Thursday, January 22, 2015

Walking the Walk and Owning It

Source: The Greatness Mind Network
If you have ever attended a presentation of mine, heard my keynote, or spent more than 5 minutes discussing education with me you know my stance on risk and failure. I believe it is essential in the learning process. As learners, doing or getting it right the first time is not always the best indication of learning. Real learning takes effort, patience, reflection, and perseverance. Failure IS an option, as long as it does not result in giving up or moving on. It needs to result in reflection, retooling, and renewal to the task at hand.

Over the past several months I have been on a professional journey. I was raised in a home where my parents have both worked for their current employers for 25+ years (my father is 60 years old and just completed his 44th year with the same company). There have been other opportunities for them, but they are from a generation where employer loyalty is a cornerstone. Growing up in a house with that structure has embedded the belief in me as well. As such, I struggle with the idea of leaving the current school system I serve. They gave a non-certified teacher a chance to start his career, provided me opportunities to grow and lead, and trusted me to serve as a leader within the district. Over the past two years I have been blessed beyond measure professionally. During that time I have also had a good number of voices telling me to move on, market myself, and step out to a larger role. I struggled with that decision because I come from the "wait your turn" mentality (hard for anyone that knows me to believe but it's true).

So...earlier this month I made a difficult decision. I informed my supervisors that I intended to look outside our school district to grow professionally. I felt I was in need of a new challenge. I strongly believe I have a lot to offer a school and I want to see what I can do in a larger role to promote student voice, teacher leadership, and community empowerment. With that in mind I submitted my first application outside of my district. In this case it was to the district that I grew up in from Kindergarten to graduation. My parents still live there. My daughter plays hockey there. My family still spends half our free time there. It is and always will be home for me. I spent a good deal of time on the process and clicked "submit." I had taken a leap, one that I encourage in my student's daily.

Last evening I received the following response:

"We have received a number of applications from qualified candidates. Unfortunately, you were not selected for an interview at this time."

There are two directions this can go: 1) Anger and rejection; or 2) Opportunity and Renewal. The initial human response internally is response 1; I admit...I started there. I struggle to look at my qualifications, accomplishments, and accolades and see where a clear deficiency exists. I struggle to look at the work I have done in my school to bring learning opportunities to our students, staff, and community and see where I am short of "being ready." I struggle because this is "home." I struggle because I do not want to view myself as better than others. I struggle because this attitude is not what I teach my students.

I teach my students to see moments like this as an opportunity to reflect, recharge, improve, and forge ahead. I teach my students that just because a door doesn't open doesn't mean we recoil. I teach my students that moments like this are what make us stronger. I teach my students to stand up and go forward.

So, after my initial internal response I know I am better from the journey. Maybe going home is not the destination I am supposed to seek. I believe there is a place out there that can benefit from my leadership. I believe there is a school that has the pieces in place to move from good to great and I am the leader to help build those pieces into the bigger picture. I believe that there are great educators who can benefit from my leadership to help facilitate a new vision for empowered learning in their school. I believe that this is one small step in the path forward. I believe this is not failure, it is opportunity.

I choose response 2.