guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.
Everyone has advice to offer. Sometimes it’s solicited, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it is helpful, sometimes it’s not. I always get questions in the spring asking how to handle certain questions or how to prepare for interviews they have coming up. This is year 15 for me, and I have definitely had my fair share of advice offered up. I wanted to share some of the absolute worst advice I’ve ever been given, in hopes that you, as you move forward, can discern between what you should, and maybe what you shouldn’t, listen to.
**This all is ACTUAL advice I have been given. Now, for the most part I fully understand this was all shared with the intent of HELPING ME, and I don’t at all (cough, cough) question the motives.**
- Quit with the twitter business. It’s not going to do anything for you.
- Multiple LIFE CHANGING relationships, true friendships cross the nation, professional experiences and keynote opportunities later, I disagree.
- Have you thought about wearing turtlenecks? People shouldn’t notice your outfit.
- I’m not even dignifying this one. (I still have the notebook in which I wrote all the “gems” this one was shared with. I’m impressed with my calmness in writing it all. Sigh.)
- Don’t mention the Troy Aikman stuff anymore, it makes it hard for people to take you seriously.
- The amount of connections, students, families, PLN’s, audiences that have remembered me, based on this one allows me to know that there is MORE to it than just silly fandom. This post also connects my childhood obsession with my grown up reality.
- Those cutesy sign offs? Your staff won’t respect you.
- When I started blogging in 2005 I used the same lil’sign offs that I do now. While I don’t use them a ton in my professional correspondence, using them here just feels right. They’re…part of the me-ness that I always want to come through. If I lose respect because of an email or blog sign off, I’m thinking I didn’t actually have it to begin with.
- Technology or leadership, you have to pick.
- Negative ghost rider. I don’t write code. I don’t build computers. I leverage the tools available to maximize what I do. In ALL facets of my life…my leadership role is no different. I can also talk about guided reading. It’s not a zero sum game… you can know about BOTH!
- Poems? No one has time to read your poems. Your staff won’t respect you.
- Teaching is hard. Days are LONG. If I can write a silly poem letting teachers have a jeans day or announcing the teacher of the month, and it’ll make them smile, I’ll take it. Admittedly, it won’t be everyone’s cup of professional tea, but it is what it is. I am what I am.
- Talk less, smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.
- BONUS HAMILTON QUOTE!!! I’ve never been actually GIVEN this advice but it’s from a Hamilton song (skip to 1:02), and doesn’t it SOUND like some people you’ve worked for? It does for me. I never want people to have to wonder what I believe in, or stand for when it comes to doing what we do. It’s one of the reasons I value this blog so much. I can chronicle my career (post 2005) and see the evolution of who I am as an educator. Yes, I’ve changed my mind on things…but mostly, I’ve used this platform to extrapolate why I’ve changed or shifted in my thoughts. You don’t have to wonder who I am, or what I stand for…it’s all here.
Now, I am fully biased in my sharing that none of this was given recently, or from anyone I currently work with. (Not surprising, huh?) In fact, when I first met with my current superintendent and mentioned how stressed I was in trying to separate my “Technically, Teamann” self from the principal role, he literally laughed and said, “It’s who you are, Amber. Embrace and OWN IT.”
Do you know how empowering that statement is? You’re never going to get away from WHO YOU ARE. Todd Whitaker talks about a superstar being a superstar no matter where they are employed in his “What Great Teachers do Differently”. It’s true…your gifts, talents, and passions are going to come to light no matter what role you are playing. I once volunteered in an animal shelter and got reassigned to the front office entering data reports and answering the phone because my “perkiness was wasted on the pekingese!”
Stop trying to hide what makes you you…and know that there is a place, a GENUINE PLACE that will take you, take your quirks, take your strengths and embrace them. Never feel like you have to change who you are in order to get a position. And if you did, and got that position? How utterly exhausting having to pretend to be something you’re not. It’s not worth it, friends.
Good luck this hiring season. I hope that your world is full of people who give REALLY GOOD advice…but if not, come back & share what you’ve been told here!