Encouragement in Education: Why It’s More Crucial Now Than Ever

Encouragement in Education that we all need from Todd Nesloney.

In this uplifting episode, we're joined by Todd Nesloney, a seasoned educator and advocate for authentic leadership in schools. This conversation is a must-listen if you've ever questioned your worth or impact as an educator. Todd delves into the transformative power of vulnerability, the importance of emotional intelligence, and why every single person in a school setting is a leader in their own right—offering actionable insights that could reignite your passion for teaching.

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Microsoft 's Free AI Course for Educators

Microsoft has an amazing artificial intelligence course for educators that will help you and your education team have the knowledge you need to understand the best practices for artificial intelligence in schools. AI is changing rapidly, and you'll want your team to take advantage of this free course from Microsoft today. Go to aka.ms/AIforEducators. I highly recommend this free AI course from Microsoft. So sign up today.
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This week's guest

Todd Nesloney is the Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership for the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). He is also the Director of Get Your LEAD On (underneath the Get Your Teach On umbrella). He was previously a Principal/Lead Learner at a PreK-5 school in Texas. He is an award winning author for his books Kids Deserve It!, Stories From Webb, Sparks in the Dark, When Kids Lead and his newest book, In This Season: Words for the Heart. He has also published a children’s book, Spruce & Lucy. Todd has been recognized by John C. Maxwell as a Top 10 Finalist for the 2018 Transformational Leadership Award, by the White House as a Connected Educator “Champion of Change”, the National School Board Association as one of the “20 to Watch” in Education, the Center for Digital Education as one of their “Top 40 Innovators in Education”, the BAMMYs as the “National Elementary Principal of the Year” and the “National Elementary Teacher of the Year”, and the Texas Computer Education Association as their “Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year”.


Hosts, Guests & Featured People:
Summary of Show:

Introduction and Guest Background [00:00:00:02 – 00:00:37:23]

  • Introduction of the podcast and today's guest, Todd Nesloney, who is the Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership for the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. Todd has won many awards and authored several books.

The Concept of Leadership [00:00:38:00 – 00:02:43:09]

  • Todd Nesloney discusses his belief that everyone is a leader in some capacity, whether at work, home, or among friends. Leadership is not confined to a job title but is expressed through actions, choices, and words.

The Importance of Vulnerability [00:02:43:09 – 00:04:52:11]

  • Todd emphasizes the power of vulnerability as a leadership quality. He talks about how sharing personal struggles can inspire others and make them feel that their own struggles are important.

The Evolution of Beliefs [00:04:52:14 – 00:05:33:05]

  • Todd shares how his beliefs have evolved over time, particularly with a chapter in his book “Kids Deserve It” that he now disagrees with. He stresses the importance of bringing your whole self to your job.

The Role of Emotions and Therapy [00:05:33:05 – 00:07:48:15]

  • Todd talks about the impact of personal life on professional life and the importance of not minimizing your feelings. He also discusses the benefits of therapy in understanding oneself better.

The Value of Authenticity [00:07:48:20 – 00:08:50:12]

  • Todd and Vicki discuss the importance of being authentic and true to oneself, both as an individual and as an educator. Todd emphasizes that everyone brings something unique to the table.

Closing Remarks [00:08:50:16 – 00:11:47:12]

  • Todd gives a heartfelt message encouraging listeners to recognize their worth and the positive impact they can have on the world. The episode closes with information about a free AI course for educators from Microsoft and final remarks from the host.


Transcript of the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast with Vicki Davis and Todd Nesloney

[00:00:00:02 – 00:00:03:10]

This is the 10 Minutes Teacher podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.

[00:00:03:15 – 00:00:30:05]

Vicki Davis:
Today's sponsor is Microsoft Education. Stay tuned at the show's end to learn more about their artificial intelligence course for educators.

So today we're talking with my friend Todd Nesloney. He's Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership for the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association, Director of Get Your Lead On. And he's won many awards. Books, Kids Deserve It. Stories from the Webb, Sparks in the Dark.

