We observed our first hot air balloon launch last weekend, and one word that best describes it is…spectacular. Balloons clumsily bumping into each other as they first took flight and then soaring into serenity…lovely. It was a hectic launch that led to a peaceful flight.
This scenario reminds us of when we taught elementary school age children, and we would have our Christmas program practices. These practices always seemed chaotic, unruly, and left us with the feeling that the kids would not be ready when it was the real deal. When the evening of the program arrived, we were always apprehensive about whether or not it would go on without a hitch. It always did! The students made us so proud. Like the balloon launch, the Christmas program was a hectic launch that led to a peaceful flight. Kind of like the beginning of the school year, wouldn’t you agree?
The balloon launch and all the steps the pilots were required to take were similar to steps educators have to take to start their year (or start a Christmas program 🙂 ). Below are our ideas for you to have a peaceful flight this year. And as the last step suggests…cheers to launching a great school year! 🙂
Preflight Preparation: The pilots must stay informed about wind and weather conditions prior to flying. Helium-filled balloons were being sent into the air every few minutes to check wind direction. Educators need to make sure the conditions are just right in their buildings before the students get there. (So make sure the A/C is cranked…or fans are on for those poor souls without A/C.)
Lead Balloonist: (By the way…be sure to read that heading correctly or the balloon won’t fly.) This balloonist was marking the target for all the rest. Once his burner was lit, then all other balloonists could begin to inflate their balloons with air. Educators are the leaders and set the tone for the rest of the year by being passionate, positive, and enthusiastic. Once these traits are accomplished, all others will begin their year on the same note.
Take Off: When those hot air balloons took off, we were a bit skeptical. Some bumped into each other. Others took a little longer, and we thought the burners would burn the material of other balloonists. Not so. Even though the takeoff was a bit hectic, once those balloons all rose into the air, it was a spectacular view. The school year may take off a little chaotic, however, remember that once you get going and get those around you fired up to be there, the view will be remarkable.
Chase Crew: Once those balloons were up in the air, vehicles were leaving the launch site left and right. These folks in the vans and pickups and trucks were the chase crew. They stay in contact with the pilot of the air balloon and followed the path of the balloon. They make sure that the landing area is okay, and then once the balloon has landed, the chase crew helps the pilot with all chores. The pilot may get the glory, but without the chase crew there would most likely be no flight. The leaders of the school may get all the glory of what’s happening, but without the students, teachers, and support staff, there is no school.
Landing: Hot air balloon pilots land their balloons in a safe place with little wind and few obstacles. Sometimes the basket may tip over when landing. Once the school year is over and the educators have landed another year, sometimes there may be a few rough spots along the way, however, generally, the landing ends up with all stakeholders moving forward with a sense of accomplishment.
Toasting: After safely landing the hot air balloon, it is a tradition for balloon pilots to recite the Balloonist’s Blessing with a champagne toast. At the end of your first day, first week, or first year, start a new tradition in your building and make a toast to a great school year – the people, the places, and the possibilities. Thanks President Gores for those words! 🙂
Whether your school year starts out hectic and bumpy or calm and smooth, we wish for you a peaceful flight this year!
Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.