It’s Not a Duty, It’s a Privilege

Connecting. Learning. Sharing. Reflecting – They make us better educators and they make us better leaders.

I had a conversation last week with one of our principals who is relatively new to Twitter.  As long as I have known her, she has been an active learner – always wanting to learn, grow, reflect, improve.  With her discovery of Twitter, she is now connecting, learning and sharing with many educators around the globe, and she, like me, is loving it.  At the heart of our conversation, though was this…  our commitment to being learners, our willingness to look out into the world and connect with others, watch what they are doing, and to see what they are sharing is making us better educators and leaders.

When we see inspirational tweets come across our screens, read blogs written by other educators, follow projects in other schools and districts around the nation and the world, we get inspired, and we often say to ourselves “I/We could do that!”  and then we often do…

Excerpts from a recent blog from Seth Godin said this:

Do the extra work not because you have to but because it’s a privilege…

Not because you want credit or reward. Because you can…

We know that the privilege of doing the extra work is the work itself.

The habit of doing more than is necessary can only be earned through practice. And the habit is priceless.

I have had times in my life as an educator when I have been so bogged down in the day to day routines and work that I have pushed aside my time for learning… my time for connecting… my time for sharing and reflecting.  Thinking about that now, I know those were the times when I least enjoyed my work, and when I was least effective as a leader.  I was getting the job done, but I wasn’t the type of leader I know I can be.  What I have learned is that in order to be the type of leader I can be proud of, then I must hold these things sacred… connecting, learning, reflecting and sharing.  It is as important to me to prioritize these things as part of my week as it is for me to prioritize being in schools and in classrooms – This is the extra work that is a privilege…  This is the extra work that needs to become habit.  This is the extra work that always motivates me, inspires me, and pushes me to be a better educator and a better leader.

Common Core: Let’s Talk “Why”, Not Just “What”

Since the adoption of the Common Core there has been much discussion about what it will mean for education in this country.  It has sparked thousands of debates, blog posts, articles, and books.  Marketing campaigns from publishers and professional developers flood our inboxes all claiming to have the answers for us in how we move forward with implementation.  Most of what I read and hear is focused on the “What” of the Common Core.  You’ve no doubt seen many of the same documents I have that summarize some of the big shifts full implementation of the Common Core will require.  Here are a few:
  • Independent reading and comprehension of increasingly complex texts
  • Emphasis on reading informational text
  • Significant focus on evidence-based questions and responses
  • Increased levels of complexity required in student thinking and responses (Webb’s DOK is huge here!)
  • Greater importance placed on writing – particularly on informational and argumentative writing
  • Integration between and among subjects with  literacy and technology being an integral part of ALL content areas
  • Integration of the eight mathematical practices and a clear focus on conceptual understanding and application
Last week I attended a session at a Literacy Institute Lead by Angela Peery where she reminded us about what we have learned from Simon Sinek in his book: Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.   She shared this great video with us: Why We Need Common Core: A Parody

We have been doing a lot of work in my district around the Common Core, but upon reflection, we have done a lot of the “What” and not nearly enough of the “Why”.  So here is a start on the list of “Why Common Core” – thank you Angela Peery and for some of these thoughts and data!
  • The US is declining in competitiveness with other developed countries
  • Colleges and universities report higher rates of remediation courses needed than ever before
  • College instructors and employers report over 40% of incoming students/workers are not prepared for college and work
  • The global economy is changing the nature of work and the kinds of jobs our young people will enter.
  • Jobs that once required a high school degree and paid a family-sustaining-wage and included retirement and health benefits are disappearing, and new jobs require more knowledge and skills than ever before.
  • Today, roughly two-thirds of all new jobs require some form of postsecondary education.
  • What it means to be literate in today’s global society is dramatically different
  • With all of the information coming at us, the ability to think critically, to question, to synthesize, analyze and apply information is crucial
  • Communication and collaboration skills are critical in today’s workplace
  • US students need to be college and career ready in a global world
  • Our students need to develop skills such as independence, perseverance, resiliency, and a sense of “agency”
As educational leaders, it is critical that we understand the why… the purpose… the rationale… behind the Common Core, and we must be able to communicate it effectively to our teams and our stakeholders.  Building commitment to the “why” will help ensure implementation of the “what”!

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it  – Simon Sinek

Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk here – thought-provoking!