Wednesday, July 20, 2011


** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to life. **

 imagine what 2008 will show by Iris Shreve Garrott

Another of my favorite presentations last week was by Tom Lindsay. Tom is the Superintendent of Mannheim SD 83 in Franklin Park, Illinois. He is not your typical Superintendent. He was wearing red glasses, an earring, and saddle shoes.

He was also not your typical superintendent in what he said. His district has a simple motto: All children can and will learn. This is simple, direct, and speaks volumes.

Tom provided my favorite quote of the week when he stated this:
“The problems in education are not rooted with the students or the teachers. Rather, they are a result of gutless administrators who don’t do what’s best for kids.”
That is a powerful statement and one that I do not disagree with. Many belittle the fact that bad teachers can not be removed due to tenure. This is not true. I’ll not jump into the fray on tenure, but administrators must do their job and help their poor teachers.

Tom stated that administrators have two obligations to mediocre teachers (those whom you wouldn’t want to teach your kid) – help them get better or help them get out.

Another idea Tom shared was how his district implements change. Their change process goes through a 3-year cycle. Below are their steps:
  1. First year the change is implemented with principals only. 
  2. Second year the change is implemented with the staff at each school. 
  3. Third year the change is fair game for being evaluated.
This is a brilliant method of implementation. In education, we tend to start new initiatives every year only to see them burn out.

Finally, Tom gave us a list of what he calls “Lindsay-isms.” I will list some of my favorite below for you to peruse. Although he acknowledged that he borrowed many of these from other sources, there are some powerful thoughts in the list.
  • If you do what you’ve done, you will get what you’ve gotten. If you want different, do different. 
  • That which gets tested gets taught; that which gets evaluated gets done.
  • You learn from your mistakes, not from your successes.
  • Do unto your students as you would have your Principal do unto you.
  • Collaborate, not castigate.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink...but, you can salt their oats. (referring to making them thirsty).
  • You learn to read by reading, to write by writing, to think by thinking and to worksheet by worksheeting.
  • If they can't learn the way you teach, then we have to teach them the way they learn.
  • Teach from your feet, not from your seat.
  • If you wouldn't want your own child in a teacher's classroom, then why should anyone else have their child in there.
  • Talk is cheap...performance is expensive.
  • No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • Stop whining and start aligning.
  • Early is on time; on time is late.
  • When in doubt...get them out. Oh, I don't know, then let them go. (referring to teachers)
  • He who does the talking does the learning.
  • Never be afraid of trying something new. Remember: amateurs built the ark and professionals built the Titanic.
  • Everyday above ground is good.
  • Move slow to go fast.
  • If we teach today as we were taught yesterday, we will rob our children of their tomorrow.
  • Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
  • The problem with schools isn't that they are no longer what they once were; the problem is that, in some cases, they are precisely what they were once.
  • Service is the rent we pay for living.
I enjoyed Tom's presentation. He also recommended many books for educators. You can read more about Tom, his "Lindsay-isms" and view his recommended books by visiting his website here.

QUESTION: Do any of these ideas resonate with you? Please leave comments below.


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Hammer said...

I'm glad to hear a discussion of the role of administrators. All too often, they seem to be omitted from the conversation. And I love the reminder that, if you wouldn't want your child in a particular teacher's classroom, why would that be okay for other students? Sounds like an interesting conference!

Jason said...

@sscguides - interesting comments. I wish you would shoot me an email and explain further (

@Hammer - The truth is that administrators need to do their job. They are the managers of their school.

Thank you both for the comments.

Tessa Hardiman said...

Great post. I really enjoyed the "lindsay-isms." As a young teacher just entering the field, I truly appreciate the thoughts and ideas from the blog today.

Jason said...

Thanks for stopping by. Teaching is the greatest profession in the world if you love kids and want to make a difference. Find a good mentor in the field. I hope this is a wonderful year for you. Thanks for the comment.

Denise Rawding said...

Being a leader takes courage. Thanks for sharing this. As I take the leap into school leadership, I aspire to remain true to my vision of good teaching.

Jason said...

Thanks for the comment. You should read everything you can about administration from Todd Whitaker. He has great stuff. Thanks, again.