I have to begin by stating the obvious. We are experiencing school during the time of a pandemic, and in keeping true to my transparency, I have to let you know that as a school principal- I AM NOT ok. Most principals aren’t, but we’re putting on the Superman and Superwoman capes day by day and fending off the fences that stand as obstacles. I’ve been worried endlessly about the people that I’ve been entrusted to lead, and not knowing the daily operations has caused me to be a bit more flexible and to extend more grace. This has been one of the most exhausting experiences in my entire educational career, and I’ve been taking the punches from parents, faculty, students, and others. Don’t get me wrong because I’m tough and I can consume and appreciate some hits, but at some point excessive punches will make one fall to the ground. The thing about getting knocked to the ground is you can probably get back up, as long as you have perseverance and don’t get a TKO. My personal mission since we’ve started school again is to not get a TKO, and that looks different each day.
Monday night, I went to sleep around 11 p.m. and woke up at 1:30 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that, so I got up and went to the gym. It was no surprise that the gym was empty. I didn’t even see the Planet Fitness worker there who was supposed to check me in, so I scanned my card myself and continued on my way. The gym is always the place where I can calm myself and get back in a good place, and during times like these it’s important that all of us have that place of solitude we can use to get back in a good space. During school hours, I was able to get a lot done yesterday, but I knew that the lack of sleep would present itself at some point during the day. I was wrong….it presented itself last night, and I overslept and was late to work this morning. I found myself listening to my Calm app and going through some meditation procedures to get back in a good place- a place where I could lead with intention. After this, I started listening to a podcast where Michael Todd was giving a sermon about making revisions to the vision when plans change. That was what I needed, and the fog began to dissipate; I could see the purpose again.
You see, at my school, there’s a mission to help stakeholders Be Prepared, Accept Responsibility, Work Hard, and Show Respect, and we’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and efforts into making this a reality. The vision is to help students emerge as self-directed, future-ready learners within a caring community. You read it correctly. “Self-directed,” and “Future-Ready.” Wow. Those two adjectives are more important in 2020 than they’ve ever been. Even now, I can see that it’s not about revising the vision we have for the school, but the work we have before us is about implementing new resources and opportunities to make the vision a reality. Coming into Kennedy Road Middle three years ago, the team and I mapped out a route for us to take to ensure the school could meet the mark that we’d set. Now, the route is changing a bit, and one thing I don’t like is to get lost. I’m a man, and despite what any man says, none of us likes the feeling of not knowing how to get to a destination.
So now, we’re forced to revise the tools and resources, jump back into the ring, and move things in the right direction. I know that this is the challenge most principals are facing now, and I want to encourage you all to just keep driving. To the educators that are on the frontlines and thinking about giving up- keep driving. To the students and parents that are facing frustration and the fear of failure- keep driving. Just as one can take punches and get back up in the absence of a TKO, all of us can also keep driving as long as there is gas in the car. So, refuel yourselves and keep pushing. I’m encouraging you all as I encourage myself because sometimes that’s just what one has to do. Nothing worth having ever comes easy, and I’m still a firm believer that we are purposed to provide the provisions needed to help our students get to their destination. Don’t lose your drive in these last few weeks. Just keep driving.
Be accountable. Be committed.