Take a deep breath, and take a step forward…

So I’ve been staring at a blank blog page now for up to a week, trying to drum up the wonderfully wise, inspirational and innovative words  that would be worthy of any future readers.  I’ve fretted, panicked, worried, come close to giving up, and debated stepping into this forum.  Who cares what I think?  I’m a new vice-principal in an Ottawa K-8 school – what do I know after only 4 months “on the job”?  What can I possibly contribute to the global dialogue that’s happening about students, learning and leadership?

Two things have happened this past week that have given me the reality check I needed to get started.  The first is this: our staff have been working through the ups and downs of our School Improvement Plan, focusing on problem-solving in math.  Specifically, some staff appear nervous about taking the first step towards letting go of some “tried-and-true” strategies that have been part of their math toolbox, to trying something different. Part of my daily morning communication with staff is through the Daily Bulletin that’s posted on our school folder.  I include positive quotes at the beginning of every message, and this was the quote I chose one day this past week, along with what I hope was a reassuring message to staff:

Quote of the week:

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark. “~~Barbara Hall (born 1961); writer, producer

*I know I’ve already used this quote, but it really sticks with me, especially in light of discussions I’ve heard or in which I’ve participated around our SIP goal. The process will be messy, we may make mistakes. I encourage everyone of you to give yourselves permission to be okay with it. Reach out to your colleagues. Reflect. Try things out. I understand how vulnerable it may feel, but we are colleagues in the same boat. And in the end, the benefits will be reaped not only by us in our instructional practice, but by our students in their learning and understanding as well.

So, if I can challenge my staff to make the first step outside of their comfort zone, why aren’t I expecting that of myself when it comes to trying something different?

My second reality check happened when I read a fellow colleague’s blog, http://shannoninottawa.wordpress.com/  Shannon in Ottawa has provided me with many points to ponder, and I have come to rely on her reflections and sharing to improve and reflect on my own practice as an administrator.  Her latest post is a friendly challenge to give voice to your thoughts through blogging, and I felt Shannon speaking directly to me.

So Shannon, here I am!  World, here I am!  I have no idea if what I say will revolutionize education or leadership, but perhaps this will be the vehicle where I consolidate my thoughts, share my reflections and experiences, experiment with my voice, and discuss the issues vital to the world of learning I love.

12 thoughts on “Take a deep breath, and take a step forward…

  1. Erin,

    I love it! I am so happy to welcome you to the world of blogging and networked learning. You are now part of the global conversation! You will also see that your blog will provide another means for establishing a trusting, positive relationship with staff, students, colleagues and parents. Awesome stuff! See you Wednesday at PLC 😉


  2. Nicely done Erin! I look forward to reading your future reflections! I am setting up my blog asap…when are you and Jeff going to return the visit? Anytime!

  3. Hi Erin, nice to meet you. I came here via Shannon’s tweet.

    Your open, vulnerable words above are brave and honest. If your love of learning and courage is just like that photo above, how could wonderful things not happen naturally. Learning to walk is just like that. It’s a process of tenacity and collaboration. The only slight tricky thing is that we’re all learning to do it, pretty much at the same time. (-; I look forward to hearing your thoughts, asking questions and learning with you.

    All the best,

    – Ian

  4. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I thank you for continuing to inspire me with your passion and committment for making a difference in the lives of the children we serve the way you did the very first day of my career when I sat in your classroom with tears of frustration wondering if I could actually DO this (you know, the only thing I’d ever wanted to do in life…TEACH).

    You are so incredibly passionate about what you do and that was evident back when you were my mentor in only your third year of teaching.

    I look down my own road and the further I look, the more interested in leadership I become and I think it’s because of those who took me under their wing as I was starting out and were willing to open up and share not only their successes, but their challenges along the way.

    I’d like to share with you a powerful leadership quote I heard about a year ago that continues to stick with me. It’s short and sweet…

    Listen, learn, lead

    I thank you for continuing to lift me up and I look forward to continuing to read your words of wisdom.

  5. Welcome Erin 🙂 I hope that you stick with it as blogging as given me the opportunity to really focus on what I do as a professional. It has been an invigorating experience for myself and I know that many love the learning that occurs. Welcome to the blogosphere!

  6. I’ve used that same photo in a couple presentations where I talk about ‘failure’. When a kid takes their first steps, say from dad to mom, if the kid falls part way then dad doesn’t come over with a measuring tape and say, ‘sorry son, you didn’t make it half way, you failed!’… every step forward is a celebration!

    Congratulations for taking a rather large step into the blogosphere! It’s the best professional development I’ve ever done, and I’m sure it will be a great step for you too!

  7. Pingback: Tweets that mention Take a deep breath, and take a step forward… « Er-Head -- Topsy.com

  8. Erin – Thanks for joining the blogging world, we need as many of us out here as possible sharing our successes, failures, and thoughts. Of course, we all dream of changing the world of education, but this can only start by our changing our own practices first. Congratulations and keep it up!

  9. Hi Erin,

    My name is also Erin, and I’m nicknamed Er-head also, by my cousin who started Urbanmoms.ca, where I blog. Come over for a visit.

    I’m also a teacher and I just completed my math specialist this past summer. Math is a part of our SIP too, but I feel it’s not going anywhere because there is not enough of a focus on helping the teachers move out of the tried and true. We need a lot of good, ongoing PD and support and it’s not there. It sounds like it may be working better at your school. I look forward to reading more.

    I found your blog via Shannon’s tweet!

    A fellow Er-head!

  10. Great posts, Erin. I too felt like Shannon was talking to me but unlike you I haven’t yet typed my reflections out! Ahh! I’m the kid with the overdue assignment! Is parental leave an excuse? Hmm, not sure when I will have more/less time…

    Since Shannon’s call to blog, though, I have started a blog which I hope to use with parents and students in my Core French classes at South March PS. Having my older son in preschool makes me realize that I really need to step-up my parent engagement. My next step will be to create a blog for my own reflections. (The process of blogging and keeping up with Tweets alone may be my first post!)

    See you online and perhaps in person around the OCDSB one day,

  11. Hi Erin,
    I found your blog through Shannon. Congratulations! This is a venue which greatly intrigues me. Perhaps one day….
    Great to see you here too, Joelle!


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