I shake my head as I try to understand what I’ve done. This career move came after 32 years in education. Better late than never? We’ll see. I didn’t wait on purpose. There were simply other things that needed to be done and I wasn’t ready to give those up to take on this new role as servant leader. And make no mistake, if you are not prepared to be a servant leader, think twice about being a school administrator.
This weekend was spent away from work, if you can ever be away from work with our devices binding us to our jobs 24/7. It was a typical Okanagan day in October. My reverend and I traveled up to our eventual retirement haven to pick and shuck our walnuts. We did so in the sunshine, the rain, and some pretty amazing hail. I picked under the cover of the tree, dearest JLP, picked under the sun, rain, and hail. He’s such a good man! The fresh air and honest labour were restoring to my mind and soul.
As always with the picking comes time for reflection. My reflection this year was about work. The ‘big idea’ that attempted to hijack the joy of the day was: when is enough, enough?
If you follow Will Richardson you may have read his blog post I want a Meta App. This one stopped me in my tracks. I may have shouted at my screen for the man to ‘get a life’. Then as any good self-regulating person would do, I paused and reminded myself, Mr. Richardson writes blogs/books as part of his job. He’s quite good at marketing himself. Most of the time I nod my head vigorously in agreement with his ideas, this time I had the urge to throw something at my screen.
I’m in education to teach. I’m not in education to promote technology. Just as gardeners, surgeons, musicians, athletes, (you get the picture) pick their tools to aid their performance, I endeavour to use this tool of technology to promote learning. Keep in mind, that it is one tool of our trade, it is not the ONLY thing. If I’m jumping all over the place; looking for the latest greatest app, pinning the newest website, tweeting a relevant blog, I end spending more time cruising than doing what is ultimately the most important part of my role: building relationships.
Here’s the thing:
I can spent time online trying to find the latest, greatest ideas for my staff, or I can sleep at night so I have adequate energy to relate to staff, students, and parents.
I can obsessively check my school email in the evenings and on weekends so I don’t miss anything, or I can trust that if there was an emergency I will be contacted via my fancy new mobile device.
I can exhaust myself with the notion of completion, or I can decide when enough has been done and live a balanced and healthy life.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned in life came at great cost. Peace, priorities, joy, hope, health, family, balance. These have little to do with technology yet are the things that make me uniquely me; dare I say strong me.
My question becomes: how do I maintain the important parts of humanness and hold those along side the role of administrator? Who’s demands are most important: parents, students, staff, Principal, District Leadership Team, Board of Education…or my aging mother, who I’ve haven’t called all week?
My answer is more holistic than you’d find in the simplicity of tracking every online activity today. My answer is actually a question. Does what I do push forward hope for our school? Does what I’m chasing down on-line or at meetings bring grounding to parents who are worried about their child not reading, learning math, being bullied, or being a bully? Yes and yes! At our school we may not all be on Edmodo, Twitter, Evernote. We may not all have accounts on About.me, Pinterest, Google Reader, YouTube, BUT we talk to each other face-to-face. We engage with our students. We listen and respond to our parents. We are not perfect, but we are human. With the belief that ‘Better is Possible’, there comes a time to celebrate the here and now.
It’s a good thing, this education gig!