‘Breakfast’ – Goto80 (Liquid Stranger gourmet mixture)

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

I have seen this tweet numerous times this morning. It’s been like a blaring alert, flashing in bright red letters almost. I’m taking it as a reminder for this upcoming school year for me specifically. I am going to be one half of a completely brand new administrative duo. The two of us are very like-minded in terms of creating systems and protocols to ensure our school is efficient and effective for our students, their families, and teachers. What’s more, is that in my new role, I actually get to teach 5th grade math; this has me overjoyed and ridiculously excited. Of course, I have already started preparing myself for re-entry into the classroom with researching best practices and strategies that I may have missed while I have been out of the classroom.

Then this reminder: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

I am a perfectionist to a fault. The idea of messing anything up literally haunts me at night. So naturally, I am trying to psych myself up for perfection in this new role: smooth sailing, no errors, everything in it’s place. This reminder about culture is the best reality check that I could receive at this point, because without relationships, habits, and widely accepted school-wide beliefs, my well thought out systems are as good as “fried catfish!”

I’m carrying this reminder into the new year with the understanding that as an administrator, this culture building falls on my shoulders in order for teachers to be successful. Similarly, in the classroom, this job belongs to teachers in order to empower students.

‘Nobody Compares to You’ – Gryffin feat. Katie Pearlman

So this post has been a long time coming. I originally heard this track early in the spring of this year, but of course, school got in the way. I also wanted to make sure that in creating the narrative that went along with the song was sound, and I could articulately get my point across. I feel like now I’m able, especially after coming across a powerful line in Sean Gaillard’s The Pepper Effect. He writes, “Believing that we do have a resonance is key to all of our moves in the schoolhouse as educators. The classroom is the canvas on which we paint the colors that will shade a legacy for our students.”

This spoke to me as if it was pumping through my earbuds. Gaillard, like me, finds inspiration through music. The muses he uses in The Pepper Effect are The Beatles. With this quote, he is likening the audacious potential power that educators have to the final resonating chord at the end of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Personally, I’m not a Beatles fan, nor am I familiar with the album, but the metaphor (no pun intended) still strikes a meaningful chord. I like to think of it as a bone rattling bass drop, or in the case of this Gryffin track, the opening chord progressions. They set the tone for the experience, or create impact that allows the listener to attach emotion, feeling, or meaning to the tune.

That’s us. That’s teachers. Administrators. Aides. Educators. Nobody compares to us when it comes to creating emotion, feeling, or meaning in our lessons. John Hattie states that teacher efficacy has the greatest impact on student achievement. This means that a teacher being confident in his or her strategies, abilities, and knowledge is more powerful than the positive behavior plan your school may be planning on implementing this fall, or the new reading program that you are learning about this summer. Within the mind of the teacher lies the fuel and force to make these two strategies meaningful for students.

That being said, we are charged to foster this resonance that lies within us through professional development and collaborative work that will allow us to carry our “sound.” Reading and researching best practices, analyzing trends, and digesting professional texts all help to amplify the impact that we as teachers can make on our students. Presenting at and attending conferences is also a great way to sharpen these skills. As an EdCamp Greenville organizer, I am a firm believer in the greatness that we can harness from each other. I learn so much from my EdCamp Greenville tribe, and do not take for granted the invaluable experiences that each one of them is able to share. It is through them, my professional learning community, that I am also strengthened, renewed, and affirmed.

So that sound–that resonance–be it at the end of a tour de force album, or the beginning of an awe-inspiring ballad, is within each one of us that has been called to be a teacher. The power to change a child’s life and inspire him for the future lies within us. Nobody compares to us.

‘Wish You Well’ – Sigala (feat. Becky Hill)

Another school year has come and gone, and I assume that many educators are in the same boat I am; I am leaving one assignment for another.

As I sit in my new location having just brought all of my things from my old school, I can’t help but reflect on the year and the events that brought me to where I am now. As we wish the past goodbye, it is important to reflect on the path that has been trod. What were the good things? What were the growth areas? What are the things that truly helped to mold us into the educators we currently are? As Becky Hill sings, “‘Cause honestly your loyalties, insecurities and priorities ain’t the same…” If we don’t take the opportunity to learn from our experiences, we are overlooking the most effective professional development available.

This summer, as I return to EDM, I am looking forward to assessing the past year in my administrative role as I look onward to the next. I also look forward to researching and sharing more engagement strategies, as my new role will allow me to return to the classroom teaching a section of 5th grade math.