The Year and the Why

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Gavin Llewellyn

“Directions are instructions given to explain how.  Direction is a vision offered to explain why.

-Simon Sinek

I recently had the opportunity to sit with two of my superintendents as well as my principal and discuss the important things – summer travel plans, what I enjoy doing during my spare time (wait a minute…what is that??)…oh, and of course, how could I forget – we also talked about the past school year.  The purpose of getting together was to reflect on where we have been, what was great, and how senior admin can continue to support the families, students, and faculty.

These educators, John Staisnby, Wes Hahn, and Tom Reynolds were not intimidating at all (well…maybe John was a little intimidating – I’m kidding!).  Instead, they showed that they understand the importance of fostering trust and positive relationships by listening and having open, honest discussions with their team.

David Culberhouse wrote a great post recently regarding leadership and how it is “about the joy of serving others to improve and grow those around you.”  By taking the time to meet with each staff member, these educators were showing their trust in us.  It was a great to have that one-on-one time to reflect on the year.  I think that reflection (both self and shared) is so important to our growth.  Not only is it important, but it is NECESSARY and will ensure that ultimately, we become the best educators for our students.

The questions they asked serve as a guide to help educators reflect, and as a result, better serve their school communities.  Please feel free to use them with your staff or for your own self-reflection…

-What was your proudest or the best moment over the course of the year? Why?

-What was the top teacher learning that occurred for you?  Why?

-What was the top student learning that occurred for you?  Why?

-I found the students to be…

-What was the key factor that made the school work this year – and why?

-What academic challenges did students face and what strategies need to continue or are required to support them?

-Name a surprise for you this year.  Why was this a surprise?

-What is a key issue that faculty need to address next year and why?

-A key focus for our administrator next year needs to be…

-Where did the best support related to your learning come from this year?

-What might supports for the school look like next year?  What do students and teachers need?

-To continue to make this place great, we need to…

-This past year, I wish we had more time to…

These are just some questions that you could use as a way to start good discussions about the school year.  I’d love for you to comment on any that you would add…Remember, these discussions shouldn’t be optional – they should be happening all the time.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I probably could have spoken to these fine educators for hours or until they stopped me – actually, they had to stop me. :)  They were great listeners and of course, asked great follow-up questions that don’t appear above, but caused me think.  I kept going back to the “why”.  We believe students are all success stories waiting to be written.  One thing I think we need to do better is ensure that all of our students are intrinsically motivated.  They need to be inspired.  We need to create our own golden circle by starting with the why, then how, then what.  I have some ideas for how I’d communicate that message, but I’ll have to save it for another post.  I’ve obviously become a bit- actually very – passionate about Simon Sinek’s  message…I feel like I need to share it wherever I go.

And so I leave you this evening with one of my favourite Simon Sinek videos.  It’s long but worth every minute you spend watching it.  Thank-you to George Couros, who first shared it with me, and introduced me to this whole new way of thinking….

As educators, we should all create our own “Why, How, and What” messages professionally and personally.  By doing this we will not be leaders, but as Sinek says, we will be part of that small group of those who lead by inspiring others.  What would your golden circle message be?


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