We talk a lot about being purposeful and intentional. We talk about getting our reps in and building upon the things we do really well. Being purposeful and intentional is HARD work. It means that we have to be honest and reflective with ourselves.
The dictionary.com definition of the word purpose is "to set as an aim, intention, or goal for oneself; to intend; design"
I love the use of the word “aim” in this definition. It means that to be purposeful we have to know where we are headed and then intentionally plan the steps it will take to get there. But, one thing that we often forget to talk about when we discuss purpose is that sometimes in an attempt to be purposeful and intentional, we miss the mark. That’s right, our aim is not always going to be spot on. We’re not always going to hit the target and that is OKAY…as long as we dust ourselves off, admit it and keep trying. That’s because purposeful does not mean perfect.
When I looked up the word perfect in the dictionary, I found this definition,"conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type."
The definition of perfect couldn’t be more opposite of who we are as educators. There is no perfect student, just like there is no perfect lesson, perfect teacher or perfect solution for a problem! There is no ideal. We want each of our students to be the best version of themselves. We want to be the best version of ourselves. This is why we must pick purpose over perfect.
If we live our lives striving for perfection we will be forever disappointed. But, if we live our lives purposefully we will take aim, set goals and adjust along the way. In purpose we learn to celebrate hitting the mark just as much as we celebrate getting close to the mark. And, in purpose we give ourselves a chance to readjust our aim when we are way off.
As we strive to act with purpose, we must remember that being purposeful doesn't mean staying at school all hours of the night lamenting over every move we are going to make the next day. Purpose means that we know where we are, we know where we want to be and we take aim. We might miss the mark. Missing the mark is how we learn! So, remember, purpose of perfect.
(A special thanks to our AMAZING instructional coach, Amanda Davell, for inspiring this post!)
My ONE WORD this year is PERSPECTIVE. One way I’ve lived out this word is by reading memoirs about the lives of people who are NOT like me. The lives of people who I sometimes think I understand but I have come to learn that I do not at all.
I used to feel like I could say that I understood refugees and immigrants because I know them, I work with them, I teach their children and I’ve even visited their homes. I welcome them to our country. I care about them. However, deep down, I knew that I was missing something and that I had much more to learn. So, I’ve been seeking out new learning to gain perspectives on the lives of these important people. I stumbled upon the book The Ungrateful Refugee, by Dina Nayeri.
As I’ve dug deeper into the memoir of Dina Nayeri I’ve learned that I have the wrong idea about refugees and asylum seekers and that I have certainly unintentionally offended many. My mindset has been—“I bet you are so happy that you’re here! You’re safe now.”
But after reading this excerpt from Nayeri’s book, I changed my thinking….
Refugees and asylum seekers are escaping violence, corruption, religious persecution and more and we have the audacity to say “He made it out! He’s safe!” Imagine the trauma and suffering that occurred in able to “make it out”. Imagine all that was left behind. Imagine all the culture shock, the humiliation endured by having to accept public assistance and charity. Imagine living in a refugee camp in an unknown country and being treated like a “faceless” person.
While I don’t have the answers, I do know that my perspective has changed. Instead of “I bet you’re so glad you’re here” maybe I’ll try “You are so brave to make the choice to leave your home. I’m sure that had to be terrible.” Or, maybe just “Welcome! We care about you.” I’m not sure what the right words are but I do know what the wrong words are. In trying to be helpful we can unintentionally be hurtful. As we continue through the school year and we support our children and families let’s continue to think about perspectives other than our own and choose our words wisely. I also know that for our children who endured the terror of escaping a country as a refugee or asylum seeker LOVE IS AN INTERVENTION!
I recently finished reading Lincoln on Leadership which is a book that analyzes the leadership qualities of Abraham Lincoln and connects those qualities to the behaviors that leaders today should be exhibiting. The following is an excerpt that made me think about our work with lead now. As Tim Kight says, people from the leader first and the vision second. As I read the following excerpt I was reminded of the importance of the leader having a clear vision so that as people follow they are certain to be going in a positive direction.
The first dictionary definition of a “leader” describes a primary shoot of a plant, the main artery through which the organism lives and thrives. In much the same way, organizations prosper or die as a result of their leader’s ability to embody and communicate the company’s vision. How a manager or professional influences others very much dictates the health of the department, region and ultimately the entire organization.
All this translates into one of the major factors that distinguishes leaders from mere managers: vision….You have to know where you are going, to state it clearly and concisely. And you have to care about it passionately.
