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7 Questions on Leadership with Eric Bransteter


Name: Eric Bransteter


Title: VP School Partnerships


Organisation: MathTrack


Eric Bransteter is a former 5th grade teacher, media specialist, and building-level administrator. Eric has always had a passion for technology integration in the classroom, which led to him co-founding the EdTech company iAspire. Eric is now the VP of School Partnerships for MathTrack, which is an Institution of Higher Education that aims to address the shortage of math teachers by providing accessible pathways to licensure. Eric also hosts The Employee Experience in Education podcast where he speaks with educational leaders, former educators, and industry experts to better understand the employee experience in education. Eric enjoys spending time with his wife (also an educator) and two children.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Eddie's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


Whether it's working in schools or in a startup, there is so much that you could be doing. I think of myself like a grasshopper at times, bouncing from one thing to the next. What I've found personally challenging is knowing when to focus and knowing when to explore/innovate. There are times when innovation is needed, but there are times when a single-threaded focus is needed.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I became a leader by title at 29 when I first became an administrator in a school district. However, I actually became a leader well before then. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was leading in my school by participating in various committees, helping other teachers with technology integration, and researching best practices to implement with my students. I worked with other teachers to help them improve their own practice, and this was noticed by others in my district (where I eventually became an administrator)


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


I don't go extreme like others you read about. I wake up around 6:30 and help get my kids ready for school. I typically work from home and use time blocking in my calendar to make sure I prioritize my day (think grasshopper from before). I exercise 3-4 times per week typically, and I coach both my kids in various sports throughout the year. My wife and I share cooking responsibilities, and we try to get the kids in bed by 8 or 8:30 on school nights. I then try to get to sleep by 10:30 - I've learned I do much better with 8 hours of sleep!


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


The President of MathTrack recently introduced the Cynefin Framework to our organization, and it's been a great model to reflect on. This framework is a visual representation of complexity. Much of the work we're doing at MathTrack is innovative, so we spend a lot of our time in the Complex and Complicated Domains, trying to get ourselves to the Clear Domain. When we hear internal confusion, it's because there is a lack of understanding (or clarity) in the work we're doing. This is a sure sign that we need to slow down and work towards a clear understanding through dialogue, visual representations, or otherwise.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


One of the books I read a few times early in my career was Just Listen by Mark Goulston. What I really liked about this book was how it took the focus off me and help me shift to the person I was communicating with. In the book are a combination of macro-level understandings of psychology with strategies to implement when in conversations.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


Listen way more than you think you need to and ask clarifying questions. Chances are there is (much) more to what the person is saying than is being said.


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


I love watching people grow, which is why I became a teacher to begin my career. When I shifted to become an administrator, I was able to watch not only the students grow but also the teachers. There are several instances I can remember where a teacher was struggling with instructional practices or just as a person, and being there for the person brought me great joy! As a leader, when I listen, I'm always amazed by what people have done and can do!

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