Monday, July 7, 2014

Lessons Learned - Part 3

Well, I took a much needed hiatus last week. I spent time with my own kids and my parents, and just slowed down. During the school year I find that it is hard to do that. I haven't figured out balance yet, and it is definitely something I need to get better at.  I am not any busier than anyone else, we're all busy and caught up in things, and I wonder sometimes if it is to our detriment. Do we really need to be this "busy"? My friend Tom Murray wrote a similar reflection on this very topic. You can find his piece of reflection here. There's a whole lot of truth in it, and I found myself doing a whole lot of head bobbing and saying, "yup, that's me too." This actually dovetails pretty nicely into my last post in this series of lessons learned this year.

6.  Look and listen. Be present. I mean we know this to be true at a knowledge level, it is pretty obvious, but how often are we truly present, and in the moment. There are more than a couple of instances that I can think of when I fell into half-heartedly listening, and when I turned away instead of engaging. I was busy after all, and there were competing things that needed my attention. The hard question really is were those competing things really more important? I think we've gotten really good at justifying our busy-ness, and we've even come up with a clever term for what we do, when we don't give something our undivided attention, yes, we multitask. For me, what I learned, and what I am going to try to put into practice going forward, is being present to those that I interact with.  This means a whole lot less "multitasking". It also means that I am going to be more observant, pay a little closer attention.

7. Find the good. These are challenging times. I think Peter DeWitt nailed it in an interview he gave on TeacherCast last night, "education is caught up in a political cycle, rather than a pedagogical one."Our system is a hurting one in many ways, and in spite of all of that there are some really great things happening, trouble is we don't often see or hear about them because so often we operate in silos. This is why being a connected educator, regardless of the tool you choose to use, is so extremely important, it allows all of us to share the good, and to learn from one another. I am so appreciative to my PLN for helping me to find all of the good, for helping me to recognize that my sphere of influence is indeed a powerful one, and for energizing me.

8. I am enough. I love what I do. It is not always easy mind you, but at the end of the day I know that this is what I was built for. This clarity of purpose however, is a pretty recent thing. Which may be surprising to many of my colleagues. You see, for a long time, I bought into the cultural perspective that to be a teacher in the classroom is somehow not enough, and by not enough I really mean that it wasn't important enough work. Yup, it is out there, I said it. The question is why did I fall into that trap? Clearly the work of a teacher is important, just consider the number of lives we touch, futures we impact. Well, for starters, I think that teachers and administrators alike don't know exactly what roles teachers can play in the leadership of a building or a district. I know there is much discussion regarding "teacher leaders" and empowering them, but as far as how we actually do it, and do it effectively, it seems we have a ways to go. Part of it is us, the teachers.  We need to take back our profession, and not wait around for things to be done to us. We need to be proactive. So that in a nutshell is what I am doing. I'm committing to leading from the classroom. There are opportunities here, we just need to seize them, and be willing to share our talents and learn from others.

This was an absolutely incredible and insane year. A little distance, and a little reflection are powerful.