Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Message We Send

"Life is all about perception.
Positive versus negative.
Whichever you choose will
affect and more than likely reflect
your outcomes."
- Sonya Teclai

I've heard a lot of comments over the years from educators when they describe their classes.  For example, some of the beginning statements often sound like this -

"They're a chatty group..."
"This group has some real challenges..."
"By the end of the day, I'm exhausted..."
"This group has potential, but they lack leaders..."
"Well, today was rough."
"I have so many students I don't know how I'm going to do it."

At times I can completely understand these statements.  As educators we all have days where we feel challenged.  If you've got a colleague or friend that you can vent to, but then they help problem solve, I say, no problem.  

But, if you do one or both of the following, you're simply asking for long term trouble.

1 - Day in and day out you visually appear defeated and you always share the negative first.

2 - As your day concludes parents are much more visible.  If you are heard hollering at students, if you appear exhausted, or if you happen to tell parents the day was really're involuntarily sending a message.

When I first began as Principal at Warner Elementary I noticed patterns and tendencies from students, staff and parents.  In those early years I was really impressed with the calm, loving demeanor of Mrs. Valentine.  It was a rare occasion to see her without a smile.  During my second year when life as a principal was really tough, I remember stopping in her room after school.  We talked about faith and life.  I was grateful to have Mrs. Valentine teaching at Warner.  She was a phenomenal teacher and an even better friend.

I say all that because the day came when she decided to retire.

I was happy for her, but sad for Warner Elementary.  As the next year rolled around I received several emails, phone calls and even a few people stopped to see me.  The topic was Mrs. Valentine. Parents that had students in her classroom over the years wanted me to know how amazing she was. I listened and I felt a strong sense of pride for my friend.  She had made a lasting impact and was going to be immensely missed.  

But then I received a letter from a parent that did not have a child in her class.  The parent told me that she wished her kindergarten child would have had Mrs. Valentine.  I then read her heart warming story.

"Mr. Gilpin, as a parent here at Warner Elementary I've noticed your staff on a daily basis.  One person really impressed me last year.  It was a very cold day last winter and a few students were helping kindergarten kids on the bus.  Two third graders didn't have jackets, when Mrs. Valentine saw this she motioned them over, gave them hugs and told them to go get their jackets.  She'd get the kindergarten kids to the bus.  It was this simple act of caring that I as a parent grew to cherish. Everyday she brought her kids to the door with smiles and hugs.  I could tell she genuinely loved teaching." 
-Warner Parent

We can all learn a lot from this letter.  This parent only had a small snapshot of Mrs. Valentine, but that snapshot spoke volumes.  

What snapshot do you give others?


Monday, October 12th:  Columbus Day
Monday, October 12th:  Spirit Week (Crazy Hair/Socks)
Tuesday, October 13th:  PTO Meeting 7pm in the Library
Tuesday, October 13th:  String Team
Tuesday, October 13th:  Spirit Week (Hat Day)
Wednesday, October 14th: K-2 Assembly at 8:45am
Wednesday, October 14th: Spirit Week (Pajama Day)
Thursday, October 15th:  1:15pm Crisis Response Meeting
Thursday, October 15th:  String Team
Thursday, October 15th:  Spirit Week (Twin Day)
Friday, October 16th:  Spirit Week (Western Gear)
Sunday, October 18th:  Red Egg Farm Family Day & Fundraiser (10am - 5pm)

Articles Worth Reading:

On Becoming a School Leader @curriculumblog

Cardboard Can Save Education @Joesanfelippofc

We Are All Models @thenerdyteacher

Videos Worth Watching:

Silent Night Lights (14 min)

Ellen plays "Heads Up" with the audience (2 min)

Teaching Teachers To Create Magic! ( 7 min)

True Confessions with Jimmy Fallon (8 min)

1 comment:

  1. Ben,
    Great post and great reminder. Those "snapshots" are so important and maybe the only glimpse parents have at our building or of us. We need to make them the images we want to send out to our families and communities!