#DBC50Summer 22/50: Start. Right. Now.

This book stepped on my toes. So much! If you’re like me, you may want to grab some steel-toed boots before cracking the cover on book 22 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up! Just through my first reading of this book (there will most definitely be a second read in my not-so-distant future), I have grown tremendously and reflected on times that I was NOT the excellent educator that the authors refer to throughout the book. That’s a gut-wrenching moment when you read something powerful and think, “I don’t do that very well” or “I’m guilty of that” when reading what educators of the status quo do.

In fact, the reflections during the reading of this book were so intense that I actually blogged during the reading of the book. Until this point in #DBC50Summer, I have never done that. I’ve read the book in its entirety before writing the first word in the blog. I couldn’t wait during this book. I had to get my thoughts out before being able to focus my energy on the next section.


The tremendous trio that is Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas wrote Start. Right. Now. which is the 22nd book for DBC, Inc! This book is true to form in that it doesn’t disappoint.  Even the first chapter inspired some serious highlighting!

Getting into the “meat” so to speak are four tenets of excellent leaders.  Each of these produced it’s own special gut-check and I intend to identify strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas.

Know the Way

Within this section Todd, Jeff, and Jimmy articulate very clearly that excellent leaders [teachers] (they argue that it’s interchangeable and I whole-heartedly agree) know their stuff.  They know their content, they know their learners, and they know how to connect the content and the learners. I can, without hesitation, say that life-long learning is a strength for me. I know my content (media & technology) and I know my learners (both students & teachers). A powerful quote from this section is, “If you have a host of important priorities, you have no important priorities.” When we introduce something “new”, we must stop and decide of which “old” initiatives we’re willing to let go. We need to analyze what we will start, stop, and continue doing. When we say “yes” to something, we are ultimately saying “no” to something else. I am guilty of saying “yes” to too much, while not letting go of something else. I am also guilty of asking others to do too much, as well. Part of my implementation from The Zen Teacher is to say “no” to allow myself a planning period each day. From the outside, it looks selfish to do this, but in all actuality, it’s done from a place of devotion to students. I cannot do anything at 100% when I stretch myself too thin. Purposefully carving out that time in my schedule to prepare will only deepen the learning for my students in the long run.

My implementation for this section of the book is to not only uphold my implementation from The Zen Teacher, but also to become more knowledgeable in the middle school curricula. I know the standards in media and technology, but learning the standards for content areas has been a struggle for me. When I intentionally sit down to learn it, I will be able to better serve the staff and students.

Show the Way

The quotes in this section are insanely incredible! This section really got me pumped about the future and showing, rather than telling, the vision for our students and our school. Check out these powerhouse quotes from Todd, Jeff, and Jimmy!

“Top-notch educators do not wait for change to happen to them. They proactively anticipate impending changes and make these changes work for them, rather than wasting energy working against change.”

“We implore you to shoot for amazing rather than average.”

“Visionary leaders who succeed in inspiring others to participate…do so, in part, because of their genuine belief in and passion for the vision…their energy, enthusiasm, and genuineness attracts others to their vision.”

I love the reference back to George Couros’s The Innovator’s Mindset and the debunking of “innovation” as a buzzword.  The gut-check in this section is whether I am SHOWing my vision, rather than simply TELLing about it.  Right now, through these blog posts, I am telling all about what I plan to do when I return to school next month.  However, unless I actually DO the things I’m saying I will do, these blogs are nothing but a phony. Nothing but time truly wasted through the summer. Yes, they will have helped spread the word about DBC, Inc.  That was never the ultimate goal, though. The goal was to learn as much as possible in order to better the experiences of the students and staff at my school.  However, the knowledge I’ve taken in while on this journey is pointless if I don’t make visible changes for the staff and students I work with by SHOWing rather than TELLing. My implementation for this section is to purposefully integrate the things I’ve learned from the reading of each book through holding myself accountable for blogging about the impact of each book. (Did I just say that?!?!) That doesn’t mean I will literally write another blog for each and every book, but I will blog about projects and moments that showcase that the knowledge gained in various books was actually used.

Go the Way

This section was a little easier to digest for me because my toes are pretty much intact. (I guess they needed time to heal from the first two sections, whew!) I typically practice what I preach. I do my very best to be sure each person I encounter is met with positivity and a smile. Don’t get me wrong. I have bad days, just like everyone else. It’s rare to see me aggravated, but I do get frustrated, annoyed, agitated, just like everyone else. There are times that I’m angry with someone and I’ll end my frustrated comments with “but I love you, and that’s what’s important right now.” It helps me remember that I love them too, just by saying it out loud. When I was a kid, my grandmother (Nanny) owned her own tax preparation business. She would have me use the typewriter (yes, typewriter) to put address of the IRS and NC Department of Revenue on 25 envelopes per day. As I got older, she allowed me to begin answering the phone. As I answered, she wanted me to smile. She would tell me that the people on the other end could tell if you were smiling or not. I believe that to be true today. I believe that when you talk on the phone, write an email, engage in social media, you should be smiling. The smile comes through in your writing and your tone.

My implementation for this section is to not be afraid to hold those crucial conversations. As an instructional coach, this is the hardest part of my job. Upon reflection, I know that it shouldn’t be. I’m not being ugly or condescending toward anyone, but am constantly trying to keep the students best interest in mind. A boring classroom is never what’s in the best interest for students. Therefore, crucial conversations, truthful, transparent, open conversations to better both parties as educators, shouldn’t be something I fear. Rather, it should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and to be a catalyst for change for everyone involved.

