Thursday, July 28, 2016

An Open Invitation

To all of the people who don't spend their days (and nights) in classrooms and schools:

When I opened up my Momentum screen this morning, my daily quote was so fitting: "Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love."  After listening to people talk recently, both nationally and locally, about what is best for our schools and what is best for our students, I have to admit, I'm not really feeling the love.  But I am going to try and take the high road.

So this is my open invitation.  Come to my school.  Walk through the hallways.  Sit in the cafeteria and talk with the students.  Play four square on the playground with kids.  Plop down on the rug in a kindergarten classroom.  Examine seeds under a magnifying glass with some 4th graders.  Sit shoulder to shoulder with a student and read a book.  Get your hands messy solving and erasing and trying again to solve a math problem on the whiteboard.  Be the one to give a child a tissue when they are crying in your arms.  Watch a teacher stop a lesson and problem solve a disagreement among a group of students.  Come to my school, and spend more than five minutes in the front lobby.  Come to my school, not to meet with me and hear me tell you about our struggles and our successes, but to see the teachers and students in action.

To those of you who think you know what is best for our students, to those of you who share your opinions about education and needs, this is my invitation to you.  Come spend two weeks in my school.  Watch staff come in early and stay late and come back again and again, fueled by coffee, candy and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of children.  Spend two full weeks, not two hours or two minutes, but two weeks watching the work, the struggle, the celebrations, the learning, the mess ups, the laughs and the tears, the dedication.

Then, after those two weeks let's talk about what our students and our schools need.  I will be more than happy to listen to people who don't spend their days (and nights) in classrooms and schools tell me what our staff and students need after they have lived for a little bit in this business of education. You can look at data and charts and numbers, but that is not where the real story is.  The real story is happening and ever-changing every single day when our students walk through the doors and we do our best with whatever resources we have, don't have, purchase with our own money or borrow from another school that is in the same boat.  I am going to include an amazing video clip that a principal friend of mine from Illinois shared with me last night.  (Yep, there are principals in every state, every town, all over, who are doing their best to guide their staff and lift up their students even when others keep telling them that it's not enough.)  Take 5 minutes to listen to what this guy is saying.

As an educational leader, I am discouraged and trying to not listen to the voices of those who are not educational leaders.  I know what I am doing and continue to do is worth it.  I know what educators are doing and trying to do is worth it.  Our students deserve for us to give our all to them everyday, but those outside voices can and do knock us down.  I am reading a great book called Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney.  Here's a powerful line from the book: "We have the power to tear down or build up the children who walk into our lives everyday."  Unfortunately, in this crazy mixed up system of policies and regulations, all of those people who don't spend their days (and nights) in classrooms and schools, they have the power to tear down or build up the educators who teach our children.

Please, come to my school.  As this guy in the video says, come see us teach "chemistry and character, decimals and decency, grammar and grit."  Come spend two weeks within our walls and then let's talk about what we need to do.

An Educational Leader Trying to Do What's Best for Kids


  1. Liz - Jamee shared this post with me. So powerful!! Thank you for being a voice, a cheerleader, and a realist!! I so admire your conviction and leadership skills. I can't wait to see if someone takes you up on your offer and look forward to reading more of your posts! Truly inspiring.

    1. Thanks Christine. And I admire your dedication to education as well!