PMP163: Encouraging an Environment of Growth – Questions and Answers with Jethro Jones

Thank you @jethrojones for collaborating together to answer principal questions! #education #leadership #principalmatters #transformativeprincipals

Recently, I have been answering questions from listeners on a variety of subjects in school leadership.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions

This week I am joined by my friend, Jethro Jones the host of Transformative Principal Podcast as we tackle three questions together from our listeners. Jethro is an administrator with elementary and middle level experience and currently lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.

In 2017 he was recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals as a National Digital Principal of the Year. I’ve known Jethro for years from connecting online and have had the privilege of meeting him in person. He was first a guest on my program for PMP Episode 74, where you can hear a longer introduction to his work and check out conversations about why it’s important to embed digital practices in your school. 

3 Questions from Listeners

This week we are tackling three questions that principal listeners have shared with us from our podcasts, covering these topics:

  1. What do you do if or when your teachers give you the cold shoulder about learning something new?
  2. How do you manage differences in student dynamics within competency-based instruction?
  3. What ways can you measure student growth in Social Emotional Learning?

Listen-in for the complete conversation, and let’s jump right in…

Question 1. My teachers give me the cold shoulder when I try to introduce them to new ways of teaching. What should I do?

Jethro and I discuss the following:

  • Modeling for teachers
  • Observation of other teachers
  • What is he/she doing well already? Praise first, then instruct.
  • Lead with the question, “Where do you want to grow?”
  • Creating an enviornment where teachers ask for help
  • Celebrating innovative teaching
  • Learning to say yes before saying no

Question 2. How do you make sure that students who struggle don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed that they aren’t working with their peers? When competency-based, what happens?

We discuss these suggestions:

  • Defining expecations so that students measure against standards, not other students
  • They are already in different places! Your expectations matter in their perceptions…
  • Help them identify where they are good. And celebrate!
  • It’s not about competition with peers, but competition with themselves. 

Question 3. How can Social Emotional Learning success be measured?

We discuss several takeaways:

  • Discover the importantce of self-reflection. It’s okay to embrace different standards for everyone. 
  • Resilient students don’t really need more resiliency training. They need something else. 
  • A student with trauma needs different things than a student without. 
  • Creat an environment where you want your own chidren
  • You can measure the indicators like discipline, attendance and graduation/completion rates 
  • We share examples of SEL through FOMO — karaoke cafeteria — from Principal Kim Coody’s High School in Okahoma and Amy Fast’s emotional learning practices in Oregon
  • Recource recommended: Barb Sorrels –

Let’s Wrap this up

The ability to have a fresh start is one of the biggest blessings of being an educator or education leader. You have a fresh start every morning and every new school year. Your ability to grow also requires reflection and practice. One theme that runs through this week’s questions from principals is the theme of continual improvement – improvement with teachers, students, and culture.

You will not grow perfectly in any of these areas, but when you reflect with others, grow together, and move forward, you build momentum toward continuous improvement. And over time, you reap the benefits of hard work as well as the positives that come from modeling the behaviors you expect in others.

Now It’s Your Turn

What is one new method or strategy you could model for your teachers or team? How can you instll in others the freedom to believe it’s okay to try and fail and in learning? And how can you celebrate the wins along the way?

Mastermind Update

I wanted to give you a heads up that I have opened applications for a mastermind community and am receiving and setting up phone interviews with interested listeners. If you want to be a part of an exclusive community of other school leaders who meet on a weekly basis for leadership discussions, book studies, and hot-seat opportunities, you can learn more by visiting or email me at

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker