Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate to have been able to participate in a wide variety of leadership and learning experiences that have shaped me into the leader I am today. However, what matters a great deal more than the years of experience I have accumulated are the experiences that have happened in those years.
As educators, we must proactively seek out experiences that add value to our years of experience. Our students and fellow teachers deserve someone that is passionate about education, advocacy, writing, reflection, and continual growth.
What will our life’s resume say when its all said and done? Clearly, we aren’t going to be remembered simply for being alive or for spending years in x, y, or z position. What will really matter is how we spent those years and the impact we made on others.
Our time is a sacred gift. Investing it in something means sacrificing it away from something else. We must seek to avoid spending our time in areas of our lives that have a minimal impact on improving ourselves or the lives of others.
We must also understand that our resumes do not tell our entire story. Often, they leave out important details like why we chose to engage in various experiences and the extent to which we fully invested ourselves into those experiences.
For example, I have been a classroom teacher for the last 11 years. On my resume, it says I have taught 11 years in 3 different districts. If you read my resume, would you also know that I have consistently been one of the first, often the first person to arrive to work at my buildings? Would you learn that often, I am also one of the last ones to leave and frequently one of the few people there working on the weekends?
I say this not because I believe I am better than anyone else. If anything, it communicates that I have to work harder at this than others just to be on their level. Any talents or abilities others may see in me were not given at birth. I had to earn all of them by investing significant time in improving myself and my craft. This time investment is something that few would know or see, yet it clearly demonstrates how passionate I am about what I do. You won’t see this on my resume, yet my passions is why I am who I am.
My passion wakes me up early in the morning without an alarm clock. My passion drives me to improve and better my craft, find new ways to reach my students, and do every thing I can to ensure my students are better off for having had me as a teacher. My passion is the reason I am always tinkering around the margins to discover new ways to connect with my students. My passion is why I am also constantly seeking the advice and wisdom of my colleagues, frequently inviting them into my room to help me and to provide feedback. My passion is why I visit the classrooms of other teachers, adopting strategies they are utilizing to get better. My passion is why I have served on countless committees, organizations, teams, and worked with many adults within my buildings, across my districts, all over the state, and around the country. My passion is why, everywhere I go, I seek out others, try to build relationships with those around me, and constantly seek to learn, grow, and get better.
It is the synergy of these experiences that made me who I am, yet I am not at my final destination. My journey is not complete. I must seek out more opportunities that challenge me, inspire me, take me outside my comfort zone, and help me grow. We only graduate from learning one time in our lives, and it is not after high school, or college, or graduate school. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the people that depend on us to not let our years slip away without continually improving ourselves.
Go have those experiences, especially the ones that challenge you and inspire you. Life is a gift. Don’t spend it being idle, confusing your years of experience with experiences in your years.