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The Mystery of the Holiday Roast…and What it has to do With Us

MacKenzie Feldpausch

By MacKenzie Feldpausch, MASB Learning Manager

DashBoard, Jan. 25, 2017

I heard a story a few weeks ago that made my husband laugh, my mother cry and me instantly think about professional learning. It goes something like this. . .

A young newlywed couple was excitedly preparing Christmas dinner for their family. Jack was chopping vegetables while Jill was preparing the main course. He watched her unwrap the butcher paper and prepare the roasting pan. Then she took out a large knife and proceeded to chop off about a third of the roast and carefully place the remainder in the pan. He chuckled slightly and asked Jill what she was doing. “This is how you make a roast,” she said. When he told her that he had never seen it done that way before, Jill told him that it was the way her mother had always done it. A little unbelieving, Jack picked up the phone and called his mother-in-law. She confirmed that she did indeed remove about a third of a roast before putting it in the oven. When Jack asked her about the strange method, she told him that it was the way her mother had always done it. Now Jack’s curiosity took over. He picked up the phone again and this time called Grandma to ask her about the mystery. As he explained what he had watched Jill do and the ensuing conversations, Grandma began to chuckle. “Is it true?” he asked. “Do you really prepare a roast this way? And if so, why?” Through her laughter, Grandma confirmed that she did indeed remove the end of a roast. . .because she didn’t have a pan large enough to cook a whole one.

While the story is funny and sentimental, to me it's a picture of the importance of professional learning. Here’s why—most of our positions in life come with an inheritance. We inherit work spaces and meeting times, strategic plans and evaluation tools, projects and contracts. All of these things have a history that many times we are not privy to. And just like Jill continued to cut apart her roast, we often continue on in the patterns that were established by those who came before us. . .without even questioning if there’s another way.

Perhaps more importantly, this story is a reminder to press for clarity. The question “why?” is a powerful one. The answers we find keep us aligned with our goals and shape our outlook and practice as we move ahead. Asking good questions and listening to the answers is one of the many hallmarks of good leadership. Leaders are ready to learn, and MASB is one of the resources right at your fingertips.

Mentors—Did you know that MASB has a team of veteran school board members ready to support those who are newly elected? The goal of MASB's Members Assisting Peers program is to provide caring support and assistance to board members throughout the state to ensure success at the local level. This will be accomplished through a network of highly skilled and trained board members that provide support by listening, clarifying, recommending resources and redirecting the board member to resolve issues with the local team.

CBA Classes—Board member certification classes are specifically designed to meet your needs.  Classes cover “the basics” of everything from school finance and law to curriculum and communications then dive more deeply into issues like social media, diversity and working with your superintendent. CBA weekends are scheduled around the state each month, or we will schedule something specific for your district and bring the learning right to you.

MASB Events—Whether it’s a workshop in your own district, the New Board Member Institutes (Jan. 27 – 28 in Grand Rapids or Feb. 10 – 11 in Troy) or the Annual Leadership Conference (Nov. 9 – 12 in Lansing), you’ll have the opportunity to learn from content area experts as well as spend important time networking with other school board members from around the state.

Whatever shape your learning may take this year, I hope you’ll remember this little story. May we all be a little more like Jack as we engage our curiosity, press for clarity and enjoy the humor of life along the way.

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