I had the privilege of attending some sessions at Indiana Connected Educators conference this week. I was inspired. Nudged. A switch was flipped in me. It was such a delight to feel a little bit excited about starting the school year.
I had not felt that. I had felt dread and concern and apathy and anxiety. But not the excitement I usually feel as I get geared up for a new school year.
The two particular workshop leaders that inspired me were Kevin Honeycutt and Rushton Hurley. I am grateful to them for putting themselves out there to share their thoughts and ideas.
From Kevin I loved how he kept it real and showed us a few things we could try as we re-enter the school year. It wasn't what he said so much, but how he said it and encouraged us. His topic was making connections. My favorite quote of his was, "Get out your crazy." He re-affirmed what I know to be true. This year it is not business as usual. This is the time to try new things and let our creativity blossom.
From Rushton I was inspired to do one small thing a day to become a better teacher. He showed us some ways to shift our thinking just a little to make a difference and move us in the right direction. His humor and upbeat nature made all of us attendees smile. I am sure I was not the only one who was inspired!
In walking with a friend this morning, I was able to think through some of the silver linings on the horizon. One thing I visualized this morning was only having 8-10 students in a class. The atmosphere will be calm. The social conflict will be less. When I saw it in my mind it was not so bad---pleasant even.
Another thing that I reminded myself this morning was that CDC recommends having class outside whenever possible. We are SO fortunate to have a huge and lovely park adjacent to our school property. Over the years I have found great joy taking my students there on a regular basis. Knowing that this is recommended and will be supported makes me as happy as a maple tree in the fall. In the past, I've had to justify my purpose of taking my students to the park, but now, joy of joys, it is a recommendation!
Lastly, my innovative, creative, risk-taking self can be let out of her pen now. The flush of sweetness that comes over me when I give myself permission to try new things, research what others have done, make learning meaningful, and push myself out of my comfort zone fills my cells with and makes me zippy from the sugar high.
A big thank you to ICE and Kevin and Rushton. A big thank you to my walking buddy for thinking things through with me. A big thanks to myself for allowing my switch to be flipped. I still have all the "what ifs" running through my mind, but instead of:
"What if I COVID?"
"What if students don't participate in e-learning?" etc. (I am sure you know these questions all too well.)
I am now thinking:
"What if we become tree experts?"
"What if Fridays are passion project days?"
"What if each child keeps a blog?"
"What if we try podcasting?"
"What if students had more time to read?"
And I'm telling you, the relief is real and huge.