Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fit Leaders: Carrying Education's Torch

Editors Note:  We are honored to have Dr. Ryan Jackson, Principal of Mt. Pleasant High School in Mt. Pleasant, TN as our guest blogger!  As a new school year begins, we encourage you to create your own #FitLeaders plan.  Thank you Dr. Jackson for reminding us that we must take care of ourselves before we can offer our best to others.

By Ryan B. Jackson, Ed.D (@RyanBJackson1)
Librarians are like lighthouses. A great librarian serves as a beacon of resource and hope for all teachers. Whether you are a starry-eyed millennial newbie fresh out of college ready to save education or a seasoned veteran committed to pushing the depth of 21st century teaching and learning, a great librarian can help you get to where you are going. However, today’s librarians (dubbed Media Specialists by many) are also much, much more than that. Today’s librarians define Jack-of-all-trades: testing coordinator, professional development facilitator, data analyst, curriculum specialist – the list goes on. Truthfully, a great librarian is the lifeblood of a school, the proverbial backbone of the organization capable of initiating, supporting and sustaining the vast amounts of change that can truly test even the best of schools. The question then becomes, how do librarians meet the ubiquitous needs of 21st century education while, quite frankly, meeting their own health needs in order to both maximize their performance and sustain it? 

The above question forms the ethos of the #FitLeaders movement. Ultimately, it is about asking leaders, such as librarians, to take a hard, honest look at their own physical health and lifestyle in order to determine what changes can be made to better ourselves. See, like most public servants, librarians get so consumed in the daily rigors of uplifting and supporting everyone around them that a focus on self becomes purely an afterthought. The #FitLeaders ideology flips this thinking, asking us instead to lead first from within, securing our own physical, mental, even spiritual well-being before truly committing to leading others. Now, in theory that all sounds well and good but then other questions start to seep in: Where do I start? Where do I find time? What are my goals? 

What’s cool about the #FitLeaders movement is we are a tribe of educators from across the country that encourages, informs, and serves as an accountability system during the fitness journey. What’s even cooler is the process is profoundly simple: Progress Equals Happiness! We even have an answer to the most frequently asked question: Where do I start? We call it, Pick 3 for Me!

The key to sustaining physical health and an overall sense of well-being in a rigorous profession is to begin with incremental change and celebrate your successes along the journey. Pick 3 for Me is designed to do just that. Here’s how it works:

1. Pick an incremental goal but be specific. Ex: I want to lose 15lbs. 
2. Pick a physical exercise that will help you achieve your goal. Ex: Walking 1 hour a day
3. Pick a dietary restriction or change but be specific. Ex: Switching from 2% to skim milk

You have literally formed the basis of your #FitLeaders plan. The next-step is to work the plan! What’s really cool, though, is that you are not alone. Sure, your exercise and diet discipline are personal, but the journey doesn’t have to be. By sharing your journey via social media platforms like Twitter, using the hashtag #FitLeaders, you will connect with thousands of others on similar journeys. This sense of belonging, inspiration and affirmation will help keep you going, help you update your goals, and connect you with other passionate educators! I look forward to connecting with you as embark on both a new school year and a life-changing transformation! I’m only a tweet away: @RyanBJackson1

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