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All right stop, Collaborate and listen. Ice is back with my brand new invention.
Yep, I am going there! I can stop, I can collaborate, but the thing I am not very good at is truly listening. I know this is a flaw of mine, and it has been for a very long time. I think it is important to really look at what is going on when things are not going the way you think they should. It is easier to blame what everyone else is doing, but it seems that more often than not, when you really look at things, the problems can easily be corrected by fixing yourself.
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Most people who know me professionally know that I can get very passionate about what I believe. I do think this is a strength, but like anything too much of something can be bad. Nearly two years ago I took over the role of Instructional Technology Coordinator for my school district. Mostly this was due to being in the right place at the right time. I had a passion for technology and my district was growing a 1:1 program. It just made sense for several reasons including my math background.
To start with, I always thought of Instructional Technology as a trainer position that would simply show teachers how to use different tools. I loved tech, I loved to figure stuff out, so even though I don't know how to use everything we have, I am one of the people in my district that will spend hours figuring stuff out. So yeah, I can say I was qualified to help teachers in this way. My problem is I have this other passion, and that is learning, and researching. I blame my professor, Dr. Richard Rose from West Texas A&M for this. During my time in his Instructional Design and Technology program he lit a fire in me that I didn't know existed. So why is this a problem?
Sometimes blind ambition leads you astray despite good intentions. I have been fortunate to speak to some very strong leaders in the world of Ed Tech and Innovative education. David Jakes tried to clue me into my problem a little over two months when he said what I was wanting to do was above my title or pay grade. Of course at the time, I said, YES that is correct I shouldn't have to do this or that, but I do because nobody else is doing it. You see my problem was still there, it was ME. It was the fact that despite good intentions, I was missing the boat.
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
You see, the "chump" in the room was me. As I was figuring out my role, I was constantly trying to make sure that what we did with Ed Tech would match our Curriculum vision. I bugged people in the dept that we had to come up with a common theme of vision. Really to the point of being annoying (those that know me would be shocked I'm sure).
The mission of the Sulphur Springs Independent School District is to provide students with the skills that will prepare them to adapt and excel in a fast-changing world, enabling them to lead productive lives. The district shares with parents and the community the responsibility of promoting high standards and expectations as we provide opportunities for all students within our diverse community to attain personal growth and to become lifelong learners.
So above is our District mission statement. It has been the same since before I even came to the district, and finally one day I re-read it and decided yes, that is great (especially the underlined words) and so I set out to make sure that what we do with Instructional tech ties back into our mission statement. Sound logical thinking, right? Well my problem is that I let myself go astray again by essentially creating my own mission or "agenda." It wasn't a bad thing, not a personal agenda to go against others, or to improve myself over others, but it has altered a lot of my thinking.
If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it
For me, I had to solve the problem of ensuring that our classrooms were innovative, and our teachers were all embracing all of the stuff that I believe to be important in that regard. I spend a ridiculous amount of time researching and reading and trying to make sure that we are doing things that are sound. And in so many ways what we do is really good. But it doesn't match everything that we should be all about. Again the elephant in the room is the fact that what I think we should be all about doesn't mean squat. My job is to carry out the vision and mission of my superiors. There are many things that they would like to accomplish right now also, but they know that we cannot throw everything out at once or our people will flounder miserably.
You see there is a fine line between leading and pushing. I tend to be a pusher, despite wanting to be a leader. I have really been working hard at trying to step back and help serve people rather than try to get them to all think like me. I have felt like I was making great strides, but last night it hit me. I sat with our Superintendent and said our common vision stinks. He graciously let me state my opinion, and didn't fire me, which I appreciate. He then followed it up with a well directed statement that was the nicest way he could have said to me that my mission wasn't a common one. It wasn't in those exact words, and I am not sure he even knows the exact statement that I am referring to directly. But the reality is it finally sank in, NO we do not have a common vision for what I personally think is best, but please note that I agree with things we are doing. That is true, but it is also because my vision or mission is NOT what the district mission or vision is, because it is not where the district is at this point in time, which I must recognize.
Yes I see eye to eye on a lot of things, but where my passion lies, is not where our district needs to be right now. My superiors have a common vision. They meet and they are on the same page and have their goals. I go back to David Jakes and his kick in the pants to me. It is not MY role to come up with what our common vision should be. It is my role to make sure our district vision is met. Take initiative for things that are in my wheel house, and give input when appropriate. There are a lot of "problems" that are not mine to solve. When they are not your problems, it doesn't mean that you don't stay proactive in addressing them when found, but remember that someone else with much more information is already working on those problems. It was said to me multiple times in multiple ways and I did "get it" at the time it was said, but I really didn't listen absorb it the way I should.
It is amazing how well I can hear that music the DJ is revolving, when I just get out of my own way. While my particular story may not relate to you, I do challenge you to really look at how you handle situations and determine if you are part of the problem as well. I think when we really look at things, we will see that before we complain, we need to make sure we have our house in order first.