Monday, July 7, 2014

Lessons in Resilience and Believing

Excitement and tension are palpable as we prepare to launch another year. As a district in Iowa, we are fortunate to have been awarded funding to implement a Teacher Leader System that will be implemented starting this month. Coupled with that, the entire district will have one hour of weekly professional learning time - it's a first for us. Our community and our school board have thrown their support behind this work and we are eager to move forward. What an incredible opportunity to impact adult learning and ultimately, student learning! That's where the excitement... and the tension come in.

I've decided to adopt the attitude and words of one of my co-workers, a teacher, in order to make the most of this change. This teacher has since moved from our district, but I will long remember the important lessons she taught. During her initial interview, we discovered she had a passion for students and their education, a curious mind, a love of learning, and unfailing optimism. And then she proved it to her students, to parents/guardians, to colleagues, and to me over and over again. Through successes and failures, she persisted.  (Readers, please know that the teachers and other staff members I am privileged to work with are amazing; I've learned from each of them. This post simply highlights one.)

A favorite quote from this teacher came out of a conversation that took place between her first and second year. When I shared that I was assigning her to teach another grade level she looked directly into my eyes, smiled, and confidently, calmly and joyfully stated, "I can do that!" And then she got to work, eating that watermelon one bite at a time (Thanks, @coolcatteacher and @mattmilller). Most importantly she remained focused on her students and their learning. She also stayed committed to a growth mindset.

So that's my mantra, "I can do that!" Big change? Check. Ambiguity? Check. Risk? Check. As I view the current context through this teacher's perspective, I am assured that given a steadfast focus on students' learning, the gift of teacher leaders and time to collaborate we can influence needed changes for the children and community we serve.

Let's get after it!

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