Keeping the main thing, the main thing

So there is a storied former superintendent in our district, Bud Spillane who made famous this phrase

and it’s often used as a reminder to remain focused on the thing that matters most, kids and learning. This is what should drive our decision making the work we do.  What is best for kids and how can we ensure they are learning the skills and knowledge they need for future success?

I’ve been running around like a crazy person, trying to do all the things that need to be done and really struggling to keep up.  These kind of days, piling up, one right after another, often are what make me question whether I’m doing the right thing.

This week I had a strong reminder AND tonight a friend shared her similar story.  I knew I had to share here.

On Monday afternoon during a learning walk, I visited a class where students were working to complete a study guide. The teacher, Ms. Frances Coffey, quickly said to me that she wished I visited last class when students presented their projects because they were amazing (LOVE that enthusiasm)! As she showed me the projects, one caught my eye.  These migration projects focused on a population that students chose and this was about the Rohingya. I know a little of the story of what’s happening right now in Myanmar, but have huge gaps in my knowledge. I said this outloud to the teacher and a group of young women in this AP Human Geography class spoke up and offered to do their presentation for me and teach me what they’ve learned.  Amazing – I told them I’d definitely take them up on it!  Before the day passed… I was talking to another teacher, Ms. Elizabeth McDowell, who teaches AP World and sharing this story. She said those girls were in her AP World class and made the connection between what they learned about original settlements by the Rohingya in AP World and wanted to present this current information they’ve since learned to her classmates.  Today, that presentation happened and I’m so glad I was invited (by the teacher and the student!) as she shared.  Her passion, energy and the need to alert her classmates to the genocide and injustice happening right now was clear.

My favorite part was that she said she and her teammates originally chose the Rohingya as their migration to study since they knew about the original settlement from AP World. What they found was that they had a great amount to learn about what’s happened since August and what this means for push/pull factors and consequences for the migration.  It was clear they learned and were ready to share and talk about not only their topic, but the big ideas of population and migration.

Igniting this passion, encouraging students’ interests and ensuring our students become lifelong learners who thirst for more knowledge is the main thing.  Let’s stay focused.

After school today, my friend Ms. Sharron Wooden, a technology specialist at an elementary school in our pyramid shared a similar story.  She started out by saying  “These tech kids remind me why I do what I do.”  She and Ms. Leslie Leisey, work with a team of 4-6th graders who serve as tech leaders for their classmates.  There is an issue affecting a lot of the student laptops – students on the tech team had helped their classmates fix it, yet there were more to be fixed.  This student recreated the problem, created a video and was happy to do so!  Sharron said she talked with her at the end of the day and shared with me that she already had the video done before dinner tonight!

Students like this high school student and this 6th grader are finding a purpose and a passion in what they’re doing in our schools. It makes the work we’re doing, no matter how overwhelming or exhausting it can be,

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