If you had one guess about where this photo was taken, what it would be?
Hint: It was not at a school, but couldn’t it be? It is a great example of what a vision and mission could look like in any educational setting. In fact, I plan to share it with my Leadership Team in the near future.
It was captured this weekend in Appleton, Wisconsin. My family was celebrating both of my kids’ birthdays. Activities that interested our four- and six-year-old include pizza and arcade games, an indoor water park, bunk beds in the hotel, and playing with new toys until they passed out.
To be as present as I could be for my family, I made it a point to not check my smart phone very much. In fact, it was used mostly as a GPS device on the way to our destination and back. The only reading device I brought with me was of the paper variety (and a good one at that: 11/22/63 by Stephen King). Email was purposefully ignored. Whatever the message was, it could wait.
The phrase “Filling the Well” seems to be used often by writers and artists. My understanding is it is the process of removing outside distractions from one’s life in order to allow the mind to have new experiences and appreciate the world around us. Whole retreats and other events are hosted for this type of creative renewal.
Teachers and principals are also artists in a sense. We try to connect the known to the new and translate the complex into the concrete for our students. One of the best ways we can fill our wells and teach with consistent success and creativity is to be present as much as we can in our daily lives. For me, this means having a life outside of school and taking part in experiences that make me a more well-rounded person.
Now, I am as guilty as anyone for getting sucked into the Twitter vortex for time unending. I need periodic reminders to put down the device du jour and pay attention to what matters at the moment. Even this weekend, I checked my feed a few times and found some interesting articles and posts. But instead of reading them at that moment, I took advantage of a 21st century tool by saving those articles and posts to Instapaper to read later.
If I hadn’t been present this weekend, I may have missed a lot of important things. Like the bald eagle sitting in the middle of a barren corn field, spotted as we drove to our destination. Or the opportunity to show my kids how to use their new telescope and view the crescent moon tonight. Or even the great mission statement I took a photo of at Chuck E. Cheese’s.