I graduated from Provo High School in 2003 and I graduated from Utah Valley University in 2012. Other than a two-year hiatus living in Italy I was attending school. Why did it take me 7 years to graduate college? One of my favorite scenes from Tommy Boy is where they’re talking college graduation and Chris Farley says “You know a lot of people go to college for seven years”, to which David Spade replies, “I know, they’re called doctors.”
Unfortunately I did not graduate with my doctorate after 7 years. Just my bachelors in Business/Marketing Secondary Education. So why did it take so long? Because I did not know my why for the first three years. Initially I took my generals, with a smattering of classes in different areas to see what I enjoyed, from law enforcement to social work. I didn’t know my why. When I finally settled on education, I initially started as a history major. After a year in those courses I changed to a business education major which I ended up finishing. Switching from history to business I lost almost 20 credits, it was painful. But after finally finding my why with business I didn’t care. I had a sense of purpose that I was missing. When I finally pivoted to business I ended up graduating quickly. I was all in. I had found my why.
Why do I blog? I have been asked this question recently and while I thought I had a good reason as to why; I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my response. This prompted me to stew (pun intended) on it. In fact, I haven’t had an updated blog post for longer than normal because I am still in the mindset of why. I want to be able to be crystal clear why I am doing this.
Simon Sinek talks about the Golden Circle and it is so powerful because it is simple. Most organizations (schools included) know the what and the how of what we do. If you walk into any school and ask them “what do you do?” they’re going to be able to answer it. They’re going to be able to show you the results of what they do. When you start talking about “how they do it”, they’ll because to take you to the classrooms and show you the learning that is happening. But what if you ask them why they are doing what they do. Are they able to answer that? Can they answer that about the school? What about their personal why? Can they answer that?
During our summer assistant principal book club, we talked about our school’s why. Are we able to articulate it? Is it a meaningless mission statement that is only pulled out when it is accreditation time? Does it guide what we do as a school? Does it guide the decisions we make? From the large school-wide decisions to our classroom decisions? I think that it can. When the why is communicated with proper buy-in, there will be ownership with it that causes it to become the central purpose of the school.
Dr. Patrice Johnson has been Jordan School District’s Superintendent for the last eight years and something that she has been really good about is having a clear vision for the district. And maybe, more importantly, she has been consistent on sharing the message. Every time I have heard her speak she has always mentioned Every Child, Every Day. Without fail. That has been the guiding direction for us as a district. In fact, I think if you polled administrators in the district, there would be a 100% response
However, do we get down to the why? We do at times with the school, but do we do it on a personal level? What motivates us? What do we believe? What drives us? This is a big reason for the blog. It helps my why. Julie Scherzinger, a fellow assistant principal has a quote in her office and I couldn’t agree more with Maya Angelou, Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. I am able to see me learning change with time and this learning then affects my why.
When I have to sit down and write my feelings and beliefs, it makes me bring clarity to what I believe. This is my why.
In a book I am currently reading, The Better Leaders Better Schools Roadmap by Daniel Bauer, Daniel Bauer talks about putting yourself out there. “So, what makes it difficult? Saying something that matters. Getting clear on your voice. Offering something valuable to your tribe. Staying consistent. Ignoring the haters (in the comments) and the negative voice that exists in all our minds. Sometimes just starting is the most challenging part.”
This is why I am blogging. I am reaching out to others to build my tribe. I am finding my voice. I am trying to stay consistent and continue growing. I hope you join me on this journey.