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Today’s tip:  De-escalation and the SAM Communications Protocol


De-escalation techniques are used by counselors, mediators, and law enforcement to resolve conflict.  Most SAMs, principals and school staff serving as First Responders use the SAM Communications Protocol: active listening, validation and offering what they can do, rather than what they can’t.


The chart, below, from CISA, US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, fits nicely with the SAM Communications Protocol.

You can access more information detailing the SAM Communications Protocol at this link: 


Last Thursday we were pleased to announce the keynote speakers and pre-conference workshop presenters for the 18th Annual National SAM Conference.  For the next four Thursdays we will send more information on each of the keynote and workshop presenters. 

A few things to consider when planning to attend:

  1. Online registration opens Labor Day.

  2. To be eligible to attend, you must be a TimeTrack owner or SAM doing the process with efficacy, NSIP staff, Board member or presenter.

  3. The conference will be held at Loew’s Miami Beach, January 15-19, 2025. 

  4. Conference fees:

    1. $2,895 covers three nights at the hotel, conference sessions, food/beverage, books, and ground transportation

    2. $895 covers the all-day pre-conference and includes the extra night at the hotel, sessions, food/beverage, books and ground transportation

    3. $429 covers additional nights at the hotel after the conference—we have secured additional rooms Sunday night as we expect many attendees   will want the stay Sunday and travel home Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

    4. $545 covers the cost of bringing a spouse or significant other—the fee covers the cost of ground transportation and evening events


Last week we featured Board Secretary Shawna Fagbuyi. Today, meet Board Member, Emeritus, Debbie Daniels.

Debbie Daniels has served in many roles in education throughout her career. These have included: Dean of the School of Education for the University of the Cumberlands; director of the Kentucky SAM Project; lead implementation specialist, SAM Coach, and educational consultant in the areas of principal and teacher leadership development; adviser of low-performing schools on the implementation of P-12 turnaround strategies; Kentucky Highly Skilled Educator; director of the state Wallace Foundation Leadership Grant; director of Kentucky Department of Education’s Instructional Leadership Teams and Support Network; online Teaching for Understanding coach for WIDE World at Harvard University; Harvard Fellow; facilitator for the redesign of all Kentucky university and college principal preparation programs; facilitator for the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative in Georgia and ESSA Leadership Learning Community in Tennessee and Florida.


Debbie was a founding member of the NSIP Board in 2011 and served as Secretary before becoming a NSIP Board Emeritus Member in 2023.

Today’s tip:  Leave your cell phone behind, not your students.


The first person I heard ban cell phones was Elaine Wynn.  It was 1998 and her Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas was in its first year.  I was with the other 16 Nevada school district superintendents in a meeting with Elaine, arguably the state’s leading business leader advocate for public education.  She said the phones we had were distracting.  She said that unless one of us had a significant other in a hospital she wanted the phones turned off.  This was nine years before the introduction of the iPhone.


Last week, I used my iPhone 15 to talk with a SAM principal while she returned smart phones and watches to students at dismissal.  She shared student engagement with teachers and peers increased and discipline referrals declined once they physically removed smart phones and watches.  The wave of research connecting a significant increase in student mental health issues was a driving factor, too, in her school’s move from banning smart devices to locking them up during the school day.

Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt posits that all schools should lock up devices every day"Smartphones are basically kryptonite for learning.  When children have a phone in their pocket, and most schools say you have to keep your phone in your pocket, you can't use it during class, is like saying in a drug detox clinic, 'You can keep your heroin in your pocket, just don't shoot up.' "If kids have access to a phone, they will text, they will check their social media, they will not pay attention the teacher or to each other in person."

Political leaders love this idea, but few have attached funding to legislation for equipment and staff.  One of the most popular commercial solutions, Yondr Pouches, costs $25 to $30 per student.  Students are given a pouch when entering in the morning for their devices. The pouch is locked and returned to the student.  The pouch blocks cell signals and cannot be reopened until the end of the day when a staff member unlocks the pouch with a scanner.  Yondr is showing up at theatres and medical offices.  Yondr is used in homes, too.

The idea has been around for a long time.  Waldorf, a holistic educational style intended to develop intellectual, artistic, and practical skills with a focus on imagination and creativity, restricts technology use. Screens aren't used at all through 8th grade and are scarce even in high school. The Waldorf teaching philosophy is used at more than 1,000 institutions in 91 countries, including 136 schools in the U.S.  Interestingly, The Waldorf school in Silicon Valley is very popular with tech titans.  Go figure.

