Survive and advance. Harnessing perseverance in our daily lives.

Survive and advance. Today marks the 35th anniversary of NC State University’s unbelievable 1983 NCAA tournament run that ended in dramatic buzzer beating fashion over the heavily-favorited University of Houston. This game has long been viewed as one of the greatest championship games in all athletics – amateur and professional alike.

The 1982-83 NC State Wolfpack team had one heck of a journey throughout that championship season. So many twists, turns, close tournament games that ESPN featured the team’s improbable run in one of their most successful “30 for 30” series documentaries. If you have not seen Survive and Advance, please do yourself a favor and watch. You will not be disappointed in this incredible example of perseverance.

ncstate83whitehouse.jpg

Merriam-Webster defines the word as this:

perseverance

continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition the action or condition or an instance of persevering steadfastness
How many times do we face challenges in our lives, career or even within our families? Sure it is easiest to bury our hand in the sand, ignore and simply hope the issues will rectify themselves. This often isn’t the case. We need to be strong, adjust our sails (as Dr. John Maxwell says) and be willing to change course. Giving up, should not be in the cards though.
The 1982-83 NC State Wolfpack men’s basketball team embodies so many strong character strengths. This tight-knit group stayed together through thick and thin even when times were tough. Every player on the bench believed in head coach Jim Valvano just as much as he believed in each of them.
Jim Valvano NC St
Did the season end as they planned? Yes. They envisioned an NCAA Championship. Did it happen remotely how they envisioned? Not by a mile. That’s what makes this tale of perseverance so amazing – even 35 years later.
How will you adjust when your plan doesn’t go as mapped out? Adjust the sails or stay the course?
ab02f2f86eb7508df46596746777fd7c.jpg

Relationships, relationships, relationships. The foundation for all aspects of education.

As I twirl through Twitter and see tweets from educators, hear district leaders across the nation speak in person or on video, blog posts, articles or even books we hear a lot about curriculum. We hear a lot about content. We hear a lot about data.

We even have a lot of folks who know a lot about ways to hashtag avenues to store data, curriculum. We have many who have memorized school hashtags across the district state, country are great at promoting the learning that’s all truly great. However, no matter how strong you are of an educator at any level in K-12, your role in education, school setting, etc. you truly have nothing without a rock solid foundation. Solid, genuine relationships are your foundation. Always.

Yes, relationships have become a significant buzz word in our profession in the last 2-3 years especially. However, everyone in our profession or outside of it can always, even if they’re 50 years removed from their K-12 experience can remember a few teachers and/or school leaders who made a significant impact on their life. Someone who believed in them through thick and thin. Someone who didn’t give up on them when doing just that would have been much easier. Someone who forged a solid, genuine relationship.

As educators we have a responsibility no matter our role to get to know each of the students we serve. In the hallways, in the cafeteria doing classroom visits. Getting to know students’ academic strengths, weaknesses but also their likes outside of school. Allowing students to see us as humans. Not most of the students we serve, all. Yes, including those kids. Education isn’t about teaching the ones coming to school eager to learn but in also generating interest in those that often might be labeled as “unreachable” or a “challenge” possibly even a “lost cause.” This is unacceptable but unfortunately some in profession are guilty of this.

Stop. Pause. Embrace the uncomfortable. You know I’m right about the above. Step out of your bubble if you think otherwise for a minute.

We must must ensure that we are reaching all students not almost all or most but all. Once we have them all and truly have them then and only then can we truly tackle content, curriculum and plow through but its still so uber important that we continue the relationship piece ongoing.

When I was a classroom teacher I spent the first two weeks of school doing next to no academics. Did this put me “behind” some? Yes. However I knew I had to and I mean had to set my foundation. By the end of the two weeks my students would move mountains for me. In turn we moved mountains together and the students’ academic results spoke for themselves. My principals were amazed at how well so many of the students did some were those kids. The ones the previous teacher(s) would say “oooooh I’m so sorry Mr. Fetters…” when class lists were distributed. Ironically many of those kids are some of the students I made the biggest impact on in my career and reinforced the most how much I love this profession. Visiting a child at a game on a Saturday afternoon can truly turn a student’s world around for the positive. Believe me, I’ve seen it and lived it.

