Taking Care of People

I’ve really enjoyed my time with teachers over the past month. Whether it’s meetings or professional learning days or stop and chats, it’s a great reminder of what I love about my work. I’ve had some really good conversations. For those of you who ground yourselves in Simon Sinek’s work, you will appreciate the intentionality we’ve placed in these conversations on WHY versus starting with what or how. In fact, I had the great pleasure of utilizing Simon Sinek’s Find Your WHY process with a team. This particular team of teachers were defining the impact they wanted their program to make in the lives of students.

As an example, I shared my WHY statement with this team. It’s simple. These statements should be, so they can be honest, genuine, and easy to remember.

I take really good care of educators, so they can take really good care of students.

It’s that simple for me. Much to my delight, I stumbled into a book that is giving me language, thoughts, and ideas for more deeply living out my why. Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More than They Expect by Will Guidara. Will Guidara turned Eleven Madison Park, a struggling 2 star brasserie, into the top restaurant in the world. He started his journey with the question, “What would happen if we approached hospitality with the same passion, attention to detail, and rigor that we bring that our food?”

This has me wondering the same about our schools. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are in the customer service business. There are very few industries that can say they aren’t. When we take really good care of other people both the people who work in schools and those we serve in our schools, the work gets better and it’s more enjoyable for everyone.

As Guidara so eloquently states in this scrumptious book, “Fads fade and cycle, but the human desire to be taken care of never goes away.”

Our teaching and learning team wanted to do something nice for teachers this week. So, the middle school principal and associate principal joined us in some fun. We threw on some fun hats, gathered up some candy, put it on a cart, played fun music on my phone, and danced down the hallways delivering treats to staff members.

Certainly, there were students who wanted candy too, but many of them couldn’t help but smile to see their teacher be recognized. Many smiled as we made fools of ourselves. Some of us more than others. It’s me. I am us. I love a little mischief in school. Making students laugh and surprising them with my shenanigans is one of my favorite things to do. A high school student recently said to me, “We should laugh more in school.” Yes. We. Should. I had fun turning lights off in classrooms and exclaiming, “Soooo spooky….wahahahaha.”

Anyway, I promise we aren’t usually this disruptive, but it was a nice little surprise, and it was wonderful to see so many smiles.

Never underestimate the power a kind word, a smile, a small gesture.

And if you get a big idea that will make people feel appreciated and seen, DO IT. Even if it seems a bit unreasonable. Even if it seems impractical. If you can do it, do it. As Dan and Chip Heath state in The Power of Moments, “Beware of the soul sucking force of reasonableness.” Don’t talk reason your way out of something great that excites you.

We are in the people business. We are in the taking care of people business. We cannot educate without taking care good care of the students AND adults in our schools. When we create magic for the adults, they create magic for kids.

How might you delight those you work with this week? How might you take really good care of people next week? If someone is on your mind, write them a note. If you learn something about someone, follow up about it the next time you see them. If you learn that someone might enjoy the same coffee, bring them a K-cup to try. Hold the door open, help people find that room on the other side of the building if you can.

No gesture is too small. All gestures matter. If we all took the time to make those small gestures, our classrooms would change. Our schools would change. Our districts would change. Our communities would change.

This is how we change the world. Through small caring on a daily basis. If we all do our part, the world will change.

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