In response to the 1/5/11 post, “Yes, I Know the Hours are Long – Part 9,” a LYS Principal writes: As someone who has worked with Sean Cain and LYS since I was a rookie assistant principal, there were many times that I felt frustrated, angry, and ready to give up. However, I was able to sift through those emotions and find the positives. At our Title I (80% economic disadvantaged) campus we were able to really dig deep into what WE needed to do as leaders to improve student success. We put our emotions to the side and implemented Cain’s systems and suggestions with the results being continuous improvements in student performance and an EXEMPLARY campus, without TPM (meaning we earned it). Now, as the principal at that same campus, I welcome the times Cain comes to my campus to walk the building with me and pointing out what he is observing (good and not so good). “Outside” eyes are always useful, but Cain is able to see the things that no one else can see, and then explain it to you in a way that you can quickly get to work on it. Yes, in some ways I dread this because Cain can be direct, but I know I NEED it to keep growing professionally and to maintain the standard of excellence that we have created on our campus. SC Response I have observed that the educators (and by extension, their schools), who consistently excel share a common characteristic. They look to improve by constantly scanning and using both internal and external resources. I firmly believe that you have to do both. When I am tasked to work with struggling schools and districts, I find that they generally exclude one component of that equation. If you constantly search internally for answers, it does not matter how hard working and smart you and your people are, you will develop broad blind spots, personality based groupthink, and bizarre manifestations of traditional practices. Think of it this way, there are very real reasons why cousins aren’t allowed to marry. On the other hand, if you constantly search externally for answers, it is easy to chase fads, miss opportunities to leverage internal strengths, discourage problem solving, slow down capacity building, and sacrifice practicality in the name of theory. It takes commitment to maintain the balance, as either extreme is far easier to follow (and both discourage critical thinking), especially as accountability increases and resources decrease. My advice to you is to follow the example of your mentor and constantly ask “Why?” Remember, Ministers like to hear themselves talk; Princlings like to issue edicts; and Emperors are notorious for not wearing clothes. The “why” from a principal (or teacher) is often the first step towards meaningful action that actually benefits students. Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…Follow Sean Cain on