For the past week and a half, I’ve thought a lot about my last school year. It seems odd that students have been finished for about a week and a half, yet, I almost feel as though we just started. In the short time I’ve been done, I have attended ISTE 2016, been home for a few days, and now I am getting ready for NAESP 2016. I laughed this morning, while getting things ready for my upcoming trip, as I wondered why I had pushed myself into doing so much in such a short period of time, when I could have taken the time to just be at home, get some projects done, and relax after a busy school year.
I know why I didn’t…and it isn’t martyrdom or poor “work-life balance”. In my early adulthood, I spent some time floundering with what I would do professionally, and after some marginal work experiences, I decided to enter the education profession. For the past 23 years, I’ve had the great pleasure of working in a profession that I absolutely love, feeling like I have made a difference in the life of children every day I have gone to work. My previous work experiences not only shaped my thoughts about how important it is to love what you do for work, but they also informed me about the importance of work being meaningful, in the greater sense of the word.
I’m also “wired” to love working. For me personally, working a lot is actually the balance I need. I’ve never been one to sit still for long, so even when I’ve not been working, I’ve had multiple projects going on at home, including gardening, painting projects, genealogy research, etc. There has never been a lot of “down time” for me, however, I am not the type of person that needs that. Keep in mind, I am not criticizing people who do need more down time, I’m just recognizing my own personal needs, which do not necessitate that. I also keep this in mind when working with colleagues and with educators in my school.
In my busy days since school has ended (for students and staff, not so much for me), I’ve thought a lot about my work over the past year, where education is in general, how I can improve my work in service of students and teachers, and what I can do for the upcoming school year that will continue to add value to the field of education. I’ve also thought of the saying, “Give more than what is expected” and I’ve thought about how that may apply to my work.
As I reflect on my last school year, and then think about the upcoming year, there are some things I know I will do in the spirit of “giving more than what is expected”. Here’s my “short list” of items:
- Push myself to grow professionally in ways that I haven’t in the past, expanding my thinking and being open to new experiences, opportunities and learning. This includes doing things that I think will be successful AND trying things that may not be successful.
- Collaborate with educators to develop a climate and culture within my school and district where high levels of trust are built through professional working relationships, so that educators truly enjoy coming to work every day and are able to do their very best work.
- Support principal colleagues to carry out the complex work of school leadership in ways that meets their needs as administrators and learners as a result of being my “best self”.
- Continue to hold steady to my focus of placing students at the forefront of every decision I make. All work must be related to providing the best experience for students, both academically and socially/emotionally.
- Develop greater levels of trust and support with the greater school community around the work my school does to support students through multiple modes of communication which will meet the needs of many of our stakeholders.
While I am sure that many school administrators may have similar goals, I continue to think about the degree to which I will do these things as part of my “short list”, and how I can take each of these items to the “next level” and give more than what may be expected of me, as always, in the service of students.
And yes, I should be packing for my trip to NAESP 2016 tomorrow, and yes, I have a lot of other projects lined up, however, I can’t stop thinking about giving more than what is expected and how that will enrich the lives of my students and create better educational opportunities for everyone I work with in both my immediate school community and the greater educational community.
So if you are like me, and you are still working, or if your personal needs are different and you are taking a short break, I am wondering how will you give more than what is expected for the upcoming school year. What will it look like? Will you rely on immediate colleagues, a PLN, classes? No matter what you do, there’s no doubt that giving more than what is expected will result in a better experience for you and others, whether learning through successes or through situations where you’ve failed.
Be sure to reach out to me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via Twitter (@tommartellone) if you’re thinking about giving more, trying something new, or wanting another thought partner in education. I’m definitely interested in creativity and risk taking!