[00:00:30:05 – 00:00:37:23]

Vicki Davis:
When Kids Lead, Words From the Heart, And recentle as Todd is Building Authenticity Thanks for coming on the show again.

[00:00:38:00 – 00:00:41:18]

Todd Nesloney:
Hey, Vicki, I'm so excited to be back, and it's great to get to connect with you again.

[00:00:41:20 – 00:00:46:07]

Vicki Davis:
Your message is everyone's a leader, so everybody's a leader, Really everybody?

[00:00:46:09 – 00:01:10:21]

Everyone is a leader

Todd Nesloney:
It's so funny when I talk to educators or anybody in particular, and I'm like, Hey, define yourself in one word. For me, it's always broken my heart. That word is never the word leader. There's always some other word they choose and in my head, I've always looked at it as every single person is a leader, whether you have the job title or the pay scale or whatever it is, you are leading other people by your actions, by your choices, by your words.


[00:01:10:21 – 00:01:26:21]

Todd Nesloney:
And it's not just leading at work. When we lead, and we hear that word leader, sometimes we just think it's just a job thing. Well, when you go home to the people you live with, you're leading in that environment. When you're out with your friends, you're leading. Because in those spaces, people are watching what you do and people are listening to what you say.

[00:01:26:21 – 00:01:28:18]

Todd Nesloney:
So whether you like it or not, you're leading.

[00:01:28:19 – 00:01:35:14]

Vicki Davis:
So go back in time and explain the situation where you realized maybe it was back when you were a principal. Everybody truly is a leader.

[00:01:35:15 – 00:01:57:06]

Todd Nesloney:
I remember working with a group of educators at my school and just hearing some of the incredible things they were thinking about, or they wanted to do. And I just kept thinking, Oh my gosh, you are so brilliant. And nobody gets to see some of the things you do because you don't believe yet that you are as brilliant as you are.

[00:01:57:06 – 00:02:21:12]

Todd Nesloney:
And that's what I realized. One of my biggest opportunities as a school principal was to help others see the greatness in themselves so that they could see all the amazing things they can take and do. I knew that I had to eliminate some barriers for them. I had to encourage them because once somebody has a taste of, Whoa, I am pretty awesome, they're willing to take a little bit more risks and take some more opportunities to take charge in different ways.

[00:02:21:16 – 00:02:43:09]

Todd Nesloney:
And so a lot of that whole idea of being a leader, a lot of it does come down to battling the imposter syndrome. It comes down to really just believing that you have something worth bringing to the table and living and owning that and then honing it as well. Just identify some of your core beliefs: how are you going to operate, and what are you doing when you operate like that?

[00:02:43:09 – 00:02:52:17]

Todd Nesloney:
So really, just helping people identify that you've got it in you, let's now massage it and get it just right so that you can go and inspire people to do better things.

[00:02:52:22 – 00:03:00:01]

Vicki Davis:
So when you speak on this topic, describe a typical educator who comes up to you and what they says to you when you're done.

[00:03:00:02 – 00:03:35:06]

Todd Nesloney:
I'm known for being a little honest in my presentations. I love that my current role in education allows me to say some things that all of us as educators are thinking, but we're not always allowed to say because we don't want to upset anybody or anything like that. I think one of the biggest things I get after I lead presentations, especially about growing the leader in us, is just they appreciate the honesty, but at the same time, I also try to make sure to really share some really personal pieces of my story, because one of the things I tell people is I have to model for people what their biggest superpower is as a leader.

[00:03:35:06 – 00:04:02:11]

Todd Nesloney:
And my opinion is that one of the biggest superpowers people have as a leader is the power of vulnerability, of letting people see When you struggle, when you've gone through something hard, how you're working through it, and how it's not always pretty and it doesn't always work out as a happy ending. I think when you share some of that vulnerability as a leader, what it allows other people to do is see that their pain or struggle is important and that it's not something that is meant to be walked alone.

