Friday, January 2, 2015

Scary things!

On December 1, 2014, I wrote about doing one thing each day that scares me, 31 Scary Days.   After 31 days, I have actually learned a lot about myself!  Some of these items were more scary than others.  Sometimes, I simply noted something I said or did that may have required even just a smidge of courage.  These items are also definitely not the scariest thing I did each of the days.  They are simply examples!  It was fun to note something for each day!  I think the point is that if I ever have a day that nothing worth noting happens, perhaps that day was wasted.

December 1, 2014
Today, I had a conversation with a friend about his health.  He mentioned that he needs to lose about 80 pounds.  From his words, I heard that he was desperate to turn things around.  I took a deep breath, and bravely told him that I was worried about his health too.  I told him that every day he waits to turn his health around will make his turn-around tougher to accomplish.    I looked him in the eye and honestly told him that he his fully capable of making it happen and that I believed in him! I offered to do some push-ups with him too.

I think he was surprised to hear me say it. I was a little surprised too, but what I told him was the truth.  Usually, we want our friends to tell us what we want to hear.  Sometimes, we want our friends to tell us what we need to hear.  It can be quite difficult to know the difference.

December 2, 2014
It wasn't easy, but I listened to the whole story.  I didn't want to do it.  I wanted to interrupt and cut to the chase.  I've heard this particular story before so I felt like I knew where to go.  Instead, I focused on the words and the delivery and simply restated what I wanted clarified.  I asked for more information when my own picture wasn't clear.  I listened to the whole story and it wasn't easy!  But I listened to the whole story, and a real solution was found!  Empathic listening isn't easy, but it is worth it!

December 3, 2014
I volunteered for an assignment that was out of my comfort zone.  I don't think I have the experience required for the job.  I did it, because it will relieve the anxiety of a coworker and it will add precious gold coins to our emotional bank account.  I'm a bit scared about getting it done effectively, but I know I am willing to put forth the effort to make it happen!

December 4, 2014
An interview is a scary thing!  The idea of balancing the dialogue between what I believe in and bragging about myself is a tough one!  This is further challenged by the balance between talking about the past and talking about the future.  During an interview, some folks want to know what you have accomplished and some want to know what you are aiming to do next!  Finally, there is the wait!  Kudos to Manor ISD for making the wait 24 hours rather than an unknown time frame!

December 5, 2014
I am facilitating an improvement team en absentia.  This team really wants to find solutions with only the folks who do the hard work.  In order to maintain confidentiality, they do not want anyone outside of their group to be present for the meeting, including me, the facilitator.  It is a bit scary to think that I am supposedly helping steer the efforts without going along for the ride!  This challenge does offer facilitation experience to a few others on the team, which is a good thing!  Can I do this blindly???

December 6, 2014
Soccer tournament time for my youngest!  I love watching him play soccer!  over the last few years, I have really made sure that my cheers stay positive and model good sportsmanship.  Today's referees made this a challenge today!  I have no problem with refs who make mistakes.  They are human after all.  Today's ref simply didn't care and he treated our 11 year olds poorly.  Nevertheless, I remained a good sport!

December 7, 2104
This morning, I talked with my boys about going to see a movie.  My oldest son wanted to see Interstellar at the IMAX Theater.  My youngest son did not.  He insisted on seeing the new Hunger Games flick.  Since we disagreed, we looked for a third alternative and simply didn't find another movie to go to.  We talked about doing something else, but we had gift cards for the theater!  In the end, My youngest son got a few tears in his eyes and said he just wasn't going to go.  When I asked him why, he had a difficult time telling me.  I tried to gently and calmly ask him for more information so we could solve this together, but he didn't really want to explain it.  I didn't want to leave him this way!  I felt like if I waited patiently, he would somehow be able to verbalize his reasoning.  That is tough to do when his reason was, "I saw the trailer for Interstellar and it looks like the stupidest movie ever."

How do you respond to that?

I said, "Tell me more."  He initially refused, then opened up a little bit.  Tough conversation, for sure!

December 8, 2014
Today, I spent a good deal of time thinking about who I am as an educator.  I revisited by belief statements and my personal mission for education.  I asked myself, "Are these things guiding you to be the best educator you can be?"  I tweaked a few things here and there and made sure my dedication to these words was still strong.

December 9, 2014
I spoke with a few district leaders today.  They heard my ideas and beliefs with open eyes and open ears.  It was an enjoyable experience because they were quite engaged in the conversation and appreciated my input.  I was proud of myself for sharing without compromising my beliefs.  Oftentimes, it is easy to say what you think people want to hear rather than your actual thoughts.  This can be especially true when the group consists of passionate and dedicated educators.  It was a great time!

December 10, 2014
I attended a training session today for the second time.  I wanted to be sure that I didn't miss anything the first time.  Even though it would have been easier to skip it because I already attended the training once, I went again and made the most of it!

