To begin, The Leader in Me is a program that was inspired by the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book, written by Stephen Covey, discusses 7 habits that have the power to completely transform your life. If you haven't read it, put it your must-read list and head to the bookstore or buy it online as soon as you finish reading this post!
Stephen Covey passed away last year. However, his son, Sean, who has also authored numerous books involving the 7 habits, including a picture book used to teach the 7 habits to kids, was at the symposium to give a keynote speech. I MET HIM!!! Yes, this is me along with my co-workers and Sean! Ahhh!!
Hearing him speak about the passion his dad had for living your best life and hearing his dad speak (they showed a short video highlighting his career) was so inspiring. To hear for yourself, check out this video below:
That was just the morning! We then learned a lot about The Leader in Me by visiting several schools who had gone through the implementation of the program and achieved their "Lighthouse" status. The kids were absolutely jaw-dropping. These kiddos, even kindergartners and first graders, spoke so eloquently, were so well-mannered and exuded such confidence, that I couldn't help but just say, "Wow." The kids had learned about the 7 habits and truly taken them heart and applied them to their own lives. It was an amazing sight. I will have to do a separate post about this program, otherwise this post would turn into a novel!
After we returned from the school visits, the moment I had been anxiously awaiting finally came. RON CLARK GAVE THE AFTERNOON KEYNOTE! Yes, you read right. Ron Clark- THE Ron Clark!!!!! I was thrilled! If you are not aware of who he is or what he has done in the world of education, watch this video RIGHT NOW and then finish reading this post! :) Then, go buy his two books and read them immediately! I promise you will not be sorry!
To say that Mr. Clark was an inspiration does not at all capture his essence. He is full of energy and his passion and enthusiasm are contagious- you are glued to his every movement, and they are sometimes so unexpected and crazy that it makes you gasp! He is truly the model of what an educator should be- someone who is so passionate and dedicated to their work that they are able to effortlessly ignite that fire in every other individual in the room. When you watch him teach, you will often see him jump up on to a table or bust out into song or dance. He does the same when he is speaking to adults!
After his speech, I was able to meet him face-to-face and he autographed my books. I almost cried! I feel like this is exactly what I needed to reinvigorate my teaching. I cannot tell you what an amazing experience it was!!! I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity and I will never forget it!
Hearing him speak and really thinking hard about what he writes in his books, I am realizing that I need to reevaluate my teaching. It's that time of year when we all start to feel the pressure of the state tests and that weight starts to settle onto our shoulders. I mustn't forget my goal as an educator: to produce highly effective and productive citizens who will contribute to our country in a positive way. I have to ask myself- am I truly doing EVERYTHING that I can each and every day to inspire my students and mold them into the people I want them to be? Am I requiring that each and every second of the day they perform to the highest of standards? I would be lying to you if I were to say that I am. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I have let up a bit since the beginning of school. I don't mean that I do not have high expectations for my students, because I do. What I mean is that I have let that certain level of comfort seep through the classroom. A non-rasied hand here, a forgotten thank you there, and I shouldn't. It is not helping the students and it is certainly not helping me achieve my goal.
After this week, my resolve is stronger than ever. My students MUST learn not only the academic lessons I have to teach them, but also the important LIFE lessons that I have to teach them too, because the sad reality is, if I don't, it is highly likely that no one ever will.
On Monday morning, my kids are going to be truly excited to have me back in the classroom. Cocky? Over-confident? No! I say they will be excited to have me back because I am going to make sure I do everything I can to ensure they feel that way. Do I have the day already planned? Nope! What I do know now, is that we will start the morning with this song, which was performed at our symposium this week by a deaf and hearing combination choir of student leaders from one of The Leader in Me schools. I have lots of planning to do this weekend before Monday comes to achieve my previously stated goal- but I will get it done!!
I hope that you will be inspired to truly reflect and evaluate your teaching and find whatever it is that you need to reignite that flame if it has started to die down, or add the spark that will turn it into a wildfire. Our kids deserve our very best.