Friday morning making a cup of coffee, the blinds were opened to another wet and grey Vancouver day. I was tired. There were a lot of meetings scheduled and it was the end of a long week at a time when stress in schools is high. For staff, it’s the feeling of pressure to cover the material they want their students to explore, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding budgets and planning for next year. For students, they are well into their final term of the school year – for many kids the stress is from the uncertainty of leaving the K-12 system which can drive some to make interesting choices; ones they may not normally make. For me, my fatigue was also compounded by my teething 6 month old daughter and her restless nights.
Before heading out the door I caught one more smile from my little girl and it brightened what had felt like was going to be a dreary day ahead. Going through the mental checklist of things I needed to do, it occurred to me that I had until the time I arrived to put my best, most positive self forward and I questioned why? Others would understand if I responded to their inquiries/pleasantries with “I’m okay”. People can’t be “great” every time you ask them can they? By not responding honestly, or by “forcing” myself into a good mood, am I being fake and presenting as someone I’m not? The more I thought about why it’s important to be a positive person, the more I was reminded that this is part of my role as a leader. If I can’t find the great in every day in our building, how can I expect others to? As leaders, we’re expected to lead by example where possible and a positive attitude is an important part of the culture we want in our schools.
Many years ago working for a resident hockey school we would get to the 9th week of the summer and remind ourselves that although we had been there for 8 previous weeks, it was the first week for the kids. This sentiment has not escaped me as I see the ebb and flow of a school year. There are times when stress rises, behaviours spike and the understandable response would be “Is it Friday yet?”. As I drove to work Friday I was reminded that this is not who I am nor who I want to be. Adults and students alike deserve a happy workplace with a positive culture. As leaders, if we don’t recognize what a great day it is to be at school – we can’t expect others to and really, every day should be the best day to be there.
When I got to school and that first question came to me – it was easy to answer – I was great! And then at the end of the day, when I arrived home, after I had unpacked my day, got through the meetings and laughed at a few of the situations that required my intervention I walked into the house. I was greeted by my wife and our daughter, cranky as that first tooth is cutting and she was still smiling. I didn’t need to fake anything – it was a great day.