Last month I finished up my first year as an elementary school principal and was looking for something to inspire me. As a classroom teacher I loved attending conferences to learn new things to apply to my classroom and school site. I loved that feeling of excitement and inspiration I would walk away with after attending. Where could I find that as an administrator? I wondered if it was even out there.
A friend of mine mentioned NAESP and recommended we should attend. After checking it out online, I figure what it was worth a shot. As I headed down to Long Beach I started to think to myself, what do I want to walk away with from the week? What am I hoping to get from this conference? I wanted to learn. I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and connect with other administrators.
The opening keynote by graffiti artist Erik Wahl blew me away. It was truly an inspiration to hear his story and watch him in action. The emotion evoked was something I will always remember.
When Erik asked the question, "Who can draw?" only a small amount of hands were raised. He asked us to think what would happen if a group of preschoolers were asked the same thing. Of course, all hands would be up. Why is that? What have we done in society to change kids' beliefs about themselves and their capabilities? School has been dominated by the push of math and reading, but there is so much more. Art inspires creativity, thinking outside the box and taking a risk. Art lets children use their imagination. Every child sees themselves as an artist, our challenge, my challenge, is to help students keep their creativity going from when they enter my school until they leave.
Sometime it pays to take a risk. As Erik said, "We are almost naturally resistant to stepping out and taking a risk because we were taught to be logical. We were taught to take all of the ideas and narrow them down to one." Nothing is learned in life without pushing yourself and taking a risk. What's the worst that can happen? You fail? Failure is an opportunity to grow. Without failure, we're not taking risks and we're not growing. According to Erik, taking a risk is overcoming FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). Personally for me, reaching out and connecting with others in Long Beach was taking a risk. It was outside my comfort zone. Sitting down and writing something to post for everyone to see is taking a risk. How can I continue to take risks? How can I get teachers and students to take risks?
As the summer comes to a close and the new school year is quickly approaching, I am excited for what is yet to come. I am excited to work with my staff to ensure we encourage creativity and risk taking with our for ourselves and our students.