ARTICLES

Author: Andy Jacks

“No! Try not! Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yes, I’m excited! Can’t wait to see the next Star Wars movie soon, so I’m catching up with the original series with my oldest daughter and then bam! A lesson by Yoda! In Star Wars V Empire Strikes Back, Yoda challenged Luke Skywalker to believe he could use the force to mentally pick up his spaceship from the swamp. Luke ‘tried’ but didn’t really think he could do it. So guess what? You got it. He didn’t do it.

This week is Inclusive Schools Week and we celebrate what it means to be inclusive through activities, readings, and discussions with our students. But why do we only talk about inclusive practices during this week? Inclusive Schools Week should be EVERY week! “Inclusive” is a powerful word. Remember that inclusive refers to mixed abilities but also diversity in cultures and backgrounds. How are we ensuring that every single student feels that they are included and wanted in our classrooms? It’s not just about what actions we take. It’s about the feelings and thoughts of our students.

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WE LOVE KIDS. We love making a positive difference in the future of students. We love feeling like our job matters and that the work is worth it in the long run. We radiate absolute joy when our students show growth and success. WE FEEL STRESSED. Like…all…the…time. Stressed about the tasks that have to be done. About the thousands of decisions and interactions that we make every single day. Because we are taking on the stress from our students in order to help their lives. From decisions others make that affects our daily routines.

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Why spend a Saturday or Sunday morning to literally walk or run around in circles? When I was younger, before kids, before other life experiences, I really struggled to understand what the purpose was for walks and runs for the many causes that came up throughout the year. But as life kicked in, I realized how important it is to support others and to pull in the support for yourself and your family when you need it. “Community” comes to mind and what that word should really mean.

Value each and every child in your classroom and school. Really. All of them. Not just the cute ones… Not just the funny ones… Not just the well-behaved ones… Not just the ones with supportive parents… All of them.

Even though there are so many reasons why a team may win or lose, the Steelers made an epic leadership mistake that cost them the game this week. They gave up on one of their players during the game.

I went into this position as a school leader thinking so much about what tasks have to get done and the programmatic changes that would need to be made. But as I reflect and gain experience (of course the best teacher) I realize that in most ways I had it all wrong. People’s feelings matter. 

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Edcamp started in 2010 in Philidephia, Pennsylvania, and continues to take off as a professional learning trend in education. It’s designed to be free, have noncommercial sessions, and use the ‘Rule of 2 Feet’ where participants can come and go as they please during sessions. Session topics are created by the participants on the day of the edcamp. Anyone can be a presenter or a learner, and many times will be both within the same session!

  Look closely. No, not at Jason Aldean, the country music superstar. Look at the crowd. What do you notice? In a quick count, I see more than 70 lights from cell phones, let alone my own as I took this picture and probably hundreds behind me in the crowd. This really caught me as a wow moment for education as I was singing along last night to ‘Night Train’ at the top of my lungs. (and yes, I’m a big education nerd and was thinking about this during the concert) Many of these cameras were taking pictures, but the wow moment for me was seeing all of the videos being taken, being sent to friends and family, and being streamed live online, capturing a somewhat typical experience but now using videos instead of just pictures.

Whoever does the talking, does the learning. So who talks in your staff meetings, professional development, and classrooms? Ever since the really cool invention of projectors, there has been a serious and sad condition called, “Death by PowerPoint” in staff meetings worldwide. But don’t worry, there is good news! We have a cure! There are a few steps you can take to prevent this horrible condition.