#Leadershipday11 (August 5, 2011) has come and gone. I had marked the day on my calendar. I had been contemplating blog post topics. But, sad to say a cast on my right leg has caused me to slow down. In the slowing down process a blog post topic for #leadershipday11 finally found its way to my finger tips, just a little be late.
Since July 25th I’ve had to change my life style. It has been a challenge. Change is hard. Even though I resisted the change, there was nothing I could do but accept it. My broken ankle came on the last day of my vacation. It had been an extended weekend of renewed friendships for a group of friends from college, some that I hadn’t seen since graduating from Iowa State University in 1981. On July 25th I took a tumble resulting in a fracture in my right ankle. The days events (kayaking, bike riding, etc…) were cancelled while my friends and I spent time at the ER. I kept my return flight tickets for the 26th which was the start of my eye-opening and insightful learning experience of new perspectives which today, a few days after #leadership11, I tie to life as a leader.
New Perspectives: Being wheel chair bound for most of the time, in order to adhere to the doctor’s orders of “no weight on ankle”, has provided a look at life through a different lens. Regular daily chores once taken for grant are much more difficult and time-consuming. I’ve had to make many adjustments along the way in order to feel success. An outing to the grocery store really opened my eyes. The motorized cart was fun in the beginning, yet a very limiting experience. If I hadn’t had others with me, I would have only had choices of items within my restricted reach. Familiar and wanted products were inaccessible to me without assistance.
- In education we continually need to take in account everyone’s unique perspectives so each person has a successful experience. This take on many forms. As we plan lessons for students, professional learning experience for educators, activities for parent involvement, etc… it pays to ask ourselves questions in the process so that we are inclusive of everyone’s needs in order for them to be successful. Will we need to approach a learning target with a differentiated experiences? Will we need to build additional background knowledge? Are we including a variety of learning styles in our approach? Are we adhering to high expectations and creating experience for our learners to apply their learning in authentic ways?
Finding Balance: As I slowly begin to put weight on my foot, I have had to pay attention to balance in the physical sense much more that usual. Once again, routine tasks take much longer to accomplish and some are painful. The extra idle time on my hands has brought balance as well. Early on I thought I’d actually end up blogging more. Topics raced through my head, but I drifted to find more personal balance. I’ve read more out of the field of education than I have in a long time. I’ve spent time getting to know my new dog and attempt to provide some training. I’ve spent lazy days watching movies just for the fun of it.
- It is important for educators to find balance in their lives. I plan to carry the new sense of balance into my life even after the cast is gone and I am on the mend. I’ll need to stay focused so that old “workaholic habits” don’t completely reemerge. I know it has been easier in the summer to find this balance than once the school year starts. One focus will be on my dog. Our training time has been limited. As a rescue dog he has some specific areas to overcome. Right now it is his fear of people. I have high expectations for him, just as I have for students and educators. I’m anxious for the day when I can report that Boji and I pass our Therapy Dog Training. His fear of people will be a definite area that will need to be overcome!
Leaning on Others and Saying No: As a self-sufficient individual asking for assistance is difficult at times. I like the feeling of being able to do things myself. Saying “No” can be even more difficult. I take pride in helping others even if that means doing a lot of behind the scenes work on my free time. Since July 25th I’ve had to do both. I’ve needed a lot of assistance. I’m thankful for my parents and friends who have helped along the way. I’ve also had to accept the thing I could not do – a form of saying “no.”
- As an Instructional Coach, I expect teachers to lean on me. It is in our partnership that we can aid in student success. While I have had a little time on my hands I reached out in the Twitter-sphere to find others interested in the field on Instructional Coaching. Many times coaches are the only person in their job classification at a school. Instead of feeling isolated we have joined together to lean on each other through a weekly Twitter Chat (#educoach) moderated by myself and @PrincipalJ and @shiraleibowitz – two amazing principals I am learning so much from! It has been an incredible experience to find others to share resources with and learn from each other. Global collaboration is a powerful feeling. The act of sharing with each other will actually free us up so we do not need to continually reinvent the wheel. I invite you to visit our Instructional Coach Wiki and chat each Wednesday evening at 9:00 CST.
This blog has been built on the premise of a growth mindset. Ever since a young child I’ve had the passion to keep learning. The day I stop learning will be the day I need to leave the field of education – something I NEVER see happening! My sense of wonder and growth comes from the people I encounter everyday – the students, educators, parents and community members. I learn so much from them!
My next step in learning is to check out the other posts (82 and growing) from #leadershipday11. I wonder what new learning adventure is around the corner? Each piece will add to my leadership skills. And it is safe to say I can’t break anything while sitting here reading blog posts!