“Bye, y’all! See you soon! I love you!”
Every time students leave the media center, I say something to this effect. I *LOVE* my students and they know it! How do I know they know it? Because I tell them… all. the. time!
It’s always fun to see the looks on the faces of my 6th graders as they hear that for the first time. It ranges from confusion to eye rolls to the occasional “aw, I love you too.” By 8th grade, students know it’s coming and by golly, they know that they better say “I love you, too, Mrs. Ray” or I’m following them to their next class. HAHA! (I really did that once and that kid & I formed a bond that has lasted 3 years! Every time he sees me, he now tells me he loves me first.)
What stood out to me more than anything in the 73rd book from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc was the message of love and legacy. Relentless by Hamish Brewer is certainly a book that gets your blood pumping.
Hamish shares his story and boy, is it a doozy! He certainly took the scenic route into our profession and his current position as principal of Fred M. Lynn Middle School in Virginia. It’s clear that this scenic route he took greatly impacts his role every day. His motto “Be Relentless” is more than just a catchphrase. It’s a lifestyle that he’s lived out his entire life, it appears. He shares the secret sauce behind multiple school transformations! The way he explains it makes it seem like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, but if it’s so obvious why are more schools not knocking it out of the park! My school has a new principal beginning this fall; I’m so excited to see how our school culture continues to shift! She’s already holding one-on-one conversations with our faculty and staff, being an archaeologist as Hamish describes! She’s clearly on the right track already!
Relentless was a word that stood out to me when I read Lead Like a PIRATE by Beth Houf & Shelley Burgess. This year I have strived to be relentless in finding the best in people. I’m telling you right now; it’s hard! The fact that the tattooed, skateboarding principal lives this out daily is pretty impressive! It’s tough for me to live it out for even one conversation. Planting your feet in positivity and refusing to succumb to the negativity and drama around us can be insanely difficult. However, Hamish tells us that there are no excuses. We are in charge of us, and I choose my own attitude. Every day.
Loving my students is part of the attitude that I choose to have. Telling my students that I love them is one of the most important things I do every day. Some students need to hear it one-on-one to believe it. I’ve held the hands of students as they are angry with me, a teacher, the school, the system, or someone else, and look straight in their eyes and tell them that I love them. Every time I feel an immediate shift in emotion, typically followed by tears. (Got to love middle schoolers) Even in dealing with disruptions from students in class, I remind those students, “I love you, and you’ve got to stop doing ______”. In the event that I get frustrated and address the class’s not-so-stellar behavior (shocking, I know… but it happens), I will fuss and immediately follow with, “now y’all know I love you and I expect better.”
Relentless also made me stop and consider my legacy. What legacy am I leaving? When students leave me at the end of the year, are they excited to see me again in the fall? Being in a position to teach every student in the school for the entirety of their middle school career allows me to develop relationships during a pivotal time in their lives. What is my legacy? If my legacy is negative, I’m setting them up for a miserable three years.
Tonight I got to dig into my legacy a little. While at the softball team pool party with my oldest daughter, I realized that one of the lifeguards was a former student. She will be a junior in high school in the fall and I taught her the first semester of her 5th grade year before accepting my first media coordinator position at the midpoint of the year. The moment she realized who I was, she jumped up and came running to give me a big hug! (The irony of the lifeguard running beside the pool was not lost on me, by the way.) We chatted for a while and she mentioned so many memories she had from our short time together. It made me smile that she remembered the experiences we shared in such detail! I love her!
One of my favorite parts of teaching is not the legacy that I leave, but the legacy the students leave with me. I learn something from every kid I teach and every adult I coach. Their legacy becomes my legacy. The idea of a legacy is so powerful, and reminds me how important our job is. This year’s implementation of Relentless by Hamish Brewer will be more intentionality about the love and legacy I leave with each student, and the legacy they leave with me.
Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Relentless and check out Hamish’s website here! I highly suggest checking out these videos on YouTube! He has done so many interviews and shares so much with us! Definitely check out his TEDxTalk here! You can preview & purchase a copy of Hamish Brewer‘s book, Relentless here! It’ll get you pumped up this summer and ready to hit the ground running when students come back to school!