Be ready to smile!

When I was grocery shopping this morning, a little girl – three years old maybe – said to me, “That’s not your cart lady.” It was my cart actually. But that’s okay. She was three.

Working with kids is never dull! Each and every day, they say or do something that adds a spark. From the grade six student who says to me, “thank you for coming” after I finished disciplining him… to the grade one student who insists on ‘tricking’ me every day by hiding something or himself… to the grade three student who hugs me every time she sees me even when the interactions are within moments of each other!

During the most frustrating or difficult day, students provide many reasons to smile!

Share a book today!

This week when I brought a grade one student into my office to assess her reading she said, “Do you read all day?” I wish I could! My favourite parts of my days are those spent reading and writing to and with students. I love taking non-readers, kids who don’t yet know their letter names and sounds, and convincing them that they are readers. They begin to love books and this magical thing called ‘reading’. And then, in a few months time, when those same students finally see meaning in the letters and words on the page, the look in their eyes is priceless.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to share my language arts program with my staff. I also spoke to an individual at the district level about how I used the LLI program. I can’t seem to hide my love of words! People often comment on the number of books on my shelves. I get excited when a teacher says, “Do you have any books to help teach…?”

Of course!

I have a hard time going into a book store without making a purchase. I see a picture book and I’m immediately flooded with thoughts of how I could use the book with students. Did you know that it is picture book month? Take some time this week to read a picture book to someone in your life. You won’t regret it!

“How are you?”

“How are you?” I’ve noticed this greeting a lot lately from store clerks or casual acquaintances. We say this to be polite but I doubt that most of us really want an honest answer from a stranger. It wouldn’t be appropriate to get into our health problems, family dynamics or financial stresses, for instance.

But truly, most days, I really am ‘good’. I have the right to vote and write a blog. I don’t have to worry about suicide bombers or tsunamis. I am surrounded by family and friends. If I need to visit my doctor, I make an appointment. I have a warm bed to sleep in and plenty of food to eat. Each day when I greet the buses at work, I get countless hugs.

Really, I am good, no matter who asks.

We are who we are.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about discrimination. We watched the movie Selma and so the idea of racism was foremost on my mind. I also attended a meeting to provide feedback on a policy protecting the LGBTQ community.

I have never understood discrimination. Few things make me as angry as to see someone persecuted for who they are. I simply don’t get it. What makes someone’s skin colour, gender identity or sexual orientation better or worse than my own? We are who we are. We cannot choose our race anymore than we can choose our parents or the location of our birth.

It takes courage to stand up for those who are persecuted. I marvel at the bravery of Martin Luther King Jr and all those who persevered (non-violently) for change during the civil rights movement.

I am also comforted by the notion that the younger generation seems less phased by differences. Our classrooms are a wonderful mosaic of culture, race, sexual orientation and gender identities. We can learn a little from our students… they are certainly more accepting than many adults.

Let’s take heed of Piglet’s words, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” Napoleon

The leaders I admire most are those who vision with an attitude of hope and optimism. Whatever our role in a school, we provide leadership to others in some form or another. How do we instill hope in those we lead?

Build genuine relationships. Get in there and do the nitty gritty. Ask, don’t assume. Let those you lead use their skills and talent. Provide vision. Accept others wherever they are on their journey… then raise the bar. Be realistic. Use both your head and your heart to make decisions. Find good in people: all people. 

Donald McGannon once said, “Leadership is an action, not a position.” Let your actions earn your leadership every day.