"Good morning, Cori...how are you?"
"I'm good, and yourself?"
"Great! Have a good day."
30 seconds and the moment is gone. That is a familiar "outward conversation", but what is the "real conversation" that is hiding behind the niceties?
"Good morning, Cori...how are you?"
"To be honest, I'm struggling."
"I understand, how can I help?"...
30 seconds and the moment is changed, impact is made.
I have been thinking quite a bit about time, lately. It is something that we seem to never have enough of, it is something we are trying to conquer, it is something that we are "up against"...BUT it is something we ALL have and it is free. So how are we spending our time?
On Monday, a small group of teachers, including myself, will be embarking on a new adventure and WE ARE EXCITED!! Our district is "piloting" a new summer school program for 5/6 graders. Each student will be taking part in a two hour "Math Academy" (which I am teaching) and a two hour "STEAM Camp". Here is what is unique: ANY child that will be entering 5th or 6th grade is welcome, they don't even need to be from our district. Students are not placed in classes for remediation nor are they placed for extension. Their placement in our classes are totally random. To me, this is an amazing gift! But it is also an amazing responsibility. Because these students are from all walks of life, come with varying skills, confidence, understanding and experiences with math- culture matters more than ever. I often say #cultureovercurriculum - spend the time to build culture up front or it will be very difficult to get students to understand the curriculum. But we have a hiccup... time.
The goals for the Math Academy are this:
- Change Mathematical Mindsets
- Foster Mathematical Discourse
- Build number sense
- Make math fun
-Make math sticky
Well- here is the kicker- we ONLY have 18 days! 18!
Part of my role, which I was sooo excited about, was to help facilitate the PD for the teachers to get them ready... but how can I act pumped up about it, when I couldn't wrap my mind around that short little time frame? And then I had a "switch flip moment" which I shared with the group.
I thought to myself, we only have 18 days. And then it clicked. Oh my gosh, we HAVE 18 days...to make a difference. We can make a difference in just one moment...how many moments will we have in 18 days? We can do this... Let's make a difference!
And so with that, I have been walking around with a new lens. I have tried to tune in to life more. I have been focusing more on the small moments, because those are the ones that often produce huge gains, but if we don't slow down, they go unnoticed.
Here are some small moments that have made a difference to me personally, over this last week:
- someone sharing a quote that reminds them of me
- someone reaching out to me to share something they are struggling with and asking me for help
- someone checking in on me on a regular basis
- someone allowing me to do what I love to do, on a whim
- someone telling me they believe in me
- someone sharing appreciation for something I didn't even realize
- someone taking a chance on me and providing an opportunity
- someone listening to my stream of consciuoness
- someone sharing a risk they have taken
- someone letting me know that they read what I write
All of these things took only moments on the other person's part, but their impact is ever lasting.
I love this TED talk by Drew Dudley- Everyday Leadership . In this he describes what he calls "Lollipop Moments". Well, when this was shared with me a few years ago, the person shared it with this message "Made me think of you." - right there- that person gave me a "Lollipop Moment" herself.
Here is my call to action: First, reflect and find those small moments, those "Lollipop Moments" that have impacted you. Now, keep those in mind as you move through your day today. How do you want to use the moments your are given? Whether it is with students, staff, adults, children, friends, colleagues, strangers. How can you make an impact on others?
Here is where I am stuck. I had somehow found my voice in speaking about leadership and organizational change. I have seen a lot from my position, standing on that fence - wavering between two worlds. Which by the way, I whole heartedly believe, they should all just be in one world- "For the Children" (shout out to CUE Tang Clan). I have seen, experienced and learned a lot. I believed I had a unique perspective based on this "Limbo Factor". I believed that sharing through that lens could be helpful and impactful.
BUT...Now that I am heading back to the classroom, do I have the "right" to continue sharing that voice from "Leading In Limbo"? I know I have the "Limbo" part down, but I'm not going to lie... my confidence has been completely shot on the "Leading" part.
One of the most interesting things in all this, was the timing. I found out about this change in role, the day before flying out to a leadership conference (Lead 3) to speak in front of many leaders, in all different roles of education; over three days. To be honest, my soul and confidence were crushed and I felt like a fraud. I don't know how I was able to compartmentalize and stand up there and spout my stuff - or at least I hope I was.
As I stood up there and presented...this tape kept playing in my mind "Who are you, to be talking to these administrators about leadership? You are not a leader."
As much as I tried to cut that tape, it just continued to play over the next two months. I was ready to shut this blog down. Stop presenting on such things. Crawl into my new classroom, shut the door and do my best to serve my new students. Simple.
But it just didn't settle right inside of me.
Then this amazing opportunity was presented to me by my friend and often "partner in crime" Jay Sorensen. He asked if I would be one of three speakers for his district's (OUHSD) CUE Rockstar Admin PD day. I of course, believed he was just "throwing me a bone" because he knew where my head and my heart were at. But I of course, couldn't say no.
So... get this line up: Jon Corippo, John Eick and... me. That didn't cut that tape in my head... it just made it replay more frequently and louder.
