You just have to read "Trees and Kids"

There is an unusual tree commonly known as the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It is real. Years ago I heard a speaker talk about it, using it to make a point. It stuck in my head. I even did some research to find out if the speaker was blowing smoke and made up the tree. He didn’t.

[The excerpt is from Jim Burgett’s Teachers Change Lives 24/7: 150 Ways to Do it Right.]

The story goes like this. You prepare the soil, pick the right spot, then plant the Chinese Bamboo Tree. You water it and wait. But you wait an entire year and nothing appears. No bud, no twig, nothing. So you keep watering and protecting the area and taking care of the future plant, and you wait some more. You wait another year and nothing still happens. Okay, you are a persistent person not prone to giving up, so you keep on watering. You water, check the soil, start talking to the ground, maybe even click your heels in some kind of growing dance you read about in the National Geographic. Another year passes and still no sign of growth.

It has been three years. Should you give up? Someone told you that it might take a while to really see the fruits of your efforts, so you keep on keeping on. More water, more talk, more dancing. The neighbors are wondering. And another year passes. No tree.

You now make a decision. If there is no tree on this date one year from now you will stop watering. Period. So you begin year number five with the same passion as day number one. You water, you wait.

You keep watering and keep waiting. You water some more and then, could it be? Is it really? Yep, there it is, something sticking out of the dirt. You come back the next day and WOW it has really grown! In fact you come back each day for about six weeks and finally the Chinese Bamboo tree stops growing—but it is over 80 feet tall! Yes, 80 feet in six weeks! Well, not really. It is 80 feet in five years.

The point is simple. If you had given up for even the shortest period of time, there would be no tree. It took almost impossible persistence. The Chinese Bamboo tree is there for one reason and one reason only—because you never gave up on it.

When I talk to teachers at workshops or institutes I find one who teaches first grade and I ask that person to mentally think of a student who they wouldn’t mind see moving to another district. You get the drift, a student who is a real challenge. Let’s give the student a name. I’ll use my own name to be politically correct. The kid is named Jim. I ask the teacher if they ever had a student like Jim that they really worked hard with, tried every trick in the book, searched for new ways to meet the child’s learning needs, and so on, but still felt that at the end of the year that Jim had not learned. That Jim was still a challenge, and although he met the minimum standards to pass, he was not on the teacher’s list of proudest achievements. Most teachers usually agree that they have, or had, a Jim in their class.

Now we move to a second grade teacher and we pretend that they get Jim in the fall, work with him all year, watch their hair turn from brunette to shades of stressful gray, and by the end of the year feel they did their best, but it wasn’t good enough.

Now, for a minute, let’s talk about little Jimmy. He’s not in special ed. Jimmy is just a jerk. Don’t fall off your chair and gasp, “Did he call that kid a jerk?” I did, but not the jerk you are thinking of. My JERK is an acronym for Just Educationally Resistive Kid. He doesn’t have ADD or any other alphabetized condition. He just doesn’t like to learn and he resists it. He isn’t a bad kid or a troublemaker. “Jimmys” exist in all sizes and shapes and even come in girl forms.

Let’s jump to grade three. We have the same conversation all over again. Jim is passed on but he is a disappointment to every teacher so far, and they all worry that if things don’t turn around Jim could become a troublemaker or an academic disgrace.

Jim holds his own in grade four. No big changes. He surely doesn’t love school, but he isn’t failing anything. He exhibits no passion for anything at the schoolhouse. And no signs of any real change either.

Grade five. Jim has a new teacher and all the other teachers try to warn her that Jim is, well, how do we say it? Jim is special, but not special ed. He exists, but barely. He will continue to be a challenge, but he’s not a threat to safety. Jim is Jim. Try anything, but nothing will probably work. If you don’t believe me, ask all of his previous teachers.

At semester break the new teacher makes a comment about Jim at a teachers meeting. With anticipated sadness, everyone listens. Here is what she says…

“Jim is quite a writer. He turned in a couple of stories and I told him he was very creative. He is now writing a mystery story and it is good! And he’s also showing some talent in basketball. He’s really growing too. I love his passion to play ball and write. He seems to thrive on the success of his hook shot and his imagination. I really enjoy that kid.” Jim has arrived!

Was it the new teacher who pulled out Jim’s hidden talents and secret love for learning? Was it some biological change that caused Jim to mature and become a better learner, a more serious student? Was it his physical abilities that expanded his self-esteem and made it easier for him to write?

Maybe it was a little of all these things, but it was also what I call the Chinese Bamboo Factor. Every teacher Jim had since he entered school worked hard providing opportunities for Jim to learn, to grow, and to become. Every teacher watered, fertilized, and cared for Jim. Even when the year ended and they were sometimes glad to pass him on to another teacher, they still knew that they had done their best to give him the best.

Oh, by the way, my story could stop and start at any grade. And Jim could be Janet, and the teacher could be a he rather than a she. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the Chinese Bamboo Factor—never, ever quit on a student. Even when you see no progress, it doesn’t mean that the kid isn’t processing something somehow somewhere.

One more thing, a big thing: the Chinese Bamboo Tree did start to grow very shortly after the seed was planted. The roots grew deep and strong for many years before there was any sign of a plant above ground. Sometimes that same thing happens with kids. They develop a foundation of learning. They learn to learn. They creep along doing the minimum, building their strengths (or finding them), and sometimes they just wait for the right combination of factors before they bloom. It may be the motivation of a certain teacher or a new found confidence or skill. It may be that all of a sudden “they get it” and learning becomes exciting. If we knew exactly what the formula was and how it worked for everyone, we could probably cure the ills of the world.

So what do we learn from the Chinese Bamboo Tree? I’d suggest the following:

* It takes patience to teach some, even most, kids.
* When you give up on a kid, you give up on a human being.
* Even when you don’t see progress, if you do your best, it is probably happening.
* If something doesn’t work with a kid, try something else—but never quit trying.
* Some of our best teaching doesn’t “break soil” until all conditions are right.
* When you think you are growing a tree, you may be growing a root.
* Strong roots support strong trees.
* Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to change a life.

_______________

The author is Jim Burgett, and he came by my surname honorably—he’s my famous kid brother, maybe the best known educator in the Midwest. Not only has he published six books for teachers and K-12 administrators, he also speaks at conventions and conferences just about everywhere. (Is my pride seeping through?)

