Our students lead us and show us what the world can be.
We cannot do it alone. We cannot solve the big challenges in our schools by ourselves. Not individually. Not even solely as an individual school. Meaningful change will require us to partner district office and members of our community and other schools near and far. Meaningful change will require us to get uncomfortable and take risks.
In my first year in that role, I asked for some feedback. One of the high school principals said in so many words (and kindly), "It feels like we come to these meetings and talk but never take action." Cringe. I'm a doer! They expected, as they should have, that if they were going to be out of their buildings, the time would be meaningfully spent making decisions and getting things done. I'm glad I took that summer to learn as much as I could about meetings that get things done AND grow us.
Perhaps this is radical, but how we spend time with people is one of the greatest ways to change this world. How we show up for each interaction, each gathering, how we are in community with each other -it matters in a big way. We have the power to make people feel strong and special and capable which means that the opposite is true too if we aren't thoughtful.
Write that tweet. Send that email. Have that conversation. Do whatever you can do share the good word.
I wonder if this is what we are missing in some of our "data" meetings in schools. Do we have pictures of kids at the table? To start, they are our WHY. They are why we want to be better. That's a big part of our identity as educators. But also, setting goals for improvements is nice, but it's not the work. The work is the small moves made over time that can make a big difference. Too many data meetings sound like, "We need to get these scores up." Well, yeah. We know. But how? And because we don't know what the best strategy or step to take is, we may not take a step.
There is a lot about the world that is really hard right now. Small words can restore hope. Small words and small gestures are big. They are especially big for our students.
I'm writing this as a reminder to all of us. What would happen if instead of jumping to criticism, we instead paused to ask ourselves: how we are modeling what we expect? What would happen if we were ridiculously in charge of our own learning, personal behavior, and growth?
Rather, if we take the time we need, we will be better rested and more emotionally available for others. This looks different for everyone. There is no one right way to recharge. But knowing ourselves and giving ourselves what we need is the first step to taking care of others as well.
What would happen if every time we slipped down the metaphorical staircase in one area or another, instead of rushing to shame and judgement and self-defeating thoughts, we instead allowed others to pick us up. What would happen if we dusted ourselves off and then allowed our experiences to teach us how to be better next time?