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Saying Yes to Leadership Circle

Our April circle meeting was a small but mighty gathering at Pilgrim School. Thank you to Julia for hosting and providing yummy snacks. After introductions we discussed what we might want to “say yes to” more often, inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ Ted talk (and book). Shonda decided to say yes to things that scared her (slowing down to play, public speaking). She embraced these risks because her work stopped making her feel the hum or creative flow it previously had. Perhaps it was how tired we all seemed to be, just two days back in the swing of things post spring break, but we instead landed on longing to say no to more things. With the elusive work/life balance occupying a permanent place on my own goal list, I too had a hard time agreeing with Shonda’s thesis. However, in the course of our conversation, we reframed the idea of saying no to some things as saying yes to self-care or breathing space. A strategic “no thank you” may give way to time to think, exercise or read for pleasure.

One of the discussion questions that hit home for me was thinking about times in our careers when it stopped feeling satisfying and started to feel “dusty.” Our group shared a few examples of those rough times and how we each found ways forward to new phases or repaired relationships. Like Shonda, taking risks, such as applying for a new job or trying a new approach at work, help forge out of the “dusty” time and back toward the hum.  

Finally, our discussion about what parts of our jobs feel “dreamy” also resonated. For me what feels dreamy is framing everything we do in the context of caring for the student experience. Teaching, counseling, coaching even assessment, feels more connected and purposeful, when viewed from the lens of a student. How might an activity feel for a shy 8th grader in my math class? How might a conversation about placement feel for an ambitious high school student? Developing my own sense of empathy for students makes my job feel bigger than just teaching math. We who are doing the work of school are helping to raise kids alongside their families. This is a responsibility and a privilege worth making thoughtful choices in the classroom, and helps fuel my passion for teaching.

I am feeling thankful for circle - I will always say yes to spending time discussing teaching, learning and leading with such thoughtful, interesting educators.