Now, luckily, those two gentleman are friends of mine and I love them both to death, so I didn't have a complex about presenting with them, personally. To me, I was worried about perception from the participants- because those two are edu-leader giants, and I was just.. well ...you know how that ends.
A big "One of these things is not like the other....", deal.
I have written before about how blessed I am with amazing people in my corner. One is the incredible Joe Sanfelippo. I was chatting with him to bounce some ideas around about this session I was doing on "Culture". We went back and forth for awhile. Finally he said "Culture is also built on the language that you use. But after almost every single idea you had, you ended with "Who the **** am I?". Stop saying that! You can’t stand up there and lead, if you don’t believe in yourself. So stop it.”
Well- who can argue with that? OK, Joe... point taken.
So I pushed all of those things aside and went for it. I will share the results of that day, in another post- because that is not what this one is about. This one is about believing. It is about "Walking Your Why" and believing that we ALL have something to contribute. It is about not letting fear, anxiety, the past, chatter... deter you from your path...from your journey, if you are walking that why.
So- I am still not completely settled in what to do with this blog space. For now... I will just keep on writing and keep on leading, in whatever capacity I can.
My call to action is this: Learn from my "cautionary tale" - this is why I write so vulnerabily. We ARE all leaders in our own right... whether we are leaders in our classroom, on our site, in the district, of our family, in our church. Look around and see who is WITH you. Not necessarily behind you. I believe our best leaders, lead from the middle. Those who are in the mix, who encourage and inspire others to lead forward. That can be all of us. And in the words of my friend Brent Coley...
Thank you to these amazing people for helping me continue to "Walk My Why"- no matter what it says under my name, in my email signature: Jon Corippo, John Eick, Brent Coley, Tony Sinanis, Joe Sanfelippo, Michael Niehoff, Steve Woods, Jay Sorensen, Pam Hernandez, Terri Leon, Eddie Campos, Jr, and Jeremiah Ruesch (to name a few). You are appreciated more than you will ever know. I have learned so much from each and every one of you and continue to do so with every interaction.
This morning, I woke up at 0' dark 30 with so many thoughts in my head...so many emotions in my heart. I sit here on my ** birthday and realize- what better time for a soul check, than now? Now this could go one of two ways. This could get way personal or it could get way professional. Well, if you know me at all- we know how this is going to go...
Next week, I will be closing up shop as a TOSA (Teacher On Special Assignment) in my district, to go back into the classroom. Although this was not the path I had planned, I have to believe it is the path that was planned for me- somewhere, somehow, by someone. So there has been a ridiculous amount of reflection over the past two months- much I have shared here.
This blog has been my go-to for a whole lot, a majority of these four years. As I am sitting here, I am in limbo on what to do with this space, moving forward. This has been such a huge of a piece of my recent life, that I can't even ponder it right now. I am going to leave that piece still unwritten...for now.
Over the past two months, I have been incredibly humbled by the kind words and sharing that I have received from many of the people that I have served in these past four years. Yesterday, I heard even more and last night, I read some in writing. It is really difficult for me to take that all in, but I am trying. Some were personal, and don't need to be shared beyond them and me.
I have written and talked about the idea of "Walking Your Why", sticking to your purpose and doing so with passion. This check- is a check on that. Did I, in fact do what I intended to do? Did my message come through? Did the right message come through? Honestly- this sounds personal, and on a level it is- but I am focusing more on that message. There are so many quotes (and you know I love quotes) I could throw in here, but the one I want to share is from my friend John Eick. This is something that he said in a Voxer conversation with myself and our friend Brent Coley. It was an amazing nugget that he didn't even realize he said, but I caught it and asked if I could use it...
So I am going to go through a list of what other people have shared that they remember from me- not ABOUT me...not the purpose here:
*These are not all exact words, but the themes that seemed to re-occur*
- Relationships matter
-Take risks and fail forward
-Students first- always- show with actions, not just words
-Choice is important for both students and teachers
-Get comfy with the uncomfy...for kids
-Collaboration is key
-Share freely and share widely
-Meet kids (and adults) where they are- this can only be done if we know them (reach them to teach them)
-Culture over curriculum
-We must support both teachers and students with the information, time and resources to create any sort of substantial change
Well- if I could put a check on even just one of those, I can walk into my next adventure with my head held high. And if you ever read anything on here- those in fact ARE the themes that re-occur in my blog posts. So what matters even more is this- did my actions match my words? Did I in fact model, encourage and support in those 10 things? Man, I sure hope so.
Will I take that list and add on as I move forward- Heck Yeah! *And please note that I am not naive to the fact that I also have many places to fix, learn and grow. I am aware of my weaknesses and will work on those as well- just not today.
Yesterday, someone said this to myself and my colleague Dustin Ellis (who is off on a new journey as well) - "The role may have changed, but you haven't." And those words are the ones that I am putting in my pocket, and walking on with. We shall see what the future holds...
My call to action is this: When time allows, take a few minutes to do a check. What is your purpose? What is your why? Has that in fact been your anchor, your compass and your spring board? What do you want to take with you? And what do you want to abandon? It is always important to check yo' self.
Have a fantastic end of the school year! Talk soon!
Mother, Teacher, Presenter, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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