Having led faculty meetings since 2002, I understand the anxiety that sometimes accompanies the opening faculty meeting, or the monthly gathering that no one in the building seems awfully excited to attend. While meetings can resemble a form of school torture, they don’t have to be that way. Generative meetings that regularly engage and support faculty growth over time need to be grounded in mission, strategy and understandings. Mission and strategy agendas—what are we working on that support students through the lens of the school’s mission and strategy statements—are always on-going ‘to-dos’ in school meetings. But what about the understandings? You know, those foundational aspects of education that transcend all the ‘to-dos’. It’s the stuff that brings teachers back to the classroom every year. When do you as school leaders make time to visit the understandings?
I pose to you that visiting the understandings of education and how they have emerged in the life of your school will bring life into your meetings, even if it’s just a feel-good moment at the beginning or end of a scheduled event. Every year in August at the beginning of each meeting I would remind my faculty not of the laws of the school but of the Laws of the Real World. Some years I would visit each of the bullets, other years I would just distribute via email, but inevitably during the year we would refer back to one of the bullets and share stories or anecdotes how the Laws of the Real World emerge in our daily school life. Whether humorous or taken with serious tones, each time the conversation served to connect us to a common path, and remind each of us how important our work with children will always be. Here are my Laws of the Real World, shared with me years ago by one of my colleagues in Columbus, Ohio. You may have others to add, and I would suggest that you use what resonates with your personal educational mission. I promise these Laws will stand the test of time:
Laws of the Real World
·Sometimes we fail. Often it is our own fault. Failure is not the end of the world.
·Enthusiasm is the coat of paint that covers mistakes.
·It is possible to drown in shallowness.
·There are important things to be done in this world.
·Selfishness is very popular these days. However, the one who dies with the most toys is still dead. Diminish selfishness.
·We will all get the future we deserve.
·Pain, solitude, failure, success, luck and aging are all normal. Do not be surprised when life includes some of each.
·The world is the place where we will spend the majority of our future. Get to know the world in its infinite diversity and celebrate it.
·If you don’t tell the truth, you might as well distrust all that others promise you.
·The more you give of yourself, the more you will love what is left.
Our Faculty Experience:
- We are responsible for each other’s success
- Loving children is the first line of the job description
- Embrace the power of team
- Have an unfailing and relentless belief in children’s capacity to learn
- Generate impact