Wednesday, August 27, 2014

So, have you ever had two Google accounts and not even known it?  Apparently, I did and the jaw-dropping, highly riveting posts I've had so far were published in the "wrong" account!  Somehow, the world is still spinning on its axis, but I don't know how.  So - after much deliberation, I finally figured out I just needed to copy those posts to this blog and start again.  I think I'm in the right account now, but really only the tech gods know for sure.  Also, you can't reuse a blog name in the blogging stratosphere, so my new blog title is "Destiny in the Door."  More to come soon. . .


What box?

So, we keep being told to think out of the box and I used to feel a little threatened about that idea.  I liked the idea of my box.  It was safe in there - comfortable - easy.  Gradually, though, I decided to open one flap of the top of my box.  I peeked out and looked around, sniffed the air, and realized it wasn't so bad.  So - I opened another flap and another, until my entire box lid was open.  Last year I coordinated 16 authors to join us for World Read Aloud Day.  Various teachers invited the authors via Discovery.  I won't lie - I was a nervous wreck.  I didn't sleep the night before for fear that all these well known and very busy authors would try to connect with us that day and not be able to.  People would be mad and throw tomatoes at me, or something equally vile, and I would be humiliated.  "That's what happens when you venture out of your box!" I would say in my imaginary conversation with myself.  But, the truth was all but one connected and it was a huge success.  Eleanor Roosevelt said something to the effect that we must do that we think we cannot.  I agree.  So, this year I'm thinking about putting my box in the recycling bin (it is cardboard, after all) and seeing how the world feels without the walls of my box closing me in.  I'm sort of like Scaredy Squirrel.  My world was neat and orderly and well-planned, but something happened to propel me and him out of the tree and into "the unknown."  It's okay out there - if I can do it you can too, so my challenge to you is - step out of your box and try it.  Let's talk about the challenge and support each other along the way.  Let me know what you think. 


It really is the journey . . .

We've all heard the adage, "It's not about the destination, but the journey" or something to that effect.  But, that really is true.  In education, the end game is constantly changing.  The destination for kids today will not be the same as the destination for kids twenty years from now, nor is the one today what it was twenty years ago.  Education is always evolving - it is fluid and continually adapting itself to what the market dictates.  So, how do we navigate that?  We keep focusing on the the intangibles that make the journey sweet . . .

1. Compassion -We need to do a better job of showing mercy when someone messes up, because tomorrow it'll be our turn to need mercy.
2. Caring - Life really does happen, and often we have no idea what's going on in each others' personal lives.
3. Competence - If I'm good at something, own it and share it.  If I'm not, find who is and go learn from them.
4. Contentment -  I think it's really an art to take pleasure in where you are on the way to where you're going.  

It's the journey - not the destination.  Enjoy your journey this year!


It's not just for now

If I've learned one thing after twenty-five years in education, it is that teachers are super-heroes.  They may not wear spandex and a cape (or they may, but that's another story) but they show up every day and do heroic things.  This blog is dedicated to all the amazing, hardworking, dedicated professional educators I have the privilege of working along side each day.  I hope to tell their stories.  I hope to encourage and inspire.  Most of all, I hope to shine the light on the how they touch the future every day.  You see, when a student crosses the threshold of a teacher's door destiny walks in.  Whether it is for an entire school year or just a month, that teacher gets to be a part of that child's destiny.  I'm not naive enough to believe that we leave an indelible impression on every child we teach, but I do believe there are those certain ones for whom we were part of their life plan.  So - here's the story of Marty (not his real name.)

When I was a second grade teacher I had a very sweet, quiet, pensive young man in my class.  He was extremely bright.  His contributions during class discussions were advanced.  He was profound and articulate.  He also couldn't concentrate long enough to get his name on his paper or complete any work.  How frustrating must that be to have such a high intellect, yet not be able to produce with it.  The other unique thing about Marty was that he was a vacuum cleaner expert.  His mom told me that from the time he was two years old he was fascinated with vacuum cleaners and everything about them.  He knew which ones were best for which kind of flooring; he knew where the various vacuum cleaner factories were in the United States.  Any question you had about vacuums, he had the answer.

One day I was sitting at my table watching him gaze off into space yet again.  He would get so frustrated if I reminded him to get to work.  He was mad at himself and I could tell it was affecting him.  Suddenly, I remembered an old Kirby vacuum cleaner I had stored under the stairs at home.  It had a box with all sorts of attachments.  It was a little kid vacuum expert's dream.  The next day, I drug that whole thing up to school and made a deal with him.  We divided his day into ten minute segments.  Every time he finished something during that time frame, he earned five minutes of "Kirby Time."  I kept it behind my teacher table, and he would go back there and explore, try out the different parts, anything he wanted to do.  When Kirby Time was done, he would pick up with his schedule and do the next part.  It wasn't a perfect solution, but he was able to get enough things done each day to feel good about his day when he went home.

I struggled about sharing this story, because I didn't want it to seem like I was tooting my own horn.  My goal is to say this - every teacher has the resources he or she needs to solve these problems.  We have each other, we have ideas, we have faith, we have the will.  Let's use each other, and let's share our victories.  I think Marty's probably out of high school by now.  I'd love to know what he's up to.  He's probably the CEO of Kirby Company.  Who knows?

Remember as the new school year starts in a couple of weeks that you are a super-hero and you do noble and valuable work.  You will have the unique opportunity to be part of the destiny of a child this year.  How many people can say that?