All the Right Notes

One of my stress relievers after a long day is to listen to classical music on my drive home. In addition to the calming music, I love to hear the stories about the different composers. Recently I heard a story about a composer named Clementi. I had never heard of him before, but the radio host mentioned that during his career, he was a revered composer and was even a mentor to Ludwig Van Beethoven. Like most people, I know many of Beethoven’s works and I was interested to discover that one of his mentors was someone I had never even heard of. The host went on to describe the differences between the two composers. They were both skilled at their work, but unlike Beethoven, Clementi followed all the rules of the day. He was described as “playing all the right notes and putting them in the right place”. While this made him a good composer, Beethoven’s daring and boldness with his music made him a legendary composer.

I guess the same could be said of any professional. Doing things consistently and in the right way will make you very good at your job. However, if you want to become great you need to do things that others have not done before and like Beethoven, be daring and bold. In the world of education, we all come from similar backgrounds in education. We receive training from a college, do our student teaching, and then are given our own classroom of students. If we are lucky, we have a good mentor and supportive peers and supervisors. There are so many good teachers in the world of education. Those that do the right thing at the right time. But there are also great educators out there too! Educators that challenge the status quo, who take risks and try new things, and whose passion for doing whatever it takes to make students successful is evident in everything they do. That’s the kind of educator I want to be and that’s the kind of educators that I want to encourage ALL our teachers to be!

Someone told me this summer, “You don’t have to be bad to want to get better.” I thought that was excellent advice. I don’t ever want the teachers I work with to feel beat down or disheartened. I want them to be inspired and encouraged. I also want to them to reject the status quo and leave behind the good and go for the great. When I think of our school, I think, “What would I want for my children?” or “What did I need as a student?“. The answer is never “a good school” it’s always “a great school”. It all starts with us. What will you do this year to move from good to great? Don’t be a Clementi when you can be a Beethoven!

beethoven-600x600jpg

wordpress4

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – LVB

“I will seize fate by the throat” – LVB

“Music comes to me more readily than words.” – LVB

IMG_7771

Bethany Hill                           Sean Gaillard

school-calendar-image1_1

  • Monday, September 24: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Book Fair Opens
  • Tuesday, September 25: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, 504 Meeting (Ringler) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, September 26: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 27: No Staff Meeting, Curriculum Night/Open House        6:00-7:30 PM
  • Friday, September 28: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board of Directors Meeting, Book Fair Closes
  • Monday, October 1: Students of the Month Assembly (Respect) 9:05 AM,          Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM, Growth Plans due in Pivot

No Teacher Left Behind

Several years ago, I saw a short video by Robyn Jackson about supporting struggling teachers. In the video she asked a very important question. “If I expect my teachers to never give up on students, why would I ever give up on a teacher?”. It really got me thinking about ways that we support (or fail to support) teachers. I began to think of the language and strategies that we use for students and wondered why we don’t apply these to teachers as well.

Here are some of the phrases that we often use for students: All means all, give them voice and choice, empower them, never give up on them. What if we replaced the word students with teachers? It’s not about having the right people on the bus, it’s about making sure the bus with all our staff is going in the right direction.

When students are struggling, we use the pyramid model of intervention and provide multi-tiered systems of support. Why don’t we do the same with teachers? Most teachers would fall into the green or base of the pyramid. A few might be in the yellow or struggle in one specific area. With a little coaching, they move right back into the effective green range. If a teacher is in the red zone or ineffective, they may need targeted coaching, training, and mentoring. We use data and interventions for struggling students, why not for teachers?

For me, the big question in supporting struggling teachers is “Why?”. Why are they struggling? Is it because they lack specific skills, do they struggle with relationship building, are they dealing with personal issues that keep them from focusing on students, or are they simple burned out and in need of inspiration? Knowing why a teacher is struggling is the key to finding the right intervention and helping them be the best teacher they can be.

Nobody went into education to get rich or become famous. They entered this profession because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I also believe that nobody wants to be mediocre. Educational leaders need to support teachers who are struggling and inspire those who may have lost the fire in the belly. When we support a child, we can shape their future. When we support a teacher, we can help shape the future of every child they teach. The average teacher impacts over a thousand students in their career. Because of this impact, we need to make sure that No Teacher is Left Behind!

