This week was one of those weeks...you know the one where frustration and doubt are front and center? Where you let those negative thoughts consume you, detour you, get you down. This is when I am so thankful to have people in my corner who not only support me, but keep me straight.
I started spinning on something that had nothing to do with me and I had no control over, yet I spiraled in to "I'm done...I can't make a difference...why even try?". I started questioning my purpose, whether I was better off when I was in my four walls, oblivious to what was happening outside...when I was small and quiet.
That is when I got the text "Ignore the chatter, focus on the mission". But I had to ask the question back "What IS my mission?" The response was "Changing school". Well there it is, can't argue with that one. The next question was, how do I do that? I have very limited control or power to create change. In which I was hit with...
Truth...in my face! Time to pick myself up...stop whining and fight. We all have a megaphone, how do we choose to use it? We must use our platforms to create a difference...for the better. My megaphone reach may not be far or wide, but that doesn't matter. As long as it is used for good.
I believe I personally have four platforms:
Within each of those, I always weave through the same ideas, questions and themes. These are the things that I am passionate about, so they can't help but come through. Anyone that has read any of these blogs, exchanged tweets or words with me, should know my purpose. And my friend hit is on the nose: Change school. Our kids deserve better! Everything I do, falls under that umbrella.
It is interesting as I have found, especially this week, that I am not alone in feeling uncertain of my path, of my purpose. That same night, I found myself telling someone else "You are needed...you are blazing a much needed path for others to follow. Suit up, stand up and fight passionately for your purpose.". I have said before that I am my own "Worst Advocate" as I can easily encourage others to do the things that I need others to encourage me.
So here is my call to action: Find your megaphone and use it! Everyone has one...how can you use it to evoke positive change? What is your purpose, your passion? Pursue that, share that and know that you ALWAYS have the power to make a difference. YOU are needed! Use your voice. Use that megaphone for good!
One of my fondest memories as a kid was "Family Game Night". Every time I think about this, I am reminded of one particular game and one particular night. One of my favorite games to play was "Pictionary". My dad had only two shapes in his drawing tool kit-a square or an oval. On this evening, he drew his oval and then pointed to it. We shouted out answer ideas. He continued to point. We continued with more answers. Now the pointing got faster. We just couldn't get it, so he tried a different strategy. He drew a twin oval and pointed. As the time began to run out, the pointing got more frantic and filled with frustration. We just couldn't figure it out. Time was up. A baked potato! Geez, how could we not have figured it out? (insert sarcasm here). This became a huge source of laughter because of the ridiculousness of it all. How did he expect us to change our understanding...our answers, if his delivery did not change? Pointing more frequently and frantically did not change the fact that we had no idea what he was drawing.
Fast forward to a math class. The teacher has pulled a small group of students that "needed help", to the front white board. She stood in front of them, students sitting at her feet, workbooks on laps. She explained how to do a math problem (I don't even remember what it was). She talked and the students listened. She then told them that they aren't "getting it" so she was going to show them again. So she did..., the exact same way. She again told them that they weren't "getting it" and this time showed them the same way again, but a little louder and more aggressive. This went on and on for a good 20 minutes while the rest of the class who "got it", was supposed to be doing their workbook pages. Well, they weren't, they didn't understand the problems that lay before them, either. So they just talked to each other, about everything besides the math.
This teacher was obviously annoyed at the students for not understanding the concept. This was very apparent as an observer, so I know it was very apparent to the students. I did not find this humorous like the baked potato scenario. I felt extremely uncomfortable and sad. I was not there to evaluate, judge or give feedback, so all I could do was leave. I couldn't take it anymore. My heart was broken...it was broken for those students and the many others who have had similar experiences with other teachers, at other schools, in other grades.
"Louder and slower" does not equal learning, it does not equal teaching and it does not equal differentiation. If students are struggling, it is on us, the adults, to do something differently. We can't blame the students. Try a different strategy, ask a different question, get the students talking and doing. Use what you see and hear to decide what triage needs to happen.
