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!

Six Months In…

Six months in…it doesn’t seem like a very long time at all. In some respects, it went by in the blink of an eye, and in other ways it feels like an eternity has passed since July 1st. Either way, I survived! This transition has been filled with the stuff that most transitions are made of. The job is the job. The people are people. And I am figuring out to be me in this new environment.

As a leader that means several things. What do you address? What do you only make note of? How long do you observe? Those are all hard questions, and the truth is there is not a correct answer to any of them. So much of leadership is situational. The choices that we make are made with the best information that is available to us at the time. And in that respect, there is no such thing as a bad decision. (Except when there is, lol.)

Bitmoji image of Ashley with a thinking emoji in a thought bubble.

Decisions, whether they involve high or low stakes, are never simple…even when they are seemingly easy to make. Everything is a decision, even the decision to do nothing. And every decision has a consequence whether positive or negative. I’ve waited to address things that should’ve been addressed sooner. I’ve also inserted just enough accountability to have an accurate pulse on how my department supports campuses. I’ve initiated conversations with campus principals that were long overdue, and I’ve spoken up before I should have. I’ve stepped up and provided support to my colleagues, shouldering burdens that they didn’t have the bandwidth to handle in the moment. And I’ve continually reached out for support and guidance along the way. And guess what that amounts to??

HUMANITY! That’s right. It makes me human. I am usually unapologetically Ashley in every situation. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m learning how to be me in this new environment. I’ve been slowly allowing myself to be completely me. But being completely me in an unfamiliar setting is not always easy. And that causes me to second guess myself at the most inopportune times. But my confidence in who I am and what I am capable of remains. My track record and my resume speak for themselves. I know who I am, and I know Who’s I am. And that is enough for me.

A Bitmoji of Ashley with the word "me" above her head.

I’ve learned and grown from each decision, and in the process I’ve been transparent with my village and my circle. These are the people that I trust to hold me accountable and push me to be better. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they give advice, and sometimes they probably want to throw things, lol. But this week, they’ll celebrate with me. Six months down, and I’m just getting started!

Side Note: I read a great article about the sum of our decisions, and I’ve share a link here. There’s not any scientific research behind it. It’s simply another way to view the choices that we make throughout our lives. Enjoy. (Article Link: Why There’s No Such Thing as a Wrong Decision)

I’ll be sharing my journey to imperfection, and the long process of releasing the weight of perfectionism and learning to honor my own humanity at the Celebrate Your Story Conference, hosted by Todd Nesloney. You can read more about it and register at this link: Celebrate Your Story Eventbrite