What is Your Box of Chalk?

When I left the classroom for the Assistant Principal’s office, I purged everything from my classroom and my office. I gave away binders full of lesson plans, equipment, books and resources…even office supplies. What was left fit very nicely into two empty paper boxes. I wanted to have a new start as an administrator. I got to my new Assistant Principal office, and set down my two boxes. I started to unpack, putting personal items on shelves, pictures out and decorating my office so it felt “homey” (I can’t work in a space that doesn’t feel like home). I got down to the very bottom of the last box, where I found a very unique item. It was an unopened box of yellow chalk. Now, those of you that might be younger than I am don’t know that this was how we wrote on the CHALK BOARD that was in the room. Yes, I am “experienced”. Anyway, this item was a bit of a shock, since I had literally gotten rid of everything else in my office and classroom. I was a little puzzled as to how this item got into this box.

My very first inclination was to turn around and throw it in the trashcan. I mean, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to need it in my new position. But something made me stop. I couldn’t figure out why this box of chalk was here. I turned around and placed the box of chalk on my desk, and I started to ponder why it had been placed in this paper box. I truly felt that there had to be a reason. I stared at the box for a long time. Finally, it dawned on me. I came to the realization that my role in a students education had changed. No longer did I have a DIRECT impact on 150 kids every day. The scope of my responsibilities had increased, but that day to day interaction with students had changed. The teachers that I now partnered with DID have that awesome responsibility. I realized then that my decisions affected those people that are on the front lines, every day, having a major impact on their kids. I realized that my decisions had a huge impact on the teachers I served. I needed to remember that. That is why that box made it to my new office. I immediately took that box and set it on the front corner of my desk, so that I would see it every day and be reminded of the people I serve, and the impact of my decisions on their work. Today, fourteen years later, as I write this blog, it is still sitting on the front corner of my desk, reminding me of it’s message.

My question to you is “what is your box of chalk?” What do you use or do to remind yourself of the awesome importance of your decisions and the effects they have on those you serve? Whatever that might be, I encourage you to refer to it often. Remind yourself that the people you serve depend on you.

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About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
This entry was posted in Leadership, Life lessons and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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