Greatest Team in the Universe

Random hot sports opinion…it’s gonna be a long Cowboy season…

I work in a place that I really like…I like it so much that after 2 full years I have an entire drawer of blue (and some black) shirts that I wear when I am home…last week I wore a different shirt and was asked why I was changing it up…that is how much I love my work place.  We support each other, and even when things appear to be making hard for one of us (see last week’s post) there are a lot of my team mates around to pick me up, high five me, and (when needed) kick me in the butt to be better.

My boss always starts with, “We are in a great place.”  We are, and I am.

I saw something last week that I haven’t ever seen in 20 years.  Quick background…most of the PD that we get relates to our department…sometimes we cross over, but it is rare because of the needed focus that we have.

Well, there was a PD opportunity that was bigger than a department…I briefly mentioned in (kind of a throw away comment) an email…not expecting anything.  2 days later, 4 of my colleagues and I are signed up.  We spent the day together learning about the big cogs that make systems work, and we each had some knowledge to support one another on these big topics…it was kind of cool, and reinforced the ‘we’ mentality.   Our district will be better because of that.

It continues to grow and evolve, but it sure put me in a reinforced mindset of us, and the greatest team in the best district in the universe.

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Not listening to Him

So, it is Tuesday…not Sunday.  I know what I wanted to write about, but I wasn’t sure how to say or title it…I think this will make sense.  The most difficult part is to reflect without throwing people under the bus because this is my reflection and not my bitching session…

Last week, there were a lot of things that were difficult.  My feelings got hurt, I felt attacked, and was unsure with what direction I want to respond, flow…whatever.  I even told a close peer that I was ready to quit…I hadn’t used that phrase in quite sometime, so I really needed to figure out where this was coming from and how to work through it.  For the next few days, some of my close peeps would ask if I was ok, tell me that we got his, and remind me of the path we chose to take together.  Now, these peeps know that when I hear this from them…I need to look in the mirror because I should not take that lightly.  As I started to reflect on how to work through this, I wondered if I was listening to the messages around me…those from people and those from Him…I really don’t talk much about God in my blogs, but I should at least attempt to hear some things He says…and I am getting better.

So, as I am spiraling and not able to get my s together, there are some interactions that I had with several people who had no knowledge of my angst…cause I wear a good mask!  They started talking about things directly opposed to what got me down…and all day I heard this…and at the end, my peer friend said…we got this, and its gonna be ok.  From that moment, I was still frustrated, but I moved on to a point where I was ready to support and solve problems…and maybe, I could have gotten there sooner if I had listened…even if is was not Him, He was helping me listen to my peeps and reminding me…we got this, and we got u.

A lot of time was wasted not listening…but I have to acknowledge we all have moments where we hear nothing even though words are entering our ears, but as I learned…a good listen can help a lot.

An end of the week shh….

So, to end my trilogy of posts this week, I want to go back to the last several weeks…the beginning of the year is stressful (not a new fact), I always tell peeps to relax and think since it is so early, and my staff says that I was a bit on edge…I even got into some heated conversations at work with people that I don’t typically do.

So, to end the week, my father in law and I decided to see a movie…I love movies, I go to a couple of dozen a year, and I love the reserved seating bit.

This time was like every other time…I get to the theater, and he is waiting…we shake hand and go in…pretty easy.  This movie was quite short compared to the others…it had about 10 previews.  We had about ten minutes before the previews, and we chatted about volleyball and seeing my daughter perform at college…regular stuff.

The theater goes dark…a commercial before the previews is playing and we are finishing a conversation…then I hear it, and that’s when I way have gone a bit too far…my staff would totally understand.

I hear a ‘SHHHHHHH!!!’  We were by far not the only ones talking, but I do wanna see where this is coming from…it is an older than me lady, and she points to me, points to the screen, and asks me to be quiet.

