Some Habits Leaders Might Want to Leave Behind

Happy New Year! We’ve made it to 2022 and we’re sneaking in, hoping it won’t notice us too much and we can have twelve months of minimal drama, lots of happiness, and great times at your school.

As we say goodbye to 2021 (and it’s hanger-on 2020, still looming around at us), let’s take a moment to think about things we might want to leave behind as we move forward.

Before we begin, please know that I LOVE educators… teachers, school leaders, system leaders, and I’m one of you, so I hope you’ll give me the benefit of honesty for this column.

As teachers and school leaders, you are amazing. You do so many wonderful things each day we can never say thank you enough. Please consider today’s suggestions as some that might even make you more amazing.

That said, there are a few things we ought to consider moving on from as we begin a new calendar year and have a moment to think about such. How did we get these habits? Well, like all habits, a little bit at a time. We didn’t set out to normalize behaviors that tend to be toxic, but over time, we have repeated them and continued to demonstrate value for them, so… here we are.

A slight disclaimer for you: like most everything, moderation is the pathway to real success. So, some of the habits mentioned above, if approached with moderation might be positive rather than toxic. It’s our frequency of getting them out of balance that necessitates their mention at this time.

And, you may be someone who doesn’t lean toward any of these toxic behaviors. To you, a hearty congratulations, best wishes in keeping it going, and a request that you spread the positive approaches you’ve learned to others.

What I’ve observed in these thirty-six years of being in education is that we tend to imitate what we celebrate, and we often celebrate these five habits, particularly in the school leader universe.

Like you I believe in hard work, in the bounties of a good work ethic, and the importance of doing one’s best. Time has taught me additional lessons in numerous ways: moderation, importance of one’s health and wellness, the power of controlling one’s thoughts, the peace that comes with choosing positivity over negativity, and the utter joy of seeing others happy and successful.

My hope is that you’ll see the following not as me being preachy (as I’ve fallen prey to all five of these toxic habits in my own journey) but as a quick look at what you might want to focus on as you move forward this week, this month, this year. We know that you lead systems, schools and classrooms, but at the core of our work in education, we lead people. They see us more than hear us, they learn their sense of how to do this work from watching us, and their future work is built upon yours. So, for you, for them, for the community that’s your school, forward we go, trying our best to do good and to do well doing it. Happy New Year.

~ MW

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