assess communication
write a rubric of expectations

And then I refined these to a list of vital behaviours:

  • provide rich tasks
  • provide reflection time
  • examine with students: what is meaningful communication and reflection?

I’m sure that after school actually starts I will see if this goal and these behaviours need to be updated or changed.

Have you ever used the idea of vital behaviours in your planning?

What are your goals for this school year?

Ken Robinson: Escaping Education’s Death Valley

I was watching this TED talk today in which Ken Robinson talks about the characteristics of successful education systems. He mentions three main things that are needed:

1. An understanding that education needs to be made up of individualised teaching and learning experiences, since all children are different

2. An investment in the best people as teachers and in their support and professional development

3. Authority for making educational decisions is devolved to the school level

Sir Robinson puts a lot of stress on the human aspect of education and rejects the idea that schools are an industrial machine for transferring knowledge. Instead, children’s curiosity needs to be nurtured. Teaching is an inherently creative job.

Leadership in education, therefore, at regional and school levels, needs to be focused on creating a climate of possibility.

In my current role (coordinator of IB DP maths), this means that I need to foster teachers’ creativity (and my own). As part of the maths leadership team I can encourage us all to teach more inquiry-based lessons, which is one of our goals this year. As I try new ideas myself I can share my experiences. And I have lots to learn from what the others around me are doing.

Coaching and Leadership

My head of department was on a three day performance coaching course. He came back really pleased with what he had learned. (I think he had worried it might be “life coaching”.) He said most people go to their managers with problems or ideas and just want a sounding board, not advice. There were three of us in the office and the other two role played how the coaching could work.

Teacher: “I’m having a problem. So-and-so is second guessing my decisions. What should I do?”

Head of department: “Aha, that sounds frustrating. What is your current thinking?”

T: “Well, what I want to do is… [removed to protect the innocent]… but I know that’s inappropriate.”

HoD: “Yes, so do you have other ideas?”

T: “I was thinking that I should go talk to him and discuss…. [etc]”

HoD: “And what do you think would happen next?”

And then the follow-up questions:

“What are the advantages of that?” “What are some other possibilities?” And so on.

I know that I frequently go to my head of department to get his opinion on my ideas and all I want is for him to agree that I am making a good decision. (Sometimes I really do want his advice, though! So I hope he doesn’t coach me too much.)

Do you like to be coached (or to coach)?

Leadership Styles

I have been reading today about instructional leadership and transformational leadership. Here are the definitions I have uncovered so far.

Instructional leadership focuses on how the school leader engages with teaching and learning. A strong, directive leader becomes a culture builder in a school by communicating a mission. The leader talks over and over about the mission and it is embedded into classroom practice and policies. The leader also takes an active role in managing staff and the curriculum. They work directly on teaching and learning issues. They are highly visible and have high expectations. The instructional leader protects teaching time and promotes professional development.

Transformational leadership describes a process by which a leader increases support for common goals. They seek to improve staff and themselves. There is a collaborative culture in which all are encouraged to participate and grow.

According to the article I have been reading by Viviane Robinson (2007), instructional leadership has a much greater positive impact on student outcomes than transformational leadership.

I am aware that I am an emerging leader; I am still developing my style of leadership. I can see the impact that I could have as an instructional leader. It seems to me that I may be helped by developing some charisma, though! (Is that even possible?) I have worked under a headteacher who was a dynamic instructional leader; he was also so demanding that many staff felt burnt out. I think sometimes I tend to the collaborative structures of transformational leadership because I am conflict-averse. Seeking others’ opinions seems like a safe way to proceed since then I cannot displease anyone.

I have more to say and I need more time to think and write. But I need to get back to the business of planning lessons.

I think that planning lessons is my prime task as a teacher. One article I read today (also Viviane Robinson) said that educational leaders should focus more on leading teaching and learning. This gives me lots to (hopefully) think about and digest soon.