Tuesday, May 2, 2017

An Invitation To Lead

It started with the most innocent of conversations.

I was speaking with Jon Corippo, the Director of Academic Innovation for CUE. As are most of my conversational experiences with Jon Corippo, I am mentally taking notes on everything he's saying - it's like edu-gospel for academic leaders.

Jon is sharing parts of his vision for how to change the status quo of education. I find myself nodding to everything he says. It was all about how we need to address the student's learning experience. As I said, gospel.

"We have to put the learning back into the hands of the students." Absolutely.

"If you're not sitting around the lunch table, sharing how awesome your students are and how amazing their work is, change your lesson design." Couldn't agree more.

"Hey, are you interested in joining the CUE Rockstar Admin Staff at a future conference?" Uh, wait a second.

I didn't know if he was serious or not. I replied with something along the lines of "I would love to" and "sure, be glad to help." Inside, I was thinking to myself, "oh no, he's mistaken me for a different edu-Todd! I'm not sure how to get out of this!"

Because in my own thought process, I couldn't discover a reason why THE Jon Corippo would find anything in value in what I could share with my fellow administrators. Zero. None.

I had only been presenting at various edu-conferences for a year or two at this point. The attendance had been spotty at all of my sessions. The participation therein borderline iffy. I wasn't sure what I had to offer to another edu-administrator other than a solid 60 minutes where they could catch up on their emails during my presentation.

But I said "sure!" and didn't expect anything to come of it.

Until about a year later, I got an email somewhat out of the blue. I knew that the CUE Rockstar Admin camps were approaching for the upcoming Fall. Here in my inbox sat an email, asking if I would like to serve as part of the faculty for the Admin event. I froze.

So this is a real thing? They're actually asking me to participate?

I scanned who else had been invited and would be part of the presenting team...

Michael Niehoff. Brandon BlomTraci Bonde. Jennifer Kloczko. Jon Corippo. Plus me.

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things is not like the others.

Michael Niehoff is edu-famous for building Minarets High School from the ground up with Jon Corippo. Michael has actually been the lead trainer for our USD administrative staff for the past year or two.

Brandon Blom, the Roseville principal who writes blogs that I copy and paste for my weekly Meeting in a Memo. I regularly stalk his #PrincipalsinAction twitter posts.

Traci Bonde was one of the admin faculty from my own CUE Admin Rockstar experience. She's been at the Ed Tech Admin game for close to two decades now. She's one of the "legend" CTOs in our edu-circles.

Jennifer Kloczko has been an inspiration for my own principal leadership over the past five years. If she's presenting at a conference, I'm usually there and in attendance. Just recently, at Fall CUE, I liberally swiped one of her ideas (internal Staff Website) and transformed how our #teamUMS staff accesses their school information.

And Jon Corippo, quite possibly the biggest edu-game changer on the West Coast as well. Five amazing, legendary edu-figures. Plus me.

I still secretly suspect that it's a mistake that my email was included on the invite list. But I'm getting past that feeling lately. My new goal is to make the most of the experience.

Here's why: This is going to be one of the best learning experiences of my education career. Am I ready for this opportunity? Perhaps, perhaps not. Am I going to seize the challenge and recognize that I have been selected by someone for a specific reason... that I have something edu-awesome to share with my administrative peers? Absolutely yes.

It reminds me of what Erik Burmeister, my predecessor at Union Middle School, said to me when I first applied to follow him as the #teamUMS principal over five years ago.

I told Erik "I don't think I'm ready to be a principal."

He replied "No one is ever ready. Don't worry - you'll eventually be ready. And when you are, you'll already be there."

So from one innocent conversation to the stage of leading and working with administrators on how to become a Rockstar Admin. It should be a fun ride -- I'll be there!

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