Take Responsibility by the Horns

Posted by Diane Hale on 7/10/2018 4:00:00 PM

Summer time - an educators favorite time to recharge, relax, and to take a break from responsibilities. Or so, I thought. It was the middle of June and I was looking forward to my exotic summer vacation so that I could take a rest from all of my responsibilities. I needed a break from expectations and accountability and I needed it now!


What I learned this summer, however, is that our responsibilities are part of who we are and we cannot, nor should we, take a rest from them. We owe it to our best selves to be responsible for our personal well-being, our attitudes, and our relationships with the people around us. As Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”


My first clue that I would not be escaping responsibilities was at the airport. There are so many signs and messages that remind us to watch our bags, to follow the rules, and to be aware of our surroundings. Of course these responsibilities are for our safety and the safety of our world. Yea, it’s not fun, but the alternative is far worse. I get it and I decided I wasn’t actually ON vacation yet, so a little responsibility was for the greater good.


On the plane I was seated in an emergency exit row. You know what that means. It means the flight attendant comes by and tells you that in exchange for a tiny bit of extra leg room you have been asked to be responsible for an entire section of the airplane should an accident occur. That you, and the other lucky, long-legged folk in your row, will be asked to open the emergency exit and help the other passengers deplane if the inevitable happens. “Ma’am, are you comfortable with these responsibilities?” she asked. I nodded realizing once again, I hadn’t escaped the responsibility trap… yet. “I need a verbal confirmation please,” she scolded. “yes,” I replied. Apparently there is no “emergency exit” for escaping responsibilities.


Of course these examples are responsibilities we must take for the safety of ourselves and others. That always makes sense. We tell children to walk instead of run, to look both ways before crossing, to hold our hand in a crowd, to cover sneezes, and to wash hands. It is about taking care of ourselves and our community.


My next reminder of ever-present responsibilities was, perhaps, even more important than the safety examples. It was a small sign I saw hanging in a restaurant. The sign read “Please Take Responsibility for the Attitude You Bring into This Space”. I paused to think about that sign. It was hung on a wall with many other framed signs and pictures with pithy quotes and cute sayings. Perhaps it was meant to be taken as a tongue in cheek message to potential Yelp reviewers, but I took it to heart.


Our mindset as we approach a new situation can set the tone for our ultimate success. As educators and parents we should model a good attitude for our children for every new endeavor that we take on and in every new space where we find ourselves. Children are experiencing new things and finding themselves in new places all the time. By modeling for them a good attitude we are sealing the deal on their ultimate success in life. It is our responsibility how we choose to think about a situation, and how we choose to problem solve. Our children may not like every new experience or situation. In fact, we may not like it either, but we must take responsibility and know that our attitude is up to us.


This school year at Tarwater, we focus on the Toro Target of Responsibility. While at first blush it doesn’t sound like a fun one, or a flashy one, it is an important value. I challenge you to think beyond the responsibilities of getting to school on time, doing homework, and trying our best and think about the responsibilities that are always with us. Taking care of ourselves, our attitudes, and the people around us.