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The Secret Sauce: Objectives and Key Results

As an educator, we certainly know about "objectives" in the classroom.  We also know the term "key results."  However, in many successful businesses, this is common as well. Moreover, these successful businesses such as Google, Intel, Target, Twitter, Linkedin, and many more use Objectives and Key Results (OKR) to create alignment and engagement within the company.

As a principal and edu-preneur, I tend to read a lot about other successful businesses and then I often find myself making connections with what we do as educators and leaders.  Therefore, my brain is just taking what big businesses do to meet their goals and what I can do as a leader to help my school meet our goal.

So let me tell you about OKR- Objectives and Key Results.

I first read about this in this book: Measure What Matters


The goal formula is very simple.

I will (objective) as measured by (the result).

Objectives are memorable qualitative descriptions of what you want to achieve. Objectives should be short, inspirational and engaging. An Objective should motivate and challenge the team.

Key Results are a set of metrics that measure your progress towards the Objective. For each objective, you should have a set of 2 to 5 Key Results. More than that and no one will remember them.

If it does not have a number, it is not a key result.


A school's success is tied to the school's focus or lack thereof.  I believe focus is the thing that makes the difference between excelling and flailing about in mediocrity.  It is important to point out that these businesses really only have a few OKRs.  Think about that for just a minute.  One Objective will have 5 Key Results.  If you have multiple OKRs and each has multiple key results, it can get really complicated really fast.  Keep it super simple.  Less is more.


These objectives fit right into your campus and district vision.  These work together to motivate your school with a purpose and an intentional direction.  


The objectives keep your teachers focused, inspired, and aligned to the overall goal.


Having a focus throughout the school helps keep students at the center.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing your entire staff work together to move your school forward.  Moreover, students thrive in this kind of environment.  


The simplicity of the process is great, but the benefits are even better. The method is designed to keep the vision, goals, and objectives of the company or school, team or individual in the forefront. People know what’s expected of them and how their work fits in with the larger tasks of the team or school.

The great thing about OKRs is that they don’t take much time to set up, and they’re easy to use.

Before you set these objectives, do you know your school's vision?

The vision is one of the most POWERFUL things that we as school leaders can create. The vision matters. It matters to the overall success of your school.

We want to help you create your vision. This is why we are so excited to announce that Discover Your Instructional Vision (DYIV) is now gone digital!

This eCourse is where we teach you how to make a plan to achieve your vision. Look at all the amazing things we are including in this online course.

Editable calendars, schedules, Response to Intervention (RtI), posters, a 70+ Transformational Guide, A Quick Reference Guide, THE PRESENTATION that we use at on-site trainings, all the presenter notes, Principal Reflection forms including all the critical components of effective schools, Planning Process Forms, activities for team building, and access to a growing folder!

Plus two coaching calls via #zoom and access to a private Facebook group for daily communication.

FOR 10% OFF, USE THE CODE: discovervision

Want to know more: https://principalprinciples.lpages.co/discoveryourinstructionalvision/
Ready to purchase: https://principal-principles.thinkific.com

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Creating a School's Vision as a School Leader: Digital Access

I honestly believe that a shared vision is the primary ingredient in the secret sauce to drive innovation in our schools. 

As a superintendent, principal, or other school leader, you want to implement important instructional initiatives for the school year. How much time do you really have to create this vision all while maintaining your daily tasks in your position? If you’re anything like me, then you probably can’t even count the number of hours you spend just preparing for the events that are already on your calendar or things that fall in your lap throughout the day. Adding these initiatives to your calendar is just unthinkable. Imagine if you were given a plan, all the strategies, and all the tools in your hand to creating a vision that will empower teachers to engage in meaningful reflection and move each individual student to personal growth.

How confident would you feel that you could really implement this vision and create a successful school culture that is centered on teamwork, coaching, and caring for each other?

The Importance of Having a Clear Vision

At any given point in time, there could be students and teachers in schools that are experiencing burnout, teaching, and learning in isolation, and lacking real systems to bring about change. This includes the very people in your school. Without a solid foundation in the right direction and systems to unite your teams, they are held hostage to an endless cycle from which they need to bring about change. A strong instructional vision is not something far from your reach; it is literally right here in this guidebook. 

