What You Value…

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A quote I heard from a friend but have no idea who to credit for, which I use all the time is

“What you value, you dedicate time and resources to”

I mostly use it to call out current practices, and call attention to not backing up what we say with the actions necessary to truly show our support. As I sat down to write my professional growth plan reflection for 2013-2014, I found another instance where this quote applies.

I had two goals for this school year, one was to put together and facilitate a group of teachers to take a long hard look at our practices when it comes to mathematical instruction, and to come up with a long term plan and solution to improve said instruction. The other goal was to work to spend more time in classrooms, observing and working with teachers, to do some informal observations of our teachers on temporary contracts and to work on my role as an instructional leader.

I was unable to achieve either.

Add to that I never once participated in the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program  (#SAVMP) which I signed up for, and was assigned a fantastic mentor in Jason Markey, who could have helped me in my professional growth immensely. And add to that I blogged considerably less this year, spent less time on twitter, and lost touch with a great deal of my PLN.

Don’t get me wrong, I got a lot done, and a lot of my year was fantastic, but now as the year comes to a close, and I reflect on goals for my year that were supposed to be a priority, I realize I lost track of what was supposed to be my focus. As I fumble through this post, I can physically sense the loss of connection to something that was so dear to me and important in my professional learning.

So while I am quick to call others on saying one thing and then not backing it up with what it takes to make it a reality, it is only fair I call myself on the same behavior. What I supposedly valued I didn’t dedicate time or resources to. There was always something else to do, some excuse like being tired or busy, or even justifications like doing what was needed at the time. I did nothing to place any type of deadlines for myself. I created no reminders, no string around my finger, to keep myself on task. I failed miserably and did nothing to improve my chances for success.

So when it comes to my growth plan, and my reflection as a professional on my learning, I can truly say I learned a lot. I learned from what I failed to complete, from what I didn’t focus on, and what I must have hoped would just happen on its own. I learned that nothing I want to make happen will in fact come to be if I don’t dedicate my time and my resources to these goals. I learned from the way I feel staring at the document, that I WILL NOT again put down a goal (or two) without being sure I am committed to making it a reality.

While this wasn’t my intended learning, it will no doubt be valuable, and when I sit down to write next year’s plan, it will include at least one of my goals AGAIN, only this time I hope it also includes some conviction behind the words.

Why I Am An Educator


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Jeff Sandquist

I am very excited to be part of the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program, and this post marks my first participation in the program. I have been lucky enough to be connected with a great mentor, Jason Markey, who I have been a follower of for some time and recently started to connect with. I have appreciated every interaction we have had, and I look forward to having more frequent and more in-depth interactions with Jason. I also look forward to connecting with my two fellow “mentees” Rebecca Kelly and Sue Tonnesen, and I know I will learn a lot from all three of these educators, along with many other participants in the #SAVMP.

We were challenged to write a post with one of two themes: “Why do I lead?” or “Why am I an Educator?”. I kind of feel like I am still developing an answer to the first question so I decided on the second, maybe this program will help me with that.

Why am I an Educator? To put it simply, it is what I am passionate about, and I found that out on the driving range…

I was still in high school, and our local golf club was without someone to run our junior golf program. Along with the help of one of our senior members, I was helping to make sure the program kept running, which meant once in a while I worked with some of our younger members on the driving range. While working with a young golfer, I helped with a fairly simple change he could make to his swing. He was frustrated that the ball was traveling along the ground, and wanted desperately to see the ball fly through the air, the way others were doing all around him. After a hand full of balls, it happened. The ball flew off his club and soared through the air, but it wasn’t that sight I remember, it was the look on his face as he turned to see my reaction.     

It was in that look, and in numerous moments since then that my decision to be an educator has been reinforced. It started with sports, as I coached numerous teams, camps and activities, and then as my teaching career began, it continued with math problems, science labs and daily interactions with my students. I have a passion for helping people discover and learn, and I am a junkie for those looks – those moments where they are surprised by what they are capable of and they can’t wait to see your reaction as well.

In this SAVMP program, myself and all of the other “mentees” get the opportunity to be on that other end, we get to be the ones finding what we are capable of.  We all have our mentors in our schools and divisions, but its so great to get to have the opportunity to connect with others who will bring a different set of experiences and great advice as we develop as school leaders. Many thanks to George Couros for making this happen, another one of his great ideas and a wonderful opportunity for Rebecca, Sue, myself and all of the other “mentees”.