I Matter....You Matter...We Matter

I Matter....You Matter...We Matter

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dare to Jump: Growing Vulnerability


We went boating on the lake with my family over the weekend. My oldest daughter was eager to swim once we dropped anchor, yet was initially hesitant to jump.  While she loves to swim, actually taking that plunge to jump off the end of the boat was new and somewhat scary.  She was presented with two options: 1) Take the "safe" approach and use the ladder, which would lead to the water or 2) Take a "risk" and jump off the end, which would provide a new experience to enjoy and still end in the water equally well.  We didn't push, but ultimately left it to her to make the decision. After a brief moment, I watched her take a deep breath and jump. Do you know what happened next? She looked up at us, smiled, and continued to jump in over and over again.  Had she not taken that "risk" and allowed herself to be vulnerable, she would have never experienced something new that she actually ended up enjoying. 

via Inner Fire Outer Light
As educators, we strive to not only instill and foster a culture of risk-taking with our students, but also with ourselves as teacher learners. When we hear the word, risk, what does it actually mean to us?  I have come to the conclusion risk-taking can look, sound, and feel different depending on the individual learner. How do we allow ourselves to become more vulnerable in order to grow?  How do we continue to cultivate a culture of risk-taking, yet honor where we are within the process?

As an instructional coach, I am continuously reflecting upon my coaching work and the work being done to impact student learning. Often times, I find myself thinking about the ladder vs. the jump, theoretically speaking. I know all options will result in action being taken toward a chosen goal for the benefit of student learning, yet some options may be "safer" than others.  While I acknowledge that risk looks different for us all, it becomes more about being willing to be vulnerable....with me...with students...with colleagues. How do I continue to meet my colleagues where they are with risk-taking, yet gently nudge toward becoming more vulnerable for the benefit of our students (and themselves as learners)?  How do I continue to model my own vulnerability as an instructional coach?

via Pinterest
I recently attended a conference where we were asked to write down a dream and then share it with someone near us. While we can save that story for another post, I realized in that moment, I had to be vulnerable with those around me.  I felt many of the same emotions our students and colleagues feel when taking a risk, but do you know what happened? I did it, and as a result, felt empowered to take that jump and make my dreams actionable.

I have been busy growing more ideas that will require vulnerability and risk-taking this year, yet I cannot wait to see what happens next.  Much like my daughter showed me, "sometimes you just have to jump in both feet first."

Let's dare to jump together.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Day 31: This Isn't Goodbye..It's See you Later-#SOL17

Holy cow! How is it the end of March already?!  Today brings this Slice of Life Challenge to a close, and I feel like I'm ending on a charge.  I've learned so much more about myself as a writer and individual as well as the many others who have become part of this writing community.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect when signing up for this commitment, but I can easily say, it was a decision that was well worth it.  I've always enjoyed writing, yet finding the time has always been my enemy.  This challenge has made that previous nonexistent time to write a priority, even if it's just for ten minutes.  I've learned to become more vulnerable with an authentic audience as well as reflect on the small moments more intentionally.  

I've pushed myself to try new formats and stretch myself as a writer, thanks to the continued inspiration of this community.  I've never met you in person, yet I feel like your daily snippets provided a lens into your lives.  THANK YOU for growing me.  THANK YOU for allowing me to grow you.  As a Slice of Life, "newbie", you have found a new regular slicer.  You will find me again next March ready to tackle year two.  As I transition away from my daily slicing, I hope to continue to see you all around on the blogging circuit and for Tuesday slices.  Let's keep growing together.  

For that reason, I'll simply say this isn't goodbye...it's see you later! Keep writing!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day 30: Making Memories-#SOL17

As I begin to wrap up this Slice of Life Challenge, we continue to enjoy our Florida trip and make memories together. Being here brings back old memories of my childhood and visiting my grandparents, yet unites the old with the new as we make our new memories with our children.  My hope would be that someday, they too are able to make memories here with their children.  

