Scott Wolfe, Principal and Co-founder, North High School, Denver, Colorado.
This summer, I had the opportunity to read the book Wonder by Raquel Palacio. I usually read lots of leadership books and not much fiction, but I couldn’t put this book down! I loved the multiple perspectives this book was told from and the heart that each character showed as kindness was seen in each individual. I encouraged my entire staff to read this book and we will see what discussions result from this.
I then took 10 of my team leaders on a retreat where we built amazing connections with each other. I have been on retreats and engaged in leadership experiences in the past, but never with a team that I would work with again. We shared our personal lifeline stories, had a “clearing” session where we shared anything on our mind that we needed someone to know about working with them, and we made commitments to each other. The trust that was built through this experience definitely laid a solid foundation for this year. This was all based on the book the Five Dysfunctions of a Team which you should read if you get a chance - it’s a fast read.
One of my commitments was to see through the eyes of all who I work with to connect with the heart. This will be challenging for me because I am often very transactional with my work since our students don’t have time to waste. Reflecting this summer though, I have realized that a component of my job that is challenging for me is the soul care that I must provide for my staff so that they can best support their students. As a part of this work, I will be having all of my staff share their stories with each other and we will catalogue these so they can be accessed at any time. At the core, we are all amazing people, but our work can get in the way of us recognizing this. If we have relationships with each other, I believe that anything is possible.
As school leaders, we have one of the most challenging jobs that exist. With this opportunity, comes great responsibility to care for the hearts of our teams. We also need to make sure we are being taken care of so that we can take care of others. Academics are important in education, but more importantly, we must develop global citizens who maximize their lives to bring out the best in the world.
We all engage in hard work. More importantly, we engage in heart work.