We can’t wait for others to fix our problems. We can’t continue to wait until next week or next month to find the time in our schedule to create this vision. We are all stakeholders. We all have a part to play, whether we work at the district level or campus level. The solution to lack of vision and systems will happen when you are ready to put the boots on the ground and take steps to climb your summit. Helping your teachers and students see this vision improves their teaching and student learning.

Now imagine instead of staff and student disengagement, isolated learning, and always wondering what to do next, you stepped into a school where students and teachers are thriving, they’re eager to do more, and you have a system for serving all of your students from low performing to high performing. Your campus has improved in state accountability, and your energy is replenished. You now feel like you have your head above water. You are ready to achieve your campus goals. 


Each one of us can make this vision a reality. If you are a superintendent, set aside time to grow your campus leaders. If you are a principal, stop the mindset of “getting ready to get ready.” The time is now. Use your knowledge and skills to create the school you imagine. The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your school’s full potential- these are the keys that will motivate you to cross the finish line. Successful leaders know the importance of creating a strong and shared vision. With this vision, you can accomplish big things.

Are you ready to take your school to the next level? 

Join Morris Lyon and me on this journey with the Discover Your Instructional Vision.

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Back to School Team Building

I found a wonderful video a few months ago.  I always save video links in a notepad on my phone.  You just never know when you might need it.

My good friend, Lauren, reminded me of this video just last week.  For simply watching the video, I knew I wanted to recreate the activity on campus with the staff.

So take a look at the video, All That We Share.


1.  Ask your staff to stand in a circle in the room.  

2.  Explain that we are all here together because we are connected to the same passions.

Our passion to serve. 

Our passion to teach.  

Our passion to inspire, motivate, and to make a difference.

3.  Explain now that we share more things in common that you just might not realize.  You will then read out a few statements.  If they have these in common, they will join the middle of the circle.  Ask them to take a minute and recognize the people standing around you that share the same things with you.

4.  The statements at the beginning are simple and lack little meaning.  As you reach the bottom of the list, the statements are more powerful.


Who likes coffee?
Who has ever travelled overseas?
Who is scared of heights?
Who has famous relatives?
Who likes to ride motorcycles?
Does anyone think Chic Fil A is overrated?
Who exercises at least 4 times a week?
Who has never had a speeding ticket?
Who has ridden on a subway?
Who has never been on a plane?
Who has ever taken on a restaurant's food challenge?
Who plays video games?
Who has never seen The Godfather?
Who is a step parent?
Who has a step parent?
Who said they would never be a teacher?
Who has ever been bullied?
Who has saved someone’s life?
Who has beaten cancer?

Who is here today ready to make a difference this year?

"The students placed in your classes are here for a reason too. Some student in your class needs you this year. It is our job to determine who that is and what that need is. Let's go make a difference."

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Back To School Transformations

Our campus is going through some renovations.  I couldn't be more happier for my students, parents, and staff.  They deserve this beautiful space.  The library needed a big makeover.  The library furniture was outdated.  The fluorescent lighting wasn't giving off the best light for reading.  The space just wasn't inviting.  The library wasn't a space where anyone wanted to stay for long periods of time.  Thankfully the community passed a bond, and we are now blessed with this beautiful space.



The library is divided into multiple sections.  (1) We have an upper elementary section that can be used by students and staff. (2) A lower elementary section for our youngest students.  (3) A reading cave; and (4) a lounging or gathering space.

Literacy Library 

Two years ago I started purchasing leveled books for guided reading.  Over the two years,  I spent as much money as I could investing in our literacy program.  The book bins were purchased from Ikea.  They are just heavy cardboard, but they really do the job.  I created the color-coded labels on my computer.  You can download them here.

The book cases were ordered from Amazon and stacked on top of each other.  I ordered 4 total.  Maintenance braced them together and then for extra safety measures we braced them to the wall.



Download Welcome to My House Presentation

We are excited to kick off the 2019-2020 school year and introduce the House System to our students.    At the end of 2018-2019 school year, we discussed this idea with the staff.  They were 100% on board.  Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with some great principals who have already paved the way for me.  Heather Patterson and Trent Hamilton are both Texas principals and have implemented the House System a few years ago.  Through the use of social media and this blog, I am able to connect to other administrators and brainstorm ideas, share resources, and just build great friendships.

I also watched Ron Clark's Facebook Live presentation this summer.  I found about it through social media and marked it on my calendar.  This too was a big help.  You can watch the playback of the event here.

