Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bullied as an Adult

Crazy day today. I am on the verge of tears over my job, daily. I think this might be the definition of a midlife crisis? I am not sure. I have felt very sad since I started PBMS, really. But, after 11 years, I am giving up. I was so amazed with my university studies in Classics and ancient history. My love affair with the Greeks has caused me to wonder over and over again if I could have been successful as a professor. Yet, after my experience in Istanbul, I was humbled to realize a professor has a special something that I do not possess. So, this is why I thought teaching 6th grade would be terrific. I could teach about ancient history, specifically my Greeks, to kids instead of university students.

Anyway, my timing has just been off! After being hired to teach 7th grade at PBMS, my friend from college got hired at my school and chanced right into 6th grade. So, I stuck around hoping there'd be an opening for me, too. In the meantime, 6th grade teachers got to go to camp, and have common prep, and bond in ways that 7th and 8th grade teachers couldn't be part of. This was disappointing, too, as I was only 28, newly married, and longed for a fun atmosphere at work. I had this at Gompers, and it was really effortless. Gompers had a camaraderie that PBMS has never had. I am sure many here would disagree with me, but when you are excluded from the activities, it is a different feeling. Now, 11 years later, PBMS has almost taken my 30's.

This year, however, is just really hard to stomach. I got good at teaching 7th grade, I know that, and now I am punished for it. Last year, the tide of the events that caused my friend to be excessed benefitted me by giving me the best schedule I'd ever had: three periods of 6th grade and 2 of 7th including 3 GATE classes. Then, this year hit--3 preps: 6th grade English, 6th grade SS, and 3 periods of 7th grade social studies (3 different levels). Along with my admin program, I burst into tears over this challenge. But, growing progressively harder every day, is looking the teacher in the face who came to our campus 5 years ago as a part time employee and has swooped in to take everything I worked so hard to gain. On top of hit, she has the audacity to try and make it seem difficult because she's teaching seminar. Really. Why not just poor salt in my wounds, directly! Then, a staff member's wife posts a picture up on facebook of a party they hosted with everyone at school--and I was not even thought about. For 11 years I've been excluded from the social life at PBMS, I've been excluded from teaching what I dreamed about teaching since I was 20, and I'm just devastated. I just want to run away and take my family to Greece.

Anyway, the children and the admin program are my saving grace. I have really terrific children this year. I think they are so neat and a pleasure to teach, so even though I am so stretched thin, they are such little delights. Even though I'm bitter and hurt about my plight at work, they make it better. Then, we went to a bullying assembly this morning. There was a discussion that led to the point that exclusion is bullying. This is when it hit me: I have been bullied at work. Left out of fulfilling my passions, punished because I am good at what I do, left alone on an island. I just have to leave PBMS before I hit 40. I can't let PBMS take my entire 30s.

The last thing that ended my day, is this wonderful admin program that I really want to quit. I know, sounds funny. The daunting work makes me want to quit. However, the wonderful people in the program, the exceptional learning happening in the program, the inspirational leadership--I wish I had the opportunity to work for a principal who has been through this program. Oh, wait, I did have that chance, but we hired another guy. That's okay, both will end up fine. I, however, need to move on. Please, Lord, let an opportunity come my way soon!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Istanbul - June 23 Arrival

Arrived in Istanbul and straight away greeted by customs and Emre Sunu, Teaching Assistant at UCSD, Eleanor Roosevelt College, Making of the Modern World Program, not to mention our Turkish tour guide extraordinaire. Changed my plane ticket back to my Luftansa flight after a difficult 18 hour journey and then shared a cab with Jason. Very smooth getting checked into the Golden Horn Hotel. Showered, settled in, and then our first dinner out. There were eight of us and we got a bit ripped off, but nothing too bad. At dinner were: Amanda, Johana, Kelly, Jason, Rob, Anthony, and one other. Unfortunately, no sleep that night at all, but an incredible moonrise over the Blue Mosque and some more friendly faces on our deck.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Maddox's First Year

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Six Secrets of Change - 3

Secret Five: Transparency Rules

When Fullan addresses Secret Five, he is referring to agencies, companies, and/or institutions allowing data to be clear and accessible to all, and specifically shared with employees. Fullan makes sure to clarify that data should not be used to punish employees. He explains that effectively transparency requires:
  • Allow employees to compare themselves with themselves; for example, have a school see the data for its own performance over a three year time period
  • Employees should compare themselves with their statistical neighbors. For instance, when Ontario collected data for its 4,000 primary schools, four bands for data comparison were created:
  1. Most disadvantaged communities
  2. Two in the middle
  3. Least disadvantaged communities
  • Compare their data with the absolute standard such as where a school's performance lies in the district overall.
Secret Five also continues to expand on the previous four Secrets. Once data has been made transparent and analyzed by the performers, then improvement plans can be made from the starting point of the institution. Next, the focus should switch to capacity-building (Secret Three) with involves peer interaction (Secret Two) and a love of employee feedback (Secret One). Finally, data can be examined over a three-year time period to properly assess performance improvement.

