WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT TO DATE?
I feel as if I have many more accomplishments in my path but one I am exceptionally proud of is learning how to take responsibility for the trajectory of my own life. I was raised with a victim mentality and could have easily become a statistic in several under-privileged categories, but once I learned how to hold myself accountable and make rational choices I realized I could achieve so much more.
A big part of this was learning tools for effective communication and interpersonal skills; I believe these are vital in maintaining the relationships that make up our lives - professionally and personally. Once you are honest with yourself about what you want and hold yourself accountable you release yourself from negative restraints and the positive effects trickle into all aspects of your life. For years now, this has resulted in my receiving praise for my positive and approachable outlook and for that I am proud.
TELL ME ABOUT A TIME YOUR MANAGER CRITICIZED YOU. HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?
Early in my teaching career, I was quickly made aware of the dreaded observation day where an administrator would jump in to watch a lesson and assign points based upon a grading rubric. These were unplanned and unannounced so you wouldn’t know it was coming until someone walked into your room in the middle of a lesson. On my first observation I felt the rush of fear that my colleagues instilled in me but maintained delivery of my lesson as planned.
When it was time to meet with my principal to discuss the plan I had a pep talk with myself to change my mindset regarding feedback. I told myself I wanted to be a better teacher and I walked into the meeting wanting to hear how I could improve instead of taking it as a personal criticism. This shift in mindset has carried into all aspects of my life since then and it is liberating to view feedback as a growth tool instead of a negative attack.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE SOME OF YOUR WEAKNESSES?
One thing I sometimes like to joke about is that I’m a recovering Type A personality, which means I sometimes fight with perfectionist tendencies. It can be helpful in the sense that I am hyper aware of details but can also steal away valuable time if I don’t keep it in check. I’ve learned to balance this with a conscious awareness of deadlines and regular checkpoints to reassess progress.
One example of this is when I was teaching we had to make all of our own lessons plans for the entire year. As a first year teacher this is already a very overwhelming and time consuming process. Now imagine spending multiple days planning for a 35 minute lesson. Do the math; I would’ve never survived at this rate.
I recognized the problem and knew I needed a plan. I developed a process of curriculum development similar to an agile method. I broke down the learning standards into themed teaching units and consulted with classroom teachers to align with their curriculum schedule. In our weekly team meetings we shared data and discussed strategies to reach our teaching goals, therefore guiding our lesson planning for the following week. With this new process I was not only more efficient but I also ended up with better quality lessons and found myself free to focus on smaller sets of details when it actually mattered.
WHAT QUALITIES ARE YOU PROUD OF?
One quality I am proud of is my ability to break down a complex problem into manageable chunks. Once I analyze what needs to be done I am able to organize the tasks into a sequence of actions to reach the desired solution. I am that person that people call on when they are overwhelmed with a situation. I listen to their problem and ask questions to clarify my understanding and develop a solution.
A tangible example of this is when I worked as a household manager. One family I worked with was overwhelmed with kids’ toys and artwork taking over the entire house. The mom could hardly think straight to even explain what she wanted to happen. I used my training in cognitive coaching to ask questions and deduct answers from her statements. When I repeated my understanding back to her I could tell I was on the right track by the excitement in her eyes.
I took charge of the project and found resources to help when needed. To save time I hired an organization company to tackle the garage toys while I redesigned the playroom. To preserve the memory of artwork I found a company that takes professional photos of the kids’ art and compiles them into high quality photobooks to be cherished for years. I coordinated all of this to be complete by kindergarten graduation as the family was planning for summer visitors. As a bonus, the artwork photobooks were so beautiful the mom was crying as she wrapped them up as gifts for the grandparents.
If I can ease the feeling of overwhelm by developing a logical process AND put a smile on someone’s face - that’s a win to me.