Because I’ve been asked so often, Jim wrote (or co-authored) these books too:
* What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know (with Max MGee and Jim Rosborg)
* The Perfect School (with Max MGee and Jim Rosborg)
* Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education (with Brian Schwartz),
* The School Principal’s Toolbook, and
* The Art of School Boarding

More information about Jim is at BurgettGroup.com; specifics about the books here.

I shared this story here several years back but I have been asked repeatedly to do it again. So here it is, if it helps explain the other little “Jimmys” you know, or that teaching friends lovingly endure, or if it took an extraordinarily long time for you (or, you suspect, your kids) to pop through your own almost forgotten plot on your way to your own special gift.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




FOCUS BOOKS: Sell your entire book and its chapters at once

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Congratulations! You just printed your nonfiction masterpiece—but what do you do next? As the adage says, “You’re all dressed up with no place to go”! In other words, how do you find and get others to praise your new book’s genius, especially to their colleagues and friends, while also getting muchos congratulatory pesos in your pocket—fast!

Let’s half solve your selling dilemma and also suggest a new way to simultaneously shake loose some key focus book pesos too.

Most of a book’s marketing solution happens before the book is created. Like identifying the buyers before the book is written, and also by figuring out how or where potential buyers buy books like yours. Doing that keeps most bookfolk free from having to sell on street corners and at flea markets (unless their book is about fleas or how fleas market).

It’s also wise to determine what specific book your buyers most want or need—and then write a book about that. (It sounds obvious. Fortunately, the best way to identify those most-wanted books is also easy to do. Just ask the most likely buyers what they most need—or can’t find.)

Let me suggest a bias here that makes the marketing hunt far easier: zero in on a niche market first, then offer your how-to brilliance in print directly to them. But that’s another (or many other) blogs. In the meantime, see Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time.

Whatever marketing or selling path you choose—often Internet and bookstore selling, through catalogs, by word-of-mouth, social marketing, radiant reviews (even dumb reviews sort of help), other digital machinations, a classroom text, an Oprah highlight—think of selling both the big book and its contents (perhaps as chapters or sections) all at the same time.

Let me share what we are doing right now so you will have actual examples of this to peruse and verify. (Who am I to share this innovation? I’ve been doing and teaching article and book prep, and publishing, since about the time Ben Franklin was mixing ink. See Google.) Mostly now, when I’m not talking to groups, I edit and publish books to the K-12 school administrator’s niche.

That’s doubly enjoyable because my younger brother has been a luminary in that field for 40 years, and my firm snagged him and his illustrious cohorts to write our much-sought books about their expertise. Let’s look particularly at Jim’s newest creation, The School Principal’s Toolbook.

Our market isn’t hiding. We can directly contact all of them, plus others who particularly benefit by having our book in school principals’ hands: the superintendents (who usually select the principals), the school board (that usually approves the superintendents), and other school-related buyers. So to make the book visible the book’s author speaks widely to the respective associations at conventions and gatherings about the new Toolbook, we send flyers to principals, the book is reviewed in the respective newsletters, and so on. Still, we want to make sure it is even more widely known. So we have created what we call our “focus book” program. That’s how you “Sell your book simultaneously, intact and by chapters.”

We think that any educator reading any of the book’s 12 chapters will see why the principal needs to have at least the rest of this book, and probably all of Jim’s other five related books, in hand or on her/his desk at all times. (No vanity there. If we didn’t feel that strongly Jim wouldn’t have written the book and I wouldn’t have published it if he did. I’m sure you feel the same about your book.)

So my idea—no doubt 100 other publishers have had it too—was to take the most vital and needed topic, edit it to about 50 pages, and publish a focus book with the same words from the book as its content. Thus from Chapter 1 of The School Principal’s Toolbook we extracted Rights and Responsibilities and added of School Principals to it (so pile drivers, whiskey sellers, or accountants don’t buy it in error—and want refunds!) Next, we had that text set (with a frill-less cover) to be sold in paperback and ebook formats. We also priced them at $3.99 [digital] and $6.99 [paperback] and made them buyable at Kindle, Create Space, Nook, ECU (that’s us), and other outlets. (Incidentally, we also created a focus book of the fourth chapter of Toolbook and priced it the same. It’s called How to Create the Best Staff Possible: Building K-12 Excellence from Hire to Rehire—slightly reworded from the book so the public is, again, fully informed.)

ebook cover

We won’t earn much (if we break even) at the low focus book prices, but we are certain many superintendents will buy a couple to dozens of copies for district meetings with their principals. So that will meet a future need since they will prefer paperbacks to ebooks, and we’ll be ready.

The real purpose of the focus books—almost all will be ebooks here—is to have free sample copies to send (by email, as an attachment or download) to the superintendents to review (or skim), so they know the book exists, they have had it in hand, and they can validate the solid writing and expertise it contains. Most superintendents will be contacted by email or flyer (many may read about it in their respective state newsletters). It will also induce some associations to book Jim to speak to their gatherings where the books may be bought (in paperback) and given to all attendees.

The primary purpose of the focus books is to sell more copies of the “mother book,” The School Principal’s Toolbook; to draw attention to all of Jim’s other books; to provide a dandy and very useful focus book about particular topics principals need to know, and to encourage speaking engagements for our five authors.

I hope by sharing this new process (at least new for us) you will see how a book with 12 chapters, like ours, can result in selling as many as 13 books, all promoting each other, your firm, and the author(s). The exposure and quality also solidifies your expertise, standing, and presence in your niche.

At this blog site I will keep you abreast of how this program, just begun, is working and how we will expand it. To read more about niche publishing or focus books, write “niche” or “focus” (no quotes) in the search box above. It will direct you to earlier blogs, in posting order, about both topics. Or email me at glburgett@aol.com and I will try to respond as time permits. Please keep them short—and in English!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




Can we sell two new books by using 12,200 jumbo postcards?

At 11” x 6,” the postcards are big enough to cover other books already on the potential buyer’s desk. But the real issue is, are the cards clever enough to lovingly pick the buyers’ pocket?

Said another way, it will cost us about $6500 to get the sales missive done right and delivered on time. But will the returns grossly exceed that cost while we are still in the same flesh? (Three months will tell the tale, hoping for a third of that in three weeks.)

