Education with Purpose & Employment with Passion
In partnership with the Lee County Economic Development Group, our district administration sent our entire district staff, teachers and paraeducators, to Mark C. Perna‘s Education with Purpose & Employment with Passion presentation last Friday. The effort to bring all Lee County educators and many Lee County business owners together to be part of this event is just one of many examples of how LCEDG is committed to prosperity.
Mark Perna shared a plethora of critical messages during our two+ hours with him. Those messages, interpreted and paraphrased by me, include, but are not limited to:
- Today’s youth are full of potential – we must tap into it
- Millennials, identified as people ages 8 – 25, are the first generation ever to require human connection
- One of the largest challenges we currently face in education is that we have students who require a human connection and staff that don’t have the bandwidth to meet this need
- When youth ask, “Why?” assume they are asking because they can figure out a better way, as opposed to assuming they are being smart-alecks
- There is nothing wrong with doing things the same way you’ve always done them if you can clearly articulate why. *OK, so this is actually George Couros‘s message, but Mark Perna had a similar message, especially as he questioned the purpose of state-mandated tests*
- We might consider eliminating the phrase “College and Career Ready” and replacing it with “Career Ready”. There are many paths to careers, college is just one of them.
- We need to quit starting conversations with youth about career choices and instead start conversations with them about lifestyle preferences; eventually pair that with career discussions
- Seek to be comfortable being uncomfortable
In addition to those messages (aren’t they zingers???), Mark told a story about climbing a tree as a kid: he climbed to a great height, settled on the branch, only to hear it begin to crack. At that point, he realized he needed to act fast. Mark made an analogy between those cracking branches and challenging times in our lives. When our branches begin to crack, we must think, plan, and act, often in quick succession, as he had to up in that tree many years ago. It is those challenging times in life that can define who we are.
I am sitting on a cracking branch right now as I struggle with our oldest son moving out. Elton is 21; it certainly is a reasonable time to be spreading his wings and building his own nest. This has been the plan for some time as he secured a home with several acres of land. Man oh man, my branch cracked significantly on Saturday as Elton packed the remainder of his belongings into a trailer, leaving his childhood bedroom empty. The waterworks started when I took my first glance at that empty room, and they didn’t slow down for some time. I’m qualifying this event as a defining moment: I will be OK and am an incredibly proud momma, but I need to “feel the feels” for a bit longer.
On Sunday, I experienced a milder cracking branch (maybe a lower branch in the tree?!). As I rode my bike on a sidewalk – instead of on the road where I belonged – I saw ahead of me a woman walking her two small dogs. I employed Mark Perna’s “Think, Plan, Act” idea in fast succession… but it wasn’t fast enough. My plan was to move off of the sidewalk and onto the grass to avoid the woman and dogs; however, one of the dogs became overly agitated when he turned and saw me. His “agitation” i.e. vicious barking and tugging on that leash to attack me (I believe “vicious” and “attack” are quite accurate words to achieve the tone, here!) led to my 2nd bike crash in two weeks. Those damn clip-in shoes.
Seek to be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
There has been a case made around being comfortable: If we’re comfortable, we’re not learning. I can definitely hop onboard with this notion, as I have found it to be true time and time again. I’m currently grappling with this as I am feeling some degree of comfort in my role as district literacy coach. It’s great (like, really great!) to feel like I actually know what I’m doing this school year, my fifth as a literacy coach. I want to be careful here and keep a close eye on the situation: I don’t want to settle into too much comfort.
Speaking of comfort, I sure am thankful for the return of routine that comes with the start of the school year. I’ve written about my desire for routine before, and so even though 4 a.m. feels awfully early, it sure is great to be back into the routine of getting up at that time to get a run in before starting the school day. It sure is great to be back to weekly menu planning, and it sure is great to be back to early bedtimes (OK, so maybe those bedtimes haven’t changed so much from summer!)