Super Chunk

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leadership interview

October 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

A while back I wrote freaked-outedly about having arranged to meet with the director of gifted and talented programming for a nearby school district. (If you have a better way to express “freaked-outledly”, I’d welcome your suggestions.) This is a guy whose work I admire very much, and who completely inspires me as a teacher. The day I met with him, I was a bundle of nerves all day long. I got all dressed up and put on mascara and got there exactly at 2:00, walked back to his office and… just talked to the guy for an hour. I had my list of questions all prepared (I feel like I missed A LOT, but as it is I got way more information than I was able to use), and we just went right through. He was very personable and very kind, and it was a great experience altogether.

Here’s what I took away:

  • Most people are just people, even if they have big jobs or do impressive work.
  • It’s a very big deal, as a person in charge, to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful ideas and work that come from the people you supervise. Makes everyone’s job easier.
  • Ask for what you want; the worst anyone can say is no, and then you’re no worse off than you were to begin with.
  • And yet another reminder that image matters. (I’m glad I took the time to dress up.)

Now, none of this is rocket science. None of it is even a new idea to me. But it was important for me to see these ideas in that context, to see where it’s made a real difference in this one guy’s professional life. He is the only person in the entire state of Minnesota who does what he does and is classified as a district administrator; that means he has a level of in terms of philosophy and vision that no one else in the state has. He has the ear of powerful people, and he can accomplish things on behalf of his students, because he ASKED for the title he has.

So where will I take this? Some of the effect on me is about practice — I really want to work on being more collegial and less directive (although as a person moving into a new field, that may not be an issue right away when I get done with school), and I have to be pretty intentional about that. Another effect is about hope — here is a person with fire who (as he says) “gets his Irish up”, and he has not let his temper sabotage his success. I need that hope,and that example. And I have this contact now. I don’t see right at the moment how it might be useful, but I’m sure it WILL be useful eventually. (I would love to work in that district, to tell you the truth.)

This leadership class is kind of a pain in a lot of ways. It’s a TON of work, and in my current situation I don’t have a lot of opportunities to practice the professional skills I’m learning, but it’s work with a long-term purpose. Though the whole thing makes me pull my hair out a little bit, I’d have to say it’s for the better.

Tags: daily · school

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