I’m a niche publisher. A few years back my firm hit a bulls-eye designing, creating, and selling standard operating procedures manuals for dentists. Now we create and sell books to K-12 administrators: mostly principals, superintendents, school board members, and teachers. Flossing was pretty much what I knew about dentistry at the earlier incarnation, and avoiding the grumpy old dudes who ran schools was my gift as a kid. How the niche publishing came about is another blog, or several—go to the search box on this blog and write “niche publishing” and you can read what I’ve said so far. Or read my book: Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time.

The bottom line is that I don’t write education (or dental) books: I get first-rate leaders (preferably already speaking widely in their field) who are experts about the target topics. They are the heroes. They share their hard-earned well of knowledge—in writing. (I have had 46 books published that I did write, but that’s a different, and concurrent, life!)

Here the expert is my younger brother, Jim, and these are his fifth and sixth books for me. Why him? I can’t find anybody else with more experience, ideas, and recognition among other superintendents, principals, and teachers, nor anybody who has also given so many key speeches to conferences, conventions, academies, … Anyway, he’s a lot of fun, disciplined, and full of reliable genes, good ideas, and true stories…

But here’s what’s up now. Jim wrote two books that I want to sell simultaneously: The Art of School Boarding: What Every School Board Member Needs to Know and The School Principal’s Toolbook. (We try to make our titles so clear that a buyer knows what’s inside before lifting the cover, so I hope these too are self-explanatory.) They are dynamite books but running two separate selling campaigns costs money—and we think one campaign makes giant sense.

Here’s the most important item on the card:
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Our buying target is the SUPERINTENDENT, who is chosen by the Board and chooses the principals! If the other two don’t work, he or she doesn’t either, at least for long. The rest of the postcard explains the books, shows the covers, summarizes the tables of contents in key words, soothes the super’s soul in three paragraphs each of selling prose, all leading to four wee questions, “(Do you) want to review a free ebook copy (of one or both books)? … read testimonials? … check the author’s credentials? … or order copies, with the usual discounts?” Then it politely sends the mesmerized 12,200 superintendents (a large percentage of all of them in the U.S.) to www.meetingk-12needs.com for the rest, to decide and close the deal. (Go ahead: you needn’t be a superintendent to be curious—although admittedly there are a lot of curious superintendents!)

So that’s why I asked in the headline, “Can we sell two new books by using 12,200 jumbo postcards?

Here are the images on the (two) sides of the postcard:
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We don’t know. The cards hit the mail yesterday. Here’s what it looked like, scanned to blog size. I’ll report back right here every three weeks or so. It might be a pinch slow at first because the dust is still settling from the Easter break. The honchos are probably still trying to find their stray kids.

But I can share one thing now: what I had to do to put the jumbo postcard together and get the offer in flow.

1. Think up a way to sell two very different books to three school chiefs at once. Does it make sense? Was the superintendent the right target? Will I starve my wife, kids, and myself to death?

2. Find a reliable, current, affordable mailing list of superintendents. Google first, limit it to four, and call and let them (quickly) sell their wares and virtues to me.

3. Find a fast, reliable printer who is comfortable with jumbo cards and can also sync the mailing (I send the list) and provide inexpensive small adjustment art tweaks, if necessary.

4. Find a card (or graphics art) designer (or design it yourself if you are experienced) and get the copy, changes, colors, and the rest pulled together on time.

5. Find the money and distribute it gratefully when everybody does what you want—preferably, far better than you imagined.

6. Get my website up-to-date, and go through the link lines the buyers will visit so it’s all current, easy to follow, and delay-free. Like the supermarket, don’t slow the buyer down but be sure he/she at least sees your other products and services along the way.

7. Plan the fulfillment. Get the free ebook email ready; write thank-you model replies to your lucky customers; find envelopes, bags, or boxes for shipping; set up a meter mail system with the post office; get tape and all the incidentals; listen to your phone message and make it clear and relevant; set up an invoicing system for direct purchases (usually for purchase orders); double-check your shopping cart process (if used); line up helpers if needed, and lay in enough book stock to cover the initial surge, with a fall-back five-day POD replenishment lever ready to pull if good fortune gushes in.

That’s it. “Cross” is the word of the day. My fingers are crossed—or my banker will be cross. See you soon.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




Trees and Kids (from Teachers Change Lives 24/7)

Teachers Change Lives 24/7

Teachers Change Lives 24/7

[I’m a publisher and I read all the mail that our readers send. Sometimes (not very often) we have a story or a section of a book that brings lots of spontaneous letters of joy and praise from readers. “Trees and Kids” is the hands-down winner. It’s by Jim Burgett in his 2007 book (in its fifth printing) called Teachers Change Lives 24-7: 150 Ways to Do It Right. I thought my blog readers might enjoy it too.]

TREES AND KIDS

There is an unusual tree commonly known as the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It is real. Years ago I heard a speaker talk about it, using it to make a point. It stuck in my head. I even did some research to find out if the speaker was blowing smoke and made up the tree. He didn’t.

The story goes like this. You prepare the soil, pick the right spot, then plant the Chinese Bamboo Tree. You water it and wait. But you wait an entire year and nothing appears. No bud, no twig, nothing. So you keep watering and protecting the area and taking care of the future plant, and you wait some more. You wait another year and nothing still happens. Okay, you are a persistent person not prone to giving up, so you keep on watering. You water, check the soil, start talking to the ground, maybe even click your heels in some kind of growing dance you read about in the National Geographic. Another year passes and still no sign of growth.

It has been three years. Should you give up? Someone told you that it might take a while to really see the fruits of your efforts, so you keep on keeping on. More water, more talk, more dancing. The neighbors are wondering. And another year passes. No tree.

You now make a decision. If there is no tree on this date one year from now you will stop watering. Period. So you begin year number five with the same passion as day number one. You water, you wait. You keep watering and keep waiting. You water some more and then, could it be? Is it really? Yep, there it is, something sticking out of the dirt. You come back the next day and WOW it has really grown! In fact you come back each day for about six weeks and finally the Chinese Bamboo tree stops growing—but it is over 80 feet tall! Yes, 80 feet in six weeks! Well, not really. It is 80 feet in five years.

The point is simple. If you had given up for even the shortest period of time, there would be no tree. It took almost impossible persistence. The Chinese Bamboo tree is there for one reason and one reason only—because you never gave up on it.

