An interview with participant, Danielle Calero, 6th grade history teacher
At what point during your Diamond6 workshop did you have a “light bulb moment”?
On the third day of the workshop we were at the Army Heritage and Education Center and we heard Dr. Chris Maxwell’s presentation, Lead Like a Guide. One of the things he talked about was taking risks. At the end of his presentation he asked us to write down what resonated most with us from his presentation. In my spiral notebook all I wrote down was, “take the risk.”
The day went on and we were meeting with our small groups. That is when it all really came together for me. I was in this group with so many established people in my school district. All week long I had been thinking, “I’m just a classroom teacher, I’m just a classroom teacher.” My colleagues definitely weren’t making me feel that way at all. It was more the feeling that I want to do more. There’s more that I can do to help my school site, my students, and my coworkers. But, the idea of taking the risk was something that I was always afraid to do.
Where did the letter to yourself come into play?
When Jeff asked us to write the letter to ourselves. He explained that we were to write down the one thing that we intended to do when we got back to work. We then sealed up the letter, returned it to him and he would mail them to us just around the time when school year would be starting up again.
The only thing I wrote down was “take the risk.” Nothing else. I put a period at the end and put it in the envelope.
What happened when you got home?
When I got back I had so much to share with my husband and my coworkers. The more I started talking through everything it became clear that I needed to take the risk.
I’m not ready to be out of the classroom yet. But, an end goal for me has always been to take on an administrative position. I’ve wanted to explore that avenue more.
I happened to be talking to one of my coworkers who came on the Diamond6 trip to Pennsylvania with me and she told me she applied for the Administrative Credential Program. Through this program I would get my preliminary administrative credential and it would allow me to take on positions like an assistant principal or principal job, student advisor, teacher on special assignment – it gives me a more options to leave the classroom when I’m ready but not completely leave education.
And so I thought about the program a lot. Should I do it? Should I not? My kids are still little. I don’t have enough time. All the excuses that I’ve been using for the past 5 years!
I talked it over with my husband and realized that my kids of course aren’t going anywhere, the busy schedule isn’t going anywhere. What happens if an opportunity arises and I’m not ready or I’m not prepared? So, I scrambled to get my paperwork and application together and literally got it in the day before the applications were due in August.
When did you receive the letter you wrote to yourself?
I came back to work to start the school year and got all the papers from my work mailbox. I saw the letter but I didn’t want to open it yet. I knew what was in it, but I didn’t know yet if it was worth it. I hadn’t heard back from the program so I didn’t know if I had been accepted or not.
So I brought the letter back to my classroom. I sat down at my computer, opened my email and there was the email saying that I had been accepted into Administrative Credential Program. And then I looked at my letter and I was ready to do this, I was ready to open it!
Those two things happening on the same day made it all clear that the next year and a half might be a struggle, it might be busy, I might get stressed out but it’s worth the risk. I just can’t be afraid anymore. I can’t be afraid because opportunities will pass you by.
Like I said, I’m not ready to be out of the classroom yet. But, when the right opportunity comes along in two or three years I don’t want to be thinking, “I should have taken the risk and gotten that certification.”
Are you taking risks in other ways?
I’m very comfortable talking in front of my students but it’s hard for me to talk in front of my peers. So, over the last few years I’ve been taking on more leadership positions at my school site. The leadership seminar through my school district and the week with Diamond6 really gave me the confidence I needed to start this next journey.
What keeps you motived at work?
I see the potential in our school, in our students, and in our staff. I’ve been learning a lot in this Administrative Credential Program about the importance of school culture, relationships and trust building. That keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing, to stay positive, with that end goal in mind.