Honoring the Moment

by Beth Houf

As educators, we tend to take information in at breakneck speed. Our brains are constantly on overdrive and it feels as though there are at least twenty tabs open at any given moment. I had the privilege to serve as a facilitator for our state leadership academy’s outdoor leadership experience this past week. From Wednesday to Saturday, I spent my time in the Missouri woods. In 75 hours, eleven strangers became lifelong friends. Truly an amazing experience that will never be forgotten. The days were filled with team building, experiential education activities, rock climbing, rappelling, orienteering, canoeing, journal making, reflection, campfires and an eleven mile hike where participants had to use compasses and maps to find 13 markers in the forest. My co-facilitator and I were tasked to teach specific leadership tools through the experience while ensuring both physical and emotional safety of each participant.

Filling the Toolbox

  • Articulate the Plan (Does everyone know the plan?)
  • Shared Mental Model (Does everyone know what the plan looks like?)
  • Phantom Rules (Have we made up rules that could hold us back?)
  • Rule of Three (Trying a plan three times before changing often increases likeliness of success)
  • Rule of Thumbs (Building consensus-thumbs up means fully support, thumbs sideways means I can live with it, but not completely on board, thumbs down means I do not support the idea and have questions that need to be answered before moving on. Any thumbs down means we continue working on the plan/idea)
  • Failing Forward (Do we learn from our mistakes to propel us forward?)

Each initiative was brought back to parallel the work we do each day in our buildings. The connections were definitely powerful. Although I’ve facilitated for several years, I’m always amazed at how much I learn with each group. Our participants developed norms for our time together. Most of these were the traditional norms we see in education, but one was developed that stuck with me…Honoring the Moment. WOW! How often do I forget to do this?!? While this was specific to our time together in the woods, this norm hit home for me. How often do I honor the moments that are happening around me? How often do I instead race from moment to moment until they each become a blur?

As educators, it seems as though we work to honor the moments for so many others. But can we say the same for ourselves? More often than not, I spend more time taking care of everything but myself. This experience reminded me of several things:

  • Slow down, breathe, smile
  • Feed the body, feed the soul–be purposeful in my wellness habits
  • It’s going to be ok–spend less time worrying about what could go wrong and let people work through solving problems with your support
  • Love your people–relationships matter
  • Email can wait
  • Text messages can wait
  • Social Media can wait
  • Family and self-care can not wait.

My time in the woods also had significant connections for me to the current #IMMOOC (http://immooc.org/) that I have been participating in this month. Connecting with educational trailblazers such as George Couros, Katie Martin, Tara Martin, Jo Boaler and Alice Keeler as well as all of those that have contributed via the hashtag has helped me to reflect on my own practices and work for continual improvement. The blog prompt for this week that grabbed my attention was what is one thing that you used to do in education that you no longer do or believe in? Why the change?

I used to think I had to do it all as a leader. I used to think that anything less than that was not acceptable. Always the first to get to school and last to leave. Always accessible to everyone at anytime. Now I realize that shared leadership is a much more valuable tool. If I am the only one that can truly support and help, sustainability will never happen. Building the leadership skills in our staff and students (and parents) has to be an utmost priority, all the while still supporting each of them. When I am doing everything for everyone, I rob them of building their own self efficacy. I also rob myself of truly honoring the moments that are happening around me.

The challenge I pose in this post is to share ways you can honor those moments that can go by in a blur. What suggestions do you have for educators to slow down and close of few of those open tabs in their brains? What can you intentionally do to make this a reality for yourself? For your staff? For your students? Please share your thoughts and ideas to the #LeadLAP hashtag. Shelley and I can’t wait to see all of the amazing ideas from our PLN to help us all honor the moments that happen each day.