For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about what makes an educator or principal/VP think or say “I don’t have time for that” when it comes to their professional development.
I remember saying those exact words (more than once) at different points during my career. And when I think back to them, I ask myself: ” What was going through my head?”
I would say that 9 out of 10 times, it was because I was stuck in what I call “The leaders’ Loop-The-Loop”. To give you an idea of what I mean by that, picture an overactive dog running in a hamster wheel. Every time the dog stops running, someone yells: “Squirrel!”, and gets the dog running again. And there can be a whole bunch of people yelling “Squirrel!”
In other words, often times I was getting nowhere, fast. I was reacting rather than being proactive, tossing and jumping from one thing to the next. This would give me the illusion of accomplishing many important things. Don’t get me wrong, there were some important things that did get done, however there were also a lot of “fillers”: things that did not need to get done right away, didn’t even need to get done by me, or just plain old didn’t need to get done at all. Those were the things that filled up all the spaces between the important stuff. It reminds me of this video I seen a few years ago shared on Twitter:
Now that the jar was full, when the time came for professional development, the answer was easy, and quite obvious in my eyes: I don’t have time for that.
I had to get out of the hamster wheel. The problem is, I didn’t know it at the time. So how did I do it?
Show Me The Way
It took someone else to show me. I don’t know what I don’t know…and I didn’t know. Thankfully, I found a mentor that initiated me to Twitter. That is when my vision really started changing. I knew good PD was at my fingertips, and I knew a few colleagues that were quite motivated when it came to their growth. I had to surround myself with these people as often as possible.
Then came the hardest part: actually deciding to make it a priority, and going through with it. If I wanted to get off the hamster wheel, there was only one person stopping me (guess who that was?). After that, I had to really take a microscopic look at how I was using my time. What was I doing? Why was I doing it? Did I really have to do it? What were the distractions?
There I went, one step at a time. It really came down to me, to stop with the excuses, and to start being intentional with my schedule. Get up Saturday morning for a few Twitter chats. Take 20 minutes each day to read. Organize PD opportunities for my colleagues and I.
Am I not the one that plans out my schedule? Yup. Therefor I can step off of the hamster wheel, IF I decide to do so. Once I tasted high levels of growth, and the potential to reach even higher, I was hooked. I’ve never looked back since then.
It is a great feeling knowing that you don’t have to start running every time someone yells: “Squirrel!”