When I talk to teachers at workshops or institutes I find one who teaches first grade and I ask that person to mentally think of a student who they wouldn’t mind see moving to another district. You get the drift, a student who is a real challenge. Let’s give the student a name. I’ll use my own name to be politically correct. The kid is named Jim. I ask the teacher if they ever had a student like Jim that they really worked hard with, tried every trick in the book, searched for new ways to meet the child’s learning needs, and so on, but still felt that at the end of the year that Jim had not learned. That Jim was still a challenge, and although he met the minimum standards to pass, he was not on the teacher’s list of proudest achievements. Most teachers usually agree that they have, or had, a Jim in their class.

Now we move to a second grade teacher and we pretend that they get Jim in the fall, work with him all year, watch their hair turn from brunette to shades of stressful gray, and by the end of the year feel they did their best, but it wasn’t good enough.

Now, for a minute, let’s talk about little Jimmy. He’s not in special ed. Jimmy is just a jerk. Don’t fall off your chair and gasp, “Did he call that kid a jerk?” I did, but not the jerk you are thinking of. My JERK is an acronym for Just Educationally Resistive Kid. He doesn’t have ADD or any other alphabetized condition. He just doesn’t like to learn and he resists it. He isn’t a bad kid or a troublemaker. “Jimmys” exist in all sizes and shapes and even come in girl forms.

Let’s jump to grade three. We have the same conversation all over again. Jim is passed on but he is a disappointment to every teacher so far, and they all worry that if things don’t turn around Jim could become a troublemaker or an academic disgrace.

Jim holds his own in grade four. No big changes. He surely doesn’t love school, but he isn’t failing anything. He exhibits no passion for anything at the schoolhouse. And no signs of any real change either.

Grade five. Jim has a new teacher and all the other teachers try to warn her that Jim is, well, how do we say it? Jim is special, but not special ed. He exists, but barely. He will continue to be a challenge, but he’s not a threat to safety. Jim is Jim. Try anything, but nothing will probably work. If you don’t believe me, ask all of his previous teachers.

At semester break the new teacher makes a comment about Jim at a teachers meeting. With anticipated sadness, everyone listens. Here is what she says…

“Jim is quite a writer. He turned in a couple of stories and I told him he was very creative. He is now writing a mystery story and it is good! And he’s also showing some talent in basketball. He’s really growing too. I love his passion to play ball and write. He seems to thrive on the success of his hook shot and his imagination. I really enjoy that kid.” Jim has arrived!

Was it the new teacher who pulled out Jim’s hidden talents and secret love for learning? Was it some biological change that caused Jim to mature and become a better learner, a more serious student? Was it his physical abilities that expanded his self-esteem and made it easier for him to write?

Maybe it was a little of all these things, but it was also what I call the Chinese Bamboo Factor. Every teacher Jim had since he entered school worked hard providing opportunities for Jim to learn, to grow, and to become. Every teacher watered, fertilized, and cared for Jim. Even when the year ended and they were sometimes glad to pass him on to another teacher, they still knew that they had done their best to give him the best.

Oh, by the way, my story could stop and start at any grade. And Jim could be Janet, and the teacher could be a he rather than a she. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the Chinese Bamboo Factor—never, ever quit on a student. Even when you see no progress, it doesn’t mean that the kid isn’t processing something somehow somewhere.

One more thing, a big thing: the Chinese Bamboo Tree did start to grow very shortly after the seed was planted. The roots grew deep and strong for many years before there was any sign of a plant above ground. Sometimes that same thing happens with kids. They develop a foundation of learning. They learn to learn. They creep along doing the minimum, building their strengths (or finding them), and sometimes they just wait for the right combination of factors before they bloom. It may be the motivation of a certain teacher or a new found confidence or skill. It may be that all of a sudden “they get it” and learning becomes exciting. If we knew exactly what the formula was and how it worked for everyone, we could probably cure the ills of the world.

So what do we learn from the Chinese Bamboo Tree? I’d suggest the following:

* It takes patience to teach some, even most, kids.
* When you give up on a kid, you give up on a human being.
* Even when you don’t see progress, if you do your best, it is probably happening.
* If something doesn’t work with a kid, try something else—but never quit trying.
* Some of our best teaching doesn’t “break soil” until all conditions are right.
* When you think you are growing a tree, you may be growing a root.
* Strong roots support strong trees.
* Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to change a life.

—–

Jim Burgett is a veteran educator, nationally recognized education speaker, and consultant. He was named the “Illinois Superintendent of the Year”by the American Association of School Administrators and “Administrator of the Year” by the Illinois Association for Educational Office Professionals. Burgett has received numerous honors and recognition for his leadership and skills as a motivator. Jim serves on many boards for the State of Illinois, various professional organizations, the Editorial Board for an educational publisher, and several community organizations. He is the recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Illinois State Board of Education, was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International, and was a finalist for Teacher of the Year in Illinois.

Education has been the cornerstone of his career. Jim has been a teacher of grades five through twelve and a principal of elementary, middle school, and high school. During his 38-year tenure, Jim has served as the Superintendent of the Elizabeth Community Unit School District, the River Ridge Community Unit School District, and the Highland Community Unit School District, all in Illinois. Jim retired from the Blue-Ribbon Highland District in 2004.
He has frequently published in professional journals, speaks across the country to a variety of organizations, and has keynoted most major educational conferences nationwide. Jim Burgett is known for his practical leadership. He consults many districts, leads strategic planning sessions, and has been a leader in such areas as school construction, administrative standards, and effective teaching strategies.

In addition to writing Teachers Change Lives 24/7, Jim’s most recent books are The Art of School Boarding: What Every School Board Member Needs to Know and The School Principal’s Toolbook. Burgett also co-authored Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education with Brian Schwartz and both What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know and The Perfect School with Jim Rosborg and Max McGee. Jim also wrote “How to Handle the Death of a Student, Faculty, or Staff Member” as part of the “Excellence in Education for Superintendents and Principals”report series.




How to Respond to a Complaint, Once, Forever...

Yesterday (12/17/14) our blog was titled “How to Gracefully Accept and Pre-Answer a Complaint.” It and today’s follow-up blog are based on Jim Burgett’s The School Principal’s Toolbook. (The same process was shared in Jim’s recent The Art of School Boarding where the same “what do I do with this complaint?” dilemma faces School Board members.)

In yesterday’s blog Burgett suggested the complaint recipient follow an acronym CALM. Key to the first response was the need to go to the appropriate level of the chain of command. That is where this blog’s acronym, PASS, picks up the procedure.

