Thursday, June 24, 2010

Know Where You Are Going

023 I learned an important lesson this week and it was that I shouldn’t depend on others to make sure I end up where I want to go. Okay, let me start at the beginning…

I recently went on a hike with a group of friends and assumed that the leader knew where we were going and how to get there. At about 9am, the group was supposed to leave right from our campsite to hike the trail so when some of us were ready, the leader told us that we would be leaving. He led us up the trail and told us that we just needed to follow the blue blazes to get to the summit of Standing Indian Mountain which was our goal. About a mile into the hike, he decided to turn back and meet the ones who were late and that the five of us just needed to keep following the blue blazes. (Can you tell yet where this is going?)

We came to a trail intersection and took the trail that went up the side of the mountain with the blue blazes. A few miles later we reach close to the top when we meet another hiker resting on the trail. We ask him how close we were to the summit of Standing Indian and he informs us that we can’t get there from this trail. Now we are shocked and find out that we were on the wrong trail to reach this destination. So, we stood there and talked to him for 30 minutes hoping our leader would arrive with the other group but they never did arrive. We finally change our plans and decide that we will do a loop back to the campground on our own since we feel our leader has abandoned us.

We had a nice hike and saw beautiful wildflowers. The only major adventure is when the bees attacked the first one in our group and stung him 14 times. Since I’m highly allergic to many things, we decided to forgo the trail and the bees and forded the creek (even though our socks and boots got wet).

Later that evening when our leader and the rest of the group showed up, we found out that they realized we were on the wrong trail and decided to go up a different trail to the original destination (the summit of Standing Indian). So, our group hiked about 7 miles while the other group ended up doing 12 miles so I’m kind of glad that my group took the wrong trail!

Looking back, I should have taken an active role in looking at the map. I should have verified which trail we were going on and that it actually would enable me to reach the destination. I needed to look at what landmarks would be evident so that I would know I was on the right track. I also needed to know that actual distance that I was embarking on and making the decision that I really wanted to go that far.

Now I hope you aren’t bored with this long story and I will connect it back to education now.

I feel it is important that I do not depend on others to get me to my goal as a teacher. I know that there are many tools and strategies out there that can make me a better teacher but I can’t expect that others will show me the way or even know the way themselves. I need to take an active role in looking for what tools I need to help me reach my goal.

Sometimes I will let someone tell me what I need to do and follow their advice without even making sure that they know what they are talking about. It is so easy just to hope that someone else looked up the resources and assume that they are the expert on the way I should go.

Too many times I have taken the lazy way out and let others do all the work. I let them figure out the best way to get to a certain point and hope that they lead me there. Then when I don’t reach the goal or it is too hard or it takes too long, I am all too ready to place the blame on them instead of me.

This would also be a great lesson to teach our students. I would definitely be the great example of why they should not do the same things that I did!

Have you ever done something like this? Please share your story so I know that I’m not the only one who has fallen in this trap!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original Image: Hiking Trail Sign by Pat Hensley


kzoojuls said...

I most certainly can relate to you and your hiking story! I have had many of times in my 36 years where I have not used my own knowledge, expertise, or "tools" in order to lead. Leadership takes confidence and a continuous will to learn. I especially liked your quote about needing to "take an active role in looking for what tools I need to help me reach my goal." So true! Many lessons can be learned from your story and your correlating educational lesson! Thank you for sharing. I was encouraged to effectively and confidently use my tools to continue on my journey (my hike!) of returning to the classroom after five years of being a stay-at-home mom, being a high performing and effective teacher in my first grade classroom, being an influential teacher leader in the Charter school that I teach, completing my Master's degree, and balancing family life. I'm motivated and encouraged to "take the reigns!"

loonyhiker said...

@kzoojuls Thanks so much for your comment and sharing your story. It helps to know others feel the same way I do!

kzoojuls said...

Thanks for your reply. I just wanted to leave another comment letting you know that as I am learning more and more about being a teacher leader in my Master's class, your story and correlating lesson is one I have been reflecting on this week. As you stated in your story, "I shouldn’t depend on others to make sure I end up where I want to go." This is good awareness and encouraging advice.

I am learning this week about the many opportunities we have as teachers to demonstrate leadership within our schools and educational communities. Whether it is presenting ideas to reform our inconsistent student behavior plan or being confident to research and suggest relavent and applicable professional development ideas, these are needs that I would like to become involved with. I understand there may be challenges, roadblocks, and forks in the road when it comes to making changes. But, I know too that if teachers commit to achieving their goals with perseverance, passion, a positive spirit, and commitment, that schools will be filled with effective teacher leaders that are commited to bettering their schools, knowing right where they are going!

Thanks again for sharing your story, as there is much to be learned from it. I will end this comment how I should have ended my last comment, by saying...I know where I am going and ready to go on this "hike" of mine!