Charles Williams has been an educator for nearly 20 years serving as a teacher, a mentor/lead teacher, an assistant principal, and a principal for urban K-12 students across Chicago in grades. He is the host of The Counter Narrative Podcast, co-host of Inside the Principal’s Office, and co-author of the book: “Inside the Principal’s Office.” Charles launched CW Consulting to focus on helping institutions to unlock their potential and delivering results.
What it was like for you growing up and as a student? I know you mentioned school was easy for you, but it also influenced you.
School was easy but as a student I was blind to many of the things to which I am not clearly aware. The biggest was the fact that I fit the mold and, because I did not struggle to meet those expectations, I was able to have the additional time to engage in a number of extracurricular activities that did little more than improve my social standing within the school and beyond. Imagine students who must invest this time and energy into “reconfiguring” themselves and thus always fall behind.
I remember you mentioning sports and community theater. Is that what led you to study communications and public relations in college?
Yes, these had a large influence over my decisions in school. Originally, I was planning to become an architect because I didn’t know that one could major in communications (radio, television, etc…). However, when I discovered that this was an option, I quickly modified my decision and that is how I found PR. If you didn’t notice, I have the gift of influence, the ability to see an outcome and present it in such a way that others not only believe in it but also want it. PR gave me the tools to become even better at this.
Why did you become a teacher? What did you teach? Did a teacher or someone else influence you?
I became a teacher after being asked to cover a few classes and absolutely falling in love with it. Initially, I worked with EL students and watching them come alive as we explore the English language was fulfilling. I had always loved my ELA classes because I enjoyed reading and analyzing the nuances of novels. Being able to do that in creative ways with students was a dream come true.
It seems like you were always a leader. Can you share a little about your journey to becoming a principal?
I have held leadership positions in nearly every organization with which I have been affiliated. I was the leader of my Boy Scout troop, I was the VP of a college organization, and I became a mentor teacher during my 5th year in the field. I believe this stems from my willingness to speak up and take the initiative to get tasks done. I hate wasting time and often quickly develop systems to improve both efficiency and effectiveness. Typically these responsibilities fell to the “leaders” of a space so I quickly and often held that role.
When my AP got sick and needed to leave for an extended absence, I was asked to step in as I was already serving as the lead teacher for the middle school group. One year later, when our principal resigned, I was approached and encouraged to apply. Hesitantly (it was not part of the five-year plan), I did and was appointed as Principal. I was maybe 30. The CEO of the school said that he had made the decision because he saw in me the same person he was at a younger age and believed in my potential.
Why did you start your podcasts “The Counter Narrative Podcast”?
The show sprang from a desire to cultivate a different set of conversations around education. As a school leader, I can attest that many of our discussions around data and student performance focus on the perceived deficits of our students. This language trickles out of the board rooms into the breakrooms and into the classrooms where it is heard, seen, and felt by our students who ultimately internalize these negative preconceived notions about who they are. My hope is that by focusing on their strengths and celebrating their successes, we can begin shifting these mindsets for all stakeholders and begin growing student achievement.
Your partnership with Michael McWilliams for “Inside the Principal’s Office” is wonderful. What is the story behind it? Definitely need to share your book.
I had partnered with School Rubric on a few projects when they approached me about an idea for a new show. The explained that they had a connection with a career principal out of texas and wanted the two of us to host. In short, we would develop a safe space for educational leaders to connect and grow as such spaces were commonplace for teachers but not for administrators. We did a few episodes and it grew in popularity. We have made a few adjustments to the show to accommodate our changing schedules but I am excited to see where it will go.
The book stemmed from one of our guests, Dr. Rob Thornell, who pitched the idea to us after being on the show. He said he had an idea for a book and couldn’t think of anyone better to partner with its development. We sat down and churned out the book in less than a year.
Why did you launch CW Consulting? Can you explain: “At the intersection of education, leadership, and equity”?
CW Consulting was birthed out of the requests I started receiving to speak and host workshops. I wanted to formalize myself and figured the best way to do so was through the development of a company. To be honest, I don’t know much about running a business but I do know how to deliver the content people are seeking.
At the onset of my company’s launch, I was eager and willing to provide nearly any service that anyone needed. A peer suggested that instead of offering a plethora of services, I should consider narrowing my focus. This would help me not only cultivate my talent and experience but would also allow my reputation to grow in a very defined way. I was nervous because I saw this as a limitation of possibilities but quickly realized the boon it added to my bookings. A majority of the work that I do focuses on education, though I am beginning to branch out to non-profits. Regardless of the space, much of what I talk about revolves around leadership and/or equity work. By anchoring myself to this spot, I hope to become thee person to provide services in these areas, especially when they intersect.
Right now I am focusing on expanding my bookings and have recently signed with two speaking agencies. I have a few books in production and hope that those will not only amplify my ideas but will also churn additional interest in the work that I am doing.
Contact Information for Charles Williams
Contact info: linktr.ee/_cwconsulting
Hope you enjoyed my conversation with Charles Williams who joined me on my virtual porch! Charles helped me create this wonderful post that includes his story, both of his podcasts, his book and how you can contact him. Please share this podcast and the post with your friends.
|Make sure you check out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and each post that the guests created. Click on this link or the logo below to list by episode, alphabetical, or reflections.
|I am a co-host of a new podcast “Real Talk with Barbara and Nicole.” Check out several of the episodes about Authenticity in a Polarized Society around different topics. Click on RealTalkBN or the logo below.
|I’m getting wonderful feedback on how much the information and stories in “Define Your Why” has helped them. For more information about this book, go to this page or click on the book for resources, questions, and links.
My new book, “Grow Your Why…One Story at a Time” includes 23 stories from inspirational educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Go to this page or click on the book to go to Why Press Publishing for when it launches.