Saturday, June 29, 2013

Aha Moments: Have you Shared Yours?

I was searching old files on my external drive today and discovered this post, shared on Pernille Ripp's wonderful blog.  I think it's relevant to post now, especially as I return from #iste13 where I met up with so many of the people I share with on Twitter.  

Aha moments: I’ve had my share. When Pernille asked me to write and share about one of them, I initially thought, “Wait, I’m way too busy to take on something else!” And then I realized:  I need to be writing, even during this busy beginning of school time. Writing helps me clarify, categorize and sort my endless rambling of ideas and creative ramblings. I wrote back a few hours later, still a bit shaky about my “Sure, why not?”  Now, nearly a week later, deadline looming on the horizon, I am in a panic, indecisively scanning the archives of this busy mind, trying to figure out which aha moment will be most entertaining, most inspiring or helpful for other educators out there.

This ramble leads me to the biggest “aha” of all. We never stop learning and growing when we embrace opportunities that cross our paths.  Each challenge that falls before us on this incredible journey of life presents us with the opportunity to stretch, grow, and be molded into another higher version of ourselves.  We must remain open to the daily “aha” moment and somehow take the time to reflect on it, process it and act on it, so that we can grow. And on that theme I will share my top 5 aha moments that have led me to courageously move ahead on my own path of discovery.

  •              The “aha” moment that led me to be a teacher is one that always stands out in my memory.  I was sitting around that dreaded IEP meeting table, not as a teacher, but as a social worker, an advocate for a foster child on my caseload. As I listened to the condescending talk of the school psychologist, teacher, and principal to the overwrought foster parent, who was hanging on by a shred of sanity, I realized something important. Teachers, though trained to “teach” often have not been trained to understand the psychological needs that impact learning. I realized that if I had 20-30 students each year who I could spend 6 hours a day with, and if I could work with teachers, and help them understand their 20-30 kids they spend their days with, then my desire to help could be achieved in a greater way than working with the kids on my caseload, visiting them once a week. Even though I had spent a great sum of money earning a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, I decided that going back to school for a teaching credential was the best way for me to help kids, my ultimate goal.

  •              Kids are eager to take on challenges and are not “lazy” as I’ve heard teachers call them. When we lower the stress and risk that comes with fear of failing, kids thrive and reach higher than we can even imagine. My post here , describes a day when in kindergarten when I was feeling a bit helpless about working with my lowest reading group.

  • Don’t predict a kid’s future. I am not that “shy” kid I once was and I am happiest when I am creating, sharing and putting this passion for learning into practice.  I always find it amusing to think about the reaction I would have had if someone had told me, that painfully shy 16 year old girl, that my future would involve standing in front of a group of people each day, captivating their attention. If someone had told me that I would one day stand in front of 150 teachers, singing with them and sharing ideas of classroom strategies, I would have said they were crazy! We must not categorize kids as being weak or strong in a certain skill or even a personality trait. Some children have not yet been in the optimal setting to bring about the manifestation of his/her strengths. Each child has his own time frame; the best gift we can give is to provide opportunities for kids to discover, develop and express their passions.

  • Work does not (hopefully) burn you out when you do what you love! Although I am well aware that I need balance in my life, I must not heed others’ advice to “not think about teaching” on the weekend. When I am engaged in other “non-related” activities, like exercising, driving, talking with my husband, or even cleaning, I am often brainstorming how I can develop an idea into a lesson. Do I really need to tell myself that there are only certain hours and days of the week when I am allowed to be creative?

When you reflect on your years in the classroom, what were your most significant moments of self-discovery?  I'd love to hear yours! 

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