Minds Unleashed
~It is so exciting to recommend this book, Minds Unleashed: How Principals Can Lead the Right-Brained Way.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
681
Minds Unleashed
For the purpose of this book and our conversations, we have determined that “leading the right-brained way” is our capacity to look at things from a unique and/or different perspective from what has been imprinted or expected of us. In other words, we can look at things upside down, or from right to left and back again, for the first time, each time.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
226
Minds Unleashed
As we think about how lucky we are to be able to share this book with you, we want to acknowledge those who have inspired our writing and who have given us a reason to think, as well as the time and space. Friends, colleagues, and our students at Indiana State University come to mind, as they are with us continually, discussing and debating the ideas we have and providing us the opportunity to...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
242
Minds Unleashed
Years ago, we thought about becoming principals. And we did, for all the right reasons that existed at the time.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,397
Minds Unleashed
A school building, over time, is no better than its principal. One could say the same for school districts by virtue of the talents of their superintendents, or even classrooms and the abilities of the teachers therein.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
794
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~We’re in a people profession. As such, we are exposed to the finer and not-so-finer examples of humanity. Whether people are inherently lazy and bad, or conversely, inquisitive and good, that’s not so much the question we hope to answer here. The point we wish to make is that we have come to realize is that people typically...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
216
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Our profession allows for some very good people watching. Consider our weekly trips to the grocery store, where we may encounter:
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
375
Minds Unleashed
~How many of us do a good deed and hope that God, or let’s say good fortune, is not watching? How often do we give that guy begging on the sidewalk a few bucks without telling at least our spouse about it? How often do we do volunteer work in the community without sharing that we do it?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
610
Minds Unleashed
~There sat Anytown’s dad with his children, face to face with a new adversary—a three-foot black Coluber constrictor, atop a front porch—subsequent to the scream of two girls who were probably in elementary school.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
644
Minds Unleashed
~A car screeched to a stop, just inches behind another gassing-up at a small filling station in a remote rural community. The windshield was cracked, and out stepped a young man—unshaven, and in a hurry.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
807
Minds Unleashed
Robert Frost was a pretty talented guy. So are Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman, and Todd Whitaker. One thing they all have in common: the ability to see the need for doing things divergently, whether taking a road-less-traveled, or managing, teaching, or leading differently.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
201
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Many of us have been party to situations when a particular rule was broken, and it was justified. As one example, we cannot fault people breaking the speed limit to get family members to the hospital in an emergency situation. Sometimes, even while caught, they end up with a police escort rather than a police citation.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
787
Minds Unleashed
~We had a great discussion as we cotaught a graduate class in the Principalship, in response to the question, “Give a brief summary of what you plan to do on your first day with students.”
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,028
Minds Unleashed
~Shouldn’t we ensure that our teachers are preparing each and every student for college? Can we say that we are doing our jobs if we’re not?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,071
Minds Unleashed
The most important job of a school leader is to ensure that teachers are continually improving their craft, delivering excellence in the classroom each day to students. Quality teaching, through excellent teachers, is the most important component to student success and school improvement, far surpassing any trends having to do with optimal models, prescribed programs, or trendy technology.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
198
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Anyone who has experienced an interview for a job knows the feeling of waiting for the question he or she hopes does not get asked. For each of us, that question may be different. For whatever reason there may exist a question (in your mind) that could seriously hurt your ability to land the job.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
849
Minds Unleashed
~If being an educational leader were easy, schools would be filled with different people.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
509
Minds Unleashed
~Imagine starting a weight lifting program and the trainer tells you, “Go ahead and get started; I’ll be in there later.”
