Ever since NASSP bestowed me Digital Principal of The Year, I still wonder about others in education who are affected by “ego, jealousy, and fear.” As of today, my school has hosted over 30 schools from across the Tri-State area. We gladly share our story, all our resources, and make sure visitors leave with more than they came with. The biggest message we try to send them home with is what matters is what you don’t see. Our focus is always on answering the following question:
Why did you become a teacher, paraprofessional, supervisor, principal, superintendent, and/or board of education member?
Of course the most obvious answer is: to better the lives of students.
It is so important that we make sure that as a faculty, we hold true to our initial reasons for entering the field daily. It is too easy to lose sight of the obvious answer, which is why we repeat our mantra daily.
In education, there are producers and consumers. You know who the producers are: they are those who happily give whatever intellectual property they own to support the growth of others, expecting nothing more in return than the opportunity to talk education with a peer. The opportunity to potentially raise the level of pedagogy to positively impact instruction. That’s gravy.
Then, there are consumers. We know them, too. Consumers work from a place of intellectual property rights and tradition. They wear their fear, competition, and pride badges in the same place the producers wear their hearts.
We know as a building, and a school district, that it was important for us to always be producing -- for ourselves, for each other, for the field at large, and for our children. If not, our daily affirmation could be anything, and it wouldn’t matter.
As the lead learner in the building, I regularly reflect on the memorable people who’ve impacted my career in education. Were they producers or consumers? Did they hold true to "bettering students," or did they possess and demonstrate "ego, jealousy, and/or fear?" I remind myself of this because the dual dynamic ultimately creates the opposite of potential empowerment. It creates toxic environments, bringing out the worst in people instead of the best.
I often wonder why this continues to occur and why it continues to happen in some places. At Northfield, we talk of innovating, bettering our students/staff/schools, and then check our egos, jealousy, and fear to make sure we don’t sabotage ourselves on the way to success and forward thinking for our students.
As I work in the field of education, the staff of Northfield and I will continue to affirm ourselves and each other, as well as ask our daily questions in order to continually reflect on who we are, and why we do what we do. We can be part of the problem, or part of the solution, but we cannot be both.
When our visitors come, we ask them to do the same.
“Imagine what we would do if we weren’t afraid,” Dr. Spencer Johnson, from Who Moved My Cheese.