Memories are the glue to our life.

Watching the cars and people walking in the morning from the balcony...making memories
Swimming multiple times a day...making memories
Picnics on the beach...making memories
Building lots of sandcastles...making memories
Jumping over waves...making memories
Finding the best shells to add to our collection...making memories
Eating at new restaurants...making memories
Walking to the beach to watch the sunset...making memories
Dancing to live music...making memories
Enjoying ice cream past bedtime...making memories

Thank you for letting me share some of our memories throughout this Slice of Life Challenge as you set out to create your own.  Look for the small moments and add to your story.  

Memories are all around us.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day 29: Sensational Sunsets-#SOL17

Our first full day was yesterday, and we couldn't miss an opportunity for a sensational sunset at the beach after a cloudless day.  I'm in awe of the natural beauty of sunsets...aka no filter needed.  My favorite picture from day one includes my four children unposed enjoying saying "goodnight" to the sun.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 28: Small Moments-#SOL17

Small moments from yesterday's day of travel through the eyes of children...

Mommy playing Tetris with luggage in the car (it all fit!)
Four backpacks filled with books, markers, and other forms of entertainment
Enjoying the moving walkways (multiple times)
Watching planes take off and land
Meeting the captain and co-pilot (they were nice)
Going "fast" (time to takeoff)
Gum and suckers (help for that ear popping)
Eating snacks and drinks on the airplane (there's always time for eating)
Watching cartoons (thank you free wifi)
"I'm so excited! I'm so excited!" x's 4 little voices (Mommy lost count, which is a good thing) :) Noticing how the trees look different
Big "bump" (time to land)
"It's hot and sunny!" (yes, yes it is)
"New" car (or just the rental car...we will return it)
Watching the sunset (from the car)
"We're here, we're here!"
Beach closed (yes, just for tonight)
New surroundings
Bedtime (for us ALL) :) 

Today brings sunshine, excitement, and a beach calling our names!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day 27: Happy Place Bound-#SOL17

As I sit down to write this morning, the house is quiet yet starting to stir and my coffee is hot and just what I need.  I'm looking over my to-do list for the hundredth time.  It's time to get the last of things packed and ready to go before our spring break adventure.  Packing and getting ready for a vacation is a small feat in itself, especially when it involves four kids, but it will be well worth it when my feet hit the sand.  Our flight leaves later this afternoon, and I can't wait!  My kids definitely can't wait because they've reminded me of our itinerary every five seconds since last week-HA!

We are heading to my happy place...otherwise known as the beach.  I love to travel and explore new places, but I'm a warm weather, beach girl at heart in terms of vacation spots.  We are heading to a spot in Florida where I spent a great deal of my childhood visiting my grandparents.  It's exciting to be able to now share this with my own children and create new memories with them.  Sunshine, warmth, (oh, and I did I mention the beach?) are good for the soul. My happy place may be the beach, but really it's about being with the people I love the most no matter what adventure we are tackling next.  

Where's your happy place? :) 


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day 26: My One Word-#SOL17

Have you heard of the one word movement?  The thought process being that you focus on one single word to drive your year ahead.  (Check out #oneword2017 for more examples).  Often, my one word will present itself naturally, because I will find myself coming back to the same word repeatedly. Last year, while I never officially announced it, my 2016 word was blessed.   In both my personal and professional life, I found the daily blessings and focused on them intently.

Earlier this year, I took some time to reflect and create a list of 2017 word possibilities.  I had quite the extensive list on my phone, and gradually, I narrowed them down. Oddly enough, my one word seemed to once again naturally present itself, seeming to jump out and say, "DO YOU SEE ME YET?!"

My 2017 word is gratitude.  All throughout my previous blog posts, you will see a common theme with my referencing of leading with a grateful heart.  Did I plan it like this? No, but this one word seems to be really resonating with me this year.  When we have a heart full of gratitude, there's no limit on our joy.  There is always something to be grateful for in our daily lives.  Even on my most challenging of days, I come back to my word of gratitude and see the snippits of good on a not so good day.  Gratitude is my driver this year, and I'm the grateful passenger who is along for the ride.

