Friday, December 1, 2017

Cruise Control

I was waiting to see the next mile marker. It had to be close.

I was waiting for the turn around. It had to be close, too.

13.1 miles leaves a lot of opportunity for your mind to wander. Sometimes it takes you places that are energizing, but not always. Sometimes your thoughts can become your own worst enemy. And that’s where I was headed.

I knew that my race time was past the point of achieving a negative split. The miles were starting to feel longer, and the urge to check my watch was becoming more frequent.

I was needing to find my second wind. I still had over three miles to go. I was needing to get my mind right.

And then the woman patrolling the street said,
“You look like you’re on cruise control.”

That was it. Those were the words of encouragement that I so desperately needed to hear. It was a boost of adrenaline that allowed me to find my stride. All of a sudden, I forgot about the suffering. My mind was cleared of the negativity that was creeping into my thoughts. Instantaneously, I felt good.

I hadn’t felt like I was on cruise control, but she told me that it looked like I was. So I believed her.

One woman said one thing to encourage me. A stranger, nonetheless. She didn’t have to say anything, but she did. And that’s all it took. It changed my attitude, it changed my performance, it changed my outcome.

We have multiple opportunities to make this same type of difference in other people’s lives, daily. We never know when our words may break or make someone. Choose them wisely, and don’t ever pass-on an opportunity to offer words of encouragement. You might not know it, but it might be just what someone needs.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Look for the Signal

Some years ago, I read Nate Silver's book, The Signal and the Noise. There is a lot of noise that gets in our way. Listen and look for the signal.

Our recess (and lunch) para supervisors have one of the most difficult jobs at school. We ask them to keep everything orderly and everyone safe during our most unstructured times of the school day. We ask them to do this during a time that some of our students feel is their only opportunity within the day when/where they don't have to worry so much about the routines and and structures that are expected of them.

Last month, I overheard something that one of our own recess supervisory said after conversing with a substitute recess supervisor that was at our school that day. She said how they'd had similar experiences being in/working in other schools, and the other schools just have different environments than Van Allen's. She went on to say, "They're more negative."

This was music to my ears as culture is something that we've been emphasizing for the past 15 + months since I've become the principal at Van Allen.

Nowhere is perfect. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. We have bad days. We have plenty of things that we are trying to make better. But, nonetheless, it is pretty good here. Actually, it is pretty great here.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Perspective is easy to lose sight of when you are living it each and every day.

Slow down. Breathe. Relax. Tune out some of the noise, and look for the signal.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Don't Go Down the Rabbit Hole

Most educators can relate to the above graphic. Regardless of your experience, you've been on that rollercoaster. Regardless of your position/title, you've been on that rollercoaster. Regardless of the varying degrees of achievement within your school, you've been on that rollercoaster. Regardless of the socioeconomic status of the students you serve, you've been on that rollercoaster. Regardless of circumstance, we've all been on that rollercoaster.

It's November 2nd as I draft this post. You'll notice, on the graphic, we should be in the midst of Disillusionment.

Don't go down the rabbit hole!

Last month I blogged about ways to prevent yourself from becoming cynical (Don't Become a Cynic, linked). Below are the original seven tips (plus a few new and updated ones) that help me - can help you - remain in the anticipation, reflection, and rejuvenation stages of the chart.
  • Be balanced - Education (life) can be stressful. Find things that provide you with an outlet. Exercise, read, write, spend time with family and friends; whatever it is, do the things that you enjoy.
  • Be connected - Find your tribe. find your like minded people, find your people that inspire you, find your people that push you to be a little better each day. Lean on these people, problem solve with these people, share with these people, and most importantly celebrate with these people.
  • Be grateful - Think about all of the things that you have. Not everyone has all of these things. We sometimes get so caught up in all of the stuff that it can be easy to lose sight of this. Don't forget, perspective is key to life.
  • Be kind to others - Assume others are giving their best effort; assume others have positive intent. Always seek to understand.
  • Be kind to yourself, too - "Give yourself the grace to be imperfect." You aren't going to be perfect; no one is. Focus, instead, on getting better, bit-by-bit, day-by-day.
  • *NEW - Be the educator that you want for you kids - I don't think that this one needs any explanation.
  • Choose your attitude - Life happens. Situations occur that are outside of our control. Furthermore, we don't have control over other people. We do, however, always have control over how we respond. We have the power to choose the attitude that we embody.
  • *NEW - Engage in your own Genius Hour - Find your passion project. Engage in it. Implement it. Revise it. Master it.
  • *NEW - Fake it 'til you make it - Smile and start giving out high fives. The energy that you get back will soon change the energy within you.
  • Look for the good  - Because the more intentional you are about looking for good, the more good that you will find.
  • *NEW - Remember your why - Why did you get into education? For most of us, this decision wasn't content related. Most of us (hopefully) wanted to make a difference for/with kids; so focus your efforts, energy, and time on building relationships. Content is secondary to relationships, anyways.
  • *NEW - Unfair advantage - a term that I've heard Dean Shareski use in his keynote - Stop worrying so much about what you don't know how to do and/or what you aren't great at. Find the one thing that you love, the one thing that you do really well and do more of that.