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Welcome to the second edition of NESA’s "From the Fountain", brought to you by longtime 'Friend of NESA', Jenny Canar. As we continue to navigate toward well-being and bettering our collective human capital, we hope this monthly column brings a bit of reprieve from the day-to-day. This month's topic is “Be More Dog: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?”

Be More Dog: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?


Jenny’s rescue-pup Stella. Taking a page out of Stella’s book, Be More Stella, Jenny has decided to put herself out there. This column is one such step.

We are full-swing into September! Hello to slightly cooler temperatures, the first day of fall, and National Coffee Day. For our international teaching world, the month of September also launches us into laying the groundwork for our strategic plan as well as the beginning stages of the exciting season of new job prospects.

Do you know the story behind the telecom company O2 and their Shorty Award-winning “Be More Dog” campaign? I did not. Until I did. And WOW, what a great example of strategic planning for all of us looking ahead at our year and earmarking key pivot points across all levers of our educational ecosystem. The campaign is robust. No wonder it took off. Check it out and make the interlocking connections yourself. The perspective from the Shorty Awards is a fun read.

While September sprouts ideas for planning and planting, it also sings the tune, “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

In our personal reflections for what’s next in our careers or organizations, we may sway toward weighing the odds, creating pro and con lists, and running through “if this, then that” scenarios – all reliable, alternative-focused practices that have likely proven effective at one time or another. A value-focused option that may present possibilities and stimulate imagination stems from the "Be More Dog" campaign.

Where could you “Be More”? Is it where you’ve pitched your nomadic, international administrative tent, or is it perhaps within the stacked posts of Search, ISS, CIS, GRC, UNI, etc.?

As you ponder this question, be careful not to confuse “be more” with its alter-ego “do more”. What’s the difference? “Do more” creates a state of extrinsic inertia. It’s filling, stuffed like a turkey, plucked and stuck like a post-Thanksgiving lunch. “Do more” lends itself to factors that are out of our control, extrinsic barriers such as time, people, resources, money, and space.

However, “Be more” creates a state of intrinsic energy. It’s empowering – aflame and alive. “Be more” lends itself to factors in one’s control because being more implies the potential for inspiration, contribution, motivation, participation, and dedication; how you choose to be more is completely up to you – and you rely on no one other than yourself and could combat an urge toward quiet quitting. It’s attainable. But more importantly, it’s achievable.

How does “Be More” help us in our decision-making process to either stay where we are (at the same school or same position) or to make a move (to another school or another position within the school)? Try this From the Fountain exercise and see where it takes you:

Now it's your turn!

  1. Draw 3 columns on a piece of paper, chart paper, GoogleDoc or whatever.
  2. In the first column, take 3-4 minutes and make a list of all words that can complete the phrase “Be More ___” specific to you. The words you use to complete the sentence should be nouns. Nouns that can be unpacked. For example, “Be More Chicago”, or “Be More (name of a colleague)”, or “Be More Astronaut”, or maybe it is simply, “Be More Dog”.
  3. For the next one minute, run down the list you just created. Cross-out any phrases that require another person to make it happen. The purpose of the exercise is complete autonomy. Success of “Be More” starts and ends with you.
  4. For the next one minute, run down the list again and ask yourself, “Which remaining ‘Be More’ stirs up the most excitement for me? When I think about this, I feel all warm and fuzzy. I feel invigorated.” Circle it.
  5. For the next 3-4 minutes, in the second column, write down all the positive, happy, good words/phrases that describe the noun that you’ve chosen. Positive, happy, and good to you. Mastering saying “no” may very well be something you are ready to embrace.
  6. In the third column, write down your day-to-day happenings and tasks. From the start of your day to the end of your day, over the course of a week. Do this for 4 minutes. Try to include as many tasks/happenings as possible and be specific.
  7. Now, cross-reference all that you’ve listed in the second column with what you’ve listed in the third column. Where and when can you ‘Be More _____’ with the tasks/happenings of your day-to-day life? Where does Be More create the value you seek in your day-to-day life? Make a star next to those tasks/happenings. Take 2 minutes to do this.
  8. Review the stars. Do your work, role, position, title, life-as-it-is provide opportunities for your chosen ‘Be More’? Is it most of the time, some of the time, or none of the time?


If it’s most of the time, it’s best to stay and put that “Be More ____” into action.

If it’s only some of the time or none of the time, why the Clash? Cognitive dissonance? The sunk cost fallacy? Poor fit? Is it the school itself or the position? If it’s something that will stand the test of time and/or environmental such as the school culture, school program philosophy, host country parameters, your boss, your board, etc., it is likely time to go (try a personal PEST analysis to confirm or read Your Career is only One-Eighth of Your Life).

And, let’s face it, although nothing is entirely knowable, your present is more knowable than your future; being on the fence about staying or going isn’t so much about the known of the staying, it’s about the unknown of the leaving.

From the Fountain...

Other recruitment and transition thoughts, resources, links of interest, and ideas:

  • As one additional step to the exercise, “Be More …”, this is applicable to situations where you know you should go but factors prohibit and you can’t; or, with a different purpose altogether, as a team goal exercise. Add Step 9:
    • Should go but can’t: Review the third column. Which unstarred tasks can/should be deleted? Delete. Which unstarred tasks can/should be revised? Revise them. Find ways to incorporate the Vital 9
    • Team Goal: As a team goal exercise, how can your team goal(s) be rephrased as a “Be More…” phrase? Run through all 9 steps with this mindset.
  • Still on the fence about staying or leaving? Consider 90-year human life in weeks. How do you want to spend those weeks? Practice a Mood Journal for one week and review the trends. Ask this question from James Clear: What six-month period of your life was most energizing and fun? What can you learn from your answer?
  • Do you know someone on your team who is on the fence about staying or going? Are you hoping they stay? Consider the Stay Interview and these questions, Designing Work that People Love, or investigate What Stops People on Your Team from Leaving.
  • The Bridges Transition model is my go-to guide at the start and end of most school years. With onboarding and offboarding, it’s proven invaluable. I tend to gravitate to the resource often. While you're at it, sign-up for the MindTools newsletter and get a free Personal Development Plan Workbook. 
  • September is usually the time when many questions start popping up on the radar. Ideas are floated and decisions are made. Before taking a leap because you may be looking for an early win or early fix, think, And then what happens? 
  • Just for fun: 15 Best Gifts for Dogs and People Who Love Them.

Jenny Canar is an international educator and leader with over 20 years experience in the field, from the fountain. Her career began as a Middle School Math & Science Teacher before heading overseas, working at the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, Germany; Surabaya International School in Indonesia; and Shanghai American School in China.

Jenny moved to the NESA region 12 years ago as the Elementary School Assistant Principal at the American International School - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. There, Jenny held several other leadership roles including Elementary School Principal, K-8 Managing Principal, and K-12 Director of Academic Affairs. Jenny is no stranger to NESA, having served on the Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) for six years and as a zealous workshop presenter at the NESA Fall Leadership Conference and Spring Educators Conference.

Since Riyadh, Jenny has exchanged camels for llamas and now resides in Lima, Peru, working at Colegio Roosevelt as the Head of Operations.

As we continue to navigate toward well-being and bettering our collective human capital, ‘From the Fountain’ will bring a bit of reprieve from the day-to-day in hopes to laugh a little and ponder a bit.

Send your thoughts, questions, and feedback directly to Jenny at

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