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Whose Banner Are You Carrying?

Sometimes life has a funny way of delivering what I call “reminder letters” as a way to not only encourage us to take time to self-reflect, but to also remind us that we are all responsible for carrying the banners for others; whether it be for our students, teachers, schools, our family or our community.  

Well, the mailman delivered today in so many ways I felt inspired to write about it
I had the good fortune of starting my day by meeting with a former teacher in our district @benedriscoll. He stopped by to visit with me about our Home Visit program and during our visit he informed me that he had just been offered an assistant principal position at the middle school where he was working.  As he shared his story about the interview process, I felt a sense of excitement come over me; the kind that causes the hairs to rise up on your arm.  Ben’s energy, passion, and excitement were evident as he spoke about his students and his school. But it was the following comment that moved me. “I told the superintendent that I was ready to be an assistant principal, that I wanted to be a leader at that school because I felt like many other people who worked there only did so until they could move on to another school.  I told him I wanted to be there and not anywhere else.” What was so refreshing about Ben’s comments was how he talked so positively about the school, the students, and the staff that currently was in place. “We are young,” he said, “but the staff that is there really believes in the kids and want to be there.” 
So often when we are working in a school which is viewed by some as challenging, it is easy to fall into the trap of talking negatively about our school.  Our energy is spent on complaining about the kids, the parents, lack of resources, the administration, mandates, etc.  What is lost in the translation is that others are not only listening, but also taking the same message and transferring it to others in the school community. Over time, these negative comments can become very damaging and begin to unfairly label a school as a poor performing school with low morale, a negative environment, or worse yet, a school culture that doesn’t care about kids.  By not carrying the banner for our schools in a positive light, we begin to lose our sense of pride, our identity, our desire to invest in our community.  Ben’s words reminded me of how important is to always be ambassadors for our organizations so that our message is always one of commitment and solidarity.
A few days ago I was touched by a post written by @KleinErin. In her post she described in detail the following interaction that we had at #ISTE13.

However, after dinner, we sat down with a few of our friends and began discussing what makes our schools so special.  I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be surrounded by people you admire sharing positive ideas.  So often, it seems like people get together and discuss what isn’t working… even if their intention is to be positive and constructive.  However, our focus this evening was only on the good and how we could adopt the awesomeness of what each other were doing to bring back to our own practice.

When I saw what she had shared in writing, I felt proud that I had carried our school’s banner in a positive light.  By doing so, it then led to Erin carrying the banner for our school as well in her post.  We cannot underestimate the powerful impact that speaking positively about our organization can have not only on the culture, but the people who work in that environment as well.  Through Erin’s post the message about our school will now reach out to thousands of her followers across the globe.
The news that Rita Pierson passed away unexpectedly today hit me hard. Just a few months ago, Rita delivered a powerful message for Ted Talk, sharing a passionate message about how every child deserved to have a champion.  As a principal who believes that every child deserves an opportunity to be a part of something great, Rita’s heartfelt message moved me and inspired me to write a blog “Leaders Sit on the Front Porch.”  You see, Rita was carrying the banner for not only her school, but for her community, for TED and most importantly, for ALL kids!  Our profession lost a great one today.
Tonight, I was finally able to go back and watch @adambellowclosing keynote from #ISTE13 – “You’re Invited to Change the World.”  Wow! What an amazing and uplifting talk.  As I sat and watched Adam’s talk, I was filled with an emotional flood of positive energy.  I felt Adam’s presence as he carried the banner for his children, his family, his former students and schools, for all teachers…for all educators. I only wish I could have been in the audience to feel his passion and be a part of carrying the banner with him. Imagine the path the banners he championed for at #ISTE13 will take over the next few months as his message is viewed over the internet thousands of times.  What a powerful and positive message!
And just about the time I was getting ready to turn in for the night, I received a tweet from my colleague and newly hired Dean of Students @ColinWikan that read:  

I just posted my first blog! Be gentle!!  Thank you @casas_jimmy  colinwikan.blogspot.com

To say I was proud would be a huge understatement. I was not only genuinely touched, but moved by his “reminder letter” about the courage, fortitude, resiliency and high degree of positivity it takes sometimes to carry the banner for others when it seems like your time will never come.  It is in these moments where true leaders rise above and make their impact.
What a great time it is to be an educator.  If we have learned anything at all from Rita’s passing it is that our time on this earth is short and precious. While we are here, let’s all commit to make the most of it by carrying the banner for others. By doing so, as Adam Bellow shared, we can change the world together. 
Be the Change!
What you notice, give attention to, talk about, get all worked up over emotionally is what you are inviting into your life, whether you mean to or not. – Catherine Ponder

Comments
  • benjamingilpin
    4 years ago

    Jimmy,

    Your post absolutely nailed it! “Who’s Banner are you carrying?” Whether you are a teacher, administrator, student or parent are you sharing the positives or focusing on the negatives? “it’s easy to fall into the trap of talking negatively…” This is so true, these negative comments damage the school, the community and the the people in the school. I always get sad when I hear a student say they “hate” school or they just want to go home. This same sadness occurs when I hear employees gripe about, “one more thing.”

    Your message reaffirmed many beliefs for me. It is vital that we carry the banner for our schools and especially our students. Thanks for posting, inspiring way to begin my weekend!

