Surviving the Dunk Tank

Sometimes Pollyanna Gets Punched in the Face

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but…here it comes:

Sometimes they really ARE out to get you!

Yep. Nobody wants to talk about it but crooked politics, discrimination, revenge, and ego-driven adversaries are awaiting you in the dark underbelly of the educational leadership world. Sinister sharks swim in the seas of our school systems. The waters are chummed with rumors, saboteurs, misinformation, slander, and deceit and sooner or later you may find yourself thrown overboard and, when that happens, you better know how to swim.

Maybe your school board president is mad that his daughter didn’t get the kindergarten job. Maybe your boss feels threatened by your innovative ideas and popularity. Perhaps it is a jealous co-worker who wanted the promotion you received. Or, it could be a disgruntled parent group upset you didn’t cater to their every whim like the last leader. Then again, it could be the boosters who want your head on a platter because you removed the winning football coach because he was an incompetent teacher and humiliated kids. Maybe you’re the outsider coming in to shake up a stagnant system and you’ve ruffled some feathers. Maybe it is just outright racism or sexism…or some religious zealot doesn’t care for your sexual orientation.

It could just be that sometimes people do bad stuff for their own reasons that you’ll never know.

But the bottom line is that this sh&$ happens.

Every day.

We call it The Dunk Tank.

The problem is that NOBODY wants to talk about it. And if nobody talks about it, you can’t be prepared to avoid it in the first place or develop the skill set to survive if it happens to you.

Who would have the guts to write a book on these types of controversial topics? And, even if you found authors willing to risk their reputations and careers to write it, what publisher would touch it with a 10-foot pole?

I think you know where this is going…

Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown is our edgiest book ever…this one is going to ruffle feathers. But sometimes you have to make a ruckus to reach the right readers. The authors, Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda, are Dunk Tank survivors themselves. They know of what they write! It is filled with mesmerizing accounts from REAL leaders who have swam in these waters. Many of them are still in their systems so we had to go to extraordinary lengths to obscure identities and we are forever thankful to these courageous educators who risked sharing their journeys. The stories are truly compelling.

Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t a book that wallows in the negativity. This is a survival guide. This is a manifesto and a call to arms for those who love being an educational leader and want to fight the good fight.

The types of tactics adversaries may use against you are clearly explained along with giving you an insightful look at the emotional motivators in play. Most importantly, you’ll receive a crash course in proactive strategies that limit your chances of entering the dunk tank as well battle-tested ideas for how to prevail if it happens to you.

It includes chapters such as 10 Ideological Practices of Dunk Tank Survivors and 8 Tasks to Optimize Triumph Over Tragedy. This is about coming out on the other side emotionally and spiritually healthy no matter what they throw at you.

You don’t have to be afraid of the Dunk Tank. You have to be ready. As Zig Ziglar said, “F-E-A-R has
two meanings: Forget Everything and Run, or Face Everything and Rise.” We want you to rise.

We’re so committed to seeing that this book gets into the hands of those who need it, that we have gone the extra mile to publish a COMPLETELY FREE companion e-book specially designed by Rick and Rebecca to guide you through the reflective process. It’s called, Entering the School Leader’s Think Tank, and it is IDEAL for book study groups and/or educational leadership courses that want to use Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank as a text. Sign up for the email list and download it here.

Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #SLDunkTank

I’m just going to guess that even if you’re convinced you don’t need this book (you may want to read their chapter on “proactive paranoia,” by the way!), you know somebody who desperately needs it right now. It might save their career…or at least their sanity.

As always, thanks so much for your support and for everything you do to make school amazing for kids.



Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Play Your Drum in 2017

z2eocqbm-jpg-largeHonestly, New Year’s Resolutions have rarely been effective for me. In similar fashion, although the “one word” concept has been effective for some…for me, not so much. I have always tried to tune into what is bringing me positive energy. What is it that when I’m doing it, it doesn’t feel like work. That activity or project that I can’t wait to clear away all of the must-do items on my list so I can finally get to THIS. That’s what I look for and try to follow. The wonderful intersection of something you love doing, you are amazing at, and that makes a powerful impact on the world. I call it your drum.

I rarely put excerpts from Teach Like a Pirate out publicly, but I’m making an exception for this. I last posted it in 2011 and it still rings true to me. No matter what you may be celebrating this holiday season, I wish you success and happiness. Go find your drum.

Play Your Drum

Little Drummer Boy has been my favorite Christmas Carol for as long as I can remember.  Of all of the holiday songs, I can honestly say it is the only one that truly moves me.  The idea of a young boy, too poor to afford a fitting gift for the “new born king,” attempting to honor him with what he does is a great lesson for all of us.  We spend too much time stressing out and concerning ourselves with what is absent in our lives, and not enough time focusing on what really matters.

The drummer boy may not be able to afford the expensive and fancy gifts, but he has something better; he can offer the gift of his unique strengths and talents. He has no material gift to offer but what he can do is play his drum like no one else is capable of playing it. And so he does.  The fact that his play is met by approval and acceptance from Mary and the animals is certainly of no surprise. After all, when one is engaged in pursuing one’s passion and offering the very personal gift of doing what he does best, the power is undeniable and clear to all.

Isn’t that what life is really all about?  We all have to find our own personal “drum” and then play it the best we can.  For me, I never feel more truly alive than when I’m standing in front of a class of students or a seminar room full of teachers.  That’s my drum I’m playing up there and I’m going to play the heck out of it.  The line, “I played my best for him,” is a call to arms and a challenge to meet.  Forget about all of things you can’t control and play your drum to the best of your abilities. Play with all of the passion, enthusiasm, and heart you can muster.  Nothing else really matters. You can offer no finer gift or higher honor to the world than to find out what your “drum” is and then play it for all it’s worth.

My best to you in 2017. May you find your drum and play the heck out of it!

I’m embedding 3 versions of the song for you. The first was made by Sean Quigley in 2011, a then 16 yr old  high school student from Winnipeg. I know my Canadian friends will especially enjoy the video (Thanks to Annick Rauch for sharing!). The second is a version by Jars of Clay (Thanks, John Berray). The last is an acapella version by the Pentatonix.

Let me know your favorite version in the comments or feel free to add a link to your favorite!



My #DitchSummit Presentation


Fantastic sketchnote of the program by Jen Giffen (@VirtualGiff)

The Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit has been a smashing success with fantastic presentations each day. Congratulations to Matt Miller and all of the presenters. If you didn’t sign up and/or missed my part of the program, I’m embedding it below. It disappears on 12/31! (Check out the sketchnote made by Jen Giffen! Thanks for sharing, Jen!)