———-

Principals usually have two choices when they are given a complaint. They answer it because it is appropriate to do so, or they gently hand it back (throwing the complaint) with a sense of direction and assistance rather than compassion and understanding. If the complaint belongs somewhere else then that is where it must go, with some redirection from you.

If you need to “throw” the complaint, there are also four steps and a helpful word to remember: PASS. Pass infers to pass it off, and that is what you will do in many situations.

PASS means: P-Point; A-Avoid; S-Share; S-Summarize

Point: To “point” means to defer or refer. This is the tricky part. It is where you explain the chain of command to those who pretend not to know there is one. (Who doesn’t know about the relationship between the boss and an employee? It’s similar to the directions given on an airplane—does anyone really need to be told how to fasten their seat belt?) You point the person to where they should go with the question or complaint. Yes, this is where they should have gone first and where they need to go now. Even if they tell you they don’t want to go there, won’t go there, or want to talk directly to the “head honcho,” you gently indicate that policy requires that the person closest to the situation should be contacted first. Only if the problem can’t be resolved do you climb the chain. You also point out that in most cases problems are resolved quickly when the chain of command is followed. If they refuse to follow your guidance, pause for a moment. We will cover that later.

Avoid: Avoiding is very important. Avoid any promise of action. Avoid any assurance that you understand the issue. (In almost all cases, you can’t understand when you only hear half of the problem.) And avoid a repeat of this situation by making it clear that the chain is the proper approach. Again, if they adamantly refuse to follow the chain, hold on for a moment.

Share: “Share” means to briefly share your role, your position in the chain of command, and your reliance on the system to function as designed. I would always tell them that if they go through the chain and are still not satisfied then you will certainly be glad to talk to them about ways to handle their concern. In some cases you will send them to the assistant superintendent, or even the superintendent. When you go above your level, you always offer to help them make the contact. You become very helpful, but you do not solve the problems when they aren’t yours to solve. If you send them “down” the chain, and they refuse to go there, you offer to facilitate a meeting with all parties.

Summarize: The final S is for “summarize.” I like this part. If done well, it ends the conversation on a win-win. If you have thrown the complaint to someone in the chain of command, and explained the why appropriately, you have done your job well. If you need to discuss the complaint with the person, and you do it calmly and respectfully and with the intention of finding the facts before you offer potential solutions, you will have done your job well.

You aren’t quite done, though, when you have finished PASS. You need to email or call those involved. If you suggested the complainer contact a teacher, the superintendent, or another administrator, you need to report this conversation, even if you think it was resolved or was too minor to be reported.

Your upward chain of command is probably to the superintendent (or principal if you are on the building team) so if you feel they need to be aware of the situation, be sure to email them an FYI as well.

Remember, when dealing with criticism, have a plan. Remain CALM, know the PASS technique, when or where to use it, and always be fair and respectful. Golda Meir may have said it best, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”

———-

This 8-point structure explained in the two blogs guides the outsider with questions or difficulties to their resolution. It is professional, positive, and it keeps the complainant and the system’s respondents “in the know” as the difficulties are met.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




How to gracefully accept and pre-answer a complaint

Whether you’re a school principal, publisher, engineer, or whatever, have you ever been swept off your feet by some windbag (sometimes well-meaning) bellowing one or many complaints at you? And then had to think up some positive (and intelligent) response, right on the spot, to at least level the one-person-shouting field so their problem could be sensibly resolved (or at least addressed)?

I found a much-needed pocket solution for almost any such assault when I edited Jim Burgett’s first-rate book, The School Principal’s Toolbook. (We published the book last month: Jim’s sixth.) And yes, we are kin: Jim is my famous brother—and he is tactfully very smart! (Until I was saved by this approach, my system had been to move right into their face and talk twice as loud.)

Here’s his method for accepting complaints.

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Accepting Complaints

I define “complaint” to include a wayward comment, a concern, a jab, a flat-out inflammatory outburst, or anything in between. It may come at a meeting, at the Dollar Store, at church. It may happen any time or any place. Seldom do you have prep time so you need to be prepared 24/7.

Because School Board members also attract complaints at the odd moments, in my book The Art of School Boarding: What Every School Board Member Needs to Know I outline how those members should accept (receive) a complaint, then how to respond to it (throw it back) [Read my blog tomorrow (12/18/14) about how to respond]. [The process is] equally applicable to principals and other leaders so let me share [it] here through an acronym that should help you remember the steps used to catch (receive) the complaint.

The acronym is CALM: C-Compliment; A-Ask; L-Listen; M-Mimic

Compliment: The first step is to compliment the complainer! No matter how irritated they may be, or you may get, remember to compliment them. “Thanks for your interest in the school.” “I appreciate your concern.” “You have been a long-time supporter of the district, and that is appreciated.” Get your compliment in to set the stage for what follows, always thinking of the word CALM. It will help you stay calm as you go through the steps. The compliment at the beginning may be the easiest step, and it is a way to focus your attitude, and theirs, in a positive direction. It may be very hard to do. You may only be able to say something like, “I understand it may be hard to share your concerns, but I am grateful that you are speaking directly to me.”

Ask: As they discuss their concern, you will probably need to stop them and ask some questions. Your first question may involve the chain-of-command issue. With the building leader this is often the first question as well. Let’s say the citizen is complaining about a discipline issue that they think was unjust. Let’s assume the disciplinary action was administered by a teacher, like having the child miss a recess for not turning in an assignment. After complimenting them, I would briefly listen to the initial complaint, then stop them and ask, “What did Nick’s teacher say to you when you asked her about this issue?”

Do you see the direction I am suggesting? I am assuming the parent knows the proper chain of command and assuming she went there first. This is a much better approach than a back- sided reprimand such as, “You did talk to Nick’s teacher about this, didn’t you?” My first statement is factual and should not provoke controversy. My second statement is a put-down, with the assumption she didn’t follow the chain of command. If the parent comes back with a sharp statement like, “No way am I going to talk to that teacher, we had her before when Sarah was in her class, and she was a pain then!”

Then you ask a follow-up chain-of-command question: “Okay, if you didn’t talk to the teacher, then what did the assistant principal (or athletic director) say when you shared this concern with him/her?” Again, you are not offering judgment, just asking, what did you do about this issue before coming to me? Obviously, if you are the next person in the chain of command, this question is inappropriate.