IMG_7376

wordpress4

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

“It’s the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.” – Michael Morpurgo

IMG_7771

George Couros                        Allyson Apsey

memspa-ben-podcast-logo-v2_orig

Was honored to be featured in this week’s A Community of Principals Podcast

school-calendar-image1_1

  • Monday, September 17: Team/Parent Meeting (Gruenewald) 8:15 AM, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, iReady Window closes at the end of day
  • Tuesday, September 18: REED (Banter) 8:15, REED (Ringler) 9:50, Tornado Drill 11:00 (This is a change in time), REED (Adams) 11:20, Principal Training for 5D 3:00 PM
  • Wednesday, September 19: REED (Jones) 8:15 AM, REED (Edwards) 8:35 AM
  • Thursday, September 20: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM (Bring Yellow Cards), PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 21: Bill Roberts from AXA in Lounge (with treats:) 8:00 AM, Picture Day in the East Commons, Parent M-Step Reports mailed out

 

  • Monday, September 24: Book Fair Opens, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, September 25: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, September 26: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 27: No Staff Meeting, Curriculum Night/Open House 6:00-7:30
  • Friday, September 28: Book Fair Closes, Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting

Getting out of our Comfort Zone

Recently I was having a discussion with one of my colleagues about getting out of comfort zones. While we both agreed it was essential to get staff (and ourselves) out of the comfort zone in order to make great things happen in school, we disagreed on how to go about that. My friend felt that in order to get people out of comfort zones, leaders needed to butt heads, ruffle feathers, and sometimes kick butt. He sighted Steve Jobs and that he was “a jerk” when he needed to be. Leaders can’t be nice guys if they want to achieve greatness with their team.

While I admit that people can be forced out of their comfort zones, I don’t think that is the best approach for long-term change. I’m not looking for a culture of compliance, but one of innovation. My goal is to create a climate where every staff member feels valued, safe, and challenged to be their best. When this type of environment exists, staff will be willing to take risks, challenge the status quo, and get out of the proverbial comfort zone. My friends and mentors Debbie McFalone and Derek Wheaton talk about the need for leaders to be “Warm Demanders” by setting high expectations while offering high levels of support. THIS is the way we can achieve great things for our students!

As educators, our challenge is to find that balance between feeling safe and pushing our limits, both for ourselves and for our students. We all agree that great things don’t happen in comfort zones, but there are many ways to break out. Sometimes we don’t have a choice, due to changing circumstances. Sometimes, we are forced out by directives. If we are fortunate, we leave on our own due to the culture and motivation that inspires us to do so. I’m fortunate to work in a district where I feel supported and encouraged to try new things and push myself. I hope to always create that same environment and inspire that culture among my staff and students so that we can all find our way out of our comfort zones!

IMG_7577

wordpress4

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” -Anonymous

“The sooner you step away from your comfort zone you’ll realize it really wasn’t all that comfortable.” – Eddie Harris Jr.

IMG_7771

Dave Burgess                                  Shelley Burgess

school-calendar-image1_1

  • Monday, September 10: Celebrate Monday 9:05 AM (RESPECT)
  • Tuesday, September 11: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, September 12: IEP (Jones) 8:15 AM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, September 14: Fire Drill 3:05 PM

 

  • Monday, September 17: Celebrate Monday 9:05 AM, iReady Window 1 Closes
  • Tuesday, September 18: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM, Tornado Drill 11:30 AM
  • Thursday, September 20: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 21: Picture Day in the East Commons
  • Monday, September 24: Celebrate Monday 9:05 AM, Book Fair all week in East Commons
  • Tuesday, September 25: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, September 27: No Staff Meeting! Curriculum Night / Open House 6:00-7:30 PM

Direction not Speed

It wasn’t pretty! Last week I ran in a 5K race, or rather I participated in a 5K race. I can’t in good conscience say that I ran the whole way. During the second mile, I walked as much as I ran and then started a jog again when I saw the three mile marker. I hadn’t prepared as much as I should have. I was sore for days after and I thought I was going to have a heart attack about 10 minutes in.  When people asked me what my goal was, I simply said, “to finish”. I purposely didn’t post anything about the upcoming race, because I was afraid I would chicken out at the last minute. In fact, I almost did. The last time I ran a 5K was 20 years ago. I was coaching wrestling and was about 35 pounds lighter at the time! Back then I cared about my time, now I just worried about finishing. However, I did finish the race (after an embarrassingly long time) and felt like I had accomplished something that I have been wanting to do for years. The fear I had was replaced by a feeling of accomplishment and a desire to do more.

