Seeing as it's the middle of the summer and I have my first year in an administrative role behind me, I've had some time to reflect on some of the reasons why I do what I do. Here are four simple words I landed on:
Serve with your whole heart.
I love to help people. I haven't always been like this but if I can find a way to jump in and serve in any capacity, I love to. It just plain feels good to help others see that they matter. There is so much value in serving others and demonstrating that we truly care about them. I know that it happens but I don't want anyone to feel like they're only getting a portion of what I have to offer. Whether it be fellow administrators, teachers, students, parents (or any other stakeholder), they should feel as though they're getting red-carpet service every time they interact with us.
Learn from your failures.
Let's be real here...no one enjoys failure. It's not fun. It can be embarrassing. Sometimes, it hurts. However, if we are not failing on occasion I would contend that we are spending too much time focusing on our own comfort. I'm not saying that we should live in a constant state of failure or that comfort is a bad thing, but if we never step out on that rickety little limb and try something that's innovative or (Heaven forbid) disrupts the status quo, we might be too comfy. May I challenge you (and hopefully you'll extend the same challenge to me) to try something new this year? Maybe even something scary. And when you fail, get up, dust off your knees and grab the hand of someone who's further along the path of failure than you are and do it again and again and again until you get it right.
Grow because you want to.
We live and work in an age that has made connecting with, learning from and growing with others easier than it has ever been. With the simple click of a button, we can "follow" other educators in other districts, cities, states, and even countries. We can gather information, new ideas, or pedagogical tips from brilliant people around the globe from the comfort (see, I told you I didn't think comfort is always bad) of our own home. Yet, some of us still choose not to grow. We are fine with where we are. Our test scores are good enough. What we've done for 30 years is still working (news flash...no, it's not!). When we choose not to connect and grow, we are doing a disservice to our students as well as our colleagues. We are selling our students short because we have chosen to not learn from literally tens of thousands of brilliant educators out there in the Twittersphere. We are selling our colleagues short because we (and by this I mean "you") have brilliance to share that we (you) aren't sharing. You have something awesome to offer someone who needs to hear it. If we are going to expect that our students want to grow, should we not expect the same of ourselves?
Lead others to do the same.
If we want others around us to love to serve, learn from their failures and grow because they want to, we must be the example. We must set the bar high in the service that we offer, in the manner that we connect with others and borrow their brilliance, and with the growth that we are experiencing because we want to. Teachers, how are you setting the bar high for your students in these areas? Fellow admins, what are we doing to model continuous learning? If we, as educators, feel that we have arrived and do not need to learn or grow anymore, it may be time to consider a new profession. In reality, if we are not showing a passion for any of these, how can we expect anyone around us to either?
As a disclaimer, I don't mean for this post to come across as though I've got it all figured out. Please don't read it that way. These are simply some thoughts that are bouncing around in my head lately and areas in which I am learning and growing. I hope you (and anyone that you may share this with) are encouraged to serve, learn, grow, and lead in a bold way.
Thanks for taking time to read. You are appreciated.
Brent Clarkson, M.Ed.