I accidentally posted this in my Culture blog, so please visit that part of my site to learn more about Amy Miles!
Sharpening your saw is a concept that I can relate to, and one that is important to me. I have always considered myself a lifelong learner, and I have strong discipline with the things I am passionate about. You could say that seeking out this masters program was also an act of “sharpening my saw” and trying to become more knowledgeable about education technology. I also believe you need to look for learning experiences in everyday life, from little things like what route to work may have less traffic, to bigger things like the nuances learned at a new job. Life is full of learning opportunities and experiences that can simply pass by if you don't take the time to reflect on them. This week also made me think about professional development, which often loads you up with information but doesn't give the time to really hone the skills you've learned and create lessons. As teachers and leaders, we need time to synthesize our learning into something greater, just like we do with our students, but we often are forced to just keep moving along with the school year. As a leader, this is an area that would be really important to me- following up on PD and seeing what value it can really add beyond a binder of teaching tools.
...and then be understood
This habit reminded me of a skit I see often on Jimmy Fallon, which is a great example of a “Collective Monologue” where neither person is really listening yet they take turns trying to be understood in some way. It provides an exaggerated visual that supports the idea that when we aren't listening, we aren't getting anywhere.
On the other hand, I consider myself an empathetic person, and when contemplating this habit this week I think that actually sometimes I may not do enough to make myself understood. From a young age I was always told to “put yourself in their shoes” when I disagreed with other people and couldn’t see any way but mine. Over time it became a habit to always consider other people’s motives and hear them out. With some topics that I am passionate, I make sure to explain myself and try to find a middle ground, but with many topics that are less/non important to me- I have a habit of simply agreeing with people to move forward.
Dr. Pumpian said, “Understanding comes from revealing AND listening,” and it is the process of working to find a middle ground that is valuable, because then both parties feel valued and feel like contributors, even if you have to give up a little. Which is also a nice lead in to Habit 6...
What is your definition of Win-Win?
Thinking “Win-Win” definitely applies to my school setting, maybe more so than in other schools. Not only do we have to cooperate as a teaching staff, and educational community, but also with a partner agency that sometimes may not share our vision, and we are generally on the losing side of things. In my four years in institutions, I have seen leadership that falls into each of these categories:
Over the past 2 years our new principal has worked really hard at building a relationship with probation, and it is slowly coming into a Win-Win situation, though we still have a long way to go.
My definition of Win-Win is formed largely by what I’m seeing unfold in my district. I believe “Win-Win” is all about communication. When coworkers or partners are communicating effectively then everyone feels heard, even if they don’t get their way. When changes or new policies are formed collaboratively rather than given as orders, people are more willing to comply even if they have to give a little in the process.
My time management has been poor lately. After listening to Dr.Pumpian’s screencast, the part that really resonated with me was Covey’s Time Quadrant chart of how to put first things first.
A lot of my time lately has fluctuated between #1 and #4. I have had an increase of usual work in the classroom and also by participating in a WASC committee, as well as this program picking up the pace, and while I try to spend time Quadrant 2, I often find myself forgetting one deadline or another and rushing to get things done. When I finally catch up, I switch gears to #4 but trying to relax may be wasting too much time.
After viewing this I want to commit to spending more time planning, more time in Quadrant 2. I have started by actually using the calendar on my phone to input all my deadlines for these classes as well as a few for work. I also inputted a reminder a day before each deadline, so if I do forget I’ll at least get a 24 hour reminder. I will think about how to schedule my time a little better, in order to get work done on time and also plan time to relax so I don't burn out. I’m lucky that this is a 3 day weekend, so I have a little extra time to catch up on things and start the new week with first things first.
What Ends do you Have in Mind?
My ultimate goal is make education accessible and enjoyable to all youth, even the toughest cases. It was homeless and at-risk youth that really made me desire to be a teacher. Watching those kids go from the most dire situation anyone could find themselves in, and still thrive in school given the supports they needed, was a testament to education in my mind. If they can learn and grow, anyone can learn and grow, and the adults around them made all the difference.
In my own high school experience I saw how teachers gravitated toward to AP students, the "easy" students, while others (most of my friends) were ignored and placed in lower level classes with lower expectations. This should never be the case, and doesn't have to be the case, so the end goal I keep in my mind at all times is finding ways to meet the needs of the kids with the most need. They are the ones that need the best teachers, and I work hard to be that for them.
What are your goals for career?
The goal for my career has always been centered in the classroom. Though I admire the work that principals and administrators do, the life of managing an entire school is not for me. In choosing this Masters Degree program I had to do some soul searching into what I actually wanted in my career.
Did a degree in leadership mean I must leave the classroom? Is that what I want?
Does leadership have to mean being a principal or higher up?
I love being in the classroom and working directly with kids most of all. Then I noticed that there is an increasing need for teacher coaches, integrated tech specialists, and other positions that support teachers in the classroom regrading technology and best practices. A position teaching teachers, guiding schools in planning for technology, and helping to roll it out successfully, is all a big shift for me but a shift that really appeals to me.
My end goal is to always keep close to the classroom. Either teaching, or aiding teachers directly, my heart is closest to the students but I want to maximize my efforts and reach as many as I can.