As this school year draws to a close I have begun to reflect on the year that has been — and its importance to my personal and professional growth. And because I love Star Wars — I have now connected some of this learning to the wise and articulate Yoda — master of the Jedi Knights.
So, without further ado … here are some of my 2018-19 reflections as Superintendent. May the Force Be With You:
YOU WILL ONLY FIND WHAT YOU BRING IN
Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Yoda told his young apprentice (Luke Skywalker) to not take his anger, fear and weapons into the dark cave as bringing these would only result in conflict. His words proved to be prophetic.
In life we bring both our negative and positive experiences to a current situation. I reminded myself this year to leave my negative reactions at the door and remain open to new ideas, thoughts and opinions. Fear and anger do not open doors, but close them.
I treasure the time I have to myself — whether it’s an early morning walk along a seawall, in the local trails with my dog or in my car listening to music from the 70s. I do some of my best thinking when I’m alone.
But the daily reality is that my world (and other people’s as well) is filled with perpetual connection — email, texts, phone calls, social media as well as lots of personal meetings. And while I feel very lucky in both my personal and professional lives, they sometimes appear perpetually busy with connections.
Mobile devices have allowed us to stay connected in ways not possible even a few years ago. In particular, social media has led the way in interconnectedness — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Pinterest — they all allow for wonderful virtual connection and communication. Do a quick internet search and you find that there are literally THOUSANDS of social media apps designed for any number of connections — professional collaboration, sharing of personal events, dating, buying & selling, career exploration, etc.
Let me stop here for a minute to share a story about a recent meeting I had with one of the big educational minds in our world …
Being an administrator in the public education system has meant that I’ve had a few conversations with people where the content was difficult for me to share and, in most cases, even more difficult for the other person to hear.
Some examples …
Meeting with a student who has not achieved to their potential;
Conversing with parents about their child’s struggles;
Debriefing with a staff member who was not successful in an interview;
Sharing the tragic news of a student or staff member who has died. Unfortunately, I’ve had to do this a few times in my career.