My friend David Culberhouse always talks about the idea that our students need to be agile and adaptive to best be ready for the future. I believe we, as teachers need to be this way too. We need to be flexible and armed with multiple tools and strategies to meet our students where they are. The only way to do this is to know them, understand them and work for them.
In the above scenario, a few small tweeks could have made the difference. Instead of standing in front of the students, the teacher could have been sitting with them. This tiny shift would lower the students' affective filter and because of the proximity to the students, the teacher could get a grasp of the students' thinking. Another small change is not talk at the students, but involve them in the learning. Pose questions and give them time to think and struggle. When there is cognitive dissonance, the learning and stickiness increases. We need to allow the time and space for this. We don't need to fill every space with our own voices. We need to hear their voices. Rather than empty workbooks on laps, why not white boards so every student can be showing visible thinking? Instead of showing steps of an algorithm, pose an open ended question and let students figure out a way that makes sense to them. Then let them share with their peers. One idea can spark another and another...The students need to be at the center of everything we do, they need to be the ones talking and working.
Our students deserve better than us pointing at the same oval, expecting a different answer. They deserve to be seen, heard and understood. They need to be considered. Plain and simple. When we can do this, we can reach them. It is also important to note that as Todd Rose states in "The Myth Of Average" there is no average student. We must design to the edges. We must be cognizant of who our students are, their strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. What works for one, may not work for another. We need to adapt that oval drawing so that each and every student we serve, can identify that baked potato. We can't expect students to have a different understanding if we don't teach in different ways. In fact, isn't that the definition of insanity?
My call to action is to rethink what we are doing to kids. Let's work for them and with them. We are in a service business, after all.
"What does a typical day look like?", "What would your plan book typically look like for the week?"
These are questions that I have been asked multiple times over the years, more so now, than ever. I really struggle to come up with an answer. There is what I want to say and there is what I should say. Here in lies the struggle...the limbo.
Let me rewind a bit. When I began my position four years ago, there was a shift away from the boxed curriculum because the old stuff was not aligned with the new standards. YES! For me, this was exciting...I was blessed that my past administrators ditched the textbooks before it was cool. Seriously. They led by "meet students where they are, by whatever means necessary". At first, this was scary...where was my safety net if I didn't follow the book? Where do my lessons come from? How do I know what my students are learning? But I quickly learned that the best way to get students to learn, was to first know the students. I knew my students. Because of this, I was able to tailor their learning to best meet their needs.
This meant that I didn't keep a neat plan book. I had objectives, goals for the students and activities and strategies to get them there. But my lessons flowed with THEM. I used my understanding of where they were, their needs and where they needed to go, to guide the learning. This did not mean that I did not work, that I did not plan, that I came in unprepared. In fact, it meant the opposite. It meant that I needed to be armed with a very large arsenal of ideas, strategies, protocols and materials in which to draw upon at any given moment. I learned to enjoy not having net. I appreciated the autonomy to be able to reach my kids without the worry of being compliant, fidelitous or race to finish a textbook.
How did this work for me? That really doesn't matter...what matters is, how did this work for my students? Well, it worked out incredibly. My students left my room feeling like confident critical thinkers and creators. They left feeling like readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists. They left having deep understanding of how and why things worked. They left with their heads held high. I don't believe this would have happened had I followed the teacher's manual and cranked out worksheets. Like my friend Jon Corippo says "Has anyone ever congratulated you for finishing the textbook?" I sure hope not.
Fast forward to the present, we are at a time when new curriculum has been purchased. Teachers are now in limbo...how do they keep doing the awesome things they created when they didn't have to follow a curriculum AND also fit in this new box? You don't. You create experiences for the students that sit before you. You use the resources you have and you meet those in which you serve, right where they are...then you move them forward.
So my response to those questions about "typical" days and weeks is now this: I can not answer what a typical day looks like because there is no such thing. My students are different than your students and your students are different than her students hers are different than his. In fact, they are all different from each other. Thank goodness for this! Can you imagine if they were all the same? So, we need to shift our focus away from curriculum and move it to the students. What works for one student in my class, may not work for one in yours or it just might...so let's have those conversations and share. There is no "typical" student, there is no "typical" classroom there is no "typical" day. And I believe there is no "typical" teacher. To me, this is beautiful!
