Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Chapter 1 -My Connections
Like Jimmy, I had unique situations that shaped my views of education. Throughout my youth, I attended four different schools. Each school was unique and helped me to learn about the importance of building positive relationships.
In this chapter, Jimmy openly shares his struggles with his baseball coach. How his lack of genuine interest, or inability to show he cared, left Jimmy pondering this event for the next thirty-two years. How can adults not think about how their actions can impact a child for the remainder of their life? What if we each asked ourselves that question each day?
The 4 Core Principles are introduced in this chapter:
1. Be a champion for all students.
2. Expect excellence of everyone.
3. Carry the banner.
4. Be a merchant of hope.
My Favorite Quote: "No one person is responsible for determining your success or failure but you, and no one is responsible for your morale but you."
My Favorite Questions:
"What if we were to pause, step back, and view our culture through the eyes of every child, every day?"
""Do the beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and interactions of your staff with students and with each other scream, "I care about you!", "You can do better!", and "You are important to me!"?
"Have we reached the point where we are willing to allow an average, typical culture to determine our students' or schools' potential for success?
Chapter 2 - My Connection
In this chapter, Jimmy shares two stories that immediately caught my attention:
#1: When he was five, he went to work with his father and his father demanded a lot and expected high performance. He shares how his father taught him life-changing lessons and values.
My father owned a restaurant the last few years of his life. I was lucky enough to work alongside my father. He made me do everything. I. Mean. Everything! I scrubbed toilets. Scraped grease off the hood of the grill. Emptied fryer oil. Deposited money at the bank. Shopped at Sam's Club. Ordered food. Practiced new recipes. Swept floors. Emptied trash cans. I can even remember, at the age of 18, having my father ask me to discuss with an employee (an employee that was 56) her tardiness to work. I remember thinking..."Is my father insane!?" Why was he asking an eighteen-year-old to discuss tardiness with someone that could be my mother? At that time, I didn't realize, like Jimmy's father, he was instilling a sickening work ethic, pride, and important leadership skills.
There are three interrelated areas that either propel or inhibit a child's success in school:
ARM Yourself for Tough Conversations
1. Acknowledge - "Successful people enter every conversation focused on the other person."
2. Rectify - "Strong teachers and leaders recognize that it is possible to stay calm and rationally seek solutions even in the midst of chaos."
3. Move On - "Effective teachers and leaders have a unique ability to accept their circumstances and move on rather than spend time and energy dwelling on things that are beyond their control."
1. Recognize What's Going Well
2. Change Student Behavior by Changing Adult Behavior
3. Reach out and Call Someone
My Favorite Questions about the way you interact with students:
1. Are you honest with students?
2. Are you dependable in following through when you promise to do something?
3. Are you available when you say you will be?
4. Do you take the time to ask questions when they let you down rather than make assumptions regarding the reasons why?
My Favorite Quotes:
1. "What we model is what we get."
2. "I write for my mother because I want her to be proud of me. It's one way to show my appreciation for her believing in me."
3. "Every staff member needs to remember that students are our most precious commodity. Without them, we don't have a job."
4. "If adults buy into the mindset that kids can't, then how can we complain when kids won't?"
5. "Behind every student success story is a staff member who championed for that student."
Chapter 3 - My Connections
I immediately smiled when I turned the page to Chapter 3. Jimmy starts off with a quote by my all-time favorite coach, Mr. John Wooden. He states, "A leader's most powerful ally is his or her own example." I could not agree more!
Mr. Casas shares a heartwarming story of a special young man and how he allowed him to be a positive example. This young man would probably be shunned by most. An eye roll. A whisper to a fellow colleague about his inability to do anything right. However, Jimmy looked at him and took a chance. He championed for the young man even when giving up seemed much easier. This young man proved the system wrong and graduated. In the end, Jimmy shares that he owed Ben "...the biggest thanks of all for showing [him] the importance of not only seeing the best in all kids but expecting the best from all kids."
This story reminds me of all the times I would discuss the importance of having integrity with my students. Now don't get me wrong...I am not Mother Teresa by any means, but I did strive to be (and still do) a positive role model for students.
What forced me to be a champion for all kids? Honestly...it was my son. From the moment he entered pre-school, he was told he was not good enough, smart enough, or well-behaved enough. And the horrible list goes on. I was bound and determined to ensure that each and every student that entered my classroom would feel loved. Would know I cared about meeting their needs. Like Mr. Casas, I owe each and every student from the 18 years I have spent in the classroom a huge THANK YOU! Each and every single student taught me a lesson. Helped me grow. Helped me reflect. Helped me improve. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!