Listen: Even if you want to defend the school, the teacher, the administration, or the nature of the beast in general, don’t. Just listen with all the listening skills you can muster. Eye contact, no nodding because that might be construed as agreement, just maybe a comment if you need clarification. “Who is the person you just mentioned?” “When did you say this happened?” Questions should be asked only if you need more information when you indeed share this conversation, which you will, in most cases, even though the complainer will not expect that to happen.

Mimic: The last step in CALM is to mimic, or paraphrase. This is the final step before you begin to handle, or “throw,” the complaint. Paraphrase means to summarize the comments if they need it, and in most cases, even if they don’t. Here is an example: “Mary, let me see if I understand your concern clearly. Nick missed an assignment. You think it was his second or third missed assignment this term and Mrs. Hawken had Nick stay in during recess two days in a row to catch up with his missed assignment. You feel this is not an appropriate punishment. Do I understand your concern?” Expect the respondent to modify your summary, but keep to your plan. Stay CALM, don’t encourage or engage in further discussion, don’t agree, and unless you feel it is appropriate, don’t even say you understand her concern or frustration.

If you have successfully “caught” the complaint, here is what you have done: You (1) started the conversation on a positive note by sharing a compliment, (2) suggested that the chain of command needed to be followed, (3) patiently, without interruption, listened to the story, and (4) summarized what you heard with a short and concise paraphrase, with no agreement or editorial comment on your part. You have presented yourself professionally, positively, and with an attitude of concern. You also set up the next step by bringing the chain of command into the conversation. If you followed steps 1-4, calmly, you should be proud of yourself. It’s not always easy to do, and in many cases, it takes practice.

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Tomorrow (12/18/14), let me share Jim Burgett’s four-step process of responding to a complaint. Both the means of acceptance and response work, sometimes with appropriate modifications to meet your topic or position. The best thing is that if you can remember them, you’re loaded and ready for the verbal mugging!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




Top Ten Strategies for Developing an A+ Board of Education

The Art of School Boarding

A Board of Education that works well together, supports the mission of the district, respects and communicates positively with the superintendent, and comes to the table with no agenda other than to do what is best for kids in a reasonable and intelligent way is a Board to behold! Is it possible to find seven people who can do this? Of course, but it takes savvy and leadership from the top. Here are ten strategies that may help develop that A+ Board of Education. (Jim Burgett, author and speaker.)

1. Start the process before new Board members are elected. When a citizen takes out a petition, or indicates they are thinking about running for the Board, go to work! Do some invaluable pre-service prepping before they invest their time and money. Give them a free copy of The Art of School Boarding, a book that clearly and honestly outlines the job responsibilities and mindset they need before they get involved getting elected. Encourage them to read the book, and offer to answer any questions. Make sure they are aware of the necessary time commitments.

2. Continue the training as soon as they are chosen. Without delay invite the new members in for a session with you and possibly your cabinet. Give them a general review of the funding process, the budget outline, the procedures for developing board packets, and other communications they will need.

3. Introduce new Board members to the central office staff so they know who does what in the office. Offer to take them to school buildings. Answer all the questions they ask, and more. Be open and thoughtful.

4. Meet them for a one-on-one lunch (or early breakfast) and talk about families, past history, their relationship with the district, etc.

5. Train (or remind) all Board members about the importance of the chain of command. Review who reports to whom, what the organizational structure is, and how the entire system works. Include facilities, transportation, and food services. You can’t expect them to follow the chain if they don’t know it. You might even engage in some faux case studies so they see how the Board members know the staff and the chain.

6. Handling complaints will be one of the toughest tasks a Board member must do. Teach them the art of receiving a complaint and then handling it. (In The Art of School Boarding that’s called “catching” and “throwing” a complaint.) It is a process that shows every Board Member how to properly and effectively handle any random or planned complaint from phone calls at home to unexpected visits in the store. Sticking to the outlined process is a win-win-win for the complainer, the Board Member, and the school.

7. Remind the Board who does what whenever possible or when it may seem unclear. This helps keep everyone’s roles and responsibilities neat and clean. “That task falls to the building principal according to the policies you have established,” is a sample reminder of who does what.

8. Periodically, with all Board members, review the steps of routine processes. Examples of these processes might be how to change or write Board policy, set a tax levy, who and how staff are recommended for hire or dismissal, or how disciplinary hearings are held. Some of these events happen infrequently, some annually, some often, but an A+ Board must be aware of the specifics each time. A warm-up lesson before the tax levy meeting, or a handout listing the steps in a disciplinary hearing (before the event happens), for example, makes everyone a better participant. It also helps to guide those who will be experiencing the process for the first time. Even a private tutoring session for new members might be helpful.

9. Distribute the School Board Association’s Code of Ethics every month and read/review one item from the list. This is often done at the beginning of every meeting, to emphasize the importance of the Code and to help all follow it. It doesn’t hurt to read and review the District Mission Statement frequently too.

10. Don’t get so caught up with budgets, basketball, beans, and buses that talking about people is forgotten! Reminding the Board that they are really in session for kids might help, as might a reminder that most of the staff works very hard and a thank you to them for their personal service is always much appreciated.

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Information about The Art of School Boarding: What Every School Board Member Needs to Know

by Jim Burgett

Jim Burgett’s new book, The Art of School Boarding, explains what a school board really is, what functions it must perform, how it does that best, what its members can (and can’t) legally do, and how every school boarder can be extraordinary every day they serve. (But some won’t be because they don’t know how—until now.) This book is written in plain (sometimes unconsciously humorous), jargon-free prose for school board rookies, veterans, superintendents, other administrators, and you. It should be mandatory reading for candidates seeking board election—read before they run and again before they serve.

But why accept what Jim Burgett says about boardsmanship, or the other 20 experts whose case studies the book includes? Because during his 40 years as an educator he has written five books for school leaders, provided hundreds of training sessions for aspiring and active school board members, and trained and/or consulted with dozens of school boards concerning internal issues, governance, and strategic planning. Jim was selected “Illinois Administrator of the Year” by the American Association of School Administrators and the Illinois Association of Educational Office Professionals. He is also in persistent demand to speak about K-12 education nationwide.

Being a school board member is not a political position, nor one of royalty. It’s held in modest esteem. Board members deal with families, law, curricula, finances, mandates, athletics, the fine arts—the list goes on. No pay, tough issues, lots of controversy, much reading… Oh yes, the future of the community it serves is in its hands.

