Every time I hear this phrase I think of the scene from Christmas vacation when Chevy Chase greases up the metal sled and shoots down the hill.
I seriously laugh out loud every time I think about it. I can’t help but describe our first three weeks of the school year in no other way than “comin’ in hot”!
Today I found myself making mental notes of all the things we have accomplished in 3 short (even though they may have seemed long) weeks of school. In fact, this evening I was driving to a football game with my mom and started listing the things that have happened so far this school year. My mom sat in the passenger seat with her mouth open. She was in complete awe of the stories I shared. I couldn’t help but laugh when I said, “Yep, we came in hot!”
As I continued with my list, not only was I exhausted, but I was also extremely proud. In case you’ve forgotten, here are some things that we’ve accomplished in 14 days:
Red Carpet Clap In
Solar Eclipse viewing
VBO roll out
Teaching 100 kindergartners to eat lunch and go to recess
Welcoming 60 new students
Starting a World Language Program
JW YOUniversity Planning
Mini Data Teams
F and Ps
Welcoming new teachers
Training our Ks to get off the bus and find their classrooms ALONE
RTI tab reviews
iPad Roll Out
R Factor Monday Plans
Biz Town Plans
Data Team Leaders Meeting
Parent phone calls
Tons of new IEPs
And much, much more…
We are a WELL-OILED MACHINE or maybe a better description is that we are a
WELL-GREASED SLED that's COMIN’ IN HOT!
No matter what you call us, I love being part of this team. Thanks for all you do. Take some time to celebrate all the good that has happened for kids in such a short amount of time. Have a great weekend.
Here is your staff update for September 8.
You Become What You Choose. –Brian Kight
Each morning when you wake up, you have a choice. You can be anyone you want to be. You can be the driving force behind positivity and joy. You can be okay with just existing and being average. Or, you can believe that things are terrible and expect the worst.
If you’re like me, there are many mornings that you wake up without making an intentional choice for any of these options. You go about your morning and your day letting events happen to you. If you’re like me you have some good days, some bad days and some just okay days.
But, what if you woke up with intention. What if you woke up and took 5 minutes to focus on your goals. Five minutes to write them down, think about them and prepare yourself for a day that helps you move in the direction of those goals. How would your life change? How would your relationships change? What if you focused on loving what you do each day?
Each day, at J.W. Reason we are working to be “Better Today Than Yesterday, Better Tomorrow Than Today”. The better tomorrows start with the intentional choices that each one of us makes about who we choose to be. The people who we choose to be will either raise or lower the averages of those around us.
Listen to the August 16th podcast from Coyte Cooper as he talks about focusing our minds, controlling our emotions and how everything can change when we are intentional about who we want to be. This podcast is the story of Coyte’s TEDx Hilliard preparations.
I had the pleasure of driving him to the airport and got to hear him talk about what a learning experience the TED Talk was for him. Coyte is also the author of Make Your Mark. His book changed my life. I hope you can take 15 minutes to listen to his podcast and remember, “You Become What You Choose”.
Here is the staff update for September 1.
I have written about the power of words many times. I truly believe in and value the impact that words have on others. This summer, I attended a conference in which Michelle Gielan, author of Broadcasting Happiness gave the keynote. During her inspiring talk, Michelle said three words that I will never forget. When I heard these words it was as if everything happening around me stopped and the weight of their meaning poured into my soul. I didn’t even have to write them down because in that very moment, what she said forever changed who I was.
“Words change people.” –Michelle Gielan
Take minute and really let this simple phrase sink in. “Words change people.”
When I say these words I can actually feel them inside of me. We often say, “be careful what you say”, or “words have an impact”. But, never had I considered that “words change people”.
Not long after Michelle’s keynote I stood in the main office of my school greeting families and welcoming them on Meet the Teacher Night. I was helping answer questions about bus stops and teacher assignments and I didn’t pay much attention when the mom of an Arabic speaking student walked in along side of the mom of an English speaking student. I did notice that their children were laughing and playing side by side. But then I realized that the English speaking mother was carrying the other mother’s toddler for her. I soon discovered that these two moms had become friends over the summer because the live in the same neighborhood. And, to top is off the English speaking mother was using a translation app on her phone to talk to the Arabic speaking mom so she could help her navigate all of the beginning of the year forms that come with starting school.
This story is heartwarming to say the least, but there is more to it. Just four months prior to this encounter on Meet the Teacher Night, I had another encounter with the same English speaking mom. Only this time she was expressing how uncomfortable and downright annoyed she was with all of the people in her neighborhood who couldn’t speak English. We had a heated and honest conversation. By the end of it I had convinced her that she should change her perspective about her neighbors and maybe try to meet some of them, bake them some cookies and welcome them to America. Yes, I actually said those words to her. She hugged me and said she appreciated me taking the time to talk to her without judgment. Needless to say, I chalked that up as a great day and would have been happy for the story to end there. Little did I know that in just a few short months, I would find this same mom taking another mom, one who didn’t speak English, under her wing.
