Sunday, January 1, 2017

Pause to Reflect

Over the summer, as I was transitioning jobs I shared a couple of emails that I had received from teachers with my Principals In Action (PIA) Voxer group. These emails contained some of the most complimentary words that I had ever received. I was blown away. People are busy; taking the time to write such thoughtful notes takes time. These types of notes aren't written and/or shared often.

I was on cloud nine. The feelings that were provoked from receiving these emails were amazing.

Brad Gustafson, a principal friend in Minnesota, asked me to reflect and share what led to this. What led to the new position and the new year both starting out on such high notes? I punted. I don't know that I had the words, at the time, to actually reflect on my efforts.

Fast forward a couple of months, and again, I'm just blown away with some of the kind words that I am still receiving. These words come from cards that I've received from staff and families, and they come from complimentary words spoken to me in the community. The feeling is unbelievable to have these compliments verbalized with your family present.

I have kept Brad's request in the back of my head for the past four months. That paired with Lindsy Stumpenhorst, a principal friend in Illinois, issuing a challenge to our PIA Voxer group to blog about 2016 has further motivated me to write this blog. And then the final tipping point was reading Dean Shareski's book, Embracing a Culture of Joy, over winter break. His book, his words helped bring clarity to much of what I've set-out to do.

Starting back in July, when I met with staff, one-on-one, they spoke about our school culture needing to be an area of focus. As a result, we have been investing in the culture of our school.
"Gratitude is an essential ingredient for a joyful culture."
Dean Shareski, Embracing a Culture of Joy
I understand that receiving the kind complimentary words that I've recently received doesn't just happen by chance. I have, in fact, been very intentional with a lot of my actions (I've listed, maybe, the Top 10 of them, below). Most of these actions are not my own original ideas, but that is the beauty of having a Professional Learning Network (PLN); that is the beauty of having social media tools such as Twitter and Voxer to share ideas. Because we are all smarter together.

My Top 10 List of - Things that I've done to promote a positive school climate/culture:
  1. PositivePostItDay - I blogged (linked) about the concept of this day, long ago; I brought this activity to Van Allen right before Thanksgiving break.
  2. Our First Penguin Award - I also blogged (linked) about this, and the importance of celebrating risk taking.
  3. Twelve days of giving leading into winter break - some fun and silly themed days in an attempt to enhance the climate within our building.
  4. Hand-written holiday cards for staff.
  5. Sharing the positive things that are happening within our school via social media on a daily basis (see #RocketsRock)
  6. #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay - I have NOT been consistent with these. However, the positive impact that such phone calls have is enormous. Becoming more consistent with this is a top goal of mine in 2017.
  7. Daily, hand-written thank you cards to staff and students. I've seen some of these posted in prominent areas, which leads me to believe that they are meaningful to those that receive them.
  8. Birthday Selfies - I think that credit to this idea goes to Brad Gustafson. Spend a couple of minutes with kids on their birthdays. Talk to them. Take a picture with them (and then send it to Mom and Dad). Make them feel special.
  9. I choose my attitude. I own it. Nobody else does. It's on me. Hamish Brewer, a principal friend in Virginia, first got turned-on to this tenant of the FISH! Philosophy and it has been a game changer for how I think.
  10. Smiling - I also blogged (linked) about this, originally for the Kids Deserve It blog.
"The impact of receiving heartfelt gratitude cannot be understated."
Dean Shareski, Embracing a Culture of Joy
This (quote, above) cannot be ignored. We all deserve to have heartfelt gratitude shared with us. Per the FISH! Philosophy - Make Someone's Day! And then pay it forward. It is the fuel that can drive us to keep doing better and keep doing more as the days get longer. Gratitude - both giving it and receiving it - can be our motivation. And kids deserve to be with motivated adults.

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