I’m really stressed. (I think you are too.)
I feel like I’m not doing anything well. (I’ve heard many of you say the same.)
I’m in reaction mode instead of “proaction” mode. (Many of you have expressed that you can’t meet the needs of all of your kids.)
I don’t feel like I’m supporting you all enough. (You don’t feel like you’re doing all you can for kids.)
I know I’m not in classrooms enough. (You are staying here until all hours of the night working.)
So, what should I do? (What should you do?)
I know it’s easy for me to slip into default mode when I’m feeling like this. I get annoyed with phone calls, emails, bus incidents, truancy issues, hunting down school records for new students and other things that “take my time”. I react quickly without thinking and I act like everything is an emergency. However, I’m grateful that I can recognize my “default” actions and prepare some disciplined, intentional actions instead.
Here is a list of the intentional strategies I’m trying to use to reduce my stress and keep my responses to events above the line.
-I do this by intentionally talking in a slow, quiet, deliberate voice. It’s amazing how controlling my rate of speech and voice level helps me to stay calm.
Assume positive intent
-Instead of getting myself all worked up by a complaint or incident I try to think about the positive outcomes that could come from it and I tell myself that the person who needs to talk to me has the best of intentions.
Don’t take things personally
-When I’m stressed, I always read into things way too much. I am intentionally telling
myself that “it’s not about me”.
-I’ve noticed that when I am having really stressful weeks, things that might not usually get me frustrated end up pushing my buttons. I might even make rash decisions and end up complaining or making a fuss about things that aren’t worthy of this reaction. I came up with a strategy to help with this. I have been writing things on post its that I think I want to address and then I wait several days to decide how I really need to handle it or if it needs addressed at all.
Ask for help
-I know I work with so many wonderful people who can help me or give me advice. I am working hard to rely on the people around me!
Let things go
-Not everything warrants my attention. I have to take the time to think carefully about what to give my attention to. I can’t make every issue a crisis that needs immediate attention!
Talk to myself more than I listen to myself
-Self-talk is the best way that I can ensure that I remain intentionally above the line.
If I were to listen to myself I would hear a lot of freaking out, coupled with the sound of Italians talking with their hands! That won’t get me anywhere!
So, by intentionally controlling my self-talk to remind me to quiet my voice, assume positive intent, ask for help and let things go; I am able to get out ahead of my stress.
-One of the best ways to combat my stress this school year is to intentionally practice gratitude. I can’t be stress and grateful at the same time, that’s why you might be hearing more calls for sticker prizes these days! It brings me so much joy to see a huge line of kids in the hallway proudly wearing their VBO stickers! When I see that line it reminds me how grateful I am for all of you.
Have I been great at using these strategies? NO! But, I am committed to continuing to respond to events in the most disciplined way possible. I commit to controlling my self-talk. Coyte Cooper, author of Make Your Mark says it best, “every single thought and minute you spend on negative is a thought and minute that could be spent closing the gap on your highest goal.”
I challenge you to evaluate your stress and the way you default when stressed. I challenge you to pay attention to your self-talk and to begin talking to yourself more than you listen to yourself.
What can you do to intentionally control your emotions and your responses to events during this stressful time?
What will your self-talk sound like?
Can you pinpoint a moment in the past week when you’ve defaulted to a below the line response?
How can you manage your emotions and your response the next time?
And, please hold me accountable for my intentional behavior! I need you to help me keep myself in check!
I’ve spent the last few years learning about taking risks, controlling my mindset, and understanding how to productively use failure. Recently, I’ve been reading about and learning about the lives of successful athletes, actors, business people, politicians, musicians and many others. What I’ve noticed is that many of them speak about fear and what they do in the face of fear.
We are often challenged ourselves to be fearless. But can we ever be completely without fear?
Think about this quote from Tim Ferriss-
“It’s not about being fearless but instead we have to be better at fear analysis.”
FEAR ANALYSIS-Don’t you love this?
Think about it.
When something makes us fearful, it’s okay! In fact, a little fear is a good thing. What makes the difference is how we analyze the fear. When we are really good at “fear analysis” we are able to slow down, think about the reality of a situation and make an informed decision.
Being fearless implies being reckless. Analyzing fear implies not letting fear consume us but using it help us make the best choice.
Check out Tim Ferriss’ interview on Jon Gordon’s Positive U Podcast to learn more about his take on fear!