Fast forward to now as a school leader. Every student has a story. It is paramount we get to know the students we serve far beyond the surface level. Chats at lunch are a time for me to get to know the students on the grade level I support. During observations whether informal or formal, seeing the students in the classroom asking questions about their learning I often learn as much from them. In the hallways, at sporting events, plays, performances, reaching out to parents for balancing phone calls for positive reasons, always offering support in any capacity, the list goes on.

When you tell a student you believe in them, mean it. The students we all serve can tell when we’re authentic or superficial in a nanosecond. We life in a superficial world all too often as I’ve posted about in the past. We need to be authentic and ongoing in our relationships with students, their families. Everyone has a story. Yes, even those kids. Get to know their stories, all of them. You’ll be surprised what you find and you’ll be surprised in the content you can cover by not just plowing through right out of the gate. The “unreachable” can be reached – if you make a valiant and authentic ongoing effort.

This concept isn’t new. My career high school English teacher mother told me often throughout my undergraduate career at Wilmington College going into my first few years in education the “challenging” students will be your favorite. “Listen to them fully, believe in them and guide them.” She was so right. As a classroom teacher and school leader this is so very applicable daily.

Content, curriculum and knowledge are all powerful but you must have your solid foundation first. Do you in your classroom? How do you root the faculty you lead in truly seeing the value of this? Are the right people on your bus?

Deep thoughts rooted in a rock solid foundation of solid, genuine relationships. They take time to build up and foster but are always, always worth it. After all, #KidsDeserveIt, right?

Proud to be on the #TeamKidsFirst faculty where we foster this overarching mindset daily. Follow the hashtag to see our work in action. social Media Carroll

Today > tomorrow. The power of not putting things off.

As I do every Sunday morning, earlier today I tweeted my weekly #SundayInspiration quote/saying. As a scrolled through the many graphics saved in my phone to use this week I stumbled upon one by one of my top educational heroes, Angela Maiers. I’ve blogged about the impact Angela has had on my life and career along with the significant contributions she’s made directly to me in the past as well as ongoing.

IMG_3573

http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/refreshed-recharged-and-ready-to-go-in-2016-17

https://brendanfetters.com/2016/12/17/listening-caring-reflecting-a-true-holiday-gift/

Today’s quote was a simple and powerful “Maiersism”….

IMG_4553

As I tweeted it out, I didn’t give it much thought. Simply put my phone down and went on with my day. As the day went on I received more feedback on it. Texts, direct messages, far beyond just the usual likes and retweets. This quote connected with so many folks of all walks – far beyond educators only. My dear friend and administrative mentor Chas Miller even went as far as to utilize this tweet as one of the foundation points for his latest blog post today.

Think about it. How many times have we uttered the word tomorrow and whatever it was either didn’t get accomplished fully, or even at all.

I’ll call that parent tomorrow to brag on the amazing work their child is doing in class.

I’ll take time read an article, book or magazine that will help me as an educator — tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m going to lay the foundation for courageous conversations within our grade level team.

These are a small sampling of powerful events in education. However, the word tomorrow holds each of them back. Whenever in life or career when we put off for tomorrow what should be done today, it very rarely maintains the power as in the moment.

The urge to put things off is often very strong, and such is the case for me. However, we as educators and frankly, humans must fight that urge to do what is best for our profession, student, colleagues, etc.

As Garth Brooks sang in The River “too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away. ‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow has now become today” truly has such power and relates to this post significantly.

You have an agenda, a plan. Do you tackle it now, at least lay the foundation or do you put it off until tomorrow. The choice is yours. The ball is in your court.

The power of being genuine – story of my life.

Genuine. According to Merriam-Webster the word is defined as this:

1a: actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character

  • genuine vintage toys

b: actually produced by or proceeding from the alleged source or author

  • the signature is genuine

c: sincerely and honestly felt or experienced

  • a deep and genuine love

d: actual, true 

  • a genuine improvement

2: free from hypocrisy or pretense: sincere 

  • His apology seemed genuine.

In today’s society far too many of us have gotten away from a true understanding of the word, much less putting it into action within our daily lives. The loose usage of important labels such as friend, kind, nice, etc. are becoming all too frequent.

I often speak to the power of Dr. John Maxwell’s “value added” approach in daily life. This is something I strive to do daily and seek those who add value in return. “Live your life with intentionality – make it significant,” are words from Dr. Maxwell to live by.