If the curriculum states that we do certain activities on each day and the goal is to test the students on Friday, we need to really think about our purpose. What happens if our students are not on "track"? What if they are struggling with concepts on Tuesday and Wednesday...does it make sense to just plow through to officially show them what they don't know on a test on Friday?
So my call to action is this...let us rethink our purpose in education. Is it to finish the book or is it to help our students to become learners? I understand that the way I am proposing, is a more difficult path for us as the teacher...we need to work harder to create, collaborate, collect ideas-but who are we in this for? We chose this profession to help students, let's not lose focus on that. It's about the kids...always about the kids.
Pernille Ripp reminded me of this quote from my friends Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfelippo at Fall CUE.
"The Problem: We set schools up for adults, not for kids."
Let's flip the switch on this. It's for the kids!
I don't know about you, but I often wonder..."Why am I here?" I talk a lot about purpose, because it is something I think about multiple times, daily. Am I living my life the way I should? Am I doing what I am meant to do? Am I fulfilling my purpose?
With these thoughts, comes the doubt. Am I good enough? Is there value in what I do? Am I making any difference?
Welcome to the movie that plays on loop within my head. I set an intention every day, to live my truth, to share my truth and to do good. But am I? Am I living up to my potential? Am I on the right journey with the right purpose? Sometimes I just look around and wonder. Do I belong?
At times, this wondering can lead down a negative road, but it can also lead to a hugely positive one. It all depends on what happens at the fork.
I was lucky enough to hear Brad Montague keynote a few days ago at Fall CUE. EVERYTHING he said resonated with me. Everything. I was sitting front row and center and I don't know how I managed to not cry throughout. One of the many profound things that he said was "You are perfectly cast". I felt that one right in the heart, wind knocked out of me, wet eyes wide open. If I wasn't surrounded by a row full of strangers, I may have just broken down right there. I wholeheartedly believe that one thing that all humans want to know is that they have worth. I believe that people often question their own worth...this leads to doubt, fear and road blocks. These things can be holding back a lot of people from a whole lot of great.
So what if we all just flip the switch? What if instead of wondering "Why am I here?" let us wonder "What is my role here? I am perfectly cast to be right here and right now. What am I going to do with it?". That little switch, at least for me, makes a world of difference. Instead of burrowing down the rabbit hole, I use my looping movie as a launch pad, a spring board. I am here now...let's make this great! How can I use what I have to help create something positive?
I can only think back to how much heart ache and pain I could have avoided, had someone just said those words to me "You are perfectly cast". So let us be that for someone else. Let's let other know their power, their strength, their good, their value, their potential. Let's let them know that they are seen and they are worthy and they matter. Let's let them know that they are right where they should be and they are exactly who they should be and that we are happy to know them and that they are amazing. This holds true for adults as well as students. My call to action is to brighten someone's day tomorrow and the next day and the next. We are all perfectly cast...but we all don't know it...yet.
I have this awesome friend, who is a lot of great things. One thing he is known for, is motivating others. I have been in a pretty deep rabbit hole recently and actually reached out to him for some motivation. He had kind words and offered encouragement. But sometimes, what we need is found in unlikely places. He posted this video on Facebook yesterday and I was not expecting the result. Adam Welcome Video
But then I pressed record. The result that was recorded was an actual switch flip moment. You see, I never shared with Adam, all that I had been struggling with, I really haven't shared with anyone. For that reason, my last few days have actually ended with me going home an attempting to just sleep it off. When I pushed record, (after admitting that I meant to make a funny video) I told him that instead of going in and hiding in my bed, I decided to put on my running gear and JUST DO. I needed to "shake up" my routine, because what I was doing wasn't working. And so I did. I ran...it wasn't good, it wasn't pretty, but it was better than what I had been doing.
