ARTICLES

Category: Leadership Lessons

April is the Month of the Military Child, but this takes on more meaning in our school. Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger, in 1986, started this movement to remind others that military children also sacrifice and serve alongside their parents. Every year, the U. S. Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy continue to their work in promoting our military-connected students.

A recent visit to Washington, DC reminded me of the importance of sharing our support for our military families outside our school community. Led by Amanda Woodyard, our Military Student Transition Consultant for our school division and housed at Ashland, students from Ashland and neighboring schools helped make two quilts to show their support for the armed forces. They made efforts to share their story as military-connected children through these quilts titled “An Elementary Patriotic Thank you” and “We Serve Too.”

I originally wrote this reflection as part of an assignment for my Virginia Tech Government and Policy in Education class a few weeks ago. Recent decision-making regarding changes at the national level has provided excellent reflection on the skills and processes that leaders need in order to have successful and positive change.

The #WeirdPrincipals effort is all about energy and starting movements that inspire others. Similar to #PrincipalsInAction and #KidsDeserveIt, we seek to unleash leadership potential by inspiring others to be themselves, do their very best, and run into school to make magic happen every day! @_AndyJacks and @JessicaCabeen wrote this together to show how two principals from very different parts of our country can both lead through their own unique personalities, and that you don’t have to be perfect or always follow what the ‘textbook’ tells you to do in order to be successful. What better way to describe this than the Ted Talk on How to Start a Movement by Derek Sivers. But remember, it’s not just about being the lone nut, it’s also about being the first follower…

Are you happy in life? Are you happy in your job? Do you even know the things that should make you happy? As a renewal of motivation in our school, I met with all of my school teams recently to discuss this very thing. To be effective with students, I have come to realize that teachers and administrators need to be happy at school! Not giddy, but truly happy in our work. If we want our students to be happy and want to be in school, then we must make sure we are doing things that make ourselves happy and want to be in school as well!

Virginia Tech security just taught me a life lesson this week, but probably not the one you would expect!

Usually, I’m looking for any excuse I can find to dress up and act like a nut for our students at school. If you follow anything of mine, you’ve probably seen that already, dressing up like Thor, the Elf on the Shelf, Mustafa, you name it. But today, as we were getting ready to come to school, and my own kids were getting dressed in their costumes for “Powered by Kindness” day of our #GreatKindnessChallenge, it hit me. If my son and so many of my students were going to be Batman today, it’s only fitting that I should be Alfred.

Weirdness isn’t weakness! It’s a way to celebrate the unique ways we can engage our school community by any means possible. We try so hard in leadership positions to be what we think others want us to be, remembering the many, many leadership ‘characteristics’ that are apparently so vital for success. We read, try to imitate, fail, and then go back to reading more to find the ‘answer’ to how we should be.

When inspiration, reflection, and engagement comes together with your staff, this is an example of what you can accomplish. At our 1st staff meeting in January, we asked teachers to write what they believed for their students and then show it on video. The twist is that we played the video back in reverse! This was quick to make and didn’t take much time in the staff meeting, but the visuals are powerful.

The easy. The obvious. Why are we spending so much time coming up with complicated plans and strategies when the best ways to connect are so simple? Before winter break, I asked all of our staff members to write a postcard note to one of their students. We mailed these out over the break so that during that time away, our students still would know that we care about them. (Shout out to Mrs. Stovall @cfstovall43, one of our awesome 5th grade teachers for the idea!)