Some Days are Mediocre, but Not Today

“I’m just mediocre.”  I overheard her say. “Yes, I’m good at a few things but not great at anything.”  

WHAT?

I’m supposed to do something that would change her mind.  

I’m supposed to help her find her greatness.

I’m her mother for goodness sake.  

And then the tv flashed news of the college entrance scandal.  Parents doing whatever it took to make the world see their child as something other than mediocre.  

At that point, I realized it’s okay to be average some days.  Average is nothing to be ashamed of. Average is what the world makes all decisions about.  Heck, they spend thousands of dollars every year doing a census to find out what our country’s averages are. Related image

And then she did something not average.  

She went and planned a week for her peers and the students at my school.  

A whole week of spreading ‘niceness’.  Image result for a week to spread good vibes

A whole week of being anything but mediocre. 

DUDE. be nice Week was born.  A time to change the routines of our lives and focus on devoting ourselves to spreading ‘niceness’ in our schools and communities.  

Too often school programs designed for positive change focus on ‘ANTI’ something-

But not this week.

This week was all about being  ‘FOR’ nice.

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So my girl started planning.

She planned for us to have conversations about what ‘being nice’ truly meant, activities that promoted niceness and ultimately provided an opportunity for her peers and 10 and 11-year-olds to take a lead in their school and community.  

Not mediocre.

Each day we focused on a different area of ‘niceness’.  

Dude. be nice

Dude. be kind

Dude. be thankful  

Dude. be grateful

and

Dude. Be willing

We wrote notes of gratitude, said something nice, learned a new name, appreciated those around us, and sat by someone new at lunch.  

Not your average week at school.

So today sweet girl, I’ll let you say you are average, mediocre, common, ordinary, everyday adequate.  

Because some days you are EXTRAORDINARY!

 

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Leading Leaders

I get to do this really cool thing at my school.

I get to lead leaders.

I know right?!?!  Best job EVER.

We started this little thing three years ago and it has quickly grown to 286 kids.

Yes, you heard that right…2-8-6!

This has been a blessing and a challenge.

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How do you personally become invested in every child if you are serving 286 of them? How do you make an impression that will stick with them?  How do you do enough so when they walk away after a year (or two), they know that you will be cheering for them for the rest of their lives?

Well, the first question is easy to answer.  I get to know them.  (duh?)

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I stand in the hall with them.

High five them,

Eat lunch with them,

Ask about their new dog or cat,

Listen when they want to talk,

Hug them when they are sad or when they are celebrating,

and frankly, I just enjoy being around them.

Now on to the next question.  How do you make an impression that will stick with them? This one is a little more difficult.  First, did you know that 5th and 6th graders sometimes have the same attention span of a gnat? Y’all – kids are entertained by everything they pick up.

So I dress up.

I show videos.

I’ve set up obstacle courses,

breakout boxes

and zip line in front of them.

Our school spends a little time starting to understand and practice the 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey.   The Lighthouse Team though takes these principals and works to use them more efficiently to reach a goal of making a positive impact on our school, peers, staff, families, and community.  This year, after carefully searching many leadership gurus articles (or maybe reading a couple of really great post on Twitter), I added 12 more qualities of a GREAT leader.  

 

They don’t panic, plan ahead, express gratitude often, delegate and communicate, think positively, speak responsibly, are honest, make other people better, are confident, keep learning, develop listening skills and are committed to something bigger than themselves.

Each month we focused on three and did different activities to make them “sticky”.  (Some of the activities were literally sticky, like the speak responsibly lesson when we tried to put the toothpaste back into the tube.)

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Now for the hard one…How do you do enough so when they walk away after a year (or two), they know that you will be cheering for them for the rest of their lives?

Let’s face it, life for 5th and 6th graders is no longer a playground.  It can sometimes seem even a little like a jungle. Positive Character traits are something we can and should develop in children. Most experts would agree that these traits are love or caring, respect for life, honesty or trustworthiness, responsibility, justice, and fairness.  But in Lighthouse, we believe one of the greatest of these traits is unity.

 

So, as leaders on our campus, the student’s wear a shirt with our motto as a constant reminder of the importance of their example to others.

It states:

I am a lighthouse rather than a lifeboat, I do not rescue but instead help others find their way to shore, guiding them by my example.   

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Good huh?  Yes, I kind of like it too.

You guys, they are leading!! Leading in our classrooms, hallways, and cafeteria.  They are shining their light as an example to others!! Through determination to learn more about themselves and be such an important part of our campus, they have made a difference.  

That’s how you know you’ve done ENOUGH.  

I get to be with these 286 kids every day!  They know I will be cheering for them because I show them I will, every day.

I have the BEST job in the world!

Paula Brownlee said, “To do good things in the world, first you must know who you are and what gives meaning to your life.”

This one gives me meaning.  Yes, I get to lead my own niece.

I adore her and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

We were winning today!

Y’all,  I’m done.

I’ve been testing for three days.

I’ve been encouraging, energetic, and engaging.

I’ve monitored, mapped and made sure directions were read.

I’ve watched, waited, and walked.

I’ve said things like, “You can do this.”  “I’m proud of you.”  “I can’t answer that. Do the best you can do.”

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Today alone, I watched two of my friends practically do headstands in their chairs.  One friend who sat on the floor the whole time. And another that by 8:34 had eaten his lunch and three snacks that his mom had packed.

But we were winning!!

887a4083153b0cfcc031ab211954e7eeNo one cried today.

No one threw up on their test today.

No one said after the first two questions, “Mrs. Price, I don’t think we learned this stuff this year.”

So, yes, we were winning!

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Someone smiled.

Someone held the door open for a stranger.

Someone shared their lunch.

Someone said, “This is so easy.”

Someone laughed at a part of a passage.

Someone asked a boy if he was okay.

Someone gave me a high five.

Someone said they were sorry.

Someone asked if we could gather books for a school in India.

Someone even thanked me for giving them the test.

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So we won today kids and I’m so glad these three days are over.

PS:  I would like to talk to a few people in Austin about this testing idea and how it is not working.  It’s not making education better.   It’s not growing leaders or teaching children of all races how to get along or how to be involved in something bigger than yourself.  

Which I know is the most important work I do!

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Testing…We out!