We work so hard and last week as I listed to a podcast with Jon O’Leary as he interviewed Sister Madonna Buder, I couldn't help but compare us to an 87 year old nun!
Sister Buder is Nike’s “Iron Nun”. She began running at age 48 and has since completed 45 Ironman races; 300+ triathlons and won her age group dozens of times!
Check her out!
Here are my big take-aways from the podcast.
1-If there’s anything worth doing, do it well.
2-It’s not about when you start it’s about having the courage and audacity to begin.
I can’t help but connect those take-aways to the work we do each day. On our journey to ELITE, what separates us from others is our drive to do everything well. We are truly relentless in our journey. We are open to feedback, coaching and are seeking out our colleagues for ideas to get better at what we do.
We are audacious. We do not back down from a challenge. We try new things, we do not do things just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Whether we’ve been teaching for 30 years or 30 days or somewhere in between, we are on a journey. The way we approach our journey separates us as well.
I never thought I'd compare us to a nun, but I think we have a lot in common. I also think we can learn a lot from her drive and determination. Check out her interview on Jon O'Leary's podcast.
There is a lot of work to do…in case you haven’t noticed!
This time of year is overwhelming. There are a million things coming at us from every direction.
Remember our PURPOSE!
We are here to do what’s best for kids. Right now our kids need LOVE more than anything.
We have 90 new students in grades 1-5 and nearly 100 new kindergartners. Give yourself permission to slow down. Take time to build relationships. Don’t panic just yet about academics. We will get there.
Let’s make sure we do the right work.
We talk a lot about goals at the beginning of a new school year. We have goals for ourselves and goals for our students. Our team has goals, our school has goals and it seems that the list of goals goes on and on.
As you reflect on these past 3 days of school, think about your goals or those expectations that you've set for yourself, your students and your team. You've most likely met some of them and some still feel like they are far reaching.
This summer I reread parts of one of my favorite books Make Your Mark by Coyte Cooper. In my review of Coyte's book I was reminded of this important tip:
"Discipline is doing something intentional to close the gap on your goals regardless of whether you feel like it or not."
You might hear me talking about "closing the gap". This is an amazing mindset to have about goals or expectations. Think about it this way, all we have to do each day is work to close the gap on your goal. We don't have to meet it, we just have to get closer to it! Get a little better today than yesterday and a little closer tomorrow than today. And, soon, we will have closed that gap!
Kindergarten lunch is the perfect example! Our goal is for them to independently eat their lunches and clean up in 30 minutes. But on Wednesday we took one step to close the gap and that step was to get them in and then get them out! That's it! By day two we were teaching them to raise their hands instead of roaming aimlessly around the cafeteria! The gap closed a little bit more. Who knows what Friday will bring, but I do know that we will close the gap just a little more!
What are your goals and expectations for yourself and your students? What is the first step you can take to begin to close the gap?
Remember, just a little step toward the goal each day!
Here is your staff update for August 24th. (NEW TEACHERS--CLICK THE WORDS "STAFF UPDATE TO BE TAKEN TO THE PDF OF THIS WEEK'S UPDATE)
As I was driving to school today I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought back to the first day of school! We started the year with a SOLAR ECLIPSE! It’s safe to say that none of us have ever started a school year like that before.
From day one, this year has been full of exciting events. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for pushing yourselves to your edge. Thank you for all of the hard work that you put in to R Factor, JW YOUniversity, JW Grows and all of the little things that you do for kids each and every day! Thank you for giving me grace as I continue to grow as a leader. I learn from you every day. My goal is to SERVE you!
Have a great summer! Relax, enjoy your families, oh and don't forget to order your staff shirt!
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Iftar dinner at the Noor Islamic Center. This dinner is a celebration that occurs during Ramadan.
Ramadan is the Muslim Holy month at which time Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset. The Iftar dinner was a gathering of community leaders of all faiths from around Central Ohio. We celebrated by breaking the fast together at 8:47 PM when the sun set. There were many speakers including Mayor Ginther and leaders of the Muslim community. The Valedictorian of Hilliard Darby High School also spoke. The message was one of peace and empathy.
As I experienced this event, I couldn't help but be filled with a sense of pride! I am so proud of the way we honor and respect the cultures, heritages and religions of all of our students at J.W. Reason. Being with members of the community who feel the same way that we do only reinforces our mission to be advocates for families and supports of our students who come to us from around the world.
