Missteps and what do to next

After a great beginning of the week, Wednesday hit hard.  I got busy and I dropped the ball on something.  It resulted in my principal being blindsided by a very irate parent in his office.  I took my misstep hard, but my principal said the most profound thing: “Good leaders reflect on the missteps and do not take it personally.”  So here goes:

The things I will do better:

1. Communicate: I forgot to keep my principal informed of the parent conversations I had.  I didn’t put them all in the parent contact log.  I also did not verbally tell him about one particular contact when I saw him that day.  So I will now pause and summarize my meeting with a parent after I get off of the phone or have a conversation.

2. Delegate: No one will take away my S on my chest if I ask and request help.  I do not have to investigate everything.  I have a league of people willing and capable of helping me be the best at my job.  Just like my primary job is to make my principal look good, it is also lots of others jobs too.  This is hard skill is hard at home too.

The things I learned by watching my principal handle my misstep:

1. Give quality feedback to correct a mistake.  He calmly looked at me and said, “Let’s talk about this at our SAM meeting to discuss how to address the root cause of it.”  I came to the realization with effective questioning and clear description of the problem.  I own that mistake now and I will actively prevent that issue in future.

2. Agree and disagree.  I watched as he listened calmly and quietly to the parent.  He didn’t justify why what happened happened.  He let his silence do the heavy lifting.  At the same time, when the mom said something that was false, he respectfully disagreed.  The parent left happy that action would be taken.

Finally, I learned that my mistakes do not define me but how my responses to my mistakes do.  So the next day, I came back to school with a smile on my face determined that I will communicate and delegate effectively.

So today I had that opportunity.  I called for back-up.  My counselor took a student that was in crisis.  A para-educator investigated a low-level issue and summarized the findings to me.  I made sure that I documented everyone I talked to and verbally kept my principal aware of the larger issues.  I left school later than usual, but excited that I managed a busy day effectively.


Change, Growth and Grace

Since I moved my family back to the midwest, I have been blessed to spend more time with my family.  Sixteen years ago, I left my parents’ house in Omaha for the big city of Houston.  Luckily, I grew and changed over those years and so did my parents and siblings.  We did see each other yearly, but not as regularly as we do now.  One thing I noticed at this year’s Christmas gathering is that I am not forced to be the person I was in this picture.


My brother, sister and I just before I moved to Houston.

My parents and siblings allow me to grow and change.  For this I am very blessed. My family’s reaction to me made wonder about how educator view growth and change in others.

I think that it is easy to pigeon-hole students, teachers and parents into a role.  If we hold tight to that view, we do not allow that person to grow or change.

I think of one of my students who has a reputation about being a difficult student.  A behavior intervention plan was put in place so this student could be successful.  This plan worked for this child.   At times, it can be challenging for this student because teachers and students still see him as “the bad kid.”  Luckily, his teachers have seen him grow and are proud of his change.  His success happened because his teacher believed that he was capable of change.

As an educator we need to believe that all students are capable of change and who they were last year, last month, or last week does not have to define them.

We also need to give each other that grace to grow.  If define teachers based on their first year of few years of teaching, then we are limiting them.  I am glad that I am not defined by my first few teaching years .  I know that I was a difficult mentee and I can remember in my second year of teaching that I was upset that I was not nominated for Teacher of the Year.  I am glad that those teachers never gave up on me.  They continued to treat with respect because they knew I would change.  Luckily, I did.

As I continue my journey of growth and change, I will expect my peers to grow and change.  I will expect my students will grow and change.  I will embrace who they are now and who they will become over time.  Change is an exciting thing!

My One Word for 2015

I decided to join @TechNinjaTodd in another learning challenge.  I do need to say that his summer learning challenge forced me to be more connected to other educator.  You can read about his summer learning here.

So the first challenge this time is to find one little word to focus on this year.  You can read about this challenge here.

As I think about last year, I found I was always thinking about the next step.  This was necessary because last year was full of massive change.  I decided in January that I needed to move back to the midwest because my children needed to know their grandparents.

Packing, moving across country, grad school, and learning. Still smiling! #SummerLS #selfie

Here’s a few of the things I accomplished last year:

  • Prep and sell a house.
  • Find a dream job in the midwest.
  • Move my whole family to Iowa.
  • Buy a new house.
  • Get my M Ed.

I found myself busy thinking about what to do next instead enjoying what was happening around me.  I am proud of what I accomplished last year, but am sad that I didn’t focus on the ride.  So this year my little word is…

I am looking forward to listening to a student explain what happened without thinking about what’s next.  I am also looking forward to being “here” with my own kids.  I know that they are only this age once.  I don’t want to arrive at the end of my career and not enjoyed every minute of it.

So here’s to being in the present.