Reflection on the Last Year

One year ago today was my last day in a building with students in my 38 year career.

The 5 or so regular readers of this tripe know that for the last 11 years, I was working in Montana while my wife was teaching in Colorado, and our kids were living in the Denver area, and our 3 grandchildren have joined the world.

I spent a wonderful afternoon on the golf course, something I wasn’t able to do too often while in Montana. Great time to think back to the last year, and the previous 38. After all, hitting a ball with a stick, when one really doesn’t care much about the number if times it happens makes it easy to reflect.

One of the things I wondered about was why we have a “celebration” when someone leaves or retires. Why don’t we do that on their first day at work with us, let them know they are welcome, and we are looking forward to what they will be doing with and for us, rather than at the end of their tenure when we celebrate what they have done.

Apple gives all new employees the following memo on their first day at work:

“There’s work and there’s your life’s work. The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end. They want their work to add up to something. Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Welcome to Apple.”

Tried to instill that culture in my schools. I wanted teachers with that attitude. Tried not to manage them, rather, I tried to lead them, empower and energize them. Trust them. They knew they never had to ask permission to try something new, exciting and different.

My favorite Steve Jobs quote-“We don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Still have my finger in a couple of pies in the education oven. All that said, walking up to the first green today, realized that given a choice between  students, teachers and administrators in Montana, and wife, kids and grandkids in Colorado, I made the right decision….one year ago.

And so it goes…

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