What’s Missing?

Throughout my years in education I’ve been to a number of conferences, connected with many respected school leaders, and I’ve read countless articles and books relating to education.  One would think that in doing so I’ve been able to pin-point exactly what it is that sparks learning in humans.  I use the word humans simply because learning is not limited to students.  The principles that apply to student learning also apply to learning in adults.  I almost always walk away from conferences, conversations, and literature with the feeling like something was missed.

It is not something that is missed on purpose.  Every conference I’ve been to has been great.  I’ve connected with many wonderful administrators and I’ve read many scholarly books and articles.  But again, it’s not missed purposely.  We take it for granted.  We believe we are already doing it.  It’s something we don’t often think about, but I’m writing today to bring it back to the forefront of our minds and hearts.  This takes us back to Life 101 (if there is such a course).

We all perform better when we feel valued.  When we feel like we are a part of something and a contributor we will automatically rise and perform better.  Simply; when we are appreciated, feel loved, and cared about we will do better.  This I believe needs to happen in all of us.  But many of us believe we are already doing it, and because so, it is often taken for granted.  As educators we say “of course we value our students.” As human beings we say “of course we value our loved ones and the people we work with.”  We say it, but do we truly do it?

How does this impact our nation’s schools?  If our students feel valued; if they have a sense of self-worth, and they know that we care for them and believe in them – they will perform better.  From there we can help shape our students into being who they want to be.  We can facilitate a culture that embraces differences, and one that exists on the primary focus that every child can achieve at high levels.  Bringing in a curriculum or program that is proven to maximize learning for all will not be successful if our students do not feel valued.  The opposite can also happen when you have people engaged, appreciated, and valued; they can take a “not-so-great” program and turn it into something really special.

You can bring in any program you want.  Bring in technology.  Bring in Project-Based Learning, personalized PD, anything you want.  Learning begins with self-worth and purpose.  Learning is kick-started when people believe in us, and it’s not just a thought that shows it.  Rather it’s an action that ignites it.   We can begin maximizing the world in which we live simply by believing in each other and (in the education world) believing in our students.   Learning Starts With

So please don’t take this for granted.  Do not let your thoughts cloud your actions.  Make it a priority to create relationships with people.  Not only will it lay the foundational building blocks for learning in our schools, but it’s the best indicator of a successful work environment and organization.  Value the people that you live with and work with. Give praise and appreciation every day.  Have conversations with people and be empathetic to their thoughts.

Instead of thinking we already do this, lets make it a priority to put our thoughts to action every single day.  Imagine a world in which every human being feels valued and appreciated and they feel this because of the actions of those around them.  Let’s high-five our way to a better world and let’s start today.

Superintendent Jordan (@Supt_Jordan)

Liked this blog?  Here are a couple of others you may find worthwhile.

Missed Opportunities

The Purpose of Sport

The Not Perfect Blog Post


One thought on “What’s Missing?

  1. Casey Bentz

    Your thoughts on this are so so true. One of the things I want to share with you is what has changed me. I think one of your parents talked to you about NHA(Nurtured Heart Approach), Amber. The name does not give it justice because it seems like its about fairy dust and hugs but its not. It is truly about a way of life. I really feel that the Bismarck school system could benefit from the approach. I know a lot of the Fargo school systems use it and also Wahpeton. What you talk about in your post is what NHA refers to as Inner Wealth. When we feel wealthy on the inside we make better choices and decisions. So how to we build Inner Wealth?? 1. You need to take your energy and emphasis off the negative. When a child brings home the report card of 6 A’s and 1 D. Which gets the emphasis? When a child is sitting in church. Has been sitting quiet for 20 min but starts being disruptive for 2min, when do you give your attention. When staff member comes on time for her shift 15 times but then is late 1, when do we respond and give the out time 2. Relentlessly recognizing people/children for the things they do right. Teaching the rules when they are not being broken. We usually teach our kid about things like respect, kindness, generosity when they aren’t doing them. For example… we wait until children are slapping each other to let them know that they are being disrespectful. When maybe sometime that day the kids were sharing their toys and we could have taught them how respectful they were being by sharing. Kids and people in general get way more energy out of us when they are being negative/naughty than being good. We are fairly boring when things are going well. We give a lot of good jobs, thank you’s, ect. But when things are going wrong we have a whole laundry list of ways to explain how bad they were being.3. Lastly Clarity is the third component. Rules, boundaries and consequences need to be clear. In NHA we like to use a basketball game. The Referee(teachers, parents, ect) need to know the game and the rules. The calls need to be consistent or else the game is chaotic fans, players, coaches go crazy. Every toe out of bounds has to be counted out. The ref can say well I am going to give you a warning this time but next time you will be out. Confusion!!! Just like if you give kids warnings when the break a rule.

    This to me doesn’t just go for how we deal with kids. It how we deal with life. We are using this approach to deal with difficult clients but that’s not all. This is how we are dealing with our coworkers and our staff as well. Let me know if you want more information. I really love NHA and love sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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