During July, I spend time reflecting on the previous school year, recharging, and preparing for the upcoming year. How did I do? What could I have done differently? Did I make a difference? What impact did I have? Is my District better? Are all questions that I ponder. During this month I also attend the MASS and MSAA conferences. Both of these always cause me to reflect, recharge, and leave with great ideas for the upcoming school year; while also helping me to answer many of those questions.
One theme that I kept seeing and thinking about during this past month was PASSION. Passion is easy to find, especially over the summer, but how can we maintain that high level of energy and passion throughout the school year, that is the question? As I look back at the past few weeks, several educational rockstars come to mind that bring a high level of passion to their daily work.
Beth Houf, author of Lead Like a Pirate was the keynote speaker at the MSAA Conference. She is all about passion. Pirate is an acronym that stands for Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, Enthusiasm. She spoke about how we must be passionate and enthusiastic about kids and our jobs, if we are not then how can we expect the same from teachers and students?
Remember the passion to love what you do.
Rockstar Aaron Polansky just published a children’s book called Dolphins in Trees. This book is “Dr. Seuss meets Tony Robbins, Dolphins in Trees is a story about kindness, belief, love, choices, and the potential in all of us to make a difference in the world of others. Mindful and Dizzy teach us that it’s our decisions, not our conditions, that determine our destiny. Dolphins in Trees is a must-read in the genre of social-emotional learning with incredible jumping off points for meaningful discussion with readers of all ages.” More importantly, it speaks to Aaron’s passion as an educator, teacher, and father. As I think about Aaron and this book I am reminded of his passion to be kind to all people. Through my conversations over the years, we both agree on the importance of being kind to everyone in our schools and districts. As we start the school year,
Remember the passion to be kind to everyone.
Brian McCann is a dynamic presenter. I have been lucky to not only see him present but also co-present with him on several occasions. Brian’s passion is making certain that all kids feel welcomed and cared for in his school. He has done this numerous ways, but he is very fond of his Thursday message to students. On this day, he greets kids with a positive message and takes pictures with them. Kids feel welcomed in his school.
Remember the passion of making every student and teacher feel welcomed on a daily basis.
John Clements and Mary Anne Moran are passionate about not standing for the status quo. They want to challenge teachers to think differently and not do things the way they have always been done. They encourage risk taking and are not afraid to model that themselves.
Remember the passion of not being complacent and always challenging yourselves and staff.
I am fortunate to work with a great superintendent. Jim Adams is passionate about always doing what is right for students, regardless of what people may say. Last year we changed the start times in our district. Why, because it was in the best interest of our students. Any of us that have even attempted this conversation with our communities knows how difficult of topic this can be and the obstacles that we must overcome to make this happen.
Remember the passion of always doing what is right for students, regardless of the negativity and stress it may cause us as leaders.
Over the past few years, I have presented with Maureen Cohen numerous times. This year we presented at both of these conferences. Maureen doesn’t want to be good; she wants to be great. She is passionate about pushing herself outside of her comfort zone to better herself, her district, schools, teachers, and students. Not only does she talk the talk but she walks the walk. As Coach Belichick says, “no days off!”
Remember the passion to push yourself every single day.
I am lucky to work with the best administrative team out there. James Adams, Barbara Durand, Kathy Silva, Kelley St. Coeur, Lauren Carreiro, Erin LaChapelle, Dave DiGirolamo, Mike Morro, Mike Caira, Claudia Bennett, Pete Regan, Kate Altman, and Sara Davidson are all passionate about creating a safe and supportive environment so that teachers can teach and kids can learn. This can be seen in everything they do on a daily basis. It is a part of their own and school’s core values and beliefs.
Remember the passion to create that sense of community in your districts and schools.
We still have a month before we officially start the 2018-2019 school year. And while I have listed dozens of educators who are passionate, there are many more in my PLC that I could have listed who also show their passion on a daily basis. As we all begin preparations to start the school year, take some time to ask yourself what are you passionate about? How can you maintain that passion all year? And does your staff know what you are passionate about? Good luck as you start the year!