 The past few years especially more and more I have aimed to live not only by these “value added” principles but also by the sentence that I tweeted in a #SaturdaySpark⚡️ several months ago. Usually these are inspirational sayings, lines or quotes – but this was one that spoke to me as much, if not more than any — because it is something I am to live by daily:

The longer I live the more I realize that some people are good listeners, (uninterrupted – not hearing – listening) genuinely care and are tried and true friends. These will be there through the good times and the not so good times. Thick and thin. Sometimes its a learning process. Life is hard. The aches and pains of growing up as a person, professionally and personally can be taxing.
I know who these people are in my life. My tribe. My people. They build me up, encourage and offer constructive feedback on going and this is reciprocal. They have my back I love them. I know them and they know me. I love them. They love me. Do you connect with this? How genuine are you? It took me until my mid-30s to get to this point and I’m still evolving but I’m getting there – always striving for greatness. Sometimes takes weeding out. Quality > quantity.
Some people are good at talking the talk, but fail miserably when it comes to walking the walk. These people are not genuine. They need weeded out – no room for them on this train. Nonnegotiable.
One life to live, make the most of it. As the great Mike Ness wrote and performed so many years ago with Social Distortion:
“Life goes by so fastYou only want to do what you think is right.Close your eyes and then it’s past;Story of my life.”
socialdistortionband

2017 in review: No longer “unwritten.” (#OneWord2018: confidence)

One year ago I was in an interesting place within my career. I was humming right along as an elementary curriculum coach. I knew deep down it was time for a change of pace, scenery, and perhaps position. My beloved principal, Mr. Barham, had just left my school to open a brand new school in our district which intensified this need for a change. While 2016 had been a banner year personally and professionally, 2017 was truly unwritten which is why choosing that as my #OneWord2017 was such a breeze.

My path professionally in 2017 started to shift from being unwritten to in progress very quickly. Early in the year, along with my good friends Renee White and Michael Parker West co-presented two sessions at the NCties conference in Raleigh. Taking the leap from the district convergence symposium to presenting at the largest education conference in the state. Learning and growing indeed. 

IMG_2776

Later that very month, Mr. West and I co-organized the spring edition of #EdCampWake. The two of us spearheaded many new an innovative features within our local EdCamp including inviting the Wendell Middle step team, area high school jazz band and having two educational authors Google Hangout from Ohio in one of the sessions. All and all a lot of planning but a most successful day.

IMG_2936

IMG_2920

The biggest piece to the formerly unwritten puzzle was taking the leap when opportunity knocked. Being in my comfort zone within the elementary setting my entire career was something I was ready to change when the right opportunity knocked. It might have been well into 2016-17 but it happened. The door opened, I explored, and took the leap. Haven’t looked back and continue to be so grateful for the opportunity Mrs. MacWilliams provided. Another giant leap in long history of risks but this was near the top. https://brendanfetters.com/2017/03/25/walking-the-talk-taking-leaps-of-faith-to-achieve-personal-and-professional-growth/

14850334-1456860939-640x360

As referenced in the post above the song below by Nashville recording artist Lionel Cartwright has always been a motivator for me whenever life throws a challenge and it certainly came through yet again.

social Media Carroll.jpg

As I continued to grow as a learner and leader I took on a new role and cherished the opportunity to experience the ISTE conference with colleagues in San Antonio which provided several days of intense learning and relationship building with peers.

IMG_3562

One of my proudest moments this year occurred when several building peers participated in Racial Equity Institute training which led to the creation our school’s equity team work I’m extremely passionate about. Love that so many on our faculty are embracing the uncomfortable and engaging in this powerful work. https://brendanfetters.com/2017/09/23/the-other-side-building-capacity-within-embracing-the-uncomfortable/

IMG_3977

Besides expanding my role as leader within the school and district I also continue to grow my work with education policy. Always aiming to build capacity in others in and around education in this powerful work. 2017 saw a lot of growth in both of these areas.

IMG_4064

In order to make an impact you have to at least leave the sideline. https://brendanfetters.com/2017/12/17/get-informed-leave-the-sideline-take-a-seat-at-the-table/

22141152_10155680500928428_6707788345245985982_n

22179720_1477488702342433_5502877955342734371_oIn recognition of 2017 all the trials and triumphs its now time to look ahead to 2018. What’s my #OneWord2018? Confidence. This has to be ongoing — even when the times get rocky. If there is one this 2017 taught me personal and professional growth can happen, but even quicker with ongoing confidence. With confidence, never arrogance, even greater things will happen both personally and professionally – mark it down. Here is to 2018.

