Working with IDEA Public Schools, Bonnie Dilber served as Vice President of Human Assets during The Broad Residency.
I start my day early with the two-hour drive from Austin to San Antonio. I have several meetings in San Antonio, so I’m eager to beat the traffic. Fortunately, there’s a Stripes (home of some of the best tacos in Texas!) on my drive, which helps make the early-morning commute a bit more enjoyable.
I arrive at our San Antonio regional office and get settled in for a full day of meetings. I’m able to grab 10 minutes with our director of marketing to make a few tweaks to the collateral that she’s creating for our job fairs.
I have a meeting with our two directors of talent partnerships to discuss hiring goals for the 2016-17 school year. They need to hire about 500 campus-based positions for our three regions, so we use this time to set the benchmarks that will drive the work of our team members during the winter and spring.
I have a check-in with my director of leader staffing, who oversees recruitment for our principal-in-residency program. We discuss the final details for our selection summits, which are full-day interviews for principal residency candidates.
As part of our talent development cycle, we engage in “two-by-twos” to provide the opportunity to give and receive feedback from our direct reports. I have two two-by-twos scheduled for this Friday, so I use this time to reflect on my work with these direct reports, read their reflections and write the two-by-twos.
I drive to one of our campuses in San Antonio to join one of my directors in observing classrooms. Upon arrival, I sneak into one of the assistant principals’ offices — she always has a stash of granola bars and I forgot to grab lunch!
I hop on a call with three of my directors to discuss how we are evaluating co-teacher applicants. We revamped our teacher application process for the year and decide to include some of the shifts in our co-teacher process as well.
I join my director and her talent partner for a check-in with the principal on the campus.
I drive back to our San Antonio regional office.
I catch up on emails and make progress on some projects. This includes feedback on our plan to launch our new employee referral program, our game plan for conducting talent reviews for our headquarters staff and creating a proposal for a position I hope to add to my team.
I go over the final questions for a teacher focus group that evening and run them by the director, who will be joining me.
I’m feeling a bit drained, so I take a quick walk around our office building. November may be too cold elsewhere, but it’s 60 degrees here, which is perfect for a brisk walk!
I arrive early to make sure everything is set up for the focus group. But even with that, one teacher has beaten me there! This gives me the opportunity to get some thoughts from her before the others arrive.
We conduct the focus group with several teachers who are new to IDEA. We get some valuable feedback from them about which elements of their experience have met or differed from the expectations they had coming in.
I debrief with my team and set some next steps for follow-up.
I drive home to Austin. Upon arriving, I’m happy that my pet-sitter is still awake, even though I’m about an hour later than expected. I pick up my pup and head home, where I am asleep within 10 minutes of walking in the door.
I wake up in a hotel room on South Padre Island in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. We’re kicking off our second day of an executive leadership council, which is a retreat we hold twice a year for our principals, vice principals and chiefs to learn and talk together about organizational initiatives. Last night was a blast. We celebrated the newly named principals for 2018 and spent time talking about our organizational priorities. This morning is aligned to a new push from our chief executive officer: To ensure we’re all corporate athletes who make time for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, we’re kicking off the day with 45 minutes of exercise. I brush my teeth and put on my workout clothes.
I choose a beach walk. I walk with our vice president of marketing, who is always a strong thought partner on my work. We walk two miles on the beach, watch the sunrise and talk about some wins and challenges in our respective roles.
I get back to my room and get ready for the day. We grumbled beforehand, but the exercise is a refreshing start to the day.
I arrive at our conference room, grab breakfast and settle in for the first session. Our superintendent discusses the progress being made in our schools, compares this year’s test results to last year’s and outlines our path to ensure each of our schools earns distinctions from our state.
We split into two groups. Our school leaders craft plans to drive student achievement, while our headquarters leaders share and receive feedback on strategic plans and budgets. I’m grouped with four other leaders who share great feedback on my plans. Hearing about theirs also helps me identify opportunities for collaboration.
Each of our chiefs does a quick pitch on their team’s progress and additional staff and budget requests. We provide feedback and rank the teams based on those we think should receive additional allocations.
We have lunch and socialize.
The Bright Spots Share Fair is a time for leaders to share innovations or things they do well with others. I am lucky that I get to present a big project I’ve been working on: redesigning leadership competencies, which will be used in our performance management system. I get valuable feedback, particularly on making the tool more user-friendly. I also attend a session on a new initiative to recapture our graduates who have dropped out of college and provide another path to a college degree. This session leaves me inspired about our commitment to truly getting our kids THROUGH college.
After the Share Fair, we end with our ELC tradition: a one-word closing that describes how we’re feeling. I hear “inspired,” “motivated,” “ready,” “urgent,” “refreshed” and “grateful” many times. My word is “proud” because I’m proud to work alongside people who have accomplished so much for their students.
I hop in my car with our vice president of growth. We are headed to meet with a candidate who is interviewing for the executive director role of our new region in Fort Worth. During our drive, we reflect on the past two days and talk about our organizational plans for growth.
We meet with the candidate and another team member over dinner.
I head to my hotel. I run into another colleague at check-in — we’re all regulars here! I’ll be in the Rio Grande Valley for two more days. I settle into my hotel room and get caught up on some of the emails I’ve missed over the past few days.
I wrap up my work, including this Day in the Life entry, put on an episode of one of my favorite new shows and unwind for the evening. It has been a long day, but thanks to the variety of activities and the many opportunities to connect with colleagues, I feel motivated and excited for the day ahead!