Each of us can think back to one day this week, this month, or this school year and pinpoint something that really made you think, this is why I am here. Hopefully, you know what that spark is that I am referencing. We experience these sparks throughout the day, throughout the weeks, and throughout the school year. We use these sparks to get through those tough days when everything seems to go the complete opposite way we had planned.One of my biggest sparks is having the opportunity to learn from everyone I am around. Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) said it best, “It isn’t the individual in the room, it is the room itself that we can all learn from.” I think one of the best aspects of our jobs is we are around students and other educators that we can learn from in any situation. This type of thinking goes along with the growth-mindset but it makes our work so much fun.
@AngelaMaiers-It isn’t the individual in the room, it is the room itself that we can all learn from.”
I recently attended the PA Principals Conference at Penn State University #paprincipals16. I was able to listen and to learn from two very passionate educators who work in two very different parts of education. I was able to listen to the passion of Mr. Salome Thomas-EL (@Principal_EL) talk about inspiring his students. He inspired a group of students through the game of chess but really inspired them through love that they had never received before. I was able to learn from @Principal_EL and that’s what provides my spark. I was also able to learn from Mrs. Jill Jackson who is a consultant and former principal who resides on the west coast. One of the main points she made that really resonated with me is that as a leader of a building one of my primary responsibilities is to clear the deck so my teachers can do what they need to do for our students. New ideas from two individuals that I had never met and only spent a limited amount of time with will continue to push me to be better than I was before I met them. Another simple step that I use is to get on Twitter and connect with my PLN. This can take on many forms depending on the amount of time I have. It may be reviewing feeds of those that I follow and looking at the great ideas they are throwing out. It might be getting on one of the Twitter chats that I normally participate in or joining a new chat. It could simply be a picture or graphic that I see that resonates with something that is going on in my world. Another simple step is to simply go into classrooms and see learning happening. It is amazing visiting a class and seeing students working together and learning together. A spark that I recently discovered is preparing a presentation with two of my colleagues. We were able to sit and have multiple conversations about how we would show others that becoming a connected educator is a must do for educational leaders. These conversations that were held to prepare a presentation continued to push my thinking and provided a new spark that I had not experienced before. These very easy and simple actions that do not take a great deal of time provide me with that spark when challenges seem to be at every corner.
As educators we do face many challenges throughout our day and throughout our school year. We are pulled in so many directions that it is easy to become frustrated and forget the reason we spend countless hours planning our upcoming lessons. We need to continue to find that spark that makes you realize that the challenge(s) that seemed like your tipping point are simply another opportunity to be awesome for your students and or staff. The great part about this is the fact that your spark is individually based and gets to be whatever motivates you. For me it is connecting with my PLN, looking at Tweets, connecting with eduleaders via Voxer, talking with colleagues, and seeing learning happening with students. My challenge to you is to find that spark, and make sure it ignites you every day!