"When you are an educator, you have brilliant ideas. And when you are not sharing your brilliant ideas, you are doing a disservice to others..."Wow. How convicting! In the past, I have loved coming up with new ideas, but been too scared to share them. I think, "If this was really a good idea, somebody would have tried it before," or "I like this, but will anybody else?" or "I'd better just play it safe, so I don't end up looking stupid." You'd think that at some point I would get past my fears and worries...who wants to live in a box of "what other people think of you" all of the time? But it took a little push.
Growing My PLN
After lurking around for a bit, I finally joined Twitter & Voxer, and wow, the idea sharing and encouragement is amazing! I have learned so much, and more importantly, been encouraged to branch out and try new things. In the past, I would have an idea, and maybe talk about it with a colleague, but then lose confidence and stop shy of actually implementing it in my classroom. Being out there in the EDU world, surrounded (virtually) by people who are encouraging others to step out, push boundaries, take risks, and celebrate learning has been amazing! It's allowed me to nervously contribute my ideas, and get positive feedback - which makes me realize that maybe I do have something to contribute, and continues the cycle of learning, growing, and improving. It has truly transformed my professional life (and it's only been two months).
So, among all of my other pursuits, I am working on my principal's license right now. It's been a really interesting process as I not only learn the knowledge about what it takes to be an administrator, but also change my view of myself. Teachers, do you remember when you first started doing field experiences, or started student teaching? It's a complete paradigm shift to think, "Whoa, I'm back in the classroom, but I'm the adult here, not a student!" You have to reform your identity a bit to match your new role.
I have gone through that this summer in the transformation from a teacher to a principal. In May, when people would ask me about it, I almost felt apologetic - "Yes, I am studying this, but I don't really know if I want to be a principal, I'm happy in the classroom right now, maybe someday a looooooooong way off." I wasn't ready to view myself as a "future administrator" yet. Between the projects I've been working on this summer and just having time to get used to the idea, I feel myself slipping more into a leadership role and being more comfortable there! I still don't know what's in my future, as I love teaching orchestra and have no plans to leave anytime soon...but I also can see myself as a leader now. That's more than I could say two months ago.
If I were to choose one word to describe my growth this summer, it would be confidence. Sharing my thoughts online with people who are striving to do great things in education has given me confidence that these crazy ideas actually can be implemented and help kids learn! Interning with my principal and taking part in some leadership decisions has given me confidence that I can be a leader in my building, whether it is as an administrator or an informal leader in my current position. And working on so many creative pursuits (designing how I will gamify my classroom, designing digital BreakoutEDUs, and working on some website/media projects for my principal's license) has inspired me to keep learning, keep reaching, and keep pushing to teach in new ways.
Confidence. It makes us better teachers and better learners. If you are unsure about a new idea, try it! Share it! Find people who will encourage you to follow that train of thought! Don't shy away because you are too scared to try. If your experience is anything like mine, people will appreciate that you are trying something different, and the cycle of innovation-feedback-refining-growing will continue. Sounds a lot like learning, doesn't it?
***To those of you who are a part of my PLN, thank you! You have influenced my life and helped me grow! I wish I could mention all of you here, but that would get too crazy - suffice it to say that you are all amazing educators and I appreciate you!***