Editor’s Note: Meghan Everette (@bamameghan) was selected as a 2014 @ASCD Emerging Leader earlier this year and recently attended the annual Leader to Leader (#ASCDL2L) conference. The following post is a reflection of her time at the conference.
Do you remember that first awkward tween experience of moving from the ketchup-coated kid table you so despised to the linen-covered dining room only to realize they didn’t serve ketchup and there were all these new napkin rules? That’s me, sitting in a room full of incredibly talented, passionate, educators and feeling like there should have been some kind of mid-way point between the kids area and the big boys. Did I miss a couple steps?
I joined ASCD last year because I was tired of reading hand-me-downs from favorite administrators. When I saw the chance to display leadership and be among like-minded fish I self-nominated to become an Emerging Leader. I had no idea I was jumping from my little pond into an ocean. After a morning of getting to know the rest of my Emerging Leader class, and hearing their impressive initiatives and piles of titles, I wrote home to say, “I don’t belong.” The response? “This is where you are meant to be.” It couldn’t have been more foreshadowing.
The most exciting part of the weekend was to hear men and women, empowered and impassioned, talk about their excitement in education and overcoming obstacles. There wasn’t the monotonous drone of what’s wrong in our system, or how we are so poorly mistreated as educators. There was strength in numbers and among friends. People lithely treaded over issues as they were merely inconvenient hurdles and laid action plans to overcome them. I bounced from a couple of groups touting their visions until I connected with a single other educator, who like me, was feeling as if all this didn’t connect to me, in my state, in my classroom, when I’m off by myself again. We both wanted to raise the level of discourse with educators around us so we were no longer the ones taking over or leaving others behind. We wanted the kind of experience we had talking with other Emerging Leaders to permeate our schools so we could learn from others, not just at one conference, but every day. We felt satisfied in our plan, but surely we couldn’t stand alone.
Finally, we found our larger counterparts and joined in making a new site, dedicated to professionals in their first five years, to actively support and engage them in leadership paths and best practices. We created a way to draw in new educators, emerging leadership, and novice administrators through existing content curation and provide a true service to local affiliates. Usually the one to dominate a group, I sat back. I watched. I listened. I saw professional collaboration I didn’t know possible and we grew as a team of friends and equals. I knew we were doing something great. I know that it will continue to grow and our excitement at seeing this idea in the back of our minds come to fruition is exhilarating. I didn’t sit back anymore. I answered questions. I shared experiences. I even did some fist bumping. And as I left, I finally felt it; it turns out this is where I was meant to be.