When you’re driving for 9 hours in a car alone, you tend to have an ample amount of time to think.
So on my way back from my daughter’s cheer competition in Virginia Beach on Sunday, I got to do a lot of thinking about life, my career, my kids and my family, which is probably way too much time for me to be alone with my own thoughts.
I was listening to the audiobook version of 1776 by David McCullough, who has this rich voice that goes so well with storytelling. I was inspired to revisit stories from our country’s past as we drove to Virginia Beach, passing such places as the Shenandoah Valley, Yorktown, Richmond and other sites made famous by battle.
McCullough’s storytelling included a humanizing of people like Washington and revealed some of their shortcomings as leaders. The shortcomings revealed at times just how much luck played in the success of the Revolution, which was led by minimal military knowledge and supported by a ragtag army of men and boys of all colors, backgrounds and ages.
One story from the Battle of Brooklyn stood out to me the most. Washington was retreating his men through a marshy part of the East River to try and escape back to Manhattan. Those who got stuck or who couldn’t swim were captured while the rest were able to escape later on that evening by ship during a wild summer storm. None of this had to happen either. Washington had made a miscalculation and split his troops when basic military strategy says to not split your force when facing the enemy head-on (or so I learned from the audiobook).
So many times, the Americans were close to losing it all due to blunders or lack of foresight. Yet, they seemed to come out in the end to fight another day in that all-important year of 1776.
The one aspect that seemed to hold throughout the Revolution was the resolve of the people. Change was in their heart. It drove them to continue fighting for what was right. Their resolve, what was in their heart, was what helped our Founders find success.
I am not trying to compare the work we do in education to fighting a revolution or going into battle, but there are some takeaways for me that I thought about as I drove home.
- Change will happen not matter what. Some of it will be small and manageable and much of it will be monumental and unforeseen. Change is a predictable Event in education. Our Response is key. We get to learn from change and from our missteps in response to it.
- Let your heart lead the way. When in doubt, listen to your heart. Sometimes we all know what must be done, but no one wants to say what needs to be done or even wants to act on it. Leading from the heart is a powerful force — It could be what gave our country its freedom. But it also is my driving force as an educator. The relationships we build and the connection we have to kids will endure and outlast most of the knowledge we tried to impart onto them. As George Couros says, we have to make a connection to the heart before we can make a connection the mind.
- Dig deep and find the determination to keep moving forward. This one has been a thought I’ve swirled on a lot this year. I’ve been off my game a lot this year. That’s not to say we haven’t accomplished many wonderful things for kids. It’s more of a personal reflection. I’ve dropped habits that have helped me to keep moving forward and to stay idealistic. I’ve stayed neutral in conversations when I should have pressed more. I’ve not stayed as committed to lifting up our campus project like I have for the past two years. And it sucks. I’ve felt stuck in the mud at times. I hate feeling that way because this moment that I have as principal is it — There is nothing else for me to wait for.
It’s time to get unstuck!
Have a GREAT week!
10 – Preschool IEP meetings (Herb/Brian H), throughout day; PTO Meeting, 7:00
12 – Staff Meeting – Progress check on Data Team goal; KG ELL testing; SLSP Fieldtrip to Steak N Shake (morning); Urban Zen, 3:45 – 4:45; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30; Lambright’s Math Mindset Parent Night, 6:30 – 7:30; Full moon!
13 – Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am; One2One Principal meeting, 10am; KG fieldtrip to Franklin Park Conservatory; 2nd grade Wax Museum; Last day to submit requisitions; Staff Luncheon; Garden/Compost Club, 3:35 – 4:30; Interims go home, as needed
14 – Holiday, No School
17 – 4th grade fieldtrip to Supreme Court & Statehouse
18 – 5th grade Math test
19 – 4th grade Math Test; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30; PTO Spirit Day at Firehous Subs, 10:30 am – 9:00 pm
20 – Principal’s meeting (Herb, AM); 3rd grade Math Test; Garden/Compost Club, 3:35 – 4:30
21 – 2nd grade fieldtrip to Art Museum
22- Hilliard’s Earth Day Celebration, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
24-28 – Book Fair, open til 5:00 on 25th; open during Art Show on 27th; open 8:00-9:05 am on 28th
24 – Gifted model parent meeting, 6:00; Vidic’s Medicine Safety Presentation (5th=1:30 – 2:15, 4th=2:15-3:00)
25 – 5th grade Science Test; 4th grade Social Studies Test; Vidic’s Medicine Safety Presentation (2nd=1:00-1:35; 3rd=1:40-2:15; 1st=2:20-2:55)
26 – Staff meeting, 3:40; Walk-A-Thon, 9:00 am – 2:30 pm; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30
27 – Elementary Transfer meeting, 8:30; Art Show, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
28 – BAC meeting, 8:00; fruit & veggies (grapes & snow peas); clean office lounge
1 – Bus Driver Appreciation Day; 3rd grade music performance, time TBD; School Community Meeting – “Make a Difference”, 10:45am;
2 – No School for Students (Waiver Day)
3 – Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30
4 – Admin. Meeting (Herb AM); PTO Flower Sale Pick Up, 4:00-7:00; PTO Spirit Night at Chic-Fil-A, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
8 – PTO Meeting, 7:00
9 – BIT meeting, 8:00; KG/1st Data Teams
10 – 2nd/3rd Data Teams; SLSP fieldtrip to Dare Equestrian; 5th grade fieldtrip to Art Museum; Lambright’s Math Mindset Parent Night, 6:30 – 7:30; last day for Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30; Full Moon!!
11 – 4th/5th Data Teams