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“Radical approaches are the sorts that are crazy the day before they are brilliant. The payoff is enormous, especially for children who are disadvantaged. Students are the real winners of fearlessly Radical Principals” Dr. Michael Gaskell

And I will add that “our world needs radical thinking, creative ideas and imagination.”


On this episode we will cover:

✔  How “radical approaches” are beneficial for those in a position in leadership for building creativity, and breaking through to new heights.

✔ How timing, idea stacking and mentoring  can be used to conserve time and energy needed for leaders to generate new ideas by freeing up time/resources.

✔ What are some strategies for handing negative misinformation, or managing the negative forces of online exchanges?

✔  How are you using support networks (mastermind groups) to empower Radical Principals to create safe zones, leading to more innovation?

✔ What is Radical Loyalty and how can you build this to breed more success in your school or organization?

✔ How to tackle difficult topics like countering the effects of institutionalized inequities.

✔ How to help our next generation to recognize the consequences of their online presence.

Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast where we bridge the gap between theory and practice, with strategies, tools and ideas we can all use immediately, applied to the most current brain research to heighten productivity in our schools, sports environments and modern workplaces. I’m Andrea Samadi and launched this podcast to share how important an understanding of our brain is for our everyday life and results. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their research, books, ideas and resources to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment.

Today’s EPISODE #253, we have returning guest, Michael Gaskell, a veteran principal from NJ, USA, whose episode #172 on “Leading Schools Through Trauma”[i] sits in our TOP 10 most downloaded episodes at #6, with over 1500 downloads.

Dr. Michael Gaskell is Principal in East Brunswick, NJ., and he models the pursuit of lifelong learning as he serves to mentor new principals through the New Jersey Leaders to Leaders program. An NJPSA Stars recipient, he has been published in over 3 dozen articles in education journals and blogs, including Education Post, eSchoolNews, NASSP, Edtech and ASCD Smartbrief, and has made the most-read section of ASCD Smartbrief numerous times, which coincides the fact his last episode remains in our TOP 10 all time most listened to episodes.

Mike presents at national conferences, and started his own podcast in January of this year, where  he interviews successful adults like Diamond Dallas Page, how he conquered his dyslexia and anxiety associated with it. Mike has published two books: Leading Schools Through Trauma and Microstrategy Magic. Dr. Gaskell works tirelessly to support instructional excellence and student success, for his school community, and most importantly, for the wellness and equity of all children.

He’ll be joining us today to share his new book, Radical Principals[ii]: A Blueprint for Long-term Equity and Stability at School, that will be released November 2022, but is currently available for pre-order through the link in the show notes.  Dr. Gaskell obviously loves writing and intends to continue offering his contributions to support learners and educators in written and presentation format. Let’s welcome back Dr. Michael Gaskell for a second  time, and learn together about his new book, Radical Principals, and how we can all inspire change in our schools and workplaces, with radical thinking, creative ideas and imagination.

Intro Q: it’s so good to have you back here, Michael/Dr. Gaskell, especially after your first interview made such an impact on our audience, sitting in the top 10 all time most listened to episodes.

I’ve got to commend you on writing another book since that episode. I know that fitting this in is something that I know first hand to be a challenge in todays world, but you’re accomplishing where many would give up. Thanks for inspiring us to keep going…

Intro Q- what’s your secret to writing books? How did you do this one so quickly? I ask because I have a book on my desktop that’s been grueling for me to complete. Do you have a secret? Or is it just the passion you have for helping others?

Q1: I opened the backstory with your quote about radical approaches being crazy before they are brilliant and you say in the first chapter of your book that “Finding innovative solutions to unnecessary and unproductive procedures is part of being radical”.

I wonder, what you do to keep a “radical approach” as a school leader. How is this way of thinking beneficial to you, the students you serve and your community?

Q2: How can radical thinking help others in different sectors to break through to new heights with this creative, and often imaginative way of thinking?

Q3: Can you explain why “timing and stacking of ideas” is important from Chapter 3?

Q4: How do you use mentoring programs to focus your time and energy (to help students) and allow you to write more books?

Q4B: can you give some examples of negative misinformation we all deal with on a daily basis and best practices to handle this?

Q5: In chapter 5 you mention “Learning to manage the most negative forces of online exchanges on email and social media and that “reply only twice” is your mantra to help you model effective communication. Can you give an example of how you put this into practice? We’ve only ever had positive email exchanges, with lots of replies, but I’m sure this is not always the case.

Q6: I think having a team of supporters behind all of us is crucial these days, especially in a world where there’s so much upheaval already. Life is hard. How are you using support networks (mastermind groups) to empower Radical Principals to engage with other leaders in safe zones, leading for more innovation?

Q7: Loyalty—this is a huge topic and important for me. What is radical loyalty and how does this concept breed more success in schools beyond what you’d normally see?

7B: How can we encourage loyalty towards others we work with vs some of the behavior I know happens in schools and workplaces which is why I would avoid the staffroom when I was a teacher, and even noticed I did the same thing in the corporate world?

Q8: In Ch 8 you talk about “helping faculty to how to counter the effects of institutionalized inequities.” Where do you even begin to cover this topic? How do you create solutions for the problems you see in our schools and workplaces on this topic?

Q9: In chapter 9 you bring to light a topic that many Netflix shows have attempted to address and that’s the consequences of bad online behavior. This is a topic of interest for anyone who has a student or child using technology, as it only takes a quick glance at someone’s social media account to form a quick opinion of you, that we all know could potentially hurt their future. How are you helping our next generation to recognize the consequences of their online presence?

Q10: Is there anything I’ve missed, or final thoughts about Radical Principals, or how to lead in today’s world? How would you close this out?

Dr. Gaskell, I want to thank you very much for coming back on the podcast, and sharing your guidebook, for K-12 leaders, Radical Principals, that I know could be applied in the workplace as well to create change. If someone wants to pre-order a copy, is the best way through the publisher?

Book Summary:

Radical Principals is a guidebook for K-12 leaders looking for creative ways, beyond the status quo, to support and nurture school communities in the wake of unprecedented obstacles. In-service principals understandably rely on existing protocols and district policies to solve day-to-day problems, but do you ever wonder whether these quick fixes are preventing you from making a more lasting, transformative change? Radical Principals are those school leaders who recognize that every child, especially disadvantaged ones living through inequities, need adults lighting their path with inventive and evidence-based opportunities for success.

This inspirational yet pragmatic book provides novel strategies and solutions for balancing common concerns—curriculum, school safety, high-stakes testing, parental concerns, among others—while advancing your long-term vision for your school. These audacious, yet controlled approaches will help you maneuver around both the stubborn obstacles facing children in the greatest need of supports and your own blind spots and unintended biases. Spanning bureaucratic roadblocks, systemic injustice, communication breakdowns, and more, each chapter is rich with scenario-based challenges and leadership practices that don’t merely resolve the issues at hand but further help you advance your school towards a holistically equitable and supportive climate.


Radical Principals: A Blueprint for Long-term Equity and Stability at School by Michael S Gaskell



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[i] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EP 172 with Dr. Michael Gaskell on “Leading Schools Through Trauma”

[ii]Radical Principals: A Blueprint for Long-term Equity and Stability at School by Michael S Gaskell