The sharing of data with employees is empowering and helps to create a bridge between employees and management. Since information is so readily available anyway, it really isn't secret. This "openness with results" defines Secret Five, "Transparency Rules" and works as an overall motivating force for change because it is impartial and punishes no one. It adds value to employees, which loops back to Secret One. As the author states, "The emperor has no clothes, and he doesn't look so bad after all" (Fullan p. 104).

Secret Six: Systems Learn

Just as our forefathers fostered in our Constitution that our government should be larger than our president, Secret Six, "Systems Learn" explains leadership as dispensable, and combines the other five Secrets to ensure a culture of learning that transcends leadership. Systems learn by:
  1. Developing multiple leaders
  2. An approach that incorporates humility and faith (Fullan p. 109)
Secret Six requires the enactment of the previous five. Employees will feel valued (One) by engaging in peer interaction that generates learning (Two) which will build capacity (Three) though on the job learning (Four). Progress should be marked with open, transparent results (Five) and then a culture of learning will develop within the institution--Secret Six, "Systems Learn."

For leaders to develop such a culture of learning, a balance of humility and confidence needs to be achieved. For instance, Tiger Woods is confident with the methods that consistently yield positive results, however, he's open to changing his game if it suits him. Interestingly, Fullan also warns that a positive outcome can never be guaranteed which is why leaders need to maintain humility, just like Tiger Woods doesn't win every golf tournament. Good leaders need to apply "integrative thinking" which is demonstrated when a leader takes two opposing resolutions and invents a resolution that combines what that leader feels is the best of each and is ultimately superior to both. The final characteristic of an effective leader is one who helps to release the positive energy that exists within those being led so they will ultimately make good decisions. I can't help but to compare the Six Secrets with what I desire in a president.

To confirm that Fullan is on the same page as me, I will conclude with this quote from The Six Secrets of Change, "when we contribute to the betterment of the environment in which we work, we are also serving our self-interest." This, I believe, explains the purpose for the Six Secrets and I hope to go forward as an instructional leader with the right balance of confidence and humility. I think the Six Secrets offers assistance with confidence--will I be able to inspire by displaying humility, too? I hope so. It sounds like a difficult task, though not impossible.

Six Secrets of Change - 2

Secret Three: Capacity Building Prevails

Each secret from The Six Secrets of Change by Michael Fullan builds upon the last. Secret One, "Love Your Employees" is applied to Secret Three because part of loving your employees means selecting them well and investing in their continuous development. Firms of endearment like Toyota apply Secret Three because their instructional designers contain these attributes:
1. A willingness and ability to learn
2. Adaptability and flexibility
3. Care and concern for others
4. Patience
5. Persistence
6. Willingness to take responsibility
7. Confidence and leadership
9. Questioning nature (Fullan p. 64)

Toyota's trainers contain these skills:
1. Observation and analytical ability
2. Communication skills
3. Attention to detail
4. Respect of fellow employees

Secret Three does not approach change with judgmentalism and blame, but rather with trust and a desire to discover where a "system" failed, rather than an individual. Building upon Secret Two, "Connect Peers with Purpose," capacity-building involves employing trainers who are not just individually talented, but also "system" talented in that they understand and know how to develop purposefull collaboration. Purposeful collaboration brings about motivation for change within the organization through peer pressure rather than finger-pointing.

Capacity-building is best summarized from an anonymous 1924 business leader, "victory comes to companies...through knowing how to get the most out of ordinary folks."

Secret Four: Learning is the Work
"Relentless consistency, 50 percent; willingness to change, 50 percent." (Accenture Tiger Woods ad). Secret Four, "Learning is the Work" includes the application of a "consistency-innovation continuum" for all jobs (Fullan p. 75). In other words, companies, agencies, institutions, and systems should seek to consistently apply what they know, while continuing to work on improvement.

Fullan again refers to Toyota as being an exceptional example for the consistency-innovation continuum because it applies three concepts to improve performance:
  1. Identify critical knowledge
  2. Transfer knowledge through job instruction
  3. Verify learning and success (Fullan p. 78)
Because consistency and innovation go together, "learning is the work," in other words, it is part of the job (see image above of Toyota applying Secret Four). The last part of this chapter discusses "learning in context" or learning on the job. Fullan is not fond of professional development because it is learning that takes place away from the job setting. Using education as an example, he explains that teachers observing one another while on the job would be more effective than a workshop. Secret Four applies the implementation stage of ADDIE more than any other part of instructional design because it requires training to take place while directly on the a job, or in context as part of the job, because "Learning is the Work".