Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hearts and Minds

There are some schools that everyone seems to have heard about.  Sitting in the Blogger's Cafe at ISTE in June I met any number of people who said things along the lines of "Oh you're from ASB.  Everyone is talking about that school.  Everyone says how great it is to work there.  Is it really so good?"  The answer is yes, it is.  I've worked at great schools before, but this one is outstanding.  When people ask me why, it's hard to give a simple answer, but I think it comes down to hearts and minds, both of which grow big here.  Stephen Covey writes:
You can buy a person's hand, but you can't buy his heart.  His heart is where his enthusiasm, his loyalty is.  You can buy his back, but you can't buy his brain.  That's where his creativity is, his ingenuity, his resourcefulness.
Last week it was one of my colleagues in the IT Department's last day.  He has been given the opportunity to become a teacher in a school in the Middle East and he is moving there in a couple of weeks.  Despite the fact that his last official day was Wednesday, I saw him in school on Thursday too, working on setting up an online course for our new teachers.  He talked about his 8 years at ASB and how happy he has been to be a member of this community.  He talked about the experience and memories that will stay with him for the rest of his life.  He talked about how he has grown as a person and as a professional during the time he spent here.  He referred to ASB as "a family".

I think this is why we are known as an amazing school.  We are, all of us, encouraged to be the best we can and to give some of that best back to others too.  We are supported in our growth.  We are incredibly enthusiastic and loyal.  We are trusted, and so we are able to be creative and innovative.

Photo Credit: YannGarPhoto via Compfight cc


  1. Hi Maggie!
    I have just left a very special school -also one that many people have heard of and would like to work at. People often ask me what made our school so good -what was our secret? I think there were many factors that contributed to YIS's specialness, but a key one was that the senior leadership team understood the big idea at the heart of Covey's quote above. Like you, we were encouraged to be the best and do the best we could. Teachers worked very hard, but we were trusted and respected and very, very well supported. Teachers were passionate about their work and went the extra mile time and time again. And we all, teachers and administrators, always, always came back to student learning; how will this decision or that action impact teaching and learning.

    Your school was of the schools I looked at when I decided to leave my Japanese paradise, as I had heard such good things about it. : ) In the end, I have come to another school that I think will be pretty special. It makes me think about how very privileged we are to have to opportunities to work in these great environments and be part of these dynamic and rich professional learning communities.

  2. Thanks Tasha, I agree that YIS was another such school and yes, it is a lot to do with leadership and the focus on learning. We are truly lucky to work in such great places. I know last year when I was very despondent at my old school I tried to put it into perspective. I thought to myself, I've been teaching for 30 years and 27 of them have been in great places - and that's 90% of my teaching career which is a lot more than many people could say. Good luck on your new position in Moscow! I'm sure you will miss Japan.