Episode #195: Jen Schwanke

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

Jen Schwanke has been an educator for 24 years, teaching or leading at all levels. She is the author of three ASCD books, including the just released, “The Teacher’s Principal: How School Leaders Can Support and Motivate Their Teachers.” She has written and presented for multiple state and local education organizations and has provided professional development to various districts in the areas of school climate, personnel, and instructional leadership. She is an instructor in educational administration at Miami University and is a doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University. She currently serves as a Deputy Superintendent in Ohio.

 Trench story: had taught 7 years, became an AP. Her son was born. Went back to the classroom. Teacher & admin trench are wide, parallel, different.  It taught her to enhance her own learning in that trench.

Work with ASCD and writing books, blogs, how did you get involved and how it evolved? 



Tell me about some of the the ideas behind your blogs: She felt a call to writing. Started blogging 20 years ago. Had moved into admin. Wanted to always remember what it was like to be a teacher, even as principal. Write about first few days as principal- evolved into You’re the principal, now what?  There is a natl. conversation about teachers and pressures/stressors that go along with being a teacher. Don’t discount feelings. Principal/super. needs to make sure everyone’s feeling OK. They need to have workplace that’s supportive.

Talk about your latest book: The Teachers Principal: How School Leaders Can Support and Motivate Their Teachers premise of book is we’re motivated by our purpose; she likens it to a tree. Trunk-core, priorities- what drives us. Leaves, patterns, habits, routines. They feed off one another. Reason we went into education should be rooted in desire to do well. Educational career is a long one. Work deserves acknowledgement of what’s going on in our lives. Those are easier for a principal to influence.

You’re the author of Principal Reboot: 8 Ways to Revitalize Your School Leadership- talk about principal/school leader burnout these days and how reading this book can help.  She was in that place herself- said it was a mindset. We can link it to in the trenches. We have the power to change our career. She was in year 14 of admin. Worried she’d lose her joy. It had become stale. We have control over so much of our work. The book released 3-17-20, worst day the book could release. Low readership to start off.

Moving from long-time principal to Deputy Superintendent just in 21/22, position came to her: it was the right circumstance. Crossroads of what she’d been working on with her own professional growth. We get into a place where we think we know everything about our work. It’s about taking care of ppl, making sure decisions are student-focused.

Professional speaking engagements upcoming. Was at ACSD in Oct. at Leadership Summit. Does podcasting with William Parker for Principal Matters. Will be speaking with principals in a few other states. Usually says “yes”. Her work supports, motivates, inspires. Does PD for teachers, talks about purposes, how easy it is to change that. Nature of her job- she is committed to her district. More consulting later in career. Writing is one of her outlets. Values the security of an educational job.

Key quotes…It’s about a mindset. She grew up on a farm. Didn’t want to work. Wanted to read. Worked till she was happy. Work in education is hard work. This could be a job that leaves us beaten & bruised. Identify where our impact should be. Stay committed to our purpose. Find a student and sit down and talk to them, it will fill your cup up quick.

Find Jen online: More information can be found on her website. @jenschwanke www.jenschwanke.com

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/9TWfI84CW8M

Work in education is hard work. This could be a job that leaves us beaten & bruised. Identify where our impact should be. Stay committed to our purpose. Click To Tweet



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