In this episode we talk with Dr. Tommy Watson. Dr. Watson is a former elementary principal, acclaimed author, and speaker. He is also the owner and driving force behind his company TA Watson, Speaking, Coaching and Consulting. We discuss his book A Face of Courage and his area of expertise; the systematic motivation of students. Before we do, however, we get into his educational journey and the struggles and successes he’s navigated to get where he is today.
Summary of his educational journey.
Dr. Tommy Watson grew up in Denver, Colorado with parents who who drug addicts, shoplifters and were in and out of the criminal justice system. As a result he and his siblings were placed in and out of foster homes. He was forced to bounce around to five different elementary schools in his first six years of school. As a result there were huge gaps in his education. He spent all of his 8th grade year living out of a motel after getting kicked out of his house in front of all of his friends.
It was in 8th grade however when a pivotal encounter with a coach inspired he and his inner city friends to play football. Just like a movie, Tommy found himself traveling across three city bus transfers to get to a private suburban mostly white school. This presented its own challenges both with the suburban students and his friends from the neighborhood.
To learn more about his journey and the Nun who challenged him and helped him succeed . . . listen to the entire episode :-)
I discovered the power of education and the difference it made in my journey
Education is a game changer
No one [teachers] killed my dreams. They simply had a philosophy that life would teach [me]
It’s not about hammering kids! It’s about teaching kids
I had no control over my life, so I came to school and tried to control that.
Words of Wisdom
I want to inspire young people to maximise education, utilize i [education] t and give back in the same way.
I had a coach, who for the first time, really believed in me, pushed me, motivated me. Who constantly spoke life into me. And talked to me about the possibilities beyond my neighborhood.
Often times we kill the dreams of our young people by telling them that their chances of making it to the NFL are slim. Not realizing that there’s never been an NFL player who didn’t first go to college
The kids who need love the most are often the kids who ask for it in the most undesirable ways.
We as educators, have to dig deep and have to learn to suspend judgment and allow a young person to do what it is that they enjoy doing.
Walking into school with high poverty and low morale
Low principal during district cuts, lost job along with third of staff was brought back to building after district had assigned another principal who had brought his own staff. Had to rebuild again.
A Snippet of What he learned
Begin to change the culture “first class staff, serving first class students”
Move away from punitive discipline
Advice for Principals
Continually speak life into your staff
Place heavy emphasis on instruction and instructional strategies and classroom management.
Get community volunteers involved
Switch mindset from getting parents involved to getting caring adults involved.
Create PLC’s and create common language throughout building
Heavy emphasis on reading
Focus on building relationships with staff, student, parents and community.
Model the change you want to be, spend time in the community.
About his book A Face of Courage
An autobiography of his journey used to inspire educators about what their students could be going through. It can be used as a tool to create empathy in educators working with students from high poverty areas.
Secrets to Motivate Students Workshop Teaser
Step one - find students value of valence (find out what this means on the podcast) or by contacting Dr. Tommy Watson. You can learn the entire system for motivating students.
The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John Maxwell
Leading Change by John Kotter.
Dr. Tommy Watson
Phone number 704.944.3555
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For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the www.howtobeagreatprincpal.com and order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur, on itunes and podomatic, new episodes weekly. If you’re interested in sharing your experience as an edleader please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......