In this episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Dan Kreiness from Leader of Learning. He is an instructional leader, podcast host, author, and speaker who constantly searches for the most effective ways to advance education and produce high student achievement.
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For a special treat today, I have Dr. Dan Kreiness on the podcast. Can you just like, introduce yourself to us? Tell us a little bit about yourself so that we could learn more about you. I sure can. Thank you, Brittany, for having me. first of all, love what you're doing here with the show and with your brand.
I think, I think what you do is awesome and love to talk more about some of that content creation with you. But I have Dan Kreiness is currently an instructional coach for digital learning in Connecticut. Bounced around in my career between districts in New York and Connecticut started as a classroom teacher.
And probably have spent really more time now as an instructional leader and coach, including a little bit of time as an administrator. And you know, I think I realized about myself that I get more passion and joy and fulfillment. As, and as someone who concentrates a little bit more on the adult learners, in our schools and in our district, then even the student learners at the end of the day, obviously it's all about the students, but I really do have a passion for, and I'm really enjoying coaching and, and really getting to work with teachers and, and drive their professional development and their growth in, in the field of education.
Wow. That's so amazing. And it's true. It's like that saying well it's not really a saying, but they, you know, as a teacher in the classroom, you can impact the students in front of you. Right. But when you, when you lead and you coach teachers, you maximize your impact because you're able to really like put your spin on all of those students that they teach and even going forward for years to come.
So it's amazing. So. I actually did a little bit of digging, you know, before our conversation. And you do so much author, speaker, you have a blog, you have a podcast. So can you tell us a little bit about that journey? Like what was that like for you and why did you decide to start a podcast? Yeah. You know, I'll try to make a long story, not too long, but you know, W the first opportunity I had to be a full-time instructional coach is also kind of the time where I got some, not, not just some, I got a pretty decent amount, a heavy dose if you will, of imposter syndrome, because it, for the first time, although I was excited about working with adult learners, I was feeling inferior, so to speak.
When it came to working with teachers who are outside of my normal and comfortable content area, I was an ELA classroom teacher or reading teacher. And then I was all of a sudden being asked to support and coach teachers in all content areas. And I wanted to, I guess, learn more about how to better support.
Any teacher, regardless of what content area it was. And so that's when I really started reaching out and branching out and growing my PLN and getting connected on social media attending and speaking at ed camps and conferences and you know, ultimately I think that's what really. What really fueled the passion that I started to get to help influence other educators who weren't even in my school or in my district.
And shortly after that is when I created leader of learning, which really started as a blog. Like you said, turned into a podcast and At that point, I was going back to school to earn my doctorate. And and now at this point a few years later I'm even taking my research and my writing in my dissertation.
And last month I was signed to edgy mash publishing to publish my first solo book, which essentially will be on the same topic of leadership practices. To inspire growth, mindsets and growth in teachers. And so that's what I love to talk about and research and write about. So a lot of that comes through in the podcast.
I know you're into leadership and teacher leadership. My show is all about that leader of learning. I end every episode by saying that no matter who you are or where you are, you too, can be a leader of learning. And the reason I say that is because I'm all about label lists, leadership, like. You can be a classroom teacher.
You could be not even a classroom teacher, you know, some other role, a non-certified role in a school. And it doesn't matter because you still can make, like you said before, you can have such an impact on what happens with students and therefore you are a leader regardless of your role or your title. So that's a lot of what I sort of practice and preach.
Not only. With my content, but hopefully, you know, people realize that about what I do in my day to day work as an instructional coach as well. That's so amazing. I mean, that's definitely something that I talk about on the podcast all the time. Every teacher is a leader, every teacher has the ability to make that larger impact reach just one other person.
You know, I love that. You said labelist leadership. I've like I say that all the time, but not in like that phrase. And I love that. I'm totally stealing that. So. I know you touched upon this, like every person is a leader, but what does leadership mean to you? Like when you hear about leadership, like what's, what are the first couple of things that come to mind?
How would you define leadership in education? No, I had a supervisor not in an education setting, but actually at a summer camp job. One time who basically said that to her leadership kind of meant making the jobs of everyone around you, a little easier. And I always sort of pushed back on that. Cause I was like, I don't really know that that's the role of a leader, but over the years, as I've reflected on that, I've, I've come to terms with it a little bit.
And I think that rather than making everyone's jobs easier or lives easier, I really just think that a leader. Uplifts the people around them. And I know that a lot of times people think that leaders spur others into action and hopefully that's the case. But I think of a leader as someone who really uplifts others.
So, so classroom teachers with their students they inspire them to. Want to learn more to want to grow and develop themselves. I really taught myself as a lifelong learner. That's essentially why I went back and earned my doctorate last year. And, and so I, as a, as a leader, really try and do that to the other teachers that I support.
More than anything, regardless of teaching them about technologies or instructional methods, I really just want to inspire them to be lifelong learners and to want to continually grow and develop themselves as educators, as professionals. And, and to me, that's what I bring to the table leadership wise.
And I know it's different for everyone, but I do think there's inevitably some kind of aspect of a leader that allows them. Like I said, to really uplift the people who. Are following them or who are around them. And it might be in a small way. It might be in a large way. It might be explicitly done or it might be sort of understated, like just leading by example.
And I, I really value lots of different leadership styles. The one that I've focused on a lot in my, in my work and my research is transformational leadership and Yeah, that's all about empowering people. So when I talk about like lifting up others, it's also making them getting that. Not making them.
You're not, you can't really force anyone, but trying to get them to feel like they are stronger leaders because of you I'm over here just like nodding. Like, yes, I totally agree. And it's true. I think. One of the reasons why I love that question so much. And I ask everyone that comes on the podcast is because no one ever has the same answer.
