Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Simple Gift

People don't care how much you know
until they know how much you care!
- John Maxwell

Years ago I was experiencing a pretty typical day.  I arrived early to work, set up a few activities in the classroom, double checked my calendar and answered a few emails.  Then I decided to check my mail in the office.  As I strolled down the hallway I passed a few colleagues that were busy in their rooms.  We smiled at each other and kept on moving.  I finally arrived at the office and grabbed my stack of mail.  I briefly chatted with our office staff and then headed back to my classroom.

That's where things changed.

As I flipped through the mail I came to a hand-written envelope with my name on it.

I opened the envelope and found a letter inside.  I dropped everything I was doing and read the letter from a colleague.  It was quite possibly the nicest letter I had ever received.  The person thanked me for supporting her and lifted me up with the message.  The letter talked about specific things I had done to make a difference in her life.  Some of the things I didn't know I did, were things others cherished.  She told me that she appreciated my energy and she is always inspired when she looks in my room and sees me crouched down at a student's desk.  When you hear specific, positive comments you can't help but feel a warmth inside you.

My day was off to a shining start.  Truth is, nothing was going to ruin that day.

I saved that letter and chose to pay it forward to others around me.  I wanted to lift people up the same way my friend lifted me up.

For me, it started with my kids.  Each week I wrote anywhere from three to six notes to my students. I highlighted one specific moment that I was proud of.  Often times those moments of pride had nothing to do with grades.  I intentionally encouraged them to try new things.  A few months ago I bumped into a parent of a former student.  To my surprise she told me that her daughter still has every positive note I ever wrote her.  I smiled.  Then she turned to me and said something I won't forget, "The hand-written note is a lost art."

After transitioning from teacher to principal it was important to get to know people so that the cards and notes meant something.  Each time I sit down to write a note it takes time.  The words come from the heart...not the head.  Just last year I walked into a classroom and noticed a couple note cards pinned to a board by the teachers desk.  I recognized those cards.  It was another reminder that culture starts with caring.

Years ago my heart was filled because a friend took the time to care; took the time to connect; took the time to write me a personal note.  

Culture is always about the people.  I encourage you to pay it forward.  I bet you'll find that it fills your heart as well.


Monday, August 31st:  New Teacher Orientation (New Teacher's Only)
Tuesday, September 1st:  7:30am District Breakfast 
Tuesday, September 1st:  8:30am District Kickoff
Tuesday, September 1st:  12:30pm Safety PD at Bean Elementary
Wednesday, September 2nd:  8:00am Breakfast at Warner
Wednesday, September 2nd:  8:30am Building wide PD
Wednesday, September 2nd:  12:00 Warner Luncheon provided by PTO
Wednesday, September 2nd:  Warner Open-House 5pm-7pm (Y5/KDG 5-6pm, 1st-5th 5-7pm)
Tuesday, September 8th:  First Day of School!

Articles Worth Reading:

Genuine Connections by @Jonharper70bd

The Future Before Us by @Jeff_Zoul

Anxiety Doesn't Bleed by @JimDetwiler1

The Little Things by @TechNinjaTodd

@curriculumblog & @mattwachel

Videos Worth Watching:

Powerful Tribute!  The passing of a legend... (8 min) @TODAYshow

Life Lessons... This is brilliant! (4 min) @TEDtalks

The greatest speech a coach could ever give! (2 min)

If you love dogs, you will love this.  Bat Dogs! (14 min) @E60

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Ben!! It's amazing how a letter can pick us up in an instant. I need to start doing more of this in my school. Conversations are great, but there is something special about a handwritten note. Thanks for sharing!!