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
777
Minds Unleashed
In The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle tells us that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something: that is, 10,000 hours of focused practice over the period of approximately ten years.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
344
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
Prescribed school improvement seems all the rage across our nation. Templates even exist as to who must be involved, and what type of forms must be filed with those providing oversight. We’re not here to complain about that, as we have found that even with the minutia of edict, those who have had the proper focus on all of this rarely have a problem with compliance. Sometimes, admittedly,...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
296
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Wander through a home improvement store and describe what you see. Is there any connection to what we should see in a school?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
730
Minds Unleashed
Here we are, trying to make sense out of commitment.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
623
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~If you get a chance to read The Blueberry Story by Jamie Vollmer, read it. It provides a great discussion for those debating whether schools are actually businesses.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
916
Minds Unleashed
~An episode of the medical television show House found a person experiencing many physical problems difficult to diagnose. What ended up being the problem was that the patient had volunteered to be a participant in an experimental drug study. He got paid to do this; in fact, he was paid so well that he decided to do two others at...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
757
Minds Unleashed
~The mood teachers are in should be irrelevant to the quality of teaching they provide. Mood is not important. We might do better in school improvement if we stopped worrying about that.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
819
Minds Unleashed
What would a bit of Yang be without some Yin? Please consider this chapter a soliloquy for those more inclined to putting one foot in front of the other, in the way that most of our profession would expect. Yet, it is not, in any sense, one of conformity.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
216
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Some of our most capable educational innovators are worried about their jobs. Others are looking for other careers in which to exercise their ingenuity. Many of our most creative have found their efforts devalued by narrow and restrictive methods of educational assessment.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,224
Minds Unleashed
~Every child who comes to school each year should be known by name—in the first week. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yet, if we were truly honest with ourselves, how many children are arriving at our buildings not really “known”?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
578
Minds Unleashed
~Each school is unique.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
683
Minds Unleashed
Leadership doesn’t always provide us the luxury of sitting around as resident philosophers, even though we’re asking you to take such time for a few minutes each week. It involves, rather, getting things done. Often, this involves either taking action to protect the integrity of the program that you are running, or cleaning up a mess that you have caused while running it. Quite often,...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
248
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Oftentimes as leaders we must do some unpleasant things . . . things that keep us up at night. We must GO MACHIAVELLIAN, as it were.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,017
Minds Unleashed
~As principals, is it always best that we strive to do the right thing and support the right thing? Or, conversely, is it somehow better to develop our capacity for using “wrong” and getting good at it?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
760
Minds Unleashed
~The Knight is an invaluable chess piece.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
582
Minds Unleashed
~Leaders are not hired to be armchair philosophers, although it behooves us to read philosophy. We’re hired, at times, to act. To advance our agenda. To get what we want. To make stuff happen. This involves a combination of inaction and action: restraint and combustion.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
919
Minds Unleashed
Our profession is replete with building leaders who neither understand what farmers are sharing about schools over morning coffee, nor hear what drunkards are regaling at the local watering hole . . . or even what parishioners are whispering after church. Whether this is a result of a historic insulation as monopolies, or something else completely borne of misplaced entitlement, we’re not...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
258
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
Could one’s tenure in school leadership be thought of in terms of dog years?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
144
Minds Unleashed
~We are currently between times more relevant in education, in limbo, it seems. We’re in a liminal state.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
809
Minds Unleashed
~Each generation, it seems, claims the world is more cumbersome than that experienced by the previous generation. These claims are common, yet for the most part, clueless
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
878
Minds Unleashed
~In the game of Jeopardy, contestants are given answers and must provide responses to such in the form of questions. It sounds easy enough, but as the past few decades have shown us on network television, it can be a challenge, indeed. Education, likewise, has provided us answers for quite some time, to which we have...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
810
Minds Unleashed
“How to be a leader” school allows for certain conversations to be had, and others not. Often, this is influenced and perpetuated by critics of our profession from without decrying that the societal shortcomings of “this” or “that” are the fault of the schools. We react by professing that we’re no longer the type of folks who created the misappropriated...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
239
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Whether it is a juicy, double-decker cheeseburger or a steaming carton of golden fries, the high-resolution picture on the board above the fast-food cashier looks mighty good. Yet what finds its way to our dinner plate is something else entirely.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
962
Minds Unleashed
~Moving from “building manager” to “instructional leader” is all the rage. According to a commonly embraced mantra: Today’s principals need to be prepared differently because the old, right way of doing things is now the new, wrong way.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,069
Minds Unleashed
~In our schools, the principal should focus on the needs of the adults first.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
552
Minds Unleashed
~The organization Toastmasters International (TI) is a worldwide nonprofit organization that helps members develop their speaking and communication skills, and in doing so, helps with their leadership. It is a great organization that has been around since the 1930s.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
439
Minds Unleashed
While many would say that our profession needs a blameless autopsy in order to diagnose its current ills and seek improvement, we might say, at most, it could use some exploratory surgery. Quite simply, we don’t believe the patient is dead. Not yet, anyway.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
