From Chaos to Collective Aspiration- Lessons in Imperfect Leadership Peter Stiepleman

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In this episode, we welcome new educators to our school district. We hear speeches from the assistant superintendent for human resources and the Chamber of Commerce, followed by my own address. I share a personal teaching experience that taught me the importance of setting expectations and learning from mistakes. As an educator, my focus is on human-centered leadership, which I explore in my book and podcast titled "Imperfect Leader: Human-Centered Leadership in Action." I teach a model called the Human-Centered School Transformation Model, which fosters deep learning and offers a different perspective on leadership. Learn more at
Each year, we welcome nearly 150 new educators to the school district. We begin with a speech from the assistant superintendent for human resources, who acknowledges the high number of applications received and assures the new teachers that they are the best of the best. Following that, the Chamber of Commerce extends a warm welcome to the new teachers. Finally, it's my turn to address the audience. During my welcome speech, I share a personal anecdote from my first year of teaching in a trailer in Oakland, California. I recount a lesson I learned after a chaotic incident in my bilingual classroom. Our reading program required students to go to another classroom for 90 minutes each morning, and during one grading period, I had fourth and fifth graders learning sixth-grade English in my reading class. The room was filled with advanced students from other classrooms. One day, I decided to use the total physical response strategy to help the students remember vocabulary words. I requested them to act out the words, intending to make them more memorable. However, I failed to explain the expectations clearly, and chaos ensued when I announced the word "chaos." The students disregarded my attempts to stop them, and the room was left in disarray. Eventually, I managed to regain control and clean up the mess. This experience taught me about the significance of setting expectations, providing positive examples, and establishing a signal for when situations are getting out of control. I share this story with new teachers to remind them that making mistakes is permissible as long as we learn from them. As an educator and advisor, my work revolves around human-centered leadership. I believe in the value of learning from experiences and strive to be an imperfect leader who reflects and grows. In my book and podcast, both titled "Imperfect Leader: Human-Centered Leadership in Action," I offer opportunities to learn from the experiences of school and district leaders. I teach a model called the Human-Centered School Transformation Model, which comprises three dimensions: collective aspiration, nested patterns, and leaders' learning work. These dimensions foster a culture of deep learning and a different perspective on leadership. Collective aspiration ensures alignment in organizational goals, nested patterns define valued behaviors within the organization, and leaders' learning work focuses on the core processes and practices of leadership. I am passionate about celebrating imperfect leaders and promoting learning in every professional interaction. Imperfection is not a weakness but an authentic advantage. You can discover more about my work at

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Creators and Guests

Peter Stiepleman
Peter Stiepleman
Human-Centered Leadership Author and AdvisorAn Imperfect Leader Podcaster- and TikTok: animperfectleader
From Chaos to Collective Aspiration- Lessons in Imperfect Leadership Peter Stiepleman