The Cardinal Way
Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School
Student Success is a Team Effort!
IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Thoughts from a Middle School Principal
Sunday is laundry day at my house. With four kids under the age of 10, you can only imagine the amount of dirty clothes we end up with each week. The last load on laundry day is always our dress clothes. As my wife folds the other clothes in the evening, I iron. This past week, my seven-year old daughter ran over excited and asked if she could help iron. I let her climb up on a chair and help with a shirt or two. She left with great excitement about being able to help with the task. Her excitement really made me think about how our attitude greatly affects what we do. A chore like ironing is something I don't look forward to doing, but for my daughter it was new, interesting, and fun.
Sometimes as things in life become routine, we lose the excitement we might have once had for them. A staff member shared with me something this past week his grandmother would say to him. "If you look for the positive, that is what you usually find. But, if you look for the negative, you will always find that, too." What a true statement. If we meet the challenges in our lives with a positive attitude, we usually find the positive in every situation regardless of the circumstance. On the other hand, if we come in with a bad attitude, we ultimately bring no passion to what we do. Without passion people flounder. Passion helps us thrive, and passion is greatly dependent on our attitudes.
This concept is paramount in the world of education. In a time of change, our attitude is going to greatly determine how happy we are as educators. Teaching is challenging. It is not an easy profession. We are met daily with many challenges; however, is our focus on things that are in our control or things out of our control? We can say things like:
- The politicians are ruining education.
- The new education systems are designed to make us feel like failures.
- Students are apathetic today. I can lead a horse to water in a bazillion ways, but I can't make them drink.
- Kids are misplaced in my class.
- When I was a student, I did my work even if I hated the class.
While some of these words might be true, they do nothing to help us. These statements are focused on things out of our control. I, instead, choose to keep my focus on what I can control. I have no control over what the politicians choose to do, and I have no control of the students that show up daily at my school. What I do have control over is the attitude and focus I bring to each day. I became a principal to serve a community. I became a principal to push people to be their best. I became a principal to impact students' lives. These are things that I can control. Sure, students who come from well adjusted homes, that do what is asked of them just because it’s asked, make our job much easier. But when students come from homes that do not value education or have little discipline and structure, it makes our job that much more… what are you thinking here? Difficult? Painful? No! It makes our jobs that much more important. Will we reach them all? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. The challenge is we don’t know which ones we will reach. Therefore, we have to choose to try and reach them all. How we meet this challenge impacts the outcome. If we wake up and think it is just another attempt at a futile effort, then guess what, the time spent with kids is useless. Maybe in the “good ol’ days,” we could be lukewarm and mediocre and still be successful. Not anymore. Today, our passion and purpose as educators must be greater than the challenges. We must meet each day with a blazing passion to be better, and do better, and reach more kids than the day before. Even though, we may not be passionate about every detail that happens in a given day. We must still have passion for:
- the challenges of teaching and learning,
- teaching our content,
- students regardless of their circumstances,
- pushing each other to get better, and
- finding ways to personally get better everyday.
If our passion for education is gone, then unfortunately that probably means our effectiveness to teach, connect, and inspire has also left us. I choose to serve a profession for which I have a passion. I choose, like my daughter, to get excited about the little things, no matter how small, no matter how mundane. I choose to live for the process, not for the outcomes. I choose to believe everything that happens in my life has a benefit. I choose to believe that all situations provide an opportunity to grow and improve.
I am going to leave this post with one of my father’s favorite sayings - Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.
I choose positivity!
This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog
Amy Gaisser - Teacher of the Month
- Families of our EL students were invited to SMS this past Saturday. Parents were able to meet teachers, learn more about the EL program, and sign students up for the 21st Century Scholars Program. Thank you to Georgina Mayorga, Amy Gaisser, and Maung Nu for planning the event and giving up their Saturday to support our families.
- This past week, Josh Madden set up a video conference for Charlie Cook. Charlie has Cerebral Palsy and Josh had a friend from college how has met many of the same challenges Charlie is currently facing. As Charlie approaches an upcoming surgery, Josh's friend was able to walk him through the process and provide unbelievable encouragement. Thank you to Josh for going out of his way to make an impact in Charlie's life.