Friday, February 7, 2014

Uplifting Thoughts for the Second Semester

This past week marked the beginning of the second semester in my school system. It was actually delayed a week because we have had quite a few snow days. Now when I talk snow, its nothing like the weather I experienced growing up in Massachusetts; but I also have to remember they just aren't as equipped to handle the winter down here in Virginia.

With the week delay, and the promise of more winter on the way, came the realization that there is now even less time to do everything that we need to do to help our students. In addition, the release of mid-year assessment results (not great) caused feelings of depression, panic, and uncertainty among our staff members. It was a wake up call that we needed to reexamine what we were doing and make adjustments accordingly. While I appreciate the sense of urgency among many of our staff members to make these adjustments, I worry about two groups:

  • Those who are not doing a good job and are not particularly worried about it, and
  • Those who are doing a good job and are getting so stressed out that I fear for their health.
As a school leader, I feel accountable for both groups of teachers. Ironically, I feel that its easier to work with the first group. I can sit down with them, show them the data, and start conversations to help them shift the conversation from blaming the students to helping the students. 

For the other group, I feel the need to lift their spirits. I write thank you notes on gold star cutouts and place them in their mailboxes, include them in shout-outs during PLC meetings, bake cookies, surprise them with pizza, and most importantly, listen to their frustrations and concerns. I also keep a bank of quotes, pictures, and websites to share with them. Here are a few that I use:

For quotes:
For Pictures: (By the way - I typically use pictures for humor. I may throw one into the middle of a presentation or email a random picture to a teacher who is having a bad day. I'm also into memes right now, but they are mostly of funny cats...)
It doesn't really matter what you do to provide your teachers with uplifting experiences. After all, we all have different personalities, and share humor in different ways. What's important is that you share humor in a way that is comfortable to you, and appropriate for the occasion. What may be acceptable for some people and venues, may not be acceptable for others. A good rule of thumb is to keep it G-Rated! 

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