No Inherent Value?

Some of my best thoughts come from Twitter. I usually have it open on my desktop at work, and occasionally check it while at home. I came across a tweet the other day that really got me thinking.  (See image below)

What is the value in what we do? If our job doesn’t directly make a difference in the learning and the lives of the teachers and students, are we doing what we are ultimately meant to do? We certainly do things that indirectly affect the students and the teachers. We are often managers who oversee the operations of the school. But even these ultimately affect the teachers and students as the most optimal learning environment is to a large degree based on the comfort of the building and the schedule. We do our best to keep the school safe, because we know that you need to feel safe to work and learn to the best of your ability.

Clearing the way for teachers to become their best self in a school that has a vision and values results is the job we are ultimately tasked to do.

I think the question we need to be asking ourselves daily is, “Are the things I am spending my time on helping teachers do their jobs better?”

I find myself caught up in the busy-ness of the job on a regular basis. I regularly make lists of tasks I need to accomplish. I’m sure most of us do the same. I’m going to try reframing my priorities with this tweet in mind. I need to mindfully put the majority of my energy into those things that help my teachers do the best job they are capable of.
twitter quote

Thanks to Danny Steele for inspiring this post!

 

D Propp

When the Well is Empty

Time to be open and honest. We talk about mental health a lot, and the openness to the conversation is getting better. Slowly it is getting better. I’m going to share some of my own struggles.

If you are not familiar with Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator it divides people into 16 personality types. Two to five percent of people fall into the category of ENFJ. I am one of those. These people are warm, outgoing, loyal and sensitive. 

  • Extraversion
  • Intuition
  • Feeling
  • Judging

Common Characteristics

  • Prefer harmony to discord
  • Outgoing and Warm Hearted
  • Genuinely interested in the feelings of others
  • Often have a diverse range of friends and acquaintances
  • Great at supporting and encouraging others
  • Excellent Organizers
  • Seek approval from other people

ENFJ people also derive personal satisfaction from helping others. They are givers.

I am a giver. I LOVE helping other people. I like making life easier for other people by removing barriers to their success and clearing the path for them. I like to help them to find ways to explore and develop their passion. I like going out of my way to help other people. It makes me happy.

But there’s a problem. People who are continually giving, can run out of ‘give’. When you can’t give the things that you normally would, it becomes an inward struggle. However, the lack of ability to share these things doesn’t manifest the way you would intuitively think. They aren’t outward manifestations, they are inward. Not being able to care doesn’t become apathy, it manifests as sadness/depression. When you are not able to love, it feels like emptiness. The inability to be generous with time or resources isn’t displayed outwardly as stinginess, it is an inward feeling of desperation.

You do your best to outwardly display who you normally are, but inwardly you are struggling to find the resources to be that person.

I have had this happen a few times in my life, and generally the bouts have been very short term. Within a few days, the well is replenished. The past few months have been tougher than that. I’ve had more of those days. So what to do?

You keep going, you keep giving in whatever capacity you can. But you also take time. You have to replenish the resources, but you have to realize that there aren’t as many resources to give. You do the best you can with what you have. But there’s one more very important thing you have to do.

Talk! Let at least a few bucketpeople know that you are struggling. Be honest about your inability to give as much as you normally give. Let the emotions live. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel empty; it’s not okay to have these feelings and never speak of them. That will only make things worse.

The well can’t refill itself immediately. It takes time. I know that I will have more time in July. I can make it until then by finding time and activities that will help refill the tank; the gym, time with friends and loved ones, time with myself, taking photos, going for walks, allowing others to take up a bit of the slack when I can’t (I have many amazing colleagues who are so capable), and talking about it.

Yes, the well is pretty much empty. I admit it.

DP

 

 

 

When Passion has an Impact

It’s taken me a few weeks to get this post written. I’ve been rolling it around in my head for a while.

People who know me know that I love photography. I have my own photography business (that doesn’t make a lot of money), but I love capturing moments in time. In the fall, I did a family photo session for my former vice principal, Kerri.
I photographed the family in their beautiful backyard with different family configurations, and fortunately, the photos turned out quite well.

About a month ago, one of Kerri’s stepdaughters passed away.  I had to attend the funeral to support Kerri and her family during this difficult time. When I arrived at the location of the funeral, Kerri greeted me and immediately took me to a large photo of her three stepdaughters. It was a photo I had taken in the fall, and I was immediately struck by the impact that photo was having on the ceremony and the power it had in communicating the beauty of the family and specifically Nicole. It was an emotional experience for me.

