Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

October 19, 2015

Emotional Motivators & Learning Organizations

I came across two articles from the Harvard Business Review (!) in the past week that spoke to me. I think both articles could apply to the “business” of running a school or a classroom. I encourage school administrators and teachers to consider the insights in relation to your work.

In “The New Science of Customer Emotions” ( the authors explore the important emotional motivators which drive customer behavior. As schools are working to fine-tune their marketing plans for the coming recruiting season, it’s important to recognize the importance of discovering what motivates customer decisions (i.e. parents). And as teachers begin to see unmotivated students, it’s important to recognize their emotional motivators.

The authors recognize 10 primary emotional motivators, some of which have direct application to schools such as standing out from the crowd, confidence in the future, sense of well-being, sense of freedom, sense of belonging, and success in life. How many advertisements do you see that connect standing out from the crowd, for example, with an automobile? Have we stopped to think how we are messaging our schools (and our lessons)?

The authors suggest identifying the emotional motivators through surveys and interviews (market research), move your customers to becoming “fully connected” to your company, and target those connected principals.

In “Why Organizations Don’t Learn” ( the authors detail four biases which impact our organizations, two of which have relevance to our schools: a bias toward success and a bias toward action.

Our biases toward success lead to four negative behaviors: fear of failure, a fixed mindset, overreliance on past performance, and attribution bias (blaming others for failure, crediting ourselves for success). They recommend destigmatizing failure (we all fail so therefore we can learn), embracing a growth mindset to learn new behaviors, hiring & promoting employees who wish to grow, and using a data-driven approach to understand our successes and failures.

Our biases toward action lead to exhaustion (relying only on those who get things done, for example) and a lack of reflection. We tend to push forward with new programs without monitoring and measuring. The authors recommend building breaks into our daily and yearly schedules, encouraging all stakeholders to take time to think and grow, and encouraging reflection to build a context.

There’s much more in each of the articles and I encourage you to read these articles. After all, reading outside of our education world is an example of the very growth mindset we are encouraging our students to embrace.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena) & meeting with Bishop Thomas

Tuesday: office (Helena)

Wednesday: chancery meetings (Great Falls & Helena); Butte Central Advisory Council

Thursday: Pretty Eagle WCEA visit (St. Xavier)

Friday: Pretty Eagle visit (cont)

This week: 1,045 miles

Last week: 1,648 miles

This year: 6,318 driving miles/ 2,346 air miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. NCEA data is due this Friday to our office. Please turn it in ASAP.
  2. The Diocese of Helena is holding information seminars for all of its employees regarding Health Care. Please attend one of these sessions to find out about the new health care plan:

  • Oct 21: Butte
  • Oct 22: Kalispell
  • Oct 23: Helena
  • Oct 28: Missoula

  1. There is a free webinar on school security available tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct 20th). More information here:
  2. On the horizon, please mark your calendars for the November principal meetings:

  • Nov 10th @ St. Matthew's 10-2
  • Nov 12th @ Great Falls Central Catholic 10-2
  • Nov 18th @ St. Pat's Admin Center (Billings) 10-2

American Catholic News

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning

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Servant Leader of the Week

Ivan Small, the Director of Schools for the St. Labre Network, serves lunch to all employees on their annual Mission Quest Day last Monday. Ivan has been directing the schools (St. Labre Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, St. Charles Mission School, and Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy) for 8 years. He previously served as superintendent in Poplar and has also worked in school administration in Browning. Ivan and his wife of 42 years, Lucille, live on the St. Labre campus. Ivan's two daughters, Kelsey and Courtney, also work at St. Labre.


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