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Sometimes a little bit of snow makes things a whole lot better

A few days ago we got a small dusting of snow on the ground.  Not like what we had two years ago (see slider below).  That is something that I would never like to repeat again.

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There is just something about the fresh snow fall, even when it is only a dusting.  It is calm and peaceful.  Why is this?  How does this different phase of water cause a change in us as humans?  Is it the color of snow?

I love the peacefulness that it brings even when it comes in small doses.  I grew up in an area where it did not snow every year, so moving out to Eastern Oregon was a blessing in that we were going to get more snow than what we had living on the coast.  Now nobody told us that the first winter living out here would be a 100 year winter and that even the people in their late 80s never saw a winter like that, but we endured.  The next year, just the extreme opposite.

Back to the snow.  It is filled with peace and a calming sense.  Teachers are like a fresh blanket of snow.  They create that peacefulness and calming sense that students get each day.  For many students, this is the only place that they get this. They don’t get this at home with their parents due to survival.  Parents want to create that atmosphere for their children, but many need to work two even three jobs in order to give their kids a roof over their heads.

Teachers on the other hand can give this sense of security for students each day.  Bring them peace and a calming sense to their daily lives.

Make them feel special, because they are!

When was the last time you had somebody do something for you that made you feel special? Chances are it was fairly recently.

What about your students in your classrooms? Chances are that if it was not you that did something to make these students feel special, then nobody did. 

Our kids come from the roughest of places.  Many thrive at school, because it is the best that they know.  They know when they are here they are warm, fed, and taken care of.

Some never know where their next meal is coming from or where they will lay their head tonight.  Many live in cramped housing with two, three, or even four other families.  Chances are that the eyes that you look at are needing something special and that something special was you.

How will you let your students know that they are special everyday?

Culture takes time

Everybody has heard from others that being positive and creating a culture that you want to see is what ultimately drives the negative and unwanted culture away from you. This is very true and I do believe this. The difficult part of this is waiting for this to transpire. Often times we want to see results right away.

Look for something positive each day, even if some days you might have to look a little bit harder.

These results take time. Time none of us want to spend waiting to see if it works. Culture change comes from the daily work and words that are put forth, not from making a single change and sitting back waiting to see the results. The results will show themselves in do time as long as people are speaking and walking the culture they want in their buildings day in and day out.

I have worked with some fantastic teachers. Teachers who always had a kid-centered classroom and used quality instructional practices in their classrooms each day. On the flip side of that coin, I have work with some people who never have a positive thing to say about students or especially their support structure and administration. Creating a positive culture has a way to reveal who those negative and toxic people are. These are the type of people that will work against the positive with everything they have. When they see that their negativity and toxicity have no hold on the positive culture that is being built, they will “jump ship” to find another place.

Here are SOME things that you can do to help promote a positive culture in your building:

  1. ASSUME THE BEST INTENT – Always assume that teacher have the best intent in their actions in the building. While some are out to cause problems and spread their toxic agenda, many are so isolated in their classrooms that they are not seeing how their classroom is having an effect on the school as a whole. I have seen it on many accounts where it is just assumed that it was coming from a specific teacher that the “act” only had negative connotation to it because that teacher had previously shown their negative and toxic agenda. This is not always the case. Always assume that with each act people have the best intent for kids and for the building as a whole.
  2. RELATIONSHIPS – This cannot be stressed enough. If you want to have a positive culture in your school, take the time to build relationships with the staff that are “in the trenches” each and every day. These are the people that will help build that positive culture that you are trying to accomplish.
  3. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE – Communicate often with teachers. They are focused on kids and it is our job to ward off as many outside situations to protect the instruction time as possible. Teachers want to teach, that is all. They want to make positive impacts on kids. They don’t want to spend time discussing agenda items that are not part of the instruction of students. Keeping teachers informed about what is happening in the office is good. They don’t really care what we are planning for the most part, but they do care when they are not communicated with about things that might take away from their classroom.

I am in your corner…

This weekend, as I was reflecting on my week, I ran across an article by Daniel Steele entitled “Letter to a Discouraged Student“.  This was a very profound letter.  Beautifully written from a principal to student perspective.  While I have no idea if this was actually written for a specific student or for the general masses.  One thing is for sure, it applies to every student who struggles with school and every student who did struggle with school.  I can relate to this letter.

We as educators always put ourselves in the place to make things better for kids.  I am not the type of person that likes to be at the front of attention, especially in large crowds.  Being in a leadership position at times does put you at the forefront.  Remembering my first year as an Athletic Director being put in the position of heading one of the largest departments in the district was a real growing moment in my professional/personal life.  At the end of each year, we held an athletic awards banquet.  Of course, the MC?  Me.  This was a nerve-racking situation for me all year.  I started working out what I was going to say months before it was time.  In the end, it was fine.  I was nervous, to say the least.  The next year I repeated the event and pushed through.

While I know that this was a weakness of mine, it didn’t stop me from doing what was important, being there for kids.  Most recently I was in a similar position where our student-body was looking for people to be part of a fundraiser that in the end, the winner would get a pie in the face in front of the whole school.  There were some pretty popular teachers as well as the Principal that all signed up.  I figured I would be way down the list before getting picked.  Nope!  I was in the top three.  So that meant pie in the face!  Now, this is something that put me in front of everybody again.  I did it because it was important to kids.

Kids, I know my weaknesses and I know my strengths.  Being part of the attention is not one of them.  But know that even if it means being front and center with the spotlight on me, if that is what you need, I will do it.  Know that I am in your corner.