I have spoken before about our obligation as educators to help others find their passion. Each student has to have opportunity to discover that one thing that they love to do, and be allowed to pursue it. That fact was really hit home to me during this time, and I was so humbled to know that something I did made even a small difference in the lives of others.

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Schools need to be responsive to the needs of their students and community. That involves getting to know each student and giving every one of them opportunities to grow and play and discover. Schools need to be rich environments of learning and questioning and finding answers that lead to more questions. Only in places like that can we be certain that we are doing everything we can to ensure that students will be best placed to make those discoveries for themselves.

And as a side point, let’s not forget the importance of being cognizant of the importance of mental health in our day-to-day lives; both in school and in our daily endeavours. We need to do our best to make real connections and do our best to support those who are dealing with mental health issues. Mental health is being discussed now. Let’s keep the conversation going and do everything we can to keep the awareness front and centre.

D Propp

Unwelcome Learning?

Our teachers’ convention is happening this Thursday and Friday. I love this event every year. I consider it an opportunity to break from routine. It’s an opportunity to learn and connect. It’s a time to think about new ideas and hopefully become refreshed.

I get a little dismayed every year by the small group that just complains about the lack of sessions available to them. There are hundreds of sessions being offered, and if you can’t find something for you, I think it’s a different problem. It’s a problem of not wanting to explore new ways of thinking. logo

Convention is a great learning opportunity. Lifelong learners need to be willing to step out there and take risks. They need to be open to hearing ideas that they don’t have to necessarily embrace, but can at least consider.

I’m ready to get my Convention on!

D Propp

Reflecting on Emotional Intelligence

I have been helping a young friend work on some of his college assignments. He is ESL, so doesn’t always understand what is asked of him. One of the assignments was to do an online personal inventory on Emotional Intelligence. My young friend was a bit shocked to see his score was low in that area. I assured him that knowing that ab6210552846_7df2228192out yourself is opportunity to learn and grow. We all have areas to work on and improve.

It was a good reminder to me that we all need to take a personal inventory once in a while and examine how we are doing in all areas of our life. It doesn’t mean that we have to go online and find scientifically based tests. We might just need to sit and do a bit of reflection from time to time. I really find blogging works well for me. Others can journal. Others can talk with friends and colleagues about how they are doing.

Emotional intelligence is important. We need to not only think about how we react emotionally and how we express and respond to others emotions, but about how we can improve when we see areas that aren’t as refined as they could be.

Let’s not forget to include that in how we teach, and how we learn. We are all learners here. Let’s keep growing in all areas.

D Propp

Why Am I not a Genius?

We learn from our mistakes.

I know it’s true, but sometimes I wonder why I’m not a genius by now with the amount of blunders I regularly make. Thankfully most of them aren’t that big, but nevertheless, I can say they’re quite constant. I guess the good thing, in my own defense, is that I usually admit to making them, and I try to learn from them and make them right. Usually I can look back and laugh at them – sometimes it takes a while before that happens!

It’s a journey. I think when you can’t admit you’re fallible, you can no longer learn.

Let’s keep learning, and growing and even making mistakes. It’s what makes us lifelong learners.

I follow Pam Boyd’s Two Minute Tune Up blog and her post today got me thinking about my recent mistakes. Too many to list! Her blog post today can be found here. Thanks, Pam!

D Propp

The Forgotten Goal

In education, we are really good at setting goals. We want our students to acheive a certain standard; we have professional goals; we have division goals; we have provincial goals; we have learning outcomes that we want to accomplish. We are all about planning ahead and making sure things get covered. It is very easy to keep an eye on these short and long term goals, as we are reminded of them all the time.

This weekend I came across a quote that really got me thinking. Eckhart Tolle is quoted as saying:

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously the believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”

This quote isn’t talking about education but it made me think about much of what we do and don’t do in our classrooms. It certainly wouldn’t hurt us to include a goal about celebrating the moment we are living and learning in right now. Maybe one of our goals for ourself and our students needs to be to enjoy and appreciate exactly what we are doing right now. I know all our teachers strive to make learning enjoyable and fun; but are our students appreciating the moment we are in? Are our teachers?

Education has changed a lot over the last few decades. I appreciate the approach we use so much. We are child centred for the most part. We concentrate on individualizing learning. We recognize the importance of trauma and mental health and how the brain works. But do we take time to slow down and teach the importance of contentment and enjoyment in the now?

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DP