IMG_4495

Get informed. Leave the sideline. Take a seat at the table.

“Thank you for standing up for educators, Brendan.”

“Your passion and dedication for all of us is so impressive”

“You are such a strong voice for our profession.”

You always know what’s going on with the inner workings politically as it relates to education.”

This is a sampling of what I hear often from fellow educators. Why? I’m involved fairly heavily in educational policy in our state. While the above words of kindness are nice, and always well meaning I tend to push back on it. To me, as professional educators we all should be at the very least, informed.

As alluded to in a previous post, our state, especially in the Triangle market, does a great job of providing local political coverage that relates almost always indirectly, often directly to public education.

With the bulk of the funding in North Carolina coming from the state level (legislature) it really should be in the interest of all educators in the public sector especially to keep a close eye on what is happening on Jones Street and how it connects to our profession.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina offers a weekly program, Education Matters, that airs locally and also is available through online and podcast platforms that deals with significant issues directly related to our profession.

NC Spin offers weekly balanced debate on issues that often at the very least indirectly effect public education weekly and offers a strong method to be informed about what’s happening legislatively. In addition to airing locally, the program also is available online and in podcast formats.

Locally in the Raleigh market, the News & Observer has a daily blog and weekly podcast Under the Dome which provide insight and analysis that often dig deep into K-12 and higher education happenings.

In addition to being informed the next aspect is having a seat at the table. Whether local funding through the Wake County Board of Commissioners, or statewide advocacy groups like Public Schools First NC, North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children or the above mentioned Public School Forum of North Carolina being able to support public education at the next level is significant. Telling examples of what is happening in our schools, the needs, the successes, how we can improve and what specifically is needed. The seat at the table provides a voice. The more seats at the table, the louder the voice.

Being aware is the first step, involvement the second. Everyone in our profession should be aware. You don’t know what you don’t know is dangerous. Awareness is key. Involvement in the profess is the next step. At times it can be a little scary initially. Step out of your comfort zone. Advocate for the students we all serve and our profession. This is the opportunity to tell the amazing things happening in our schools K-12 and beyond on a daily basis to key stakeholders in our communities and beyond.

22179720_1477488702342433_5502877955342734371_o

Stay after these meetings, talk with with the board members, elected officials. Consider making an appointment with your local elected official or state house representative or state senate member. You’d be surprised how much these people truly want to hear what they can do to better the process.

It helps when you advocate in groups. For example the below group of educational leaders and I locally are all involved with equity outreach.

22141152_10155680500928428_6707788345245985982_n

Once you have that initial foundation when the time is right – step off the sideline. Make your voice heard. #KidsDeserveIt after all, right? So what do you say? Up for a seat at the table? Embrace the uncomfortable.

18403650_10154967411655804_3912919817326934532_n

The great power in adding value to others

2017-18 is one quarter in. What a busy school year it has been. New initiatives, courses, faculty members, the list goes on. Oh, and I’m in a new position this school year. Lots of new – but I’m embracing them all.

Longtime followers of my blog and close friends of mine know my maternal grandfather had and continues to have great influence on my life both personally and professionally. One of the things he said repeatedly in our 17 years together on this earth was the importance of adding value to others. In turn, others should always add value back to you, my grandfather would always say.

images

If you follow Dr. John Maxwell’s work you know this is a cornerstone of his leadership practices. One of my favorite A Minute with Maxwell segments sums this up quite well and this in particular comes from a question posed by a fellow educator:

Each day when I wake up I have determination. Determination to do my best, grow in some capacity whether as a leader, learner or educator. Ideally all three.

fc031b237f49505be5d58c16a4ac2f78

I also am determined to make a positive impact in at least one person’s life. A colleague at school or the district level, a student, an employee at your local Target or at the mall. Positivity goes a long way and adding value goes hand in hand. Normally, this can be achieved not once but several times a day.

By the same token, we should always be cautious when choosing friends. Quality over quantity. Adding value should be a cornerstone of friendship. If this isn’t the case – cut the cord. Nonnegotiable. if

Adding and receiving value should be an ongoing process. Learning and growing daily. Make it a great day or not daily – the choice is yours.