-Lincoln on Leadership pg. 162
As I reflect on this excerpt I’m reminded that you are leaders in your classrooms. While your students will follow you first and your vision second, it is important that you clearly know your vision and that you passionately and concisely share that vision with everyone.
Last Friday we embarked on LEAD NOW training. Our first step was to take a look within ourselves. We took time to examine our priorities. We then chose 3 to 5 of those values as our CORE VALUES. Our next step was to turn those core values into ESSENTIAL INTENTION statements.
As we continue on our journey to be the best version of ourselves we must not think of our work last Friday as simply an activity to check off our list of things to do, but instead as the beginning (or maybe for some the continuation) of defining our why.
I created my list of values several years ago! I work to live up to those values every day. They help me with the CHARACTER piece of LEAD NOW---I know that my character is the experience that you have when you are with me. Sometimes, I fall short of living up to my values, but I will continue to strive to be the person and the leader that I want to be.
Have you decided on your value statements? Have you shared them with others!
I challenge you to be vulnerable and share your values with our staff!
Here are mine:
Be a coach and be coachable
On Friday we will begin a new journey together! We will step into the journey of reflecting on ourselves as leaders as we start Lead Now training. Every one of us is a leader and we must be intentional about how we behave in this important role. Tim Kight reminds us that “what separates and great school from an average school is leadership. Not just the leaders in administration, but the leaders in every classroom.” Those leader are YOU!
Hilliard City Schools is the first school district anywhere to provide teachers with Lead Now training. This is going to radically change the way we behave and will help us look inward to grow ourselves into the best leaders we can be so that we can get the results we want from our students.
I’m exciting for our next step in the journey to ELITE.
Take a look at this less than 2 minute video in which Tim talks about what leadership REALLY is!
Last week I wrote about being “full speed ahead”! I’m assuming that you’re still feeling like we’re moving at breakneck pace down the tracks. What I love about us is our sense of urgency and our “pay now instead of later” mentality. We are all in. We are getting stuff done! While I definitely want to encourage us all to keep moving forward with our great ideas and plans, I couldn’t help but be inspired this week by this picture of a squirrel who decided to take a minute to stop and smell a flower! (I never thought I’d type that sentence, but let’s face it, as principal at JW I’ve said and done a lot of things that I never could have imagined).
I love this picture. It reminds me that we must take the time to see the beauty, wonder and magic that is around us. We are in a building filled with children who are so happy to be here with us each day. They say and do the funniest, sweetest things. Sometimes it’s easy to let the bad things, the stressful things or the hard things get our attention and distract from the joy and beauty that surrounds us. Today, I challenge you to stop and smell the flowers! Enjoy the days that you get to spend in a building full of children!
The school year is up and running and we are going full speed ahead without an end in sight! This time of year, it’s easy to begin to forget all of the goals we had for ourselves and our students not so long ago in those blissful days of August! It’s easy to fall back into old habits and old ways of thinking. And, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we were being way too ambitious when we thought about all we wanted to accomplish this school year.
So, today we need to remember that “we can do hard things”. We can reach our goals, but we must give ourselves time to do so. We must also hold ourselves accountable for the work we need to do to achieve our goals. It’s easy to give up when things get hard and when we feel bogged down by all of the things we “have to” do.
Let’s remember what we set out sights on as we were planning for this year! Let’s remember that we do a lot of things well and we’ll get our reps in with those things so we can focus on getting better in the areas where we need to grow.
We’re moving full speed ahead but we’re not going to allow ourselves to default to autopilot. I am going to continue to-get in classrooms, connect and control my R. What are you going to do?
My blog is usually a place that I reflect on my school days and try to inspire myself and others to continue the hard work we do for kids and families every day. What I’ve learned through years of blogging is that there really is a lesson to be found in every experience we have. Blogging has taught me to recognize the lesson and search for the positive in even the most difficult situations. So today, as my 40th birthday comes to an end I'd like to share this blog post with all of you!
Today I went outside to go for a run to find this....
Yep a giant sign reminded that today I turn 40. I mean, what?!?! I remember when my mom turned 40. I thought she was really really old.
Today, though, 40 has a different meaning to me. For some, it may be seen as a ticket to middle age or “over the hill,” but to me it means something else. To me 40 means that I have a choice. I can choose to complain that my knees and ankles hurt when I run or that I cannot recover from a night out with friends like I used to; but instead I choose celebrate that I get to continue to do the things I love with the people I love every day. I am going to go running, read books and tell EVERYONE what I learned even if they don’t want to hear about it, be the leader at an amazing place with the most selfless people and most importantly I’m going to continue to learn and grow and be the best version of myself each day.
