Your Thoughts Matter...

My blog entry for this week is inspired by Dr. Seuss.  We know that many life lessons come from his books, however this lesson comes directly from his thoughts and ideology about listening and learning from people.  Dr. Seuss suggests,
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind dont matter and those who matter dont mind.  I really love this!  I teach my students that when they struggle for their answers and thoughts, this is an important part of the process.  They will often hear me say, fight for it.  I am simply trying to allow them the opportunity to talk though their thoughts in order to arrive at the answer.  I think this think time is so important in class.  Through their struggles to articulate their answer, many amazing ideas are found.  I dont ever want to answer their questions for them, I want to give them the opportunity to finish.  When a student tries to answer a question and then says, never mind, I am always so discouraged for them.  Their frustration in not being able to articulate their thoughts coerces them into silence or defeat. 

Seuss suggests that we should say what is on our mind or better yet, what is in our hearts because if its important to us, it will be deemed important to those that are truly listening to us.  I enjoy this idea immensely because we listen to our students in an effort to help them find their authentic voice.  Through listening, we are encouraging them to express themselves in a way that creates a sense of vulnerability that many adults require, but never give.  Lets encourage our students to share their authentic voices so that we can help them cultivate their ideas and encourage a sense of authenticity that can never be diminished.   

Do You Know When to “Take a Knee”?

Earlier this weekend I was introduced to a new term, Take a knee.  Apparently, in football, this term means knowing when to stop a play.  I really like this expression and see how applicable it is to the teaching profession.  When you realize that a situation is beyond your control or that the cause is greater than your ideas or wants, you need to take a knee.  This doesnt mean that you stop caring about what happens after you walk away, but it simply means that you recognize what is necessary for the greater good

In teaching, I have come to realize that every situation is not one that I need to be involved in.  For this reason, there are probably more times that I should take a knee than not.  Over the next few weeks, I encourage you to analyze situations for necessity and importance.  If neither exists, Its time to take a knee.  I am certainly working on taking this advice and preserving the moments during the day when my effect on any given situation outweighs my affect on that same situation.  

Fruit is Always Sweeter….

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweetAristotle

After one month of being back at work, teachers begin to remember challenges from years past and these challenges are sometimes more pervasive than the successes that will occur over the next eight months.  However, I am reminded of this quote and it keeps me grounded.  When Aristotle suggests that the roots of education are bitter in my mind, he is arguing that when we look at education as a tree that bears incredible fruit, there are various other components of the tree that we forget, elements that we must forget in order to enjoy the fruit that the tree bears.  For instance, the roots that steady the tree are not visible, but they serve a purpose and are necessary for the growth process to continue.  In the eleven years that I have been in education, I can say that there has never been a year that the roots havent battled with the fruit, but the fruit is always sweeter.  It is important for me, as well as those that are beginning to get discouraged to remember that although roots anchor trees, they are not seen.  There are some battle scars that must be covered and not shown.  When the days get difficult, as they are during our initial stages of setting up classes and learning who our students are and what weaknesses exist, we must press forward.  Roots may anchor a tree, and establish a foundation, but the fruit establishes the legacy.  Difficult days cant always set the cadence.   As educators, we must work hard to make our fruit sweeter than the strongest roots.