A couple of weeks ago, I was in attendance at yet another meeting. In this case, it was a required Title I Meeting. This particular meeting demanded my presence away from my school. I was an hour away. An hour away from connecting in real time with the people whom I serve led me to a path towards reflection. I felt removed in a room full of other school leaders and educators. I was missing that buzz occurs when things are happening within a schoolhouse: the teachable moment, the smile on a student’s face when mastering a concept, the invitational wave of a teacher as I walk into a classroom. The isolation I was experiencing in this particular meeting marinaded in my mind and I began to seek space for connecting back home. Simply put, I wanted to be present in the positive moments occurring in the schoolhouse.
My role as principal requires me to present for many obligatory meetings. Now, all meetings are not necessarily a walk along the precipice of disaster, but this one felt like a barrier to my purpose as an educator.
In fact, I was feeling somewhat homesick for the school I serve. I wanted to be there and feel the synergy of our school community. I wanted to experience the inner groove of teaching and learning in our school. Meetings are important, but being present with my community is essential to my role as a lead learner.
Leading is service: That’s the core of my philosophy as a principal. To me, service means connecting meaningfully with the people I serve, and that’s one of my joys as a principal. On any given day, I can visit a classroom filled with collaboration and creativity. I have had the privilege of observing students engaged in a myriad of activities, from coding for a social studies research project to creating masonry monuments for an interdisciplinary unit on the Holocaust.
My mind was wandering to those moments during this meeting. Missing the joy of the schoolhouse, I reached for my phone and sent out this message to my staff via Remind:
What followed was a cascade of positive tweets from an amazing team of #EduHeroes at John F. Kennedy High School. Although I was not physically present, I felt a sense of connection to the community—and this all started with a simple Remind message that all of our teachers at JFK received.
If you visit my office, you will be greeted by a doorplate with my name engraved along with my school role. Alongside the title of “Principal” is my true role: “Lead Learner.”
It is my role to model, challenge, and encourage learning in the schoolhouse. That role demands for me to stay connected to the beat of the schoolhouse, even if being visible means moving beyond the wall of an office or meeting.
There are many tools that support the virtual connectivity we all need as educators, and Remind is one of the entry points that helps me stay connected and within the moment as a lead learner. I am grateful for the flexibility and ease Remind provides to support my efforts to stay connected with my school community. I am more grateful for the return Tweets I received showing the positive and meaningful things occurring in our school. For I am proud to be a small part of the inspiration happening for our kids at JFK. One simple text can be a game changer.