How a Great Leader Motivates

Question: What does motivational leadership look like when it’s done well?

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Pedro Noguera:  Sure.   Not far from P.S. 012, which I mentioned is P.S. 028, which is **** the other side of Atlantic Avenue.  This is a school where over 40% of the kids are homeless and the principal there is 34.  It’s a highly effective school, a high performing school.  The principal there when I took a tour there last year she introduced me to her secretary.  She said, “I’ve trained my secretary to do most of my administrative jobs.”  I said, “Well then what do you do?”  She says, “I am the lead teacher at the school.”  “I’m in classrooms all day.”  “I work with teachers and I teach the kids that teachers don’t know how to teach because I want to make it clear to my teachers that I didn’t become a principal to escape the classroom.”  “I became a principal to be the leader of the classrooms.”  And I watched her as she interacted with teachers and it was very clear that she saw them as colleagues, as part of a team, that even though she was clearly the leader she was also there to support them and at what point I said, “Well how do you get along with the union?”  She said, “Let me introduce you to my union rep.”  And it was very clear that they were partners in this effort and working well together.  So you know what she has is something that is very difficult to teach, which is a high degree of social intelligence.  She knows how to work with people.  She knows how to bring the best of people.  She knows how to read people and understand their strengths.  At one point when I was visiting the school she said…  She took me to a small office where there was an older man counseling a little boy and I said…  She said, “You see that man there?”  I said, “Yeah.”  And she says, “I got him from the rubber room.”  Now those people who don’t know New York, the rubber room is a place where they put teachers and school staff that nobody wants and they stay there indefinitely and get paid and it’s really a horrendous situation.  So I said to her I said, “How did you know to get him out of the rubber room?” She said, “Well, I don’t know why he was there, but he had been my counselor when I was a kid in school, so when I heard he was in the rubber room I asked for him and I brought him to my school.”  So I sat in and I introduced myself and they introduced me to the little boy who was there talking to him, so the counselor said, “Well, ask this little boy why he is here today.”  So I said, “Why are you here?”  The boy was about eight years old.  He says, “I’m learning how to be good.”  I said, “You’re learning how to be good.”  I said, “Is it working?”  He said, “I hope so because I’m tired of getting in trouble all of the time.”  And what struck me was it was a conversation.  It was a friendly conversation going on between this older man and this little boy.  It wasn’t about we’re going to throw you out of school.  We’re going to punish you.  It was about trying to really get at the roots of helping this boy learn to become responsible for his own behavior.  Not enough schools do that.

The story of a school principal whose outstanding motivational skills can teach all educators a lesson.

A map of America’s most famous – and infamous

The 'People Map of the United States' zooms in on America's obsession with celebrity

Image: The Pudding
Strange Maps
  • Replace city names with those of their most famous residents
  • And you get a peculiar map of America's obsession with celebrity
  • If you seek fame, become an actor, musician or athlete rather than a politician, entrepreneur or scientist

Chicagoland is Obamaland

Image: The Pudding

Chicagoland's celebrity constellation: dominated by Barack, but with plenty of room for the Belushis, Brandos and Capones of this world.

Seen from among the satellites, this map of the United States is populated by a remarkably diverse bunch of athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs and other persons of repute (and disrepute).

The multitalented Dwayne Johnson, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dominate the West Coast. Right down the middle, we find actors Chris Pratt and Jason Momoa, singer Elvis Presley and basketball player Shaquille O'Neal. The East Coast crew include wrestler John Cena, whistle-blower Edward Snowden, mass murderer Ted Bundy… and Dwayne Johnson, again.

The Rock pops up in both Hayward, CA and Southwest Ranches, FL, but he's not the only one to appear twice on the map. Wild West legend Wyatt Earp makes an appearance in both Deadwood, SD and Dodge City, KS.

How is that? This 'People's Map of the United States' replaces the names of cities with those of "their most Wikipedia'ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place."

‘Cincinnati, Birthplace of Charles Manson'

Image: The Pudding

Keys to the city, or lock 'em up and throw away the key? A city's most famous sons and daughters of a city aren't always the most favoured ones.

That definition allows people to appear in more than one locality. Dwayne Johnson was born in Hayward, has one of his houses in Southwest Ranches, and is famous enough to be the 'most Wikipedia'ed resident' for both localities.

Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, IL, but his reputation is closely associated with both Deadwood and Dodge City – although he's most famous for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place in Tombstone, AZ. And yes, if you zoom in on that town in southern Arizona, there's Mr Earp again.

The data for this map was collected via the Wikipedia API (application programming interface) from the English-language Wikipedia for the period from July 2015 to May 2019.

The thousands of 'Notable People' sections in Wikipedia entries for cities and other places in the U.S. were scrubbed for the person with the most pageviews. No distinction was made between places of birth, residence or death. As the developers note, "people can 'be from' multiple places".

Pageviews are an impartial indicator of interest – it doesn't matter whether your claim to fame is horrific or honorific. As a result, this map provides a non-judgmental overview of America's obsession with celebrity.

Royals and (other) mortals

Image: The Pudding

There's also a UK version of the People Map – filled with last names like Neeson, Sheeran, Darwin and Churchill – and a few first names of monarchs.

Celebrity, it is often argued, is our age's version of the Greek pantheon, populated by dozens of major gods and thousands of minor ones, each an example of behaviours to emulate or avoid. This constellation of stars, famous and infamous, is more than a map of names. It's a window into America's soul.

But don't let that put you off. Zooming in on the map is entertaining enough: celebrities floating around in the ether are suddenly tied down to a pedestrian level, and to real geography. And it's fun to see the famous and the infamous rub shoulders, as it were.

Barack Obama owns Chicago, but the suburbs to the west of the city are dotted with a panoply of personalities, ranging from the criminal (Al Capone, Cicero) and the musical (John Prine, Maywood) to figures literary (Jonathan Franzen, Western Springs) and painterly (Ivan Albright, Warrenville), actorial (Harrison Ford, Park Ridge) and political (Eugene V. Debs, Elmhurst).

Freaks and angels

Image: Dorothy

The People Map of the U.S. was inspired by the U.S.A. Song Map, substituting song titles for place names.

It would be interesting to compare 'the most Wikipedia'ed' sons and daughters of America's cities with the ones advertised at the city limits. When you're entering Aberdeen, WA, a sign invites you to 'come as you are', in homage to its most famous son, Kurt Cobain. It's a safe bet that Indian Hill, OH will make sure you know Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, was one of theirs. But it's highly unlikely that Cincinnati, a bit further south, will make any noise about Charles Manson, local boy done bad.

Inevitably, the map also reveals some bitterly ironic neighbours, such as Ishi, the last of the Yahi tribe, captured near Oroville, CA. He died in 1916 as "the last wild Indian in North America". The most 'pageviewed' resident of nearby Colusa, CA is Byron de la Beckwith, Jr., the white supremacist convicted for the murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers.

As a sampling of America's interests, this map teaches that those aiming for fame would do better to become actors, musicians or athletes rather than politicians, entrepreneurs or scientists. But also that celebrity is not limited to the big city lights of LA or New York. Even in deepest Dakota or flattest Kansas, the footlights of fame will find you. Whether that's good or bad? The pageviews don't judge...

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