Now many people I know are runners. Some of my friends run marathons and many others exercise regularly and keep running as part of their routine. That’s not me. I’m not a runner. But I had a desire to change my status quo and start getting active again. This was an opportunity for me to do that. Even as I was being passed on one side by an elderly man and on the other side by a woman pushing a stroller, I kept thinking “just don’t stop“. When I reached a steep hill and my jog turned into a walk I kept thinking “just don’t stop“. It wasn’t about the speed I was going, it was about the direction I was going and that was to the finish line!

I have the same philosophy with education as I do with running. It’s not about the speed that we are moving, it’s about the direction we are going. I believe in innovation, risk-taking, and continuous improvement, but I’m not concerned with making things happen overnight. I want our team to celebrate the small steps, the moments of collaboration, and the new ideas that we implement. It’s not about instant rewards, it’s about the mindset we have. If we are moving each day toward improvement then I’m happy! We may stumble and even fall down from time to time, but educators always get back up and keep moving forward. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the challenges we face in education, I keep thinking “just don’t stop“.

IMG_3032

wordpress4

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” – Fred DeVito

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up!” – Dean Karnazes

“The body achieves what the mind believes.” – anonymous

IMG_7771

Jennifer Hogan                               Craig Vroom

school-calendar-image1_1

  • Monday, August 27: Building Open (Non Work Day)
  • Tuesday, August 28: District PD Day 8:00-11:00 & 12:30-3:30
  • Wednesday, August 29: Building PD Day 8:00-11:00 & 12:30-3:30
  • Thursday, August 30: Teacher Work Day, Kindergarten Team hosting Popsicles on the Playground 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, August 31: Optional Teacher Work Day

 

  • Tuesday, September 4: Students Return (12:10 dismissal)
  • Wednesday, September 5: iReady Window 1 opens (grades 1-4)
  • Monday, September 17: iReady Window 1 closes
  • Thursday, September 20: PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 21: Lifetouch Picture Day
  • Week of Monday, September 24: Scholastic Book Fair in East Commons
  • Thursday, September 27: Curriculum Night/Open House 6:00-7:30 PM

If only I had something important to say…

Recently,  I had someone comment that she really enjoyed reading my blog and was intrigued with the concept.  I suggested that she start up her own blog and share out ideas and experiences of her own.  Her response made me sad.  She said she would love to if she had anything interesting to say.  It made me stop and think, how many of our students feel the same way??

We spend a great deal of time in school teaching our students both academic and social skills.  We also have the opportunity to model for them behavior that shows pride in who we are and what we do.  As educators, we teach so much just by modeling the behaviors we hope to encourage in our students.  One way we can model is by showing that we ALL have something important to say and a contribution to make.  We all have life experiences that we can relate to the classroom and we all have a passion to help others (that’s why we are here!).

Now, I’m not saying that everyone has to start up a blog of their own.  But I certainly hope that every child and every adult in our schools feel that what they do and say is important to someone…because it is!  And the things you say and the experiences you share are meaningful and probably impact more people than you will ever know.

something to say

We ALL have something important to say! 

wordpress4

“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” Robert Frost

 

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” – Oscar Wilde

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” – Brian Clark

Books worth Reading

 

Adam Welcome

PS- This book is not about running, it’s about being a difference maker!

 

Some back to school humor from Gerry Brooks! 

Skeptic vs. Cynic

Several years ago, I went to a conference, where I heard a speaker talk about the difference between skeptics and cynics.  In my mind, they were one and the same.  However, I soon realized (and have observed time and again) that there is a BIG difference between the two.  There were statistics given for what percentage of staff fall into the “Go Getter” category, the percentage of staff that fall into the “Skeptic” category, and the percentage of staff that fall into the “Cynic” category.  I would share out those statistics, but as most of us know 93.7% of statistics are made up on the spot. (let that joke sink in for a second:).

