Well my time in San Antonio has come to an end. I am sitting at the airport now waiting for my flight to begin the trek eastward back to Maine. Next time I will have to plan my flights a little better so I can stick around for Saturday's learning sessions too!
Thoughts/Ideas I am bringing home:
- Need to think differently about workforce development, recruitment and retention practices!
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Share the What, Why and How behind decisions whenever you can!
- Public Schools belong to our children and our communities – remember who we serve and act accordingly.
- Model, Model, Model. If we want civil discourse…be sure to practice it! If we want collaboration . . . practice it! Etc.
- Lift up those around you – Trust and Inspire – NOT command and control.
- What comes out when you are squeezed – is what is INSIDE of you!
- The more people question – the more you should open up.
- Tell your story or someone else will!
- Be strategic with creating multiple feedback loops. Be clear, feedback is not a promise.
- Remember – the vocal polar sides are not the majority.
- Be relentlessly focused on meeting the needs of ALL students.
As I reflect on the past few days of learning with colleagues, I can't help but feel re-affirmed in my beliefs and values as a public school leader. The job we do as Superintendents is sometimes “heavy” and our responsibilities great. But so too is the positive impact we have on our students, our staff and the communities we serve. We truly are #HereForTheKids!
It is easy to get discouraged in our jobs right now when we look at what is happening with the “culture wars” or with the push towards vouchers, or when we think of our financial challenges, capital facilities needs, and all the additional responsibilities being placed on our public schools. But at the end of the day, our institutions of public education are larger than any single person, or political party. Our public schools are at the very core of our democracy and it is within these schools across our great nation that we ensure our country's democracy remains strong.
We work daily to teach our students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators and to be kind to one another. We help them to understand the complex world they will be entering when they leave our hallways. We help them to learn how to agree or disagree with the ideas and opinions of others based upon well researched facts, we help students build confidence and learn how to lead. We teach empathy, we teach mindfulness, we teach resilience. We feed children, we offer health care and dental care. We offer mental health services and transportation. We offer arts programs and co and extra curricular programs. We prepare and inspire ALL of our students for their successful futures and we do all of this in true partnership with our local families and community members.
At the end of the day, our public schools have always been and will continue to be the cornerstones of our democratic society and I wouldn't want to be in any other job, working with any other incredible group of leaders doing this important leadership work!
Ten years from now, as a country, I am sure that we will look back at these difficult times of turbulence and political distraction and see that it was our public schools that helped to steady our country. It was our public schools that made sure we remained focus on meeting the holistic needs of ALL of our children to ensure they entered the world as kind citizens, fully prepared and ready to take on the challenges of the next generation.
As I close my last blog…just wanted to send a special thanks to my Maine leadership thought partners who are also on this awesome journey with me. Those that were able to attend the conference, AND those that were not. I lean heavily on them, they are the daily “sunflowers” that help me to carry the weight and responsibility of my job. I wouldn't want to work with anyone else!
Thank you to AASA staff, executive committee members, governance committee members, our vendors and all of you as members for helping to make NCE 2023 such an incredible learning experience! See you all again next year at NCE 2024 in San Diego!