As you enter into your day, your month, or even the remainder of the year, what will your one word be that drives you? It's never too late to decide.  You just have to be a willing passenger. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day 25: Lightbulb Moments-#SOL17

I'm a person who needs thinking, processing, and reflection time.  If proposed an idea, I sometimes like to ponder and let it simmer for a bit rather than immediately answering.  After letting multiple thoughts and ideas simmer, I will find my moments of clarity, which I like to call my lightbulb moments. These lightbulb moments provide the spark to get ideas moving forward.  

via http://4.bp.blogspot.com/

Do all of my lightbulb moments come to fruition?  No, not always.  Those moments get written down so they won't be forgotten, because sometimes they will support or jump start the next lightbulb moment.  This is where ideas are curated.  It's amazing when you are able to synthesize multiple pieces of thoughts or ideas and make all the dots connect.  

How do your ideas come to light? 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day 24: Time to Pump the Brakes-#SOL17

With the hustle and bustle of life, I often feel like it's putting pedal to the metal....go, go, go....and wherever you go, you go FAST! Phew! Between work and home, it can be hard to slow down with so much always going on in our household.

However, every now and then, it's important to take the time to pump the brakes and slllloooooowwww life down to catch your breath, rest, and recharge.  I'll be looking forward to easing off that accelerator for the next two weeks to enjoy spring break (yes, I said two weeks-thank you balanced calendar).  I love where I work and I love what I do, yet I also love being able to spend time and make memories with my precious family without the constraints of time and getting from one place to the next.

My colleagues have a range of plans from just enjoying a staycation to an adult-only trip for the first time in years.  We will be heading toward some sunshine and warmth here in a few days, and I admit, we can't wait!!

Regardless of destination, it's about allowing yourself time to just stop and enjoy the moments.  As Ferris Bueller would say, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Happy spring break!! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 23: The Evolvement of Change-#sol17

The Evolvement of Change

Change is hard, 
Change is frustrating, 
Change is defeating, 
Change is exhausting, 
Change is unavoidable,
Change is uncomfortable, 
Change is refreshing,
Change is invigorating, 
Change is motivating,  
Change is development, 
Change is progress, 
Change is growth.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 22: Road Trip for Learning-#SOL17

Today, before most people were up and functioning, I had already grabbed an extra large cup of coffee and hit the road.  I had the opportunity to join some of my district colleagues in a road trip adventure.  We traveled several hours to Columbus, Ohio to participate in a Jennifer Serravallo literacy workshop. We have done a lot of work with Serravallo's work in our building and district, so I was looking forward to hearing her speak today.

I'll also profess my inner "nerdy girl" and passion for ongoing learning.  Serravallo certainly didn't disappoint. You know it's been a good workshop when you leave and your mind is swirling with possibilities and next steps.  Road trip for learning = success!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 21: Pieces of My Heart-#SOL17

This is one of my favorite gifts I've ever received during my time in education.  Let me tell you why... 20+ pieces of my heart lie within this canvas.  I received this canvas four years ago on the last day of school from my first grade class, when I was still in the classroom.  All of my former students occupy a space in my heart, but this class will be forever special.  I still remember how incredibly sad I was for the year to be over and I had to say my, "see you laters" to those little faces.  

This canvas has been part of my classroom/office decor ever since that day.  Now in my role as an instructional coach, I love looking at this canvas and remembering all those little faces and personalities.  Only now, they aren't so little...they are BIG and in fifth grade.  Time flies!  I've loved watching them grow up and become the outstanding young ladies and young men that I saw coming many years ago.