As I watched this mom and her new friend work together in the office on that Meet the Teacher Night, I was once again reminded that words change people. And, as this amazing mom turned to leave the office she hesitated for a moment, looked me directly in the eye and said, “Remember our conversation last school year? What you said changed my life.”
I’ve written this post for one reason and one reason only, to remind myself and everyone who reads it that words really do change people. Our words are more than just heard and forgotten. Our words stay long after we’re finished saying them.
Our words change people. How do you choose to use your words?
Here is your staff update for August 25th, 2017.
It's been an amazing year. We all worked so hard for kids each and every day! Thank you for all that you've done this year.
Enjoy this very short video that perfectly captures how tired we all are!
Here is your staff update for May 26th!
Throughout this school year, we’ve been on a journey to ELITE. We strive to be ELITE everyday. Sometimes we don’t win the moment, but we shake it off and try to win the next and then the next. In his book, Make Your Mark, Coyte Cooper writes about the power of not letting the day of the week dictate your pace. Cooper explains that “high performers who are passionate about their vision never allow the day of the week dictate what they are able to accomplish”. (pg. 267)
As I reflect on Cooper’s words it makes me think about the importance of these last days of the school year. If we’re truly on a journey to ELITE, we won’t let the time of the year or the day of the week dictate our pace. We will make the most of each moment we have together. We will ensure that our purpose and intention remains high for each moment we are with our students.
At this time of the year it’s easy to hold back, slack off a little and let our guard down. But, where does that get us? Is this really who we are and who we want to be?
There are five days left.
Five more days to impact students.
Five more days to positively interact with staff members, parents and children.
Five more days to grow and step out of your comfort zone.
How are you going to spend these days? Will you spend them counting down the days until summer or will you continue your journey to ELITE? Will you let the time of the year or the day of the week dictate your pace? You’ve been given the gift of each day, so why waste it?
Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I shall be remembered. –Dr. Seuss
Here is your staff update for May 19th.
I recently finished Dr. Coyte Cooper’s book Make Your Mark. I’ve never read a book that caused me to reflect more on my own choices, my own thoughts and my own goals and dreams. I’ve also never read a book that motivated me more to take steps to improve my life.
Over the past few weeks, I was lucky enough to get to work with Coyte to plan the discussion questions for #ohedchat on Twitter. As I poured back over my notes and favorite quotes from the book to prepare, I was reminded that living your best life is something that everyone hopes for, but it’s rarely something that we take intentional steps to do. A great life doesn’t happen by chance.
This week I hope that you take the time to read the quotes that Coyte and I chose as our favorites. Reflect on the questions and think about what steps you can take to live your best life.
“If you allow not knowing to stop you, then you have no chance of ever achieving extraordinary things that impact the world.”
In what ways have you allowed uncertainty to stop you in the past? How will you change this moving forward?
“The reality is that if you start small, you are probably going to go small. People’s failure to think big enough usually means they will never act big enough…”
What big ideas do you have? Share them. Are you ready to think big?
“When something is important to you, it will show in the amount of energy you put towards making it remarkable.”
What specific things (2-3) are you committed to making truly remarkable in your life moving forward?
“Double your rate of failure…you can be discouraged from failure or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes.”
What are some of the best mistakes that you’ve made and what have you learned from them?
“When we spend all our time pleasing others, we rob ourselves of the ability to live our best life & end up feeling unsatisfied.”
How can always striving to please others have a negative impact on your life?
“You don’t have to be great to started, but you have to get started to be great.”
What is one thing that you can take action on today that will help you build the momentum you need to live your best life?
“It makes sense to create a vision board that include pictures, quotes and words that capture your dreams effectively.”
What pictures, quotes, words are on your vision board?
“Today I shall behave as if this is the day I want to be remembered.” –Dr. Seuss
How do you want to be remembered?
On our journey to ELITE we must take time to focus on ourselves, our growth and our goals. We must move through each day with intention and purpose as we strive to live our best life.
MAKE TODAY YOUR BEST DAY!
Here is your staff update for May 12th.
The school year is winding down and will soon be a memory. As educators we have a unique opportunity to positively (or negatively) impact the lives of hundreds, and for some of us thousands, of students over the course of our careers. We have the privilege of getting to be part of their story. This privilege cannot be taken lightly.
The funny thing about our moments is that we often don’t recognize the life changing or life shaping ones until they’ve passed. Our moments with our students are running short and will soon become memories. We only have a few more days to make a difference. Let’s make the best of the time we have left with our students, because it’s likely that we will be a part of the memories that they will carry with them for a lifetime.
Here is your staff update for May 5, 2017.
What do you do when things don’t go your way?
Do you blame others? Do you complain? Do you defend your actions?
This time of year in education is always a time of change. The addition and subtraction of sections at certain grade levels; teachers retiring or moving to new positions; and course offerings changing usually create feelings of discomfort. Sometimes the changes that we are faced with are not ones we wanted or planned for. And, let’s be honest, teachers love a good plan. Often, when that plan doesn’t go our way, we don’t like it.
