Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Rules of the Game

The other day, instead of staying at home, avoiding the frigid temperatures, I decided to take my kiddos somewhere they could burn off some of their excess energy (Seriously, someone should find a way to bottle that stuff!)
We went to an indoor trampoline park which my kids love. In one section, there are several individual trampolines on the floor and you can just JUMP!
Well... Sort of....
As long as you follow the rules...

And there were quite a few of them such as:
*One jumper to a trampoline
* No running
*No sitting on the edge
*Everyone must have a sticker indicating they had paid to jump in that time slot.
As I was watching my children have the time of their life, I couldn't help but notice the intense eyes of the worker. I knew this look all too well for I worked at an amusement park for 6 years. This was the face of someone who was doing his best to scan the 20 some jumpers in that section and ensure that all rules are being followed. Their happiness and more importantly their safety depended on him in that moment.
This made me think a lot about rules and their place in our schools, our society, and really in our life in general.
The dictionary defines a rule as: one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.
The word "understood" jumped at me here. How often are rules truly understood. In my days as a ride attendant, I thought that "keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times" was an understood rule, one that if broken could lead to serious consequences. The attendant at the trampoline park talked with each jumper before they began to assure they understood the "rules of the game"

This got me thinking.... Are ALL of the rules of school understood?

* Are there rules without much reason?

 * Are there rules that when challenged are simply stamped with the "We've always done it this way" response?

 * Are there rules with reasons that simply are not relatable with our students?

* How do we make these rules understood?

 * What do we do if they are not? 

My mind then went to "Well, maybe kids just don't like to follow rules in general."
That could be used as an excuse... except for one thing.... games
Games have many rules... some are pretty complex, yet kids will spend hours upon hours trying to figure them out.
Do we let our students "figure out" the rules of school?
Can students fail without immediate consequence?

I know that this post has asked more questions and has not given many answers, yet is that necessarily a bad thing?
I will say that through this post, I have reflected more on my school's game rules.
I will do my best to explain the relevancy if it is not immediately understood.
I will also try to take the game "freedom to fail" mentality as much as I can.  I constantly say "It's okay to make mistakes" (usually in the Daniel Tiger tune). I need to keep this in mind when I am addressing the rules.

 I am not at all saying that rules are not important. They definitely have their place. They keep our students safe. They keep our environments healthy. I am just saying that we might need to adjust the way we see them. We may need to look at them through some student spectacles to make sure our language is truly "understood."

Monday, January 1, 2018

When Push Comes to Shine

I am sitting here, as my children watch Paw Patrol, reflecting on my past year. Last year, before 2017 arrived, is when I discovered the wonder behind the One Word. I immediately gravitated toward it considering my ill luck and general dislike for the traditional New Year's resolutions.  The process of word selection was rather easy and enjoyable. I decided on "Push."
I vowed to Push myself even if it meant to journey into an area outside of my comfort zone.
Throughout this year, I have done just that.  I started this blog a year ago and although I am not writing near as often as I would like. It was a step in the right direction. I put myself out there for my story to be heard by others.
I dove even deeper into the learning opportunities that Twitter offers. At first in my Twitter journey, I was afraid to share. I didn't want to be one of "those" people. The ones that quick to brag but reluctant to grow. That's when I heard something from a Dave Burgess video that really stuck with me. He said to not think of it as bragging. You should be proud to tell your story and your experiences. Everyone has something to share and something to learn. This statement could not be more correct! The community of educators that exist on the Twitter platform blow me away on a daily basis.
One of my other highlight "pushes" of the year was the opportunity to guest moderate two different Twitter chats. Originally, this was something that I told myself might be good thing to do a couple years down the line. Yet, when the offers for guest moderators were given, I decided to stick to my word and "Push." This experience can be  compared to a roller coaster. The nerves were intense as the chat date approached yet the chat itself seemed to be over in mere seconds. I left the hour wanting to go again!
I also stepped out of my comfort zone by becoming a consultant for a children's book company. This experience has taught me so much and opened me up in multiple ways. I have done live sales, online book parties and even book booths at local events.
All and all I am proud of myself and the "pushes" I have made to strengthen myself this past year.
Which brings me to 2018....
This year the word took much more time to find me. I contemplated words such as brave, grow, confidence, and resilient. While these were great words, they just didn't seem to fit. It was only after reflection of the "Year of 'Push'" that it finally hit me.
I had definitely changed in this past year. I had always been okay with existing in the shadows. I had mentioned in earlier posts that my defense strategy for the bullying I overcame in high school was to become invisible and attempt to blend into the background. Through the years, I have made small steps out of hiding, yet when things become uncomfortable, I back  up again.  It IS uncomfortable to step out of the shadows and into the light.
Yet... I have done that this year! I have been "pushed" from my safe spot in the corner and have found a new spot to call my own, which just happens to be in the center of the room. I can no longer hide, no longer blend... and I'm actually okay with that.

From this realization came my #OneWord2018:
Now that I am out in the open, out of my hiding I must shine! I must show the world who I am, as an educator, as a mom, and as a person.

Here are my goals for "shining" in 2018:

* I want to "shine" a light on my classroom not to show off what I do for my students, but to highlight what amazing things my students can do!

* I want to avoid any darkness that may try to overcome my light. I completely realize that although some of this comes from others, a majority of it comes from the doubts I have placed on myself.

* I want my light, my passion and enthusiasm, to spread. I want others to find their light and "shine" in their own way. There are many different ways to light the way for our students.

* I want to actively notice the parts of my life that "shine." I will do this by starting a gratitude journal for work and a moments jar for my home life.

Although I am not done "pushing" for there are still times where all I want to do is find a corner and run to it, I think this is clearly the next step in my process of growth.

It is time to SHINE!