The upcoming school year brings us feelings of great excitement. I know educators around the nation are voraciously gobbling up professional reading, connecting with peers and gleaning ideas through Twitter and Pinterest, and many are already in their classrooms or offices planning for learning experiences that will engage kids at unprecedented levels.
I also know that state legislatures and the media continue to spew horribly illogical hypotheses that we are failing in public education and practitioners in the field are to blame. These suggestions and myths are beyond a buzz kill. This is supposed to be a positive, uplifting, energizing blog, so we will not spend much time on the unfair, unnecessary, and unjust criticism we are subject to in education. Rather we’re going to take on the mission of challenging and crushing the critics with unyielding appreciation for all the POSITIVES in our worlds as educators.
I feel that the first and biggest step to annihilating the nonsensical noise we face in education is to simply take a step back and express what we are thankful for in our field. As Rick DuFour asserts in his most recent book, In Praise of American Educators, we are the “greatest generation of educators.” If we are going to maintain that status, then we must recognize and appreciate who we are and the work we’ve done.
I’m not promoting or asking for an earth-shattering movement with this effort to think about and express thankfulness. I’m just giving you a slight nudge in the direction of making gratitude your attitude as we jump into the 2015-2016 school year. I’ll start by sharing what I’m thankful for:
1. Past mentors. Boy, I’ve had some influential mentors in my career as an educator. To the likes of Kevin Case, Kim Clark, and Scott Friesen…I want to thank you for your wisdom, kindness, and friendship over the years. You have helped me better understand who I am as a leader.
2. Past and present colleagues. I’m thankful for the amazing leadership experience I had at Inman Elementary School the last six years. That staff pushed me as a learning leader and I know they will continue to learn, grow and meet students’ needs at unprecedented levels. And my new crew at Union Valley….you have been so welcoming, kind, and open-minded with me as your new principal. We have SO much to look forward to as we learn and lead together!
3. Professional Learning Networks–I’m thankful for the global network of fellow educators I connect with on the daily via Twitter and Voxer. I learn 24/7 with you as to how I can become a better leader. A special NOTE of APPRECIATION for the LeadUpNow crew. Wow….I’m beyond appreciative for the positive, challenging, and growth-promoting experience we share on the daily?!?!
4. Parents–I appreciate the parents of our students beyond what I can express in a simple blog. You entrust us every day with fulfilling your children’s civil right (stealing from @RyanBJackson1 with that term) to an education. I respect that, cherish that and will work my tail off to make you proud. I want the same from the educators that work with my child.
5. Kids–I wouldn’t be here in the greatest profession of all without YOU! You are IT. Simple as that.
6. Family–We as educators can be almost too passionate and too connected to what we do. It’s hard for us to take a break. I appreciate my wife, daughter, and parents for the balance they bring to my life. I love what I do, but I love them most of all.
So….please take time to reflect on all that we have thankful in our field. Maybe you’re like me and you are thankful for that circle of people who have led you to what you are today–an extremely talented and effective educator. Maybe you’re thankful for the new coat of paint in your classroom that the custodial crew hammered out? Maybe you are blessed with new technology in your room? Maybe a friend helped you move into your new office or classroom?
Secondly, take time to overtly show your appreciation. #ThankfulThursday is a great place to do that. Use it and mention those for whom you are thankful. Handwritten notes and phone calls are equally if not more effective in sharing your appreciation.
You will feel better as a person and as an educator by making gratitude your attitude.
Paul Erickson, @PrincipalPaul, firstname.lastname@example.org