A mashup of all things educational! From technology and social media to leadership and international education, this is where I will be reflecting and applying everything thing I learn from the web and my PLN. Join me on the adventure and add your opinion to the mix!

16 June 2014

3 2nd Place Sucks, But...

So, I'll be the first to admit it.  I've had a pretty sucky year this past school year.  That's part of the reason my blog was quiet for so long.  While I am not writing this for a dose of Internet pity, I am writing it to offer a reason why I've been in such deep contemplation and what the result of that thinking is so far.

It started around this time last year after I was inspired by ISTE13 and all that I had learned.  I realised that I needed to get out there, be involved, and do some more learning, so I set a goal to apply to a doctoral program.  But, I didn't just reach for the stars, I jettisoned myself out into educational outerspace to boldly go where I've never gone before!  I decided to apply to only free doctoral programs which paid for me to study there with a student stipend.  (In case you didn't know, there's about 7 in all of the United States and they are some of the most HIGHLY COMPETITIVE schools in the nation.  What was I thinking?!)

I worked tirelessly to get amazing scores on my GRE (I kicked butt on the Verbal and sank like a stone in Math. Ugh!).  When the scores didn't go in my favor I worked harder on my Personal Statement and response to application questions in order to wow the reviewers right past my mediocre math scores.  Sadly, it didn't work and I was denied at all the schools where I applied.  While sad, I was proud for putting myself out there and reaching higher than I thought I could.  I was a role-model for my kids and that certainly counted.  What made me sad, as I wallowed in my "second place" finish, was that I didn't know WHY I didn't get in.  A little feedback would have gone a long way.  However, I was not deterred and pushed forward to find another goal to achieve.

Click below to

Soon, ISTE season was upon us and I felt the call of the "ignite speech" pulling me as I read each week about the call for proposals on the website.  So, I strapped on my jetpack and blasted off into the depths of educational outerspace where I had not gone before.  Presenting in front of a crowd as big as ISTE would be a change from the presentations I've been doing in my small community over the last few years.  I worked on my outline and submitted (in my opinion!) an exciting and pop-culture infused treatise on inspiring teachers to add creativity in their teaching through a makerspace.  On the rebound from my earlier rejection, I was hopeful that I would come out in first place.... alas, I did not.  Second place again.  While the rejection letter was positive and cheery, I still did not receive any feedback as to WHY I was not accepted.  Granted, I was going up against some big names (who I now know are presenting like @techninjatodd, @rafranzdavis, and @MsMagiera!) so I didn't have much hope, but there was some.  Undaunted, I plodded on learning and reading, participating in social media, and absorbing whatever I could to move my professional learning forward.

Another opportunity came not too long after where I was invited to participate in an online forum with 200 educators around the world to discuss the role of technology in education.  Thrilled with the opportunity and inspired by the conversations, I debated and learned from many forward thinking educators around the world.  Excitingly, they invited a smaller number to gather together for a face to face round table and I was chosen! Finally, a first place finish! ... Or so I thought.  Caught up in a mis-communication, my invitation was revoked with little feedback given and I was sent back to second place.  Yep, this is a year that sucked.

So, why this blog post? What have I learned? What can one possibly learn from always landing in second place?  In one word RESILIENCE.  It dawned on me that what I have within me that has helped me bounce back from these setbacks over this past year is exactly what we need to be doing MORE OF in our schools.  As I've been reading in many blog posts like this one from ASCD touting the importance of focusing on strengths instead of weaknesses and this one from BBC urging schools to remember to focus on the whole child and teach soft skills, I believe that what we need to do more of besides just teaching these traits is to MODEL them for our students.  As these articles highlight, students benefit from being in environments where they receive feedback and learn to face set-backs as part of real-world learning.  For me, there is nothing better than having students see their teachers as learners who face set-backs just like they do.  As a mom, I try to model this outloud with my own children letting them know when I've made mistakes, when things haven't gone the way I wanted, and how I am changing our plans to meet unexpected detours.  Are we doing the same for our students?

To stop the cycle, I am choosing to take action.  I am publishing my set-backs, my second place finishes for all to see.  I am choosing to show that things do not (often!) go my way but that I am not going to give up!

I will get a doctorate!
I will present at ISTE some day!
I will be part of a world wide technology round table!*

I will be RESILIENT and show my set-backs as a model for my students.

Will you?

Looking forward to your thoughts!
Jessica :)

Photo Source: CC 2.0 BY-SA Toni Birrer
*A follow up... I teneciously contacted the round table organizers and politely defended my position and was placed back in the group after further discussions! Resilience paid off! :)


Daniela Kemeny said...

Dear Jess, I love the positive note of your post and admire the bravery it takes to display these set backs for everyone to read, this really takes courage. But most of all, I truly admire your resilience, and I am sure that things will, little by little, go the way you want them. Remember that to some of us you are already an amazing mentor and role model on so many things, despite the fact that you feel you're in second place.

Jessica Allen said...

Thanks so much for the positive comments! It's great to know that I'm seen in that light... as a role model for others. I truly believe that we need to walk the talk we are giving! I'm so happy that you are out there spreading your wings and being a role model for others too. The pyp and education world is a better place for it! :) Missing you! XXOOXXOO

Shadhin Kangal said...

I will get a doctorate!

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