The Coronapocalypse Conundrum

This started as a Twitter thread on Wednesday, that I wisely decided that I was too emotional to post. Today, a little over 24 hours later, I’ve decided that it’s okay, mostly because writing is therapeutic. This is originally from 4/8/2020. Warning: Unpopular opinion ahead.

I know I’m not the first & that I won’t be the last. Today I lost a loved one to COVID-19. He wasn’t even 65 yet. He battled so much in his lifetime only to be taken out by this cruel disease. I’m not sharing this for attention. I am sharing to make a few points.

  1. NOTHING IS WORTH A LIFE. Every decision that you make has an effect. There is no sense in needlessly exposing ppl to a deadly virus. There is no device, no item from your office or classroom, NOTHING that is worth it. We have got to wise up.
  2. We have got to stop reinforcing the narrative that educators have to be martyrs. No we do not. We have families. We are people. We are not required to continually sacrifice for the proverbial greater good.
  3. Educators are important, but we ARE NOT first responders. We should not be expected to behave like we are.

The educational complex has become an integral part of the social fabric. I get it. I understand that there are children who don’t eat if they are not at school. I understand that without meal service, many would go hungry. I know that many students don’t have devices or internet connections at home. But let me be clear, putting people on the front lines to pass out meals, technology, etc., will not solve these issues. These services will continue to do what they always have, which is to serve as bandaids for broken limbs. Until we are ready to tackle the actual systemic issues that cause public education to continually serve as a bandaid for a fractured society, we will continue this cycle.

This is not a drill. This is not practice. While I admire and respect all of those who are taking care of the most vulnerable parts of our society, I also think that collectively we need to demand more. Demand more from your local, regional, state, and federal government. Demand more from your school board, your mayor, your state reps, your congressmen, etc. You have a voice. Use it.

Every time you are exposed, you expose the ones that you love the most. What’s your life worth? your spouse’s life? your kids’ lives? your parents’ lives?

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.

Navigating Landmines

I’ve been looking at my blog dashboard, staring at the unpublished drafts of post from the last 6-12 months. There are so many things that I wanted to share, but I chickened out when it was time to publish them. Why, you ask? Honestly, it’s because I don’t like playing politics and there are so many hidden politics in education it’s unreal. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking through an old landmine. I know I’ve said this before, but transparency is not always well received in this industry. But I still feel an obligation to share my journey, and I plan to do just that!

I wish I could tell you that I am not nervous about it, but that would be a lie. It’s important to me that when I share my journey, I share all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And while it’s one of my core beliefs, it also still scares me. But one of my absolute favorite quotes simply says this, “So you’re afraid. Good. Be afraid and do it anyway.” That’s been on of my anchoring principles throughout my life. That last part that says “do it anyway” reminds me that fear is going to come up. There’s nothing that any of us can do to control that. But we can control how we respond to fear.

The next post you read on this site will be an honest reflection of my leadership journey through public education. It is my sincere hope that through the experiences shared here, we can ALL learn how to better lead, serve, & guide those charged to our care.

Leadership and Learning – Part One

My last post, The Importance of Staying Connected, was completely focused on the need to stay connected to classroom. As leaders, we definitely have to make time for experiencing new learning alongside classroom teachers. We should also be making time for personal growth and development. There are a variety of ways to do this: attending conferences, going to regional training events, district-based professional development, etc. How do you/we personalize that experience? I have found that the best way for me to grow is to focus my attention on the things that I am the most passionate about. That can be a hard task, especially with the daily demands that come along with being an administrator at any level. In this next series of blog posts, I plan to share strategies & resources I use for my own professional growth. Ready?! Let’s dive in!

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

 – John F. Kennedy

Professional Books Focused on Personal Growth & Development

There are plenty of books out there that will tell you they discovered the magic formula to becoming a leader. I’m here to tell you that there isn’t one. Are there commons characteristics of good leaders? Of course those exist. Are there books available that discuss those characteristics? There are so many I’ve lost count. If you look on the books shelves in many offices (maybe even yours) and in the professional learning library on many campuses & district offices you’ll find multiple copies of the most popular titles available. But reading a book will never teach you how to be a good leader; it will only teach you how that person became a good leader.

In order to be an effective leader, you have to be willing to first work on yourself. What are your biggest areas of growth? What are the aspects of your personality that will inhibit your growth as a leader? Figure out the answers to those questions, and then look for books that will help you grow and develop in those specific areas.

“Leadership development is self development.”

John G. Agno

Personally, I like to focus on books that are short, quick reads. As a wife & mom with a full-time job that requires so much attention, I don’t have the energy to devote to 200+ pages of much of anything. I also like to look for books that include self-assessments for the reader to engage with. Titles like this allow you personalize the content so that you are directly focused on the areas that will allow you to see the biggest results. There’s nothing wrong with having more than enough knowledge in any given area. However, in my opinion there is also added value in laser focusing on a specific skillset so that you can quickly implement the changes that you desire. The titles that I have spent time with most recently were/are directly connected to areas that I wanted to see improvement.

For example, when I first took this position, I quickly learned the meaning of “the squeaky wheel gets all the grease.” This bothered me greatly, but I didn’t know what to do to avoid the pitfalls of the squeaky wheel. It seemed as if the system was set up to grease the squeaky wheels. And because my brain defaults to systems & processes, my only solution was to figure out how to change the system within my own department. To help with the process & to help work on a new way of thinking, I picked up a copy of Shifting the Monkey by Todd Whitaker. During the next school year, my focus was on making meetings more meaningful and purposeful. To do that, I focused on becoming a better facilitator myself. Based on the recommendation of a dear friend & colleague, I picked up a copy of Lemons to Lemonade by Garmston & Zimmerman. I loved how this book walked me through assessing my own skill level, and then personalizing the work that I would do to get better as a facilitator.

In both of these examples, I was able to quickly consume the information, internalize the message, and apply the new learning to my current situation. In my opinion, both of these quick reads have been some of the best professional development I have experienced as a leader. I would encourage you to search for professional books that meet the needs that you have in the current moment. There will never be a time when we are given more hours in a day or more days in the week. But we can change what we do with the hours & days that we are given.

What are some short, quick reads that you would recommend? Please comment and share below. I look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll hope you’ll join me for the next installment in this series.