Saturday, December 30, 2017

My #OneWord2018 - #Faith

    As I jump in on the #Reflection2017 train, I feel like my brain is overloaded with a spaghetti filled array of memories.

To begin, my #OneWord2017 was #Advocate; I believe I nailed this the best I could. Not only was this my mantra in work and at school, but in my family life as well. Whether it be a student in need of services, a teacher wanting a letter of rec, my own kids needing support at school, or my father needing more help because of his physical and mental decline. I was an advocate for helping others get what they not only needed, but deserved.
    It was an emotional and busy year.  I moved my family back from WA to be closer to my Alzheimer’s suffering father in CA. We left a cute private school and headed to Davis, CA. New home. New schools. New friends. New adventures. New fears. New life.
    The #Advocate word came into full gear this fall. My daughter was at a new Jr. High School, and had a teacher who thought homework was the most important aspect of life. After many emails, phone calls and ranting, I got her moved to a new class. My boy (3rd Grade) was being harassed at his school by another new student. The teacher, bless her soul did what she could, but again, many emails to the Principal, and we had it solved. To let you know of my son’s soul, he invited this boy who bothered him to his birthday party, as he wanted to help him become a friend!
    While my experience at the private school in Washington wasn’t super amazing, it was an incredible growth opportunity. I give a ton of credit to Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess and the Lead Like a Pirate Book. It changed my life. My leadership style. My focus and my intentions. I joined some great groups and chats on @Twitter and @Voxer, which really opened up my connections to some amazing educators; teachers, admin, techies, librarians and more. I’ve dealt with physical pain of Sciatica and a pinched nerve in my back that has become so problematic and painful that it has adversely impacted my entire life, but I have faith, it will be restored.
    I began working at a new school this fall. The district; Fairfield-Suisun Unified was familiar to me, as I had been there before, but I was now working at a new site. Without the #Leadlap mojo, I think the first five months would not have been as productive. Don’t get me wrong, there have been an immense amount of wins and challenges, but overseeing 805 students, 50 staff members, and about 1300 parents was a daunting task! The staff is moving in the right direction, and I’m constantly trying to coach, lead, facilitate, support and #Advocate for all members of our amazing community, each and everyday.
   So, where am I today? Well, I’ve learned, failed, tried, laughed, cried, bled, grown and #Advocated. After following Jon Gordon’s #OneWord plan, I’ve come up with my own for 2018. It wasn’t easy, I tell you. Seeing things like More, Relentless, Possible, Reflect and others, my mind was wrestling until it became clear with #Faith. While I am a Christian and do have #Faith in God and the church, my #OneWord2018 is much deeper than that. My faith is much more extensive than that.
Faith, that our public schools will get the help we need to support ALL Students.
Faith, in our students, that they CAN achieve greatness.
Faith, in our teachers. For they will be able to understand, connect and love every child in his/her classroom, regardless of how they behave.
Faith, in myself as a father, husband, and Principal to do what I can and believe.
Faith, in our students, parents, community and country that we will do whatever it takes for our next generation to thrive and crush it.
And lastly, Faith in all people that Kindness will be a way of life. Every word, action, movement and gesture will be in the best interest of all, and that we will look to treat each other with love, generosity, gratitude and non-judgement.
Let’s do this in 2018 my friends, thank you to my #PLN and all those who have pushed me to become better. Every. Single. Day

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Each Mountain is Unique. Children are No Different!

    It dawned on me today while listening to a guest Rabbi, speaking to our Christian congregation about mountains, paths up them and the mysterious uniqueness of each one. Now, I’m not the brightest bulb in the box, but it really resonated with me; Children are Mountains! Each is distinct and exceptional and should be looked upon as such. Mountains AND children can explode. Each can crumble. They can grow, melt, become dormant, implode, morph, blossom, change forms, AND. SO. MUCH. MORE!
    We have now passed the ⅓ point of the school year. Teachers are tired, I get it. We put a TON on them; expectations, curriculum, committees, tasks and much more and we need to support them, but without those Mountains, OUR CHILDREN, We have nothing. Our teachers are magicians, scientists, artists, creators, originators and more! So now is the time. It is NOT too late to connect, embrace, watch, listen, empathize, laugh with, honor, love, hold and most importantly; BE THERE FOR.
    These younglings, our future, must each be given the chance. Yes, they may act out, or rebel, or yell and scream, throw a desk and disrupt us all. But we are the leaders. The mentors. The key to their success. While they may go dormant, or even erupt like Mount Vesuvius, it is our we, the educators that must dig deep into our tools, or colleagues tools, or find an iteration of a tool that hasn’t worked to connect with our little mountains.
    We can’t give up, or say it’s too late, or wait until tomorrow. We. Must. Act. Now. All of us must encourage this practice and together, find a way. Look at the inside, the smile, that little glimpse of hope inside each of them. Their meek little innocence that burns inside, just wants to be loved, nurtured, noticed and given a chance. Don’t turn your back. Or yell. Or send them out of the room. Get down on your knees, smile, speak softly and say “I care about you”. “I may not understand, but I want to help”. Can we do that? For Every Child?
    Like a mountain’s extraordinary and infinite detail, our young darlings will do things that we cannot imagine are possible. If we only believe! Have we exhausted all options? What have we NOT DONE? Called home? Invited in for lunch? Offered to play a game? Stopped by home? Told a joke? Asked what THEY want to learn?

   I ask you now. Don’t ignore, or turn your back, but pay attention and notice each beating heart. They will surprise you, if given that idea that My Teacher Believes I CAN! While a mountain may take hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years to grow and reach their peak, we can’t wait another second. I'm not asking you to MOVE a mountain, but just to notice one and pay attention. Please Act Now. For Every. Beautiful. Young Being.