Laughter is the best medicine. I try to laugh as much as I can, but nothing has made me laugh as hard as I did when we went on April vacation to "Jaxson's," which is apparently the home of the Jumbo Sundae for the last 60+ years. So when in Rome....you buy the Jumbo Sundae, right? We went for it, but apparently they fit the many layers of ice cream into a tall cup, not a bowl, so with the layers of caramel on top, we had a giant mess on our hands. Connor and I went to a far table outside and proceeded to get chocolate and caramel everywhere, on our hands, in my hair, on his shirt, across the table, up our arms, dripping on the floor: you get the picture. At the tables next to us were some older couples who you could tell that this was not their first rodeo at Jaxson's and they had chosen simple one scoop cones and they soon caught wind of the mess we were encountering. If any of you are Paddington Bear fans, it was akin to when he would get in his marmalade sandwich messes. That was us; it was a scene beyond scenes and everyone around us had comments such as "How you doing with that sundae?" "It's certainly hard to eat that all before it melts, huh?"
Why do I tell this story? We laughed and laughed, at the mess of it, and the ridiculousness of the size of the sundae and the buckets of caramel stuck to all parts of our body. We laughed that I went there to help, and ended up getting it in more places. At one point Connor said, "I thought you were going to help me clean this up and look at how you have it all over you!"
As we are in the midst of MCAS craziness, how can we recreate the laughter of the jumbo sundae debacle? In our attempts to keep order (which is a big part of what we need to do when managing schools and classrooms), how can we enjoy the messiness that comes with working with students? In our moments when we may feel stress, how can we take a moment for ourselves to smell the flowers, smile, and laugh?
This past vacation week, I actually took the week off and tried to disconnect for a few days. In fact, disconnecting allowed me to connect in new ways. It gave me more time to connect with family and friends. It allowed for more time to connect with nature. It also allowed me a moment of pause to reflect, which led to many connections of thoughts, goals, and plans for the future. I'm hoping you all had some time to reflect, disconnect, and then reconnect to what is important.
As we head into the last two months of school, everything begins to accelerate as we squeeze in our remaining testing, our field trips, and our end of year events. It is time to double-down in our efforts and put in a strong finish, as powerful as the strong start we had this year. Here are three challenges to consider.
1. Set goals. What do you want to accomplish between now and the end of the year. What do you hope to do next year? Challenge yourself to keep growing and learning with the same enthusiasm as the beginning of the year.
2. Stay engaged. There are endless opportunities to engage in school and district conversations, to attend student events, and to share with your colleagues. Challenge yourself to stay engaged for it all.
3. Have fun. I always tell my kids that I loved school so much, I decided to stay in school and work in schools for my career. Why? Other than the obvious reason of making a positive difference for students, school can be really fun. Keep the fun going and enjoy the sacred opportunity you have to work with students every day. Challenge yourself to laugh often with your students.
This past weekend I saw the movie "Ready Player One," which I really enjoyed, mostly because my boys were enthralled by all of the gaming world references and action, but I also loved the nonstop references from movies and pop culture of my own childhood mixed in. Despite being an entertaining movie, what was really noticeable was that everything that was in this future did not seem like science fiction, but rather a future we are rapidly approaching, one with Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence dominating. It was clear that much of the movie, was the potential future for our students. I recommend you take a look at one of the following articles from the World Economic Forum listed below and think about our challenge of creating environments for our students that prepare them for a workplace that looks very different from the one we entered 20 years ago as we approached the 21st century. It is time to reimagine our 21st century skills for a new future of work.
8 Futures of Work
The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What it means and how to respond?