This summer, I have been on a reading frenzy. Aside from reading required texts for my last PASC class, I have been able to read for my own enjoyment. One of those books was, Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome.
This book is a must read for any educator.
I have been a teacher for over ten years and ensuring the success of my students have always been at the forefront of my mind. In education, there are so many obstacles, defeats, changes etc., that can often be discouraging. However, there are often victories, opportunities, successes etc. that can be so rewarding. As an educator, I have had my fair share of both worlds.
After reading Kids Deserve It, I have been so encouraged to share out a few takeaways that hopefully encourage you.
- Push Forward, Move Past the Alien Look
Have you ever met with your Principal, colleagues, peers etc and shared an new innovative idea and….they stare at you with “that look”. You can hear a pin drop or they literally laugh out loud at you? Well I can honestly say, I have. I felt the size of the old school toy Polly Pocket. However, regardless of that feeling, I get excited when I get “that look”. I’m a pusher, I love to challenge the status quo.
I know rules are set for a reason, however, I do not enjoy the saying, “it’s the way we’ve always done things”. When it comes to kids, if it requires me to pursue the task because it will benefit kids. You better bet your bottom dollar, I will do whatever it takes. I love what it said in Kids Deserve It, “If we don’t, we don’t push education forward. We don’t inspire innovation and creativity. We just get more of the same. Be glad when you get the alien look. It means you’re thinking differently and trying to push the envelope with new ideas. It means even though not every idea will come to fruition, you keep pushing to give kids what’s best. Because your kids deserve it!”
So ask yourself, what new exciting program, activity, field trip, instructional strategy etc., would you like to implement in your classroom? Do it. Risk it. You have to be willing to set the bar higher than mediocrity.
**Note, if you are a Principal: Be willing to listen. We live in a world that is different from when we grew up. Students don’t learn the same way we did, they don’t experience life the same way we did. Know the legality of issues, but if it’s something new that is worthwhile, let teachers try.**
Thank you to all my administrators that believed in my crazy ideas. You have encouraged me and supported me in everything. I am so grateful for that.
- Build Relationships, with Everyone!
A huge part of growth in education takes place when you build relationships. Building relationships and connections has always been something I value. I have been able to build and maintain relationships with many people within my district. I love being able to say I work in the same district, I went to school in. With that being said, I have a huge level of comfortability. However, that didn’t get established until I lowered my guard.
All too often we as educators and people feel like if we ask for help, others will think we are subpar, incompetent, or incapable.
I will be honest, coming into the teaching profession, I didn’t have my teaching credential and did not have any experience (other than my years in school) in a classroom. With that being said, I did not know where to start when it came to teaching ALL students. I had to lower my guard and lean on the people who walked with me during my time as a student. Seeking advice out of my four classroom walls, was the most rewarding experience of my teaching career. As Nesloney & Welcome state, “we want to break down the walls of our classrooms and become partners in the journey.” So many stakeholders in education are ready to help you!
Aside from gaining perspective and knowledge from many in my district, I’ve also been able to gain a worldly perspective from educators around the world. Twitter has been one of the greatest resources I have had in seeking new ideas, building/fostering relationships, and is a place of continuing support for me on my journey.
I know so often, we get overwhelmed with the job and may encounter the following (according to Nesloney & Welcome):
- I don’t have the time.
- The new technology is too confusing.
- My district would never approve it.
- I don’t really understand the value.
- I’ve been doing fine for years; why change now?
My rebuttal is that fostering relationships and expanding knowledge out of your repertoire is worth it. Not only for you, but for your students. It takes time, it takes effort, but life is different than when we were students. We owe it to our students to give them the best instruction and environment to be successful. Just do it. I know you won’t regret it.
- Let everything we do, come back to kids.
Think about why you became a teacher?
I’m hoping your decision is similar to what Nesloney & Welcome said, “people choose education because they want to make a difference — to change lives and impart wisdom to future generations.”. I know my reason is very similar to that. I want students to have a prosperous and successful future. I want them to be able to be successful in the 21st century.
If you are in a rut. Go back to your initial answer. Then find a friend. Someone you can confide in, that will push you and encourage you to pursue your passion.
In you are still fighting the good fight. I encourage you to share out with others. Share your successes and setbacks. You never know who you may be encouraging.
Remember, kids are the only reason we have our profession. They inspire us, motivate us and empower us. We in turn should do the same for them. They deserve to have the best future and we need to be the ones who pave the way for them. After all, kids deserve it.