Thursday, March 30, 2017

Start Right Now - Know the Way

Welcome to the second post of the #D100BloggerPD book study of Start. Right. Now. Teach and Lead for Excellence by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. Over the next few weeks, bloggers from Berwyn South School District 100 will reflect on chapters of the book. This is leading up to our iEngage Berwyn Edtech Conference, where Jimmy Casas will be one of the fantastic keynote speakers. If you missed it, check out the first post for chapter one on the fabulous Kristen Richey's blog Reading and Owl the Above. Let's get started!


I had to laugh as I read Kristen's reflection on chapter one because I had already written a very similar paragraph about the enthusiasm of the authors. I agree that immediately as I read this, I can't help but envision Jeff and Jimmy speaking with enthusiasm on these topics since I have had the pleasure of seeing them speak. In the hour I have seen, they were very motivating and that comes through in the words of this book. I also envision many of the administrators in my district embodying many of these principles.

The second chapter is appropriately titled "Know The Way" and revolves around the immense focus and knowledge strong leaders possess. Great leaders, not only admin but teacher leaders too, are truly special people that share certain qualities. The authors explain that they know that excellence is a blend of the art and science of teaching.

This chapter explains that leaders bud from people that "know their stuff" and are masters of their craft and that is evident to others. This is out of a commitment to ongoing learning. They start with the "Why?" and steer the ship in the direction of "Where?" keeping what's best for students in their focus. Not only do excellent leaders know their stuff, but they know themselves. They know when to ask for feedback, when to make adjustments, and how they are perceived, but they know they don't know it all.  They have a confidence without being cocky and build up others as they build themselves. They clearly communicate their non-negotiables and know when to say no, if a task doesn't align with their focus.

Another interesting point that struck me was the fact that we have the same amount of time. It is a common complaint amongst educators that there is never enough time, but how we effectively use it is another key to excellence.

As I read, one thing is obvious. Great leadership takes time to cultivate and patience to develop. It takes commitment and hard work for the long hall to plan for success.

Above all, excellent leaders, truly care and believe in the work they are doing down to their core. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is worth it. I found these messages inspiring, positive and motivating.

At the end of each chapter, there is a section that highlights 4 teachers and 4 leaders modeling these principles and 4 resources to explore. I have had the pleasure of learning in person from Kirk Humphreys and Maureen Miller and they are great examples to illustrate various qualities in this chapter.

Reading this makes me reflect on my father-in-law, Bill Lehotsky, Sr. Bill was the assistant principal of Riverside Brookfield High School. He passed 9 years ago and retired 14 years ago. He was retired by the time I came into the family, however, his love for education was still evident and his legacy still lives strong in the RB community. I can't go far without someone recognizing my last name and associating it with him. In the last few weeks alone, two people have referenced Bill's impact on them. Why? It is because Bill knew his stuff, he knew himself, and most importantly he knew the people and put them first. He was an excellent educator that still affects the lives of those he touched and that is clear in conversations with students he had over 40 years ago that still talk about him today. THAT is an excellent leader.

And with that, I am off to build my confidence, learn more about my craft and build relationships.

Check out the posts for chapter three from two strong, proud leaders Sue Butler (iShift) and Jordan Garrett (iLearn) on April 4th.  Join the conversation in the comments below or on twitter at #D100BloggerPD and #StartRightNow.


  1. Great reflection. The personal connection is spot on. I've never heard anyone speak poorly about Mr Lehotsky Sr.

    1. For sure. It's always nice to hear about his impact.

  2. Love the story about your father-in-law! How amazing to have such an impact.

    I also liked the point the authors made about time. I find that it takes a lot of energy and TIME to complain about not having enough time! ;) Being more effective in use of time is key.

    Thanks for a great post!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post, Jenny. The personal touch was a great connection and insight to you! Thank you for inspiring me each day!