I have been teaching the entire week, workshops for new and seasoned teachers in Arizona, Nevada, and California, as well as the classes I teach online for teachers who are wanting to become school leaders. To say it has been a busy and exhausting week is a massive understatement. I can't remember who it was I heard say this (probably because I am so exhausted), but some educator once said that, if we are doing well at our jobs, we should be able to send our students home exhausted from learning at the end of the day and we should go home ready to dance the night away. Well, I am doing half of that right. I believe that most all of my adult participants I teach leave my workshop sessions or 6-week online courses cognitively challenged and spent. I just can't seem to master that piece where I am not exhausted. My feet, alone, are screaming at me for wearing heels after a day of facilitating learning, during which time I walk around monitoring the student learning the entire 6 -7 hours I am teaching.
I was thinking about how much I have learned from my "students" this week. Let me just name a few:
*One of my "new" teachers on Monday in Arizona mentioned that she believes that teaching is the hardest job in the world but we would never continue to do it if we didn't believe in the power of "paying it forward". YES!
*Teachers I worked with in California on Tuesday and Wednesday learned some brand new engagement strategies they are excited to begin using in their classrooms starting this next week. One participant told me they used to think that it would be hard to engage their students in lessons, but now they believe that if they think differently about their planning, they can add engaging pieces to each lesson they teach and get students to help encourage others to be motivated by the learning. YES!!
*Teachers I worked with in Las Vegas yesterday are starting in a brand new school. While they are pumped up about the notion of "building" this school, they spent a week of learning about the curriculum they would be using, the expectations of them, and then Ta-Dah! they finished the week with an entire day of learning with me. They honestly could have come in, exhausted and ready to be DONE. Au contraire....there was so much energy in that room, it was palpable. SO many people in this group said so many amazing things, but here are a couple:
+After a week of sitting and learning, I was afraid I would be exhausted and not be able to learn one more thing on Friday. Instead, I'm leaving with a notebook full of great ideas I can't wait to try.
+The teacher's energy about the learning (in addition to the content knowledge) rubs off on even the most tired students.
+You model every instructional practice you are teaching us. This is SO much better than a "sit and get" workshop.
And then, I came home late last night and read something so powerful that one of my online students had said. We've been talking about how to avoid the "Negative Network" at school, and what to do about it if you are the school leader. Some students mentioned that they stay away from negative people and that they try to only associate with positive-vibe people. But we who are school leaders do not have that luxury, do we? We are tasked with trying to be as inclusive as we can possibly be; therefore, we can't simply ignore the pessimistic members of our staff. We have to face conflict, at times, and try to bridge gaps, making for a most difficult job.
One of my students, Emily, wrote a discussion post that I have to steal:
"We try to follow the idea of 'honoring the absent'. This idea leads staff to remember not to talk or gossip about someone who is not present at that time. It can be difficult but is the right thing to do. This concept can be used with students as well. Sometimes the teachers' lounge can be an open forum when it comes to students. Again, honoring the absent allows us to pretend the student's grandma is in the room and to choose our words carefully. This idea is definitely a lead by example experience. It is easier to handle gossip if you already have a plan of how to respond. Replies like, 'I hear you' or 'I understand how you feel' can be game changers when it comes to keeping the morale and culture positive and not feeding in to the gossip" (personal communication, Emily R. 2019).
I couldn't be more proud to be an educator right now if I tried! I adore what I do for a living and can't think of anything about which I would or could be more passionate.
I pray that you feel the same way about the work you do. Are you always prepared and listening for new thoughts that you can add to your repertoire to continue your work as a lifelong learner? I hope so!