I know – I’ve been MIA for over a month and yes, there’s an explanation. As Allen Saunders said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” and that has been exactly my story. Let me try to catch you up through the songs on my playlist that tell the tale since this all began.
“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll)” by AC/DC.
So back in July, my Principal (“Boss Lady” LOL) and I sat down and came up with a plan to reboot the culture and climate of our school for the upcoming year. When we looked at the data and added in our educational expertise (otherwise known as “teacher gut”), we developed a plan that focused on all the positive things the kids and staff were doing, highlighting and rewarding their hard work, and emphasizing the character traits and mannerly behavior we expected to see everyday in our school world, instead of letting the few things that weren’t working drive all our time and resources. We bet on the 500 doing it right to take us where we wanted to go rather than getting depressed about the 40 that weren’t. We knew there would be a lot of work involved, but we were feeling pretty pumped about the road we had decided to follow.
“Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
We shared our plan with the staff and then revealed it to the kids. Everyone loved it and four weeks into it we had drastically cut our office referrals, suspensions, chronic absenteeism, and general climate of the building. The district gave us an awesome full-time Social Worker and we added a fabulous Recovery Room teacher. Both of them, together with our caring Counselors, helped everyone start shifting their thinking from punishment to skill replacement and from feeling under siege to feeling like we were back to being a fun place to learn again.
“Tick Tick Boom” by The Hives
And then our new Board of Education and Superintendent revealed their new vision and it felt like the top of the world fell on top of us. Just about everything we thought was on track to go one way suddenly ran out of road. Every road map we had evaporated as new goals, new frameworks, and new thoughts began to emerge. Not wrong. Not bad – just totally different. Now what? To quote the song, “’Cause I have done it before, and I can do it some more, I got my eye on the score . . .” So Boss Lady and I went back to the drawing board. How to keep our original climate reboot plan on track, while the adults in the building are stressing out from all the changes? And how do we reorient and rethink our plans to now meet the new targets?
“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
When nothing is as it once was, there’s always a period of time where you’re stunned. You stand at that crossroads – stop or go forward? Quit or blaze ahead into unknown territory? As General Custer said, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, its how many times you get back up.” True enough. Boss Lady and I are pretty bold, tough, smart gals. It’s going to take more than this to keep us from succeeding. Game on!
“Move Along” by the All-American Rejects
So we decided to set back to rights what was going wrong and . . . move along.
“What’s Golden” by Jurassic 5
Several Saturday morning strategy sessions, some research and quite a bit of data crunching later, we decided to take it old school. Go back to “What’s Golden” and stay true to what we know works to grow kids (and adults).
“Well All Right!” by The Hives
As the song says, we all have troubles and woes – brush the chip off your shoulder, that’s how it goes. So back to the drawing board! The past month has felt a lot like “swimming across the ocean in a concrete suit” but in the end, we’ve got a few plans. We shared our dilemma about how to salvage our climate reboot plan with our Social-Emotional Leadership Team, and they had some great insights and ideas that got us a refocused plan of action. We’ve been revealing our new course direction to our Building Leadership Team and staff a little at a time, and most are beginning to see it as a new challenge in a positive way, rather than as the end of the world.
“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons
So now we’re into October and we’re feeling like yes – “it’s always hard when you’re falling down and it’s a long way up when you hit the ground – get up now, get up.” We’re starting to feel like we’re back on the road to being on top of the world again. The scary part is that once again Boss Lady and I are betting on our experience and our “gut” to guide us correctly to the finish line of this year’s “race”. It’s exhilarating to run our own race, but it feels like we’re running the ridge, and it’s a long way down. So we’re just going to keep our eyes – and our focus – on the target, take a big breath, and start running the race in front of us.
And that brings us back to where we started three months ago . . .
“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll)” by AC/DC
The thing is, easy never made anyone better and never doing ANYTHING that makes your heart race and your mouth go dry once in a while can’t really be called “challenging yourself”. The truth is the things that seem daunting or fraught with uncertainty about the outcome are the things that force us to reach in and carve out something new from within ourselves. It’s in those moments we redefine what we can do and who we are when we meet those challenges. It might be a long way to the top, but I think I might just be looking forward to the journey this time.
So back on track and I’ll be posting regularly again. Hope your journey is challenging YOU in all the best ways!