Ron Clark Youtube


My staff will be in a House.  I thought and thought about how to reveal their Houses.  A lot of school do balloon popping, spinning the wheel, etc...  However, I had forgotten I had these scratch off tickets until I was going through my supplies.  I immediately knew this is what I wanted to do.  So the entire staff will scratch off their tickets to review a number: 1, 2, or 3.  We have three Houses.  We have not named our Houses or assigned colors yet so adding a number under the scratch off was the best option for me.

These are the best scratch off stickers!  I purchased 1000 of them, and they will last forever.


Our maintenance, custodial staff, and construction crews have worked so hard this summer.  Since we are under a big renovation, they have been working even harder despite the dust, piles of tools and buckets of paint throughout the halls.  We decided to have an afternoon of ice cold watermelon as a treat.  Watermelon is affordable and delicious too.  If you need a great pick-me-up, this is the perfect one for a hot summer day.  

For more MORALE BOOSTERS, check out Morale Magic!  It has everything you need for many years of gifting and lifting spirits.

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How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything

How you do one thing is how you do everything.  

When one area of your health suffers, all the other parts suffer too.  Equally, when you develop one part of your life, all the other parts benefit too.

Let me explain how this relates to us as leaders.

This summer while on vacation in the beautiful mountains of Wyoming my courageous husband fell from a bicycle while riding down a steep mountain at a fast rate of speed.  He wasn't knocked unconscious, but he suffered from three broken ribs and blood-filled lungs.  This accident was just a few weeks ago.  His body is visibly bruised and low impact movements are the current norm, but he is doing much better now.  His healing is day-by-day and will take up to 8 weeks to fully recover.

I have always been some what of a person who does things all the way.  I don't cut corners on the work.  But to be honest, I have a junk drawer or two or even a closet full of "stuff" that I could really work on.  If things look great on the surface, I am totally fine walking by that junk drawer and closet and never skip a beat.

As I watch him heal from his broken and bruised body, I think about the quote- "How you do one thing is how you do everything."  When one part of your body is suffering, all the other parts suffer too.  He struggles to just to get dressed, to work a full day at work, to sleep a full night's sleep, etc...  A broken bone or three can make a big difference in how you function.

You might be thinking what does this have to do with me as a leader?

Well here is the answer.  The way we handle one thing showcases how we will handle the next hing.  When you are dedicated to the complete project, you will create habits that lead you to do the same in the future.

Creating that junk drawer at home and a closet filled with unnecessary items only clutters my house and takes up space.  The habit I have created will sprinkle into my work life unless I take conscious attempts to change my habits and behaviors.  These patterns of just throwing something in the drawer or shoving it into a closet of course will bleed over into my professional life and my leadership abilities if I am not careful.

As you begin this journey as a school leader either for the first time or as a seasoned school leader, I invite you to take a closer look at your own habits, particularly those that are not serving you.  Perhaps just one simple concept, like organizing your desk, or creating a filing system, or cleaning out your inbox every day before you go home, could be just the answer to a better year.

A simple shift in one habit can inevitability impact another.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

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End of School Year Scavenger Hunt: Mystery Prize Box

Scavenger Hunts are great for all ages, and they are a great way to wrap up a school year.  Moreover, scavenger hunts after a week of state testing, trump all kinds of fun.  Here's the scoop on the details of the day.

Each classroom will end up with their own prize box after completing the hunt.  I recommend staggering the start times of the classes so they don't end up at the same location at the same time.  We staggered a 15-minute delay between each class.

I purchased the scavenger hunt from this website.  I printed multiples pages of each mystery puzzle.  Each puzzle was placed in an envelope with a different teacher's name on the front of the envelope.  As students arrived at the location, they opened their class envelope.  If they arrived in a place without an envelope, they did not solve correctly.  There are about 11 puzzles to solve before they reach the final location and locate their prize box.


Each box contained about the same items with a variation of a few items- a ball (football, kickball, or basketball), paint set, chalk, water guns, bubbles, spray chalk, frisbee, Little Debbie snack cakes, coloring books, markers, crayons, etc...

The box is a group prize and must be shared with everyone in the class.  Pictured below are items that were purchased for multiple boxes.


