Saturday, January 20, 2018

All The Learning

Currently, I'm reading Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker. I'm a huge fan and follow her on social media. I also read For the Love - and after following her and reading her books and listening to her podcast, I feel like she is a friend. She speaks some serious truths and makes me laugh, cry, and think.

As she was sharing in her book about her journey as an author, she mentioned how she is always learning and working on her craft. It really struck a connection with me. Years ago, I had a great leader on campus that would fill us with information and ask questions that challenged our thinking. When she moved on to another role, I was left at first very confused about who was going to feed me (information)? It was frustrating but I'm thankful for that growing pain, because it brought me to the realization that I am responsible for my own learning and I took it from there. I hope I was able to push my students to do the same and now, I was to be able to motivate our staff to want to know more as well.

I love this part of Jen's book. I even made a #BookSnap about it:

She said "The day I stop learning...I need to hang it up" and I thought YES! In this role, all roles, we are constantly learning - most often it is on the job and in the moment (especially as a parent).

Several years ago I was made aware of conferences. Previously, I thought conferences were only for administrators or the people at the top. I had no idea there were conferences for teachers. An Instructional Coach shared a few opportunities with me and I selected a few. Those truly changed my life as an educator, and even my path!

For years when my children were young they took Every. Day. I couldn't even think about reading anything other than Good Night, Moon or Love You Forever. However, as my children grow and gain independence, I find I have time to do things like... read!

However, always as an educator I've learned from others. I value the thoughts and knowledge of those who surround me. ALWAYS I find greater development of ideas from a group than just myself. My students have always inspired me and taught me, as well. Be an inspiration to your students and model what you expect from them each day.

I'm thankful to be in a profession that constantly challenges me. Yet, I also hope those in other roles continue to learn, as well... I hope my doctor, dentist, pastor, etc continue to read and learn and grow. I owe that to myself and to those I get to work with and especially the children I am blessed to be surrounded by.



That is all I can say ~ WOW! The last few months have been an amazing rollercoaster of quick decisions, celebrations, prayers, mourning, and all. the. learning. Seven months ago I had NO idea everything was going to change with my career. I was finishing up grad school with a degree in Education Technology Leadership and passed my Principal Certification. My fresh, new notebook was already filled with ideas and lists of things to do for the upcoming school year and I was pumped to get started in my second year as Instructional Coach with the Technology Team. My focus was Digital Citizenship and I was hoping to start some Genius Bars or Student Tech Groups at the elementary level. Last year was an enormous, exciting learning curve after 17 years in the classroom. I was going to really have a clue this year and do things well. ... Then, I received some phone calls and within a short amount of time I had interviewed three times and was named the new (recommended) Assistant Principal of one of our amazing elementary school. Y'all. WOW!

I was not expecting this opportunity and it absolutely thrilled me. The school, staff, students, families - all are the best! And my team - I am SO thankful.

At a recent meeting, we were asked to share how we came into administration. Of course, I mentioned the amazing leaders before me - my father, my former principals and assistant principals; not to mention those who were my boss or leaders in prior jobs. I shared how I never imagined I would leave the classroom and I was certain I'd never return to school. The older I get the more I learn we eat our own words all too often. ; ) My teaching experiences brought me here. My love for learning that was reignited by amazing leaders brought me here. Those I surround myself with, who lift me up and encourage and motivate me - brought me here. My former students and my own children - brought me here. I truly feel that all the dots (learning experiences) I've been collecting for years and years are now connecting. And I continue to learn - every. single. day.

This role is so different from what I imagined, not good nor bad, just different. Each day is a new day that is challenging, unpredictable, and amazing - all at the same time. Today I did three observations, watched chicks hatching while first graders 'oh-ed' and 'ah-ed', got a kagillion hugs, coached a student on making choices, called parents, completed online training and a test, thanked some teachers with Sonic drinks, facilitated a make-up CogAT test, walked many steps, met with our amazing specialists in three separate meetings, debriefed on our day with my leader, chatted with some teachers, and ate a HOT lunch in under ten minutes. It was glorious. I love it! This role is hard. This role is rewarding. I'm so thankful for this experience.

Was it hard to leave a role I loved for another? Yes! Of course it was. I really enjoyed my role as Instructional Coach and I have a passion for purposeful technology integration. However, I felt led to go for it. In my belly and in my heart, I knew. It was sad. I cried. I love my team from last year. I miss them very much. Yet now I see what I needed to learn in that role also contributes to what I'm doing now. After all, one of my favorite quotes from George Couros (@gcouros) is "change is the opportunity to do something amazing" and I remind myself of this every time it gets tough, and when it is awesome.

