Surviving the Start of School

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

Surviving the start of school as an educator can be both challenging and exciting. Surviving the start of school as an EdTech leader is no different. There are some things that you can do to make surviving a bit easier, and may actually help you transition into thriving during this time of the year. I’m not here to tell you that I have it all figured out; I clearly don’t. I do, however, have some key strategies that work for me that I’m willing to share with the masses.

Start Planning Early

There is no way that you can be prepared for the start of school if you don’t start planning early. If you start school in August, like we do here in Texas, and you wait until July to plan for it, I hate to tell you this, but you’ve already set yourself up for failure. With the myriad of digital tools and resources that are in use in today’s schools, you have to start planning early enough to account to for the inevitable hiccups that will find their way into your timeline. I typically begin planning for August sometime in March or April, depending on the year. This current school year, August marked the launch of our new learning management system (LMS), so that meant my planning had to begin even earlier.

Consider the Bigger Picture

There are so many facets of a strong start to the year. Even your best laid plans will fail if you don’t consider how all of those pieces impact the bigger picture. For example, the implementation for our new learning management system (LMS) has been at the forefront of most of the work that I do. But that doesn’t mean that could solely focus on that work. I’ve had vacancies (and anticipated vacancies) at multiple levels that I knew would have to been filled. Our virtual school program is undergoing some re-alignment. Our campus support model has expanded to include our elementary campuses. We are actively supporting our peer in curriculum & instruction with the transition to our new LMS. Our district and campus leaders also need training and support in multiple areas. That’s quite a few “spinning plates” and I’ve only included the biggest, most pressing items.

Be Intentional with Your Daily Work

One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind. My planning had to take all of the factors I mentioned earlier into consideration. Here’s some ways I worked to interweave all of these aspects into my daily work. Without providing an exhaustive list, here’s some quick examples:

  1. I’ve began sketching out ideas & plans for pre-service training with my campus support team in March.
  2. I planned and prepared to lead & support the transfer of our curriculum into the new LMS weekly, beginning in April, and worked closely with my direct supervisor on a plan that would meet the needs of all of our C&I departments.
  3. When filling vacancies, I included interview questions that would showcase applicants ability to immediately fill the needs of the department, take on leadership responsibilities, replicate their success in prior positions, and support the vision that I have for our EdTech department.

Celebrate the Wins

All work and no play is….well it’s just boring. No one that I’ve ever met can continuously give 100% at work without seeing the fruits of their labor. When you do notice the fruits of your labor, take time to celebrate them! One of my favorite highlights of this is something that I shared on Twitter in early August. The transition to this new LMS has been a labor of love, and checklist of things to be done often seemed like it was getting longer instead of shorter. In the clip shared, you see me celebrating the simple act of crossing the last major indicator of readiness off of the giant chart paper that had been hanging in my office all summer. What seemed small to some, was the result of countless hours of work, and celebrating that was an important moment for me. So important, in fact, that a team member chose to capture it on video.

Putting it All Together

The four (4) items listed above are not rocket science, but when implemented with fidelity, they have the ability to transform your experiences for the better. I encourage you to try them out for yourself. Even if they don’t meet the needs of your unique workflow, you will at least have an experience that you can use for reflection, refinement, and growth. The most important thing that you can do is find something that works for you! Wishing you all of the success possible in this upcoming school year!

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

It’s been quite some time since I’ve published to this site. I’ve struggled with what to write and how to be transparent in our current political climate, and especially while transitioning into a new position in a different school district. There’s so many pitfalls to being open and honest on the internet, and I’ve worried about how being too open might affect me professionally. As I finish my first full year (plus one month) in my current position, I find that I miss the exercise of regular public reflection. I miss sharing my learning and leadership journey with the world. And so here I am, venturing back out into the wild, wild world of the internet. And I must admit, it feels good to be back.

The past year of work has been filled with so many lessons that I have lost count. I’ve encountered obstacles that I had seen before, but not to the same level or degree. Some of my hesitancy with blogging has been due to the fact that many of my obstacles directly involved other people, and there is never a good way to write about those experiences. No matter what words I would have used to express myself, there would have been opportunities for things to be taken out of context and for feelings to be hurt. And so, I did what I knew was the next best thing; I kept a written journal.

Handwritten journals are underrated in the age of public sharing (and public shaming). I, for one, have always been powerfully impacted by written reflection. It allows me to structure my thoughts, look at situations through a new perspective, and process my thoughts and feelings. As a human being, writing my thoughts has served me well. As a leader, sharing those thoughts publicly isn’t always the way to go. And so, I’ve been writing in a journal, talking things through with my therapist, and resisting the urge to share publicly those things that should be handled privately.

That aspect of public vs private sharing was a great lesson to learn, and an often difficult lesson to put into practice. I tell people all the time, I’m transparent to a fault. This was the season of mastering, “to a fault” whether I wanted to or not. I have definitely been more closed off than usual, choosing only to open up that part of my work and world to a small group of trusted friends and mentors. It was in this space where I learned that the people that I choose to surround myself with is probably one of the most important decisions I can make along this leadership journey.

I’ve written before about the importance of mentors, and in this season I’ve learned about the equal importance of friends. It was great to have people who could call out the greatness they knew was there, challenge me to see a different perspective, and also let me know when I was doing the right thing even when it was the difficult choice. I’m so thankful for the people who have been in my life during this last season. I am a better leader because of each of them.

I’m looking forward to what year two in this role will bring. I have plans to continue to share my lessons learned from year one, and I’m looking forward to having a circle of friends to continue make this journey worth every step.

Perfectly Imperfect

I have been waiting for the day that this message would be shared with the world. If you’re reading this right now, that means that my Keynote session for the Celebrate Your Story Conference has premiered. Some of you are here because you stopped by after watching, others are here because you’ve been following this blog for some time, and still others just clinked a link that somehow led them to this page. Regardless of how you arrived, I’m glad that you’re here!

Welcome to my perfectly imperfect world! I firmly believe that sharing our stories is how we learn and grow together. For generations upon generations, stories were shared by the Elders in tribes and villages across the globe. Stories are how we learn new things and make sense of the world around us. Stories have the ability to unite groups of people who ordinarily wouldn’t cross paths. I’m so excited that our paths have crossed. This blog is mostly used to share my stories, insight, experience, and perspectives as an Educational Technology leader. I make the distinction because so often when we hear and think about educational leadership it’s from the principal perspective. That is a very valuable experience and voice, but it’s not what you’ll get here. EdTech Leadership is a very unique space. We are tasked with serving & supporting students and staff, leading transformation & innovation, and sometimes even predicting the future (though I’m still learning that part, lol). This space is where I process all of the above. You’ll learn about my triumphs, my failures, and all of the lessons learned along the way. As we all walk through this season of change and transition, I’m available to help support and guide you along your journey as well. Check out the EdTech Queen Services page for more information about how I can meet your specific needs.

Again, thanks for being here! Feel free to take a look around. And don’t hesitate to contact me so that we can discuss ways that we can work together in the future. I’m looking forward to it!