Sunday, September 18, 2016

When Doubt Creeps In #KidsDeserveIt

Something I wrote about in "Kids Deserve It!" is the feeling of doubt. The wondering if you're good enough.  Every one of us at one point or time doubts our gifts, talents, and abilities.  We wonder if we're in the right job.  If we really know what we're doing.

Sometimes that doubt comes from our own insecurities and sometimes it comes from the words of others and sometimes it comes from a failure we've experienced.

The truth is, we all deal with doubt.  Just like darkness, doubt can creep into our beliefs and begin to control the way we feel about ourselves.  It then affects our actions and those around us.

I could list off a million times where I doubted my gifts.  When I had to have a parent teacher conference and the parent ripped me a new one.  When a kid told me they'd rather be in any other class in the world except mine.  When a teacher told me I was a terrible leader.  When every single person on my campus worked their butts off, and we showed growth, but it still wasn't enough.

Doubt creeps into all of us.  It can break our hearts and our spirits if we let it.
So how do we deal with doubt?  I believe we face it head on.  

Here's a few ways I try not to succumb to doubt:

1.  Make a list of the things you know you're good at doing.

2.  Go to trusted friends/coworkers/colleagues and ask them for support and encouragement.

3. Write notes of encouragement to someone else.  When you lift up others it lifts you up as well.

4.  Spend time with kids, doing kid things. The sense of wonder, forgiveness, imagination that can only be found in a child is remarkable.  Many times as a teacher I gave up my conference period to go sit in a kindergarten classroom or go to PE with my kids just to change my mindset.

5.  And finally, remember.  Remember that you are here for a reason.  That you were placed into the position you're in for a reason.  We never see the rainbows without the storms. Those are what help us grow in our profession and in our personal lives the most.

Remember this week as doubt closes in that you are enough.  That you are important.  That you are valued.

Remember that we can do anything we set our mind to.  That the easy path was never one we wanted to go down.  We learn most from our struggles and trails, and that TOGETHER we can get through this.

So this week, lean on a co-worker or one of us in the office.  Ask for help, relief, a hug, whatever.  Write notes to others reminding them of their worth.

But most of all, spend time with those kids, just being a kid.  Play at Recess, go to PE, sit for 10 minutes in a grade level that isn't yours, eat lunch in the midst of the kids.  Release some of that stress and just be a kid again.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Pilot is the Last Off #KidsDeserveIt

I just returned from watching the movie "Sully" about the Miracle on the Hudson.  For those of you unfamiliar with the events from several years ago....a plane was taking off from NYC and while ascending it hit a flock of birds.  The birds took out both plane engines.  While deciding if he could turn around and land at the airport, the pilot Chesley Sullenberger, determined he couldn't make it and instead made the decision to do an emergency landing in the Hudson River.  All 155 passengers and crew survived.

While watching the movie and seeing the kind of leader that Captain Sully was in that instance I couldn't stop thinking about education administrators and the parallels.  Here were some of the things that stuck out to me.

1. The pilot always remains calm.  Every leader knows there are days that are more stressful than others.  But even in the midst of a crashing airplane, Captain Sully remained calm and collected.  He trusted in his instinct and did what needed to be done to protect those onboard.  As leaders we must do the same. Though I struggle with always remaining calm in heated moments, I know how important it is that we do.  Our team needs to know that it will all be ok.  That together we can do this.  That the leader has things together enough that others have a little more hope in what's coming as well.  For when the leader doesn't remain calm, the whole plane goes crazy.

2.  The pilot knows it's not all about him/her.  Again and again Captain Sully gives credit to his entire crew and to all the emergency responders, Ferry Employees, NYPD, and more for saving all 155 souls aboard that plane.  He never takes credit.  Good leaders do the same.  They know that for this thing called "school" to work it takes every single piece working together.  The custodians play just as of an important roll as the teachers, the nurse, the front desk reception, the cafeteria workers, the librarian, and so on.  As soon as a leader claims credit for the success of a school, you know that leader has no clue about what's going on.  We must work together and give credit the entire team, every part, when success is reached.

