Razzle Dazzle

“Give em’ the ole’ razzle dazzle..razzle dazzle em’..”

A friend sent me some fun content via text this week. The content made me feel excited and dreamy about the future, and I found myself singing “Razzle Dazzle” back to her in a voice message and then explained that I felt razzle dazzled by her message.

If you aren’t familair with the song “Razzle Dazzle” from the musical, Chicago, or if you haven’t enjoyed it in a while, you can give it a listen here.

I have a good friend, Lucrecer Braxton, who is the Queen of sending voice messages that spark JOY. She truly takes the time to notice and celebrate her friends and shares the good stuff she notices about us with such detail that it makes you believe it too! She’s even been known to make up songs about us that are so over the top you can’t help but sit in awe and giggle.

Razzle dazzle to me is all about surprise, delight, and connection.

My friend didn’t expect to get a voice message in response, singing to her. She said it made her both laugh and smile. And honestly, the world needs more of that right now, so whatever it takes. Sometimes, we just need to get over ourselves and go for it.

It turns out that the brain gets more out of happy, unexpected moments then that which is expected. It makes me wonder how we might bring more thrill and delight into the school experience?

I can remember being at inside recess last school year. If you’ve ever worked in an elementary school, you can appreciate how stressful inside recess can get, ha. Many students need the opportunity to run around and let out energy and sometimes a puzzle just isn’t going to cut it. So, when we could, we would bring the students into gym.

Now, bringing kids into the gym has it’s own challenges. Without zones for the activities, it feels very wild and untamed in there. I giggle as I write that and picture that scene from Kindergarten Cop where he has lost all control of the classroom. Anyway, in an effort to promote a sense of play that also felt SAFE, we had to get creative. And on top of all the other stuff that goes into a school day, it’s a bit challenging to think ahead on recess.

But whatever was in my brain as silly and fun, I would just go for it. So, I can distinctly remember a day at second grade recess where I started to conga line. Dana-da-da-da-da…HEY! So, there I was, by myself in the middle of the wild, stepping and rolling my arms and throwing a pointed finger to the side. Many kids stopped what they were doing to look. Their faces said it all, “What is our principal doing? That looks FUNNY…and fun…I might want to join…”

And it started with a couple of kiddos getting behind me in the line. And then a few more. And more. and more. And before you knew it, I had a good majority of the second grade behind me. Laughing and adding their own fun, personal flair to the conga. As I laughed to myself and looked behind me at this performance, I caught the eye of the two second grade teachers who were monitoring recess. They had their phones out taking pictures, smiling, and seemed relieved that for even just a moment, they could catch their breath.

So often, we think of keeping order and safety in school as being centered on rules and expectations. Sure, there are certain things that must be in place. But a third grade student said it best when he told me, “Want to know why I’m doing good in school? It’s not because of the rules, it’s because you’re my best friend.”

A great way to build those best friendships is through having fun together. Experiencing a little razzle dazzle. Peak moments of connection. PLAY. When I was playing dragons at recess with my third grade friend, I would stop, breath my “fire,” and watch what he would do next. In those free play moments, I got to marvel in his creativity and ability to improvise, thinking sharply on his feet. Something that I probably wouldn’t see on his reading test.

I’m drawn to shows like Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist where characters break out into song – seamingly out of nowhere. In those performances (that only Zoe can see and hear), she experiences a deeper level of connection to their true selves and emotions.

When we razzle dazzle others, we inspire them to ENJOY in very authentic ways. And we get to experience who they are on a deeper level as a result.

So, let’s give em’ the ole’ razzle dazzle. We can all do it in a way that feels honest and true to who we are as human beings and professionals. This is not separate from the work. It’s critical to our work.

As Chip and Dan Heath warn in The Power of Moments, “Beware of the soul-sucking force of reasonableness.”

Let’s dare to enjoy. In doing so, we invite others to do the same and that happiness we create for others gives them greater access to their big potential.

Signing off with jazz hands today…

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