Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My 20-Year Plan

I love plane rides (especially when I don’t have a toddler crawling across my lap!). They give me time and space to reflect and plane and knock out some tasks that require an extended period of focus and concentration. (And sometimes I just don’t do anything except watch Fixer Upper on HGTV).

I recently flew to Connecticut to meet with the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, tour public Montessori schools, and attend the Yale School of Management education conference.

On the way back home, I opened my journal and filled a whole page with years: 2015, 2016, 2017… I realized that I had filled the page with 20 years. I then proceeded to brainstorm what direction I would like my work to take in the next 20 years. Next to the year, I also included my sons’ ages.

Y’all, it’s going to go so quickly! We only have this one chance with our wild and precious life.

I started by making a list of what my strengths are. I recently heard that we should spend 80-90% of our time on things we’re good at and 10-20% of our time on tasks that stretch us. I looked at what I think our organization will do over the next 20 years and my skills might be the most useful.

At the Yale School of Management conference, I ran into many former colleagues—one of them taught with me in rural South Louisiana back in 2003. It made me reflect on how old I’m getting (37 this year). My bio says that I have “more than a decade” in education reform, but it’s now been 16 years. I’m getting so old!

I’m glad I found my way to Montessori For All. I’m pretty sure my career is set for life (unless I get fired), but I know that my job will continue to evolve and look very different from year to year (our organization has a four-pronged theory of change, including opening public charter schools in diverse communities nationwide, codifying and disseminating our approach, creating a Montessori teacher training center, and then working as consultants for public districts who are interested in strengthening or creating Montessori programs.

As my work life becomes more sustainable, I look forward to freeing up more time for personal projects. I’ll figure out what those will be on a year-by-year basis. 

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meganj said...

Hi Sara, This is Megan from Seattle. It was so wonderful to see you at the AMS conference in Philadelphia. I love this post, you are an inspiration! Love the 20 year plan. Please come stay with us in Seattle. : )

Nora said...

Hi. I enjoy your blog. I implore you to stop using that "wild and precious life" quote to talk about long-term life plans. It's from a poem about watching a grasshopper. As more of a grasshopper watcher than a 20-year planner, I applaud you for your plans. I also want to keep the quote as it was intended - to encourage us to savor the world beyond us in all its tiny delights, just as it is.

Cali Cole said...

Hi there. I just read this by clicking on a "you also might like". Have you looked around Albuquerque in regards to opening up another Montesorri For All? We are one of the lowest states in regards to education. We have 3 public Montessori schools and none close enough to easily access those not able to drive/get a ride on a bus. I worked in a public charter Montessori 2 years ago, and wondered how a school like this would work in a low socio-economic area. I went back to traditional, public school because I wanted to work in a more diverse environment and with students who I felt needed me more. If that makes sense. I wanted to take what I had experienced in one short year and marry that with standard public education. It has been challenging to integrate the two, for me, at least. Materials are expensive out of pocket, and PO's difficult to get approved. I teach 4th/5th special education in a Title I school, and by the time they get to me, it is difficult to teach by Montessori principles and levels of understanding. Anyway, I'm babbling, but just wanted to throw Albuquerque your way because we need all the help we can get!

Sara E. Cotner said...

We're not sure where we will expand out of state first, Cali Cole!

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