As I ran, I began to reflect. I thought about the idea that a "shake up" doesn't need to be as big as waking up at midnight to run 10 miles, it could be one small decision. Sometimes, that is all the capacity that one has at the time. But one decision, usually leads to another and another and another. Just put one foot down, then the other, then the other, then the other.
What happened was not only a physical shake up, but a much needed mental one. That one small switch, changed my whole evening. It caused me to reflect, enjoy some fresh air and beautiful surroundings. It also led me to reach out to some people and have some really good conversations. I need people...I have figured this out, but it is hard for people to hear you when you are deep in that rabbit hole. This small switch helped me to dig out and see the light, find those bright spots.
Why am I writing this? For the same reason that I always do, to try and help just one other. I have taken Adam's words to heart. It is important to change things up, ruts are no good to anyone. What is one small thing that you can change in your day, your life? Just do it. See what happens. What can you change in your classroom, your routine, with your kids, within your school? Just do it. See what happens. Small shifts can reveal huge gains.
A few weekends back, I did something that I NEVER saw happening, in a million years. I got up in front of a group of people and spilled my guts! I had the pleasure of giving a mini-keynote to educators at #EdCampYO. The topic was: #FailForward, which is one of my favorites. As with everything I do, I was totally vulnerable and took a huge risk. When you do something like this, you never really know how it is received, unless someone tells you. The most amazing thing happened throughout the day. People were coming up to me, thanking me for inspiration! ME? Inspiring? That is what others are for me. Were people just being kind, because we were in the same space? I don't know. I am still trying to wrap my heart and mind around the whole experience. I will share the most amazing moment, in another post.
For this post (this may be multiple posts), I wanted to write out my message from that day. Mostly for me, but hopefully someone will connect to it. So here goes...
One such moment that sticks out, doesn't even belong to me. About 8 years ago, my grade level partner was moved to a different school site because of numbers. She told me this story from the first few weeks. She passed out paper to her 4th graders, gave them each a brand new paint set and a cup of water. Her directions were "go forth and paint". She turned around to paint herself. When she turned back around, she was met with 30+ pairs of eyes staring at her, frozen. When she inquired why they weren't painting, they said they didn't know what to paint, they were worried that they wouldn't paint what she wanted, they were scared of making a mistake or a mess. This broke her heart and mine. These students were frozen by fear of failure that was put upon them by some other. My friend spent a lot of time, deprogramming these students. I didn't know what to do with that information, so I filed it away in my heart and mind.
She told me that she admired that I didn't hesitate to try new things with my students. Up until this point, I didn't even realize that was a "thing". I thought that was just what you do. You try new things, see what happens and move forward from there. Apparently, not. She told me that she wished she could take risks for and with her students, but she was afraid of failing in front of them. She was scared of failing in front of her 6 year olds, so she didn't even try. This broke my heart. This broke my heart because I thought of all the great that was being lost, not only for her, but for her students. I didn't know what to do with that, so I filed it away in my mind and my heart.
I guess, at some point, I had developed this "Leap Theory". I just did things, not worrying about the consequences (if it was tied to my purpose). That may just be my switch flip moment, I didn't realize that was what I was doing. I wasn't afraid to fail, for the benefit of my students.
To conclude this piece in the series, I will leave you with this. It is important to distinguish between a failure and a fail. I think when we talk about a "failure" we make it about us, we internalize it. We may beat ourselves up and begin to believe that is who we are. I have been down that rabbit hole and it is dark and doesn't do anyone any good. We need to flip that switch and shed light on the situation. We need to look through our "perspectacles" and look at it differently. A fail happened, it is not us. It is what we do with that fail, that is important....
Stay tuned for more...
I began writing this post upon my return from a CUE Rockstar camp. This particular camp happened to be for administrators. I am not an admin, why was I there? I began the first day with this chip weighing on my shoulder. Well, just like most things in me life, a chance happenstance lead me to exactly where I needed to be. One thing that I was aware of within the Admin camp, were "hero groups". In these groups, all participants discuss their journey in terms of Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey". Not only were there to be discussions, but we were to present our journey to the group.
