Principal's Message

Keep a Praise File -

Don’t you just hate those infrequent dark days that make you feel ineffective as a parent or as a teacher and tempt you to throw in the towel? Thankfully, I don’t experience many of those days at Stephens, but there have been a few.  In his book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon provides us with practical advice for battling the blues on days that don’t seem to be going as planned.  He suggests keeping a “praise file” for collecting emails and notes of encouragement.  He writes, “Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a praise file. Use it sparingly – don’t get lost in past glory – but keep it around for when you need the lift.”

We are all educators – teachers, parents, community members, and school support staff.  We work hand-in-hand to ensure that Stephens’ children engage in learning that will ultimately make them, “Career, College, and Life Ready”.  None of us are in this business for accolades, but we should often make an extra effort to build each other up and to celebrate who we are. Celebratory words and praise are needed. We are teacher-educators and parent-educators, and we make a difference for kids!

I was recently surprised to receive an email informing me that I had been nominated by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences for a 2014 Bammy Award.  I am humbled by this honor and by the votes and comments many of you are posting on the voting page. (Thank you for your kind words.)  And, yes, I AM taking Kleon’s advice to heart, putting those words in a “praise file” for me to pull out on that gloomy day that will inevitably come along.  The coolest thing about a Bammy is that it is a “pay it forward” opportunity.  The Bammy embodies a “we” attitude, the deserved recognition that our collaborative efforts create a synergy that is unstoppable and inspiring.  In that spirit, I believe that the Stephens community as a whole has been nominated for this Bammy Award, and we should collectively celebrate the amazing things we are doing as a school community.

To make this collaborative celebration a little more visible, I have nominated a few of the other Stephens Elementary faculty and parents for Educator Voice Awards (the Bammy version of “people’s choice), writing words of celebration on their nomination pages.  And, I encourage you to do the same at the Bammy nomination pageMy hope is that those nominated will collect these written celebrations in “praise files”.

It is true that our efforts as educators (school and home) cannot be boiled down to a single award or a few celebratory words of praise.  But, it sure is nice to have those words on reserve in a file for days that are not quite celebratory.  If this whole Bammy nomination thing is not for you, then instead of voting, just tell the next educator (school or home) that you see, “Hey, I appreciate what you do for kids.” That will work, too.

Jim Detwiler

"Go Make Stuff!"


For Mr. Detwiler's additional Principal Posts, go here.




Archived Messages