It’s About Time…

So lately I have been thinking a lot about time, and more specifically about how we can effectively use the hours that we have to successfully embed all the wonderful initiatives that will move us forward as a school. Last week I found myself wishing that there were more hours in the day because there just didn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done that had I earmarked as important. When Friday afternoon rolled around, and I finally came up for air, I kept thinking about something that one of my mentors, Kevin Bartlett, said to me once…He said that schools and leaders often complain about not having enough time, but the fact is that there is enough time, it’s just how we use the hours that we have…it’s about prioritizing the time that we have to attack what’s truly important to a school’s success, and letting go of the time that we spend on all the other things that pull us away from this end. Being busy and going a thousand miles an hour doesn’t necessarliy mean that we’re being successful or productive…it often times means that we’re losing sight of the idea of working smarter, finding balance, and understanding the fact that sustainable change takes, well, time…and that’s okay.

As you all know, we’ve rolled out an ambitious and aspirational strategic plan, a plan which if managed successfully will transform our school into something truly special. It’s exciting to be a part of a school that is going through a transformational change for sure, but there’s also a danger to try and go too fast, and to get to that fairy tale ending too soon. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to go slow…it’s okay to not over commit and to not feel pulled in too many directions, and it’s okay to take it one step at a time, prioritizing our hours so that we focus on the small successes…the quick wins…and the journey. There are so many schools out there that do many things well on a surface level, but nothing that goes deep enough to become part of the fabric of the school…they move on from initiative to initiative without taking the time to reflect, to review and to ensure that what they believe in actually becomes who they are…we don’t want to be that school.

For me, last week was a good reminder that I need to prioritize the next steps in our journey, and give those the time that they deserve. Sustainable change is going to take 3 to 5 years in the best case scenario, so let’s just take a breath and try not to go to fast. Let’s think before acting, be proactive instead of reactive, and let’s come together as a faculty to get out in front of issues that might delay our progress. Let’s go deep with each initiative and give them all the time that they need to become successful…to become truly part of who we are. Using our time effectively will be the key to this, and finding our balance so we don’t all feel overwhelmed. Our transformational journey is going to take time so let’s make sure that we celebrate along the way, and not view it as a race. Time is a tricky thing I know, and it’s usually something that we complain about and curse…but here’s the thing, I’m not sure it’s about us not having enough time, I think it’s all about how we use the time that we have!

Have a fantastic week everyone, and take some time over the next few days to prioritize the things that will ensure a successful, balanced beginning. We had a great first week and I loved seeing all the smiles. Let’s make sure that as we go forward that we keep smiling, and keep using our hours effectively. Remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week –
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst – William Penn

Great TED Talks About Finding Success –

Articles about Time and time Management –

Too Much to Do, Not Enough Time

Here We Go Again…

I absolutely love the start of a new school year! I’m not sure that there is anything more beautiful than watching our kids spill off of the buses, or walk through the front gates of the school ready to get going again…excited, eager, nervous, apprehensive, and filled with hope of what lies ahead. There’s nothing more pure than the first few days of school in my opinion, with students and teachers armed with a clean slate and a chance to make this the best year of their lives. We have such an opportunity over the next few weeks to set the tone, and to give our little works of art the beginning that they are all hoping for and dreaming about. 

I ended last year with a post about using the summer to think of ways that you could be better this year…better educators, better mentors, better colleagues, and better versions of yourselves…your best selves. You see, we are in the incredible and enviable position of being able to inspire and affect dozens of young people’s lives in profound and immeasurable ways every single day…stop and think about that! I wonder if we truly understand how crucial it is for us to come to school every morning with the clear intention of changing a student’s life for the better, simply by being who we are as mentors and as role models. 
As we begin the new school year, I want you to ask yourselves how you’re going to spend each day this year…how will you approach each lesson…each interaction with your kids? How will you cultivate the relationships with your students and with each other, and will you live each day of the year with a sense of purpose and urgency. This is the only third grade year for our students…the only eight grade year…the only year as a senior…are you prepared to make this the best school year of their lives? Are you ready to be the best version of yourself not only for them but for you…are you prepared to be better? We’ll never get these first few days of school back, and the start that we give our students will resonate throughout the year. It’s all about relationships, and we need to start strong with that clearly on our minds.
I hope you are all as excited about tomorrow morning as I am, and I hope that you take the time to give EVERY one of our kids the start that they truly deserve. I have 6 weeks worth of hugs and smiles all saved up and I’m chomping at the bit to dish them out! The first week of school can sometimes be a little hectic and at times chaotic so be ready to roll with it and keep smiling. Thank you everyone for your hard work getting ready for tomorrow, and I want to wish you all a wonderful and inspired and better 2015-16! Have an amazing first week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 
Quote of the Week –

Naga Naga Naga!

