I had a tough week last week. One of the hardest I’ve had in a while.
I’ve been working on my CMALT portfolio (Certified Membership of the Association of Learning Technologists) for a while and there was another submission deadline on 31 January. CMALT is a peer-assessed reflective portfolio and you can read more about it on the ALT website. The last few submission deadlines have gone whooshing by me, so it was time to bite the bullet and just get it done – I felt I was pretty close.
I work at such a pace and juggle so much at once it can be pretty challenging to find the time to step back and reflect on what I do. Of course that’s the value of investing the time to create this kind of portfolio; to spend time writing about what I’ve done, reflecting on it, and drawing together evidence to back it up. It was hard though. I suffer from imposter syndrome as much as the next person does, plus I have a good dose of Scottish Calvinist “dinnae get above yersel'” going on. The amazing Maren Deepwell has written a great blog post to cajole us past this hurdle, and I certainly found it useful.
2 very late nights of hardcore reflection, enormous crises of confidence met and (mostly) overcome, a lot of re-writing and I was done. Done-in more like. Thankfully I don’t sleep very long hours at the best of times and can get by on relatively little, but I found the reflection process much more draining than I had anticipated. I entered the latter part of the week a little fragile, and quite tired and emotional.
That’s when a bombshell detonated. A colleague and member of my team that I rely on heavily, and enjoy working with enormously has decided to leave. I knew they were going to an interview, and I knew they were a strong candidate. I knew as well that they weren’t doing this because they were unhappy – they were pointed to the new role by a colleague that spotted it as too good an opportunity to pass up. This is their chance to step up to my level in our organisation and I know they are capable of it. It still floored me when it happened. We had some pretty cool projects lined up to work on together and I guess I had vainly hoped that might still have been enough to tip the balance in my favour.
It also forced me to reflect on the kind of leadership I want to offer though. I love working with and leading a team, because I love the buzz that comes from meeting challenges, achieving things together, and watching everyone grow – in confidence, skills, experience. I have tried hard to be the kind of manager people want to work for because I offer them something more than 35 hours of steady work a week. A lot of people have passed through my teams over the years and it’s always difficult to see good people move on. My upset is because of the impact this will have on *me*, and because it’s going to make *my* job harder in the short-term. I may need to step into the breach for a bit whilst we find someone new and bring them in. I also need to support my team through what will be a big change for them. But if I genuinely believe in supporting and developing people, then that’s my pity party, and this is the job I signed up for. It’s the hardest way to do it I suspect, but for me it’s the only way I can think of doing it, because it aligns with my values and why the heck I work in education to begin with. So I congratulated my colleague, offered to mentor them in their new role, and then drank a sh*t-ton of tequila in a bar. Today I started contacting other people who I think might have folks looking for their next step up to say I’m going to be advertising an opportunity soon.
Tomorrow I’m spending a day as a role-model for the Aurora leadership programme and the topic is core leadership skills. I may have something to share.
I’ll also be advertising an excellent opportunity to work with a really great team pretty soon…
(From the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice. Picture by me, no rights reserved by me.)