“The Courage Rules” was the topic of our twitter chat on January 14, 2016 with guest host Kari Yates, author of Simple Starts. Kari is among the many others who stand tall on the mountain with me and give me the courage to push ahead and persevere. They give me the courage to shout from the mountaintop about what is right for students — what means the most to teaching and learning.
Reflecting on the chat archive I realize just how fortunate I am to join together on our #G2Great mountaintop each week. If that mountaintop was not enough, I also have support from the #G2Great Voxer group that goes on practically 24/7 across multiple time zones where we share and grow ideas together. It helps to practice The Courage Rules with the strength of my friends who stand beside me each week in my professional learning network. All educators deserve a professional learning network like this one. All educators benefit from thinking in the company of others where they can lean in for learning and grow ideas through thoughtful discussions. In reflecting on this particular chat it feels like two of these rules for courage especially spoke to me this week.
Rule #4 Reflect, learn and adjust
Question 4 (How do you consistently build this cycle into your professional life?) focused on Rule #4, reflecting, learning and adjusting. As I read through the answers and discussion that followed the common thread seemed to involve the reflection becoming more than just a thought in one’s own mind in order to effectively learn and adj
ust. The common thread was in creating something else with that thought. It could be either a written account or a spoken account of that reflection. Both of these approaches enable us to commit to the reflection either in the actual written word that can be reread or in a discussion with someone else, usually a PLN or colleagues in person. It is after that next step that our reflection allows us to grow and then adjust. It takes courage to reflect in the company of others or even in the written word but this is what make the learning and adjusting possible.
Rule # 6 Don’t give up when things get tough
Question #6 (Why is this rule so essential to our change efforts?) in the chat focused on rule #6, don’t give up when things get tough. Perseverance was a common word in many of the responses to this question, it feels like this is when we are just on the edge of glory. It is difficult, we want to turn back but if we just push ahead we push past that edge. It takes courage to push beyond that edge. I for one am grateful for finding my people, my tribe, my gang at #G2Great. When I am at the edge and it seems too much to bear, it is the collective learning of my PLN that helps me break through.
As we stand tall on the mountain together, we can find the courage to push ahead and persevere, to shout from the mountaintop about what is right for students — what means the most to teaching and learning.
My hope is that more educators will make the choice to become connected in 2016. Whenever I bring up Twitter to my colleagues who are not connected they inevitably say, “I just can’t get the hang of it.” or “I tried it but it I don’t know what I’m doing.” and the favorite “How will it help me as a teacher?” I get it. Twitter moves quickly and it can be hard to figure out what it is, and what it really offers us. However, Twitter’s impact on me has been profound, it has shaped 2015 into a year of daily reflection.
I’m far from perfect. Many times I try to do something new and I fail, and then I fail again. But failure doesn’t define me because I am a learner. Now that I have Twitter in my life I can share my experiences and learn from others who embrace failure for the sake of learning. They understand that through failure we explore a better future for the students. If we stray from students we are going in the wrong direction. This has to be my take away reflection of 2015.
It’s been a year since we began the #G2Great chat and now more than ever I am feeling the impact of having a Professional Learning Network (PLN). Twitter allows me to share my thinking in the company of others and for others to share theirs with me. Thinking through this plurality sharpens my lens as to the kind of teacher I have been, and the kind of teacher I aspire to become. The teachers who join in the chat each week bring perspectives that are shaped by experiences and shared values. They are what connected educators call my “dream faculty.” These are people who I admire. I wonder what would it be like to actually work in such a district, although now that I have taken Twitter to a new level it feels as though they are always with me. Their advice and passion lingers long after the chat ends.
Life journeys flamed by passion and purpose have always been at the heart of my work. On August 29, 2012 I embarked on a purposeful and passionate journey with the publication of my book, Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters (Heinemann). In late 2014, the sheer magnitude of that event began to unfold when Amy Brennan and Jenn Hayhurst invited me to join a weekly Twitter chat in celebration of my book. On January 8, 2015 #G2Great was born – and my passion and purpose was reignited beyond measure!
Exactly one year later, #G2Great and my friendship with Amy & Jenn has grown stronger. Every Thursday at 8:30 EST, dedicated educators across the country enthusiastically share their joys, dreams, and ponderings that come full circle to the question posed in my book, “How do we move from good to great teaching by focusing on the literacy work that matters? Our #G2Great chat is a weekly dose of inspiration that transformed my personal journey into a collaborative exploration of unexpected twists and turns…and I am forever changed!
Over the past fifty-two weeks, #G2Great has remained true to the very spirit that ignited this shared learning venture one year ago. Our first anniversary seems like a fitting time to launch our blog, Literacy Lenses, a natural progression along a celebratory pathway we have traveled alongside passionate educators who work tirelessly to enrich the learning lives of students.
More than ever, we need shared journeys fueled by an unwavering belief in our profession and a sense of dedication to our work. Amy, Jenn, and I set the stage for the #G2Great journey, but you have been our co-collaborators and your joyful dialogue has propelled our passion and purpose to new heights. We are grateful for this willing partnership and applaud you for all you do…
for believing you can and must make the choices that matter
for refusing to let anything impede you in achieving great work
for acknowledging in your every action that students deserve our best
for embracing continued professional learning in the name of children
for offering your time, talents and dedication day after day, year after year
for saying “NO” to work that doesn’t matter to say “YES” to work that does
for insisting that your students are the very heart and soul of decision-making
for believing that we still navigate our own journey of passion and purpose
Never underestimate the role you play, secure in the knowledge that you matter; to each other, our schools, our communities, and most of all our children and the direction education can and must take us on their behalf in the future.
And so from our heart to yours, we celebrate our shared journey with a trip down the Good to Great Memory Lane 2015…