Assign different students leadership roles at each station.  For example, if you have 20 students in your group, have 3-4 students attempt to solve the mystery.  At the next location, I recommend switching and having another 2-3 students solve.  This gives everyone a chance to show their leadership skills and play the game.  Mysteries are a ton of fun, especially when there is a big reward at the end.  


Some of the puzzles were tricky.  The students had to use their critical thinking skills on some of the stations.  This struggle is good.  Don't be so quick to jump in and give them the answers or tell them how to solve the puzzle.  Problem-solving is the best skill we could ever give our students.

Prior to starting the puzzles, I asked all the teachers to join me for a quick meeting.  I went over how the stations were organized and the answer to every puzzle.  Trust me on this when I say you should do this.  I simply had a printed copy of all the puzzles in the staff room and showed the teachers how each puzzle looked and the answer to it.  


Students have worked hard all year completing study plans, attending tutoring, and diligently working toward mastering their goals in RtI.  I felt the need to reward them (and their teachers) with a Work Hard, Play Hard Day.  The items can be played inside or outside (mostly outside).  This day was filled with full joy and some very eager students.  We didn't expect the students to be perfect in the halls.  However, we did set ground rules about sharing the clues to any passing players.  We didn't want to spoil the fun for any of the remaining participants.  

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How to Improve Staff Morale and Retention

Staff morale. Wikipedia defines it as a job satisfaction or a feeling of well-being in the workplace.  But we all know morale offers more than just happiness at school.  There is strong evidence that shows a clear link between staff morale and better job performance.  As a result, student achievement increases.  The downside of all of this is that morale is a moving target.

Good leadership is common sense.  Leadership is about people; management is about systems and processes.  The leader's behavior is one of the most significant factors in staff morale.

We must lead with our head, heart, and our hands.



As school leaders, we must show that we value our staff and students.  If you don't have positive relationships built on trust, no amount of morale boosters and snacks or treats will push your teachers to perform at high levels.  How you interact with those around you is a crucial part of our positions.  Honestly, you can be the most talented, courageous, and driven school leader, but that is simply not enough.  You must have personal skills and the ability to connect.  Put your people first. I know that sounds simple, but unless we are intentional in making people most important, to-do lists, deadlines, and juggling tasks will be what wins your attention.  The bottom line is to understand that everything we do involves us being connected.  Build stronger relationships daily.  This makes two-way communication and true dialogue with your people critically important.  Leading from the heart is about relating, having conversations, working together, and caring for the people you lead.


Believe it or not- the school's physical environment and building can influence the culture.  This physical environment that we all occupy has a significant impact on how we interact and how we will engage with one another, as well as, how we engage in our work.  Although we can't knock down walls in our school, we can provide as many opportunities to make our environment appealing and provide time for teachers to collaborate and interact.  Create opportunities for your campus staff to work together or just have lunch together.  At least once a month, we have a luncheon.  Typically during the day, teachers eat lunch in their classrooms.  However, during the luncheon, we set up a meal in a common space so they can sit and talk and just enjoy some conversations.


 Being consistent is a consistent challenge.  We are challenged to put on a stoic or poker face every day regardless of how crazy the situation.  Personally, I cannot handle people who are consistently inconsistent.  You know those kinds of people.  They are a different person every single day or week. It seems as though they invite chaos or create drama.  Their actions keep everyone at a heightened state of anxiety.  It is our job as leaders to create an environment that will stimulate, motivate, and develop people.  This will, in turn, bring out the best in everyone.  Changing behaviors of your staff can take time.  However, you do have immediate control over how you "show up" every day.  People admire and respect consistent leaders.  If we don't accomplish any of our to-do tasks, at least we showed up to work with consistent behavior.  As far as me, I plan on tackling every Monday morning head-on.  Being consistent is a way to empower others to act based on what they know the leader's direction would be.  It also is important in developing desired behaviors and culture.



Retaining key staff members is critical to the long-term health and success of your school.  A high turnover rate will lower your chances of being successful in meeting any of your goals and carrying out the vision.


If you had a chance to read Morale Magic,™you know my stance on providing our staff and students with an environment in which they feel valued and appreciated.  I love celebrating in big ways and in little ways.  Whatever the occasion, find a reason to celebrate and bring joy in the school.  It is a win-win for everyone.

Need ideas to help boost your school's morale?  Download Morale Magic™

What ideas do you have to improve staff morale and retention? Leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you. 

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