Making Waves

It’s that time again – football season. Last year I referenced Randall McDaniel’s Hall of Fame speech from 2009 in a blog titled Are You A Difference Maker? A few weeks ago I came across a Dov Seidman book, How – Why How We Do Anything Means…Everything in Business (and in Life). I first heard of the book when one of my professors at the time, shared an excerpt “Making Waves.” 

Seidman shares the story of how Krazy George Henderson invented the Wave on October 15, 1981 at the Oakland Coliseum. If you are not familiar with the Wave, it is quite amazing. It is generally associated with sporting events. It begins in one section of the stadium, fans stand up and throw their arms into the air and then sit down. This simple sequence moves from section to section continuing around the stadium. The Wave is one way the fans can become involved in the game. It also creates great energy.

As I revisited this story, I began to wonder, “What does it take to start a Wave given the climate of education today?”

This past year my district reduced elementary PE and Music to part time and eliminated our librarians. This decision not only reduced the number of staff members available to supervise in the morning and afterschool, it also impacted monitoring the lunchroom and lunch recess. Consequently it reduced planning time for teachers and increased the time spent covering duties. Elementary teachers currently have two 30-minute planning periods each week.

The way I saw it, the teachers had two choices: 1. Passively accept the scheduling and staffing decisions brought forth by the district or 2. Stand up and voice their concerns and challenges. Several teachers stepped up and started a Wave. One by one they stood up at the Board Meetings and voiced their concerns with the new schedule. They made the board members aware of the challenges of having multiple duties each day and limited time to plan and collaborate. At the next Board Meeting more teachers stepped up and told their story and spoke about the challenges they faced each day.

Interestingly, the district now has a $300,000 – $500,000 surplus that needs to be spent this school year. A survey was conducted seeking staff input on how the money might be spent. The six different options are as follows:

1. One time 1% payment to all staff members

2. Hire three elementary Music and PE positions

3. Hire six part-time library aides

4. Hire 12 lunch/playground monitors

5. Hire 6 lunch/playground monitors

6. Variations on the above mentioned scenarios

It is expected a decision will be made at the October 12th Board Meeting.

I am wondering if a few teachers had not started the Wave if we would be having this conversation. What do you think?

I end with a quote from Steve Jobs that speaks to this topic …

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

Don’t be trapped by dogma –

Which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

Everything else is secondary.”

Stanford University – 2005


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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