We all know the value of the “Go Getter” group. They are eager to jump in and try new things. However, I have also learned the value that the “skeptics” bring to a team. Skeptics are very different from cynics. A skeptic asks lots of questions, while a cynic already knows the answer (which is always NO). A skeptic makes you think by asking questions like, “How is this better?”, “What are the potential pitfalls?”, “How will we be trained?”, and most importantly, “How will this help students?”.  I’ll be honest, skeptics are a lot of work.  They ask tough questions, they keep you on your toes, and they are persistent. Even my best friend is a skeptic and he can be a real pain in the butt! However, I value his questioning (of everything) and I trust his judgement. All this being said, when they are convinced, skeptics can be your best allies and most dedicated workers.  Not because they were told to try something, but because they now believe this is the best way to move forward after looking at things from all angles.  A cynic doesn’t move forward.  A cynic stays in the same spot and has stopped asking questions.

As educators, it is only a matter of time before we see old ideas come around as the “new ideas” and the constant changes in legislation, funding, and testing procedures can make it very easy to slide from a skeptic to a cynic.  So the next time you’re proposed with a new idea or a new way of doing things, ask yourself, “Am I being a skeptic or a cynic?“.

skepticism

wordpress4

“Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.” –  Napoleon Bonaparte

 

“Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” – John Dewey

 

“Skepticism is the first step on the road to philosophy.” – Denis Diderot

wordpress5

Why We Tribe

This month, our Compelled Tribe is reflecting on our WHY? Why do we blog? Why do we read & share posts from other educators? Why do we dedicate our time to being a part of the #CompelledTribe? As an educational leader, I have learned (the hard way) that we can anything, but not everything. I have to be intentional with my time and energy and therefore I choose my activities carefully. Reflecting on my WHY helped me realize my needs that are met by this group.

Reflection: Blogging helps me learn and grow as an educator. Reflecting on my successes, failures, new learning, and educational philosophy helps me to expand my thinking and continue asking questions. John Dewey famously said, “We don’t learn from experience, we learn by reflecting on experience.” Blogging is my means of reflecting.

Connection: Being an educator is a tough job and can be lonely. Luckily, we know have the ability to connect with positive educators from around the globe. George Couros wrote that “Isolation is now a choice educators make”. I choose to be connected and learn and grow from my colleagues. The Compelled Tribe helps me do that in a meaningful and strategic way through common blog themes and accountability partners.

Inspiration: I’ve had a lot of great ideas over the years….and most of them have been borrowed from others! I need the positive energy and the great ideas that come from my fellow tribe members. Jimmy Casas said it best when he said, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” This may be the number one reason “Why I Tribe”: The inspiration I get from my blogging friends!

When I first started blogging, my WHY was to communicate to my staff in a more dynamic fashion. That is still important to me, but I have found that my WHY for blogging has grown and expanded. It’s part of who I am as educator and an activity that reminds me of what I believe and also continually challenges my thinking. I’m extremely grateful to be a part of this group of educational bloggers. We are always better together!

Compelled Tribe: Fueled by Hogan, Fueled by Vroom, Fueled by Wennstrom

Contact us if your interested in learning more about the Tribe!

wordpress4

“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.” – anonymous

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” – Jason Calacanis

wordpress5

Man on the Moon

There is a story that shortly after John F. Kennedy gave his “man on the moon” speech, he was touring Cape Canaveral. During the tour he came across a custodian working in one of the corridors. When he asked the custodian what he was doing he quickly replied, “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”  Whether this exchange actually happened or not, the message it drives home is very real. When people have a shared vision and feel a part of something greater than themselves there is no limit to what they can do. Including putting a man on the moon using 1960’s technology!

What a beautiful reality it would be to have every person in an organization feeling that everything they do is contributing to a greater cause. A cause that requires each person doing his or her job to the best of their ability to make it happen. When I think of this scenario, my mind instantly goes to the school setting. What if every teacher, custodian, secretary, volunteer and administrator gave the same answer when asked what they were doing, “I’m making the world a better place, one student at a time.