December 11, 2014
I facilitated a meeting with the enrichment unit today.  We needed to determine how this group would best take care of the requirements for monthly update reports for our ongoing projects.  As with any change, a few folks responded to the new requirements with rolled eyes.  By sticking with the purpose of these updates and discussing ways to make them more meaningful to the group on a regular basis, we walked away with a positive plan of action!

December 12, 2014
I accompanied the associate commissioner of education for academic standards and programs to meeting in our state capital.  A state representative wanted some expert opinion on a bill she wants to file.  In this case, I was not the expert!  But, it was very interesting listening to the conversations at a state legislative level!

December 13, 2014
Courageously, I did not much today!  It was our first non-soccer weekend in a long time.  I love watching my boys play soccer.  It is absolutely one of my favorite things to do!  It sure was nice to sit back and relax.  I don't sharpen my saw by doing nothing too often.  Today, I did!

December 14, 2014
I am anticipating some news today.  It might be good or it might not be good.  Because I have already done my part to make the news good, the decision is now outside of my control, so I will now focus on things that are actually within my circle of influence instead of worrying.

December 15, 2014
This is the time of year when the sweets show up in the office.  Today, I only ate one cookie!  I don't know if it was scary, but it sure was tough!

December 16, 2014
There was an Open House environment at the office today.  The chance to walk around a mingle and meet the folks that I often only know over the phone.  I accepted the challenge and can now put faces with names!

December 17, 2014
Today's scare was interesting for me.  I challenged myself to attack a few of my Quadrant One tasks, finishing each one in order.  Quadrant One tasks are both urgent and important.  I am very good at meeting deadlines, but I typically move from task to task to task in a fairly random pattern,  For me, it keeps my brain fresh.  I was able to make it through these tasks one at a time today!

December 18, 2014
We cancelled a meeting today.  There simply wasn't enough on the agenda to get everyone away from more important work.  The only decisions to be made by the group were not urgent.  The best meetings are the ones that make people smarter, better, and more connected.  This one would not have done any of those, so we cancelled it!

December 19, 2014
As the new guy in the office, I have been much more of a listener than a talker.  I work to learn from those who have been here longer than I have.  I want to learn from them.  Not only from their words, but also from their history here.  Sometimes their decisions are based on practices and procedures that I just don't know about yet.  At our weekly meetings, I find that I am asking questions in order to help me see into the past around here.  Today, my supervisor told me that she really appreciated my questions because they are good ones that help the entire team focus on why things are done in a certain way.  She said that it is good for the this group to examine the why more often and she appreciated me for asking!

December 20, 2014
Shopping day!  This day scares me!  I did the majority of shopping online this year, but there are some things that need to be found in person.  I did it!  I got it done!  Hooray me!

December 21, 2014
Packing day!  Even scarier than shopping.  Gotta make sure I get everything in this car before heading north for holiday.  Gotta make sure not to forget something that can't be replaced once we get there!

December 22, 2014
Driving day!  It is not too far.  Just three hours north on I35, from Austin to Fort Worth.  If you have ever driven this stretch of highway, you know it is scary!

December 23, 2014
I taught my boys how to play Spades.  I wondered if they would enjoy the game.  They did!  As they get older, it is really enjoyable to expand the number of things we can do together!

December 24, 2014
Two days ago, I wrote about Beach Time.  Today, I found it.  Rather the hurry that often happens on Christmas Eve, I was able to slow things down and fully enjoy my moments with my family.  We always have a great time together, but this today, I really focused on trying to be in each moment that I encountered in a house full of people doing 14 different things at any given moment.  Beach Time!

December 25, 2014
What could possibly be a scary thing to do on Christmas Day?  I thought it would be to watch my steak intake!  My brother-in-law grills the most amazing steak.  I did not succeed.  I ate WAY too much.  So, I will say that I bravely ate more than I needed to eat.  Yummy!

December 26, 2014
Today, we all went to visit my 95 year old grandmother.  She is an incredible woman!  A former teacher and counselor who truly appreciates educators.  What a treasure to still be able to chat with her.  I am lucky to still have this opportunity!  The past few years, as much as I love every visit with her, it is hard to say goodbye.

December 27, 2014
I spent the evening with my best friend tonight.  I chose to spend a little more money than I typically would have spent, but it was worth every penny.  Our time together was worth way more than those pennies!

December 28, 2014
Time to drive home.  My boys want to stay longer.  They want more time with their cousins and the rest of the family.  I want this too.  Unfortunately, we need to say our farewells and head home.

December 29, 2014
There were lots of folks gone from the office today.  I bravely took on several phone calls that were outside of my area of expertise.  Very interesting!  Several times, I responded with, "That is a great question!  Let me see if I can find the answer and call you back!"

December 30, 2014
I am not a plumber, yet I promised to fix the leaky faucet.  This is a brave move on my part! [UPDATE: I did it!  No more leaky faucet!]

December 31, 2014
Tonight, I made a long trip to buy some firecrackers for my kids.  Both boys are quite responsible and I am very lucky to know that they have good heads on their shoulders.  Nevertheless, they are kids.  I trusted them to use the firecrackers wisely!  They didn't lose a finger or set fire to anything, so I am glad I trusted them!