I’ve been away from blogging and writing for a while now and, really, it was only sporadic before that. I’ve been spending time reading and working through some ideas and thoughts about education and learning. I’ve attended a few #edcamps and helped to organize a successful #saskedcamp with about 50 people participating in 4 morning sessions. We had great sponsorship from RemindHQ, Pearltrees, TheWeirdTeacher, Jay Wilson and Sask Middle Years Assoc. I’ve also been devoting more time to #saskedchat in hopes of engaging more teachers in connecting and sharing their learning and teaching and I have just become involved in a new chat, #CanWestchat, with educators from Manitoba and Alberta which takes place the third Saturday of each month.
But the vast majority of my time has been spent with my children.
A Different Perspective
My biggest reason for taking time away is that I’m spending a great deal of time with my 6 year old each morning and then with all my children after school. This is the last year of having someone at home for part of the day. It has been an incredible. I have taken time away from work – parental leave – before and, although it was great to be able to do that, the educational work-world wasn’t quite ready for a dad to take time off for parental leave. The educational world I was in just wasn’t ready when it came time for me to take time to be at home to help my wife and five small children and I felt little support for the decision. I found out that being a boundary pusher had consequences – far reaching consequences.
I’ve also been able to get other areas of my life back on track. Health, mental well-being, relationships – in each of these areas I’ve made specific decisions, implemented specific routines and am beginning to follow particular patterns. In each instance, it has been a deliberate decision to make changes, researching different options, deciding on a course of action and then implementing the different parts in a specific fashion. In finding routines and reading and experimenting, I’ve come to understand the power that routines and mindset have in shaping how I approach what I am doing, the relationships I have with people and even whether I was happy for other’s successes.
What I had read and understood intellectually in Dr. Carol Dweck’s Mindset, I know understand relationally and physically, allowing me to explore some of my own experiences from a new perspective with a mindset of learning and growing which has been very fertile food for thought given some of my past experiences!
Creativity and Connectivity
I’ve been able to do a great deal of reading about both creativity and connectivity. I started off reading educational writers but soon branched off to look at other areas such as entrepreneurship, life management, social networking, chaos and complexity theory and other topics. This has indeed provided me with many a fruitful idea. However, past experiences of blogging made me hesitant to take these ideas any further. In short, I was scared and fear held me back. However, in reading Seth Godin‘s The Icarus Deception and Todd Henry‘s Die Empty , I realized that I couldn’t allow these past negative experiences, or future ones for that matter, to inhibit me any longer.
“Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. … No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.” – Seth Godin
Not always easy to do especially when it is a deeply engrained part of the educational bureaucracy to wait to be picked, to do what is asked of you in order to demonstrate that you can be part of the team, and eventually, maybe, be part of the group that makes decisions about schools and education.
Definitely time to move on.
I was also influenced by Liz Wiseman’s three books Multipliers, The Multiplier Effect and Rookie Smarts. As a former administrator, I found so much practical information in these books, which I wish I had a few years earlier, that really opened me up to how essential leadership is in getting others to reach beyond where they are and become more than even they thought they could be. Over the time I have spent in education, I can say that I have experienced this from one leader, one person who made me feel like I had something to offer. Since that time, I have had a number of negative experiences until, eventually, I gave up hope of ever being able to use my gifts and talents in any useful way within education. That was until I decided I couldn’t just wait to “be finished and retire”. It was time to stretch some more boundaries and hew a new path.
I often think of how often I didn’t do this and didn’t provide talented people the opportunity to shine. How I really wanted to experience that feeling I’d only glimpsed for but a moment; of shining, being worthy and supported. Instead I kept others from shining as I tried to demonstrate I my own “smarts”.
I realize, now, that it is by lifting others up and allowing them to use their talents, to grow and even surpass us that is the mark of a true leader. Someone confident and knowledgeable enough to ask a deep question and challenge those around him/her to find an answer and then support them to do just that without fear of making mistakes in searching for the answer. In seeing latent talent and pushing others to bring it forth, encouraging and supporting. In demanding the best of people and then allowing them to do just that – give their best.
Where to go now?
Are you encouraging the people around you to grow and shine? Are you looking to help others grow and develop? Should not classrooms be filled with young people exploring their talents and developing a body of work that they can take with them throughout life? I have many questions, some thoughts and a few ideas. I am looking forward to exploring them and hearing what others have to say and what input they might give.
It is not without hesitation that I post this but I know to not would again be an excuse.
It’s time to pick. I’m choosing to pick myself and not wait to be picked by anyone. How about you?