Last year, my friend Pete told me, “School culture is the first thing on every admin’s list. The problem is we have so much &@#$ to deal with, we never get the time to focus on it!”
Those words struck me. They made me recall all the exhausted principals I’d met on the road…all the school counselors spread too thin…the countless activity directors and after-school professionals taking on a plethora of teaching jobs instead of a full time focus on their programs.
Pete is a long time principal, and one of my dearest friends. He is able to speak honestly with me because he knows that his opinions are safe with me. I am not out for his job, or trying to sway the school board to fire him, or some parent who is looking to chomp his head off because my kid is failing history class.
He can be honest with me, but he has to grin and bear it with so many others, which got me thinking: I wonder if being a school leader is a lonely job?
It’s hard to be in charge. Hard to be a leader. Because by definition everyone is looking to you for guidance. For patience. For strength.
The second thing we can do is take time to talk about our school’s culture. When I launched my latest book, Building School Culture From the Inside Out, I was hoping to teach my clients a few easy nuggets of success that I’ve seen work on the road. What I found is that, while the book does offer solid insight, its greatest value has been in encouraging my clients to actually gather and discuss these important topics! Check out this short video that our clients at Cristo Rey Dallas created about the value of taking the time to discuss school culture.
REFLECT. REFLECT. REFLECT.
Lastly, I am not an admin or educator like yourself, but I am an entrepreneur running a small company that is hell bent on making a difference in schools. I know what it feels like to be blocked by red tape or shut down because a grant didn’t come through. It can be exhausting, and it challenges my focus. At the end of every school year, I take a day off from work to journal and reflect on all the progress that I’ve made, and the things I want to accomplish. The formula that I use was taught to me many years ago by my friend and successful life coach, Mike Lindstrom, and now I’m sharing it with you:
- SCHEDULE some time to be with yourself and conduct a written exercise.
- Reflect on and write down what you have accomplished in the LAST school year
- Dump out (in paragraph form) how you are FEELING about your goals and accomplishments in life, family, and work for next school year
- Write down 10 – 20 things that you want to ACCOMPLISH next school year (in life, at home, at work, etc).
- List 5 behaviors your must CHANGE to meet those new goals.
This format has worked well for me and I hope it helps you too. My dad was a teacher for over 30 years, so I know that heading into the summer can be an important time for support, connection, and reflection.
Our new Facebook group can give you the support you might need.
And use Michael’s journalling method to reflect on the ever changing methods of being a kick butt educator.
As always, it is an honor to be in this fight with you. I truly believe in you and what you are doing. If we can help support you with our school assemblies, leadership summits, or SEL curriculum please let me know. Our mission is to reach as many students as possible, while helping you build the most vibrant school culture on the face of the planet!
JC Pohl, LMFT-A
President & CEO | TEEN TRUTH