Living our lives with humility.  What does this really mean?  In a world where we can tell and show everyone our daily happenings and receive feedback on every experience, it can be  easy to forget it isn’t about us.  Without intention, we can make it about us.  I know this from experience.  I write this blog, I post lots on Facebook and I enjoy a life that truly feels amazing most days.  When I talk about my work as a school improvement coach, my intention is to share my learnings with others.  It isn’t to make it about me…however… I fear that we are all guilty of this at times.  Sometimes, we need little reminders about why we do what we do. And, here is how that happened for me this week…

I was given this t-shirt in Arkansas.  As you can see, it says, Remember Your Why. The district I am working in, Dollarway School District, has several different ways of expressing their work and Remember Your Why is one of those messages. fullsizeoutput_f11 As I left the school with the t-shirt, I started thinking about what it really meant and why it was such an important message for the educators in that district.

In the schools I work, we spend great amounts of time discussing practices and processes that we know will make a difference in the school.  Lots of this work focuses on discussions with teachers and leaders about how to create change and opportunities.  There are lots of books to read, Powerpoints to view and data to analyze.  Money is spent and educators give up the most precious thing, time in their classrooms, to learn together.

In most schools, all of this pays off.  Teachers figure out what is best and they do the right work.  They create the school that they want to see and they impact change.  But, sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if we all forget the why.  The ONLY reason I should hit the road every week to work in schools is to create success for students.  The synergy and commitment of teachers and school leaders has to be because of their students.  The only talk that should matter is about the students. They have to be present with us at all times. The absolute why of all of our work is students.

If we are going to remember our why, what should that look like and sound like in your school or district?  How do you work with this intentional purpose every single day?  Most importantly, what actions do you need to change to realign your work?  If you are being honest, do you work for the students or do we move away from this and make it about the adults? About us?

I challenge you this week to address this head on.  If you work in a school or district, or do what I do as a consultant, reconnect with your why. For a few days, listen to how few times your conversations, your plans, your advice is about students. If they are not part of your discussions, your focus, then it is time to reconsider what your work is about.

I was humbled by the gift of the t-shirt. I recognize that it is a great reminder for me that I must hold dear to my heart. This work is about student improvement not “school” improvement.  It is about moving students, not moving schools. It is about students having great days filled with learning, not you or me, as the adults, having a great day. It doesn’t matter how many posts I make or tweets I send about my work or even what I write here, it really is about what I do when I am in a school each and every day to make a difference. To authentically work in my schools, with humility, I can never forget my why. And, I don’t believe any of us can if we want the very best for our students.  Make it the very best student-centered week that you can! See you next Saturday.



3 thoughts on “Humbled

  1. Excellent remarks, Karen. Your message reminds me of my first superintendent and former colleague of yours…Marilyn Adams Smith. She invited her staff to challenge her on system decisions with the question “tell me how it’s good for kids”.


  2. This is right on and so well written. Thank you, Karen and Dollarway School District for helping all of us remember our WHY.


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