being a teacher, power

What You Look For You Will Find…

When you set out looking for something chances are you will find it.  As Frog and Toad search for spring just around the corner, they find that after they turn enough corners, spring is, indeed, right there.  So shall we find what we are looking for if we just keep on searching.

As educators we should remember this lesson; whatever we look for, we will surely find.  So ask yourself; what do you look for every day?  Do you look for teaching to the test, lazy students, and parents that just don’t get it?  Or do you look for curriculum opportunities, learning from failed attempts or wonder, and people that want to be part of your team?  I know what I search for.

We get what we look for.

being a teacher, power, word choice

A Lesson from "Awakened"

Words.  Big, small, meaningful, meaningless, words.  Everywhere we go words bring power, attention, and direction and yet they are just words.  Words by themselves are powerless.  Words are just letters jumbled together in a recognizable pattern and yet words hurt, words incite, words sadden and uplift.  Words make us feel loved, respected, listened to.  Words make us doubt ourselves, as teachers, as human beings.  Words are power.

We give that power to words.  Angela Watson reminded me of that.  Words by themselves cannot hurt us, we allow them to.  We open up the possibility for anyone to criticize because of the strength we give their words.  If you remove the power from the words you will see that they are nothing without it.

Reclaim your words.

PS: If you want to experience this book for yourself, here’s your chance!

attention, being a teacher, choices, power

A Thought on Shutting Doors

When that door shuts, I come alive, not because I am afraid to show my true colors with an open door, or because I am worried what strangers might think, but instead because then I can truly focus on what is the most important; the here, the now, the kids. So when I lose my focus and worry too much about what others think it shows up in my teaching, sneaks right in and settles in the back of my mind. I must forget to take my own advice at times; choose who you give your attention to. Choose who you give power to. Choose who you let lift you up or bring you down. Because those choices also influence your students, those choices we seemingly make separately from our classrooms are never quite separate. We carry it all with us, whether we want to or not. Or at least I do.

So I choose happiness. I choose to focus on everything that is astounding in my life. The incredible deep love from my husband, the unmistakable faith from my mother, and my daughter’s incredible joy for life. The student who finally gets it, or cracks me up with a new joke. The coworker that shares yet another success in their teaching or brings up a new idea. I choose to focus on my own mistakes and weaknesses because those I can do something about. And I choose my own words more carefully so to not bring others down.

So now when I shut that door I also make a conscious effort to make myself open it again. To let the world back in, to show those kids that I am there wholeheartedly no matter what passes by our door. To remind myself that my choices are their choices, and that’s the way it should be.

attention, being me, control, education, power

May I Have Your Attention

Attention; one of the most powerful gifts you can offer someone. When we care about a person, we give them our attention as the main way of showing it. Attention when doled out can make someone experience deep emotions whether in a great way or not. Attention when handled carelessly can inspire someone to believe misplaced intentions or that we care less than we do. Paying attention is a way of transferring power to the person we are paying attention to, and that power is, well, more powerful than we can even fathom.

As a society we strive to categorize and be categorized. Through our labels we determine our social circles, our place in the community, and certainly our own self-worth. Every label we either bestow upon ourselves or are given comes with a set amount of societal power. Through our profesion we receive a certain amount of power societally predetermined, as a woman I may receive less power than if I were male, and don’t even get my started on the power determined by our skin color. In a perfect world we wouldn’t be prejudged, or categorized, before someone knows us well but it appears we are all either too busy or wired in such a way that it happens despite our best intentions. So every day we choose to give power to other people through our attention to them and that power shift can either benefit us or harm us. How much time have I spent worrying about someone’s impression of me; more power to them. How much time have I spent about how people will view me; more power relinquished. How much time have I spent paying attention to empty celebrities, politicians, or people I will never ever interact with in any positive manner? Way too much.

So how do we change the way we offer up power to people who do not matter? How can we stop being sucked in by those that mostly do harm? In this politically charged America, it seems we need to dust off the civility but where? So from now on, I want to be sparser with my attention. I want to give it fully every day to those that mean the most; family, friends, my school community. I will strive to remove my share of given power to people who spew negativity, to people who only thrive when there is misery to be discussed, to those who do not mean well. We may not be able to change society and the uneven power held by people, but we can change the share we control. Attention is an incredible gift; give it to those that matter.