Now, I do not generally get nervous when presenting, but I know I don't do too well without some planning. Improv never has been my thing. (I used to disappear during improv in drama/speech classes). But there I was, in a room full of administrators, feeling like an impostor.
BUT, one of the beauties of these camps are the people. I was made to feel completely comfortable by both the presenters and the participants. No one knew or even cared what my title or role was. We were all there for a common goal...learning and growth.
So...I did it! I stood up there and spoke from my heart. I was vulnerable and I was real. I shared my story...my journey. I would like to now share it with you here...in hopes that others will connect.
I am always very purposeful in my image choices. I wanted to use The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for my journey, which has been a "transformational struggle". As I walk along my "yellow brick road", I learn and grow with each step. The back ground image does not show a perfect path, it shows imperfections, flaws and bumpiness. THAT matches my journey. It is through our struggles that transformation happens. But where was I journeying to? What is my "Land of Oz"? That final destination is still unknown, because I believe once we reach one destination, a new one appears. So for now, I shared my six word memoir that sits above my desk: "One who encourages and inspires others". I believe that is my purpose and that is the destination of this current journey.
Here are my steps on the "Hero's Journey":
Assistance: Around my 13th year, our school received a new administrator. For whatever reason, she took me under her wing. She saw something in me that I didn't and walked with me as she grew me. She pushed me to present with her, then without her, then beyond our district and so on. She gave me both roots and wings. This was a game changer for me...this is why I try to now do the same for others.
I have also been extremely blessed to have since collected quiet a few of these kinds of people. The ones who see that potential that you can't, who believe in you, when you don't and encourage you and provide opportunities to stretch and grow. These "Wizard Of Oz" people have changed my life. Each in their own special way. I would not be who or where I am, had it not been for these people.
Departure: It is through these people that I began to find my voice. I began sharing my ideas and it appeared some people were actually listening. WHAT? This was very new to me. I suddenly found myself passionately talking about things in education. I found myself writing, sharing my stories and ideas to help others. This was the beginning of a new journey.
A few of my "Wizard Of Oz" people were brutally honest with me and gave me several wake up calls. It does no one any good, for me to go down the wrong road! So with that, I changed. If I wanted to reach my full potential, and truly help others, I needed to first help myself. I flipped the switch and decided to just look at everything...EVERYTHING as a vehicle for learning and growth. From then on, every "trial" I went through, I reflected on the other end. What learning can I take from this? How can I use this learning to grow and move forward? GAME CHANGER!!!
The rest of the journey...is still unwritten. For many, that may be uncomfortable, for me that is exciting. I am excited to see how this story unfolds.
Here is what I HAVE learned, that I would like to pass on. We all have potential...a spark. Sometimes it is easily seen, but sometimes it is dim or hidden. But it's always there...always. We need to find that thing within us and within others to elicit great. We all deserve it, our kids deserve it from us. So my parting words, as I continue on this journey actually come from Glinda the Good Witch...
I try my best to have such integrity...to do what I say I'm going to do, be true to my word, with others. I work hard to follow through with things, show up and support. But I have found a loop hole in my "integrity plan": ME. Am I living what I am "preaching" to others? This thought hit me like a ton of bricks as I was participating in #Ditchbook chat this week, that was led by Aaron Hogan (Author of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth). I like to believe that I reflect often, but his questions stopped me in my tracks. They forced me to reflect in a way I hadn't before. Unintentionally, that chat has sparked deep thinking and this post, today.
There are many "phrases" that I repeat often (I get tired of hearing my own broken record), but I say them because I whole heatedly believe in them. But am I "walking the talk" and believing in them for myself? I think until very recently I would have said "no", but I think I have turned a corner.
Time to reflect on these...
Tune Out The Chatter: Up until the very near present, I really struggled with this. I would let what others say, get into my head and deter my journey. I would let one comment send me down the rabbit hole and take up a lot of my energy in a spin. I have recently (with a lot of help from some amazing friends) realized how insane that was. If I believe in my purpose (which is always to do good) why would I let someone else knock me off that path? It doesn't do me or anyone else any good to spend my energy on it, time is better spent on continuing forward, if I know it is what is right.
