What’s Your Why?

One of the first questions that we as educators are often asked is, “Why do you do it?” In fact, at some point each of us has heard something like, “How neat that you get summers off!” or “Wow, you must love having the same breaks as your kids.” The image of public schools, and educators, is often so negatively portrayed in the media and within certain groups that it can be difficult for those outside of public ed to understand why we do what we do.  This year, our Superintendent issued a challenge — for each of us to identify, know, and own our WHY.  My principal and I asked our staff to engage in this same individual process, thinking about and naming their own truth. Defining their why. We then took it a step further, and created our own campus mission – our big belief.

The next day, I thought about my own “why” and began developing my own mission statement. This process was really valuable to me as it led me to uncover truths, identify a few of my purposes, and ultimately, to define my own personal mission statement.

The first thing I did was brainstorm the types of things that are Assistant Principal-ish.  Who am I assisting? How am I assisting them? If I’m providing a service, who are my customers and what does that service look like? Where are my opportunities to create those big “moments“?

I drew this bubble map:

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 11.16.13 AM

Then I started identifying those whom I serve:

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 11.27.24 AM

I put “relationships” in the center because I have learned that you can plan to serve and support all day long, but without building relationships you are just sort of shooting in the dark. That is perhaps the best lesson I have learned and for those of you like me who are more “thinkers” than “feel-ers”…please take this advice! You need to make a conscious effort to activate the right hemisphere of your brain and step out of your comfort zone….really work on building great relationships because that is where everything begins.

Okay, back to my process. It didn’t really look this tidy at first. My brainstorm involved thinking about action words like serve, support, lead, develop, build.  Then, I just started putting ideas and actions together into various statements until what I feel in my heart, what inspires me, what jumps out at me and says, “Here! This is You!” came to be.

why1Some of the things I really hold onto are:

My teacher heart

Exhibiting loyalty

Keep confidences

Offer  Seek Out opportunities to serve

Remain a learner

Be present and positive

So with my actions, my inspirations and thinking about my role, here is what finally emerged from the mess:

To build vibrant relationships with all members of my school community so that I can provide significant customer service that supports top-notch teaching and learning every day.

I like this because it is clear, direct, and fairly succinct. In preparing to write our own mission statements, we watched the video below. It really help to narrow my focus:

I am excited about this year and finding ways to “live into” my personal mission statement. It is a great activity for teachers too, and imagine if a class wrote it’s own mission statement! That would create such ownership in students. I think it might even be neat to write a mission statement as a family.  What about you? Have you written a personal mission statement? If so, please share it in the comments below and if not, I hope this reflection inspires you to begin the process.

Wishing all a “wonder-FULL” school year!

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