We all think of a brighter future and constantly discuss ways to get better. I think it is human nature to want to improve while looking to increase the quality of our relationships, improve our skill sets, or work more efficiently. I have given this a great deal of thought in the past few weeks and have come to the conclusion that the decisions and plans we make today will lead to a better tomorrow. I think of this practice as an investment and refer to it as planting seeds. Within this post, I will share what I plan to do today to lead to a better tomorrow.
Take care of the hard stuff now: If you work in education, there are going to be difficult things that you will have to tackle almost daily. Maybe there is a hard conversation that needs to take place with one of your colleagues. A procedural change may need to happen that is going to upset a group of people, but is best for your organization. Or maybe it is time for you to move on to a new opportunity. Whatever the challenge, it is my belief that if you do the hard things now, the work will become easier.
Commit to being a better listener: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason; however, I think we get this wrong more often than we would like to admit. I become distracted easily and have a hundred thoughts going through my mind at any given moment. It is challenging for me to fully commit to be an effective listener. After reading @jimknight99's Better Conversations, I have gained strategies that I have put in place to connect further with my conversation partners. Listening with empathy is a chapter within this book that hit me pretty hard. I am often asked by perspective teaching candidates what skills they must possess in order to be a successful teacher. Without hesitation, my response is the ability to demonstrate empathy toward others. The ability to walk in the shoes of another cannot be overstated, as everyone has a story or is dealing with something that we know nothing about. When I am engaged in a conversation, I have tried very hard to reduce distractions by keeping my iPhone put away, turning off the monitor of my computer screen, and silencing my office phone. When I am fully present within a conversation, I am able to understand where the person is coming from, what they are feeling, and what they are trying to accomplish. When I listen better, I understand more, and can make much more effective decisions.
Develop clarity: As a school, what do we value? Where are we going? What is most important to us at our core? Why do we do what we do? If we are going to be excellent and achieve all that we want as a team, we must be able to answer these questions. When these questions can be answered by all members of the learning community, everything else will fall into place. It is not about the method, but more about the principle (see this post from @gregdeutmeyer). You will never hear anyone say, "I just wish my leader wasn't so clear about our core values and vision."
I wish I could say I am comfortable where I currently stand with the content above. I am striving to plant seeds today that will lead to a brighter tomorrow because our people deserve it. What are you doing today that will make you better tomorrow?