I’m guilty of not liking certain changes. No matter how much I push myself to think differently, embrace the journey and dream big; sometimes when change doesn’t go my way, I get upset. But, just like you, I have a choice. Will I stomp my foot and throw a little fit…sometimes I will. (I’m not proud of it.) But, will I allow myself to hold on to those feelings and continue to blame, complain and defend? Absolutely not.
This week it may be true that I didn’t get my way. And, maybe, just maybe, I let myself fall below the line while I spent a few minutes (okay longer than that) on autopilot as I complained. But, I had to press pause and snap myself out of it. So, after I got my complaining out of my system, I decided to look at my new situation as a learning experience, an opportunity, a new challenge that would help me learn and grow. It’s not easy to keep this positive mindset. But, I know that I control the story I tell myself. I’m not going to live with a victim mentality. I’m going to embrace my challenges. I’m going to pick myself up and continue on the journey to ELITE.
What will you do when you are challenged? What will you do when things don’t go your way?
Here is your staff update for April 28th.
When I was a little girl I was often referred to as “bossy”. I wanted things my way. I was assertive. I enjoyed having a plan and insisted that everyone followed it. I wanted to give orders using my microphone.
As I grew up, I started to feel really bad about being called “bossy”. And, in elementary school I became very quiet, shy and unsure of myself. (Those of you who know me now are most certainly surprised to hear of this shy phase.) Looking back now, I know that being referred to as “bossy” made me feel unsure of myself. I didn’t want to be a “boss”. And, I certainly didn’t want to be called “bossy,” but deep within me was a desire to be a leader.
Me, circa 1983.
My first microphone.
It wasn’t until high school that the leader in me began to be cultivated. It happened naturally as I played sports and was part of various organizations and teams. But, even as I began to embrace my desire to lead, I still felt like a “boss” and I really didn’t like that. As I continued through college and then on to my teaching career I began to study the leaders around me. I learned lesson from them. Surprisingly, some of the most important lessons I learned came from the least effective leaders. I learned what leadership wasn’t. Only then, could I really begin to hone my own leadership skills. A few years into my teaching career, I was blessed to work with many inspirational leaders in Hilliard City School. These leaders helped me reflect on my skills, gave me constructive feedback and most importantly believed that I could be an inspirational leader.
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to lead an entire school! I didn’t think I was ready and it turns out we’re never really ready. I’m so glad that I accepted the challenge. It turns out that the best way to learn about leadership is to be one.
While, my journey to ELITE continues and my journey through leadership continues; I feel like I’m ready to share what leadership has taught me in hopes that all of the leaders who read this will share their leadership lessons with me:
What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your leadership lessons.
Here is your staff update for April 21st.
Have you ever bought something and then been told by the cashier that you’ve been selected to complete a survey about your customer service experience? I get these surveys on the bottoms of my receipts all the time. Though I rarely, if ever, complete them.
Two weeks ago I purchased a new car. After spending what seemed like a lifetime at the car dealership negotiating a price that I hoped was reasonable, I was finally ready to sign mountains of paperwork. My salesman, Rick, shook my hand and said “It was great working with you today, in a few days you’ll get a survey and we ask that you answer each question by saying you’re completely satisfied.” I smiled and said, “Oh, okay.” Rick walked away to tell the finance department that I was ready to sign more paperwork. As I waited I couldn’t help by replay his words in my mind. “Answer each question saying you’re completely satisfied?” I was shocked, why would anyone ever tell someone what to mark on a survey?
Soon I walked into the next office to sign more papers. There, I was offered all kinds of extra insurance and warranty plans that I didn’t really need. I kindly listened to all of the sales pitches and signed papers again. When it was finally time to leave, the nice lady in this second office said, “I want to remind you that you’ll be getting a survey in a few days. Please be sure to click the box all the way to the left to indicate that you’re completely satisfied with your experience.” At this point, I had been at the car dealership for 5 hours, I wanted to ask her why she felt she needed to tell me how to rate my experience. But, instead, I said, “Okay, thank you so much for all of your help.” A few days later when I played a voice message on my phone. It was from the dealership. This time a person was calling to check to see how I was enjoying my car. At the end of the message he said, “And remember to check completely satisfied when you get the survey about your service.”
What does feedback mean to you? Sure, it’s great to receive positive feedback. But, whether the feedback we receive is positive or negative isn’t what matters. What really matters is what we do with the feedback. Do we just pretend like everyone is “completely satisfied” all the time? Or, do we accept honest feedback with an open mind and growth mindset? Do we want to grow or do we want to maintain the status quo?
Accepting feedback, especially critical feedback, isn’t always easy. When we are open to feedback we have to be prepared to make changes, do more work and accept that our ideas are not perfect. But, think about what things would be like if we simply asked everyone to tell us they were “completely satisfied”. Where would we be personally and professionally? What opportunities would we have missed?
On our journey to ELITE, feedback is crucial. We don’t ever really want to be satisfied or even “completely satisfied”. Instead we want to constantly be moving forward. As Tim Kight says, "We must strive to be better today than we were yesterday and we must be better tomorrow than we were today." The feedback we receive along the way is what will continue to propel us forward.
Here is your staff update for April 7.