A moment to brag about myself

When I look back on what I was doing a year ago, it’s a little crazy to think how many things have happened. I had just accepted an adjunct teaching position at Concordia while simultaneously moving into my new office at a new school. There were a lot of unknowns; a lot of new stressors; a lot of new expectations.

By December, I was officially hating life at my full-time job, but teaching at Concordia was seriously amazing. At one point, I left our night class, ravenous and exhausted, but still thinking, “This is the best three hours of every week.” Sure, it was hard to get up the next morning and go back to my “real” job, but Concordia gave me real autonomy and the opportunity to stay fresh in my field. I felt respected and valued by not only my students, but the institution itself.

In the spring, I took a break and returned for the summer term, where I taught two classes back-to-back. Again, I was starving. Again, I was exhausted. I complained to my friends that that I wasn’t lying on the beach getting my summer tan, and was instead grading papers. Bleh! But every time I left class, I thought, Today was actually fun, or Today I really learned something. 

When the term ended last week, I was honestly sad to see them go, but was ready for the break. After grading a bazillion portfolios and submitting grades, I allowed my brain to move into vacation mode. Puzzles, beach, gym. DONE! Tonight my course assessments popped up in my email, and they were beyond flattering. I’m always expecting criticism and negative feedback which then helps me refine what I will do the next time around – but this time there was none. NONE!

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Dude! Someone had a legit life-changing experience! I facilitated that! Holy shit!

Why am I bragging right now? Number one: because I worked my ass off, and I can be proud of my accomplishments. But more importantly, number two: if I had such a good experience teaching this class over the last year (and clearly others agree it went well), then maybe I need to look at the SIGNS. Perhaps this is really what I should be doing full time? Or is it only fun and rewarding because it’s polarized against working full-time for a totally dysfunctional organization? What does it all meeeeeannnnn????

I’m not sure, but it’s got me thinking.

Next week, I start my next new job, and I’m going to take a reluctant break from Concordia for the semester. Again, I have a lot of new unknowns and expectations. Here we go again. But what I do know is that one of those days (you know, those days), I’m going to pull up my Concordia assessments and remember that there are greener pastures.

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And if all this self-important bragging is rubbing you the wrong way, I’ll share with you that this morning I was so mesmerized by the boot camp class working out in the beach volleyball sand pit, that I tripped over their giant hose and went face first right into that sand. There was a lot of gasping and people shouting, “Are you ok?!” as I failed to be able to shake the sand off my sweaty, post-workout chest. Nobody’s perfect.

First Book of September – Get Promoted!

Normally, I post all three of the books I read each month in one post, but tonight I just want to focus on one I chose to re-read on a whim last week. (The other two will come later this week.)

550951Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why – by Donald Asher

Back in 2010, I read this book as I was coming to the decision I definitely wanted to move UP from my current teaching position, but I wasn’t quite sure where UP was (since there ain’t much in between teacher and principal). I laugh to myself that I bought this book for $1.99 when Borders was going out of business, and here it has become one of the most important books I’ve read in the last four years.

It gave me ideas and strategies to elevate my career, even when I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. A couple weeks ago, I thought I should give it a re-read with fresh eyes.

One of the most important points that resonated with me my first time around (and I have quoted it to many people) is that the perfect job never comes at the perfect time. You’ve got to be willing to just move, or move along, even if you feel like it’s not the “right” time in your life. Despite the fact that my last school was an incredibly toxic place to work, I wasn’t ready to leave. I didn’t know what to expect at a new school (or from a new boss!), but ultimately I remembered this important point. None of the jobs I saw called out, “PERFECT JOB!” In addition, preparing my resume and scheduling interviews came at an incredibly busy and stressful time; I just kept thinking, “…it’s never the perfect time…” Today, I can’t even believe that I hesitated. My school (and boss) are awesome, I’m incredibly happy, and other new opportunities opened up once I freed myself of the old place. If you sit around and wait for something that’s “just right”, you’ll just be sitting around waiting.

Next, I accepted that the world is set up for early birds. Back in my younger days, I could SLEEEEEP IIIIIIINNNN (ask my parents). I didn’t think I would ever become an early bird. The book states, “Every minute that you arrive before the official start of the workday is worth at least 15 of staying after the official end of the workday because nobody cares if you really work late.” My friends may joke that I am in bed at 8:30am, but frankly it has made me way more productive and happy. And if anything, I began to view at people who stay late as unproductive. Are they so inefficient that they have to stay late?

On top of that, when people hear that you exercise before work, it’s like you become a superhero in their minds, just a little bit. It takes a lot of mental toughness to get up earlier than you have to and workout, and ultimately that communicates that you are in no way lazy, and are in fact someone with awesome self-discipline. (Of course, I rarely workout before work anymore because my school is next to a beautiful new Nike track, but on the flip side, my colleagues often oooohhh and ahhhh when they see I’m regularly headed to a workout while they’re still struggling with the copy machine.)

Another chapter talks about having an Ascension Plan, where you pick specific job titles you want, obtain skills for those jobs, and learn to sell yourself without being a used car salesman or a Pollyana.

I knew by the fall of 2010 that being an Instructional Coach was a wonderful fit for me, no matter how green to coaching I was. I did everything in my power to learn more about coaching. I read every book, talked to those with more experience, and devoted myself to the position. Sadly, funding was cut and the position disappeared from the entire school district, but I didn’t give up. I literally spent my vacation money to go to Instructional Coaching workshops and did everything I could to openly publicize that I wanted to return to coaching. Although my district didn’t want what I had to offer, I was recently offered the opportunity to be a consultant for the very guy I was learning from all these years (holla!). Without constantly revisiting my ascension plan (no matter how bleak it seemed), I would still be wishing on something that might never happen.

If you are in a place where you are professionally stuck, I highly recommend you read this book and then have an honest conversation with yourself about why you’re stuck, and what it would take to get unstuck.

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