Grow Each Day

I participate in Twitter chats, I attend edcamps, I actively seek out ways to grow my practice. I’ve got this one in the bag… or not! Feedback… critical feedback is so hard for me to accept. Always has been so difficult for me to hear that something I’ve done wasn’t “good enough”. Of course, it’s not being presented to me as “not good enough”. I’m being told that it’s “an area of growth”, or that I could “change x, y, and z to make it better”. The whole time, all I’m hearing is that it wasn’t “good enough”. I have learned that before I attend an observation post-conference, I need to get in a certain mindset.

I need to go into these conferences with humility, grace, open-minded, and with the expectation that I will learn something new. After reading this section of Start. Right, Now. I realized an important truth. Why in the world am I not going through my day-to-day life like that?

I’m my own worst critic. I automatically assume the worst in most cases. When I hear that something truly wasn’t my best, it hurts. However, after taking the time to digest the feedback and observe my experience through someone else’s eyes, I almost always end up agreeing that they were right; it wasn’t my best, and therefore it wasn’t “good enough”. Asking for feedback is not a problem, it’s the accepting feedback that I need to work on improving.

My implementation for this section of the book is to purposefully ask for, and accept feedback from the best of the best. Surrounding myself with excellent educators will make me better. There’s no way that it can’t make me better. Getting feedback from them and internalizing it will make me better for my students and staff. That’s a win-win. I just have to put my pride to the side. (Yes… I rhymed… on purpose.)

Final Thoughts

Start. Right. Now. pushed me in ways that I wasn’t expecting. Todd, Jeff, and Jimmy showed me what excellence looks like, and make me want to pursue that excellence relentlessly. I want to be excellent. Because of that, I will be rereading this one soon after completing the #DBC50Summer challenge. My favorite part of the entire book is the Teach 4, Lead 4, Learn 4 at the end of each section. In these sections, the authors give us 4 teacher leaders to follow, 4 educational leaders to follow, and 4 ways to continue the learning. In this same spirit, I offer my own Teach 4, Lead 4.

Teach 4

  1. Phil Strunk (@MrPStrunk): This middle school history teacher constantly shares his passion on Twitter, making me want to be better every day. He is the founder of #waledchat and an inspiration to all who follow him.
  2. Michael Matera (@mrmatera): As a middle school social studies teacher, Michael gamifies his course, which allows his students to be the ones in charge of their learning. He is the author of Explore Like A Pirate, Book 10 in the DBC, Inc line.
  3. Shaunda York (@shaundateaches): This elementary school teacher’s success is a bit personal to me. She completed her student teaching in my classroom many moons ago. I knew, even then, that she had it… she had the passion and enthusiasm to make her a favorite among students, parents, and administrators. Shaunda is an exceptional teacher who is views changes as opportunities! Follow her!
  4. Susan Jachymiak (@msjachymiak) have so enjoyed following Susan’s journey on Twitter as she created #newteacherjourney and landed her first classroom teaching job. I look forward to seeing so much awesome stuff come from her this year! Go ahead and follow her because great things are coming from this one!

Lead 4

  1. Lucas Gillispie (@lucasgillispie): Spot #1 on this list must go to my district director of digital learning and media. Without his support and encouragement, I would’ve left education a while ago. Lucas not only shares the latest trends in education, in many cases, he creates the latest trends. The creator of the WoWinSchools project and a leader in gamified learning, he is one you’ll want to follow (if you aren’t already).
  2. Allyson Apsey (@allysonapsey): This amazing principal is one I would follow across a desert. She is authentic and encourages growth at every possible turn. She is the author of The Path to Serendipity (you’ll hear more about it later in the #DBC50Summer). Her passion and energy are contagious. Kindness and thoughtfulness is put into every word she tweets. I adore this lady!
  3. Sean Gaillard (@smgaillard): Sean is a middle school principal with a heart for education. He is constantly connecting others and inspiring educators to find their personal best, then deliver it daily. His encouragement is unending and, as the creator of #CelebrateMonday & #TrendthePositive, it’s easy to see why people gravitate to his positivity! Oh, and he’s also the author of book 49 in the DBC, Inc line – The Pepper Effect!
  4. Cristina Dajero (@cristinadajero) & Kelly Hoggard (@khoggardGRT): Yes, I cheated a bit here.  But if you follow these two, you’ll see that they are joined at the hip anyhow, so it only makes sense to add them together. These educators are leaders in every sense and I am constantly uplifted by them. Kelly is the creator of #ChampforKids and Cristina is the creator of #LoveLiteracyLearning.

Be sure to join us on flipgrid and share how you Know the Way, Show the Way, Go the Way, and Grow Each Day! The password is always DBCSummer. My dear friend Andrea Paulakovich (Go follow her now!) shared this amazing idea while we were beginning our individual #DBC50Summer journeys. It serves as a space for global sharing related to each DBC, Inc book! Epic stuff! Also, check out the following resources for Start. Right. Now.

Dave Burgess’s Blog on Start. Right. Now.

Todd Whitaker’s Website

Jeff Zoul’s Website

Jimmy Casas’s Website

Educators Lead Podcast with Jeff Zoul

I am SOOOO excited about Book 23! I’ve been looking forward to this since starting the #DBC50Summer journey! It’s finally time! Teach Like A Pirate was transformative for me, making me want to be a better educator, creating experiences for students! It has been Lead Like A Pirate that encourages me daily as an instructional coach! I am pumped to finally get to share my reflections on this book by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf on my blog!  Stay tuned!

6 thoughts on “#DBC50Summer 22/50: Start. Right. Now.

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