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Drew Dudley Opens 2016-17 Principals Conference Days

At the first TCRWP Principals Conference of the year, Drew Dudley empowered over 200 principals to create cultures of leadership in their own buildings and to celebrate what he called “lollipop moments.”

Dudley, the Founder and Chief Catalyst of Day One Leadership, pointed out that too often in schools, the idea of leadership is disconnected from people’s identities. He said that leadership is held up as something beyond the reach of the masses, with giants like Steve Jobs celebrated as the model leader. Dudley cautioned, “When we hold up giants, we stop valuing the everyday moments of leadership around us. We let them pass by without calling them leadership.” He argued that it’s difficult to create leaders in young people when principals and teachers hesitate to see themselves in that light.

To support principals in creating cultures of leadership, Dudley challenged them to first identify the core values that drive them. He pointed out that waiting for opportunities to live one’s values is not enough. “Good leaders live their values every time they get an opportunity,” Dudley said. “Great leaders create specific plans to live out their values.” Leaders who value empowerment, for instance, might ask each day, “What have I done today to help someone else move closer to a goal?” Dudley pointed out that making decisions with one’s values in mind is not always easy, but it leads to consistency and to decisions leaders can feel good about five years down the road.

Dudley also challenged principals to redefine leadership as being about “lollipop moments,” the small moments when someone says or does something that can have a fundamental impact on someone else’s life. He said that leaders should seek to create and acknowledge these small moments of leadership in their buildings.

Dudley is one of the most popular TED Talk speakers. His TED Talk, “Everyday Leadership” has been viewed more than two and a half million times. The former Director of one of Canada’s largest leadership development programs, Dudley is best known for his ability to help people understand leadership in a more nuanced, practical, and hopeful way.

The principals who attended Dudley’s speech meet monthly to learn about the Project’s latest research and to develop best practices for lifting the level of teaching and learning in their buildings. In addition to attending Dudley’s talk, principals studied with members of the Project’s senior leadership team, learning ways to give more powerful feedback, to support increased independence for students, and to lift the level of small group work in their buildings. Principals left the day empowered to make change in their buildings.