I am usually pretty calm…I usually can let things go…my staff and wife might totally disagree…I was feeling pretty calm until that moment…then I did something that I would not normally do…I responded, and I was not forgiving nor super sweet, but I was not rude.  I looked at her and said in a quiet Pogue voice that does not exist, “hey…the movie or the previews have not even started…don’t worry, it will be ok!’  I am sure you can sense the tone…my father in law chuckled, and we about our business…and by the way, unlike the 10 people that I saw in front of us…we did not check our phones or talk during the movie…shhh-ing me…please!

This did signal to me that maybe I needed to calm down…my staff would agree!

Masks

Sorry this is a bit late…my daughter had her first volleyball game…and I fell asleep.

At church, we learned about the masks we wear.  Sometimes, we put on a happy face, or a ‘I like that idea’ face, or ‘I am happy to be here,’ face.  What’s interesting is that many times when we work or are with people we don’t really know who they are.  We play the part of whatever role we are in…kind of like a hypocrite…not the kind that says one thing, does another…but one who has on a mask to play the part.

The hard this to think about is when is my mask on?…and can I take it off to let others in?

Sometimes masks hide anger, sadness, or anticipation…I work with kiddos who have struggles to significant struggles, and I notice that they are less likely to wear masks.  Sometimes, we get on to them because of the honesty, but we can use this openness to let others in and see who we are.  Not everyone is going to like everything…but real friends and people you want to be around will accept the connection that you will make when you take off your masks.

 

 

Weight of Words

I am a little late with blog…the topics have been rolling around in my head for a bit, and it finally hit me how to talk about this after a meeting that I had this afternoon.

These three things (this is blog post 1 of the week, there will be one tomorrow and one Friday) don’t see to connected, but I had several items happen this week that bring these things together in a way that I can write about…It started when at a meeting/PD day I got a chance to talk about some new IEP stuff with principals…I always tell my team that I need several hours…its an old joke and no one laughs or calls me on it, so I really go with either 5 or 10 minutes…I have learned that in a longish meeting already that if I can give the team 1 thing to remember and apply then it is a good day in IEP land.  The key phrase was revolved around the weight of teachers words…not to bore you, but I reminded the team that we must always remember that what a teacher/educator says has weight and that is needs to be used carefully.  I wasn’t sure how that would play until…

I went to my daughters open house…different district.  I remember 3 teachers very distinctly for different reasons, and it relates to weight of words.  Two teachers were very engaged in how the kiddos were going to learn, how they could support, and what to do if we needed anything.  I really appreciate that as a parent…I love teachers who love what they teach!

Then the third teacher made it very clear that she only works from 745 to 345 or 4 and doesn’t do tutorials during lunch because she is not paid to do so.  Now, nothing she said was wrong…but the weight of her words left me thinking that my kiddo (and the other kiddos) are only important during paid hours.  My wife (a really awesome teacher) looked at me and knew that I was done listening…I know the teacher probably didn’t mean how she said what she said, but it lends to the weight of words of an educator.

So, as I reflect…my staff has told me that I have been a little on edge since the beginning of the year, and even upset a few with a strongly worded email…or two.  It is hard in the moment, but what we say, especially in the arena that I work, carries weight a long way outside of the conversation we are having…have you said something you regret…has the weight of what you have said fallen wrong on others?

Tomorrow…masks…what mask are we wearing, and is it who we really are?

Friday, the lady who shhhhh’d me 15 minutes before the movie started and connecting this week’s posts.

 

Brand and what’s important

Living the Brand

So, it’s Sunday evening, and I am ready for week 2…my daughter gets to see what team of volleyball she made, my college daughter starts school (college classes) tomorrow, and I start back to the gym for real.

At church, my eyes were opened to a new idea of forgiveness and repentance (change,sorry)…in a very mathematical way.  Thanks Jason!  He said that when we wrong or things are wrong…we have always repented/changed/’sorried’…to get forgiveness.  He talked about the idea that by forgiving first that we will free ourselves to let others change/repent/’sorry’ instead of manipulating it…it was really deep, and (through very little justice here) I realize that forgiveness can be easy…forgiving and having faith that behavior will change second…that’s a little harder.

