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School Superintendent Dr. Robert McBride
Episode 128th May 2022 • Fixing Chicago • Paul Bryan Roach
00:00:00 01:08:58

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Join us for an hour with the fascinating and brilliant Dr. Robert McBride, superintendent of Lockport Schools, for a discussion on education, leadership, and how to teach kids despite a Covid pandemic.

2  - Guest bio

3  - Timestamps:

*[00:40] Intro

*[01:40] Interest in Education; Oak Park & River Forest High School, Northwestern undergraduate English/Writing, Harvard graduate Masters in Curriculum & Teaching.

*[05:14] Fulbright Scholar St. Andrews, Scotland, School of English; differences between U.S. & U.K. educational systems

*[11:17] What motivates students?

*[14:27] Life lessons on being a Departmental Chair, executing the role, it's many hats, pro tips, leadership at the mid-levels.

*[23:00] Being a Principle: the joys, the sorrows, the travails. Empowerment of department chairs and other staff. Personal evolution within the role. The Blue Ribbon and the Bell Awards, and what they did to earn them. Specifically how doggedly focusing on four cardinal elements across multiple academic years was transformative and lifted ALL boats.

*[36:10] The Superintendent role, its best expression, and lessons learned.

*[39:30] COVID 19 and getting the community ready; how they did it [with great success]; lessons on preparedness, network building; their amazing data on the impact of mitigation strategies; what "right" looks like in disaster preparedness.

*[53:29] School Boards' bizarre phase and the threat to Democracy.

*[58:10] Current & Future projects: Educational Research & Development Institute (concentrating on Equity & Diversity); Council of Superintendents (exploring what kinds of Superintendents & Principals will be necessary in the future?).

4  - Key Takeaways:

*Differences b/w US & UK: Scheduling is fluid in UK (every two week changes to fit student progress) and static in US; Team (5-6 teachers/single course) approach to teaching classes in UK versus solo in US; US obsessed with grading but in UK teachers more of a coaching role/feedback, with grades only end of semester or year [real focus on A- & O-levels]. UK has no extracurricular life whereas prominent in US.

*What motivates students: (1) Coaching relationships / positive relationship (not just a judge; (2) Must be more than a critic/must give tools to make progress.

*What makes a real leader at the Department level? 1,000 conversations! Be whatever you need to be for your staff at that time.

*Key drivers of progress / core focus for student improvement: Argument construction; Inference skill; drawing Conclusions; Academic Vocabulary.

*COVID mitigations actually work, extremely well & far better than one might think, and Lockport Schools has the data to prove it.

5  - Links:,excellence%2C%20frequently%20under%20challenging%20circumstances.

6  - Please "like" us and follow the show on your favorite podcast platform, visit for more content, and follow on Twitter @PaulBryanRoach

7  - Completing the initial focus on youth Education, next episode will be with a much beloved local Junior High History Teacher, Mr. John Turek, with thoughts and reflections across his 30+ year career.




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