Last week we featured Board President Bert Hendee in the SamTastic Weekly Tip. Today, meet Board Secretary Shawna Fagbuyi.

Shawna is a transformational educator and executive. She has been a principal for 12 years and a SAMs principal for 6 years. She is a proud graduate of Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland with a focus in Educational Leadership and Policy.


Shawna considers herself a cultural change agent, focusing on equity for students and families and inspiring communities to be lifelong learners. Among her other pursuits, she is the co-founder of Academic Chariot, an organization helping school leaders drive their family engagement. She is also the author of The Virtual Parent University Playbook, written during the pandemic to guide schools through establishing highly effective parent universities that directly impact student achievement. Ultimately, Shawna is an expert in leading large, cross-functional initiatives, systemic problem-solving, and influencing change in politically charged organizations.

Shawna joined the NSIP board of directors in 2021 as one of two SAM practitioners on the board. She is most proud of being the mother of three dynamic scholar-athletes and artists and celebrates life within their large multicultural family. She connects with the family atmosphere and professional advocacy for school leaders that is fostered on the NSIP board. As the principal practitioner, she appreciates how the SAMs process has increased her efficiency and productivity as an instructional leader.

Today’s tip:  If this were your last day…


I love to read.  I may be one of Barnes and Noble’s favorite customers.  I buy, and read, two books every week, one fiction, one non-fiction.  Thanks to Starbucks, I have done this every weekend for years.


This weekend, I read Burn Book, by Kara Swisher, a history of the tech industry… perhaps the biggest wealth creation period, and time of change, in modern history.  Kara is a journalist who has covered the tech industry for years, from before the iPhone to today.  The book is fascinating, and she is remarkable. 


She shares how Apple’s founder Steve Jobs was obsessed with the limited time he had to make a difference.  He had been diagnosed with cancer.  He knew his life was short.  It was then he created the iPhone, a device that impacted all of our lives.  In relating his story, she asks, “If this were your last day, what are you doing that is important to you?”


In other words, look at your TimeTrack, the things you plan to do today.  Can you identify an event that you want to do?  Do you see an event that will move you closer to your goals?  If so, great.  If not, change it up today.


The SAM Process is all about intentionality.  What are your intentions today?  Have you scheduled work you believe will help teachers help students?  If not, what could you do today that would?  Make sure your TimeTrack aligns with your intentions.  Do you want to create an iPhone today…or a Palm Pilot? It is entirely up to you.


Your work is important.  You face remarkably difficult challenges that could cause you to miss the opportunities to do good today.  In your SAM Daily Meeting, identify the good you can do.  You will feel better, and your staff and students will benefit.

Last week we featured Board member Nathan Roberts in the SamTastic Weekly Tip.  Today, see a report, below, on the NSIP Board Meeting last week and meet Board President Bert Hendee.

Your NSIP Board of Directors’ most recent meeting was held via Zoom (following Solar Eclipse viewing) Monday, April 8, 2024.


We were given an update on the current rubric assessment for SAM Teams that is currently in process and look forward to reviewing data at our July board meeting.  We also reviewed the process for our board self-evaluation which we review, discuss and use to make future plans at our July board meeting.


As always, we serve to help strengthen the organization and support you in the important work you do each and every day.  If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to any board member at any time.  Our contact information is on the NSIP website.

Bert Hendee, NSIP Board President

Meet Board President Bert Hendee: 


Bert retired from education after 35 years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of Human Resources and Leadership Development in Springfield, IL. She then spent 11 years as an assistant director for the Large Unit District Association in Illinois, supporting leaders in the largest school districts in Illinois.


Through the association with Mark Shellinger when both were leading the work with the Wallace Foundation LEAD project in their districts, she brought SAMs to Springfield as she was retiring in 2007. When SAMs became the National SAM Innovation Project non-profit in 2011, she was part of the founding board of directors and has humbly served as its president ever since. Bert also serves as a Time Change Coach and has done some Implementation Specialist work, although her focus is on coaching and serving as president of the board.


Bert is passionate about the work being done by school and district leaders, which is why she wholeheartedly works to support the mission and vision of NSIP. Supporting our school and district leaders is critical to the success of teaching and learning for our children—and for our future.

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