Playing Basketball in Socks…

It was quite the sight…

My students still wanted me to play basketball so they could have even teams, but I was still wearing muck boots from our afternoon Natural Resources class adventure. Playing basketball in muck boots was definitely out of the question (I’d have ruined the court and made our coaches seriously mad)…off they went and in my socks I played.

When I was younger, I had played plenty of pick up games with cousins and neighborhood friends growing up. Heck, three years ago I even coached basketball. Yet, never before had I played my beloved sport in socks. Let’s just say it made the game much more challenging!

With no traction, it felt more like a slip n’ slide than a basketball court. It was frankly maddening! I could not defend well and dribbling was a sloppy affair. Not to mention when I would post up…inevitably a defender with solid foot wear would land squarely on my unprotected feet. Yep, not pleasant. You would have thought I’d learned my lesson, but I played the full round and felt the effects through the next morning.

I can say with personal conviction (and also now personal experience) that playing basketball in socks is not recommended. We need to be properly equipped for the experience we are about to embark on. The same can be said in leading our classrooms, schools, and communities.

As leaders in these spaces we need to be equipped with solid values that guide our work. In the book, Hope is Not a Method, by Former Army Chief of Staff Gordon Sullivan and Michael Harper, they describe the deep importance of identifying the values that guide our work. Those values need to define the unchanging attributes of our organizations and learning communities; values that will endure even during external upheaval.

Leaders and organizations without clear values are a lot like basketball players who foolishly decide to play in socks. They have no traction and expend energy trying to keep upright when challenges beset them. Without any solid footing, organizations are left behind the ball and poorly equipped to progress for the betterment of their whole.

Within our educational learning communities can we answer this question:

What do we value that will NEVER change?

  The answer for each of our classrooms, schools, and communities should be different. Values are dependent on our shared culture and direction. Yet, have we conveyed those unchanging values in a way that our fellow staff and students see clearly how they are living out or contributing to those values?

Shared positive values that have deep commitment and understanding from all stakeholders has the power to perennially influence a school’s culture long-term. It takes work to identify these shared values, it takes time to embed them within the culture, and it takes conviction to live them out.

This Thursday, we will be meeting with our Agricultural Education Advisory Council made up of school administration, post-secondary reps and area business leaders along with stakeholders to include district staff, alumni, students, and parents. During the meeting we are kicking off our Vision 2025 journey. Our #1 shared task is to identify those core values, that in 2025 and beyond will stand the test and serve the young people and community we are invested in.

It will be an exciting time and I encourage us all to do the same in the circles of influence we are a part of; whether that be our family or a local community board.  As stated by Gordon Sullivan, “Leadership begins with values.”

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