It’s the start of another new school year, and this is a time, while although filled with anticipation and the urgency to get things ready, it is also a time of deep reflection as I look back and think about what I want to leave behind from the previous year and what I want to carry forward into this new school year. In my reflections I’ve been asking myself, “What can I give?” Last September, I was starting at a new school and the last year has been one filled with adjusting and learning (hence the lack of posts on this blog!). There were days where my confidence in myself was completely shaken, yet I still had to press on, because my very rational self knows that they only way to get through, is to keep moving forward. Now, as I begin my second year, I have that gift of hindsight that comes when you come out the other end – I now know my colleagues and there is a wonderful comfort in returning to familiar faces, places and routines. It’s amazing what a difference a year can make and I am grateful for all that I learned in making this change. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work in many different contexts, while also being able to maintain continuity through my work with supporting teachers and implementing curriculum. My teaching roles have ranged from K-10 including both classroom and specialist roles, I have been a curriculum coordinator for more than half of my career, I facilitate workshops for teachers through International Baccalaureate, I have been a vice-principal, and now I will have the opportunity to take on a partial role in the library. In short, I am a collector of educational experiences. In my deepest core, I know that each of these experiences has helped me to embrace change and ever-shifting paradigms, and they have ultimately shaped me as an educator as I continue to be challenged to grow and learn.
Over the years, I’ve had some conversations with colleagues that have left me feeling sad. Sometimes a colleague will share that they’ve given up – not on their students, but on the wider school (e.g. their colleagues, administrators, or all the change that happens). Somewhere along the way, their outlook shifted from one of giving to giving up. It is a sad, but true reality in our schools. A conversation like this can really bring you down, but you can’t let it keep you there. (I put on what I call my “iron panties” in these moments.) I listen with care to my colleague who is sharing and I offer support and encouragement, but ultimately, I can’t fix their problem, only they can. However, I can help them by giving my support and understanding – I believe it’s what’s guided my personal success over the years.
So, back to my reflection/question, “What can I give?” As I look forward to this new school year, here are some of the ways (not in rank order) I know I can give to my school:
To students, I can give…
- my genuine care and personal attention
- my best, most creative self (even if I am having a bad day)
- my flexibility
- my enthusiasm about what we are learning (even if it it’s not one on my favorite things)
- my genuine support and encouragement by being their biggest cheerleader as they experience bumps on their road to success
- my vulnerability by taking risks and letting them see me learn from mistakes
- them honest feedback
- my time
- my gratitude for the privilege of sharing in their learning journey
To parents, I can give…
- my time and attention
- them an authentic ear
- a thoughtful response instead of a reaction
- honesty and respect
- my partnership
- my support and understanding when their child is experiencing challenges on their road to success
- them my excitement and gratitude as I celebrate their child’s successes along with them
To colleagues, I can give…
- honesty and respect
- my care for them as people
- my appreciation for their unique strengths, areas of expertise and passions
- my support and encouragement in working through their challenges along side them
- boundaries by not engaging in unhealthy thinking or dialogue
- neutrality and objectivity
- my sense of humor – everyday needs a little laughter!
It’s a simple truth, what goes around does ultimately come around. If we have a giving outlook instead of a getting one, that will come back to us ten fold. The more I give, the more I am gratified. So, I challenge you to ask yourselves, “what can I give?” and then start giving!