Flip the Script

So I just finished reading a really, really interesting book titled, The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath, and I strongly recommend it as a summer read for everyone. Even though it isn’t specifically written for educators, there were parts throughout that resonated deeply with me, and got me thinking about how I approach my day to day life in and out of school. There were a couple of chapters in particular that pushed me to reflect on my own experience as a student growing up, which is always an interesting exercise, and I also found myself stopping to analyze the various routines that I have which ultimately have come to shape my days. If nothing else, this book will help you to think critically about the experiences that you are currently providing for your students, and more importantly, it will get you to evaluate how well you are taking advantage of the small but beautiful moments that make up your life.

One of the chapters that hit home for me had to do with this idea of “flipping the script”, or purposely creating moments of elevation that rise above the routine that your students and colleagues have come to expect from you. Just for fun, think back to when you were a student going to school, or as a child growing up in your home, and identify the moments that scream out to you as joyful and truly memorable. For me it was things like road trips or field trips, sporting events that I played in or saw live, memorable parties that I hosted or attended, and all those “first times” that ignited all my senses. Now, think about how often we create those kinds of experiences for our own kids in school, or with our relationships that we have with our colleagues.

I bet that if you really think about it, you’ll notice that we don’t provide nearly enough experiences like these for our kids throughout the year. In the book, one High School principal in the United States is quoted as saying, “we run school like it’s a non-stop practice…you never get a game!” Think about it, we have a tremendous opportunity to do better, and to purposely find ways to elevate our experiences at school from the routines that we’ve come to rely on, to moments that create lasting memories for our kids and each other. Routines have a way of blurring our days together, and if you think about the past year with your own students, what do you think they will remember years from now? I have thought about my own routines at school which are in need of a flipped script…things like faculty meetings and student assemblies and how often and in what ways I celebrate kids and teachers.

This summer I’m going to think really hard about how I can change it up next year to create many, many more special moments that will elevate everyone’s school experience from routine to surprise, and to create lasting memories that will bring us all closer together. I want to challenge you all to do the same over the next couple of months, and to think of opportunities that you have to give your kids and colleagues some moments of elevation…give them less practice and more game time!

Finally, there was one other huge take away from this book that I’ll just quickly share. It had to do with how well we recognize others, and how often we purposely go out of our way to change a person’s day for the better. It talks about how one seemingly small interaction with a kid or a colleague can actually be life changing. I often joke about how I can live off of a compliment for a month but there is some truth to that, especially with kids who are desperate to hear from an adult that they are special, and worthy, and unique, and beautiful as people in our world. How often do you pull a kid aside and tell them something that will make them smile from ear to ear? How often do you write home to their parents and simply say what a joy it is for them to be in your class? How often to you stop a colleague in the hall and thank them from the bottom of your heart for being a friend or a confidant or a mentor? How often do we go out of our way to change a person’s day for the better? Probably not often enough. I’m trying to do better with this and I’m pleading with you all to do better as well. Seek out and create moments to make someone’s day with a simple compliment, a sincere thank you, a little written note or email, and watch how quickly their days change for the better…I’m not joking when I say this…people can live off of a compliment for a month or longer!

Anyway, only a couple of weeks to go and we’ll hit the summer sun so finish strong and bring your best selves to school as we speed toward the end. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week – 

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you!

– Ann Lamott


Build Peaks – Dan Heath

All Practice, no Game – Dan Heath


Related Articles –

Break Out of the Routine

Rejuvenate Yourself

The Power of Moments – 


Great TED Talks –

Comics Belong in the Classroom

How to Turn Strangers Into a Team

A Good Night’s Sleep

Where to Find Joy

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