This post is “Part Two” to last week’s blog post about a moral imperative that school leaders have to society. Since last week, I have had time to reflect a little more on the topic. It is so important for us as school leaders to shift our mindset to reflective thinking because that is the start to thinking about our moral imperative to society. But, there are two reasons thinking like this is hard for us to do.

  1. The schooling system that we have grown up in (especially since 2002 when NCLB was passed) encourages compliance and managerial excess. I…

In my last post, I discussed the importance of developing your leadership philosophy and the first four questions to get you started. In this post, I will share with you the final seven questions that will help you create your own leadership philosophy.

What do you have to learn?

The next three questions help build your learner-centered leadership philosophy by focusing your attention on the changes necessary in your learning to help you reach your learner-centered leadership vision.

Question #5: What is the next thing you need to know or learn to excel at what you do?

Question #6: What skills do you need to develop…


My new book talks a lot about learner-centered leaders developing a leadership philosophy. A leadership philosophy is crucial for any leader who is attempting to institute change into their school. Your philosophy will guide your decision-making process and clarify what is important or not as you work with your staff and community to bring change to your school.

Your learner-centered leadership philosophy is closely tied to your own personal goals in three areas: your career, your school, and your leadership. …


A Story

This week I had the honor of participating in a dissertation defense (congratulations Dr. Jim Hollis!). The topic of his research was chronic absenteeism. Dr. Hollis interviewed young adults who were chronically absent when they were in school which means they missed more than 18 days of school in one year.

The stories of their lives, and why they missed school, were heart-wrenching. I will not participate in “poverty porn” and share the stories, but I do want to share my take-away from the study.

WE CANNOT ALLOW STUDENTS TO BE INVISIBLE IN OUR SCHOOLS!

In many cases, a caring…


Here are some comments I hear all of the time from teachers, principals, superintendents, and anyone else that aspires to be learner-centered.

“Where do I start?”

“There is too much to do.”

“How do I not get overwhelmed?”

Let’s get something off the table right now…these are not excuses! I believe these are all valid concerns that are impacting people taking action. As you know from my previous posts, doing something to become learner-centered is much better than doing nothing. Remember, starting small, starting simple, starting with doing something manageable begins your journey.

This is not a blog post that…


This post builds off an earlier post entitled “The Old and New Story of Education and Schooling.” Over the next few blog posts, I will develop my ideas further.

I am going to preface my thesis by saying that I am optimistic about the direction of learning and education. I believe we are heading in the right direction toward a more learner-centered model.

The pandemic crisis was/is a huge challenge for schools. Besides the managerial problems that arose, the pandemic brought to the surface two underlying purposes of schooling/education that may be uncomfortable for people to hear.

Purpose #1: Schooling is about Babysitting

Okay, I said…


My brother works as a foreman for a pipe-laying crew. He mostly puts in water and sewer lines. He has some great stories from his work. It is interesting the people he has to deal with, the regulations he has to master, and the problems that arise every day. What I find interesting is that every day he is troubleshooting dozens of problems. Some of them very significant…as in if it doesn’t get figured out, entire neighborhoods will not have water service! For example, he might have to figure out how to keep the proper slope to a line after…


The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.

— John Dewey

In the first post in this blog series, I claimed that there are two purposes of schooling: babysitting and high school sports. In today’s post, I want to envision a world where schooling and education become more entwined and the purpose of school can be defined by more than babysitting and high school sports. Learner-centered leaders use dreams and hope. …


Our education innovation journey involves more than adopting simple slogans or instituting a new “program”. True change for our learners (and their learning) occurs when we think about the “adjacent possible”.

I would like to talk today about something I read in Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. The idea is called “the adjacent possible”. This is basically the “space” that exists as a “next step’ in an innovation. In other words, what are the possibilities in the future for a particular innovation or good idea? …


Future-focused superintendents create habits that lead to their success. Creating a “space” where educators take the time to think about their practice and the implications for their communities is a vital aspect of a future-focused superintendent.

If you are not careful, you will find yourself “ping-ponging” from one activity or crisis to another throughout the day. The opposite of this is being intentional. Intentional about where you want your organization to go; intentional about why you want your organization to go there; intentional about how you will make it happen. …

Tom Butler

I write about the New Learning Ecosystem and how schools can become radically Learner centered.

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