There are many things I learned being a principal for ten years. Many lessons though, I thought at the time, were related to specific situations and not indicators of my holistic beliefs on teaching, learning, children, or the world in general.
With that said, during my time in the schoolhouse, I had some terrible experiences; telling a child their parent was dead, dealing with rape, loss of a student, having to bear witness to educational malpractice because you can’t just “fire” poor teachers…just to name a few.
With each of these experiences, emotion was central to my ability to handle them with the care needed. For so many years, even still today, I tried to hide the fact that I’m passionate, deeply passionate about life. I cry when bad things happen to children, I become enraged when I see a teacher mistreating a student, I smile deeply when a child hugs me tightly and said I miss you, Dr. Nixon. It’s who I am.
That passion, is my truth. My ability to blend mind and soul everyday led me to be able to put words to one aspect of what I believe is the key to great schools. We have to have teachers and leaders who don’t just LIKE children, but LOVE and care for children. They understand that no learning takes place until children feel safe, secure, and cared for; that kindness and compassion are traits you can’t see on a resume but shine brightly in the classroom of the best teachers.
I see care and love for children as allowing them to question the world (Daddy where’s your lap go when you stand up? Via @jonharper70bd) without a second thought, allowing them to create and understand the world in the ways they learn best, to understand that helping a child to grow is not an easy task but one worthy of the effort required each and every day, that sometimes doing what is right means breaking ALL the rules.
My current role in education has me behind a desk and not in direct contact with children. However, my passion continues to run deep. For me, the more folks who embrace education as a PERSONAL calling as well as a profession and not just a job, the more we will see our children grow and their minds expand with limitless knowledge. But maybe that’s just me….