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Educators, this is for us…
We are, without doubt, coming through some of the most challenging, disturbing, exhausting times…pick a word, you all know what I mean, in the history of K12 Education. In my many recent conversations with superintendents throughout the country, educational leaders are all searching for the exact right things to do so that our teachers, students, and families are in the best possible place. And that includes us! Self-care is more important than ever. So, please, take care of yourself!

Thoughts and perspective, I would like to share…
As educators, we can take charge of the moment, in spite of the difficulty, and create opportunity. That is what we do best. True, there are so many items out of our control; but there are many things within our control. Especially now, so many are counting on us.

Now What, So What – Critical Thinking and Mindset: Two of the Things We Do Best!
What do we want schools to look like when we return? What will be our message when we see our students flooding through the front door or on our computer screen? What plans do we have in place to jumpstart student engagement? How might we best show our commitment to the learning experience and our commitment to continuous growth? John Kotter, well-known Harvard educator and author of a number of writings on organizational change, offers some interesting characteristics that connect well to our current state and may guide our thinking.

Think About…Re-Vision! Let’s Make our Re-Vision:
Imaginable – Think of your classrooms, hallways, bus loops, gymnasiums…create a clear and compelling picture of the energy that abounds within. Thought precedes action; visualize it!
Desirable – What can we do to show appreciation and gratitude to all, making school a desirable place where students and staff want to be? Every interaction can become an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships. Show we care – we really care.
Feasible – Focus on small wins – what went well today? Create and cultivate the atmosphere of “This is possible.” And…we did it today! Go public with small wins.
Focused – Refuse (actually, wipe the verbiage from your vocabulary) negative “This is so hard…” talk. Dial in on the right work and stay there! Fact is, we know how to lead and teach!
Flexible – Treat glitches and set-backs as a temporary state; engage in your best critical thinking and proactive problem-solving. We know how to contingency plan. We are educators.
Communicable – Speak the positive, celebrate successes, congratulate your colleagues, praise your students. Remain steadfast in the privacy of your daily positive self-talk. Great way to start every day.

Success Criteria: How Will You Know This is Working?
1. Are you and your colleagues offering grace, empathy and understanding, every day?
2. Are your students showing less struggle and a healthier state, from an SEL perspective?
3. Are you personally keeping your individual private commitment of self-talk:
“Today, I give my best and it is going to be a great day because…” (Fill it in – what are your top three?)

Thank you, colleagues for allowing me to share…We can do this.
Penny

* John Kotter, Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press, 1996.