I have always been a leader, a starter, and a team player. The oldest of 5 children, drum major, swim team captain, founder of a swim team and high school therapy dog program, #flipclass advocate, edtech edge cutter... I've always been on the head of the metaphoric spear, but never the only point person, but something shifted the weekend of NJPAECET2 x 2.
I took a giant step forward in terms of leadership on September 19th and 20th, 2015 at the 2nd convening of the NJ-PA Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. Being part of a 20+ person steering committee crowdsourced by the legendary Barry Saide, it can be a bit of dance to know who is doing what and when and to understand all the moving cogs and wheels of the organizational machinery. At the conclusion of the 1st convening of NJPAECET2 last year, we started planning for the second iteration: soliciting for sponsors, creating forms for proposal submissions, generating a list of invitees, and more. Not working a full-time job this summer afforded me time to be available to take on greater responsibility behind the scenes-- working with Barry, Liz, Steve, Scott, Gio, and Josh, I had a hand in session acceptances and scheduling, the itinerary of the convening, setting up the Edmodo group, countless pages of color-coded spreadsheets of participants, presenters, sponsors... I learned so much about spreadsheet design and management this summer... when something needed to be done, I was on it.
I'm the type of person who needs to know what my role is and where I fit in the scheme of things--tell me what to do, and I will do it. When I know my role, I will act accordingly. I'm also the type of person who if I see something that needs to be done, will speak up, but I will speak up with the expectation that whoever is "in charge" will make decisions and delegate. Seeing Barry as our "leader," I assumed that he make the final call on all things: Things not running on schedule, Barry will decide what to do. Something is missing, Barry will get it. But at NJPAECET2 x 2 that was not the case. On September 19th and 20th, I cast aside those expectations and stepped into the role of decision-maker and delegator.
"Step up, then step back" was one of the mottos heard during Colleague Circles at NJPAECET2-- speak up, be a leader, but then step back and allow someone else to come forward and lead. Barry, you stepped back so that I could step up.
When the first keynote ran over time and the schedule needed to be adjusted, I emailed Barry, sitting 2 tables away, about what to do. Then I quickly realized, I didn't need Barry's permission to adjust the schedule. As the timing of events continued to need adjustment, I did it. Popping into sessions to check on presenters, snapping pictures, making announcements, alerting participants it was time to move to the next session, constantly thinking about "how can we tweak this to make it better?"and calling a steering committee "brain dump" session at the conclusion of the weekend-- I was on hyper speed not just as a participant, but as an engineer who kept the train on its track and schedule.
None of this would have happened if I wasn't given the opportunity to grow and didn't have fantastic, amazing educators to work with. Thank you, Barry, for creating the opportunity to step up. While I know it would never be an easy job, I now know that I have the skills and ability to be "The Leader." Where will I go from here? I don't know quite yet (I have some ideas...), but I know I have taken a very important first step.
Thank you to all who attended, presented, sponsored, and organized NJPAECET2. You all have elevated me, and I continue to bask in the glow of the celebration of our profession. I can't wait to see what else we will accomplish together.