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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in staff morale

Posted by on in School Culture

complacency

I just finished reading one of the best books ever. The Operator by Robert O’Neill is the story of the Navy SEAL who dedicated a good chunk of his life fighting for American freedoms. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, it should; he’s the SEAL who fired three rounds into Osama Bin Laden.

The boy from Butte, Montana, gave his all for all of us for over 16 years. He didn’t stay 20 years (20 years gives a pension and benefits); he left after 16. He left for a myriad of reasons, but the biggest factor was how he was becoming complacent when he was going on missions. He shared about one specific mission where he was so lax that he was smoking cigars a few minutes before a planned ambush of terrorists. After the ambush, he was hanging out with guys who were tossing around damaged RPG heads as if they were nerf balls. O’Neill said flat out that if he kept up his complacent ways, it would literally kill him, which had me thinking.

What about those in education who become complacent? The teacher who is waiting until 25 years? The principal who won’t do anything that would “rock the boat”? The superintendent who is just trying to keep everyone happy? All of these complacent actions are killing the creativity of both staff and students and dashing the hopes of some, keeping them from being the best they can really be.

We’ve all seen these so-called educators in our schools. We’ve either subjected to them as a student, worked with them as coworkers, or even supervised them. If you think that none of them are where you work, you’re being foolish. They are everywhere. Some are placed in positions that have the least student contact, some have positions created for them (or a position is created to keep them occupied and out of everyone’s hair), some become lapdogs for administrators, and some even brainwash an entire community into thinking that they are so important that whatever they do is equally important. What these people project versus what these people do is just flat out sad. Their complacent attitudes end up just wasting space and tax-payer dollars.

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Posted by on in School Culture

no excuses

This Might Get Ugly...

I'm going to start by fully understanding the vulgar gestures you may want to make towards your computer screen or the nasty emails you might write to me after reading this, but I think it needs to be said. But I believe that, by the end of this, you will at least partially agree.

First, let me admit

As a teacher I know it's one of the hardest jobs in the world. I fully admit that trying to educate students who are lacking necessary skills, two to three grade levels behind, unmotivated, and we'll just say "challenging" can be extremely challenging. And let's not forget all those ridiculous management issues you shouldn't have to deal with, but do very day because "hey, it's part of the job." Trust me, I get it. I really do.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

public speaking

So… here we are again…another summer that flies by, another school year ready to kick off, and another few weeks of thoughts swirling in my head about what exactly to say to the hundreds of staff members who wait for my every last breath. You know the last sentence was sarcasm, right?  I used to despise listening to administrators giving speeches to begin the school year.  As a teacher, I already had so much to do, a classroom to set up, curriculum and IEP’s to look over, etc. The last thing I wanted to do was be herded in like cattle to sit and listen to some know-it-all administrator tell me how I’m going to do my job and how wonderful I am, even though he had never met me.

And now I am “that guy.”   I don’t like being “that guy.”  You know… “That guy” who cuts in front of you in the lunch line, “’that guy” who just has to have the last word, “that guy”’ who has been the gift to education since he stepped into a classroom and knows absolutely everything.

I don’t like the labels “good guy” or “bad guy” either.  My job isn’t a movie plot or a professional wrestling storyline.  However, some will correlate good guy and bad guy, because that’s what was always done.

Some people will call me a good guy, some a bad guy, or, even worse, “that guy.”  While I don’t think I fit any of these personas, I’ll tell you what I think I am. I am the guy.

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Posted by on in School Culture

Do you ever feel as a leader that what you are doing just isn't good enough, that if you only could do more then it would all be better. There are days you question your calling and wonder if you have it in you to continue. It is in those moments that great reflection and clarity can reaffirm your passion and purpose. Wherever you are in your journey consider the following...

Embrace the Mess 

The moment we start falling in love with our content or a token issue we lose sight of what matters most. Our job isn't about teaching curriculum, but rather reaching students. I like what Michelle Forman, a former national teacher of the year, has to say, "learning and teaching is messy stuff, it doesn't fit into bubbles." Many of us are on high need campuses where our students look to us to provide for them well beyond the required curriculum. Daily I encounter students who feel school is the safest place they can be. Face it, our kids and families often come from challenging situations. As leaders, we must accept people as they come, not as we want them to be. People grow when they are loved. It's in the mess that the real learning happens. Reaching the whole child or family requires that we position ourselves to see life not through our content or instructional expertise but simply as a human being. 

We must fight a tendency to treat others as some kind of impersonal "stakeholder" or "customer." These kind of words at their worst allow us to serve people from a distance, rather than up close and personal. Some might accuse our profession of caring too much. When did this become a problem? The anxiety level of many teachers is at an all-time high because we realize the stakes are so high to be so much to so many who need us. You just need to remember that it isn't your job to fix kids or people, just love them through it. 

Elevate The Conversation 

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Posted by on in School Culture

Wallpaper

During the 22-inch dropping blizzard of 2016, I was cooking, cleaning, tending to my babies, and even spruce up my 'man cave' in the garage. In the midst of cleaning, I found wallpaper. I could not help but to think of all of the horror stories my mother use to share with me about the horrors of wallpaper. She was adamant about doing all of the home decorating, but anytime wallpaper came into play, I ran for the hills. Wallpaper covers up a lot. It can look pretty to the hanger, ugly to the spectator, and even come off as crummy for some who live in the house. Eventually, it does start to peel. What normally happens when it beings to peel? We ignore it. We ignore it until it becomes problematic. Then we try to quick fix it. The same can go for a school.

When I started in a new District a few years ago, I was given very specific marching orders by the Board that the past was in the past and we don't look at the past. I saluted. When I spoke to staff, it was the same story on how much they did not care for their leader; most wanted to move onward and forget the past. It was like placing wallpaper up on an old wall. I made a new website, pumped folks up with positivity, and went full throttle. I even made a new website. Wallpaper on the old wall. 

Looking back now, I see a new website, new positivity, and a showing of being "united". Looks great, but truth be told, it's more wallpaper on the old wall. I hope the wallpaper stays, and the new handyman has the ability to patch up holes in the wallpaper when it becomes present. Something very beneficial for the new handyman - the new handyman and the former handymen (plural) talk. A lot. In the meantime, enjoy the new wallpaper. It's very pretty to look at; after a couple weeks, the handyman will start seeing what it was covering up. And then the handyman, with the help of former handymen, will get to work. Stay safe out there.

 

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