Ever wonder what might happen if you put 5,000 educators from around the country under one roof? That’s 5,000 educators who are hungry for change, transformation, and purpose. 5,000 educators whose driving force--their “raison d’etre”--is their students. Well, folks, I’ve seen it--and it’s magic. Pure magic. Adding to the magic was how I got to be a part of this scene in the first place: this year I worked really, really, hard to help striving readers realize and reach their full potential, and, apparently, people noticed. I was honored with a 180 Educator Award from HMH and part of the recognition was the opportunity to attend the 2019 Model Schools Conference (MSC) in Washington D.C.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend, this conference highlights innovative schools and districts that act for impact using a combination of rigor, relevance, and relationships. It has experts sharing their knowledge in 100+ breakout sessions and some of the most inspiring and motivating keynote speakers I’ve ever seen. I left with renewed motivation, my purpose rejuvenated, and feeling ready to take on another school year-- yes, it was still June. Like I said...magic.
Well, I found myself taking all of this magic straight to Twitter. I couldn’t resist the urge to snap and pic and capture a quote every time I felt my bucket fill with these sparkly motivation nuggets. Coming home from the conference and already ready to relive it, I scrolled through my highlights and felt all the feels all over again. So, in case you missed it, here are my top 3 Twitter-worthy motivational quotes from the conference. I hope they inspire you as much as they impacted me.
3. “Is this not what’s best for kids?”- Dr. Matt Gutierrez, Superintendent
Dr. Gutierrez and his team from Seguin Independent School Districtoutside San Antonio, Texas presented at MSC with a “how-to” on driving change using the Collaborative Instructional Reviewprocess. This was an innovative strategy that elevated instruction across their district. During the presentation, Dr. Guiterrez was asked about how he created buy-in in his district. The questioner wondered (just like I did) how do you convince your teachers that this new innovative idea is not just another initiative with boxes to check? He responded with a simple, but powerful phrase: “Is this not what’s best for kids?”
When he said this, my eyes opened wide, I sat straight up, and felt like I need to have a giant “DUH” stamp pressed right on my forehead. The realization that every initiative, every program, and every strategy is born with positive intent with student success in mind hit me like a ton of bricks. If our job as educators is student success, I commit that when I’m feeling run down by my long list of to-dos to remind myself of my purpose and ask myself: is this not what’s best for kids?
2. “If nobody told you they loved you today, remember, I do”- Linda Cliatt-Wayman, turn around principal and author of "Lead Fearlessly, Love Hard."
Principal Wayman spoke to the conference about her experience as a turnaround principal as one of our keynote speakers. We laughed, we cried, and we heard her say these words with measured breath over and over again: “If nobody told you they loved you today, remember, I do”.
She told her students this over the loudspeaker every day because she knew there was always someone who needed to hear it. What hit me hardest though, was not the words, or her dedication to making sure her students heard them (and I mean really heardthem), but instead it was the sincerity in which she said them. I believed her--that she truly loved every one of her students. When she said she said she loved the audience, I believed her. I believed that a woman that had never met me, who didn’t know my story or my even my name, really loved me. Her purpose was so true that it could not be contaminated by behavior, discord or lack of reciprocity. I want that, I want to be like that, for my students. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. They’re worth it.
1. “Let’s do what is best for our students--not what is comfortable for adults.” -Dr. Bill Daggett, Founder and Chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education
Folks, Dr. Daggett reminded us that education is changing. He tells us it’s not enough to stand and deliver math equations or historical recounts of presidential addresses anymore. We are tasked with preparing children for the future and in the world of infinite access to information it won’t matter what they know, it will matter what they can do with what they know. At the end of the day, we as educators need to remember who this is for and accept that we may need to step outside our comfort zone in favor of doing what’s best for our kids. Dr. Daggett’s words, “Let’s do what is best for our students--not what is comfortable for adults,” are an excellent reminder that at the end of the day we have to be willing to put ourselves out there because it’s what’s best for the kids.