Saturday, August 24, 2019


One concept I have been pondering lately is trust. I've worked in schools before that have a good feel to them, and it is often correlated with a high degree of trust in the building. On the other hand, I've also worked in places where the culture is pretty negative, and when asked why things are a certain way, one of the first answers tends to be that there is a lack of trust between different groups. Trust is a big deal. But what do we mean when we talk about trust in this professional sense?

A couple of years ago, one of my principals talked to me about the 3 Cs of trust: caring, competence, and consistency.
*I feel like I should cite an original source here, but I don't really know where this has come from - in my life, it is from thousands of observations and conversations!

Let's break down the different components below:

Caring - Simply put, if I don't believe that you care, it's going to be hard for me to trust you. I need to know that you care about your work, about the kids that we work with, and about their families and lives. I also need to know that you care about me...not just as an employee or coworker, but as a person!

Consistent - This has to do with fairness. For me to really trust you, I need to know that you will not play favorites or act differently depending on the day. Sometimes a lack of consistency is intentional, but sometimes it's unintentional - it's unsettling when you aren't sure how a person will react to different situations! This doesn't mean that you always do things exactly the same way, but you need to have a consistent way of approaching situations, which largely comes from convictions & morals.

Competent - Even with the best intentions, if I don't think you are able to do your job well, I'm going to have trouble trusting you professionally. I need to believe that you have the ability to act on your intentions.

Transparency - This is added around the circle, because it is how we judge the three Cs. Not only is it important to be caring, consistent, and competent, you have to let people see it! Flaunting it is not the goal, and neither is oversharing - but secrecy naturally breeds suspicion. If you are open about how you make decisions and handle situations, I will be more likely to see the three Cs come out, and that leads to greater trust.

While this framework has been helpful for me in building trust, it has actually been more helpful when I feel trust breaking down between myself and somebody else. I can usually pinpoint one of these components as the reason why I'm having trouble trusting...and that helps me ask for what I need and get to a solution more quickly. On the flipside, it is a good reminder to me about developing trust, especially at this time of year when we are meeting new teachers (and students) all of the time!

Trust. An abstract concept that shapes our relationships and interactions. Do you have anything you would add to this idea drawing about trust?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

A Safe Place

Where is your safe place?

When you are having a hard day, where do you want to go "escape" to? Do you run to the bathroom? Is it your car? Do you just want to be home, or out somewhere at a special place?

Who do you pick up the phone to text or call? I know that I have certain people that I can text and say something short, like, "It's been a hard morning, please pray," and they will be there for me. I know that when I get those texts, it's not the time to ask a million questions, but a time to just be there (virtually) to provide support.

Do our kids have safe places?

The beginning of school is full of transitions and new things, and that can be overwhelming for some of our kiddos! With new teachers and classes and sometimes a new school, where is their safe place? Who can they go to? Do they have an outlet when they just need a moment to breathe?

Teachers, principals, and everyone else in schools - as we begin the year, please be willing to be a safe place for our kids. Respond with grace and compassion. Know that the beginning of the year and all of the change can trigger fear and anxiety in many students. Some will show it more than others, but they all need to know that they have a safe place at school if needed.

And for those of you who, like me, work in the central office - be a safe place for those you support. Working directly with kids every day can be emotionally draining, and sometimes we can help carry the burden that teachers feel every day, leaving our teachers with more energy to be on the front lines with our kids.

Do you have a safe place? Can you be a safe place?

I have the feeling that if we all did a little more of this, the world would be a better place ❤️.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Just Listen

I learned a lesson this week: Sometimes, you just need to create space and listen.

I learned through being on the receiving end. I had been having an issue at work, but I didn't know how to bring it up or deal with it. It was a relief when one of my leaders asked me if I wanted to talk.

This moment was the turning point of my week.

I'm reminded that, as a leader, sometimes you have to seek people out and push/prompt them a bit. I didn't want to bother anyone else, especially at this busy time of year when we are all consumed with getting schools ready for kids! Some people won't be afraid to share what's going on (ever), while others may tend to keep to themselves without prompting. A healthy practice is to create time & space to talk with people without an agenda...and then truly listen to what they have to say. I can almost guarantee it will lead to new information & insights about your team that you would not have known to ask for!

So my challenge to you today? Amidst all of the hustle and bustle, make sure you find a way to create a space to just listen this week. It will be worth it!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Blogging Break

Hello friends! I have loved posting on this blog for the past several years, and blogging has become a part of my weekly routine. At the same time, I have found myself struggling to figure out what to write more and more often. Not being in the classroom provides me with a rich new perspective, but one that is harder (and, at times, less appropriate) to share publicly.

I'm not good at saying no to things, but as we begin the new school year, I think I need to give myself permission to take a break from weekly blogging. I will still post on here as I feel inspired, and with any luck, I will actually be spending more time in schools this year, which might fuel my blogging creativity!

Allowing myself to take a break from something is never easy...but it is all a good lesson in #selfcare, right?

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Back to My Musical Roots

I still love teaching.

A few weeks ago, a friend invited me into her classroom to teach a mini-lesson about music, STEM, the physics of sound, etc. The audience was a group of rising 3rd graders. Of course, I said yes! We had a blast, and they were super engaged, so we ended up going much longer than originally anticipated. I wanted to share some of the more interactive activities we did below for my fellow musical friends - these could work well with any age, from preschool up through elementary school, or as a part of an accessible lesson for students with special needs.

