I have taught in New Zealand, Laos, the United States, Germany, Thailand, Japan, back to the US, and now back to Germany. Each year I spend time wondering what sort of year I am going to have and each year I keep refining what is important to me in a school.
My list of criteria is long and verbose. I have ideas about leadership, personalization, community, inquiry, passion, and action – to name a few. As I was thinking of how to include these ideas in one succinct statement, I heard from a friend who shared her daughter’s summation of her summer camp experience.
Imagine arriving at a school with the following sign – and then knowing that every person in the school believed this with all their heart:
How will you make sure this rings true in your school this year? My suggestion: start small:
- Be kinder than necessary.
- Read more books.
- Be a person you would want to hang out with all day.
- Ask for help.
- Offer to help.
- Start every day with good intentions.
- Get enough sleep.
The following quotes were shared during one of our orientation meetings yesterday. Do you know how much of an impact you have in your school?
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”