“I Thought It Was You Three!”-Adding Praise and Thanks in the Schoolhouse

My favorite track on the 1968 eponymous album by The Beatles (now affectionately known as “The White Album” due to its blanched jacket cover) is “Dear Prudence.” It is a haunting song written during the band’s sojourn in India studying Transcendental Meditation. The song has so many incredible elements embedded within it ranging from John Lennon’s emphatic vocal performance, Paul McCartney’s supportive, melodic bass lines and George Harrison searing bursts of lead guitar. The song is buttressed by a firm backbeat performed by Paul McCartney.

Wait…Paul McCartney on drums? Where’s Ringo?

He had walked away from the band.

Believing that his percussion skills were not making an impactful contribution to the band, Ringo Starr had decided to leave the band. Adding to this sudden break was the fact that Ringo was feeling like he did not belong in the band. Ringo assumed that John, Paul and George had formed a closer alliance and he was tagging along as an uninvited outsider.

Ringo decided to announce his decision to leave The Beatles individually to each member of the band. His first visit was to John. Ringo framed his decision around the fact that he felt his drumming was sub par and the other three had formed a stronger bond without him included in the mix. John’s response to his band mate was “I thought it was you three!”

The next stop was to Paul. Ringo shared the exact same sentiment about leaving that he had shared with John. Without missing a beat, Paul’s response to Ringo was identical to John’s, “I thought it was you three!”

Perhaps, fed up by the identical responses, Ringo did not bother to venture to George’s.

The band carried on without Ringo during “The White Album” Sessions. Two songs were recorded with Paul filling in on drums. Feeling musically bereft without their musical brother, telegrams of praise were sent to Ringo asking him to “come home.”

Convinced that the band truly did love him, Ringo returned to Abbey Road Studios to rejoin The Beatles and finish recording “The White Album.” Upon his arrival to the studio, Ringo was greeted with his drum kit bedecked in flowers. The band retreated to a smaller studio space to record “Yer Blues,” a raw bluesy number, with the four of them locking musical arms together.

Taking intentional time to praise and thank the ones we love is a necessary stop along our collective journeys in life. The schoolhouse must be a platform for praise and gratitude when it comes to connecting with our students, educator colleagues and families. As an educator, I have felt those “Ringo White Album Moments of Despair.” I have been through moments where I don’t know if my work as an educator is making a ripple of resonance. I also know that I have been wordless when it comes to contributing to those positive nods and words to the faces I encounter in the schoolhouse.

I learned for the first principal I served as an assistant principal the value of putting praise into action through visible and audible words of praise. Mrs. Brooks would draft a weekly memo for the staff where she made a point to thank specific individuals for a job well done. Her time in the hallways and classrooms was always filtered with audible words of gratitude and encouragement for students, teachers and staff members. This lesson made such a tremendous impact on my personal and professional life. Seeing students Mrs. Brooks transform someone’s day with a handwritten personal note or word of thanks resonated in a way that uplifted the culture of our schoolhouse.

Applying the lesson of gratitude to our daily steps in the schoolhouse is transformational for school culture. We do have remember that praise has to come from a sincere place when it comes to serving our students and each other in the schoolhouse. Praise cannot be automated and has to be tied to specific actions. It rolls even better when that praise is tied to the vision and mission of the schoolhouse.

There are many tunes to the add to the set list of praise in schoolhouse. Transform someone’s day and add value to the schoolhouse with some of these examples:

  • A handwritten note of praise and thanks
  • Create a daily or weekly blog devoted to schoolhouse heroes
  • Join in the positive Twitter shout out hashtags like #CelebrateMonday or #JoyfulLeaders and tweet out the positives in your schoolhouse community.
  • A simple word in person to someone.
  • Create your own school hashtag intended solely for the purpose of promoting the positives in your schoolhouse.
  • Flip a faculty meeting or classroom activity into a time for unabashed praise

We have all been in the role of Ringo during those early “White Album” Sessions. We feel that our own beat is off and that we are standing outside an established camaraderie. Some of our students walk along this lonely path as well. Our role as educators is to model this sincere outreach. We cannot take our positive impact for granted. It is indeed important to take intentional pause for sincere praise for each other as we serve and support students in our noble profession.

Let’s add Praise and Thanks to our set list in the schoolhouse.

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