Feel the Music

After playing and providing a little bit of an intro, talking about how the strings vibrate to make sound, I invited the students up to feel the vibrations while I played. Watching their faces was precious as they truly "felt" the music! Many of them also commented on how it tickled their hands :-).
*Note: This works best on cello or some larger bass instrument - I have also done it with trombone!

Learn a song!

The next step for these students was to learn a bit of a song! I used the Cabbage Song, one of my traditional beginning songs. The melody is four lines with a standard bass line, so after practicing with solfege hand symbols, I called four students over to the cello and assigned them each one line (4 notes - easy enough to memorize). They each practiced individually, and then we put it all together with me playing violin them playing the bass line, and the rest of the class doing hand symbols for the bass line!
*This, obviously, will only work with kids who are a bit older - it's probably too much for preschoolers to handle. I was a bit worried at first about taking care of the cello while it was on the ground, but they were super respectful and did great!

Play your own song!

The last interactive activity I did with the students was call them up, one at a time (if they wanted to play), and had them choose a song they wanted to try. The songs ranged anywhere from "Twinkle, Twinkle" to movie music from Moana! I taught them the very basics of how to hold the instrument (hand on the shoulder, hold the bow on the frog), and had them move the bow back and forth on one string while I did fingerings for them. This always results in a lot of laughter, because it is hard to keep the bow on one string and keep a good sound, so we get lots of *interesting* sounds! My fingering isn't always 100% accurate from this angle, either :-). Nevertheless, it is fun for the students to get the chance to "play" something that they want to play and also provides a great opportunity to talk about how hard work can pay off!


Of course, beyond these interactive moments, I played violin, talked about low and high (bigger and smaller instruments), demonstrated tuning (looser/tighter), etc. It was a great day with a great group of kiddos!

On a personal note, it was such a relief to realize that I can still go into a classroom and command the attention of a group of kids. That might sound silly, but now that I don't teach every day, I sometimes feel a little rusty! I never want to be too far removed from the day-to-day reality of teaching, and this was a great way for me to jump in with my favorite subject and just be with kids. I look forward to more opportunities like this over the course of the year! 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

#OneWord2019: COURAGE (Update)

At the beginning of 2019, as I have for the past several years, I chose my #oneword for the year: COURAGE. Being just a few months into a leadership role, it seemed appropriate for what I was working on and where I was at.


For Christmas, one of my friends gave me a bracelet. It became the symbol of my #oneword2019. If I had a big meeting or presentation that day, or if I knew I would be having a tough conversation, or if I would have to make a decision that would be hard, I would have that bracelet on. It reminded me to be courageous, but also of where my strength came from, and that there were people who believed in me and who were rooting for me. That encouragement meant the world to me, and I would often glance down or briefly touch the bracelet in the moments when I needed courage the most.

As the year has gone on, my confidence has grown, and I've found myself reaching for that bracelet less and less. I still love the bracelet and the reminder, but courage has become increasingly internalized. Although it might seem small and silly, this has been a tangible indication of my growth this year.

What have I learned?

Nothing profound, really. Just that some things are never easy. There will always be hard conversations to have. Nobody likes dealing with tough issues - not even the people who do it well. They simply have the courage to step into the arena and face them head-on.

I've also learned that, as a leader, some decisions are up to me. I can ask for advice and seek out input, but in the end, I'm the one who needs to step up and choose a direction. And sometimes it's actually more helpful when I do that, rather than leaving everybody wondering and wandering in ambiguity.

Finally, I've learned that courage and honesty and vulnerability often go hand in hand. Being courageous means being real, even when I don't have it all together.

I look forward to continuing my year of courage!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer Gratitude

I've been on a blogging break due to a 2-week vacation with my family. It was awesome! But I'm not here just to write about my vacation. Getting away for two weeks, and then returning to my job, gave me an excellent chance to reflect on this past year. More coming in another post with more of a comprehensive reflection, but today, I want to write about my some things I'm grateful for.

I'm grateful that, when I returned to work on Monday, although I may have groaned a little bit getting out of bed when my alarm went off, I was genuinely happy to be there. I like what I do!

I'm grateful for the people I work with, who share a great bond & balance of working hard, having fun, not being afraid to challenge each other's thinking, and truly caring about each other.
*Side note: I'm reading Radical Candor right now, which has some good content for leaders/bosses/managers, and I see some of the concepts there coming out in my writing today!

I'm grateful that I feel valued as a person at work. And as a worker. But as a person first.

I'm grateful that I am in an environment where it's okay to disagree, to challenge, to debate, and to question. But then, there's a commitment to making a decision and supporting it.

I'm grateful that I'm in a position where, sometimes, I can really help and make people's lives easier and better or help them realize their vision & dreams!

Bitmoji ImageI'm also grateful that I'm in a position to have really hard conversations, and hopefully deliver them with grace and compassion and empathy. I'm grateful for my coworkers who I can turn to for advice & wisdom when I need to have one of these conversations.

But most of all, I'm just so grateful to be where I am. It seems crazy, how I ended up here - but I did, and it is exactly where I needed to be this year. I think back to when I accepted the job, how nervous I was, how unprepared I felt, and how unsure I was about the decision...but it has turned out to be amazing and I can't imagine my year any other way. Pretty amazing, right?