Monday, March 25, 2024

Powerful Perspectives for Life's Complexities

     I like quotes, analogies, and brief proclamations that inspire, motivate, and remind me of some of the important factors in navigating life. I think they also help me to understand complicated thing. Being an educator and administrator I've often used them to offer a different or needed perspective to both students and teachers. On occasion I'm also able to employ them in conversations with parents. With this blog being available to all our White Pine stakeholders, I care to share some quotes, analogies and brief proclamations that resonate with me, that align with our mission and vision, and hopefully offer a different perspective on the complexities of teaching and learning. The accompanying comments I've written come from a place inside that I don't often reveal. I hope there is some value, for you the reader, in what follows. 

On what teachers do in a day, in a week, in a month, and in an entire school year:

"You don't get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that produce results."- Mike Hawkins

WP teachers see the value in the process, use data to inform change of action, and care for their students above and beyond what is generally accepted be ensuring our mission of balancing academics and formation as equal on the scale of overall student development. 

"Even on your toughest day, you're still someone's favorite teacher."- Unknown

Teaching is hard and to all teachers I encourage you to pause to reflect on the important and positive impact you have every day on those students and families with whom  you work.

"Engineers make bridges, artists make paintings, scientists make rockets, but teachers make them all." -Wendy Jane Carriker

For WP students to explore, experiment, and to problem solve is only a small but critical component to developing a love of learning that is key in students finding their passion and their path to success and (over)preparation for next steps.

"When a child is learning how to walk and falls down 50 times, they never think to themselves-'maybe this isn't for me'."- Unknown

Fifty is not an exaggeration. It sometimes takes students 50 times or more before a concept is fully engrained. WP teachers know this and work with a patience that is focused on success, for every student.

"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails."- William A. Ward

Teachers are some of the most 'realist' minded people you'll find.

With regard to the importance of showing up, not only to school but to those things we all find ourselves obligated to and value:

"Attendance Matters- Missing a day of school here and there may not seem like much, but absences add up! When a student misses two days a month: They will miss 20 days a year; they will miss 30 hours of math over the school year; they will miss 60 hours of reading and writing over the school year; they will miss 1 year of school by graduation...four days per month means missing 2 years of school by graduation."- The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio

This excerpt speaks to the increasing challenges of; instructional time, continuity of learning experiences, and overall partnership in commitment to student engagement. The effects of COVID will be felt for years, learning and 'catching up' is difficult when it becomes part-time.

"In one school year a child spends 7800 hours at home and 900 hours at school. Which teacher should be the most accountable?"- Jim Trelease

White Pine's dedication to partnership with the home means that we, as a team, are dedicated to the success of our students. Teachers, as much as they try, cannot do it alone. I am grateful to the WP families who walk the path with me and our amazing teachers in making sure our kids are learning.

With respect to hard work, perseverance, self-advocacy, and facing adversity and failure- something we strive to help our students, and their families, navigate daily: 

"Eight rules to kick [butt] in life: 1) See failure as a beginning, not an end. 2) If you don't go after it, you won't have it. 3) Always do more than is expected of you. 4) Assume nothing and question everything. 5) Make peace with the past or you'll pay for it. 6) Stop thinking so much and start acting. 7) Never compare yourself to others. 8) Teach others what you know." -Unknown

Forced to pick one, I'm picking 'question everything'. Being curious, inquisitive, and wanting to know the 'why' of things is important- not only for our students but for our faculty and staff as well. I've always tried to lead from a place where those working with me know and are comfortable with not following blindly. 

"Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation." - Jacqueline Gomez

It is easy to stop but the hard things do not go away. I don't know of anything of significance having come easy. 

"Success isn't always about 'greatness', it's about consistency. Consistent, hard work gains success. Greatness will come. Success isn't overnight. It's when everyday you get a little better than the day before. It all adds up." - Dwayne Johnson

A bit about me, the proud and unyielding leader of the best schools in East Idaho:

"I didn't grow up having role models. I grew up having people I didn't want to be like and seeing situations I'd never want to be in. Not all of us are dealt the right cards, but that doesn't mean you can't reshuffle your deck for a better outcome." - Alex Ayala 

On paper, particularly when reading the early bits about where and how I started in this life, I am not the person sitting in the seat that I do. Here I am though, despite many times, a leader who considers himself more of a teammate than the person in charge. Any success I enjoy, I owe to those around me in whom I believe, in whom I trust as being like-minded, in whom I value a strong work ethic and desire to be part of my team and more importantly- the success of WP. Thank you.

"The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate."         - Gruenert and Whitaker

I, freely and admittedly, project high expectations on all those in my sphere including the faculty and staff of WP, the students who attend WP, and their families. At times I don't know whether this is a good or a bad characteristic but I do know that if I didn't have the highest expectations of myself, I might have become the victim of circumstance that was expected of me at a young age. I believe in raising, not only my bar, but the bars of those around me and my experience has shown that people will react one of two ways- they'll either keep striving to reach it or they'll walk away from it. Thank you WP for striving with me. 

"Call me insensitive but I'm only interested in hearing your problem once. Our next conversation has to be about solutions." -Unknown

I can't fix all of the things. Please know that you'll be invited to problem solve with me in facing challenges, tackling adversity, and overcoming setbacks. These things happen constantly in the world of education because of the many moving parts and shifting targets that are inherent to the teaching and learning processes necessary in our mission to help raise good people.

"Be all in or get all out. There is no halfway." - Unknown

I've never believed in 'can't' or 'won't'. Grit has become an educational buzzword in the last decade because much of society proclaims that people, young and old alike, shouldn't have to endure adversity and challenge. The growing public sentiment toward an entitlement that protects us from discomfort and difficult is a lie. Success comes from challenge and defying comfort zones. Iron sharpens iron. Having grown up poor in a blue-collar family in a tough city has taught me that no one regrets having worked hard. We called it survival. I invite the WP community to work hard with me as we continue on a path of being exemplary. 

By: Mr. Ron Cote

Director of Schools

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