Right? Like it really has so much to do with your own experiences and what you've seen, what you want to accomplish as a leader yourself, how you kind of define that term. And I love it that you said, like you can make a small impact or a large one or explicit, or, or, or not still so meaningful and powerful because.
If everyone has the ability to be a leader, then everyone has the ability to have this impact, you know, in the world, around them and the people around them. Like not just, you know, teaching our students, you know, like there's just so much that trickles out from that. That's so great. So great. So. What advice would you have for, let's say a teacher who wants to get started on this journey.
Like they are learning so much, especially right now, they're learning so much. They want to reach out and start talking to other teachers, start having a larger impact sharing what they're learning, what would be like the first piece of advice you would give? It's it's funny that you ask it, actually, as I'm answering this, I'm going to try and pull up.
Do you know, do you know the app Timehop? So I think it was today and I'm going to try and stall a little bit while I look it up. I think it was today. I just found from a few years ago where I shared a quote that I think is a really great way to answer your question. So let me, let me kind of stall a little bit longer here as I scroll through.
I think, first of all, that I'm going to just say. Your, your passion has to lead everything. And I just found it, check this out. So four years ago, I shared a quote TD Jakes. I'm not sure who TD Jakes is, but thank you for this quote. If you can't figure out your purpose. Figure out your passion for your passion will lead you right to your purpose.
And it's, it's really, it's so coincidental that you asked me that. And I, I saw that come back up in my time hop from four years ago because that's what, that's how I would answer that question. If you are looking to make a bigger impact across your school, your district. Outside of your school and district creating content, starting a blog, starting a podcast first and foremost, let your passion drive everything that you do if you're not sure what you're passionate about yet, just take a little bit more time to figure it out.
And then like it'll all come easily and naturally to you. It really should because. That's what you're interested in. That's what you're passionate about. Oh, I love that. I, it reminded me too. I forgot. I was probably listening to a podcast. Right. But someone was saying, how, what is the one thing that you could probably talk about for hours and hours and hours and not get tired of.
Right. And whatever that thing is, like, whatever, that thing that excites you, that you want to keep talking about, or that you won't run out of things to say that could be your passion. Right. Like that could be the thing that you want to share with everyone else. Oh, I love that. Okay. That's so cool.
Sometimes it's tough because you know, you get a couple of educators in the room and you're just talking about education. In the, in the content creation game, we talk about finding your niche or niching down as far as you can go. So I guess. Sort of my my answer be to the first part, which was the, a about like following your passion is, is to try and narrow it down and be as specific as possible if possible, you know, definitely.
Right. Because it's true. You get teachers in a room, we can talk about everything, but what is it that one thing that. You do that? No one else does. Right. Or that one thing that you do, I don't want to say better, but just that you are more passionate about, like you were saying that like that one thing that makes you, you, especially when it comes to teaching and learning and growing.
And I know you mentioned that you got your doctorate last year, so were you a COVID grad? Yeah. And it's, it's kind of funny, like I did a program that was completely online. So regardless it would have been a virtual. Defense presentation, you know, my, my committee members and, and the other staff members at the, at the institution, they live out in the Midwest or on the West coast.
And so it was always going to be done on zoom, but I, I definitely didn't get to travel to and participate in any kind of in-person graduation ceremony. So a little bit of a bomber, but at the end the defense went well and the. Commencement ceremony happened, albeit virtually. And it was a great day for me and my family.
Things were starting to open up a little bit at that point in June and July, where we were able to go out for a celebratory dinner. So at least we got to celebrate, you know, as a family. Oh, that's so cool. Yeah, I, so I actually defended my dissertation March 17th of last year. So it was a couple of weeks before me.
Right, right. When it started, I had a plane ticket booked for my defense. I remember. And my dad was going to come out with me and my four month old son at the time. And I remember like, it was like D like a day before, a day, two days before we had to like, Everything was closed. That was it. It was done. So that was, you know, I know this is your show and I'm not interviewing you.
You asked me before about doing as much as I do. I would definitely love to hear the story about how you got through your degree program and writing and defending with a baby. Cause that's, that is definitely not easy, but that's. That'd be for my show. Not yours. Yes. When I come on your show, we can talk all about that story.
Exactly. Well, thank you so much. This has been such a fun chat. Can you just let us know, like where are we could find you where we can connect with you where we could find out when this book is coming out. And listen to the podcast. So, yeah. Well, when you find out it's coming out, please let me know because I I'm, I'm, I'm kind of struggling.
I'm, I'm falling behind on, on what I need to be doing my responsibilities, I think, as a, as an emerging author, but Definitely the website is probably the best place to find everything leader of learning.com. I'm all over socials as either Dr. Underscore dryness or leader of learning depending on the platform.
My podcast is on every platform out there or any podcast app, including YouTube. I'm trying to make a bit of a bigger deal out of my YouTube channel. By the way, I posted my defense video of my dissertation defense, and then. Currently as we record this, it's about four and a half thousand views.
So there might be some content right there for, for any of your listeners who are going back for their doctorate, maybe you know, takes a videos and put out some content about what you're going through, or if nothing else, at least your, a defense of your dissertation. And there you go. That's content right there.
That is so amazing. And of course I will leave all of that linked in the show notes so that people can just click, click, click, and find you. But thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure. I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks a lot. And again, Brittany, I really love what you're doing here. So this has been great.
Thank you so much for spending some time with me. And I hope you've loved this interview. If you're looking for any links, head down to the show's description below so that you can quickly access anything with the click of a button. I'll see you in next week's episode