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A little self-reflection

Reflection is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal as educators. Trial and error (read: failure) teach us more than most professional development tools and…. reflection amplifies the effect.

I’ve been asked to reflect a lot lately, as I begin a Master’s of Education degree… I think they ask us to do that both because of the powerful learning that can take place, and also help some people “self-realize” that they may not be in the right place….

Recently, as part of a class assignment, I had to complete several disposition assessments to get different angles on my leadership style, personality, conflict resolution style, priorities, experience and more. In an effort to not only reflect but be transparent, I’d like to share some of my reflection from the assignment…

1.) My integrity as a learner

I am a participant in the Education Technology Leadership Program, and yet technology is listed as the only area I should devote “low” priority to. Should I continue on this path if I need to develop other areas more? Will I benefit more from this program or the Administration program? If I one day plan to move into instructional coaching, digital learning consulting and more, is not Education Technology the better choice? This finding has caused deep introspection at the intersection of my career path and myself, as a learner.

One of my pet peeves in the classroom is when students have choices and choose to do something they are already good at. I understand choosing something they enjoy doing… but it really irks me when they choose to work on a skill that already comes easily. That isn’t practice… it’s laziness. So, in the assessment mentioned here, I found that the very topic of my planned degree is something I am already competent at (not that I don’t have more to learn! Just that of the mentioned skills, I was more competent…). It made me question my integrity as a learner. Some people view degrees as a means to an end… I view every endeavor as a learning quest. I hope there is at least one person on the interwebs that can see where I am coming from on this one…?

2.) Task vs. People

…in instances where I do not have a firm relationship with group members at the time we begin working, I can see that my task orientation pushes them away.

I was appalled to learn that I apparently have a “task” orientation. Me? Never. Well, on second thought… I agree. I am an idealist at heart (more on that later) and the truth is that while I do care about people, for me, completing a task (and well!) is one of the ways that I show that care. People I work with say I support them, but they could be blowing smoke…. haha. On the other hand, as the quote mentions, when I work with people I don’t know as well, my task orientation isn’t quite as effective. #flaw #dammit #yesisaiddammitsueme

3.) Me ≠ Good Politician

My score in this area (“Idealism”) was a four, and my second highest area was “Socially Aware”, with a score of 3. The combination of these results puts me in a difficult position in terms of leadership because I often feel pulled toward, and make, decisions that reflect the “right thing” to do, even when they do not benefit my organization. I believe that compromising learning, or other ethically binding situations in education, for the sake of (essentially) political motivation is unacceptable. Taking the long-view on this, I can see where this has been, and will continue to be a source of conflict and stress in my leadership tenure.

These were the results of my “Ethical Orientation” assessment.

So… yeah… The options here were “Idealism” (eternal truths based), “Socially Aware” (equity; best for kids), “Organizational” (best for your organization as a whole) and “Financial” ($$$). Good news: I’m not in it for the money. Bad news: I’m not a very good politician.

In education things that are good for the “Organization” are often code for “Good for the system”, or “Good for the perception of the organization” or “A good move politically”. I’m not in it to preserve the thing that is crumbling beneath our nation…. I’m in it to be an honest voice in a dishonest and bought “industry”. Basically, I’m not going to do something or make a decision that is good for “us as a whole” when there are obvious losers who deserve better. Those losers are often students and teachers. No one wins when we sell a broken system to our communities, states and nation. #WilsonForPresident

4. Perception is REALITY

Growing continuously, examining one’s own perspectives, seeing all sides of an issue:

I feel as if I am constantly doing this, and I wonder if somehow, my desire to grow and see all sides does not come through to those I work with closely.

Trusting the judgement of others: 

While I do trust others, I also (being task oriented) usually come to the table with my own ideas to present. It is almost as if I preclude people from the process unintentionally , instead of trusting that their ideas might also accomplish the task.

This one was fun, kind of. Not really. It was a real nail-biter. I took a survey about myself… then I handed it to 3 of my closest pals at work. um. #nervous doesn’t cover it. How I see myself in my own precious mind has almost nothing to do with how other people see me, which, in leadership, is kind of the most important thing.

Luckily for over 90% of the survey questions, my colleagues and I felt the same way, but above, you can see some of my (painful?; honest? eye-opening?) reflection.

Bravery vs. Stupidity.  I hope posting this is brave, not stupid. 

Anyone else have the guts to be honest about their flaws? If so, please post your own and send me a link. Or comment below with a reflection of your own. I’d love to know I’m not the only flawed person in education… 

-CL

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Spanish Teacher, in love with life, and dancing til its over. I like giraffes and chocolate. If we aren't living for God, then what are we living for?

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