Emphasize the light – Celebration of students and teachers

Posted: October 19, 2017 in Posts with Joshua Stamper, Uncategorized

“Dare to reach out your hand in darkness, to pull another hand into the light.”

– Norman B. Rice

In education, like many other professions, it is easy to be inundated with the daily grind of stress, pressure and negative feelings. As a student, teacher and administrator, often we find ourselves frustrated and doubting our abilities. In our schools, we emphasize the importance of building strong relationships, both with students and staff. It is through these relationships that we are not only able to build connections, we are setting the table to allow learning to happen. As in any relationship, we need to remember that time needs to be invested. Time to not only learn with someone but time to celebrate the learning that is happening.

If I (Roman) go back to my experience as a student, I can vividly remember my experiences as a learner. I listened in class, I studied, filled out the assessment and got back my corrected copy. Based on the amount of red ink on my paper, I was able to decipher whether I was good or not. When I needed to deepen my knowledge on a topic, I did what most teachers suggested: study more. As a teacher, I have lived similar experiences. When it is time to get assessed by my administration, I listen during meetings, I prepare, I teach my lesson and I get a copy of my assessment. Based on the amount of comments, I am able to decipher whether I was good or not. Reflecting on my experiences, learning with my professional learning network (PLN), I have come to discover that this isn’t the way I want to continue to experience learning.

Looking back on my career as a student, I (Joshua) worked incredibly hard for teachers who I felt cared about me, provided encouragement and celebrated success. My grades reflected my exact feeling toward a teacher. If my grade was good, it was likely because I respected the teacher and worked to get the respect and praise of that teacher. If my grade was poor, it was because I didn’t feel the teacher cared about me, therefore I didn’t provide the appropriate effort.  As a teacher and administrator, I continue to seek out people who are genuinely invested in my growth and who care about my well being.

Before we even talk about learning or assessments, we need to address the question of building relationships. Every person is unique and has amazing gifts and talents to share. As leaders, we need to make sure we get to know each person and to know all they have to offer. As we get to know them, we must also remember that we need to take the time to interact with them on a regular basis. Foundations for strong relationships are always created out of positive experiences. We must therefore learn to celebrate and uplift those around us in order to pave the way for more meaningful and ongoing conversations. We teach students that learning continues across a lifetime. We want teachers to acknowledge that they themselves are lifelong learners and that students and parents are great collaborators to their learning. What is most important, if we want our staff to believe in this, is that we as leaders must also be lifelong learners alongside our teachers. We are all in this together.

During a recent Twitter chat, we were asked how we coached, supported and gave feedback to under-performing teachers. This question also applies to students who are under-performing in our classrooms. As I (Roman) was reflecting on how to answer, I couldn’t help but go back to my own learning experiences shared earlier. I didn’t want to reflect the same old model that separated learning from relationships. Therefore my new conviction has become, “let me learn with you. Let’s see how amazing WE can make this.” If we truly want to celebrate learning, as leaders we must be willing to go in the trenches with teachers and students. Learning will not and should not happen alone. Let’s find the time to go on the journey with them. Let’s find the time to always lead with the positive!

What are some of the ways we can go on this learning journey and celebrate with teachers and students?

  1. Written Affirmation: When you see accomplishments, learning, good actions or progress, take the time to mail out a handwritten card. It can be done after your observations or in conjunction with various holidays throughout the year. Celebrate those around you as much as you can. Yes, it does take time and yes, it does involve a certain cost. Trust us, the impact is much greater than you think.
  2. Conversation: Take the time to simply pull someone aside and share your celebration with them. Help emphasize the positive that you saw in them. Share with them your pride in them for what they have accomplished. As leaders, we sometimes feel that sharing positive comments may seem overly sentimental; in reality these words have unimaginable positive effects.
  3. Gestures: If we really want to go out of our way to show appreciation, small gestures of kindness and appreciation have profound effects. It shows another person that they were important enough for us to invest time in them; it makes them feel special. So when we can, take that person out for a special lunch, buy them a surprise coffee in the morning, share a special book with them, bake them a small surprise, share a gift card with them, do a special activity with a student, give an extra planning period to a teacher and go teach that class yourself. A gesture does not have to be over the top, all we need to do is show that we care and we appreciate them.
  4. Involvement and Collaboration: Take the time to involve staff and students in decision-making and the transformation of school culture. When you want to find innovative ways to show appreciation and create new traditions at your school, ask them how they would like it to happen. As leaders, we sometimes feel like we must have all the answers. Involving and collaborating with staff and students goes a long way in continuing to build those strong foundational relationships.  

wediscover

We all lead busy lives and the school year goes by extremely fast. There are many challenges and emergencies that we must face on a daily basis. Let’s make it a promise, that no matter the obstacles, no matter the surprises in our daily routine, we must remember to always make room for the positive. Let’s make it a priority to celebrate others, to lift their spirits and to do our part in making the world a better place. After all, if we don’t lead the way, who will?

To those who inspire us, to those who lift us up and to those who support us: Thank you! It means the world. Let’s all be lights of hope and kindness to others. That is our pledge, that is our mission.

Edu-Leaders Emphasizing the Positive

Mark French / @PrincipalFrench
#GoodNewsCallOfTheDay

Mark’s #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay movement has had a sweeping impact on the educational world. On Twitter, you can see the hashtag being used by many schools as administrators are calling home to brag, celebrate, and uplift their students. Mark inspires us all to build relationships with our students by eating lunch with them, reading books to classes and celebrating kindness of others.

Based on several educational leaders’ impact and inspiration, such as Mark French’s #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay, my (Joshua’s) campus has adopted a system to reward positive behavior each day, which leads to a positive phone call home to let the student’s parents or guardian know how their child has made good choices. The practice of calling home and getting to know students who are making a positive impact on our campus has been uplifting and extremely rewarding for everyone involved. It’s fun and interesting to see each child come to the office with reservation until they find out they are being celebrated.

 

Todd Nesloney / @TechNinjaTodd)
#KidsDeserveIt

Todd is the co-founder of #KidsDeserveIt and he continues to find innovative ways to celebrate students and staff. At Todd’s campus, they celebrate students by writing students’ names on a chalk board wall, taking a picture of the student and tweeting the student with a campus hashtag. Todd also has large photographs of his students and staff throughout the school and staff family photos in the staff lounge to share a sense of belonging. For staff, Todd has also called the teacher’s parents to share all the positive things they are doing on a regular basis.

 

Sean Gaillard / @smgaillard
#TrendThePositive

Bethany Hill / @bethhill2829
#JoyfulLeaders

 

Sean and Bethany have continuously celebrated students, teachers and other educational leaders through the #TrendThePositive, #CelebrateMondays and #JoyfulLeaders hashtags. Both show how their teachers share inspiring notes to each other, use positive referrals, and validate students with positive notes and twitter selfies. Sean and Bethany create a positive culture though their strong leadership, actions and communication.

 

For more posts from Joshua, please go to his blog at joshstamper.blogspot.com joshuas

Comments
  1. Janice Waterhouse says:

    I so appreciate your efforts to spread not only a positive outlook, but professionalism as well. Thank you.

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