This week’s tip: Focus on what you can control.

What a disappointing start to the New Year.  Thousands of words have been written and hours of video shown about the undemocratic actions that occurred in Washington DC.So, what should a school leader do?  Focus on what you can control

Help students and your school community focus on civics, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

It can be as simple as talking about what the Pledge of Allegiance means.  Many educators help students understand the pledge by explaining it is a personal promise to make our country better—to seek liberty and justice for all.

Or, ask students if they can memorize the preamble to the Constitution.  Saying the 52 words aloud gives Americans of all ages reason to be optimistic, even in very difficult times.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Another idea—talk about the beauty of a system of government that has three co-equal branches—think about how this system of checks and balances has kept the United States free from rule by a tyrant.  Our democratic institutions have taken a beating but have not broken.  The judiciary ruled more than 60 times that the election was valid.  The 50 states affirmed their results, Congress approved the Electoral College totals and a new President and Vice-President will take office next week.

As NSIP Director I define leadership as taking a person or group to a destination they might not reach on their own.  Will what you do this week have the positive impact you envision?  Will you help your students and school community move forward in an optimistic, productive and positive manner? Civics—the rights and responsibilities of citizenship—may be the most important leadership move you make this year.