We all go back to school on a tightrope. – SCN Encourager 8/1/2013

Leaving July behind means that our “balancing act” is ahead.

And I’ve still got some ballast to shed, unfortunately.

But I’ve been in the midst of several retirement parties for co-workers the last couple of days. So some of my congratulatory over-eating was unavoidable. (That’s my feeble excuse for this week.)

But I’m serious. Today officially begins our balancing act.

This is the time of year when school leaders and communicators begin getting the word out to our families and community about when the first day of classes begin.

Some people may think this is all about communicating the essential logistics; school day start and end times, lunch prices, bus schedules, FERPA, insect management regulations, and the scoop about the first home football game.

But we know it involves so much more. Especially now.

This is the time when our students, parents, staff members, and newcomers are depending on us to also help them “to know and be known” within our larger school district family.

from bulgergallery.com

from bulgergallery.com

It’s not an easy assignment. It’s a role we take seriously, as it requires a thoughtful balance of providing “information and facts” to our internal and external audiences while also reaching out to them with friendly invitations to join in and “comfortably engage.”

The vision for 2013-2014 was cast months ago and the course is set for the new school year. It’s now our time to travel that tightrope, folks. (or just plain trample it, in my case…) 

Thanks to school choice and other factors, the tightrope we walk today is rarely taut and perfectly straight. But this keeps us alert, right?

And hopefully mindful of our important balancing act.

A couple of years ago, marketing expert Seth Godin labeled every person’s inner desire “to know and be known” as a longing to be part of his or her chosen “tribe” – whatever it may be.

And recently, Godin re-visited this perspective again.

“There is no more powerful tribal marketing connection than this.

More than features, more than benefits, we are driven to become a member in good standing of the tribe. We want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with, we want to know what we ought to do to be part of that circle.

Not the norms of mass, but the norms of our chosen tribe.”

In our district (and in your own, too!) the norms we value are easier for us to define than for us to consistently demonstrate, but we should be proud that we always try.

The bar is set high, as it should be when you’re striving to foster a learning culture that emphasizes caring, appreciation for uniqueness, personal growth and achievement, respect, belonging, and an “every child can learn” orientation.

But promoting these virtues adds to the weight we are balancing.

Great purpose deserves great promotion. (Connecting people to both information and each other.)

So when you’ve taken the final step off of your back-to-school tightrope – with the classes in your schools now in session – don’t you love to stop, and look back with relief and say, “Whew!”

Believe me, I do. I’ve sure had to say “whoops” enough!

Tom Page. SCN
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