Tuesday, April 4, 2017

From Going to Showing: Start.Right.Now. #D100bloggerPD

I recently had the privilege of participating in a week-long ride in Sunny Arizona. This was a wonderful time to get some respite from both work and the midwestern weather. As I rode, I reflected on previous rides. When I first started out doing these trips, I was younger and very idealistic. A major ambition for me at that point was to be the first to arrive at the campsite. I was focused on applying everything my coaches had taught me, and considered maintaining the best possible form my main priority. I imagined I'd be viewed as a "leader". I typically did not interact much with the other cyclists on the road, nor did I slow down to take in the sights. I felt at that time that doing so would hinder me from applying what I had learned and interfere with reaching my goals of achieving fitness and building self-confidence.

While I still have a passion for long rides, I clearly can see how my priorities have changed throughout the years as a cyclist. I’m now able to focus more clearly on the ride, as opposed to the destination. I stop to help change flats. I ride along side people and we share stories. We chat about our favorite rides, our worst crashes, the best nutrition, and secrets to preventing a sore butt. I sometimes ride at a slower pace, but I’m happier. My fellow cyclists hadn’t cared about my speed or form.

The theme of this blog is all about the parallels between cycling an being an educator. I originally wrote the description several years ago, long before Start.Right.Now. (Whitaker, Zoul, & Casas, 2017) was around. The entire description (if you missed it at the top of this page) is, “The musings of a life-long educator and mileage junkie. There are many parallels between cycling and being an educator. In this blog, I'll be sharing my thoughts on embracing the positive and improving one's skill-set in order to keep moving forward.” For this particular post, I'm sharing my thoughts about the book Start.Right.Now. As indicated by the title, it's all about moving forward. Regardless of where we've come from, it's important to keep on moving. In cycling, if you don't move and you are clipped in, you will fall over. If you're just using regular pedals, you won't get anywhere. In education, we need to keep moving forward so that we don’t stagnate. I appreciate how the author's break down forward movement into the concepts of “Knowing the Way”, “Showing the Way”, “Going the Way”, and “Growing Each Day”. Here are some thoughts about the first part of how to “Show the Way” (chapter 3).

The authors begin this section by defining the standard of excellence for showing the way as,  ”Establishing a clear vision of future success and enlisting others in the vision by showing how each individual and team member can get better at what they do”. Following the list of indicators and rationale on why showing the way is so important, the chapter focuses on what it looks like. What stands out to me from the list of indicators is the one that talks about “identifying and communicating what is working and what is not”. To me, reflection is a huge piece of any kind of growth. And rationale? Why is showing the way important? Because the best leaders/teachers feel a personal conviction, a calling, to make an impact. Our colleagues, students, and families need us to be risk-takers, change-embracers, and models of having growth mindsets. This quote, “What others believe the job demands and how they see it depends on those of us teaching and leading them” is so true! In our lives, both inside and outside of school, we need to make sure we are walking the talk, and remember that we cannot, not model. The reality is, whether we know it, or even want it, leaders who teach also show the way. And the impact? Huge. In fact, an effect size of 0.84 was determined for the impact of leading teacher learning and development on student achievement (Robinson, 2011).

I love that when the authors discuss showing the way, knowledge of self is discussed first. “What matters most is what you expect of yourself, not what you expect of others”. And then the 3Ps: passion, purpose and pride. And 3 more Ps: prioritizing people over programs. The goal? Collectively moving forward to a shared vision of future success. The authors break down what it looks like to show the way with sections (in pt.1) on: 20/20 Vision, Support Innovation, Future-Focused While Attending to the Present, Communicate Early; Communicate Often, and Radio Station WIIFM.

The info for each of these sections merits a close read. I hope the word cloud piqued your interest. A part that I particularly enjoyed was the WaffleHouse paradigm. Scattered v. smothered v covered. You have to read it for yourself. Lemme just say, I’m all about #CoveredHashBrowns.

Showing the way depends on leaders helping their people to want to succeed and to believe that they can. In order to do this there must be a connection. #PeopleFirst. The challenge is to help our people find that sweet spot between anxiety and boredom. Here’s a paragraph from my blog about the being in the ultimate sweet spot :
Another name for this is Flow. The psychologist who developed this concept, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, refers to Flow as “a mental state of operation that one enters when engaging in an activity – becoming fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, involvement and success.” He goes on to say, “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”  So being stretched to the max can give us energy and allow us to embrace success? Yes.

Isn’t this (energy and success) what we all want for those with whom we interact? We do not have to be perfect in order to start showing others the way. “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, c1250).  When should we start sharing our vision and helping to empower others? Start.Right.Now.

Be sure to follow #D100bloggerPD for more blogs on this inspirational book.