Monday, June 12, 2017

A Summer of Learning. 5 Ways to Reflect and Grow

With the ending of another year of leading and learning, I push myself to take the pulse of the year completed. While there are many different moments that I am extremely proud of I know there are just as many moments in which I stumbled. The truth is I rarely take the time to revel in all that was positive. I would say we celebrate and move on. In the same vein, I don't labor on the events that may have crumbled and been obstacles on our path to success. Instead, I give each the attention they deserve. Like you, I learn from the successes we have and the failures we experience.

Now that the year is complete, this is an educators opportunity to get better at their craft. Summer is the perfect time to grow yourself in all aspects of your work. And even though there may not be students or teachers walking our halls and attending our classes, our learning never stops. This is a summer to grow and deepen our understanding of best practices in education.

As you starting thinking about where your summer growth may come from, here are the ways in which I will grow my learning in order to be a better leader:

1a. Dive into a Book. Get reading and think about how the words on the pages can impact the students and teachers that will walk through your doors in August and into September. Need some suggestions on what to read? There are many. Get on Twitter, stop by your local book store or ask a colleague. There is a vast collection and the topics are endless. Make sure to chose books that push yourself as an educator.

1b. Jot it Down. Post-it-notes, pages, sketch-notes or even take to your blog page. If you are anything like me, writing it down is what makes me better at remembering what I have read and will be more likely to apply in the future. Keep it simple and keep in intentional and you will be grateful you took to paper or computer to recall what you have been thinking about.

2. Head to a Conference. Whether an EdCamp, a conference sponsored by your local educational service center or at the national level, conferences are a great way to connect with educators that are passionate about what they do. Find something that works for your budget and commit to making the trip. I have found that conferences challenge the way in which I approach my work and broaden my lens to what others are doing in their schools and in their communities.

3. Pick up the Phone. Today we rely on social media and email to deliver messages and professional information and sometimes we forget that our "old technology" is just as good as the latest and greatest tech tool. Some educators use "Voxer" to be an integral part of their learning journey. Voxer allows you to send a message to either a group or to individuals and then they can respond as they have time. Of course nothing is more personal than picking up the phone and connecting and sharing your journey in leading and learning.

4. Get Outdoors. Regardless of what you teach or where you teach (or lead), there is much to be gained from being outdoors in your community and taking in the culture and surroundings that define it. If fortunate enough to travel, take pictures of where you have been and plan to use those in the year ahead. Remember, every step you take is a step in growing yourself. Use the outdoors as a way to grow and to rejuvenate yourself as an educator.

5. Find Balance. Press Pause. With all that there is that can be done, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. Clear your head, go for a walk and find the time to decompress from the year that is behind you. The pace we keep is intense and we need to give ourselves permission to catch up. So yes, we do have weeks off that other professions do not so use them wisely. Find balance and press pause.

You may be asking where the reference is to family. I purposefully saved that for last. As I have been reading the work of Gordon and Kight they both emphasize the need for clarity and purpose. For me, it is family that helps me achieve both. Regardless of the company that you keep, embrace the moments you have and spend time this summer growing with them. Family is often the reason you give with the effort that you do. Be sure to give back to them in the days and weeks ahead.