Saturday, April 30, 2016

Came Confused, Leaving Inspired





I once was a passionate, young, determined physical education and leadership teacher.  I was trolling the Internet with vigor trying to find different ways to inspire youth and reach them on a very human level. I was attending professional development all over the state to bring home the newest and most effective, entertaining life-long fitness ideas I could find.

Then, I became a high school administrator.  I plunged, head first, into a world of a-g graduation requirements, linked learning pathways, units, back pack searches, evaluations, grant writing and the list goes on.  5 years later, my wife and I had two more children, we had one already, I had procured hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, successfully implanted two National Academy Foundation academies, evaluated over 70 individuals at varying levels, spoken at numerous conferences and
board meetings etc.  And most days, I hardly made it into a class if it wasn't a scheduled evaluation.

I was working through supervision time, which aside from not fulfilling my job description, was also costing me valuable time bonding, mentoring and learning from our school community.  Don't get me wrong, there are notes of appreciation from students and families, random compliments and the like at the grocery store or little league baseball games and approval from superiors, which, of course, in the end only reinforce the cycle you are in.  There were also long talks with my wife, who is also in education, about whether or not this was the correct career path, reading books like Mindset, Good to Great, Formative Assessment etc.  I realized, I was not doing what I wanted to do.  I decided my goal needs to be, must be, re engagement with students.  They deserve it, but so do I!

This realization led and urged me to accept an invitation to CUErockstar camp in April.  At first I was confused.  I wasn't sure what CUE was, I intentionally didn't do much research as I wanted to come in with a blank slate and no expectations.  I didn't quite understand what the intended outcome was of CUE, and of course I arrived late the first day, which didn't help!
Until I came to CUErockstar camp at SkyWalker Ranch, I didn't realize what was absent from my professional life was inspiration; I wanted to be inspired.  I needed my Jerry McGuire moment. Within 30 minutes, I found what I was looking for.  These people, and those I came with, were inspired and inspiring.



I credit CUE for effective workshops, certainly, however what I truly appreciate, was recruiting inspiring administrators to lead those workshops and providing the time to discuss practice and strategy with those individuals.  Sometimes, just getting out of my office, off my chair and seeing what others are doing....or merely commiserating together....can be helpful.
Here are some strategies that I am taking home with me to remain inspired by getting out of the office and with the school community, do what you like with it!

  1. Mobile Office- you can check email, type of an evaluation etc from anywhere!  
  2. Attend a conference with a group of colleagues
  3. Park on the other side of campus....you never know who you will meet coming on campus from the other direction!  
  4. Deliver passes on your own
  5. Cover a teacher's class who needs a break....
  6. Create a googleform for teacher walk through feedback-send it to them before you leave!
  7. Ride the bus with students
  8. Bring your M/O department lunch....or coffee, at least!
  9. Schedule time every week, 20 minutes to call up students for no reason at all....just to talk with them....about ANYTHING!
  10. Find out some students who:
    1. have been suspended the most
    2. have been absent the most
    3. made some significant progress
    4. recently overcame a struggle
    5. you don't know
    6. etc
And buy them lunch....and eat it with them!

At any rate, I am energized, ready and most importantly, inspired to finish the year strong, reflect on my practice and goals and gear up for 2016-17!  This time though, I know I am not alone!  If I am, it's my fault for not reaching out to the community at CUE, within Sonoma Valley Unified and....social media!  
Thank you,
Andrew