[00:04:02:11 – 00:04:20:10]

Todd Nesloney:
We think sometimes that if I'm going to be  “a leader,” I've got to have my act together, I've got to be strong. I've got to know the right answer. And the message that ends up sending to others is that it's not okay to have heartache. It's not okay when you don't know the answer. It's not okay to make a mistake.

[00:04:20:10 – 00:04:41:00]

Todd Nesloney:
And then that ends up being somebody who lies or doesn't lead well or breaks down in the end and can't lead at all. That's what I really try to do, is have that honesty piece, but also really try to show an example of what vulnerability looks like. Even though every time I share pieces of my story, it is terrifying, and it opens me up to judgment and comments back.

[00:04:41:00 – 00:04:52:11]

Todd Nesloney:
But I really try to let people see that that's where your strength lies, is in who you are and what you're going through and how it is changing you for the better.

[00:04:52:14 – 00:05:00:22]

Vicki Davis:
So what are some of those things that you say that you think all of us are thinking? I mean, one of them is that it's okay to admit you're not perfect. I mean, who is right?

[00:05:01:00 – 00:05:16:19]

Todd Nesloney:
I also talk a lot about how in my book Kids Deserve It. I'm so proud of that book. And it opened up so many doors. But there's one chapter that I wrote with my coauthor that I hate in the book now. So we write something, and we or we say something we believe in, and then we grow in life.

[00:05:16:19 – 00:05:33:05]

Todd Nesloney:
And you're like, I don't believe that at all anymore. Now that I've experienced things, I don't like that. And it's a chapter called “Leave It In Your Car,” where we wrote about how as educators, we got to leave our mess in our car and show up as our best self for kids every single day. And now I don't believe that at all anymore.

[00:05:33:05 – 00:05:52:06]

Todd Nesloney:
I don't think that's true because I bring who I am into my job. What happens to me outside of work? It affects how I teach. It affects the relationships that I build. And to ignore that because it's a nice soundbite or a great graphic that I could make, I just feel so ignorant then to the way life is.

[00:05:52:12 – 00:06:08:03]

Todd Nesloney:
Because now, living life, it's like, if I just lost somebody I love, I can't leave that in the car. If I just found out I have a terminal illness, I can leave that in the car, or even if my significant other lost their job and their income was necessary for the life that I live. I can't leave that stuff in the car now.

[00:06:08:03 – 00:06:24:06]

Todd Nesloney:
It doesn't mean my school becomes my therapy session. There's a line here, but it does mean that I have got to bring my life to work. I have got to let my coworkers in on what's going on, and I've got to walk this journey with them because we're not meant to do this alone.

[00:06:24:10 – 00:06:43:22]

Vicki Davis:
Being honest about, okay, this is where I am. It does help us be there for each other. Because face it, sometimes we have a good day, sometimes we don't have a great day. And Dawne, who's my partner across the hall, there are times where I'll say, Dawne, I just need one second. Just let me walk down the hall or she'll say the same to me.

[00:06:43:22 – 00:06:49:22]

Vicki Davis:
And that authenticity actually helps us to be better teachers because we're being real with our colleagues, you know.

[00:06:50:00 – 00:07:12:15]

Todd Nesloney:
And sometimes our brains can convince us that the emotions we're feeling are completely unique to us and that we shouldn't talk about it because nobody else is feeling that way. But what I talk about, too, is just the power of therapy and how when I started doing therapy, it changed my life. And I wish when I was a building principal or a classroom teacher, I would have been doing weekly therapy because it would have changed my whole way that I teach and lead.

[00:07:12:20 – 00:07:28:05]

Todd Nesloney:
But I remember one of the biggest things that was said to me recently in a therapy session is I made a comment and I said, “Well, I shouldn't really share that because there are other people who have it worse than I do in that situation.” And my therapist looked at me, and he said, “Don't ever let those words leave your mouth again.”

