I started teaching over 20 years ago and every year I start with huge goals and big dreams.
NOT THIS YEAR!
Why? Because, my philosophy of education and teaching has changed dramatically over the last year and I am going to go about teaching and mentoring and leading from a humanistic and empathic standpoint instead of a goal driven and data driven place.
And my students are tired. and beaten. and defeated.
I’d like to say that I had nothing to do with that. But the bottom line is that our deadline driven and mandated education has sucked the life out of students and teachers.
So this year, I’m fighting back!
And I’m starting with me.
This summer I have filled my soul with books by Brene’ Brown and Rachel Hollis. I’ve processed hurt and bitterness and despair. I’ve looked sorrow in the eyes and said that it doesn’t get to define me.
I’m embracing the exquisite torture of vulnerability.
I’m going to model this for my children and my students.
And in doing so, I’m hoping that authentic learning and leading happens.
Yes, my expectations for my students will still be high. Yes, my expectations for myself will still tend to be unrealistic.
But I’m choosing to slow things down. I’m choosing to focus on smaller tasks. I’m choosing to (as Brene’ Brown describes) lean in to the uncomfortable space so that I can fly.
I know. All of this sounds rather vague. But how is this really going to be seen in my classroom and in my life?
Well, I’m focusing on SMALL TASKS that translate into COMPLETED PROJECTS!
My first one has been getting Back To School postcards out to 137 of my students!
In years past I would try to get personalized letters out to every student and family over the first few weeks of school and it was a beat down and often times I wouldn’t be able to complete the task. So instead of waiting until school started and life was insanely busy, I decided to go smaller and less personalized, but to just get the task completed!
And I did. 137 hand addressed postcards were mailed on Thursday.
And it felt GOOD.
That’s the gift I want to give students the year. I want my students to feel a sense of accomplishment when they have completed a smallish task. I want them to feel JOY! I want them to find pleasure in the everyday.
At the end of the year my students may not win as many competitions. Heck, they may not enter as many competitions. But I’m choosing to not care about winning. I’m choosing to stop worrying over competition deadlines. I’m choosing to turn my back on prestige and championships.
Instead I’m focusing on relationships. I’m focusing on hope. I’m focusing on hearts.
And that means I’m going against the grain and putting this out for public consumption is scary.
But personally, I’d rather be known as authentic and a little wacko than for be unwilling to learn and grow as a person, as a teacher, and as a leader.
So there you have it… my new mantra.
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Brene’ Brown