Tuesday, July 11, 2017

With my people it's different sharing our story - not my PLN

It is 8:30 am on Monday, preparing for a presentation at 9:00 am at the NAESSP conference, with my instructional coaches.  I am nervous, drinking nothing but coffee, and probably developing a caffeine headache.  +Jessica Hoban replies to my comment about the expected crowd. "These are your people," with a smile and a smirk.  It struck me... as I knew that the audience was probably going to be over 90% school admins, but at the same time, I realized something.  I have never spoken to only admins in an audience.  Many conferences, edcamps, etc. but all were mixed crowds.  I realized that without teachers, instructional coaches, district offices staff, etc. it would be different.

I was immediately excited, not because I did not want the other groups there, but I knew with a look, an eye contact, a wink, this group knew EXACTLY what I meant when I referred to "being interrupted" or having "an issue with that," and many other things we say.  Unless you walk in these shoes, you don't understand.  Just like I don't understand the feeling teachers have with dealing with all the issues they deal with on a daily basis anymore.  This was not my PLN (Professional Learning Network), it was my peers.  They all understood, they all "got it".  I have never made so much eye contact with a large group before, but I wanted them to feel me, and I wanted to feel them.

I was able to speak to them from the heart, a practitioner that has the exact same struggles every single day.  I spoke to them as I wanted.  This is different than how I felt I needed.  That is a big difference, I let a few things fly out that were for them only, for that group of equals.  I did not speak to them as to what they should do, but what we did, and why it was so important for us.  Even with all the struggles and lessons learned.  They even heard about my first kiss... Seriously a total side story for another time! HAHA!

It was not a call to action, but a call to trying something.  Something that we severely modified from its original intent to better our overall instructional quality.  Failure or success, it was a true test in taking a chance...

Now sharing that story with those that understood what that meant.  I explained over and over what we did was an investment in people equity.  I felt like we had built up enough reserve and now I was going to tap into that for a withdrawal.  It was not culture, relationships, or other stuff that is easy to speak to, it was a process that was not always smooth.  Definitely not a program, that if it failed, we had an easy excuse.  It had the potential of really hurting.  We owned it, failure or success, it was ours, we had no scapegoat.

I left feeling like I connected with the crowd, I wanted them to understand, not shame them for not doing more.  I wanted them to know one aspect of our school life with doors wide open.  I told them, "I don't know" a few times, and admitted to a few other things that were not perfectly implemented.  I may have gotten emotional and excited a little at times, but tried to keep my reactions in check.

I also knew that what we did was special, special that we asked people to share their passion (teaching) with their peers/colleagues in the most intimate way.  Then when that was done, hear a detailed breakdown of their lesson, and finally speak to their decisions face to face with the whole group, in the same day.  This I feel is the ultimate test in school culture for staff. On this measure I think we passed with flying colors.  I could not have asked for more and the main reason why I felt like this story needed to be shared!!!

It needed to be shared with those that may be hesitant, may want to just put a toe in the shallow end, or just try something a little different.  "Push the uncomfortable" is a saying I heard a lot this week.  I feel like we lived in uncomfortable for a while this year, during this process.  Then we made the bed and walked out, head high, looking for a new place to sleep.  Thank you #cddolphins for allowing me to present your awesome willingness to go on this uncomfortable journey and keeping focus on the ultimate goal, "our kids" and how they think.

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