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Thank you, Students (122/365)

On the most productive and draining of days, I reflect on where I've succeeded and where I need to focus or refocus tomorrow. Today, and frankly, this week, has been one for the ages.

And it's only Wednesday.

The good news is, I've got a lot to be thankful for, and I was reminded of that today, during two meetings that weren't scheduled or on my calendar. They were meetings with the people who matter most in my workplace, a middle school: Our Students.

These students didn't set out to make me thankful for today. But they accomplished just that.

I've been thinking and writing about purpose quite a bit these days. While I'm not necessarily setting out to do this, my thoughts and words seem to be returning to this topic.

In today's conversations with kids, I was able to recommit to my priorities aloud, verbalizing them in these in conversations with kids. With school back in session, and kids back in the building full-time, it's been great. It's been...middle school. Anyone unfamiliar with middle school may cringe, or cry, or run. But if you're a "middle school person", you totally get it.

Middle School kids are amazing. They're energy for what matters to them. Their raw, unfiltered voices and untethered and unconventional methods of communicating, of expressing their feelings. Their communication. When they get upset about something, or witness what they perceive as an injustice, they'll usually let you know, most, without hesitation.

The best way to respond?

Embrace the opportunity, to listen and to learn. Embrace the opportunity, to celebrate their voices and when necessary, show them the carved path for when, where, and how to express themselves. Let them practice. Let them fail. And praise them for speaking up, and coach them towards a different or a better way. But celebrate their voices, and invite more.

Adults can learn a lot from kids.

Today I was able to weave my top priorities through stories:

1) kids' health,

2)kids' safety, and (with 1 and 2 firmly in place),

3) kids' learning.

Being able to share this out loud to more than one person and all students, helped me center myself on why I do, what I do.

That's it. Health. Safety. Learning.

And the kids got it. They understood that a school principal isn't all about punishing kids or giving out unreasonable consequences. We're not about looking for what's going wrong or what's being done that's not acceptable at school. Sure, there are days when we "spend 90% of our time on 10% of the population", as the saying goes. But that's not most days, and it's certainly not "most kids".

A school principal's top job, with these priorities in place, can help create space and remove obstacles, so students' voices, individually and in groups, may be elevated...and celebrated.

And that's "the work": create conditions for kids to express themselves and learn who they are, and catch a glimpse of who they are becoming.

And for that, I say, thank you students.

Click here to visit the Learning Leadership 365 site, where you may read all posts I've written.


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