So the world woke up on Friday morning to the news that Neil Bantleman and Ferdi Tjiong had finally been released from prison…and what a day it was! After almost 400 days in jail for a crime that they clearly did not commit, they were released and reunited with their families, and tears of joy and relief flowed triumphantly around the world. When I heard the news I was not only overcome with happiness, but also with a sense of pride that I feel compelled to write about and share with as many people as I can. You see, I spent 7 years working as a teacher at JIS, and it’s always been home for me in many ways. I remember the day that I left Jakarta wondering if I’d ever find a school community that would embrace me and my family the way that JIS did, and I wondered if I’d ever be fortunate enough to win the lottery for a second time. There was something magical about JIS that I could never quite put my finger on until now, and what the world has witnessed with regards to leadership, commitment, character, and love over the past 15 months has brought this magic to life for all of us.

If I can be bold enough, I want to take some time on behalf of the international school world to thank the community of the Jakarta Intercultural School for showing us what the true meaning of “family” is all about. The leadership that they’ve shown throughout this nightmare is beyond inspiring…from their Board of Trustees, to their leadership team, to their amazing teachers and parents and support staff, and from all the JIS alumni and extended community around the world who were unwavering in their support. They were resolute in their commitment to justice and they never took a break from their pursuit of freedom for their two wrongfully convicted family members. Thank you Jakarta for modelling for the rest of us what a true school community looks like, and for reminding us all that schools are only as strong as their culture, and what they are ultimately willing to stand for, and at what cost. Tim Carr, thank you for showing the world what true leadership is in the face of adversity, and to the rest of the JIS community, thank you for reminding me yet again why you are without a doubt one of the finest schools on the planet. I’ve never been more proud to be a Dragon…

But here’s the thing…the overwhelming pride that I’m feeling right now isn’t just because of the way JIS stood up for justice, but because of the way that we all did. It was incredible to see the support of schools and organizations around the world rallying together and standing together, united in their support for not only Neil and Ferdi, but for what is right and just. It was truly beautiful to see us all bond together and share in the sadness, the grief, the hope, and finally the joy that this ordeal thrust upon us, and I feel honoured to be a part of this amazing community of international schools. There wasn’t a day that went by that I did’t see a post, a picture, an article, a prayer, or a supportive word from some corner of the globe, and it brought me to tears on a number of occasions. Bob Johansen wrote a fantastic book recently called, The Reciprocity Advantage, which speaks not so subtly about the power that a community can attain when they leverage their collective strength. As international schools we are stronger when we band together, and share with one another…whether it’s taking a stand against an injustice or simply sharing with each other the programs and practices that can enhance student learning. We are all committed to the same goal, and the fight for Neil and Ferdi’s freedom has shown us that we can overcome even the most difficult of challenges when we band together as a true international school “family”. Often times it’s only through adversity that we find out what we’re truly made of, and together we are strong…Dragon strong.

Thank you, Jakarta Intercultural School for showing your strength of character to us all, and for modelling all that is right with the world. I’m proud today…prouder than I’ve ever been to be a Dragon. We have all been Dragons over the past 400 days and it makes my heart burst…now, let’s turn our attention to the innocent cleaners and free the 5 so that we can truly celebrate the end of this surreal and absurd experience. I’m asking you all to take a minute today, wherever you are and scream from the rooftops, NAGA NAGA NAGA! We are all with you JIS until the final 5 are released…let’s fight for Icha, Awan, Agun, Syahrial, and Zainal’s freedom, and fight to clear the name of Azwar, the good man who died in custody…For Neil and Ferdi…welcome home…free at last!