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Posted by on in General

teaching

Educators everywhere immerse themselves into the work of impacting young lives because they love kids! Teaching is no ordinary job, and it takes an extraordinary teacher to overcome the many obstacles that children face. It takes an exceptional school leader to create a culture where children and adults have high expectations and can learn in a positive, safe, environment. I believe, like many others, that teaching and working with kids is a calling. We are called to serve the youngest population, to provide an education where young people are taught to rise above mediocrity and to think for themselves, to collaboratively problem solve and make the world better. We are called upon to teach students how to be leaders, readers, learners for a lifetime and changers of the status quo. The challenge is great, and the responsibility is immense, but educators everywhere accept the challenge and in the words of Marva Collins, “Make the poor student good and the good student great with no excuses in between.” Teaching is not for the faint of heart. It requires hard work, dedication, and unceasingly love.     

It is not uncommon for school administrators and teachers to work long hours, weekends, and holidays preparing their lessons and learning how to improve their practice. It’s not uncommon for teachers to have sleepless nights worrying about students, to purchase granola bars so kids can have something on their stomach, or to spend extra hours away from their own families to attend extracurricular activities. It’s not uncommon because those who enter the teaching field know that “the pay” is knowing they can have a positive impact. Administrators and teachers know the negative public perception of schools, and yet they dig in and serve their students and communities day in and day out. They know that their talents are gifts to be shared with their students. Educators not only believe but know that they can make a difference!     

Great educators refuse to let students fail! They teach children that difficult doesn’t mean impossible. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and stepping stones to success. Children learn about having a growth mindset and how to overcome challenges. Teachers give students hope and a belief in themselves. Michelangelo said, “Inside is an angel trying to get out” about a piece of marble. Teachers know that every child has something wonderful and special inside. They know that every child can learn. And they know that they cannot meet every child’s needs alone. The challenge is too great! Great educators know that it takes collaboration and a commitment to action that will ensure that every child succeeds. Their focus is the learning of each student. They roll up their sleeves and delve into the work!     

In those rare moments of disappointment and despair, great educators are inspired to further the work. They know that just one more time, one more attempt might make a connection and difference for a child. First, it’s the work and then the inspiration. Thomas Edison did not give up on his vision. He learned hundreds of ways not to make a lightbulb. It was only after hours of focused work that his team was inspired and found a way. And the “miracle” was light.   

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Michael Phelps wins in th 001

The Olympics have always held a special place in my heart. Having had the opportunity to be a performer for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games ceremonies only increased my admiration for world-class athletes. I’m inspired by their work ethic, perseverance, determination, and drive to reach their goals and life-long dreams.

Educators, like Olympic athletes, are champions too. But, I can’t help but think that some have lost their focus, their drive, their work ethic, and determination to make a difference in the lives of kids. Too many educators are comfortable with the status quo and have the mindset that  “pretty good” is “good enough.” It doesn’t make them a bad person or even a bad teacher or administrator. However, I see many educators settling for average instead of continually striving to become better. Teachers and administrators don’t lack heart, but they sometimes lack the heart of a champion and need a nudge, push, or a kick in the pants.

A Nudge:  Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time said, “If you want to be the best, you have to be willing to do the things that other people aren’t willing to do.” We, as educators need to be willing to step intentionally out of our comfort zones to grow. We must be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Above average people, educational champions, take risks. Will there be mistakes? Of course! But, we ask our students to do the same every day. As educators, we need to model lifelong learning. Many of us know when we are getting into a rut, settling for mediocrity or making excuses for not trying something new. We know we are not growing professionally because we lack disequilibrium or the feeling of being unsure. We use “lack of time” to justify our being comfortable with the status quo and our lack of desire to change. The question is, “If you know better, why not do better?” You have to feed the fire! Read a book, attend a conference, listen to a podcast, or participate in a Twitter chat. Don’t wait! Do it now! You won’t experience growth without action. Get an accountability partner or better yet, build a PLN (personal/professional learning network)! As a professional, you have the responsibility to stay current with best practices.

A Push: I think of a “Push” in two ways. The first is surrounding yourself with people that will push your thinking to a different level. Do you have a circle of trusted colleagues that question your thinking and push back with different perspectives? Do you engage in conversations that are more than polite affirmations? Have you found your tribe that will not only build you up but challenge your thinking? When you do, and when you have these types of regular daily interactions, you will experience astronomical growth personally and professionally.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

speaking

An advocate? Who? Me? I’m not THAT person. I’m not an eloquent public speaker. I’m uncomfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions with others I don’t know. The fear of saying something “wrong” keeps me quiet. The last thing in the world that I’d want to do is be in the media spotlight. I’m not an administrator. I’m not really involved in politics. I’m a classroom teacher. I’m not sure that I have anything valuable to share. And besides, who’d listen to me?

That was me and let’s be honest; it still is me in a few respects. This journey that I’m on is taking me way out of my comfort zone! It’s scary! I feel vulnerable. Why am I blogging and speaking out about the importance of being an advocate? Even more importantly, for the many educators who are like me, why you should break your silence too.

An advocate - a champion, supporter, backer, proponent, spokesperson, a person who publicly recommends or supports a particular cause or policy

I believe that there is not one great educator who isn’t ALREADY an advocate. There is not one great teacher who isn’t ALREADY a leader of their classroom.

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Tagged in: Action