Educating, problem-solving, life: Dont go it alone


Educating, problem-solving, life: Dont go it alone

By PAUL WENNINGER

My dad was a college president in small colleges, but as I have subsequently learned, they have pretty much the same problems as big ones; ites a matter how many people you may have assigned to solve those problems. I went to great lengths to not follow in his professional footsteps. I failed.

I have been Head of eight independent schools, in communities as far-flung as San Francisco, Albuquerque, Boston, and, now, Nashville. In this career, I have faced challenges that are complex, frequently insurmountable and not always rewarding just like the challenges you (and I) as a parent have confronted. Some sources call these ewickede problems – the type that have no clear and easy way out.

I have been Head of eight independent schools, in communities as far-flung as San Francisco, Albuquerque, Boston, and, now, Nashville. In this career, I have faced challenges that are complex, frequently insurmountable and not always rewarding just like the challenges you (and I) as a parent have confronted. Some sources call these ewickede problems – the type that have no clear and easy way out.

As a parent, grandparent, educator and CEO, I want to share some of my thoughts about how I have gotten through tough decisions and challenges. Each of these items has served me well. See if they apply to your world.

  • Love the people around you. The sharpest tool I have in my toolbox is respect for the dignity of the people around me. This one is easily stated yet not as easily acted out. Be intentional on this one, especially when children are involved.
  • Know your resources and what they can and cannot do for you. On a daily basis I am confronted with data that supposedly will tell me what to do. I am surrounded by people that I truly respect as professional experts, and, as we know, everyone has an opinion. Security is a cloud over every principales head and the ability to tell the future, while always in demand, is frequently in short supply. Test scores, attendance, college counseling, leaky pipes, all present a daily panorama of challenge. Know how to use the information you have available to you to help those around you.
  • Help others to help yourself. If nothing else works, look for a way to help someone. I once heard a student report that when you get overwhelmed and scared, try to help someone else. (This student was in third grade.) When I jump in on a big mailing or run the gate at an athletic event, I learn more about the community I serve – and I develop even deeper respect for my colleagues (back to #1).
  • Donet go it alone. I have the same message for kids in trouble, parents, teachers and even other school administrators. We have an extraordinary ability to reach out to others for their experience and expertise. It takes some courage to search out and ask for help, however the rewards are well worth the effort.
  • Surf the internet, share the human experience (but be smart). The Internet and social media have revolutionized how we share the human experience (and Iem talking bigger than just Facebook.). Reach out to the most thoughtful, respectful, dignified, hopeful people and sources you can find. A great example is Glennon Doyle Meltones blog Momastery. Her most recent post directed at teachers is going viral for a reason.

    Go to TED and pick a few talks that sound like they may be talking to you. (I love Ken Robinsones stuff.) Give Brene Brown a chance. Remember Common Sense Media for help in navigating the digital life with your children.

  • In seeking a solution, never trust a source of information or inspiration that does not look for dignity and purpose in children. This, for me, is non-negotiable.

As an educator, parent, grandparent, principal – whoever you are – please be sure to remember that children are amazing and worthy of our complete and total attention.

Even when we have to say eno,e with the right approach we have the power to put the children we support on a path toward purpose and meaning.

Life is messy, but ites been done before. Be open to learning from otherse experiences.

We are all remarkably alike.

Paul Wenninger is Head of School at Currey Ingram Academy. eExtra Credite is provided each month by Currey Ingram Academy to help parents at all schools and at all stages of the parenting journey.

Currey Ingram Academy is a private K-12 day school for bright students with learning differences and unique learning styles. For more information, click here.e

Earlier Extra Credit columns:

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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