Innovation is something that I talk about a lot, but so are relationships. They are connected, yet relationships can never be focused on enough.
I remember early on in my career, someone once told me that if a child comes to hug you, never let go first. They will hold onto you until they need it. That has never left my mind.
When students tell me about some of the things that they deal with, even at such an early age, I think about how strong they are to show up to school every single day, and how privileged we are to be able to serve them. Not only should we have high expectations for our students, but we need to also have high beliefs in what they can accomplish. Innovation does not happen in schools if a child does not feel loved. This can’t be the job of some teachers; it has to be all. I will take a teacher that loves and believes in their students over one that is extremely innovative yet lacks the aforementioned qualities.
Schools are about people, not stuff. When you know someone believes in you, that is sometimes the only thing you need.
I was inspired to write this after watching this incredibly moving Ted Talk by Linda Cliatt-Wayman. These words resonated to me:
If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will.
My students have problems: social, emotional and economic problems you could never imagine. Some of them are parents themselves, and some are completely alone. If someone asked me my real secret for how I truly keep Strawberry Mansion moving forward, I would have to say that I love my students and I believe in their possibilities unconditionally.
Find eighteen minutes in your day to watch it. It will remind you of the power of a great teacher and leader.