Love and Innovation

    Maybe it is because it is close to Christmas, and maybe it is because my dad has been on my mind so much lately, but I just needed to write the reflection below.
    I love the “30 for 30″ series on ESPN, because they share powerful sport stories that go way beyond a game, and really touch the heart.  I don’t know if it was from “The Guru of Go” about Paul Westhead and the death of Hank Gathers, or if it was “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano, his NC State team, and ultimately his battle with cancer, but I heard about the importance of “love” in bringing people together and overcoming so many obstacles.  It made me think a lot about the term “love” and it’s role in schools and “innovation”.  Not “love” in the terms of relationships with a spouse, but that feeling of being truly cared for and caring for others.
    I have been thinking a lot lately about the battle people are going through in their own lives, and how that impacts their work.  I love this quote attributed to Will Smith on the subject:

    “Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.”

    There are people that show up every single day, with a smile on their face and not only do great things, but lift others up as well.  This year I have seen one friend openly share their battle with depression, and another friend share that their spouse may have cancer, yet in both cases, not only did they both seemingly have a smile on their face, but they also lifted others up to become better.  Sometimes when people face the most adversity, the easier it is for them to show love to others.
    I have also seen others openly struggle and show up every day.  I remember one teacher going through a very tough personal time, and although they did everything they could for their students, you could see the hurt in their heart.  The pain was there, but it was not enough to keep her away from helping others.  Maybe it was part of their calling, but maybe it is often the unconditional love from her students that kept her going each day.
    I have been known to have my heart on my sleeve, and I remember when I lost my dog Shaq this year, having to speak to a large group of teachers the next day.  As tough as it was to talk to a large audience, I was honest with them, shared my loss, and when I was finished, I not only received a warm applause (that is the best way I can describe it) from them, but so many hugs from strangers.  It might not be “love” in the sense that we know it, but it was “love” in the way I felt it.  It not only made my work easier that day, but it pushed me to be better.  In a time when educators are asked to do so much every single day, and in many cases so much “extra” stuff that we never planned, feeling and giving love is crucial.
    I was reminded of this quote today:
    “Every single employee is someone’s son or daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.” Simon Sinek
    Maybe I am being overly sentimental because of the time of the year, and maybe I am just exhausted (I am), but when people know they are cared and loved, they are going to go so much further and push themselves to do better things for kids.  That feeling of safety and belonging is crucial for innovation. Maybe I am way off base on my use of the term.
    But then I see this…
    This is why being the Lead Learner of #Cantiague is a dream come true! pic.twitter.com/RpU8Cb8l6X
    — Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis) December 18, 2014

    Then I think of my good friend Tony who not only loves his job, but loves his school and his community, and from what I can tell, loves his students. Then you see what they share in return.
    Maybe “love” is the wrong word.  Maybe it is something else. But in a time that educators are so often asked to go above and beyond what they are expected to do, especially in a job that can be so emotionally wearing, I think of the word “love” and the place it has in schools.  For our students, for our colleagues, and for ourselves.
    In a profession that is so inherently human, there has to be something more than showing up and  “learning” every day.
    To inspire meaningful change, you have to make a connection to the heart, before you make a connection to the mind.

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