Growing old is a blessing that I will not take for granted. I will not complain about getting older. One of the most important lessons I've learned in my 40 years is this:
"The most powerful force is the cumulative effect of repeated behavior over time."
In this situation this quote means that if I choose to repeat over and over again that I'm old or that I'm over the hill then I will be. But, if I choose to repeat that I grateful for the wisdom my 40 years have brought me, that I will continue to live my best life, then I will!
WE ARE WHAT WE REPEAT! So, I choose to get better every day. I choose to be grateful for each and every moment. I choose to celebrate the gift of growing older. And I will remember that growing older is a privilege denied to many.
I dedicate this year to two friends. One who lost a battle and one who is fighting one.
Lisa Vroom taught me to live the best life I can no matter the circumstances.
Katie Nicolli is teaching me what strength means as she lives each day to the fullest.
*Edit-we lost our friend Katie this summer, not long after I dedicated this post to her. I'm grateful for her friendship and I'm still learning about strength from her as I was how resilient her two girls are as they adjust to life without her.
This school year our One Word was PURPOSE.
You saw it every week at the top of our update and I hope you allowed this word to guide you this year. As I begin to reflect on this school year I look back at how we lived our word. It’s funny because for me the word purpose meant something different at the beginning of the school year than it does now. In August and September, when I thought about our word I thought about being purposeful with our meetings, purposeful with decisions and purposeful in how I used my time. As the school year went on and I began to dig into the needs of our kids, our word took on a completely new and more powerful meaning. Purpose began to be about others. I started to think about ways we could help our students find their PURPOSE. I looked at our work with R Factor and JW YOUniversity and thought about how the skills we were teaching our kids and the experiences we were giving them added purpose to their lives. I began to see a deeper purpose in the work we do and realized that we are so much more than teachers of standards and curriculum. And, I remembered that our PURPOSE as educators is to truly make a difference in the lives of kids.
The things we did this year are nothing short of amazing! We did incredible work with R Factor, created 24 courses for our kids to take during JW YOUniversity, expanded our knowledge of phonemic awareness and phonics, learned that love is an intervention, cotaught our ELs, coached each other during JW Grows, had a student become a finalist in a National Competition, took every child on at least one field trip, and welcomed 6 first year teachers into our school.
What’s even more incredible is that at JW Reason we know our purpose is not only to serve our students but to also serve each other. As a staff we covered classes and duties for one another, helped write sub plans for sick teammates, gave up assessment days, made phone calls to parents together, planned field trips together, dreamed big dreams and created awesome opportunities for kids. We built each other up and rooted for each other along the way. We lived our word! We did hard things together with PURPOSE.
Thank you for helping me along my journey this school year. Thank you for showing me what it means to live with PURPOSE each day as you cared for children.
Have a great summer! You deserve it!
I feel like I’ve written a lot of posts about my “rough week” or “rough day” or “hard school year”. This week really took the cake. It started with a broken air conditioner and a hefty price tag to replace it, with an allergic reaction to amoxicillin for Rosa next, followed by a lice infestation which nearly put me over the edge and cost $375 to remedy. And, it continued Thursday evening with yet another trip to Urgent Care for Rosa to get steroids because her hives will not go away. Sprinkle in Rocco’s confirmation on Tuesday, Gino’s end of year 5th grade party on Thursday and Rocco’s 8th grade graduation on Friday at 3:00 PM which is OUR FIELD DAY and it could be time for me to surrender.
Recently though, I’ve been trying to be exceptionally intentional as I practice my R Factor skills. It started with the broken air conditioner. I felt myself begin to get all amped up about it and instead I forced myself to choose an intentional response. I instantly calmed down and realized that not having air conditioning was really not that bad. Fast forward to the lice. This was a real test. Lisa, Anna and Karen can attest to the fact that I freaked but when I got home to get my family ready to head to visit The Dublin Lice Nanny, I put on a calm face which helped everyone else remain calm too. And, in the end, it was really not a big deal. As I was searching for some inspiration for tonight’s post, I came across this statement from Tim and Brian Kight-
“Doesn’t Matter, Get Better.”
This week I was faced with hard stuff. It doesn’t matter how hard the stuff was, I chose to try to get better. I didn’t always succeed, but in the events for which my response was intentional and on purpose, I did get a better outcome. I realized that I can press pause easily but then I usually still freak, so I focused on getting my mind right and stepping up.
I am going to get my reps in on R2 and R3 this summer.
Doesn’t Matter. Get Better.