Tag: mindset

Finding Joy

Are you finding joy in your work? Does it matter? I answer with a resounding ‘YES!’

A few years back, I was chatting with my nephew who was teaching middle school students. He was at a crossroad wondering whether to keep launching his career in education or pivot towards a career in law. There were many things to consider. Both his parents and grandfather pursued the law as a career. He considered the financial sustainability of a career in education in the U.S.A. There was the matter of time to think about as well. How much time did he want to spend in graduate school and working his way through a profession? There was definitely a lot to consider in both these choices.

As the conversation went on, I asked him one question: What brings you joy about working with middle school kids? His eyes lit up as he talked about how each child’s personality and story was different which brought something dynamic to the classroom each day.

Beginner’s Mindset in Leadership

The beginner’s mindset can be an essential tool when approaching leadership. What is the beginner’s mindset? When you approach leadership as a beginner, you see possibility and free yourself of imagined restrictions. You embrace the idea that you do not know everything. You show humility and listen intentionally to your collaborators. You see yourself as a learner and not solely as the holder of knowledge. You ask questions from a position of inquiry, rather than a position of certainty: I wonder, what if, how might we?

The beginner’s mindset invites a sense of wonder that we often see in our children. You look at things as though you are seeing them for the first time. This allows you to find inspiration and see the awe in the seemingly ordinary. 

The “I don’t know mind’ allows us to embrace being uncomfortable and the unknown. This year more than any other has taught us to expect the unexpected.

Making Resolutions or Setting Intentions?

The tragic events at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. further highlighted the rampant racism, injustices, and inequities that have plagued this nation. There are few moments in school leadership where there is absolute clarity of right and wrong. Now is the time to take a close look at who you are, your values, your aspirations, your hopes, dreams, and intentions. What you do and what you say matters and should be grounded in an understanding of our human interconnectedness. 

Every new year, we try in our personal and professional lives to start anew, making resolutions and promises to ourselves about how we will be different and who we will become. We make exercise and diet goals. We promise to spend more time with loved ones and be more productive and efficient at work. By February, we tire out and have dropped all resolve to accomplish our new tasks. What if instead of creating these long to-do lists each new year, we think of our intentions and start from there? 

Challenging Conversations: An Opportunity, Not a Burden

The happenings of the world are causing increased anxiety in so many of us. Schools are creating plans, backup plans, and backup plans for those backup plans. The landscape of education has changed and so have the rhythms of the typical communication flow. Educators and administrators are overwhelmed with emails, texts, and zoom meetings in addition to all their regular daily work. Educators and leaders need to be more responsive, thoughtful, and empathic than ever before and simultaneously manage heightened communication both in volume, intensity, and urgency than ever. As remote learning, hybrid models, and all the procedures involved are new to families and schools, we all are experiencing shifting expectations and managing a lot of disappointment. We are having challenging conversations.

Challenging conversations in schools have many components: the emotions, the intentions, the actual matter to be discussed, the existing relationship amongst the people and of course the child at the center of the discussion.

Truths or Contradictions

While reading Dare to Lead by Brené Brown,  I was struck by this idea that we can embrace seemingly opposing qualities to become daring leaders. Brown talks about having a strong back and soft front to be a daring leader. She goes on to say that you can stay grounded in your confidence, setting boundaries and stay vulnerable and curious at the same time. The idea of being strong and soft can seem like opposites or even contradictions. This idea of holding two opposite ideas together and both can be true and valid is so valuable not just to being a leader but also to being human.

More recently in my career, I have realized that you do not have to stick to the binary of certain qualities. You can be both strong and soft, tough and caring, scared and brave, structured and flexible. As a beginning teacher, I believed more so in the binary.