There is no doubt that our leaders and teachers in schools all over Georgia are hungry. And they deserve to be. When you work as hard as our members do serving our communities and their children, there are bound to be tests on the heart, mind, and soul. When you give as much of yourself as you do, you must be fed so that you can keep giving. We are human after all!

To that point, I believe being a part of a professional organization like GAEL and one of its 7 affiliates goes a long way toward finding the fuel you need to be a hero for a child’s future.

Why is GAEL? We aim to help feed our members, making them stronger in purpose, skill set, and network needed for the day’s work ahead. Even if we don’t provide the actual “food” ourselves, I believe it is our job to help you find it.

Being a part of a professional organization helps us:

1. Meet other leaders like us who remind us that we are not alone. This isn’t talked about enough because I guess we feel under pressure to keep our worries, fears, and isolation to ourselves. Each of us processes these normal human challenges in different ways, but we all experience them to some degree.

We have isolated leaders hiding in plain sight in every corner of Georgia, and joining a professional association and meeting other leaders is just as important for younger leaders as it is for veterans (we sometimes forget about our Assistant Principals, and we often don’t let them leave the building very much; they need to connect to others and share just like the rest of us if they are going to grow).

If teachers and administrators are going to last the long haul, we have to pay more attention to this aspect of leadership. We have to feed them as people by providing more context and more peers around their daily struggles so that they keep “purpose” at the forefront. This gives meaning to their daily duties, and that is what prioritizing “why” is all about!

2. Share our knowledge and expertise with others, which feeds us by reminding us how far we have come and how good it feels to share the fruits and badges of our struggles.

Many schools/systems might say, “We have our own training here. I don’t need any training offered by GAEL.”

Well, my answer to that is, you may be right. Indeed, you are no doubt doing great work.

BUT…part of uplifting our profession is sharing with the rest of us! Education is about sharing and growing and advocating outside of our own house, not unintentionally building or keeping silos. So if you are doing great work and making progress, we need your principals and AP’s walking among us so that their ideas and expertise can spread like a beautiful virus.

Oh, and what a great way to feed your leaders by encouraging them to go out as a confident team and show off what they have learned in your system in a GAEL workshop. Tell me your dedicated team doesn’t come back home after sharing their knowledge proud as roosters to be part of your system and willing to grow even more!

3. Stay abreast of and learn about current trends, vital professional skills, and upcoming challenges: It is true that we are all doing great work in our individual systems. But none of us are good enough to have all the good ideas, and none of us are above learning and growing and tweaking our skill set. Each year brings new challenges and new ways to grow, and each year brings us perennial human conflicts and barriers that we will always struggle to master (like having crucial conversations with stakeholders, modeling civil discourse, and coaching for improved performance).

As leaders, you don’t just “do duties” and “run schools.” No…You change lives! That’s your WHY.