Last Thursday, I got to see the belief in culture in WSISD of carrying the brand in person for the third straight year.  It was 100 degrees…it was packed (see the link), but it did not matter…we were all there to get shirt, hug our friends, and carry the brand of the Bear.  I know we are a small district, but I don’t see other district doing something like this…its more than football…its a life style that being a brand (or a bear in my case) creates a greater community for the kids, the parents, and the staff.  It is really cool, and I think communities could become greater with a get-together like this…It is so important to me that I had to clean out a drawer to organize the blue…that’s a first.  Living the brand is much more than a shirt or a hot dog with my daughter or ‘being’ seen at events…living the brand is letting your need to control things go and doing great for the place where you work, live, or play.  Some of the people that I have contact with understand and live that very well, some don’t, and some aren’t even sure what living the brand means.  I hope that after you finish this, you ask your self do I live the brand for my community, my work, my…if you don’t what’s the point?

I put both of these together as I feel they are connected…I am not comparing Jesus to a brand…but I do feel that if I can live the brand of the Bears, that I can live the idea that there no need to manipulate others by holding forgiveness like a prize.  It sounds silly, but it is a lot harder to do.  What do you think?

 

 

 

Famous last words…

It was a week of emotions for me and the family.

I started with my first full week of staff back, and I was thrilled with how the training the team completed was taken…it was very cool.

Then, I took Friday off to take my daughter to college.  I missed Convocation…I thought I would be ok with that, but then, I saw all of the excellent posts and Casas talking and linking to our presentations…but it was ok…I was moving in my daughter to ACU.

We moved her in Friday…at dinner, spent the night at the hotel…I was tired and struggling…but it was ok…I was proud of my daughter becoming the college girl and color guard competitor we knew she could be.

Saturday morning, we went to a cool arcade and played together, and waited until Julia could see us after practice…  pause the story!

So, the joke of the family has been about who was going to cry and talking about the last time…and it was really fun…kind of annoying to the Mrs…but it was fun at the time…unpause

Saturday at 1115…we drive up to the dorm to meet the baby…or the college girl!  Well, to our surprise (and not admitting this but excitement) we were going to take some pictures and then drop her off at the Bean where she would eat her lunch with her peeps…

So, we take picture…start walking her to the Bean, and I realize what’s next…and I’m holding it back…and not saying a thing.  Things go great…we hug, and we go in the Bean, she sees her friends, and its our cue to leave…I hang back to watch for a few minutes…then the famous last words, and I broke first, and hard!

The lady…a motherly figure saw me, and said it’s ok daddy, she will be ok…

It will be ok…famous last words to a dad who loves his girls tremendously, and wasn’t prepared for that…I broke first and cried.  As proud as I am of my J, it is hard to not see her everyday.  I love her so much…and the famous last words of ‘it’s gonna be ok’ still ring in my soul.

The Past Comes back…and its good!

So, we have been training for a few days since teachers have come back, and I got a feeling that I haven’t felt in about a decade.

Any one who knows me knows that I am very proud and in awe of my time at the service center.  It has been some time since I started there and about 5-6 years since I left.  While I was there, I developed a really awesome relationship with 2 peers…there was a point in that time were the 3 of us trained all over the state, and it was a 3 year rush.  Like all things…people move on…then I moved on, but one of the three is still there, and she’s still feeling the rush.

If you went to our training this week, you heard me say that I have been begging leadership teams to focus on a particular philosophical change…it never has been granted…and I go about my business.  This year something changed…and a path changed for us.  A peer and I started working on this training for every teacher…and by the way I have never seen a non C and I person get to lead off for a district…I was on the team, not the lead but part of the team.  We were finished this summer, and then a new team-member joined the team, and we wanted her to be part of this as well.  After weeks and weeks, we were finally ready…then we changed it again, and again until the day before…not how I like it, but it was best for the team, and we hoped it would change the direction of the district.

When the schedule came our and we were on the list for every teacher in the district…I was pumped…then I was told we would have less time than planned…more stress.

