“We do not learn from our experience – we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey. In keeping with Dewey’s advice, I have always tried to share out my reflections after a conference or professional development event. My reflection process usually starts with a swirl of positive energy and excitement and then settles into concrete strategies and ideas that I can implement or share. This year, rather than focus on particular speakers or ideas, I wanted to share out some of the common themes or threads that I see demonstrated by my MEMSPA colleagues.
A desire to improve: Perhaps the dominant trait I see in those that attend the MEMSPA conference is the desire to be better. Everyone is there to improve their craft, find new ideas, and push their thinking. Even those that present are there to attend other sessions and share in the learning. Principals attending the conference aren’t trying to be “the best”, they are trying to be “the best they can be”.
A need to connect: Participants at MEMSPA conferences have a desire and need to connect with others. Some come from districts where they are the only person in their position and others come from large districts where they attend with their colleagues. They know that the best principals are those that collaborate with others who bring different experiences and viewpoints. We need people to push our thinking as well as support us. At MEMSPA, we get both!
A wish to be a part of something bigger: When an educational leader joins MEMSPA, they become part of more than an organization, they become part of a movement. One of the beautiful things about MEMSPA is that it supports principals locally, while making changes nationally. From regional gatherings across the state, to influencing policy decisions at the national level, members are invited to act locally and nationally. Together we are better, and together we make a bigger impact for our profession.
A longing for inspiration: We all know that you can’t pour from an empty vessel. One of the most important roles of a principal is to inspire those we work with. MEMSPA is a way to “fill our bucket”, so that we can continue to help motivate and encourage our building teams. I’m often amazed to learn that those that I seek out to gain inspiration from are also seeking inspiration from others. Those that provide inspiration at the conference also receive it. What a powerful example of synergy and making us better than the sum of our parts!
An example of humility and kindness: The attendees of the MEMSPA conference are movers and shakers. They are transformative leaders who impact their communities and our profession. They are also humble and kind. As I hear the accolades and the introductions of the presenters and award recipients, I’m not so much in awe of their accomplishments, but their humility and examples of servant leadership. Perhaps the best example of this, was the announcement of the 2019 Principal of the Year, Amie McCaw. As they read the description of the many ways she serves her students, staff, community and profession, it was inspiring. Even more inspiring was her humble and kind and acceptance and nearly disbelief of being recognized for the award. Having known Amie for many years, I know how modest and humble she is. She exemplifies the best traits that I see in our greatest servant leaders of MEMSPA.
As I reflect on #MEMSPA19, I ask myself three questions. “Am I better after the conference?” Yes! “Did I help make someone else better?” I hope so. “Did I come away with something that I can share with other educators?” Yes, and my attempt to do so is in this post. I’m thankful for those who inspired me at the conference, I’m thankful for my district who supports my efforts to grow, and I’m thankful to my building team who make it possible for me to attend, by their leadership at the school while I am gone. The MEMSPA conference may only happen once a year, but the inspiration and ideas it provides will continue impact our team throughout the year!
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim is fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
“I want to say that I contributed more than I criticized.” – Brene Brown
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- Monday, December 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05, REED (Williams) 2:30 PM, Santa Shop begins, iReady Window 2 opens
- Tuesday, December 10: REED (Mcguigan) 8:15 AM, REED (Ringler) 9:10 AM, Grades due in by midnight
- Wednesday, December 11: IEP (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, IEP (Adams) 10:35 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 12:30-4:30 PM
- Thursday, December 12: No Staff Meeting, 3/4 Winter Concert 6:00-8:00 PM
- Friday, December 13: Stevenson Winter Choir Concert (all students in the gym) 9:30-10:15 (Thank you Byron!!), Santa Shop closes, Report Cards go home
- Monday, December 16: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM
- Tuesday, December 17: REED (Hurula) 8:15 AM
- Thursday, December 19: Staff Holiday Celebration 8:00 AM
- Friday, December 20: iReady Window closes