Sunday, October 21, 2012

143rd Post - And the Light Came On!

I shake my head as I try to understand what I've done. This career move came after 32 years in education. Better late than never? We'll see. I didn't wait on purpose, there were simply other things that needed to be done and I wasn't ready to give those up to take on this new role as servant leader. And make no mistake, if you are not prepared to be a servant leader, think twice about being a school administrator.

This weekend was spent away from work, if you can ever be away from work with our devices binding us to our jobs 24/7. It was a typical Okanagan day in October. My reverend and I traveled up to our eventual retirement haven to pick and shuck our walnuts. We did so in the sunshine, the rain, and some pretty amazing hail. I picked under the cover of the tree, dearest JLP, picked under the sun, rain, and hail. He's such a good man! The fresh air and honest labour were restoring to my mind and soul. 

As always with the picking comes much time for reflection. My reflection this year was about work. The 'big idea' that attempted to hijack the joy of the day was: when is enough, enough? 

If you follow Will Richardson you may have read his blog post I want a Meta App. This one stopped me in my tracks. I may have shouted at my screen for the man to 'get a life'. Then as any good self-regulating person would do, I paused and reminded myself, Mr. Richardson writes blogs/books as part of his job. He's quite good at marketing himself. Most of the time I nod my head vigorously in agreement with his ideas, this time I had the urge to throw something at my screen.


I'm in education to teach. I'm not in education to promote technology. Just as gardeners, surgeons, musicians, athletes, (you get the picture) pick their tools to aid their performance, I endeavour to use this tool of technology to promote learning. Keep in mind, that it is one tool of our trade, it is not the ONLY thing.  If I'm jumping all over the place; looking for the latest greatest app, pinning the newest website, tweeting a relevant blog, I end spending more time cruising than doing what is ultimately the most important part of my role: building relationships.

Here's the thing:

I can spent time online trying to find the latest, greatest ideas for my staff, or I can sleep at night so I have adequate energy to relate to staff, students, and parents.

I can obsessively check my school email in the evenings and on weekends so I don't miss anything, or I can trust that if there was an emergency I will be contacted via my fancy new mobile device.

I can exhaust myself with the notion of completion, or I can decide when enough has been done and live a balanced and healthy life.

The biggest lessons I've learned in life came at great cost. Peace, priorities, joy, hope, health, family, balance. These have little to do with technology yet are the things that make me uniquely me; dare I say strong me.

My question becomes: how do I maintain the important parts of humanness and hold those along side the role of administrator? Who's demands are most important: parents, students, staff, Principal, District Leadership Team, Board of Education...or my aging mother, who I've haven't called all week? 

My answer is more holistic than you'd find in the simplicity of tracking every online activity today. My answer is actually a question. Does what I do push forward hope for our school? Does what I'm chasing down on-line or at meetings bring grounding to parents who are worried about their child not reading, learning math, being bullied, or being a bully? Yes and yes! At our school we may not all be on Edmodo, Twitter, Evernote. We may not all have accounts on, Pinterest, Google Reader, YouTube, BUT we talk to each other face-to-face. We engage with our students. We listen and respond to our parents. We are not perfect, but we are human. With the belief that 'Better is Possible', there comes a time to celebrate the here and now. 

It's a good thing, this education gig!


  1. Congratulations on your new career direction, Carol! You bring up so many interesting and good ideas. When is enough is a concept with which we all grapple. I was particularly conscious of this in my years as a psychotherapist. I had to will myself to detach, to live in the moment and to enjoy my own times of joy and relaxation -- which not only gave me pleasure in the moment but also gave me more emotional resources to bring to my work with patients. The people who burn out are the 24/7 hooked in/tuned in folk.

  2. Balance is very important in life or I agree with Dr McCoy, you end up with burn out and become of no use to anyone.
    However, I know many people who love their work and it is who they are and like an addiction they can't do without. So it depends on which end you stand
    People today are all about themselves. Every one has excuses as to why they are right in doing what they are doing and saying no today, can be hazardous to your health in more ways than one.
    So, just do what you can. Explain how it is today and what people have to do to change things but remind them it is always up to them to decide to do the right thing.

  3. This is a wonderful, thoughtful, thought-provoking piece, Carol. Thank you for sharing it.

    Note about lights: lights at ends of tunnels have been turned off in accordance with the federal government's austerity plan.

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

  4. Oh Rob - what a good chuckle! Yes, the austerity plan.
    Dr. Kathy - Thank you for your comment. I value your thoughts and wisdom. I've come too far to burn out now!
    Dear Lady - There is something about the confidence that comes with age. I will continue to do what I can, and leave a good portion of me for those who love me and truly value my time.