Coming Home

So this week I want to talk about the process of recruiting, and the incredible learning that happens both personally and professionally when you go through this experience from an administrator’s perspective. If I’m being honest though, the best part about these recruiting trips for me is the coming home part, because I get to put so much of this learning into practice at my own school. The recruiting process itself thrusts you into so many situations where you’re constantly reflecting on the makeup of your community, how your programs and initiatives stack up in relation to the other top schools in the world, and the quality of educators that you currently have on faculty. You get a chance to see which schools are garnering the greatest interest from candidates and why, and you inevitably come away inspired to do better, as well as feeling very validated (if you’re doing good work) that the educational road that you’re going down is progressive, meaningful, and sound. The wonderful thing about recruiting is that you have the opportunity to tell your story over and over again…to other schools and school leaders, to prospective candidates, and to anyone else who will listen. It provides you an amazing opportunity to reflect on who you are as an organization, the type of educator and person that fits your mold, and most importantly, whether or not you’re in a situation to attract the top candidates in the world. It’s exciting, it’s humbling, it’s inspiring, and it’s motivating to no end. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to work in some truly amazing schools throughout my career, with truly amazing educators and mentors, and I’m thrilled to say that coming home this time around made me feel confident that we are not far away from becoming a truly great school, and it solidified for me how proud I am to be calling Academia Cotopaxi my home.

 

All that said, there can be a danger in coming home from recruiting trips, and being over inspired by the amazing things that great schools around the world are doing…as an administrator you have to be careful that your desire to implement, keep up, or lead the way doesn’t overwhelm people and lead to burn out or initiative fatigue. Truly great schools dig deep into what’s really important to them, and prioritize, and take on only a few things at a time, and do them really, really well. Stretching yourself too thin as an organization, and rolling out too many initiatives all at once can sabotage your end goal, and inevitably keep you from achieving your desired result. It’s the conversation between breadth and depth…do you want to do many things on a surface level or do you want to do just a few things deeply? If it’s the latter than you have to keep in mind that getting from good to great will take time, and going slow is what sustainable change is all about. This is a great reminder for me, and for us, because we are all so excited about the 5 year strategic plan journey that we’re on, but we need to be careful not to keep adding on to what we’ve already rolled out and committed to over the next few years. Just because one school is doing something truly remarkable for their community doesn’t mean that it will fit ours, or that the timing is right. We need to focus on our own journey, and remember to dig deep into the top priorities that are important to us. That was the big take away for me as I was reflecting on the experience heading home on the plane. If we stay true to who we are, and stay true to what we believe in as a school, without constantly adding on and changing lanes, then we will eventually get to our destination…and it’s okay if it doesn’t happen right away!

 

I had the opportunity to speak with a number of incredible Heads of School while I was away, and when I asked them specifically about how they arrived at such an inspiring place, they all talked about patience, hard work, and the retention of great people. It got me thinking about what Michael Fullan says about change…he first says that sustainable change in an organization will take anywhere between 3 to 5 years, and that change really isn’t as hard as we thought if we capture people’s interest, and give them enjoyable, worthwhile experiences…and keep them around to finish what they’ve started. Anyway, I love the recruiting process for a number of reasons. I love meeting new people and hearing them talk about their passion for education…I love discussing education with other leaders from around the world…I love telling our story and trying to inspire candidates to join our journey…and I love reflecting on who and where we are as a school through all of these different lenses. But most of all, I love coming home with a fresh perspective, and with a renewed sense of hope, and with a few new, incredible educators who will add tremendous value to our community. Our ambitious journey will be a long one but that’s okay…let’s just make sure that most, if not all of us stay together for the ride! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week….

It’s a thing to see when a boy comes home.
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

 TED Talk – Radical Wisdom for a company, a school, or a life

http://www.ted.com/talks/ricardo_semler_radical_wisdom_for_a_company_a_school_a_life

Soul Pancake Video on Love – watch with your kids

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbgoCXXF-7U

Michael Fullan Interview – good stuff!

http://epresentationplanning.pbworks.com/w/page/6927398/Supportive%20-%20Fullan%20Interview

Interesting Articles –

http://switchandshift.com/11-characteristics-of-meaningful-work

http://www.meaningandhappiness.com/meaningful-work/360/

http://www.tlnt.com/2013/01/29/meaningful-work-its-just-as-important-to-employees-as-a-paycheck/

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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