Here is your staff update for May 25th.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few weeks. I always forget how stressful the end of the school year can be for all of us. Many changes come our way quickly this time of year. In just the past week I have experienced several significant changes in the teams that I work with in Hilliard and I wasn’t expecting most of them.
Here’s what I know about change-it’s going to happen-we can’t stop it!
Here’s something else I know about change-change is what we make of it.
Over the past few weeks I have seen changes thrust upon many people. It’s fascinating to take a step back and recognize how each of these people have responded to the changes they are facing. Many of my amazing colleagues have taken the changes in stride, they’ve stepped up and accepted their new challenges with grace and professionalism. Some people, however, have had a harder time with change.
I had the opportunity to speak to Tim Kight last week and was reminded of the important work we have to do to help ourselves stay Above the Line so we can Step Up to the adversity that we will inevitably be faced with in our lives.
Tim reminded me that:
What I know is that it’s very easy to immediately go Below the Line what change happens. I am making an effort to Build Skill when it comes to responding to change.
Have you experienced a change recently? How have you responded? Are you BCDing in your classroom? Are you digging in your heals and making excuses?
Or, are you responding Above the Line? Have you acknowledged that you’re uncomfortable and begun to face your new challenge with intention, purpose and skill?
You have a choice about how you RESPOND to change.
I have a choice about how I RESPOND to change.
Here is an excerpt from the R Factor Handbook. I encourage you to read it and reflect on your response to adversity. If you are like me, you may find that you have some skill to build in this area and that’s okay because “every day is a battle for whether we CHOOSE to live Above or Below the Line”.
What do you choose today?
"It's not magic, it's work."
-Quote from the Disney Leadership Institute
Have you every walked into a classroom or gone to a conference and seen something so amazing that you feel like you could never do it in your own classroom?
I've been there.
I've seen what looks like magic in so many classrooms throughout my career. However, today I had the pleasure of spending an hour and a half with Tim Kight. We talked about what's next with R Factor. Most importantly, Tim shared that we may be starting to feel like we've "done" R Factor long enough or that we need to find a new way to implement it. But, he cautioned us about moving on too fast and reminded us of the importance of REPS!
We have to practice and practice and practice our R Factor skills! There are no shortcuts. Just like those magical looking classrooms, nothing great or magical actually happens without HARD WORK, without getting our reps in! Nothing just "happens" because we want it to. But, we CAN have magic in any area of our life as long as we are willing to do the work! We have to keep doing the work of R Factor. We have to continue to get our reps in. There are no shortcuts.
Here is your STAFF UPDATE for May 11th.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been stressed these past few weeks. Some of our stress my have been created by our leaders (wink, wink); some of our stress may just be because of all of the deadlines we have to meet as we close out the school year; and some of it is also because it’s very easy to get so focused on making it to the finish line that we aren’t doing our best to live in the now. No matter what the cause of our stress is, the bottom line is that this time of year we often begin to focus on the things we can’t control. We lose perspective. We forget why we do what we do. We didn’t become teachers so we could have summers “off”. We didn’t become teachers because we want to make a lot of money or become famous. And, we most certainly didn’t become teachers so we could have a class full of students with the highest test scores. Yet, at this time of year we get bogged down by end of year assessments, the prospect of promotions or changing job titles, and trying to make it to the last day.
Today however I was hit with a dose of reality. I was reminded of my why. I was reminded of the reason why I’m an educator and the reason why it is my absolute honor to serve as the leader of this school. Today our staff quite possible saved some children’s lives. One of you noticed something about a child that just didn’t seem right. You spoke up. Other staff members supported you and in the end authorities became involved and as sad as I am about it, these children were taken from a potentially dangerous situation. This is what matters. The reason the children are safe tonight is because of the relationships we built with them throughout the school year. The reason they felt comfortable sharing the truth with us is because we provide a safe place for them every day.
When you get stressed and when you find yourself sweating the small stuff I want you to remember how lucky we are to have each other. I want you to remember that the safety and security we provide our students means more than any test score, job interview or deadline that needs to be met. Tonight I was able to put things back into perspective. I’m sad that it took a very serious situation to do that for me. But, I needed this reality check. We are so important in the lives of our students and that is what matters.
Here is our staff update for May 4th.