Outside of Scholastic Headquarters in NYC, March 2016
How hard it is to try something new. To put ourselves out there and hope, maybe foolishly, for something to happen. I often wonder how we can expect our own children and students to be brave if we are not. It is easy to sit behind our desks and tell kids to be brave. It is easy to do this when they're the only ones filling their days with taking chances, not us.
They listen to a teacher say "what's the worst that could happen if you try?"
But, what if our kids saw us taking chances too? This thought took root in my mind this last year as more and more opportunities came knocking on my door. Suddenly, I was presented with possibilities to grow as an educator, to learn more about my craft and to collaborate on levels I never imagined for myself. It was scary. It still is scary. But for me, the chance to grow and be better than I am today helps squash my fear.
It started with having enough courage to stand up in front of hundreds of educators, librarians and authors at Nerd Camp and tell Donalyn Miller that her books saved my teaching life. Then it transformed into having the courage to apply to be a Scholastic Teacher Advisor. After that, it was connecting with eight other educators, most of which I did not know in real life. Now, it is taking the form of saying yes to sharing my passion with other educators on a larger scale. While these moments help me grow professionally, chances to be brave happen in my classroom every single day.
It might take the form of sharing my own writing with the class, and listen... that takes more courage than almost anything else I have ever done. Often it is being honest about books and my own reading life. Kids can see right through you, and why listen to someone who talks the talk but does not walk the walk? I am not standing at the front of my room telling my kids to be readers when I am not a reader myself. Maybe it is acknowledging that I do not know it all. I am learning right along with my kids and it took me a couple of years to embrace that.
So, maybe if we can show bravery then our kids will be more likely to. Maybe knowing that they are a part of a caring community helps them be brave. I know my community helps me show courage. If you want to put yourself out there, this Nerdy community will be there.
I have the audacity to believe that what I do is important. Monumental, even.
The words I choose can uplift or deflate. The look on my face can encourage or hinder. I set the tone. If I put myself out there in and out of the classroom, then my kids have a role model. They can see (from a safe distance) that when we are bold in life, amazing things can happen.
I mean, what's the worst that could happen if we try?