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Leadership · Curriculum · STEM

#HamstraHighlights

Check It At The Door

Lights. Camera. Action!

In this season, holiday performances are sounding off in schools all across the country. The research is done. The play—scripted. The costumes—fitted. For months, performers have been working extremely hard preparing for their one shining moment. Finally—as if in slow-motion—the curtain opens, unveiling the culmination of an entire cast’s very best. What a wonderful experience!

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All The World’s A Stage

Every day, learning happens in schools all over the world. The research is ongoing. The play—partially scripted. The appearance—professional. For years, educators have been working extremely hard preparing to inspire student learning experiences. Finally—as if all at once—the doors open, unveiling the culmination of an entire community’s very best. What a wonderful experience!

No Small Roles

Slow down! Before that curtain opens—Before entering your campus-stage and partaking in the privilege of influencing impressionable learners—Check yourself. In this day full of shining moment potential—Are you prepared to fulfill such a high calling? Are you in a proper state-of-mind and mental place to launch verbal and nonverbal communication that will infect your colleagues AND students?

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Too often, educators bring their negative baggage with them into their workplaces—including schools. Even worse, they leave their cases open and start playing the blues with their powerful mouth instruments, expecting close listeners and passers-by to voluntarily toss money, time, and attention their way. Like vultures circling a rotting carcass or flies pinging a seemingly sweet sugar opportunity lost, the negativity snowball gains momentum, accumulating everything in its path—including those caught completely unawares. And so it continues, day after day, meandering as long as its landscape, climate, and culture allow.

Negativity is powerful and contagious. It’s so easy to be negative, making excuses and joining the Complain Train locomotion. Being positive requires intentionality, effort, and accountability. And—whether you think so or not—educator negativity ultimately affects the students. What a shame. It’s sad, unnecessary, and unfair. It’s heart-breaking and completely avoidable. It’s a choice. And for some, it requires self-discipline to choose.

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No Small Actors

In the eyes of students, educators are superheroes in a way. Educators directly influence students. THAT is a super-power to be respected and revered. But aren’t educators human, too? After all, aren’t we in the business of building relationships with students and colleagues? If teachers can vent to each other in the hallway once in awhile, won’t they feel refreshed and, therefore, be better-prepared to address students in their next learning experience just minutes away? Don’t you feel better once you can get something off your chest? Can’t some personal life experiences be shared and converted into learning opportunities for all? Aren’t educators supposed to model lifelong learning as a process themselves?

I have long-endorsed educators frequently getting together outside of the workplace to build relationships. Usually, those experiences directly correlate and contribute to positive relations inside the workplace. Go out for grade level dinners. Have a committee meeting at a sports pub. Celebrate birthdays and holidays together—even if just for a couple of hours. When you learn about a colleague’s personal life and current challenges, all of the sudden, that one-time petty workplace argument usually has a way of easing or dissolving the very next day.

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Check It At The Door

You’re here for the students—Not vice versa. You chose education, earned a degree, and voluntarily set foot on campus and cyberspace. You have the privilege, pleasure, and honor to craft, influence, and share experiences in a lifelong learning journey with students. You are shaping the leaders of the future and the present. Your career, passion, and workplace center around students and learning.

Before the curtain opens: YOU do whatever it takes to get YOU ready for the stage.

Physically: Take care of your body to feel well. Gauge eating, sleeping, and exercise.  

Mentally: Find your Happy Place! Compartmentalize negative triggers. Find a reason to smile.

Socially: Fake it if you have to. Greet people. Be respectful and courteous to everyone.

Emotionally: Seek counseling and advice. Intentionally choose NOT to be negative. Intentionally choose to be positive.

Spiritually: Soul-Search your edu- “Why.” Find purposes and causes greater than you.

Anything that’s got you down—by all means—and for the studentsplease check it at the door. #KidsDeserveIt.

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8 Replies to “Check It At The Door”

  • Excellent blog post, Kyle! Spot on. You know I agree with the above sentiments 110% as I’m a firm believer in the positive. So many great things happening in our schools let’s embrace. Sometimes the smallest “issues” are turned into “fires” due to the negativity spreading like wildfire. Oftentimes if we simply get to know one another and realize we all have the common ground (doing what’s best for kids) this has a lasting impact. Relationships truly matter not only with the students we all serve, their families but also our colleagues. Personal and professional trust are both hold ample significance in the betterment of the school community as the ship sails forward or in the case of your school community specifically, #SwimFWD. Thank you for this post as it’s posing a vital message that all school leaders and stakeholders need to hear, and sometimes we ourselves as “drivers” of the bus can lose sight of. #YouMatter and the world needs your contributions. KOKO. -Brendan

  • Kyle,
    Too often we as teachers forget this:
    “You’re here for the students—Not vice versa. You chose education, earned a degree, and voluntarily set foot on campus and cyberspace. You have the privilege, pleasure, and honor to craft, influence, and share experiences in a lifelong learning journey with students. You are shaping the leaders of the future and the present. Your career, passion, and workplace center around students and learning.”
    Always remembering who we serve is key. No matter what your title is, we are all in it together serving the students. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Reflection is what helps us #becomebetter!

  • Kyle,
    I whole-heartedly agree! Education is a job of service and can be incredibly hard – but above all it is a privilege to work with young minds everyday and this idea is often forgotten. We get bogged down with the paperwork, “that student”, the lack of recognition, etc… and then look for others to validate negativity.

    Here is my Mantra: ” You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.”

    You are doing that my friend…your love for teaching and learning is evident in all that you do…keep passing on your passion!
    Chris

  • This post couldn’t come at a better time! At this time of the year we often more negativity while counting down the days to break. Your advice under the Check It At The Door is spot on! This needs to be put on a poster around schools and in classrooms. We need to remember, even when times are tough, full moons in the night sky, end of the year, holidays….that we are in this for the kids! Awesome post!!

  • I think what I dig the most in this post, Kyle, is the part that might be overlooked: All those great performances that schools and students invest in during this part of the school year.

    Every one that I went to was a complete inspiration. I saw happy kids doing things that they loved. I saw nervous kids building confidence by performing in front of people that they loved. I saw middle schoolers — who are often wrapped in social drama — learning something about teamwork because they were succeeding at a difficult task together.

    Without exception, the experiences were positive ones for every participant.

    Which left me thinking two things: First, why do we see arts as “electives?” If those experiences are valuable to every kid (and I believe they are) maybe we should stop calling — and making — them subjects that only a few kids get to experience.

    Second, how can we incorporate more of the core elements of those experiences into the work we do in traditional classrooms?

    Thanks for making me think this morning,
    Bill

    • Well-said, Bill. Student learning and success are more than just grades. Also, I like how you avoided the potential negative conversation snowball here and redirected in positive ways.

Your thoughts? I'd love your feedback!

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