Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dear Future Me:

"This is it. This is how it all began."

That is what I am going to say one day when I look back and try to place a finger on how the most exciting journey in my life began.  I didn't realize I was even planning a trip.  I didn't go out and buy new clothes, check Google Maps, or even get fancy new hot pink luggage.  It just happened.  And isn't that when you have the most fun?

When I started this career, this whirlwind, this profession, this calling, this mission, this most important and necessary way to spend my days, nights, and dreams called teaching I had no idea just how much I needed it.  I didn't let teaching discover me until after I had already gone to college once, had other jobs, enjoyed personal success, floundered through personal failure, lost loved ones, bought my own things, house, and car.  So, I thought I was ready.  I could manage adults, surely, I could manage children.  

Here's the thing: My first year was hard. 

There was so, so, so much to love: 
  • Kids are hilarious
  • Discounts at garage sales
  • Being incredibly proud to tell people what I do for a living
  • Dance breaks
  • Watching a child grow with confidence
  • Hearing a child say "Thank you," or "I'm sorry," and knowing that they learned it, in part, because of you
I wrote 74,382 more bullet points, but I think you get the gist.  I knew I was where I wanted to be. I loved my classroom, my co-workers, my school, my students (even the challenging ones).  

However, I didn't realize how tired I would be.  I didn't realize how much I needed to reflect at the end of the day and how much hurt I would take home for the students that needed more than I could give (legally, financially, emotionally, academically).  It was hard for me to talk to other people that haven't been in the classroom because I knew they wanted to help but I just felt insulted when they made suggestions.  It was as if they didn't think I was good enough.  I left school every day feeling like I had failed someone, including myself.  I didn't have anyone to talk to because I didn't want to seem negative.  I loved it. It was killing me. 

Thankfully, I made it.  My first summer recharged me.  I read books that got me inspired again, felt encouraged by my end of year student and parent comments and started Year Two at full charge.  Things were great!  I was feeling more confident.  I wasn't feeling like sneaking out of the window or crying in the bathroom.  I took risks. I used technology to connect and not just as a research tool. 

BUT, there's always a BUT. 

I wanted more.  I wanted to find a way to keep that excitement going, push myself, have professional discussions, LIVE LIKE A TEACHER, and not drive my friends and co-workers crazy.  Then, it happened.  I was asked to travel with a team from my school to some convention called ISTE 2014.  Talk about a technology alarm clock.  

And, BAM! Here I am.  In one month I have "traveled" across the globe, begun forming an amazing PLN (Professional Learning Network), and found thousands of ways to be inspired.  

There were moments in Year One that I thought I was done.  I didn't think I was good enough.  Year Two built my confidence but I still always had that feeling that my proverbial "skirt" was stuck in my tights.  

In one month of using Twitter as a tool, instead of just a social media button on my phone that I didn't quite understand, I have come to love my voice.  I'm not just proud of myself and the best practices that I am doing and have discussed with others.  I am proud of this profession and the amazing people that are working for our future generations.  The power of "breaking down the walls" as I have heard many times in varied education forums isn't just for our students.  We can become empowered as well.  I chatted with multiple administrators this morning in the #NT2t chat in a way that I haven't felt confident doing with the ones in my own district.  And, for the record, it's not them... it's me.  Or it was.  I'm ready now.  

So, Year Three.  It's coming and it's going to be ELECTRIC!  I can barely contain my excitement to spread the word.  I know what to ask for.  I'm returning with a bookshelf of great ideas, the power of limitless blogs, and I even got a Google Educator certificate.  PD because I was passionate.  Maybe that will work on kids too...

So.  Here it is.  This is my blog.  I'm going to push myself to grow, learn, inspire, create, and TEACH.  I'm nervous.  It might get overwhelming.  I might have veteran teachers get annoyed by my enthusiasm. I might even have to defend my beliefs.  It's going to be ok.  I've got a growing PLN in my Pocket (that's an App and I know that now). 

Like I said, it's been a month.  I feel like a baby giraffe with wobbly legs and I barely know what I am doing.  However, I now see where I am going.  And I'm building up my toolkit so I can get there.  

Dear Future Me: This is where it all began, I can't wait to see where it goes.        


  1. Maria,
    What a beautiful post! One day, as you know, you will look back on this post as much more than your starting point. Your excitement for education is needed today. Your students will certainly learn more from you than whatever you are required to teach. Get ready.

    This ride called education sometimes goes around in circles. Sometimes it goes very fast. Sometimes it can go so slowly you think you are about to stop, then WHAM an unexpected surprise makes you never want to give up your ticket.

    Please continue to reach out to your PLN. We are here for you and more importantly, with you. We will surely learn much from you as you grow into something much more than "just a teacher". You are about to become an EDUCATOR!

  2. Beautifully written from the heart. When you have "those" days we all have at times, come back to this. Relationships are the key- keep making them!

  3. Maria
    A great reflection. Unfortunately for us educators our failing is that we want to do it all - and sometimes its just not possible, its exhausting and it can really get us down. Going on PD that helps you network with other professionals as well as learn, connecting with other professionals on platforms such as twitter and just loving what you do - and appreciating how damn good you are - are all wonderful ways to reground.
    I went on a course with some amazing people this year and the one thing I took away with me was from Covey's Highly Effective people.
    It's called the Quadrant - I realised as an educator I was stuck in Quadrant 3...all the urgent but not important things ( busy things) and to be more grounded, more effective and to ensure my teaching and learning experiences were deep and meaningful ( and calm, and managed well) I needed to get myself more into Quadrant 2. ( Important but not urgent). I know this will be a huge challenge for me - but if I tape it to my forehead (!!) hopefully I'll get there.
    We are all still learning, still growing because that's who and what we are....
    Good luck with the new year and keep connecting. Congrats on the blog...a wonderful way to reflect.

    One example of someone using the Quadrant:

    p.s: don't go to the bathroom to cry....find a constructive and supportive friend who can assure and empathise.....or open a bottle of wine!

  4. i can't imagine a profession more suited for you (other than running a wildebeast emporium). you have this insane enthusiasm for life, and its so infectious!