3 Ways to Build the “Energy” in Your Schools

Recently, I wrote about the “3 E’s of Building a Great School Culture,” and they were as follows:

The Environment is about the space(s) around us and the “stuff” that is needed to serve students learners.

The Experience is about what we design for learning and what we empower others to create for themselves.

The Energy is what we bring in ourselves to our schools and what others help unleash in others.

Although I see all three as being of great importance, I have been focusing a lot on the “Energy” as of late.  Not only for myself but also for being a part of school openings all around North America. I have been blown away by the enthusiasm and passion in so many school districts that I have had the pleasure to be around, and I have thought about how this is maintained throughout the year.  Although “energy” is something that as individuals we should do our best to fill, we also have an impact on those around us as well.

Here are three things that I have picked up over the course of my travels this summer:

  1. Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

    I had the pleasure to connect with Superintendent David Faltys this summer, and his team of staff is incredible. I was literally crying because my heart was beating so fast feeling the passion from his district. It was incredible.

    One thing that I noticed was that although he takes serving his staff very seriously, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. His easy-going way and sense of humor, especially at his own expense, make the atmosphere extremely light and fun.

    Education is an emotionally taxing profession, and if we are serious all of the time, burnout can become more likely.  I saw this image recently, and it was a powerful reminder:

    The most influential leader in my career would always say the following to me after a hard day; “If you don’t laugh, you will cry.” She would continuously give me the reminder that a positive and fun attitude was just as contagious as the opposite, so it was always up to me to choose what I hoped other people would catch.

  2. Show appreciation to people every time it comes to your mind.

    Whether it is a colleague, our boss, a student, a parent, we often hold in our good thoughts and let loose with the bad ones.  I always make this joke about how hard the IT department has it because they never hear the comments, “Hey! The Internet worked all day today! Thanks!”  I guarantee they are exposed to the opposite sentiment ALL THE TIME!

    It takes very little energy to say something nice, but it sure can suck the energy out of people when all they hear is the opposite. Saying something kind is always free but can have more of an impact on people than you will ever know.

    Always err on the side of the positive.

  3. Always remember why you do what you do.

    There is a significant difference when I see presentations that feature media and the voice of students.  As well, on professional learning days, having students be a part of the day and/or sharing their gifts with educators, always seems to lift the enthusiasm of the room.

    A simple thing I used to do as principal when I was bogged down with paperwork or email was to simply go into classrooms to see students. It reminded me why I did the “boring work” that needed to be done.

    Remember why you do what you do.

Although this post is on how we can lift the energy of others, understand that we often lift ourselves in the process.  Energy, enthusiasm, and passion are contagious and what we do to grow that in others will most likely help it to develop in ourselves.

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