These are my notes from Mark Mcleod‘s keynote address at the Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals (OAESP) mid-winter conference on January 19, 2012, in Oklahoma City. The conference is sponsored and organized by the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA). Mark’s official website is MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Information about Mark is listed on the Education Speakers Group website and Nuts and Bolts Symposium website. This is a PDF of the same handout we were provided for today’s keynote by Mark.

Mark Mcleod in Oklahoma City

I want you to be on fire for your job, which is one of the most important jobs in the world
There are a lot of adult educators who are struggling, who need your help

it’s a great day to be an encourager and not a discourager
– it’s a great day to become a better person

Let’s take this day and embrace it to the fullest

A great day to be a positive force is a negative society

#1 thing young kids are looking for: positive adult role models
– you

I’ve been doing this full time for 8 years now
Think of this activity:
– make a list on a piece of paper of the qualities you want from the kids and adults you work with which you want to see / encourage / support

What is the #1 quality you want from your students
– #1 quality isn’t smarts: it’s a positive attitude and good behavior in the classroom
– know what I wanted from my teachers as a principal
– It was always harder

educators around the world want students to treat me with unconditional respect, and to respect each other
– to get along with each

#3 reason: students motivated to learn
– we’ve got to make sure we are motivated
– when I hire teachers, I look for teachers who are MOTIVATED to be the best they can be

The only person I have a chance to control is myself

I am beneath everyone in this room, but I do have a passion
– if you’re going to be in the teaching profession for 30 years, you might as well be on fire
– we have got to have a super positive attitude
– I didn’t have that when I started teaching

It’s ok to be in school improvement mode, but don’t just stay there
– we must always ask: can I reach one more adult, can I reach one more student
– we have a chance to embrace the day and make the world a better place

Every day we need to look in the mirror and ask if we are treating everyone with unconditional respect
– whatever has become habit in your life is what you do
– that is why we have to have the best habits

“If the butt starts getting numb, the brain is going dumb” – Marsha Tate

Most important thing to me is that the learning sticks

You have got to be willing to take a risk as a successful educational leader

You don’t learn how to teach in college
– it is all on the job training


Often we make things too complicated
– fear of embarrassment and fear of failure are the reasons many kids don’t participate in class, AND the reason many classroom teachers won’t try something new in the classroom

The environment for success is key
– what relationships have been developed in your school culture

if we can help create a risk-free environment where students will feel safe taking risks, they will participate far more

Best way to increase student achievement: Increase the quality of instruction
– discipline referrals will go down, test scores will go up

My handout is long, because I’d always rather give you MORE rather than less

Please write down these goals:
– help each person in this “relight your fire” (get the fire back)
– the passion to change the world, unconditional love for everyone

It’s so easy in education to lose your fire

“The Energy Bus” by Jon Jordon

No educator in the nation would tell you they started out wanting to become a screamer, be in survival mode, be an energy vampire

You can’t give away something you don’t have

Great teachers are always looking for opportunities to encourage others and build relationships (with students and other teachers)
– #1 goal is relight your fire

#2 goal: fill up an imaginary toolbox for success

In college you don’t have to have a bell activity, a bathroom plan, and more… but in public education you do
– we want you to fill up with toolbox strategies today to take back right away

bathroom procedure: Yes with a qualifier
– you can go to the restroom after you finish problems 1 through 5

#3 goal: I want educators to network and share

Some of the most effective teachers I’ve ever seen are 1st year teachers
– engagement in the classroom

#4 have fun at this conference

Most effective teachers create an environment where the students do the majority of the work

I have found the better I meet my needs in my personal life, the better I can meet my student needs: have patience

Willard Harley: “His Needs, and Her Needs”
– you have an emotional bank deposit with every person, and you’re either making deposits or withdrawals

What is your spouse’s love language?

support and appreciation = the main thing teachers want from their administrator

Do you know the #1 thing all students need? Unconditional LOVE

the key to relationships is loading up the emotional bank account deposits

with students
– go to their extracurricular activities
– recognize each student’s birthday
– give students jobs in the classroom
– positive parent contact
– verbal praise
– noticing them and commenting or questioning them about it in a supportive way
– calling them by name
– stickers

with adults:
– food
– being there
– ask about family

If you prove that you care for someone through your actions, they will be much more likely to be on board with you