We don’t have to be the president or a world leader to have a vision and get people to commit to it. As educators, each one of us can set high standards for our students, provide the support they need, and make them believe that great things can happen when we do our best and work together. President Kennedy didn’t get a chance to see his vision realized and as educators, we may not always get to witness the fruits of our labors. But if history shows us anything, it’s that human beings will rise to a challenge and can accomplish anything if they are empowered. Share your vision with your students and staff and empower them to make the impossible come true!

moon

wordpress4

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” – Stephen Hawking

Among Friends

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the National Principals Conference in Chicago. I was a little nervous attending as this was my first national conference. Luckily, I knew fellow Michigan principal, Allyson Apsey was attending, so I would have at least one person I knew there. Actually, I knew MANY of the people that would be attending, but had only connected with the others online. Some, like Jennifer Hogan for several years through the #CompelledTribe of Ed Bloggers and others only a short time. As I was standing in the registration line, wondering how to navigate my way through the conference, I heard a shout of “Hey Jon!”. It was Jimmy Casas and Bobby Dodd calling to me as they came over and shook my hand like we had met many times before and instantly I knew I was among friends.

Within a few minutes I had met up with Allyson and Jennifer and we saw the inspirational Dr. Adolph Brown in the first general session. Jennifer was just as positive & energetic in person as she had been online and I could see right away why she was being honored as the Assistant Principal of the Year from Alabama. At lunch time, I was invited to eat pizza with Jethro Jones, who I had only met online, since he resides in Alaska. Over a deep dish Chicago pizza, we talked about education, our previous work together on his Transformative Principal podcast, and our families. My interactions with other educators, was similar. They were simple, real, and genuine. For the next three days, I attended inspirational sessions, met with charismatic educators from all across the country, and most importantly, developed friendships with people that are literally changing the world of education. As I reflected on the conference, there were three big takeaways from my experiences.

We Can’t Do It Alone: For several days, I met the movers and shakers of the education world. Authors, speakers, and innovators who I openly admit that I felt some hero worship for.  However, they all treated me as a fellow educator and I felt that we were all on the same “team”. There were no egos or claiming to have all the answers. Quite the contrary, these leaders were asking to hear stories from others and looking for ways to improve their craft by connecting with others just as I was. I heard time and again, we need to lift each other up, support one another, and celebrate our profession. From chatting with people at the conference about finding the unicorn of work/life balance, to conversations at dinner about the emotional night the Chicago Cubs won the world series, to singing songs with new friends at karaoke, the message was clear: We can’t do this alone and we are better together!

Just Do It: When I asked many of the innovative leaders how they got started with a podcast, or authored a book, or became a speaker they often gave me the same answer: “I just started doing it.” One thing about leaders is that they don’t wait for someone else to do it. When they see a need, they do something to address it. If they have an idea, they share it. If they want to get educators together, they create a podcast or start an online group. Those presenting were people who didn’t just have good ideas, they acted on those ideas and learned from their mistakes just as much or more than they did from their successes. Leaders need to listen, reflect, and continually learn, but they also need to take action!

We Are Here To Serve: The phrase that kept ringing in my ears long after the conference was from Dr. Adolph Brown who said “If service is beneath you, then leadership will always be above you.” As educators, we serve our students, our staff, and our community. Maybe that’s why all the leaders that I connected with and admire so much were so humble. They know we are not in it for recognition or self-gain. They are driven by a desire to make a difference in the lives of their students and to make their schools and staff the best that they can be!

As I reflect on the National Principals Conference, I measure its impact by one simple question. Did I leave the conference a better educator than when I came in? Yes, I did, and what’s more, I gained some friends along the way. Friends that will continue to inspire me and help me become a better educator and hopefully I can do the same for others!

wordpress4

“Don’t just talk about excellence…Live your excellence!” – Jimmy Casas

“It all comes down to relationships. Without relationships no real learning occurs.” – Eric Sheninger

“If service is beneath you, leadership will always be above you.” – Dr. Adolph Brown

