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Summer ‘Course’ Work

The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can’t see him laughing. 

~Phyllis Diller~

After leading a busy June and July in the working and engaging in online learning, I spent a weeks off-line to reconnect with my family, my friends and some of my summer pastimes. Along with sunny days by the pool, a prodigious supply of spy novels and late night comedy, I spent some time on the golf course.

I enjoy golf. Like skiing,  it is an activity that requires patience, a degree of skill and a willingness to seek continuous improvement; no matter how good a golfer one is, there is always room for improvement. I took up golf in my twenties and would definitely fall into the ‘weekend hacker’ category.  A few years back, I decided to invest in some new clubs, get some lessons and work on improving my skill, not to be competitive, but just for the sake of getting better at the game. The lessons helped me a lot; especially with my iron play, but one pesky problem seemed to persist. The driver.

I have had a wicked slice, a slice so bad  that, in order to hit the fairway, I could almost stand perpendicular to the tee box. So, I looked to YouTube for some individualized, real time learning on using the long stick and found 3 key points, with video, to help me fix my slice.   Along with the validation of the role that technology can play in supporting real-time, personalized learning, I also learned a few things about being a good driver (and leader).

The core of a good drive depends on three things; the grip, the stance and the follow through. Funny enough,as I though about it, these things seem awfully similar to the core of effective school leadership.

The Grip: I learned to rotate my hands counter clockwise on the club grip (I’m a lefty) moving my grip ‘behind’ the ball and to loosen my grip so I wasn’t squeezing the club, firm, not tight. I was squeezing too tight, causing a loss of feeling for the ball and tensing up the swing, prompting me to swing too hard. In my school role, am I mindful of my grip? Not too tight, not over-managing, and remembering the importance of maintaining a connection with the staff,students and families?

The Stance: I learned I was lining up to far ahead of the ball so I moved my stance back, lining the ball up with the inside of my front foot adjusting my weight back, put more flex into my knees and straightened my spine, giving me a greater degree of balance.  Keep my weight behind the target, stay balanced, keep an open stance, are these things I remain mindful of at school?  Do I race too far ahead, or do I remain mindful of the needs and dispositions of  those with whom I’m working?

The Follow Through: My swing was traveling ‘outside-in’ which put the slice inducing spin on the ball. I learned to keep my arms close to my torso, swing easy and turn my wrists, following through towards the target line. It turns out that following through; is a critical component of a good drive. What one does after the ball is struck is just as important as before and during. Do I follow through and look for the impact of my actions and decisions? And is reflection a part of the follow through.

My goal moving into the new school year is to remain aware of the lessons I’ve learned this summer; not just on the golf course, but in the many interactions I will have with students, families and colleagues.

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