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Oh, The Places...

What a fantastic Summer break. We took the boys cave crawling in Kentucky, visited Dinosaur World, adopted a kitten, spent a day at the beach, worked around the house, soaked in the pool, took a phone job interview while driving in Atlanta traffic, saw a Batmobile, my wife scored straight A's in her first semester as a Doctoral student... let's just say it's been an eventful summer.

As the summer winds down, and we prepare for the new school year, everybody involved is full of excitement and nervous energy. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, everybody is working hard to prepare for the new school year. Now is the perfect time to take a brief moment to reflect on the past school year(s). Naturally, you need to think about the nuts and bolts. Think about what worked and what didn't. Think about how you can improve your role in education, whatever that may be.

Make sure as you reflect, you take time to think about the people.

In education, it is never the nuts and bolts that matter. Okay, well, they matter a little, but they are not the "big rock" of education. The big rock of education is the people. Take the time to think about the people that have come through your door. Whether those are students walking through a teacher's door, teachers walking through a principal's door, or principals walking through the superintendent's door, the key is people. If you want to build a great school (or a great business), the main thing is people. Edna Mode says "I never look back, Darling. It distracts from the now." I think we occasionally need to look back. Think about the people that meant so much to you. Think about people that supported you. Think about the people that made you the success you are today. Also, think about people that challenged you. Think about those interactions that didn't go as planned. Think about the moments where you felt the wheels were falling off. Consider how recovered. How could you have handled it better? How can you apply that to any situation that may arise this year.

Things come and go. Policies and procedures change. People are forever.

If you ask my wife, the dumbest thing I've ever done was to take our family car to the drag strip (at least, that's what she said when she found out.) The car was surprisingly quick (spacious, quiet, well equipped... I really miss that car.) Sometimes, when I think about people, I think about racing. I think about how racing is a zero sum game. In order for one racer to win, everyone else must lose. If you are a racer, accomplishing more means you must take from your opponents. I think about the number of people in the human race. If we are all in the human "race", at some people must lose in order for others to win. That's just not true.

Once upon a time, I worked with an immensely successful band program. By the end of band camp, everyone had to run a half mile in under six minutes to be eligible for the marching band. Some struggled with it, but through steady improvement over the two weeks of camp, they got there. I remember one particular student. She worked incredibly hard to get her time down in the half mile. On the last day, she rounded the final corner of the track on a solid pace to just squeak in under six minutes. On the last straight, her legs just decided they were done. She knelt down 50 yards from victory with tears in her eyes. Her bandmates picked her up and carried her the remaining distance. On a track around a football field, places designed for competition, we found cooperation. We found inspiration. We found the human team.

Life is not a zero sum game. We are not running a race. We are a team. One team. The human team. Working together, seeking the best in others for the good of all. Forget about everything in the world that is showing us to be divided, and make a connection.

Take the time to be excellent to eachother.


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