IMG_7771

Jimmy Casas                                      Bobby Dodd

school-calendar-image1_1

  • Tuesday, September 4: First Day for Students 12:10 dismissal
  • Wednesday, September 5: iReady Window 1 opens
  • Thursday, September 6: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Monday, September 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 (Respect)
  • Tuesday, September 11: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, September 12: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM in Conference Room
  • Thursday, September 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, September 14: Fire Drill 3:05 PM (This will count as our “passing time” drill)
  • Monday, September 17: Celebrate Monday 9:05, iReady Window 1 closes
  • Tuesday, September 18: Tornado Drill 11:30 AM
  • Thursday, September 20: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 21: Lifetouch Picture Day in the East Commons
  • Monday, September 24 – Friday, September 28: Book Fair in East Commons
  • Thursday, September 27: Curriculum Night / Open House 6:00-7:30 PM

The Director’s Chair

Recently, I was watching an interview with Quentin Tarantino where he described his journey toward becoming a director and some of the lessons he had learned along the way.  The interview was intriguing to me as a movie lover, but I also found many of the points he made were relevant to my role as a school principal.  Here are some takeaways that I found useful for the world of education.

Know your story: When asked about directing his first film, he said he was extremely nervous, because everyone seemed to know more about things than he did.  The lighting and sound crew knew their jobs, the production crew were all seasoned, and it was the first time he had directed professional actors.  The only thing that kept him focused and his confidence high was that he knew the story better than anyone else.  He had written it, polished it, and knew how he wanted it to be told.  Holding tight to that vision of how the story would be told made him the expert and helped him through all of the areas that he would learn as he went.  School leaders need to know their story as well.  We don’t need to be the expert in every area, but we need to have a vision of where we want the school to go.  If we can do that, everything else will fall into place!

Failure is okay: Coming off several hit films, Quentin Tarantino said that he started to feel that audiences would follow him where ever he led.  His fourth film, a box office disaster, showed him that wasn’t the case.  He described the experience by saying “I felt like my girlfriend just broke up with me…and my girlfriend was planet Earth!”. The failure caused him to redouble his efforts, start fresh with a new story and pour his heart and soul into another film project.  The attention to detail was so intense that he shared he did 34 takes on one scene that lasted only a few seconds.  It had to be perfect!  The next venture was a success, but he never took that success for granted again.  As educators, we need to be willing to take risks, fall on our face, and then brush ourselves off and try again.  The more we model risk-taking the more our students will do the same and learn to look at failure as a stepping stone to success.

Make them shine: Quentin Tarantino is often credited for taking overlooked or forgotten actors and spotlighting them in his movies.  He has launched, resurrected, and jump-started many careers.  He said in the interview that he often sees actors in films serving in minor roles and thinks, “If I could give them a good role, I know they would shine.”  How true that is for our teacher leaders as well!  If we give teachers the chance to shine and the freedom to dream big and act big, then they will do so and the result will be more successful students.

Do what you love: The constant theme throughout the interview was his love of movies. Quentin Tarantino doesn’t just make movies, he studies them, emulates them, pays homage to them, and loves everything about them.  It was amazing to see his vast knowledge of directors, actors, genres, musical scores, and techniques.  He mentioned several times that he sees himself as a story teller and loves every part of that process from writing, to directing, to producing.  In the same manner, we know that educators who love what they do are the most successful.  You can’t fake being a good educator, because students will know.  We need to bring our passion, our drive, and our love of teaching with us each and every day to school.  Yes, there will be tough days, but if we are doing what we love, those tough days will fade away and we will be left with happy memories and the satisfaction that we did our very best for every child.

As I reflect on that interview, I realize that those of us in education will probably never have a fan base, never get interviewed, and never achieve fame and fortune.  That’s okay, we get our reward with each smile, each hug, and each life that we make better.  As you prepare to start a new school year, remember to know the story you want to tell, don’t be afraid to fail, make your students shine, and most importantly, remember to have fun and do what you love.  For me, that means serving students and staff in the job I love…a school principal!

photo credit: amc.com

wordpress4

  • “I have loved movies as the number one thing in my life so long that I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t.” 
  • “I am a genre lover – everything from spaghetti western to samurai movies.” 
  • “My plan is to have a theater in some small town…I’ll be the crazy old movie guy.” 

Some Summer Laughs with Gerry Brooks!