Today, I had the opportunity to eat lunch with a couple of my former students from that class.  They were my three-peat school carnival winners to eat lunch with me.  We joked about how they have had to bid to win this opportunity every year for the past three years, but they insisted they wouldn't have it any other way and are already asking if they can bid as middle schoolers.  It means the world to me that these (not so little) students still have memories from way back in first grade that have made a lasting impression even now years later.  My only hope is that they will continue to establish fond memories of school and continue to grow as individuals.  

Having lunch with these students today brought back so many memories, and I feel like those incredibly sad feelings will be creeping back when this year is over and I have to say my, "see you laters" and "go get them in middle school-keep in touch!"  

Thankfully, those pieces of my heart will always be there.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 20: Quiet-#SOL17

In a world full of noise, find the moments of quiet.

Before the alarm
Before the clanging of cereal bowls
Before the grabbing of backpacks
Before the radio music
Before the good mornings and hellos
Before the instruction
Before the goodbyes and see you tomorrows
Before the school day tell alls
Before the slamming of car doors at practice
Before the barking greetings
Before the beep of the oven
Before the reading of words
Before the bedtime prayers
Before the last TV show ends
Before the last email is read
Before the eyelids grow heavy
Before the clock strikes midnight (or 11, 10, or 9)
Before the light switches off
Before the alarm

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day 19-This is Part of Your Story-#SOL17

This time of year appears to be bringing out the "blahs" for lots of people in my life, whether it's the winter blues, the long stretch of time between winter and spring break, or just stresses they are facing in their individual lives.  I really try my best to not play into the negativity of others and instead, support them with looking at the positive, even when they may not see it for themselves.  It's all about perspective.
Via Twitter @DarrinPeppard 

How do you support others when they feel this way?   How do I support myself when I feel this way? We are human, and even growth-minded individuals still have times where even they have feelings of self-doubt or "blah".  It's how we are wired.  We get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. However,  the crazy thing is, is that this too shall pass.  We fall down, we get back up, and life moves on.  Rinse and repeat.  Life is what we make of it, but it all accounts for our story...the good and the not so good.

Not trying to state the obvious today, yet just acknowledging the fact that we all face challenging times in our lives, but it's all about the productive struggle.  You got this people, I promise.  This is part of your story. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 18-Nine Lives for a Goldfish?!-#SOL17

The school carnival was a few weeks ago and of course, we somehow added two new goldfish to our family by the night's conclusion (OK, actually it was originally three goldfish, but one became the "pay it forward" goldfish...you're welcome to the lucky school family that ended up with it).  As any parent knows, these magical carnival fish connect instantly to the hearts of our little ones, yet only to quickly become friends with the toilet (if you catch my drift).

Fast forward to last night...

The dread that every parent fears when they agree or are "voluntold" by their child to bring home the magical carnival fish unfolded in our kitchen (I mean, it had been 3 weeks...that's a miracle in itself, right?!).  As my kindergartner went to feed her "twins" their food, there was a shriek that arose near the fishbowl. "MOOOOOMMMMMYYYY!! What's wrong with my fish?" Well, we all thought we knew the obvious answer.  "Well sweetheart, I believe your fish have gone to live in Heaven."  As I consoled my devastated daughter, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  Sure enough, one of the fish was now breathing again, yet swimming/floating on its side.  I quickly transferred the fish into a ready cup of water and held my breath.  "MOMMY! It's still floating on it's side!!"  Using my mommy vet skills (HA!), I added a tiny bit of food and told my daughter that while this fish was still alive currently, she should probably say her goodbyes (I felt like I was on an episode of Grey's Anatomy).  This obviously led to more consoling and tears as well as toilet funeral for fish #1. Thanks carnival fish for the circle of life moment.

Fast forward to this morning...

I expected to come downstairs this morning to plan another toilet funeral for fish #2; however, to my shock, the fish was no longer on its side and was swimming happily in it's new home.  At this point, I have no idea how or why, but needless to say, I have a happy kindergartner...at least for now.  While this little fish may or may not make it much longer, for now its magic lives on.  Maybe goldfish really do have nine lives.