New Year resolutions, they are truly the goals we all set with the best of intentions and in most cases the worst of commitment. From the weight conscious to the habitually disorganized, with each new resolution there is hope for improvement and expectation for success. Indiana public schools Superintendents are no different. We make mental notes of those things we would like to change and some of us even take the time to write them down, fully committed to making the changes. Then along comes Monday morning and the challenges, old habits, work demands, and sometimes our own laziness start to unravel the best of intentions.
This year I would like to suggest that we all try something just a little different with our New Year resolutions. By all means keep your “lose weight”, “return every phone call by the end of the day”, “really start a twitter account”, “really write something on my twitter account”, “really ask the high school kid what the heck a twitter account is”, “make sure I get a news article to Dr. Jim Freeland each month “, “remember not to say after your last school walk through “well that is certainly not how I did it when I taught” and the ever popular “ I will eat in a school cafeteria once a week” new year resolutions. I would encourage each of you to continue to work on those and the thousands of other resolutions that we all made last week but I would like for each of you to add these five resolutions to the current list. If every IAPSS member commitments to following through with these five simple deeds, 2015 has the potential to be a great year even if you don’t lose a pound or twit a word.
1. Stay Positive – At least once a week during the school year (36 times) hand write a note of compliment or thanks. If for some reason you can’t think of someone to send a note to, write one to your Mom or Dad, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, or one of your former colleagues or mentors from years past. Just take a few minutes 36 times a year and remember that there are always more positives in our lives than negatives. Sometimes it is easy to forget that and this resolution will help you remember why you wanted to be an educational leader.
2. Walk out of your office twice a day – Sounds simple and for some of us that might mean walking down the hall a few steps and turning around, but if we just get up from behind the desk step out of the office and take a few steps away you just might be able to take your stress and frustration out with you. And who knows it might just start to stay out of your office for a little while.
3. Share your pride in being an Indiana Superintendent of Public Schools – Over the last several years our profession has certainly taken a beating. Honestly some of it has been justified, but much of it has been the result of personal agenda and a lack of understanding about what a public school superintendent does. Let’s face it, everyone knows what a teacher does, and most people are familiar with a building principal but the Superintendent … we tend to be the mythical wizard of oz within public schools. To counter that lack of understanding and misinformation, once a week give your business card to someone that you have just met and tell them who your are, what you do, and invite them to come to your office for a cup of coffee or tea. Tell them why you are excited to be the local Superintendent and what a great school system you have. Let them know you are a real person and give them something they can hold on to as they reflect on your conversation.
4. Call a friend – This is just not a game show gimmick for Superintendents it is a real and valuable life line. Once a week make a call, not an email, to a fellow Superintendent. Tell them something funny, tell them something unbelievable, tell them something bazaar, or basically just tell them about your day. I am sure something that you have dealt with that day would fall into one of those three categories. The tough part of this resolution is just picking up the phone. Resolution hints: don’t complain, don’t unload, don’t cry, just say hello and how are you doing.
5. Once a week watch a You Tube video of a laughing baby or talking pet – If you can do that there is no way that you will not laugh, smile, shake your head in humorous amazement, or for just a brief moment realize that life and livingness is more about special moments of happiness and joy and less about stress, anger, frustration, and worry.
Happy New Year IAPSS members. May you have a productive and happy new year.