Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So Much to Learn


Later this week I head off to Boston to present at the November Learning, Building Learning Communities Conference on the invitation from Alan November. This is an amazing opportunity to share with a fresh audience of educators about my passion for teaching and learning.

I often ask myself how I have ended up in the place that I have. A kid growing up in upstate New York and having attended a small university in Ohio, I feel like I have finally found myself as an educator. I take great pride in being fully invested in my school community and that is essential for me. Also, I am fortunate to work in the school district that I do that not only embraces innovation, it demands it.

The reality is, however, I made some significant errors along the way to get where I am today. In fact, for a period of time I felt like I had mastered the art of "failing forward". Without that period in my life, however, I would not be heading off on a jet plane this morning to connect with passionate educators from across the globe to share my story.

My learning has been powerful. My story is about how I picked myself up, recognized my errors, accepted my need for growth and how I bought into the notion that I needed to increase my own learning which in turn would evolve me into a better practitioner, a better leader and a better person.

Keep the following in mind as you fail forward:

1. Embrace the uncomfortable. Just 4 years ago I was having some tough conversations with my colleagues about my direction in this field. While in my seat in, I sat and squirmed and felt like the walls were closing in. Those were some rough days in my journey. My decision that day was a simple one. Instead of running from this tough moment, I embraced it. I looked it dead in the eyes and demanded more of myself. The growth began immediately.

2. Own it. When failing forward the hardest part of the process is to own the errors. If your colleagues, community or even harder to accept your superiors are giving you the impression that you are losing your way, you can respond in one of two ways. My advice is simple. Own that there are improvements to be made and commit to seeing it through. The sooner you own it, the quicker the path to success.

3. Let down your guard. Too often when we fail we build up a wall of trust, or lack there of. That is natural and instinctive. As hard as it is, try not to leave that wall up. You can't get better on your own just as you didn't fail forward on your own. No, you were not pushed. However, at some point others may have stepped away on your journey. I understand being cautious just don't be resistant. Allow others to be a part of your improvements.

4. Have a plan. Now that you are owning your errors, moving forward to being a better educator and embracing the reality of your situation, make sure to know the direction you are heading. For me I had to reach out to my most trusted colleagues and friends. I owned my missteps and dove in to seeing my improvement. I created a plan, set some goals and put my eyes forward to the potential that was there to be had. For me, the plan is what made all the difference. Going in blindly just leads to more failing. Having a plan is essential.

I am not finished with my journey in teaching and learning and especially leading. I have more to do and there is a passion within me to share my story with each of you. We are unique. Our paths in life are independent of each other. However, at the end of the day, we have one goal in common. Simply, we want to be better today than we were yesterday. There is so much to learn.