In the opening of a Tale of Two Cities, Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was an age of wisdom, it was an age of foolishness….” (How is that for a cliched opening–you're welcome–and I unapologetically love that quote!). These words ring just as true today as they did in 1859 when the chapters of the novel were published in serial format, and are an apt description of any day or week for nearly any superintendent in the country.
We often see our students, families, faculty, and staff at their worst moments and their best moments. I strongly encourage you to focus on those best moments, because it is so easy for us to get caught up in the worst moments and lose our perspective. I often repeat that to the principals in Milford who think that the day was challenging or awful because they had two or three difficult meetings or a series of challenging student issues. It is easy to forget that for the vast majority of the students and faculty in your building (or district), the day was probably pretty typical and mostly positive. Our context is often rife with conflict and this can push us away from our mission and why we entered the field in the first place. My request is that you revisit your why, the mission, your True North, purpose, or whatever drives you to create the best learning experiences and environments possible for the students you serve.
I always use this conference as an opportunity to reflect and recharge for the second half of the year stretch run. Celebrate the accomplishments that reflect the best of times and thank and acknowledge your colleagues and faculty; not only do they appreciate it, but it also makes us appreciate why these are the best jobs in America and the world (especially when we do not perseverate on the many challenges that face us, our students, and our communities). I look forward to seeing many of you over the next four days!
A few quick housekeeping items: Pre-conference programming is getting underway shortly and registration is available from 2-5 pm today in the Convention Center Hall B Lobby. I hope my colleagues who are taking part in the pre-conference programming find it worthwhile and engaging!