The other side – building capacity within embracing the uncomfortable

A year ago, my friend and a strong, innovative principal in our school district, Dr. Sandy Chambers invited me to her school for an intense, thought provoking, immersion training with district peers. I had heard so much about the Racial Equity Institute and their training sessions from Sandy and another district friend, Mr. Michael Parker West for many months. Now I was engaged in the process.

Life changing professional development. Courageous conversations, learning and growing with mostly educators but a handful of folks from other professions as well. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to learn more, grow more with this work. How could I get more educators to become aware and not remaining complacent in “not knowing what they don’t know?” Embracing the uncomfortable as so often have said in the past year or so is powerful, yet so many in my profession and beyond shy away, why? How can we get more educators and beyond to embrace the uncomfortable, to build capacity within this powerful and such meaningful work?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQuAAAAJDdkZDI3MjU2LTliZmMtNDlhMC04ZTExLTFmNDViOGJmYjJiMg

In conjunction with my education policy work and through REI circles within our district and beyond I started to connect with other educators to learn and grow more. To encourage other educators to understand, grow, and build capacity and interest within others. I give major props to the above mentioned Michael and Sandy but also Ms. Erica Everett and Mr. Jeff Bugajski for further driving my understanding through sharing articles, viewing opportunties ongoing, inviting me to events, etc. Additionally, in the policy world, NC Rep. Graig Meyer, Wake County (NC) Commissioner Jessica Holmes and the Public School Forum of NC’s Mr. James Ford have all pushed me significantly with my understanding of equity and sparked courageous conversations through providing deeper learning opportunities with such.

After attending Racial Equity Institute (REI) trainings as both an attendee initially then as alumni to gain deeper perspective, I wanted to bring this work to key stakeholders at Carroll Middle School. I made an initial pitch to Mrs. MacWilliams over lunch with assistance from Michael and Sandy last spring. She was all in. We were going to have faculty from CMMS engaged in this meaningful work in the near future.

Fast forward to today, Saturday, September 23, 2017. I’m in the back of the REI circle at Brier Creek Elementary in Raleigh, NC — the “alumni area.” I’m so proud seeing my so many of my colleagues from Carroll Middle (along with district peers at Brier Creek Elementary and Horton’s Creek Elementary) voluntarily involved in this meaningful, deep work on a Saturday (and Sunday too) for the betterment of the students we all serve, our own craft and as a society overall.

IMG_3977

I’m beyond stoked to see where this work goes from here has the capacity is being built to take off both at Carroll Middle with our #TeamKidsFirst faculty here today (and tomorrow) as a result of this training and the engaging conversations occurring.

Proud day as an educator but this work is only getting started. #EquityMatters. Embrace the uncomfortable.

 

#OneWord2017 — August temperature check

As the 2017-18 school year opens for students in our district in the very near future (August 28 for our traditional calendar schools) what better time to reflect on personal growth and gauge a self temperature check?

On December 30, 2016 I blogged about my #OneWord2017. At the time of the post I was an elementary curriculum coach spinning my wheels going through daily grind of 11.5 years in public education all at the elementary level in a variety of capacities. I had learned, grown and evolved as an educator, professionally and personally so much over the years but overall the next — was truly unwrittenC1CLK8QXgAAtlW0.jpg-large.jpg

Natasha Bedingfield’s lyrics to the song with the same name rang so true….
2017 came in with many changes. My beloved principal at my elementary school had just left to open a brand new school in our district.img_2198
I was loving what I was doing but deep down needed a change. That opportunity came when I least expected it and in March I made a difficult decision to leave the elementary world and so many amazing educators behind leaping to the middle school world as a curriculum coach when an perfect situation came my way.
c3sux6iueaec5yr-jpg-large
A complete fish out of water feeling for several days, even weeks literally a sink or swim situation. I embraced it and kept it moving – I’m at home with the best yet to come.
We hear a lot of talk about risk, leaps of faith and #failforward moments. This experience has embraced all of the above and then some. I was taking another step toward writing the unwritten for 2017 in a significant way.
14850334-1456860939-640x360.jpg
IMG_2776.JPG
In between transferring from the elementary to the middle school world I was blessed with presenting and co-presenting in three sessions at the 2017 NCties (ISTE-affiliate) conference in Raleigh. Powerful experience being on the presenter end of this amazing conference.
As the months rolled on in my new role I continued to learn, grow and become more comfortable in the secondary setting. Growing capacity in myself and others.
IMG_3065
Adding into the mix co-organizing a highly successful the spring edition of #EdCampWake was another growth opportunity where risk was taken and the reward was high.
17362844_10154817042700804_4243003267434957758_n
My initial visit to the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit in April led me to deepen my work with equity and education policy — while further seeing the shear power within “embracing the uncomfortable.” The power of personal growth in the exploration of the uncomfortableHow-To-Leave-Your-Comfort-Zone...-And-Feel-Awesome-733x414
Learning and growing with school and district peers this summer at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio fueled professional passion, growth and strengthened relationships. Further writing the “unwritten.”
IMG_3562
Through all this I’ve gained a new job title for the new school year as well. Always growing, always learning. As we complete our beginning of 2017-18 meetings, trainings, “nuts and bolts” and gatherings before the students arrive. What will the final 4 months of 2017 hold? Who knows. I like the trajectory things are heading currently. I’m only as strong as those around me who guide me daily, help me #StriveForGreatness in our ongoing quest to #BecomeBetter. Best is yet to come! KOKO. (Keep on keeping on)
IMG_3823.jpg
Rest of 2017? Unwritten….