“School Boarding” is indeed an art. Boards have their own purpose, means, personality, process, and protocol. These pages help them define their mission, their governance, and the role of the board, its members, and the administration. Explained are ethical expectations and Codes of Conduct, and how the board handles community concerns and builds vital relationships. The Art of School Boarding’s straightforward common sense simply explains what present or future school board members have to know.

ISBN-13: 978-0989653046 (bound); 978-0989653053 (digital)
Category: Education/School Board
Price: $24.95 (bound), $20 (digital)
Formats: Bound (paperback) and digital
Trim: 6 x 9
Page Count: 168

Further information at (800) 563-1454 or at meetingk-12needs.com.

To Order: single copies at meetingk-12needs.com; in quantity: 8+ for discount and better mailing, email to gordonlee10@aol.com. The bound book is also available through Create Space. Ebook versions can be bought through Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.




Why would you change a book's title once it's out for sale?

Our newest book was printed 10 weeks ago and about 400 copies were sold within a few weeks, most to attendees at two late fall 2013 conventions in Illinois, for school boards and K-12 superintendents. We had finished the book under some time pressure because its author, Jim Burgett, was attending or speaking at the conventions, where he also autographed copies at related book signings.

The book’s title was The Art of School Boarding, and it had a subtitle largely created to fill the artwork on the cover, where the title was followed by a blackboard on which was written Our Standards are Excellence and Caring.

You can see the front of this book here:

The Art of School Boarding

I’m the publisher. The author, I’m proud to admit, is my much lauded brother Jim. This is the fifth book we have published together. We are a niche house and our niche is K-12 school administrators (and teachers).

Why did we decide to change the book’s title just 10 weeks after our first printing was out? Well, to quickly rectify my goof.

I didn’t even know I had missed the boat until I heard a publishing speaker talk about SEO and book titles. Even then no bells rang nor did lightning strike. Instead, it dawned on me that that was the reason I couldn’t find any mention of the book at Google. Nothing. Only when I typed in the entire title did the search engine begrudgingly give up one indirect reference.

The “why” we were omitted jumped out at me. I had never directly mentioned “school board” (or board of education) anywhere in the title or subtitle, so why would they list it? Rather, brother Jim had thought of the title, “The Art of School Boarding,” and he said he wanted that title for the book he was writing. It sounded clever to me, was new (none of us had seen it in print before), and it was precisely what he was writing about.

Publishers title books because they must market them. (I had mercifully changed every title in the other six K-12 books that we now have in print.) But in this case Jim’s title sounded good. It still does. I blew it in the subtitle.

I wrote the subtitle, which, in retrospect, says nothing about the book’s theme or purpose. It simply meant, below the title, that the school board’s standards were excellence and caring. But who cares? Of course they are. Their standards also include patriotism, honesty, prudent tax spending, and so on. About like every other school board in America.

Nobody would be searching Google to find “the art of school boarding.” The term is new, so they wouldn’t be looking for “school boarding” at all. And I had failed to work “school board” anywhere into the title or subtitle. I’d also overlooked a key question all nonfiction books must ask: why would a person open its pages or buy it?

So the new title of the book is The Art of School Boarding: What Every School Board Member Needs to Know. Not only is the new subtitle much better, “school board” will turn up immediately in the search engines. Is that important? Must you ask?

In retrospect, the goof is even more embarrassing because the first book that Jim (with Jim Rosborg and Max McGee) wrote and I titled was What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know. That book sold very well—and continues to be used in graduate education classrooms across the country. It sounds suspiciously like the title/subtitle I should have used from the outset for our school board opus.

What have I done in the past week since I’ve made the change? I’ve informed everybody selling or listing our book about the new title, and I changed it in all of our in-house ebook master files: the title page, the volta face page, and the rare references to the title in the text.

Thanks to POD and the small-run presses now accessible, we have only about 200 copies of the first version of the book with the original title and subtitle in stock. In a couple of weeks, after the holidays, I will have the cover artwork and text redone and the paperback copy modified and saved in .pdf to send to our regular printer, to Create Space, and probably to Lightning Source.

Today I will correct the website copy, the press kit, and other sales documents. All that remains is to swap are the ebook front covers and website cover artwork, when it arrives with the new subtitle.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I’m trying to walk you through the book production process in this blog (see the earlier post titles to the right) and it seemed a good, though embarrassing, opportunity to keep the dialog current and relevant.

An important carry-away here is to ask yourself what key words in your title and subtitle will put you on the Google server so it will do your book and message the most good. And don’t rush into printing titles until you are certain they are the best you can create.

Oddly, I always bounce a list of possible titles of a new book off my friends first. That’s the only part of the book they see before print. I ask, “Which of these titles/subtitles most appeals to you? Tell me the best in 1-2-3 order!” Almost always.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

To see more about the other Education Communication Unlimited K-12 School Administration books we have published: Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education by Jim Burgett and Brian Schwartz; The Perfect School by Jim Rosborg, Max McGee, and Jim Burgett; Teachers Change Lives 24/7 by Jim Burgett; What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know (2nd ed.) by Jim Rosborg, Max McGee, and Jim Burgett, and
The Kid in Purple Pants by Pat Anderson.
For more about the book production and ebook publishing,see How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.




30 key points about The Art of School Boarding

The Art of School Boarding

Jim Burgett’s just-released book, The Art of School Boarding, is our newest release from Education Communication Unlimited, in both paperback (from us and CreateSpace) and in digital versions(in .pdf from us and in the respective reader versions from Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Scribd).

Here are specific ordering details, plus much more about the book’s contents and Jim’s extensive, award-winning background in K-12 education.

Would you also like to read some key extracts from The Art of School Boarding?

Here is a summarized Table of Contents and 30 segments directly from the book.

Summary Table of Contents

1. Boarding Basics
2. Why Does Anyone Want to Board?
3. The Foundational Principles of School Governance
4. Board Roles and Superintendent Roles
5. Boarding Code of Conduct
6. Know the Chain of Command
7. Learn the Art of Receiving and Responding to Complaints
8. Never Forget Who Comes First
9. Money Matters
10. Programs and Growth
11. Relationships
12. School Boarding at its Best
13. Expert Advice
14. Taking Care of You
15. The Ride

* This book should be mandatory reading by every new member of every school board in America. They should read it before they seek election or accept appointment.

* Being a member of a board of education is one of the most important jobs that a person can hold, and it should be reserved for people who have the courage, the fortitude, and the desire to make a difference.

