As a professional educator for 21 years, I have developed thousands of relationships. Some were short, some long. Some have been shallow, some deep.
I have collaborated with professional educators. I have shared a classroom with an abundant number of students. I have networked with countless professional educators nationally and internationally.
Finally, of course, I have deep, lasting relationships with Desiree, our four children, and my closest, most reliable friends.
In all instances where the relationship was reciprocally valued, the deeper, lasting and more meaningful the alliance developed.
Teachers might observe one or two students not engaged in classroom activities and be critical of that student’s work ethic. A coach may point out that some of his high school athletes have not been showing up to voluntary swimming workouts and find fault in their character.
School administrators may wonder why the biology teacher never comes out of her classroom to share what she is doing and assume she is hiding her insecurities and faults.
My question is: Do these students, athletes, and teachers feel valued? Do they feel like the teacher, coach, or school leader knows their name much less their strengths or weaknesses?
Once, many years ago, someone who I respected at the time, criticized me for speaking truth to power and demanded, “What do you know about leadership? Who do you think you are?”
I do know one thing for sure about leadership: When people feel valued, they will exceed expectations every time.
Let’s learn to value people for being human, not for what we might gain by leveraging or manipulating others.
Teachers, value your students. Build relationships by listening with an open heart and engaging in the conversation.
Coaches, value your athletes. Those high school kids are showing up to participate becausethey love the sport and you are the resident expert. Value them for who they are not for what they may or may not bring you.
School leaders, value every person in your building: students, teachers, all staff. Believe in the power of social capital.
When people feel valued, they will exceed expectations every time.