Planting Opportunities

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to speak to soon-to-be-high school graduates and soon-to-be college graduates on different occasions.  In both panels, the focus was my career path in education and advice for those who want a career in education. In reflecting on my own journey I realized that for every opportunity that I have been given, a seed for that opportunity was planted long before it occurred.  It was never planned, but somehow, each seed was quietly harvested, quietly growing until the time was ripe to take advantage of the next step.  Mostly, these seeds came in the way of connections which led to opportunities.  Or maybe, the opportunities led to further connections. Or both.

As I look back, although I didn’t necessarily have an end in sight, I knew opportunities that were good for me, people that were good for me and took chances that led to other new chances.

As I talked to these eager young folks, I talked about taking advantage of all of the opportunities given to you, making good, solid, lasting impressions and staying connected to people who inspire you.  I realize that this is what I’ve done so far in my own career.  Right now, I’m very much “in the moment” of my still “new” administrative career.  However, one day, I’d like to get my doctorate, or teach college or write more books for teachers.  So right now, I’m planting seeds for opportunities: e-mailing my old book editor with new ideas for books, saying YES to speaking at a college seminar for graduating seniors and keeping my eyes open for other ways to plant seeds for the future.  You never know what will grow….

The Mess Before the Clarity

This week, I’m filling in for  writer’s workshop for a teacher who is on vacation. I’m teaching the realistic fiction unit to fourth graders.  As the principal, it’s actually the best part of my day to be back in the classroom for a week teaching writing.  My assignment: to get the students from nurtured seed idea to draft by the end of the week! Since I’ve never taught this unit before myself, it’s back to the basics for me: reading the teacher’s manual, planning lessons at night, finding mentor texts, assessing students daily and refining my plan for tomorrow to reflect all of that!

Today we were in the messy phase of idea to scene to drafting! It was a good mess though…the mess that comes before the clarity.  I’m feeling that both in teaching of the writer’s workshop and in my own learning curve of being back in the classroom for a week (with a specific assignment and deadline – no less!).  For all of us, disequilibrium is good every once in a while.  It’s good to feel a little uncomfortable, a little messy, a little less-than-organized and know that sometimes that’s the only way to find the clarity that you are seeking.

I’m loving my little 1 hour of disequilibrium each day – not knowing exactly how the lesson will go, how the students will respond and how the rest of the week will turn out.  We’ll see….

Finding treasures in everyday writing

Reflecting on the challenge of writing everyday for a month, I loved it. It forced me to push beyond tired, push beyond piles and push beyond the usual, and find, focus and zoom into small tiny treasures of writing moments.  It is exactly what we hope for in our writer’s workshops when we give the gift of time to write each day (although with the added structure of genre and structure and craft – OH MY!).  I relished the opportunity to get feedback from both known and unknown readers – the feedback boosted my confidence and my desire to write more each day (how can I do that for my students?)  I have filled my paper notebook (pNotebook) and my eNotebook and look forward to the challenge to keep on blogging at least weekly.  Thank for the challenge to push through and find those treasures.

Slice of Life, Day 29: Heads together

Today I worked on a tedious report with two other colleagues. With their focus, our shared vision and our A-type personalities, we were able to complete the task quickly and efficiently before the day was done.  Phew. One less thing to do.  Throughout the year this small team has worked with me on our shared professional development goals and reports.  It really has been quite a pleasure to have some company while completing this work.  Wish I could have the same “heads together” for the other mound of reports and tedious tasks I need to complete.  I am lucky though, I work in a place that cherishes professional learning communities and when you need it, there is always someone to put your head together with – it makes the tough work so much easier!