Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Another Season - Did It Matter?!!

Whether with employees or with your kids, you can never take trust for granted. It requires time to build and has to be earned. The key is making sure other people feel respected without being judged. I try to help my children know who they are and help them feel good about themselves. What could be better than an environment of trust where people feel strong, know who they are, and know how they can contribute?

                 Marianne Toldalagi, former senior VP, American Express

The end game of the 2011-2012 school year and “season is almost here. It’s May and you can hear the footsteps of another season of your professional life coming to a close.

For some of the readers of this blog, you are also reaching the end game of raising your children (8th grade, high school, or college graduation is just right around the corner), or maybe the end game of your career (you might be part of the faculty and staff that retire in June) – and the then what of your life lingers in the shadows. Was it worth it? Did your work and effort matter? Did you raise your children wisely? Do you stand at the precipice of significant transitions and changes in your life with few regrets? Graduation does that to us. Retirement does that to us. Ending another school year does that to us – if we slow down long enough to look.  

As you face the graduation of another class soon, the “end of the game,” moment always forces us to reflect and decide, did we waste our family time or professional time on stuff that doesn’t matter? Or did we, as parents and professionals, work together to build trust and integrity between each other and our children – our students — our peers?

Our youngest daughter is about to end 10th grade. No take take-backs, no do-overs. Not from us as her parents and not from her teachers for this year. They got one crack at making a difference in her life. This will be the path of their story on her, and on 100’s of students just like her.

May and June call us to examine the path of our life story – with our students and with our own children. And the question becomes then, “On what will we base our success this year?”  I suggest the you (and I)  consider following:  

Relationships: The building of relationships and community. Removing people from isolation and helping them learn to work together toward improved student achievement and character. Was there a social justice culture and pursuit created at your school in your programs that sought to erase hidden as well as more obvious inequities. did you pursue better relationships with kids and adults? 

Trust: Did you build trust by listening, respecting and integrating the thoughts of others into your own belief system? I learned that trust building is a dynamic process that you must never take for granted. It was an exhausting, forever pursuit, but a worthwhile endeavor.

Clarity: To teachers, staff, parents and students, were you crystal clear — here is what I ask of you: Nothing less than your best effort is acceptable. Live a life of integrity, honor, academic effort, kindness, caring and compassion for others; and aim high. And know that sometimes, you  will fail to meet these ideals.

As Marianne Toldalagi indicates in the opening quote, as parents, as faculty, as staff, as administrators judge the quality of this season of their lives, don’t point to the awards won, the money earned, the trophies on the shelf.  Success in 2011-2012 and beyond exists and resides in the children who are now young adults carrying out the legacy of the next generation. The children walking across that stage in less than a month. And you (for good or bad) had a part in a chapter of their life story. I hope for you,  your journey this year- this 2011-2012 season - was a good one.  


  1. Dr. Kanold, Thank you for providing this inspirational vehicle for reflection. Somewhat fitting and eerily timely for me, as one of my daughters accepted a new role today as a teacher-leader. The next generation moving in to join the ranks of those who care whether or not it matters. I have referred her to your blog, I am giving her your book, and we will consider your thoughts on relationships, trust and clarity.

  2. Hi john,
    Thanks for taking the time to check in! and good for your daughter!!! I wish her nothing but the best!