3.  The pilot is more concerned about others than himself.  One thing that stuck out to me greatly was the Captain's concern for all aboard the plane.  As soon as they were rescued, all he cared about was how many were alive.  How many survived? Where were they? Who was hurt?  He knew he had 155 souls on board.  He wanted to know if they were ok.  A leader must care so deeply about the people he/she is left in charge of.  They must check in on them, take care of them, hurt alongside them, and seek to help them.  If a leader is to lead they must know what's going on with their crew.

4.  The pilot answers the hard questions.  Throughout the movie, Captain Sully is continually questioned about the decisions he made when deciding on an emergency water landing.  His integrity is questioned, his demeanor, even his past.  As administrative leaders it is the same.  In the end we must answer to what happens in our school building.  When a fire breaks out, when a child is hurt on the playground, when someone is caught destroying property or stealing, and more.  The leader must answer to what has happened under his/her watch and what decisions were made after.  And often times, the leader must answer those questions in a closed room and cannot share his/her responses with the public at large.  That is probably the hardest part.  When a leader must answer to things that have happened, but cannot share with his/her staff what went on behind closed doors.  But leaders must.  They must be ready to answer the hard questions and stand behind the decisions they make.

5.  The pilot is the last off.  In the movie Captain Sully makes sure all of the passengers and crew are off the sinking plane before he decides to exit.  He wades through freezing water just to check every last seat.  In education, as leaders we must do the same.  We must continually check in to make sure everyone is where they need to be and is safe and sound.  We check on the kids, we check on the staff, sometimes we even check in on the parents.  Those bodies in that school building are, in the end, our responsibility, and a good leader makes sure that they're all taken care of before he/she disembarks.

There are so many other reminders that I took from this movie as well, but those are my top 5.  I hope to be even half the leader that Captain Sully was and still is.  I hope to lead with a calm strength, to take care of and care deeply about my crew, to answer the hard questions, and to always be the last one off the plane.

Though I have lots of work to do in becoming that leader, I know that every day I am growing just a little bit more.  If you've seen the movie too I would love to know what may have stuck out to you the most!

The Light and the Dark #KidsDeserveIt

The metaphor of darkness and light has always been a powerful one for me.  The whole idea that darkness seems all encompassing.  Like it is suffocating.  Like you can't escape it or that it's weighing heavy.  But then, with even the tiniest spark or flame, darkness runs.  It clears the way.  It doesn't take a lot, it doesn't take huge effort.

I think about that and tie it in with our jobs as teachers.  There can be a lot of darkness in our profession.  Looming deadlines, overwhelming work loads and expectations, upset parents, disobedient kids, difficult co-workers, and so much more.  And sometimes that darkness feels overwhelming.  Sometimes it feels like it's suffocating us.

But in those moments when darkness surrounds us, we have to choose to be the light.  We have to choose to strike the match or be the spark that sends darkness away.  We have to find that hope we can cling to, those people who will surround us with their own flames.  Darkness will overtake us if we let it.....or we can choose to be the light, not only for ourselves but for someone else as well.

One important way I see us being the light is by what we share online.  A family member came up to me a few weeks ago to vent about "all you people in education".  She told me that "I can't stand when I see a teacher complaining about something on Facebook. They choose that career, they work with KIDS for goodness sake.  If I were to complain about something with my job, my boss would call me and write me up or fire me, but I see it from teachers all the time."

That really hit me.  Even this week I saw teachers from all over the country who were complaining about things from their job on Facebook.  "The kids were crazy today"...."I felt so disrespected at work"......"I hate all this paperwork I have to do as a teacher, why can't I just teach??".....and you know what? Those are REAL and VALID complaints! They are! But think of the message we're sending to the world at large when we get on social media and complain about a job where we impact lives.  What kind of message are we sending? How would you feel, as a parent, if you saw your child's caretakers complaining about all they have to do to take care of your child?

We have to think twice.  We have to make sure we're spreading the light, not the darkness.