Byron's Babbles

What’s In Your Culture?

  I finished a great book yesterday that has easily made it onto the list of greatest books I’ve read. The book was, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture by Dee Ann Turner. Of course I was tweeting like mad while reading and was excited to have the author liking, favoriting, and replying to my tweets (@ByronErnest). In fact, I was getting lots of Twitter interaction from others on those tweets, too. You’ll notice Dee Ann Turner liked a tweet where I set a new goal for 2016 of having lunch with her at a Chick-fil-A. She liked and replied to the tweet; sure hope she’ll consider it.  

 Then, I was real excited yesterday to receive a tweet from Andy Van Weele (@AndyVanWeele). He tweeted the question, “What was your big takeaway?” This is an awesome question because it is not plural, it’s singular. I, of course, tweeted back and told him to stay tuned for this post. As I began to think about this, I considered the 71 highlights I made while reading the book. I reread and studied each one. Then I realized no single one of these great thoughts shared by Dee Ann Turner was my big takeaway. My big  

takeaway was the fact that Dee Ann Turner was the product of the culture of excellence she taught us about in the book. Think about it; lots of people write books about culture and leadership. Here, however, is an author who has lived and become a product of an outstanding culture. In addition, is continuing to provide outstanding leadership to continue that legacy. This book isn’t about turning around or building an organization, it’s about what it’s like to be a product of an incredible culture of “It’s My Pleasure” and wanting to continue and further hone that culture of excellence. It is about it being an honor for Dee Ann Turner to be a “facilitator of opportunity” on behalf of Truett Cathy.

I must admit, I’m a little jealous of Dee Ann’s opportunity to learn and develop under the tutelage of S. Truett Cathy, the author of the phenomenal culture that is Chick-fil-A. As a leader of schools turning around, I spend most of my time on culture building, so I’m just so blown away by the thought of spending over 30 years growing in such a great culture. But, then I get chills thinking about this is the very reason I have accepted the calling to lead the schools I have; to give our students and staff the same culture that Dee Ann Turner grew, developed, and flourished in. Not an easy task, but clearly attainable! 

 So, there’s my big takeaway: Dee Ann Turner was the product of the culture of excellence of Chick-fil-A. So, my question to the readers of this post is: “Would you want to be a product of the culture you have created?” Or, an even more compelling question is: “Would you want someone to write a book about the culture you are leading? If you waivered on your answer, or said no, you need to read It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture by Dee Ann Turner. Let’s all become “facilitators of opportunity.” 


Educating Global Citizens

Posted in Coaching, Education, Education Reform, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 2, 2014

As I write this post I am flying over the beautiful Canadian countryside on my way to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the Kappa Delta Pi Educating Global Citizens International Research Conference. This will be my first time to Calgary and I just know it is going to be a breathtakingly beautiful place with lots to do. I am super excited to be able to attend this conference. I was turned on to Kappa Delta Pi when I was invited to membership as 2010 Indiana Teacher of the Year. I have even had the opportunity to make professional development videos with KDP on educational leadership, effective student engagement, and highly effective facilitation of learning using technology. Kappa Delta Pi has become an important part of my personal professional development. I am even more excited that I am a conference presenter on my research entitled, “The Impact of Agricultural Science on Student Achievement and Performance in a Biology Class.”

I cannot wait to share the impact that teaching in a relevant, real world context can have on student learning. I have shared the powerpoint and supporting documents as a blog post as well entitled, “#KDPLeads.” Click #KDPLeads to read that post. My goal is to effectively facilitate a discussion and planning session that helps teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders to use relevant contexts to facilitate highly effective learning. Really, shouldn’t that be the goal of the whole conference and all our schools?

Furthermore, I picked the sessions I am going to attend (Conference Program) with one simple goal in mind: I want to learn how to be a better leader of highly effective principals and teachers in our school corporation. To do this, I want to hone my personal call to action of: delivering wowful educational leadership! It is always exciting to go to an international conference. The chance to connect, interact, and learn from leaders all around the globe is exciting. As a believer, promoter, and practitioner of global connectivity and citizenship it is a chance for me to model asset based thinking. In other words, no matter where someone comes from or their cultural orientation, he or she brings assets to the table. And, I for one, want to learn from everyone in attendance at the conference.

With the goal of connecting with everyone, I have created the hashtag #KDPLeads to organize all of my tweets and hopefully others at the conference will tweet their learning and thoughts to this hashtag as well. I am always amazed at what a great professional development tool Twitter is. Even those not in attendance at this conference can follow along and even make comments. How cool is that? So, make sure you follow me at @ByronErnest and learn with me at #KDPLeads.

The great part about belonging to an organization like Kappa Delta Pi is the smorgasbord of professional development it has to offer. These opportunities are so important for teacher leaders and school leaders because your school’s circumstances will dictate the choices made for professional development. It is also important to note the advantage KDP brings to the market because of all the platforms they make available for members to choose from. These range from live, face to face conferences like I am on my way to, to recorded videos that members can watch on their time. This truly differentiates the learning for members. I am a huge believer that professional development must be differentiated for professionals the same way it is differentiated for student learners – both in modality and content.

It always amazes me when I here educational leaders talking about not having time for professional development. I change that to the question of, “There isn’t time to not take part in personal professional development.” The educational landscape changes so quickly that we must stay current and put ourselves in the best position to create learning organizations where we can learn from others. We must be learning from each other’s mistakes, failures, and successes. The bottom line is we must be sharing the knowledge we have created. There is such a sense of urgency that we must have whether turning schools around or moving high achieving schools to the next level. The students and families we serve are so valuable that we must do everything possible to develop our skills so we can perform at the highest level. Isn’t that what we expect from the professionals that serve us – doctors, lawyers, pilots, et cetera?

If you are not doing so, I challenge you to make time to take part in some personal professional development yet this fall!