Starting this weekend, I am embarking on a new adventure. This weekend I begin a master's program in Educational Leadership at Alverno College. At the end of the program, I will have completed the coursework for licensure as a principal and as a director of instruction. It is something that has been brewing for about the last two years. And in the last few days, I have been thinking over what led to this point. It's a combination of self-determination, taking advantages of seemingly small opportunities, and learning from great people.
On the very first day of inservice at my very first teaching job (15 years ago), I was talking to my principal about the inservice schedule and what meetings I was to attend. She mentioned a Building Leadership Team ("BLT"/shared decision making) team that was optional. But I went anyway, just to see. Something about that snap decision to attend an optional meeting put me in contact with other teacher leaders right away, and people started to see leadership qualities in me as well. Sometimes it's the snap decisions we make that can change the course of our lives. I will always be grateful to that principal who invited me that day, who started as a Spanish teacher and is now a well-respected superintendent of one of the top school districts in Iowa.
When I moved to my current district, I was very happy, except that I had lost the sense of leadership. I was in a suburban district where you needed to put in years of service before anyone would take real notice. After about six years, a technology committee was formed. I was asked to join, and once again, joining a committee brought back that sense of leadership. That committee, still led by one of the foremost tech-integrators in Wisconsin, opened up all sorts of new opportunities.
One more big event was being asked to serve as a CPI-trained crisis team member in my school. As a result of this training, I was directly involved in student crisis situations, sometimes multiple times per day. Again, other teachers begin to see you as a leader - someone people look to take charge, able to think on your feet in the most difficult school situations.
Other opportunities have helped shape my experience: coaching classes, serving as a mentor, district visioning committees, K-12 music curriculum leader, tech conferences, and all sorts of other things ensued that allowed me the opportunities for leadership as a teacher. Eventually, one gathers up all these experiences and starts to think "I can do this" - maybe I can serve our profession in a new way.
I once saw a tweet that said "You might be a leader if you want to influence people beyond the walls of your own classroom". That has stuck with me. Leadership looks different for everyone, and it's the decisions that seem small at the time that eventually lead to the big decisions we make in life. It's also the people we meet that shape us and urge us on. Then, it's up to us to decide what to do with all that.
Where will this lead? Who knows, but it is really exciting to be at this point.