Dare Greatly: Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly, changed my thinking and changed me. It is based around the Theadore Roosevelt quote:
I didn't realize that I had actually made the switch, until about a week ago. I was in conversation with my friend, Jon Corippo. He unknowingly brought it to my attention. He said "Now you just say yes to things, not even knowing where you are going." WHAT? Talk about a switch flip moment! As I thought about his statement, I realized that a year ago, he, himself had asked me to do something and I responded with "I'm not sure..." Which in my head translated to "I'm not good enough". He told me, that day, that I needed to just say "Yes" to such opportunities and since then I do. And OH MY GOSH, life changer! I now live by this "Leap Philosophy" of saying "yes" (to opportunities that match my purpose and passion) and figure out the rest after. So far, it has proven to be an amazing journey!
I have talked with those that I support about this topic, when they start to get overwhelmed. We talk about focusing only on those things that are in our locus of control. We can't be at our best, if we are putting our energy into those things that will never yield the results we want.
Within the last few weeks, I have finally taken it to heart, myself. I have been examining what takes up residence in my mind. Is it anything that I actually have control over? Is it something that will yield positive results for myself and more importantly, others? If not, I need to just let it go and find where I can actually make a difference. Place my energy where I can do good and help others, where my efforts will be received. Since making this cognitive switch, my overall outlook and attitude has changed for the better. It is a definite, huge win.
Why am I writing all of this? To be totally honest, it is to keep myself in check. I AM my own worst advocate! We need to be at our best in order to serve our purpose for others. This can only be done by constant self reflection and course correction. I am very blessed in that I don't have to always do this alone, in my head. I have some how collected an amazing tribe, who helps me with this. They do not even know their impact, but it has been life altering and I am thankful.
My call to action for you is to examine your words and thoughts and make sure YOU are advocating for YOU.
The girl in that image is my 13 year old daughter, Leslie. If you ask her, who she is...her reply would be 'A dancer!' If you ask me one thing that I regret about my childhood, I would say "Not becoming a dancer!" Now I know I would never have been a professional dancer, but I love to dance, still to this day. My grandmother owned a dance studio, so when I turned 5, I took my first class from her. According to her, it would be my last class. I apparently marched up to her at the end of that first class and told her "I don't want to do this." and so that was the end my dancing career.
I was the girl on the right. I loved to breakdance (cardboard and all) and do hip hop. To my grandmother, that was not dancing. So instead of joining her studio, my best friends and I created our own dances and found our own places to perform (my friend's dad's tire shop 😂). Later, my grandmother started offering Jazz classes at her studio, so I gave it a whirl. I went to the first class and never returned. I loved the style, the teacher was great! But I didn't think I was great...I didn't believe in myself. To me, all of the other students were dancers and I was an imposter. I let my fear rule me and I regret it! Unfortunately, it took me until about a year ago to adopt the "Leap" philosophy of life. Now I just say "yes" to new adventures and figure out the how, along the way. Since doing so, my whole world has changed!
I have spoken to enough educators to know that the one thing holding many back from their great...is fear. A few years ago, a colleague told me she envied me...WHAT? She envied that I just tried things with my students...she said she couldn't do that because she was afraid of failing in front of them. We need to change this. We need to take risks for our students, so we can give them the maximum experience AND we need to instill risk taking within them.
When I was in the classroom, one of my favorite things to do was put on a class musical. It was always so amazing to see students shine in a different element. I would hold 'auditions' to place students where they could be their best.
My fourth grade year, as I looked down the line of students that were trying out for the solo song...I was shocked and admittedly a little worried when I saw James in that line. James is one of my "heart students". He struggled academically and socially and felt very little self worth. A month before this audition, he had threatened to hurt a girl in our class and later revealed to me that he wanted to kill himself because his dad made him feel worthless. We got him the help he needed at the time and he seemed to be doing better. But this quiet, shy, sad kid was going to sing? Who am I to be a roadblock, but I did hold my breath as he began.