[00:07:28:06 – 00:07:48:15]

Todd Nesloney:
He said, “How dare you minimize what you're feeling? Because somebody else might be feeling emotion, too.” He said, “The words you're saying and the emotions you're feeling and the things going through your head, they matter because they're important to you and you're important. So don't minimize what you are going through because someone else might have worse. Yes, someone always has it worse.”

[00:07:48:20 – 00:07:54:00]

Todd Nesloney:
“But that doesn't mean that you don't matter because they have it worse.” And that's been really powerful for me to hear.

[00:07:54:00 – 00:08:25:06]

Vicki Davis:
Yeah, because what we're going through does matter. I mean, it just absolutely. And every, you know, here's the thing is how can we as educators look at every single child and say that they are valuable and they are priceless if we don't look at ourselves in the mirror and say the same thing? So your message, I know that as we're recording this, you're getting ready to keynote a leadership conference in Nashville, but what's going to be your big message when you get on that stage and you look at everybody out there, What's going to be the thing that you're like, I really want to get this across?

[00:08:25:11 – 00:08:50:12]

Todd Nesloney:
You know, one of the biggest things I focus on right now when I close out my messages is just encouraging people to remember that they bring something fantastic to the table. I don't care what your job title is; it doesn't even matter what you feel like you're bringing in the moment. You are in that moment for a reason, and you're there because in that moment nobody can do what you're about to do.

[00:08:50:16 – 00:09:18:07]

Todd Nesloney:
That's why you were placed there. Now, maybe in a year from now, you'll be replaced and somebody does it differently or does it better. But guess what? That's a year from now. Today you're in that role or that campus or that job because you are meant to do something nobody else can do except for you. And when we live in that realization that this is my moment, like I am the one who is going to make change and inspire because I was placed here right now, that's kind of a powerful thing to think about.

[00:09:18:07 – 00:09:30:20]

Todd Nesloney:
So that's what I always love setting people off on. It is just that reminder that don't be frustrated that you didn't get the promotion or the job or the campus that you wanted. You're where you're meant to be for a reason, and work hard to get those goals later.

[00:09:30:20 – 00:09:54:09]

Vicki Davis:
Yes. And, you know, being faithful where we are is a big part of contentment and joy and purpose. And I thank you for being faithful where you are. I remember many years ago, we were talking about reading in Sparks in the Dark, and we talked about kids who deserve it through the years. And I just appreciate that you're being faithful to a profession which needs encouragement.

[00:09:54:10 – 00:10:07:18]

Vicki Davis:
There's just a lot of challenges with teaching right now, as you know, and that encouragement is so needed. So as we finish, if you gave a one-minute elevator pitch to everybody listening, go ahead.

[00:10:07:20 – 00:10:30:07]

Todd Nesloney:
I am so thankful that you showed up today. I am so thankful that the world gets to experience you and the things that you're going to say, the choices you're going to make, the lives you're going to change. Because just because you are here, the world is a better place, and our kids are in better hands. And so thank you.

[00:10:30:07 – 00:10:46:04]

Todd Nesloney:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Because if nobody has told you today, maybe the only reason you were listening to this podcast was that some random guy you probably don't even know was meant to be here. Just to tell you, listening right now, that you are worthy.

[00:10:46:04 – 00:11:10:01]

Vicki Davis:
Microsoft has an amazing artificial intelligence course for educators that will help you and your education team have the knowledge you need to understand the best practices for artificial intelligence in schools. AI is changing rapidly, and you'll want your team to take advantage of this free course from Microsoft today. Go to aka.ms/AIforEducators.

[00:11:10:01 – 00:11:35:00]

Vicki Davis:
Now that aka.ms/AIforEducators sign up for this free course today so that you're ready to understand and use AI in your school in ways that are safe and work for schools. I highly recommend this free AI course from Microsoft. So sign up today.

[00:11:35:01 – 00:11:46:12]

You've been listening to the Ten Minute Teacher podcast and if you want more content from Vicki Davis, you can find her on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

[00:11:46:14 – 00:11:47:12]

Thank you for listening.


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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