Many of us have heard the story of rocks, pebbles, and sand filling a jar.  If not I have pasted it below.  See all of us have large rocks in our lives that are extremely important to us.  The problem with the culture of the times is that the less important things (pebbles) seem to consume all of our time pushing out any room for the larger rocks, the items that we will cherish at the end. 

As time goes on, sometimes larger rocks get replaced with other rocks that seem to have more meaning in your life.  At times the rocks still stand but you have not had any time due to the pebbles in your life.  I recently have had to opportunity to reconnect with a large rock in my life, music.  I have played the trumpet since I was in middle school.  A very long time.....but I digress.  I have always found some great peace in playing and practicing my horn.  While I did give it a run for a time in my life, I moved ahead to other achievements to help provide for my family.  While my time is limited, I have been able to play more over the last few months.  My son has decided to start playing so it has been another activity for us to spend time together.

This has really just rejuvenated me in my daily life to sit back and take some time to do something that I really enjoy.  Another thing that I can do with my kids and family, much like archery.  Part of the resurrection of playing has been good.  Lots have changed since I was last playing actively.  The internet is so widely ingrained in everything we have that it is so much easier now to find sheet music.  I have spent some time practicing old etudes that I just loved and some that were my complete nemesis.  Much like the Charlier No. 2 Du Style.  Love and hate this thing so much.  But with the internet, easy to find recordings of and be able to listen how other artists play.  A great recording of this song can be heard here.

Just remember, there is more to life than the pebbles.  Don't fill your jar with pebbles first.  You won't have time for the rocks!

A teacher walks into a classroom and sets a glass jar on the table. He silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit. He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is. He says, “Really,” and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, “Is the jar full?” They agree. So next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again. This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a pitcher of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, “If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?” A bold student replies, “No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.” “That is one view,” he replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone, “The rocks represent the BIG things in your life – what you will value at the end of your life – your family, your partner, your health, fulfilling your hopes and dreams. The pebbles are the other things in your life that give it meaning, like your job, your house, your hobbies, your friendships. The sand and water represent the ‘small stuff’ that fills our time, like watching TV or running errands.” Looking out at the class again, he asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?”

Many people have great examples of leaders in their lives.  From Mahatma Ghandi and Mother Teresa to Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy Jr.  All of these leaders are very different in their leadership styles and how they were leading.  One thing that is in common with all of them is that they were not leading projects but instead leading people.

At times in the educational setting, school leaders get pinned down to being project managers, with the project being the school that they are running.  I recently spent some time with a former high school administrator who said: "High school teachers are just like independent contractors that share a parking lot."  Spending most of my time at the secondary level,  I never saw it through this lens before.  

Many teachers at the secondary level just want school leaders to manage their time and never think about the process of learning that is taking place in their classrooms or to even question what goes on in that classroom.  This, unfortunately, is a plague in many high schools, but many would disagree this actually takes place when in-fact it does.

We have the extreme pleasure of working in an industry where we must day in and day out be life-long learners.  What does that mean exactly?  Each day we must push ourselves further than we did before to learn and hone our practice.  What are you doing to push yourself to learn each day?  I have increased my reading load.  Currently, I have five books on the stand to read in the coming months as we get ready to head into summer.  I have also been working to start a podcast.  It helps me to discuss the topics that I am passionate about.  I am an out loud thinker so when I am driving I look like a nut talking to himself.  I even talk to myself when people are in the car.

Below is a presentation that we made to our staff to highlight the changes in leadership.  Leadership is not a top-down model.  It is a side-by-side model and we work together for the same goal.  It is best viewed as a coaching model.

 

As educators we all want our students to be successful.  We work hard each and every day for ALL students to help them be successful.  There are many great instructional practices that we employ on a daily basis to help them be successful.  Great teachers use all of their tools in their toolboxes to help ALL students be successful.

Each day administrators go into classrooms to see all of these wonderful instructional practices put in place for students.  The one instructional practice that we do not get to see very often first hand is undoubtedly the most important, failure.  Failure leads to the path of success only if you learn from your failure.  Failure is where all of the lessons are.  

We need to teach students that failure is OK.  Many parents do not feel this way.  Many see a B or even a C on a progress report and just go through the roof (I too have been subject to this).  As I reflect back, I realize that I should have taken far different positions with my own children.  Seeing them struggle with trying to master something is OK.  If we swoop in and do it for them each and every time, they will never master the skill they need to.

These are reasons why we need to teach kids the Power of Yet.  Many students go through each day and say things like “I am not successful” or “I cannot find the answer”.  By teaching students that adding one word to each of these sentences, drastically changes the outlook for kids.  

  • I am not successful, yet.
  • I cannot find the answer, yet.

These put hope in their despair.  Teaching students a growth mindset is important.  It will help them be sufficient on their own, want to have productive relationships in their lives, and enable them to seek new learning each day.  Daily growth in learning and relationships with others will lead students down a successful path.  One statement that I use on a regular basis with students is that "Failure is the rehearsal for success".

I love this video by Will Smith on Failure.

I am currently reading "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni.  In the story, the new CEO of a tech company is put in a position to have to confront one of her team members.  While she was put in the position she resisted the temptation to confront the team member via email and knew that it was a moment of truth for her as a leader and that it needed to be done face-to-face.  I won't ruin the book for you but I felt her she handled this situation above reproach.

Recently, I received an email from a staff member outlining a long list of issues that needed to be addressed by our administrative team that impacted their department.  There were many of these issues that we could not address.  We simply did not have the resources to tackle all of this issues.  At the end of the day, we had to make a decision that was best for kids and preparing them for graduation and life.  One of these concerns we easily dealt with and took care of the concern.  

Now when I addressed these concerns, I did so in an email.  After reading this part of the book and how the new CEO handled her particular situation, I reflected back about if I should have sent that in an email or went to them in a face-to-face conversation.  Doing so in an email did make it easier, but was it better?  I struggle with this day in and day out.  I believe the most important quality in any leader is the outgoing need to develop relationships with the people that you lead.  Did sending this email help that or hurt that?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please post comments below.