When that kid opened his mouth...I cried! I looked over at my friend who was the chorus teacher and was met with tears streaming down her face. I looked at the other students in the class and their mouths were gaping and some had tears in their eyes as well! This kid had the most beautiful voice! But more than that, you could feel the emotion behind it. It was incredible! The class gave him a standing ovation and he grew about two inches that day.
Needless to say, he got the part. Whithin that, he gained much needed confidence! The change in him socially AND academically was insane! He was a new kid! The best part, was that he knew it AND his dad knew it. Dad was a tough character, very intimidating. But he came up to me after the performance, with tears in his eyes to thank me. He thanked me for showing him how great his son was. We cried together and I explained that it was all James...HE took that leap! It breaks my heart to imagine what his trajectory would have been had he not done so. He never would have known his great! He would never have known what it feels like to fly! James's decision to leap, was really a life changing moment as I have followed up on him as he moved through school and life.
It is imparative that we model and intstill such risk taking in our students. Let's give them a safe place to leap and fall and leap again...they will eventually fly! It could be transformational!
This weekend was a huge time of reflection for me. I believe it is important to reflect back often to see growth and respect the journey. Although this post will focus on my professional reflection, for me the line between professional and personal is a permeable one. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two. What affects one often affects the other.
When I look back at where I was a year ago, to where I am today, it's surreal. Most of the changes that have occurred are ones that only I see and feel...or so I thought. Yesterday, someone called out the changes that they have witnessed from the outside...things I didn't even see. People are like butterflies.
These changes both felt internally and seen externally were transformational. I am typically a quiet and shy introvert who thinks and feels deeply. This hasn't changed, but something has. My mindset has changed, my focus has changed...I have changed. I have realized that I can speak up about things that I am passionate about. I can share my ideas and thoughts with others and try to promote change. This is all new to me. How did the shift happen? Organically.
As with any change, there has to be a catalyst. For me, my catalyst was people. I am thankful every day that I have been blessed with amazing people that help me stretch forward. These people have been there to encourage me, support me and grow me! I don't know how I got so lucky, and I don't even want to question it, I just want to live in it. I have had the opportunity to be counseled, advised and work with some incredible educational leaders. These leaders have been so humble and open and that is why it works. I feel like I am safe to share my thinking with them and we grow ideas together. There are no "title barriers", no egos...just people sharing, stretching and growing forward about things we care about. I often feel like in these relationships, that I'm not pulling my weight. It feels like I'm always taking and don't do much of the giving. So I try my best to jump all in and give all I have, and with every interaction, there is growth (at least on my end).
I use the above butterfly quote often. I use it to help spark others to be open with each other. I am an observer of people. I always try to look for that spark in others AND share that with them. I see great in others, that they can not see for themselves. I think it is important to help others see what I see. I look for the potential in others and try to foster that.
But what I haven't shared, is what it means to me. I, like many others, am my own worst critic. I know that I need to be confident within myself and not look to the outside for validation, but then there is reality. It has taken me seeing myself through the eyes of others, to realize my own potential. It has taken others believing in me, to begin to believe in myself. People are like butterflies.
We need others. Plain and simple. We need others to show us the way. We need others to help us grow. We need others to put us in check. And we need others to survive. I've tried the isolation thing and it doesn't work. I have grown through the sharing of ideas, and this still blows my mind. I am not used to others listening to my ideas and expanding on them. It still floors me when this happens. It's amazing and it's beautiful. And I have seen the magic when we wrestle together to make it work.
I didn't learn about this in school and I just learned about this in life, and it is a game changer! This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about connecting people together. I love to watch this process and the results are always so much better than anticipated. We, as educators, need to work together for the greater good. No one person can be strong in every area, that is why we need each other to play off each others' strengths and complement each other's weaknesses.
This is also why I am so passionate about providing these same opportunities for our students. They need to be given the time and a safe place to work with others. They need to be shown how to honor and work through divergent thinking. They need to understand that we truly are better together. When we honor others' ideas, we empower them and they can begin to see how beautiful they truly are.
People are like butterflies.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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