The first two session were really, really good.  Then, something happened…that old service center training team feeling where we started playing off each other, and I saw a moment of relaxed intensity.  It was amazing, and I am so glad that we were part of the 5 session training for all teachers…it looked very natural, I think it was pretty good (maybe amazing), and I was so proud to be part of this moment of change…

Oh and by the way, for the first time in 20 years, I had a superintendent and board member sit in on the training for about 90 minutes…kind of awesome!

I am tired now that those 5 sessions are over, and I am thrilled that I have found the next rush that lasts at least the next three years!

Exciting Anxiety

So, as I woke up this morning, a wave of anxiety hit me.  Usually when this happens, I might as well call in sick because I will be useless.

This time is was different…it felt good, exciting, and welcomed.  As I tried to figure out why this time it was different, I remember what is coming tomorrow for the first time in my career…20 years SPED.  Put a pause here…I’ll be back to this.

I have been in leadership in SPED for the better part of ten years, and I always do the same thing when we plan the next year…we need to talk SPED, and why the scores are so bad and how to get SPED and GEN Ed working together…blah blah blah.  I really believe this is important, but typically the leadership above me pats me on the head…says great idea…and nothing happens.

This year I did the same…and got the same response…but a couple of days later after I ‘roguely’ made a statement to all principals (I am know for that, and my peeps cringe when I do it…it is the green big picture in me) the elementary director (my dear friend) came to me and asked what I meant.  We talked for 30 minutes, she said it made sense to her for the first time, and that we were going to train.  She’s my friend, and I don’t think I really believed her.  We spent the next 2 weeks on and off putting together a training to train teachers in the idea and model and support of all kids…its more complicated than that, but not blog worthy.

Un-pause the story.

See tomorrow, all of our teachers are coming back to work.  I am really excited because I work in an awesome place…Go Bears.  I haven’t been this happy with the work place since my days at the ESC.  The anxiety is building because we are doing something that I talk about, preach about, but have never had a chance to do.  The curriculum directors and I are training every teacher over the next week on how to provide good tier 1 instruction to every student…with a focus on all students with disabilities who will be required to get that in the general ed. classroom.  Sounds simple, but history tells us it does not happen…and I am a nervous wreck.  But, I am excited to feel this kind of anxiety because maybe…just maybe…this first will be a great first.

To the end the story, it is so important to the team that as I am typing this at 723am (should be in the car going to work) I am getting invitations for follow up on trainings we haven’t even start.

Maybe anxiety can be good…it sure felt good this morning!

Anticipation, excitement, and welcome back!

It has been a couple of week, and I am ready to start my 5 day school work weeks, have a full staff by the end of the week and contemplate what I learned this morning.  The lesson today was about being present…not working so hard (not a lazy thing) that you miss what is important in the present.

So, my 202 peeps have been back for 2 days, and I remember why summer is depressing and beginning of the year is great…the peeps.  We are a family, and I really love the meetings, team building, and work we do for kids.  With this, comes the excitement of them returning to gifts and work gifts and stress work gifts.  My coordinator and I did not see each other for 2-3 weeks between vacation and work trips, so I was nervous about how prepared we were.  That’s new…we left each other a few Thursdays ago and said see you Aug. 1.

I usually work like a 2 year old side by side with my admin. team, and then do all of the presenting…I have control issues.  This year I felt more as one…so much so…that I stepped back 50% of the presentations…I have reviewed them for learning and not as a admin…it is with great excitement and relief that I will only being doing 1 or 2 half days by myself this week.  My admin. team is taking the lead, and it will allow me to be present and grow leaders instead of making sure it was enough 24 hours per day.  If good leaders grow leaders, I have finally taken the step let me staff fly and be great without me ‘up front.’

The team won’t be complete until this Thursday when the 187 peeps come back, and we have the super welcome…and then it won’t be complete until our heartbeat heals and get back some time in September.

We all work hard…some days some of us work harder than others…the goal for this year is to be present and appreciate the successes, growth, mistakes, and fun that this program’s collective is.  I feel like if we don’t appreciate…it will be a useless grind, and what the peeps do is not useless…I hope it changes trajectories and quality of lives for kiddos and young adults.