Effective teachers have some signal when they want eyes-on attention from students
– a bell
– repeated claps
– time – out
– ring, ring – hello

If the kids say “oooo” because you have used disrespect or sarcasm, the kids are thinking “you’re just like us, that’s how we treat each other”
– don’t take the low road
– choose to meet disrespect with respect, anger with love… these are the decisions we must make

Learning will be on fire in your classrooms when teachers get the environment right for learning

students can make emotional bank account deposits
– often though that is not their habit

Get the “Cha Ching” going in your classroom
– I taught this to students, we brainstormed on butcher paper

If you think about it, making 100% on the state test is not as important as making deposits
– self-contained teachers particularly have this opportunity

going out of your way on purpose to make emotional deposits and build relationships with others


Giveaways Mark used:
– bell with stickers
– tshirts

Talk with students all the time about CHOICES
– everything is a choice, plus you choose the attitude you are going to have every day

sometimes bad things just happen, and we are in a situation when we say, “I did not deserve that.”
– so sometimes we have to force ourselves to have a positive attitude

Positive relationships and the emotional bank account: these are keys in our toolbox

variety and classroom management
– if you don’t have the classroom management right, you won’t want or be able to take your kids to the lab for experiments

24 days to form a habit
– Harry Wong: first weeks of school, procedures, procedures, procedures,
– something always becomes a habit/procedure in the classroom


You can re-teach procedures at any time of the year, but the start of the year is the best time to do that

Environment for success: all about relationships and classroom management
– always better to be proactive instead of reactive

Add the words: Room setup
– can determine if your workshop or class is effective or ineffective
– if you don’t work the room, the room will work you
– I don’t prefer round tables, scattered rectangular tables are my favorite to prevent people from keeping their backs to you all day as as presenter

Working the classroom is like working a traffic light (Henry Wong again)
– if you stay at the front of the room, automatically you will have zones or layers created in the classroom
– the farther you are from a student, the more likely they are not going to be participating

College professors don’t have to ‘work the classroom’ like we do in PK-12 education

proximity and positive words are big motivators for student engagement

you have got to monitor as you teach
– assessments must be done in the classroom

As a principal I told teachers I was doing “specific skill observation”
– I was looking for a specific skill

1st one: Traffic Light, work the room

I would be in a teacher’s classroom at least 30 times during the semester
– If I only go in there twice a year,

Do you know teachers like to

#1 motivator after the relationship is SUCCESS with both kids and adults

sometimes teachers don’t get the right strategies in college
– specific skill observation was one of the best things we ever did at my school

Effective teaching is a lifestyle
– getting the correct habits in the toolbox is the most important thing

Here are the strategies that my teachers knew how to use with students for engagement:
– evil eye
– evil eye with signal
– proximity
– proximity with touch
– proximity with note
– whisper technique
– delayed referral
– send on referral
– role play
– bell activity

Comments from participants on most important elements
– building trust within your building

Instead of just asking students “Why?” kick up short answer questions with this kind of script: “I like your answer, tell me why you chose that answer”

#1 predictor of student achievement is the teacher (it’s not the smart board, the common core standards, etc)

you’ve got to fight all disrespect with respect every time

The Five Love languages by Gary Chapman is a great book, and there are other books specifically for adults with children and teen

Love language 1: Acts of Service

Love Language 2: Words of Affirmation
– most men speak this love language

Words have SO MUCH power
– we have got to be careful, say the right words, and do the right thing so we make deposits instead of withdrawals

Love Language 3: Gifts
– if your wife’s love language is gifts, you better get her a huge diamond

Love Language 4: Quality Time
– people that want you to be their BFF
– how do you identify these students: they get to your door early each morning, they are looking for adult role models they want to be with

This is where gang membership starts I think: people are looking for something

Our relationships with everyone is key

if I don’t spend quality time with my spouse, there is a snake somewhere who will
– often when we run into problems with relationships, we are speaking the wrong love language

Love Language 5: Physical Touch

Assignment: Identify your dominant love language (how can people make the biggest deposit for you)
– there is a profile that goes with the book
– when you do the profile with the book you get a pretty good idea


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