Over the last 10 school days, I have had several conversations with faculty and staff, parents, students, and other advocates that have been challenging and thought-provoking. Based on these conversations, I wonder about whether or not I focus too often on the “network of mutuality” phrase in our primary tenet and not enough on this sentence: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Perhaps thinking about mutuality is a bit too broad and too easy. After all, we are working together, and we are working on working together better. Where it gets more challenging and more personal is thinking about the direct and indirect effects of our actions. In my experience with this community (and others) as a whole over time and across constituencies, we tend, as humans do, to focus more on how we are being affected than how on we are affecting others, particularly as it relates to indirect effects for which we cannot always account easily or readily.
Making decisions, in the moment or otherwise, seems more challenging to me as I consider the direct effects to the one and the indirect effects to all. As we work on our mission (why we are here), it is important to consider our primary constituency as well (for whom are we here). The Board and I agree, and I suspect that most of us agree, that at Crossroads our students are our primary constituency, particularly in terms of their learning and well-being.
As I was thinking about this, I returned to Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to get more context for the quote we use as our primary tenet. Here is the sentence that follows it: “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be” (emphasis added). This sentence helps me understand the responsibility of being my best self, on considering how my actions affect each and all, particularly our students, directly and indirectly, and how I might be a better leader and teacher for thinking this way and acting with this in mind.
So as the year intensifies, as the pace quickens, as we tire of the work while looking toward summer, I ask that all of us slow down to remind ourselves of our primary constituency and our primary tenet and that we reflect on our own power to affect the community around us.
With great expectations,