Tag Archives: Yahoos Yes Buts & NFWs

How to Best Support Yahoos

This post is part of a series for school leaders working on implementing large-scale, learning-focused school change. Your success depends not just on your technical knowledge about the initiative, but also how well you understand the three kinds of staff in your school (Yahoos, Yes Buts, and NFWs) and how their support needs differ.

The Yahoos are those folks who are always excited about new and interesting practices, programs and resources and are anxious to try them out in their own classroom.

This post focuses on how to best support Yahoos.

Yahoos are easy to support.  They are largely self-sufficient, having lots of good ideas of their own and facility with identifying and tracking down resources.

When they do come to school leaders, it is generally for permission, for resources they can’t find on their own, or to authorize funding for resources.

The best way to support Yahoos is to find ways to say yes to their requests, or to help problem solve their needs.  Once they have those, they are quick to return to working on their own.

You should be spending about 10-20% of your time supporting your Yahoos.

 

Next in the series: How we misunderstand Yes Buts

What We Misunderstand about Yahoos

This post is part of a series for school leaders working on implementing large-scale, learning-focused school change. Your success depends not just on your technical knowledge about the initiative, but also how well you understand the three kinds of staff in your school (Yahoos, Yes Buts, and NFWs) and how their support needs differ.

The Yahoos are those folks who are always excited about new and interesting practices, programs and resources and are anxious to try them out in their own classroom.

This post focuses on how we misunderstand Yahoos.

 

Yahoos seem a dream to work with.  We all wish we had more of them on our staff. Not only are they quick to implement any quality learning-focused school change initiative that school leadership brings forward, they are often already working on many of their own.  They are quick to learn new strategies and approaches, invent and design a few of their own, and implement at a high level.

Therefore, we often hold them and their work up to their colleagues as examples of where we’d like to go with the initiative and the kind of work we’d like from each staff member.

The problem is that the Yahoos don’t really have the right kind of “cred” with their colleagues for moving the initiative forward. Their colleagues certainly recognize that Yahoos work hard and do good work and generally respect that work. The problem is that the rest of the staff don’t consider Yahoos to be like them. They think, “Thats just what Yahoos do.” When school leaders hold up the work of the Yahoos, the rest of the staff don’t say, “Oh, I can do that!” They say, “Well, I’d do that, too, if I were a Yahoo.  …but I’m not.”

Frankly, just as we should not judge the “success” of a school by the successes of their high performing students (we really must look at the successes of their hard-to-teach kids!), we should not judge the success or progress of an initiative by the success of our Yahoos. We only have truly moved the needle when there is wide scale, proficient implementation of the initiative by the Yes Buts.

 

Next in the series: How to best support Yahoos.

Working With A Diverse Staff: The 3 Types of Colleagues in a Change Initiative

Creating educational programs and systems that work for all kids has been my work for a long time. I have grown to understand that asking educators to change how they work produces a range of very human responses:

  • Let’s go!
  • Sounds good, but how?
  • Maybe… Can you show me that it works?
  • Yes, but what about this?
  • No Way!

Student Aspirations guru Dr. Russ Quaglia (Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations) was one of my graduate professors and served on my dissertation committee. He used to talk about three kinds of educators, when it comes to school change:

  • Yahoos
  • Yes Buts
  • NFWs

The Yahoos are those folks who are always excited about new and interesting practices, programs, and resources and were anxious to try them out in their own classroom.

The Yes Buts seem hesitant and skeptical of the initiatives with their questions of “but what about this and what about that?”

The NFWs are the folks who look a little like Yes Buts with their questions of “but what about this and what about that?” but who are really saying to themselves and their fellow NFWs, “No freaking way am I doing this!”

Each present their own challenge to school change and each needs a different kind of attention and support.

This is the beginning of a series of posts exploring what we misunderstand about Yahoos, Yes Buts and NFWs, and how to best support each. Frankly, the advice is counterintuitive in places, but is based on practical experience successfully implementing large-scale, learning-focused school change.

 

Next in the series: How we misunderstand Yahoos.