Pausing to Enjoy "Gifts": 3/10/2021

This month has been full of some amazing moments. Only 10 days in and so many amazing things have already happened. But this month has also been exhausting. Our in-person Kindergarten students returned to the building in late February. I have spent much of the past 2 weeks, helping our Grade 1 -2 teachers prepare for their in-person students to return. We were so excited to have them join us yesterday. In addition, I am working to help my Grade 3-6 teachers prepare for their students to return next Tuesday. I joke that I have done my concurrent technology introduction so many times that I feel like I am replaying Groundhog Day over and over again.

This past weekend, I spent much of the weekend in bed. Maybe I was sick, or maybe just exhausted. I don't know the answer, but I did know that I needed to listen to my body and rest. That's sometime easier said than done. I love what I do and am passionate about it. It excites me and sometimes, I just want to fast forward the movie of my life to the next part to see what's next. But we all need to slow down and listen. As I continue into week 5 of Ignite Your Legacy with Lindsay Titus, I realize this more than ever- I need to stay present, slow down and pause. I am living the life I want now and I need to enjoy it in the moment.

Pausing and enjoying the moment- it seems so easy, but think about how many of us spend time thinking about all the things that we have to do later. Even now, as I write, I know that I have a busy day, busy week ahead. But that will be there no matter what. Taking time each morning to fill my cup with reading and writing is a standard in my daily routine, a nonnegotiable. It centers me and connects me to my why every day. What is my purpose, my why?

To work collaboratively with other educators to use technology tools to amplify student learning and empower student voice

I love this work and I was fortunate enough this past week to get to share my "heart work" at NCTies21 when I shared two presentations virtually. It began on Thursday night when I shared my "Amplifying Thinking Routines with Technology Tools" presentation with a dedicated group of educators. I knew when I started the session and asked the participants if any of them knew anything about thinking routines and most said they did not, that they were in for a treat. It was like I had a treasure box that I was about to open and share with them. I was so excited as I shared my treasures with them and seeing their reactions.

In Bobbie French's podcast, The Busy Principal's Podcast, she refers to this exchange as "gift economy." She credits this term to Pav Wonder and Chey Cheney of the Staff Room Podcast. Like Bobbie, I, too, am amazed and honored when I can inspire others the way they inspire me. The idea that we all have gifts that inspire others and they too can inspire us in response is powerful. After that session at NCTies, I truly felt the blessings of a "gift economy" when I checked my email and found this note from a participant.

I want to say thank you so much for empowering me tonight! Your presentation gave me so much joy in understanding my role as an educator. Thank you for igniting my ideas and resurrecting my passion. I promise you that I will use Thinking Routines. Thank you again and I will stay in touch.

Tears of joy dripped down my face as I read his words. I was not only touched that I had inspired and empowered him, but reading those words connected me back to my WHY. Words like his are why I love what I do. Discovering ways to integrate technology into learning has reignited my passion for being an educator time and time again. The fact that I could give that gift to someone still makes me teary eyed.

It always amazes me what gifts seemingly normal moments can reveal. Being present in that moment we are far more likely to see them. As I gave that presentation, I could have focused on how tired I was from the day, but as soon as my virtual participants joined and I realized that Thinking Routines were new to them, I got excited. I couldn't wait to share this gift with them- my enthusiasm bubbled over and I could feel it as I presented- something special was happening.

Yes, it is easier to go on autopilot. But challenge yourself to pause and enjoy the moment. You never know how an interaction can provide gifts to both participants. It is from seemingly unconnected moments that great change happens. Ten days into March, yes, I am tired but more than that- I am inspired by so many gifts!

Through the wonders of modern technology, I got to meet and chat with Tierra Leustig on her Tackling Tech podcast. In addition, I found out that I will be presenting two sessions at IETC and get to connect with new amazing educators. Not to mention that I got to moderate NoVaEdChat last week and reflect on lessons learned from virtual learning. But perhaps the one of the biggest gifts of all came a few days ago, I received word that I will get to do my first keynote at Brainstorm 21 in VA in April.

Taking that time to pause and enjoy the gifts that you inspire and receive is an intentional action, but a powerful one. It is a standard that I need to focus on in my life. With so much to do all the time, we can get overwhelmed or take things one step at a time. Be proactive or reactive- I know what I want to choose. What will you do?