Learning To Honor the Space Between

What a thought!  This spoke so loudly to me this week.  Going back into the classroom to teach 7th-grade Pre-AP English, Language Acquisition, and Literacy Achievement might be the hardest thing I have done in awhile! Behind every reason that I asked for and wanted this challenge, is every fear and emotion that do not always feel so good.

You see, I am a Learner.  My top strength on the strengths finder assessment was Learner.  It is in my nature to soak everything up and try anything new.  I love finding different ways to meet the needs of my students and I am always looking for new things to learn.  This is why when my heart felt led to middle school I said to myself, let’s do this!

One thing I was not expecting was how much the move from elementary to middle school would change my comfort level I had based on experience and knowledge. So, I will honor the space between no longer having the luxury of feeling ahead of the game and at ease with where I am headed because I have done it before.  NOT YET!  It is taking me time and extra effort to learn the content, learn how I want to share it and make it my own, and to large groups of 12 and 13-year olds who will receive it with excitement. 🙂

So, like the quote above states, “Between No Longer and Not Yet” because soon it will come. Soon I will feel that comfort, but the growth I sought from this change is my WHY!

I wanted to grow.  I am growing like I never imagined.  Each day I learn so many new things about how middle school systems function, all about the social and emotional needs of teenagers, and why I have absolutely fallen in love with this position!  It is uncomfortable not understanding everything easily and knowing right off the bat.  It is sometimes awkward trying to find my place of comfort in each day and squeeze in those important moments to build relationships with the 150 teens that whirl in and out of my classroom. But, I could not be happier doing this and alongside the most supportive administration and staff around!

My words to anyone who is thinking of completely changing up what they are doing but they are scared…..take the leap!  Make the jump!  I have never grown more than I have in just the last month. And I LOVE IT!

Things That Are Worth It Are Not Always Easy

Spring Break – a time to relax on the beach, clean out closets, and do nothing school related, right?  Most people would say absolutely, YES!

This year I decided to visit the freezing, nonstop snowing state of Utah and learn something new!  I love to ski and have for years.  Each and every year I say, I really want to try to snowboard.  However, every year passes and I resort back to what is comfortable and easy for me.  Is it because I don’t want to “waste” the little time I have on learning something new and fearing the unknown results?  Quite possibly.

So this year when my husband said he was going to board, I said, “Wait a second, I have always wanted to do that.  I am too!”  This was our daughter’s first time to ski and I wasn’t quite sure how we would all be beginners at the same time, but it worked!

I’m not sure if you can see the gigantic smile on my daughter’s face, but she LOVED flying past us!

The pictures reveal smiles and successes.  What you do not see here are the moments of frustration.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was not the most positive learner in these moments. Hey, first step is admitting it right?!

  • My daughter only became upset when her hands were frozen because her gloves did not seem to be working well, so we bought new ones and she was set! 
  • My husband only slightly showed his frustration with learning something new, or so he says. I didn’t even see him frustrated.  🙂
  • I became frustrated at the most unthinkable part of snowboarding, getting myself up to get started!   I picked up the form, the turns, the importance of balance and positioning toes, feet, and everything quite easily.  (I think being a yoga person really helped make this easy for me.)
Snowboarding really is an all around different mindset than skiing. With skiing you can cruise off the lift and take off.  When snowboarding, you ride the lift with one foot strapped in and one out. So when you get up to the top, you have to sit and strap the other foot in before you go.  THIS was the part that got me. Every time.  
My frustration grew every time I went to pull myself up and I would get so close and fall right back on my bottom. Hard. ***Cue the embarrassing moment music……
I actually sat in the middle of the slope (where everyone on the lift and skiing could see me very clearly) and dropped my head between my knees and began to cry in frustration.  It was pitiful.  I didn’t think I would ever get up.  BUT, it didn’t last long because I caught myself in this thinking and had a little conversation with myself, “What are you doing?  Stop crying. This is ridiculous! This isn’t going to change anything. I can do this. Breathe. I just have to keep at it.”   I am sure I looked like a fool as I talked to myself as I got up and kept going.  I was going to do this.  I was going to succeed.  I would push on until I did because that is what I do.  I kept thinking…

Why share that embarrassing moment?  The reason: It really taught me a lesson in positive thinking.
So often, as teachers, we want to try something new, but we never do.  We always go back to what is comfortable and easy, either because we know it 100% works or in fear of the unknown.  When we finally do try something new, we sometimes realize it might not be as “easy” as we thought and become frustrated.  Our old thinking and old mindsets quickly become what we turn to and how we react. However, my experience shows that even if our old mindset and way of reacting kicks in, we CAN change it.  We can use positive talk and talk ourselves out of this.  We can talk ourselves into remembering we can do whatever we put our minds to. 
Maybe you are already a positive self-talker in many situations.  Maybe you need to surround yourself with other people who are great at talking you through something difficult. Either way, I just want to express the importance of having positive thinking to help you work through difficult times in the classroom.  Think: Will it be easy?  Nope.  Worth it?  Absolutely!
There is no better time than now to have your cheerleaders around ready to nudge you as you make a difference in the lives of our children! Just think of JT when you wonder what you are meant to do. 🙂
Take the Challenge! It is worth it every time. I am so glad I did.