From Server to Leader to Learner…a sprinkle of each.

“Hi.  My name is Jen, and I will be your server today.  I am new here so please be patient with me.”  It was the Labor Day BBQ at The Greens in Melville (my mother’s complex) and everyone seemed to show up to get their last bite (well, many last bites) before summer was unofficially over.  With a packed restaurant of hungry residents who wanted their $21 worth and a fairly new staff due to a change in ownership, the place was mayhem.  Yet, this server’s words struck a chord with me as I was about to start a new school year with Mindset as the district’s theme.


Reflection.  Growth Mindset.  RELATIONSHIP BUILDING!  Despite her inexperience, our server realized that she would develop her craft with the patience of her customers and managers.  Patience which she expected.  It made me reflect on my practice as an instructional leader.  Our practice.  How patient are we with the development of new staff?  How long is too long for a “newbie” to get it? Should they fake it or should they ask for help? If they ask for help, is it a sign of weakness or strength? If they ask for help and struggle at the beginning, can they recover?  I suspect these questions run through the heads of many leaders who reflect on their leadership.  I thought about these through most of the lunch.  I evaluated and measured this server’s skills.  She was fantastic.  In fact, if she didn’t tell us she were new, I would have thought she were a veteran.  But, it was her mindset that was impressive.  It was her reflection and ability to recognize her need for more experience that spoke to me.  All wrapped up…the relationship she was able to foster with her customers was genuine.  Leaving the Greens that day, I thought about the new role I was given this year.  How would I build genuine relationships and mutual patience?  I found my answer during a Sprinkle.


I don’t know how I went from a 22 year old English teacher living in a waterfront rental house with two friends to having a Sprinkle, but hey, I will be a father of two come December.  It has been an interesting year getting ready for the baby’s arrival and leading two new departments…instructional technology and library media.  The two should certainly be married so I love this new role.  But, “I am new here so please be patient…” Learning the life of the library media specialist, especially at the elementary level since it was really new, has been awesome.  I always thought the library could be-should be-has to be the hub of a school since research, technology, trust, a secure corner for a student, and a safe space for a reader all live there.  Seamlessly at the same time.  I knew I had a lot to learn from my colleagues.  I knew I had to build relationships.  And reflect.  And grow…with them.  With a technology lens, there would be a library remix of sorts this year with me as their leader.  Three months into this relationship, I knew I was ready to hold a Yay or Nay session with them (PC version of the EdCamp classic) so we could expose our perspectives on hot button issues.  I couldn’t wait for the discussion.  I was excited to present my Haiku Deck with five library-centered topics.  Just as I was set to go, I get ushered into another room where cakes, pink tablecloths with matching cups/rattles/utensils, picture books, a Keurig, gifts for Max (my son), “Olivia,” and one to share with my wife all saturated the room.  A Sprinkle.  The Yay or Nay would wait.  Relationships took the stage again.  Camaraderie.  It is our business. Thankfully.


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