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7 Mindshifts for Tackling Old Problems

Guest(s): Connie Hamilton, T.J. Vari and Joseph Jones
Date: 10/31/2022
Run time: 31:05
Season 4, Episode 7

Poor achievement scores, teacher turnover, funding shortfalls and political pressures. These are just a few issues that have dogged the education profession for years; they seem intractable. But this session’s guests, Connie Hamilton, Joseph Jones, and T.J. Vari, disagree. They believe we need a few mindshifts to spark our collective efficacy for tackling these problems. They also believe certain leadership behaviors which emerged to help manage the Covid crisis are valuable to retain and apply to these perennial problems in education. They discuss how different mindshifts are suited to particular challenges, offer leaders a way to reignite their passion for finding solutions to tough issues and frameworks for processing old problems in new ways.


Connie Hamilton Photo

Connie Hamilton

Connie Hamilton, Ed.S. served the field of education for 25+ as a teacher, instructional coach,principal and central office administrator. She earned her master’s and educational specialist degrees in the area of School Leadership with emphasis on curriculum and instruction. Her best selling book, Hacking Questions: 11 Answers That Create a Culture of Inquiry in Your Classroom was published in 2019. Along with Starr Sackstein, she co-authored Hacking Homework: 10 Strategies that Inspire Learning Outside the Classroom and also wrote Strained and Drained: Tools for Overworked Teachers with co-author, Dorothy VanderJagt. Throughout her career, Connie has supported teachers and administrators to refine their instructional practices and be reflective educators. With experience throughout K-12, Connie is mindful of systemic needs and how to develop structures that create growth within the entire system. Connie presents internationally on topics centered around instructional practices such as questioning, formative assessment, teacher clarity, and student engagement. Leaders and teachers benefit from Connie’s experience when she coaches them to put practice to action as they continue to learn and grow.

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T.J. Vari Photo

T.J. Vari

T.J. Vari, Ed.D. is the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools and District Operations in the Appoquinimink School District in Delaware. He is a former middle school assistant principal and principal and former high school English teacher and department chair. His master’s degree is in School Leadership and his doctorate is in Innovation and Leadership where he accepted an Award for Academic Excellence given to one doctoral student per graduating class. He holds several honors and distinctions, including his past appointment as President of the Delaware Association for School Administrators, his work with the Delaware Association for School Principals, and the honor in accepting the Paul Carlson Administrator of the Year Award. His efforts span beyond the K-12 arena into higher education where he holds adjunct appointments, teaching courses at the masters and doctoral level. He is a national presenter on topics of school leadership and the co-founder of TheSchoolHouse302, a leadership development institute. Along with Joseph Jones, he co-authored Candid and Compassionate Feedback: Transforming Everyday Practice in Schools. And, with Salome Thomas-EL and Joseph Jones, he co-authored Passionate Leadership: Creating a Culture of Success in Every School, Building a Winning Team: The Power of a Magnetic Reputation and the Need to Recruit Top Talent in Every School, and Retention for a Change: Motivate, Inspire, and Energize Your School Culture.

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Joseph Jones Photo

Joseph Jones

Joseph Jones, Ed.D. is the Superintendent of the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District in Delaware. Joe is a former high school social studies teacher, assistant principal, and principal. As principal, he was named the Delaware Secondary Principal of the Year and during his tenure, Delcastle Technical High School was the first high school to receive the state’s Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. He received his doctorate from the University of Delaware and currently works closely with local and state leaders on student achievement, spearheading an aggressive campaign to ensure students are successful in high school and in their post-secondary pursuits. He presents nationally on topics of school leadership and is the co-founder of the leadership development institute, TheSchoolHouse302.

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Peter M. DeWitt Photo

Peter M. DeWitt

Peter DeWitt (Ed.D) is the founder and CEO of the Instructional Leadership Collective. He was a K-5 teacher for 11 years and a principal for 8 years. For the last 10 years, he has been facilitating professional learning nationally, and internationally, based on the content of many of his best-selling educational books. 

 

DeWitt's professional learning relationships are a monthly hybrid approach that includes both coaching and the facilitating workshops on instructional leadership and collective efficacy. 

Additionally, in the Summer of 2021, DeWitt created a year long on-demand, asynchronous coaching course through Thinkific where he has created a community of learners that include k-12 educators in leadership positions. 

 

DeWitt's work has been adopted at the state level, university level, and he works with numerous school districts, school boards, regional networks, ministries of education around North America, Australia, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the U.K.

 

Peter writes the Finding Common Ground column for Education Week, which has been in circulation since 2011. In 2020 DeWitt co-created Education Week's A Seat At the Table where he moderates conversations with experts around the topics of race, gender, sexual orientation, research, trauma and many other educational topics. 

 

Additionally, DeWitt is the Series Editor for the Connected Educator Series (Corwin Press) and the Impact Series (Corwin Press) that include books by Viviane Robinson, Andy Hargreaves, Pasi Sahlberg, Yong Zhao and Michael Fullan.

 

He is the 2013 School Administrators Association of New York State's (SAANYS) Outstanding Educator of the Year, and the 2015 Education Blogger of the Year (Academy of Education Arts & Sciences), and sits on numerous advisory boards. 

Peter is the author, co-author or contributor of numerous books. Click on title to purchase. They include:
Dignity for All: Safeguarding LGBT Students (Corwin Press. 2012).



Flipping Leadership Doesn't Mean Reinventing the Wheel (Corwin Press. 2014)



Collaborative Leadership: 6 Influences That Matter Most (Corwin Press/Learning Forward).



School Climate: Leading With Collective Teacher Efficacy (Corwin Press/ Ontario Principals Council. 2017).

Coach It Further: Using the Art of Coaching to Improve School Leadership (Corwin Press. 2018). 



Instructional Leadership: Creating Practice Out Of Theory (Corwin Press. 2020).



Collective Leader Efficacy: Strengthening the Impact of Instructional Leadership Teams (Corwin Press. Learning Forward. 2021).



De-implementation: Creating the Space to Focus on What Works (Corwin Press. 2022). 



Leading with Intention - Developing self-awareness to fostering an unreasonable human interconnectedness to impact the school community (co-authored with Michael Nelson. Corwin Press. 2024).



Peter's articles have appeared in educational research journals at the state, national and international level. His books have been translated into numerous languages. 

Some of the organizations Peter has worked with are the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Learning Forward, National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), University of Oklahoma, Cognition Education (New Zealand), Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL), Victoria Department of Education (Australia), University of Rotterdam (Netherlands), Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), the National Education Association (NEA), New Brunswick Teacher's Association (Canada), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Education Scotland (Scotland), Glasgow City Council (Scotland), Kuwait Technical College (Kuwait) the National Association of School Psychologists, ASCD, l’Association des directions et directions adjointes des écoles franco-ontariennes (ADFO), the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario (CPCO), and the Ontario Principals’ Council (OPC), National School Climate Center, GLSEN, PBS, NPR, BAM Radio Network, ABC, and NBC's Education Nation.

Learn more about bringing Peter DeWitt to your school or district at petermdewitt.com

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Featured Publication
7 Mindshifts for School Leaders
Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems

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