Friday, April 4, 2014

Is That a Shovel in Your Hand?

As an educational leader, given all that we want to do, have to do, and should be doing, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed at times. However, if one is not careful, this constant focus can cause you to fall into a trap. A trap of negativity.

I know this trap all too well, because I recently became aware that I have been captured and residing inside of it. 

The trap of negativity is tricky because it captures you, not with a sudden fall, but with a more cunning and gradual decent. Making it even worse, it is a trap of one's own choosing.

The insidious part about captivity in the negativity trap is that it shifts your attitudes and interactions with others without you easily recognizing it. Regardless of the cause- the time of year, the plethora of mundane tasks, frustration with things outside of my control; I know I need to counteract this because negative interactions/encounters/thoughts have greater impact than good

While one can unconsciously and gradually fall into the trap, it takes conscious effort to get out. 

So I have been trying to reflect on how to make a shift and reframe my thoughts, priorities, and therefore-- my actions.

Below are a few of the questions that are helping me to focus on what is important. While the reality is that the correct answer may lie somewhere in the middle of poles, I am trying to reset my current defaults. To do so I am trying to see if my inner pendulum has swung too far to one side or the other. If it has, this causes me to: at best- be frustrated, at worst- take action that runs counter to my core values. 

Reframe Q: Am I feeling or acting this way regarding (insert topic here) because...


  • "I have curriculum to cover" vs. "I have kids to teach"


  • "the quarter is ending" vs. "students are ready to show mastery"

Professional Development (General 1)

  • "we need this PD because it is related to a mandate XYZ" vs. "we need this PD because it can help me help students"

Professional Development (on Data)

  • "Everyone needs to have PD on Data usage" vs. "We have data that shows some could benefit from Data PD" 

Professional Development (General 2)

  • "We are going to use this valuable time to sit and listen to me discuss how you can improve" vs. "We are going to use this valuable time for everyone to take action to improve, then I'll sit and listen to you" 


  • "Statistics show that 30% of people CANNOT..." vs. "Statistics show 70% of people CAN..."


  • "Are the source of all of the problems I face" vs. "Are the solutions to all of the problems I face"


  • "Are just noise by people who don't like me " vs. "Are areas that need to be addressed so that we can focus on learning"

My Assistant Principal, Tim Chace has a saying he uses quite often, "If you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel." 

While I have not found my way fully out of the negativity trap/hole, and certain events do cause me to slip, taking the time to consciously reflect and reframe has helped me reset my outlook.
More importantly, I have put down the shovel.

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