What we look for, we find. It's easy to overcomplicate things in education, but some of the most important moves we make...as I mention in my upcoming book...are quite simple and impactful. The key is quieting the noise, so we can stay close to what matters most. How we feel in the work impact how others feel in the work and all of this impacts how the work actually goes.
Imperfect but Impactful
My upcoming book is filled with stories like this - stories where I learned from mistakes. Because the world needs less shiny, perfect people and more people who are committed to being deeply human, sharing their mistakes, and learning with other people. I'm experiencing big fears the sooner this book comes to publication. What I've had to remind myself is that I didn't write this book so people would think good things about me or my work. I wrote this book because I hope my learning can be of some value to others. It's that simple. I wrote a book that I needed.
Cutting Ourselves Some Slack
There is no perfect person or perfect impact and there doesn't need to be. Think of the people who have impacted you mostly profoundly. Were they perfect? No. Did you care that they weren't? No. You knew they cared about you, believed in you, and supported you.
Kids These Days
One of the best things we can do for students is to spend time being truly present with them. Enjoy them, connect with them, encourage them, grow their skills, and celebrate them. Nourish their unique gifts and talents and help them believe deeply in themselves and their ability to make a positive difference. Our students are our hope. But they need hope themselves. Hope that tomorrow can be better than today and that they will have the skills necessary to make tomorrow better than today.
Be All There
We are allowed to work this way. We might need to do a little work to create systems that make that possible, but we are allowed to work this way. In fact, it's how we work best. Wherever we are, we are at our best when we are all there. Wishing you more moments of peace and presence during this challenging time in the school year. Keep going. We need you.
A Few Lessons from XU Basketball
We are never too young or too low in position to make a positive impact on others. When everyone does their part, the work gets better.
From Checking to Connecting
The world will continue to change but one thing will remain: the need for human connection. So, while we learn about all of the amazing things our technology can do to make life more convenient or the ways it can help us tell stories, let's not forget the power of stories told around campfires. Let's not forget the power of seeing and listening to other people during in-person conversations and classroom lessons. That cannot be replaced.
For me, sometimes the best way to feel better is counterintuitive. To give that which I'm lacking. If I'm not feeling wholehearted in my work and not feeling the love, I give love. If I'm not feeling like I belong, I create belonging for others. For example, ensuring equity of voice in meetings, paying attention to how I respond to the contributions of others, and sitting in circles are all small moves for belonging that I talk about in the draft of my book. And finally, vulnerability. Someone has to go first. Sometimes, that someone is you. Whether it be rest or more wholeheartedness in your work, I hope you find it.
Lessons in Leadership
Will Guidara, author of Unreasonable Hospitality, was able to turn 11 Madison Park into the #1 restaurant in the world. He did so not by making the most unique food in the world or creating the most fancy of restaurants. He did it by tapping into a human need we have that will hold true until the end of time. The need to be well-cared for. So much of excellent leadership is not revolutionary. However, in a world filled with busy and in a time of so many initiatives and high pressure, taking great care of others can feel revolutionary. In this new year, may we all reflect upon how we can do less of what doesn’t matter as much, so we can do more of what matters most. In doing so, the work gets better and so do we.
Hype People Up
Recently, a teacher sent me a very kind text message. It didn't feel like I deserved her words of affirmation, but I cherished them and held them dear. It felt nice to have someone see something good in me, and it made me want to live up to those words the next day and every day. I guess all I'm saying is that our winters are long. The middle part of the school year can feel long and messy. But the work feels better when we feel better and a great way to feel better is to notice and acknowledge what's great around us: the people. The people make our schools special. Let's hype them up.