With a little help from my friends
Offering suggestions or hints about how to end another school year seems almost perverse when the end to this particular year is like no other. There are no research articles, definitive guidebooks or YouTube how-to videos to assist school leaders in June 2020.
I have heard that when there are no rules, leaders often seek inspiration in the arts. The gifts and legacy of poets, authors and musicians can evoke an emotion, sow a seed or take us to a peaceful and reflective place. Over the next weeks, as principals and vice-principals are carrying out the necessary end of the school year responsibilities and rituals, perhaps some of these artistic truisms will resonate.
Spoiler alert! Anyone under the age of 45 may have to find a legacy teacher to explain a few of these.
Saying thank you and farewell to staff moving on.
- Dr. Seuss is a classic and this one from Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is apt. “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So … get on your way!”
- Winnie-the-Pooh always seems to get it right.“
How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
- Frank Sinatra’s signature song [I Did It] My Way will undoubtedly bring a smile to anyone closing their school laptop for the last time.
Planning for the next school year.
- There is wisdom in the Cheshire Cat’s advice to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don't much care where … ,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn't much matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“ ... So long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
- When making choices in planning, baseball great Yogi Berra sums it up well.
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Acknowledging teachers’ anxiety for their students, their colleagues and their profession.
- Albus Dumbledore’s adage from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is reassuring.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
- The lyrics from Take It Easy by the Eagles often bring a smile.
Take it easy, take it easy.
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.
Lighten up while you still can.
Don't even try to understand.
Just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy.
- Speaking of taking a stand, some teachers might relate to Vroomfondel’s assertion, “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
- Invincible Summer by Albert Camus is one of my all-time favorites. This line in particular, “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
COVID-19 has thrown a veritable curve ball at the education system, no doubt eliciting a range of responses from your teachers. Again, these expressions may hit home.
- “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change,” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
- “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship,” from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
- Winston Churchill inspired confidence when he said, “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.”
- Before he became president, Abraham Lincoln explained that the phrase, “And this too, shall pass away” referred to a sentence crafted in Persia long ago.
- Thank you Gilda Radner.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
Thanking your staff, albeit from a distance, for a successful year and recognizing a job well done.
- This line from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is comforting.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
- And Calvin and Hobbes always have it right.
Hobbes: You know what I like about summer days? They’re just made for DOING things…
… Even if it’s nothing.
Calvin: ESPECIALLY if it’s nothing.
To school leaders across Saskatchewan, thank you for your professionalism, commitment and long hours over the past year. As Alice Cooper so eloquently says, “School’s out for summer!”
TTFN (which is Tigger speak for ta ta for now). Stay well and enjoy!