205
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~You will always get to where you are going. It will be a hybrid of what you hoped for and what was possible.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
700
Minds Unleashed
~Life is an internship.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
774
Minds Unleashed
~Many times we seek out metaphors to describe the work educators do. Sometimes education is called a war or a business.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,084
Minds Unleashed
~Practitioners want formulas for solving problems. “Just give me the meat and potatoes,” they say, oftentimes averse to deeper discussions of theory, let alone the abstract thinking that forms part of these discussions.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
740
Minds Unleashed
~In golf, “a scramble” is a type of competition where four people are on a team, each hitting his or her golf ball separately, yet with all four going to the best ball shot in order to take the next hit.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,005
Minds Unleashed
~This unit provides a final exit ramp before veering a bit farther to the right.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
71
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Labyrinth was a game that we played as youngsters, where one could tilt a wooden maze on two axes, with an attempt to keep a marble from falling through holes while guiding it toward a desired destination. It was a rather methodical game, with a clear-cut destination and strategy.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
995
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~Principals can do their jobs only if those above them are healthy in their relationships with one another. Otherwise, crap rolls downhill, and the building leader will end up taking the brunt. Toward this end, we would like to propose what healthy central office and board governance looks like, so that, if you are a principal, you can...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
918
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
This book is providing a permission slip for school leaders at all levels to think. After all, thinking is quite the precious commodity in the harried business of our lives, isn’t it? And to be quite frank, it’s necessary, as the daily business of running schools is not bringing with it more soft balls and second chances. Convoluted circumstances require complicated cerebral...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
246
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~If you have ever tried to get into shape through the use of physical activity, running, weight lifting, or biking, you will understand the discomfort associated with progress. If you are unable to sense any muscle pains after a workout, then you may not have pushed it enough to make a difference.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
857
Minds Unleashed
~Each day is an interview for the next job.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
757
Minds Unleashed
~Is your leadership more an art or science? We would contend that the best answer is “neither, really.”
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
734
Minds Unleashed
~Two planes damaged, one down in flames. All eleven on board surviving, including two pilots and nine skydivers, who, through training, courage, split-second decision making, and a bit of blue-sky fortune, made the best possible outcome out of a mid-air collision.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
972
Minds Unleashed
~Is less, more? Can subtraction of leadership’s dominance help with addition, or even multiplication of leadership effort, quality teaching, and student learning?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
822
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~You may remember it from the movies or from having watched it on television:
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
2,083
Minds Unleashed
~There is a moment when we learn something.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
699
Minds Unleashed
Isn’t sound leadership as much a matter of manipulating, as it is a matter of serving? Isn’t it as much a matter of choreography and architecture, as it is a matter of cocreating and collaborating? We admit here that, as authors, we’re as much different on these subjects as we are together on them, and for those of you who know us, the “how” in all of...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
201
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~As we think about improving schools, most would agree that the best way to do it is to improve our teachers.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
723
Minds Unleashed
~What we are talking about is strength. Organizational cultures in schools are either strong or weak, or somewhere in between. Do not confuse the concept of being strong as being good. Strong simply means that many people are on the same page. A weak culture is one where most people are not in agreement on what is most important.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
401
Minds Unleashed
~When we talk about power in leadership courses, “types” of power will enter the conversation. When better discussed, it will be talked about in terms of its followers.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
352
Minds Unleashed
~As a principal, whatever is most important to you will eventually become what is most important to your faculty and staff—to your school. After four or five years, the culture of your school will become a reflection of your personality, including all the behaviors, preferences, and beliefs that are yours.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
189
Minds Unleashed
~We call negative teachers toxic.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
507
Minds Unleashed
~The discussion over what the best schools have—what they look like or what people do therein—is an ongoing debate.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
324
Minds Unleashed
What if we were to think of a school’s culture as an investment portfolio? Here are four different portfolios, each one with investments grounded in a different place:
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
115
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
Love and hate are often thought to be closer to each other than they each are to apathy; one might say the same thing about genius and insanity, life and death. Such is the case for schools.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
125
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
Since many contend that quality education is the solution to the world’s problems, is poor education the reason for many of the problems we have?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
8,199
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
~As our authors have spent this entire book writing together, this one-chapter unit provides a better introduction to each of them individually.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
78
Illustrations in this section
Minds Unleashed
At times, it is interesting to wander the hallways of any given graduate school of education, hearing debates among faculty and their students. Here’s one that we had, and continue to have, regarding the benefits, or not, of collaboration.
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
1,446
Minds Unleashed
Hey, what’s up?
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
575
Minds Unleashed
~~Dr. Ryan Donlan, an Assistant Professor at Indiana State University’s Department of Educational Leadership in the Bayh College of Education, served for many years as a...
Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
172