My hope is I can empower others the way others empower me. I hope I can still accomplish some of those tasks I had as a goal for this year, but they may look differently in my new role (social media interns, lunch and learn, book clubs, etc). I'm excited - I'm overwhelmed (and have struggled to blog on a timely basis) but it is all good.

Every day I see it: Teachers are working hard. Students are growing and learning and they make me smile! Families long to be connected and want what is best for their children. Communities want to encourage children to grow into outstanding citizens. It is happening.

#OneWord for 2018

Well, hello 2018! Finding my #OneWord for this year has had me pondering for several weeks. I decided to begin with my words from prior years:

balance - always a struggle to strive for equity in all areas: family, faith, friends, career, me

purpose - reminding myself daily of my WHY

2016: choose - make decisions that I feel confident about

2017: be - to be present (work at work, focus on family at home)

One lesson I've learned from using #OneWord (and also perhaps from being over 40...) is:
This year I struggled to find THE word to focus my year. I am such a thinker and over-analyzer that I'm quite certain I have been over thinking THE word for ME. After all, it is not the only thing I will concentrate on, but I like having a word that encompasses all of MY current needs and goals.

After years of practicing one word to focus my year, this year I decided to read the book One Word That Will Change Your Life (plus I actually had the time over the holiday break - celebrate!) The book was helpful and reinforced that I've been selecting my words correctly, but reading it didn't bring my word to me. The book suggests reflecting, spending quiet time thinking, praying, being aware and open to insight into what word will best drive my year. I tried it all. I have a list: worthy, forward, joy, enjoy, peace, courage, hope - but nothing fit like a puzzle piece to me.

I kept reflecting ... recent years have been super busy and so much has happened! The last five years just of my career have each been different:
2013 - taught my tenth year in first grade, my second year in dual language
2014 - taught second grade
2015 - looped to third grade (looping is the BEST experience ever!!) and began grad school
2016 - left the classroom after 17 years and spent an amazing year as an Instructional Coach with Technology
2017 - graduated with my degree in Educational Technology Leadership plus earned my Principals Certification AND accepted an amazing opportunity to be Assistant Principal

I mean... WOW. And that does not include personal, family, house, and other gains and challenges. My boys are growing and parenting changes as your children grow (News Flash: it does NOT get easier, just different... costs, interests, activities, celebrations, and challenges) and marriage continues to evolve (celebrating 15 years). We have also been in the process of remodeling our home very slowly, focusing on one area at a time.

So, all of that to be said... finding a word to push me forward, to remind me that I am worthy of these things, to stay focused on continual growth, while also being present enough to enjoy the blessings I have... has been a challenge.

For a while I almost selected MOXIE. Partially because I finished Jen Hatmaker's book Of Mess and Moxie over the holiday break and I thought 'moxie' might fit. After all, it means "a force of character, determination, or nerve" and I really like the determination part. It made me realize that the things I've been working on and striving for are here. Right on my plate. So, now what do I do with them??

So, after much thought (and viewing 100s of other people's #OneWords) I decided I need to take ACTION. An action is "the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim". You may think: 'well, duh. Of course, you need to act on all you are working toward'. However, sometimes when time starts rolling quickly and you get caught in the whirlwind of marriage, parenting, children's athletic schedules, house care, laundry (All. The. Laundry.), work, and trying to have a social life and not lose all your friends ... AND ... eat well and exercise, while also finding time for yourself, you forget to stay focused on what you have worked so hard to achieve. So, for me, ACTION makes sense:

*ACTION in my marriage means always working toward building a positive, loving relationship that will continue thrive after our children become adults

*ACTION as a parent means being present for my children - really listen when they want to talk, drive them all.over.the.metroplex for sports and fishing and movies and friends because one day they will drive themselves, and soak up these moments and continue to create memories

*ACTION as a sister and daughter, not to neglect my parents and my sister, especially as our family really needs each other now

*ACTION as a learner, to not let the exhaustion of completing a degree turn me off of additional learning, but instead fuel me further

*ACTION as a leader, to instill a passion for learning and leading in others (students and staff) while continuing to prioritize build trusting relationships

*ACTION as a friend means to send a quick text to let someone know I'm thinking of them or call a friend for dinner or coffee (look, we are past the age of caring what our house looks like and if we are in a messy bun and jeans for dinner, THANK GOODNESS) and lean in to each other

*ACTION for myself to eat better, move more, and revisit some of those hobbies I enjoyed BC (before children) now that my boys are becoming more independent, plus focus on fueling my body with better foods and having fun when I exercise

This year for me ACTION is my word. It reminds me to implement the things I've learned and DO SOMETHING with it all.

So... I hope my reflection on 2018 will bring me great happiness by putting in to practice the things I'm learning while keeping my priorities in place!