    • jimmycasas
      4 years ago

      Thanks for your comment Ben. I understand what you mean about negativity and comments made by students and staff, but it can also be an opportunity to have a deeper, richer discussion to understand why they feel the way they feel. I believe that most everyone wants to have a positive experience so by opening up the discussion perhaps that can become the first positive interaction if handled appropriately. As leaders, influencing others to be more positive can be our biggest challenges, but they can also lead to our greatest rewards. I know one thing about you and that is you are a champion for your staff and your school. Keep making it happen Ben!

  • Suzanne Rogers
    4 years ago

    Good morning!

    Great reminder. My mother taught me to find the adventure in everything.There is an upside to everything and it can be a fun journey through the process. My father taught me to be analytical and to stand up for the things I’m sure I believe. I’ve reminded teachers, both new and experienced to “turn toward the light” meaning that they needed to find the positive teachers. We have strong teachers who will leave a room to avoid the dark side of negativity. I agree that we need to carry our banners for our students, teachers, parents and community. We do also need to continue to strive to become better in our weaker/darker areas.

    • jimmycasas
      4 years ago

      Suzanne,

      Thank you for taking the time to share a comment. I love that “turn toward the light.” That is a great way to remind others to surround themselves with positive people. There is an old saying that goes “you become the average of the people you spend the most time with, so be sure to surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.” Make a great day!

  • Deb Day
    4 years ago

    I think this is why I enjoy my Twitter PLN a lot (and #iaedchat) I am surrounded by positive forces. That positive energy keeps me going. I sometimes find myself retreating away from others because I can’t take the negativity. Thanks for being one of those positive life forces in my world.

    • jimmycasas
      4 years ago

      Deb,

      I feel the same way, however, it is I who should be thanking you and others like you for being such a positive influence on me. More than ever, I find myself wanting to be better because of the fact I am surrounded by so many great educators who are out of the box passionate about what they do. I still wonder sometimes whether I am deserving or not to be surrounded by so many great people who are so willing to help and share their time and their talents. Thank you Deb and I hope we cross paths sometime soon. In the meantime, continue to be the change!

  • mandyvasek.com
    4 years ago

    This post is really good, Jimmy. I will be a new assistant principal at my school where I have served as a teacher, Instructional Coach, and now leader. For our Aug. staff dev., I plan on sharing some of your post. I am spending a day discussing how school culture has a direct impact on student achievement. I am excited to have the opportunity to lead during a cultural shift.
    Thanks for being a great Twitter mentor for me.
    Mandy
    @mandyvasek

    • jimmycasas
      4 years ago

      Mandy,

      First, congratulations on your new position. I still remember vividly getting the call and hearing the principal tell me he had selected me as his assistant principal. Changed my life! The most important role we have as leaders is to build community and pride in our school! I am so excited for you because I know the journey you are about to embark on. You have a tremendous opportunity to influence countless people throughout your school community. I know you will be successful because you are a champion for so many people already. Don’t ever hesitate to call on me if I can help in any way. I am here to serve you! Again, congratulations Mandy!

    • OctoberBliss
      4 years ago

      Jimmy,
      Thank you for your offer to help me when I need it. I may take you up on that. I am so excited and can hardly wait for school to start.
      Thanks also for following me. I feel honored to have you as my PLN. You have inspired me to lead with passion and zeal. I appreciate all you have done for me by tweeting and blogging.
      Thanks,
      Mandy

  • Mindi Vandagriff
    4 years ago

    This is a great post. The smile on my face kept growing as I read, as did the overwhelming since of pride in my own community…. as well as a physical sense of pride, I could fell my shoulders straightening, and my own self silently chanting, “Yes! It IS a great time to be an educator.” I was in the audience to hear Mr. Bellow speak. It was electric. Pride and passion resonated in his words. It made my heart swell and my eyes tear up, reminding me of the banners I proudly carry. I saw so many posts on Twitter today in response to his video that echoed the same feelings. Educators, who are in the middle if their summer break, yearning to already get back to a classroom full of kids. ‘Tis is a great time to be an educator indeed. Thank you for reminding me.

  • Jimmy,

    It was a pleasure to meet you at #iste13. Your passion and enthusiasm are inspiring. Those characteristics carry over to your staff and rub off on those you meet. This element of excitement resonates via this blog post and your leadership on Twitter. You not only carry the Bett pride banner in person, but share it with hundreds more via social media.

    I was talking to a grad class last week and I struggled to get them to see the relationships and mentorships that can be established amongst a group of passionate, enthusiastic people who share common goals. I wish I’d had your post and the comments above as an example of just how inspiring and even personal these virtual relationships can be.

    I’m excited to call you part of my PLN and anxious to continue learning with and from you!

    • jimmycasas
      4 years ago

      Leslie,

      Thank you. I truly enjoyed meeting you and Erin as well. Wouldn’t it be great if we could tweet up more often? I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment on my post. It is educators like yourself who make it happen in the classroom every day. As a principal, I understand the success of children begins and ends with passionate educators like yourself doing remarkable things in the classroom for kids. I thank you and admire you for sharing your gift with others. Looking forward to sharing and learning with you also Leslie. Many blessings!

  • Sanee Bell
    4 years ago

    Jimmy,
    Great post! I will share this with my staff when they return from summer break. This is so important and I think the work that we do is a tremendous task. We need positive energy and passion to carry us through. We have to change the narrative of public education, and when we spout negativity, we are contributing to the negative discussion about our profession. Thanks for sharing!

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