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Natural growth occurs, well, naturally, and I believe most educators desire to develop beyond what’s just natural. However, vision without a plan is just vision, but implementing a strategy gives legs to that vision. I’m constantly encouraged to share, so I decided to share my strategy.
1. Have children. There is nothing like the birth of a beautiful new child to keep you working longer and harder. I’m a better teacher today because I found a new appreciation for work. Let me explain; it’s really hard to be at home, so going to work feels like vacation. Why not work another hour or two? (I should mention I truly love my wife and kids.)
2. Find your passion (or surround yourself with passionate teachers).
In the past, my superiors told me where and when to go to conferences, so for the most part, my attitude toward attending conferences was less than positive. Over the last three years, it’s been different. It all started when a friend invited me to an Edcamp, which was voluntary. I arrive hot and bothered because I’d be missing college football and Doritos.
What was I doing there? But connecting with educators seemed to calm my anxiety. These teachers were something else. I had never seen so many like-minded, passionate people. Where was I? Almost instantaneously, that passion ignited within me. I was reminded why I had started teaching in the first place; it was all about the kids. I was energized by their passion, and these teachers were willing to share their strategies and content with me. More importantly, I felt they were willing to support me.
3. Empathize and meet a need.
Here’s the deal. You weren’t always a good teacher. In fact, you might even be willing to admit that until recently, you were a bad teacher. I’ve been there, and so many educators feel this way too. If something changed for you, it was probably because someone came alongside you and helped you somehow. Now, it’s time for you to come alongside someone else. Most issues are easily solved, yet they go unresolved because so few are willing to take the time to help (I feel compelled to mention the super helpful Stand Up Scrum meetings). I guarantee, if you look for an opportunity to help, you will make someone’s day. Helping can be as simple as plugging in a frustrated teacher’s computer. However, to her, you saved her hundreds of dollars because you were able to prevent this crazy machine from blowing up. Simply put, understand that many educators are struggling, so look for opportunities to meet their needs. Then, wait and see how you are the one who actually benefits.