We say it every year, and we mean it every year. Time flies! I haven’t yet decided if it’s a result of getting older or just a condition of the human existence that days seem to go by at an alarming rate. We have so much to do! No less is the case with this school year. It is hard to believe that another school year is coming to a close, but it is. Each school year begins with lots of hopes and ideas of doing things differently…teaching that lesson that we did not get to the year before…adding that project that just seemed to be on the ‘I’ll do it later” list.

Whatever the idea, let’s not forget one thing…it’s the DO-ing that is important. Having the great ideas is the first step to DO-ing differently, and is often a step that many educators find rejuvenating and exciting, but time flies and we often fail to DO. As this year comes to an end, let’s not only think about what we could do differently but resolve ourselves to actually DO things differently.


cc licensed (BY) flickr photo shared by nehodrawm

These simple two words have been ‘running around’ in my brain since I heard them spoken in a leadership team meeting last week. Of course, these words were used to create some comic relief about a topic we were discussing as possible and worth follow through as one of the teachers shouted out, ‘…Or Not.’ Laughter rang out across the room at this utterance. I laughed heartily as well sensing the irony of what we had just discussed.

Yet, a few days later, I find myself still thinking on those two simple words and the power that they hold. Actually, these two words made of five letters hold immense power to derail a forward movement, to negate a powerful idea or thought, to crush a respect, to halt development of culture. You see, these words tell what we all know to be true as part of the human race, that most things are a matter of choice. There are a few experiences that we feel are happenstance, but once explored, we tend to find a matter of intention and choice on our part or of someone else.

In education, we are not immune to these two words and their destructive nature. In fact, whether they are uttered or not, they are often used. We consciously, or subconsciously, use them when we hear ideas of innovation ‘or not,’ when we spend time learning a new instructional strategy ‘or not,’ when we decide that the colleague who is next door is worth having a difficult, but needed conversation ‘or not,’ when we decide that the student who is not understanding the content warrants another chance ‘or not,’ when we take the time to learn our students and their passions to build long-lasting relationships ‘or not.’

We can all benefit from being conscious of these two words…’Or Not.’

One of the most powerful tools for improvement is personal reflection. I had a profound moment of realization the other day. I realized that…I am afraid! Yes, I am a grown man and admit that fact. Not scared. Afraid. Not of the dark nor things that go ‘bump’ in the night, but actually of things that are real.

In fact, I even made a list of these real things of which I am afraid as a leader. These are:
I am afraid that I will not inspire my staff.
I am afraid that I will not appreciate them enough.
I am afraid that I will not provide enough support to them.
I am afraid that I will not give specific enough feedback directly linked to improved teaching and learning.
I am afraid that I will not be learning quickly enough to stay current with best practice.

I could go on, but I realize that it makes me vulnerable to criticism by sharing these, but more importantly, it makes me consciously aware that I do all of these things of which I am afraid.

Thank you for letting me be vulnerable. I’m still afraid…