When I started teaching almost 20 years ago, everything was new and my days were filled with joy and discovery. I loved spending time with my students, especially the ornery ones, since I was quite a handful for my teachers when I was a kid. Little did I know that my frequent trips to the principal’s office, sitting on the “white bench” waiting for dreaded discipline, would give me valuable knowledge and insight into being a school leader.
As a school principal, I found myself spending more and more time on policy and procedures and less quality time with students. The time I did spend with kids usually included discipline, which was often not enjoyable for anyone involved. This was a big change, and I struggled with it at first. I started to lose my joy.
I am now a school superintendent, even further removed from students; however, I have managed to find ways to connect with kids throughout the day. One of my main focuses is on building relationships with students, staff, parents and community. I am a joyful leader.
I recently participated in the #satchatwc Twitter chat focusing on #JoyfulLeaders. I learned from and was inspired by joyful educators and school leaders from around the world. The chat covered six questions regarding joyful leaders, and here are some of my favorite responses to those questions. I hope they inspire you, as they have me, to be a joyful leader every day!
Question 1: What is a source of joy for you as an educator? What feeds you?
At the end of the day, reflecting and feeling like I have made a difference in the lives of children.
Being able to hold, shape, and inspire the hearts and minds of our future. Life is filled with SO much joy.
Seeing kids who are invisible to others light up when I say something to them.
Joy is when you see teachers who are full of compassion and students who are kind.
Seeing smiles and laughter in the classroom.
Laughing, interacting, engaging with students. Kids are funny and fun. They keep me young at heart.
Question 2: How do you spread joy and share it with others in the workplace?
Show positivity and passion while leading by example. I try to be contagious.
I work to co-construct a culture of caring and compassion with my students. Stronger culture = more joy.
Be authentic, present, and in the moment by celebrating what’s most important.
Taking time to celebrate the amazing in others!
Be the happiest person in the room.
I take my job seriously, but not myself!
SMILE 🙂 It’s free and contagious.
Question 3: In what ways can we use joy as a shield for negativity in our school’s culture?
Raise the praise and minimize the criticize.
Do what you love! When you feel great about your teaching, students and others feel it too. It repels negativity.
Hit back with kindness. Sometimes really hard!
Spread joy by Celebrating kids! That is our top priority.
Laugh with your kids, staff and parents. You can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude!
Having an “I love my job” attitude always: in school and out of school.
By having the courage and the strength to remain positive even when others would like to bring you down a different path.
Question 4: # began as a hashtag, but is evolving into a movement. How can we ensure the continuation of it?
Practice what you preach. Let your light shine every day. Be contagious.
Always search for at least 1 positive and shout it from the rooftops! Let’s encourage each other to seek joy!
Ask teachers what their favorite part of the day was. Ask why they love teaching. Make loving what you do a trend.
Don’t wait until culture is negative to address. Culture first, culture next, culture always!
Question 5: What can you do to not only contribute to #, but LIVE it each day?
Introspection and self reflection every day. Ask yourself, “Was I a
Our school has Welcome Slips instead of Late Slips…they say We are happy that you are here today.
I just chase amazing around all day.
Get rid of the mindset of “get THROUGH the day,” and instead get pumped to “get INTO the day!” Do it for the students!
Slow Down. Listen. Really listen.
Be you. Be authentic. Build relationships.
Expect the best of yourself at all times.
Question 6: Trending the positive is more important than ever. What is your commitment with # in your PLN?
#JoyfulLeaders goal each day and follow through with the joy of learning and leading!
Learn together, lean on each other, inspire one another. Be together in this mission. And choose joy!
My commitment is to shine brighter and to intentionally find opportunities to infuse joy.
Entering my classroom with a positive attitude & eagerness to spread it, smiles & laughter.
Regularly sharing the amazing in my school via social media & by word of mouth.
Continue to lift up others. Find their spark and fan those flames to help them grow.