Permission to Feel

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Three Shifts to Ignite Your School - Beth Houf and Principal Tribe

–  Beth Houf  –

  Boy mom, middle school principal, passionate leader & learner, forever teacher. Currently serving at Fulton Middle School and Co-Author of Lead Like a Pirate.

Permission to Feel

Principal Perspectives #4, January 28, 2019

No one ever said that being a school leader was going to be a life filled with roses and sunshine. Even though we most definitely see those bright sunny days, there are also many laden with uphill battles. There are days when all we feel is exhaustion and discouragement. What originally inspired us to do the work that we do suddenly morphed into Mount Everest and we are climbing it. Barefoot.

But… it’s our challenges that help us grow and that remind us we are indeed making a difference. Here are 3 shifts that will help you use your challenges as tools to not only become a better leader but create lasting impact in your communities. 

Shift 1: Give Yourself Permission to Feel

How many times have we put on a happy smile to meet the day and our community, but really we just want to hide in bed? Probably fairly often.

But what if we gave ourselves a little permission?

The Principal Perspective

So to my fellow educators, don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to feel. Give yourself permission to be okay with not being okay all the time. – Beth Houf

Let’s face it, the work we do is by no means easy. We forge ahead though because that is what we were taught to do.

Yet how is this a good example for others?

No one is perfect, we are all human. Giving ourselves permission to feel our emotions, dive into them and really understand what is happening inside of us is by far a better trait to exemplify than pretending that everything is perfect. It shows that we are human and it is our “humanness” that ultimately binds us to one another and creates lasting relationships.

Remember that it is okay to not be okay, take the time you need to unplug and move through what you are feeling. If we don’t take care of ourselves and our emotional well being first, we cannot fully be there to help the other people around us.

3 Leadership Shifts from Beth Houf that Will Ignite Your School!

Shift 2: Start Creating Moments

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Y.B. Yeats

There is a traditional script out there that tells us education is about raising test scores and pushing every student along the same path. This has become the status quo within the educational system, however, we are capable of a greater role than this.

We teach because we want to change how people learn. We lead because we want to make schools awesome! 

The Principal Perspective

When we want to make impact on our school community, it’s about breaking the traditional script…it’s about creating moments that make a lifelong impression. – Beth Houf

We are here to help our students discover and explore their potential, a journey that begins with excitement, passion, and curiosity.

Creating lasting experiences and meaningful moments that provide that type of environment is how we can truly teach and make a lasting impact on our students.

Let’s break the script!

Look to see where you might be stuck in your comfort zone and find ways to move out of it. Take a deep look at how you are most comfortable teaching or leading.

How can you create moments and experiences within that style for your students? How can you create moments for your teachers? Your community?

The age of merely filling the pails is passed, it is time to start lighting those fires.


Q6: We are all one team.We are all trying our hardest and bringing our best each and every day.Realness? Struggle? Frustration? Heck yes, but life is too short and our work is too important for blame, shame and negativity. @burgess_shelley

— Beth Houf (@BethHouf) December 29, 2018

Shift 3: Remember We’re All On the Same Team

Never forget that you are not alone on this incredible journey. Feeling discouraged?

Chances are so is someone else.

Reach out to those around you and show your appreciation. All staff members are on your team, and they too need words and actions of encouragement.

Take some time each day to say a kind word or a small act of kindness that reminds both of you why you are there and that sun is always there behind the clouds.

Sometimes a face to face “Thank You” can change the world.

The Principal Perspective

Ensuring that ALL STAFF-teachers, custodians, secretaries, admin etc. are noticed and appreciated…we are ALL on the same kid! – Beth Houf

Our purpose as educators is one of the most inspiring AND one of the most challenging. Yes, we are going to have our imperfect days, feel the frustration and discouragement. But those are also the things that make us human.

Acknowledging our “humanness” helps us, not only become better leaders, but create those meaningful moments in our days and strengthen the relationships around us.

That is where the magic happens and the learning begins.

Connect with Beth at and follow on Twitter @BethHouf

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