Relationships matter: the inspiration all around us

With the hustle and bustle of the 2016-17 school year now in the rear view mirror I find myself with time to catch up, take a breather and relax briefly prior to 2017-18 ramping up in full force in a matter of weeks. Time increases rapidly – and certainly never seems to slow down.

I just completed my 12th year in public education. From my humble beginnings as a first year teacher in small town Ohio to relocating very early in my career to the great unknown of the Triangle region of North Carolina, to obtaining my graduate degree in school administration and taking on leadership roles within the school I’ve always been invested heavily in relationships. Student to student, staff to staff, school community stakeholders, the list goes on. They’re genuine and ongoing as I’ve referred to in previous posts, its vital we are sincere as all those we serve, especially the kids, can spot a phony in an instant. Words and sincerity matter. Period.

This has always been my hallmark. Long before “relationships” became a buzzword in our profession. Long before my connections and eventual school partnership with Angela Maiers and Choose2Matter. Certainly before I met Mike Erwin and became involved with the Positivity Project beginning this past school year.

IMG_3606

At times we lose focus of how much our words matter. The students we all serve listen and hang on every word we say. As a younger 3rd grade teacher back in 2007-2008 I began branching out beyond the walls of my classroom. It was my third year teaching and I wanted to begin taking a bigger role. Looking back it was one of my first risks as a young, wide-eyed educator. I took time to get to know other students on the grade level outside of my classroom, their parents, getting to know them beyond student A, student B, etc. Having check-ins at lunch, or on the playground. The mentality shift from my students to our students had begun for me officially.

A month ago, that “wave” of third graders from my first elementary in Raleigh graduated from high school. In the months leading up to the big day I was amazed how many of these former third grade parents & students began reaching out to me via social media, phone, work email, etc. to ask for my address. They almost all had the same sort of blanket message “Mr. Fetters you made such a big impact on me/my child a decade ago we’d love for you to attend my/their high school graduation.” All told I received 10 invitations this year. Some were students I had in class, several were those I never taught but got to know through weekly check-ins. They were our third graders – clearly I made an impact.

I was able to attend a high school graduation this year that the bulk of students from my original WCPSS elementary school attended. Most of the students that invited me were there. It was amazing to see so many of them, hear of their accomplishments, aspirations, while also making me feel quite old in the process.

IMG_3485

I was able to attend one graduation party that day, a girl who I didn’t have as one of my students, but of course she was ours. Her mother reached out to me repeatedly and really wanted me to come to their house afterwards so I did. This young lady is incredible. Her exact words to me were “you always said you believed in me when I was in third grade – not a lot of people did but I knew you meant it. I wanted to prove you right.” I was taken back. Do words matter? Absolutely. Sincerity? Absolutely. This young lady has gone to places many never thought she would go. She’s going to move mountains. Just a small sliver of the impact we can and often do make on a daily basis within the profession regardless of our capacity.

These students have inspired me as much as I inspired them years ago. So powerful. Such an opportunity for rich reflection.

IMG_3502

Its easy to get caught up in the moment as educators. We all have tough days and the work we do is challenging. It truly takes a village. We all have a lot going on in our personal lives, career, homes, etc. but its essential we keep doing right by kids as the pinnacle of every decision we make as an educator. That should always be a nonnegotiable.