January 16, 2015

The Most Important Part …

It's interesting that even as people move on and move up in their careers that one of the most valuable tools any of us have is the ability to network with others who are doing similar jobs to our own. I remember 20some years ago when I was student teaching at Ithaca High School in Ithaca, Michigan that our seminar classes on Monday nights were one of the most important times of the week because we were able to talk with other student teachers who were having similar experiences. It was a relief to know that everyone was in the same boat.

As I became a teacher and started working on my master's degree, sitting in a room with aspiring principals made for positive interventions because a number of us still thought we could change the world. It was great to know that others out there believed in kids and believed in the power of education. So many of us worked with veteran staffs who were no longer energetic or excited about changing kids lives. We all vowed never to get to that point! The classes didn't provide the education — the classmates did. I'm still in touch with some of those classmates from Dr. Whales first two classes at Central Michigan University way back in 1997. We had Team Whale at BW3 or whatever it was called back then; we played trivia and talked about education. Many of those people are now running school districts.

Being a superintendent is a lonely job because the superintendent is the only person in the district with the job. There are other superintendents nearby, but it's not like someone can go vent to someone else because nobody understands the complexities of the job — no one understands how tough and stressful it is to make that call on a snow day. Today we have our superintendents association meeting at the TBA ISD. I look forward to these monthly meetings not so much for the content but the opportunity to catch up with colleagues in nearby districts who are going through the same types of experiences.

It doesn't matter if you are a student teacher, someone battling through masters degree classes, or a school superintendent, the people you work with who do the same type of work — those who we network with — are important to our growth and sanity. Don't ever forget that the most important part is working well with others because they are the ones who can help guide you through the day to day.

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