Do new things.
Try to find the things that have not been done and do them. Find the things that have not been done well, and do them better. Know that you will face resistance- from those who do things the old way and those you beat to the punch, but do those things anyway. You will be told "you cannot do that" and "it will never work." Respond with a kind, respectful-but firm-
"Don't tell me what I can't do."
See, the doers of new things are not followers, and they may not be the leader. But they are creators. And we need creators.
Even if they are not always valued right away.
People who try to do new things are the most valuable- and misunderstood- resource we have. See, they do not just complain and point out the flaws of the status quo. No, they do what others fear or resist or simply do not understand. They do not take the road less traveled- they make a new road where once there was nothing.
Make Your Mark
But if you are to be a doer of things not done, you have to map your journey. It will give you integrity- integrity like a building or a bridge needs integrity. You have to make sure that what you do is sound, secure, and as scientists know- it must be replicable.
Tell your story so others can follow it. Use social media for more than selfies and Snapchat streaks- tell a story worth hearing. Not just one that has structural integrity but also possesses moral integrity. Blog, podcast, vlog, write a book, make a movie, paint a picture, keep a journal, tell a friend over coffee.
But never forget that character will out. What you have skimped on, and taken the shortcut with up until know has brought success, and it might for a bit longer. But in the end, the person with moral integrity, sound character, and strong qualities will have more than just catchy slogans and motivational posters and team mantras to stand on.
They that have integrity will live as an open book because will have a life that does not lie or hide the truth of who they are.
And this is where it will all bring you.
The real you.
The you you have spent your whole life seeking is revealed when you take risks, when you try a new thing, and when you honestly reflect and what you have experienced. There is a hard truth about this elusive "you." It will always remain just a little ahead of where things are now, it will tease you forward, daring you to never be satisfied because the truth of "you" is that "you" are revealed in the journey, not the destination.
Never Stop Learning.
To the parents- this goes for you as well. You too are the Class of Every Year. So where your parents, and theirs and theirs. So will be your grandchildren and theirs and theirs. The hard lesson for us in this is that our journey is ours, and our children's journey is theirs. You will have to learn to let them take chances, to risk, to learn how to handle rejection and success. As parents, the new thing we become doers of is letting go, the mark we make is our children, and we will know ourselves when we look at our journey in conjunction with our children.
We will learn from our children if we let them teach us. And if we believe, truly believe that the next generation is capable of leading us now- not when they graduate, or when they graduate again, or again, or when they finally arrive- they lead now.
So let us, our generation, do the new thing today, and let the little children lead us.
In their journey lies my hope- and yours.
My family and I are moving across town to a new house. That means one thing:
In the course of packing, I am taking stock of the things we have accumulated. The things we needed, the things we wanted, and the gifts we gave.
That last one is what has me typing this out these thoughts.
A few years ago, we got my oldest daughter (Leslie) the Harry Potter series. She had never read them- heck, I had never read them- but she was interested and her friends were talking about it. So, we bought the whole series. We would all read the books and have shared experience as a family. And aside from Kenna having no interest in Harry Potter whatsoever, it has worked.
Leslie and Kenna have both always liked reading, but when we gave Leslie the Potter series, something powerful happened. Her reading comprehension increased, her analysis of text increased, and her excitement- really her JOY- of reading exploded. But something more important happened.
It changed our relationship as father and daughter.
We had a great relationship to begin with, but now we had deep discussions of literature. And when we both finished Potter, we moved on to other series. Percy Jackson, the Divergent series, now we are reading the Heroes of OIympus (and she is way ahead of me). Some have been mutually well-received, others not as much. But each page, each chapter has given us a chance to connect.
I did not just give my daughter the gift of reading, I gave the gift of relationship.
It struck me, looking at the collection of books growing on my daughters' shelves (both are avid readers now) that reading is relationship. You connect with characters and stories, and then you connect with others who love those same fictional people and events. You discuss and debate and dissect the prose, you share theories and predictions, and you learn more about the real people around you. Leslie is a Hermione, I am a strange Lupin/Snape hybrid. And we connect there.
When we as educators give our kids something to read, we are giving them a chance at a relationship- with literature and with each other and with us.
Next year, if I am a classroom teacher, I will have a library of books and graphic novels that relate to my subject matter for students and I to share and discuss. If I am able to become an administrator- I will have a library of books and graphic novels that relate to my subject matter for students and I to share and discuss. I want to create an environment that is conducive to building academic relationships around shared interests. I want to foster connections between myself and my students, and my students and literacy.
Things have come full circle: the gift I gave my daughter has now become a gift to me to now give to my students. I have learned a valuable lesson:
Reading is Relationship.