Support Your Backbone Featured
This week marks National Assistant Principals Week...
Neil Gupta | @drneilgupta has not set their biography yet
This week marks National Assistant Principals Week...
Over the weekend, I remembered a profound lesson my father taught me years ago. As an eye doctor, he explained the shift he made after less than a year of practice. In his eagerness, zeal, and knowledge, he shared that he could diagnose the patient's eye problem quickly by observation and begin thinking through the treatment process. Often, he was able to determine the course of action without even talking with the patient! This resulted in him being able to move more patients in and out of his office, so he could help more patients and increase productivity.
Yet, he came to realize that, even though he proved the necessary physical treatment of the patient's eye, he did not treat their human need to share their story. Although he knew the necessary course of action to treat their eye, he deprived them of sharing the background on what occurred, their pain, and how it has impacted them. My dad recognized the need to allow patients to share their story as part of their healing process. Today, he is known not only for the precision and work he physically does to help heal others, but he is also esteemed for his compassionate heart and sensitivity to others.
I was reminded of this story at an annual retreat with the Worthington Resource Pantry Board Meeting. As part of the visioning process, a facilitator asked a question that went beyond the physical aspects the pantry provides regarding food, resources, and training to those in need. The facilitator asked the question: "How do you want clients to feel that are serviced at the Pantry?"
The members of Board all agreed it was a profound question - it isn't just about supplying physical needs to others; it's also about empathesizing with them and treating the whole person. Our conversations lifted the tone of the meeting, as we talked about the need to provide dignity, hope, pride, welcomed, invited, and a sense of community to the question....
Last year, I had the privilege of presenting, along with the high school principals, to the Worthington City Schools Board of Education on the “State of the High School Programs”. We spent time framing our work to consider the whole child as well as students with different backgrounds, interests, and levels in learning. We shared about the partnerships with various organizations which extended learning beyond the walls of the schools, as well as creating a physically and emotionally safe environment for students to learn and explore. After the presentation, we opened the time to questions that led to a great dialogue to showcase the hard work of our staff and students.
At the conclusion of the evening presentation, I continued to reflect on a statement from a Board Member immediately after the presentation portion of the evening – “It sounds like our School Counselors are doing a lot for our students.”
As I reflected on all of the slides about our programs, everything we talked about attached to the direct or indirect work and involvement of our school counselors. While I have an incredible respect for our school counselors and what they do each day, I realized that I neglected to recognize them overtly. I am so glad our Board Members were able to make this great connection of the work with our students to our school counselors.
With the increased and changing requirements on graduation requirements and state testing, I am fortunate to work with such talented and committed school counselors. The role of the counselor has changed. In addition to managing college essays and counseling
students, they also create and monitor programs, in social-emotional learning, new student programs, suicide prevention, career development, intervention, and family issues. In my role as a district administrator, they are on my direct dial for many of these efforts.
It still seems to be an accepted response continuing to receive a smile when someone makes a "drop the mic" comment in response to a profound activity, come-back, statement, or speech. Although the phrase has recently gained popularity through its use by notable celebrities, the actual physical dropping of the mic started way back in 1980's by rappers and comedians.
There's got to be a high sense of accomplishment to say something so profound and definitive that it cannot be followed. The ultimate show-stopper. How could you not help but smile when you release the mic allowing gravity to do its thing? There would be nothing left to do but walk off stage under the thunderous applause!
But, what happens after the mic is dropped?...
Last year, I participated in more Twitter chats than I can count. I co-hosted 2 Edcamps and went to a national conference. I even traveled to Australia to present at a conference! But, there was one professional development experience that surpassed any of those events by far; and it didn't cost me anything. I participated in the inaugural Shadow a Student Challenge!
In my work with design thinking, the foundational premise is based on the concept of gaining empathy to understand how best to help others and solve the right problems. As a result, School ReTool, IDEO, Stanford's d.schools, and the Hewlett Foundation combined forces to create a movement to excite school leaders in spending a day shadowing a student to provide powerful insights and experiences in better understanding the world we are creating for our students, and how we can make it even better.
Even though we could all say we went to school when we were younger and are surrounded by students all day, shadowing a student, as a student, provides a whole different context. It took time to blend in and remind myself of the pace of the day and true shifts in the uplifted cognitive rigor in our classrooms....