* (Being on a school board) is not an easy job, but it’s a very important one. The lives of every kid in this country, our kids, are at stake. And so is the present and future fabric of our nation.

* Who else should read its pages? Current board members, both as a reminder of the pledge they have made and to provide a unifying language, shared process, and commonly held goal that they and their new followers can seek together.

* I’m writing this book because it needs to be written. It is intended to serve as a guide, a primer, a companion, a training manual, a motivational tool, and a down-to-earth conversation starter about a job that is always, for those involved, a life-changing event.

* “School Boarding” is a verb that captures movement and change. The “Art of School Boarding” is the process that propels and steers that change.

* I think school boards in general are doing a superb job, despite the fact that much of that is done “by the seat of their pants.” And much of that is because too many of the members just don’t know any better. And some don’t care.

* You see, some folks run for the school board without understanding both its importance and its complexity. Some, once elected, simply don’t get it. And some lose their vigor and vision. So maybe a straightforward, common sense, jargon-free book like this can help all of the board members become essential components of a crucial process for helping kids. Perhaps it can provide a shared starting point for boards of education working as cohesive teams, knowing their purpose, rolling up their collective sleeves, and never losing focus while making a true difference. Helping school boards “board” in a positive, effective, and meaningful manner, then, is the goal of this book, the very reason for its existence.

* This book contains the kind of information that board members, particularly beginners or others considering joining, should know, like being a member of a board of education is an act of noble and selfless public service.

* Being a member of a board of education takes time. If done right, it is a time-consuming task.

* There are no board of education members who don’t face difficult decisions, votes, or issues. Nor any who haven’t had to defend his or her decisions many times. This is a job that often includes some degree of conflict.

* (Being on a school board) can be fun and rewarding. It is always life changing. But it can also be taxing and frustrating. One thing for certain, it is not a job to be entered into lightly.

* This is not a textbook. It has no footnotes, nor many statistics. It comes from me (who sat through thousands of hours of school board meetings), mentors, and colleagues with a century-plus of school board experience… The format is casual, like a conversation.

* School boarding isn’t a science—I taught science. Yes, there are some rules, procedures, and recommended guidelines. What makes it an art (as in The Art of School Boarding) is that at the core what we most need to share is thoughtfulness, tact, and the process (really the art) of building relationships.

* School board members mold, direct, and outline the educational opportunities of children and adults. Would it be too theatrical to say that they hold the future of mankind in the palm of their hand? Well, if mankind is composed of one person at a time, one new opportunity, one creative philosophy permitting another, then maybe, just maybe, theatricality borders on reality. You have an opportunity to change the world.

* From the minute you are elected or appointed a school board member you hold a position of public authority. Your vote always counts. You become responsible for huge sums of money, the stewardship of property, and the employment and welfare of many human beings. Essentially, you hold the personal livelihood of people in the power of your vote. And not only the individual, but his/her family.

* Can it be rewarding to be a school board member? You bet. Consider the rewards—permanent ones, each growing with every kid from day one in kindergarten to graduation day from high school, and spin-offs all the days that follow.

* The Pros (of school boarding) are serving mankind, volunteering for the good of society, helping young people have a chance for success, making sure opportunities are fair and appropriate, and being accountable to those who elected you by being diligent in your duties and demonstrating professional and respectable behavior.

* The school board is the “corporate” entity charged by law with the task of governing a legally defined school district.

* School boards write and approve district policies that clearly define delegation. In fact, almost every aspect of a school board’s authority should be contained in a well-crafted set of policies. The board has the ultimate responsibility for every aspect of school governance, but those responsibilities need to be easily understood and well crafted.

* The board of education is the engine that runs the system. The engine transforms power into action; thus, the superintendent is like the transmission, taking the energy and converting it into productive motion.

* The superintendent is hired to do the following: understand, interpret, refine, and implement the vision, mission, goals and policy as set forth by the board of education. That’s one powerful and jam-packed expectation.

* The superintendent’s role is … to take the decisions made by the school board and to implement them, in accordance with both their request, existing policy, and in compliance with legal and ethical restrictions.

* Knowing where you stand in the flow also helps you direct yourself to the right place. Your place in every organizational chart (as a school board member) is at the top, at least within the district. Some charts may put state government or state leaders over you, but within the district you are generally considered the last stop, the head honcho, the buck stopper. And next to you, down the scale only one notch or position, is the person you hired and hold responsible, the superintendent.

* “Who comes first?” The answer is always “the kids.” Call them students, children, young adults, pre-adolescents, adolescents, infants, or whatever, all of these are, in my thinking, “the kids.” If you program your thinking in this direction, then everything, absolutely everything, you do will in some way affect the kids and their opportunity to learn.

* I recommend, without any hesitation, that school board members ask the tough questions.

* Everything in this chapter (about school finances) defines the word “art” in the title of this book. The reason is simple: managing and projecting school finances is not, and never will be, a science. Certainly the cash in, cash out accounting procedures are pure science and legally controlled, but no district will ever know for sure the future of the financial variables.

* I can’t tell you how many times I have told teachers over the years, “Never discipline kids, just behaviors.”

* I have often pictured a board of education as a jigsaw puzzle with eight pieces. Seven are the individual pieces that fit together, each piece representing one of the (board members). The eighth makes up the border of the puzzle. All the inside pieces fit inside the border. The border is the superintendent. He/she holds everything together and provides the boundaries, protection, and (the) shape of the puzzle. When the board is cohesive and working well, all the inside pieces fit nicely together with no binding (or) straining, clearly displaying a comprehensive “picture” of the district.

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Jim Burgett is a frequent keynoter, workshop provider, academy presenter, and consultant throughout the United States. His audiences include school administrators, teachers, board members, businesses, and institutions. When his audiences evaluate his presentations, three words frequently appear: passionate, inspirational, and practical. Jim’s mission is simply “To make a difference.”

Jim is the author of Teachers Change Lives 24/7, the coauthor of Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education (with Brian Schwartz, General Counsel and Associate Director of the Illinois Principals Association), and coauthor of two other best-selling books for administrators, What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know and The Perfect School (both with Max McGee, President of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and Jim Rosborg, Director of Graduate Education at McKendree University).

Burgett has taught and served as principal and superintendent at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He was twice named administrator of the year by his peers, and has won many other awards. Burgett serves on several boards for many organizations. Following a full career as a working educator, he is now the lead member of The Burgett Group and focuses on providing exceptional professional development. For details, see www.burgettgroup.com.