When you stop and think about the words you speak consider the actions that follow. Do you actually do the things that you say you do or speak about? Now this requires some serious self reflection and honesty with yourself.
I have found that most of us are really good at lip service. We have provided these talks to ourselves and others so much that we believe that we are actually doing these things in school. We build these stories to our friends and colleagues in the hallways, teacher lounges, meetings, and conferences/PD so much that we are convinced that what we say is happening is the truth.
But is it?
I am working hard this year to really push my own self constraints and really take a bold step outside of my comfort zone. In doing so I have fell flat on my face so many times it is not even funny. I have made mistakes. I have had restless nights. I have worked at times too hard and long.
But I know that I live the messages that I share. I don’t want to be someone who talks a good game, but does not have anything to show for it.
Take for example the NCCE conference. I was blessed to be able to travel to Portland and present a session on Speedgeeking and a workshop on Makerspace. Both of these I have done numerous times, but I decided to up my game. I cleaned up both sessions. I developed new slides with the hopes that they were more polished. I changed the format and flow. I wove in new stories.
Most importantly I changed things up with new material and activities.
I don’t why I do this to myself, but I felt the need to challenge myself to be better. If I was going to talk about productivity I had to implement a challenge that would force me to use the techniques discussed. Could I use the tools shared to make a presentation? Could I really make a conscious effort to be productive to further connect the tools?
In the end I felt good about what I created despite the fact I worked too many hours on the format. I did not sleep at the conference and woke up every morning at 4 to practice both sessions a few times before starting my day.
In the end it worked. I have some new pieces that I think resonate with people. When I cleaned up the Speedgeeking session I implemented more interaction despite the fact that time is short and I cram a lot into the session. If you want proof, then watch the air guitar 360 video posted here on March 24th.
Or take for example the makerspace workshop. I completely flipped the deck with a Binder Bling activity when they walked in to get them moving and doing right away. If we are going to talk makerspace, then we are not going to just sit. We built LEGOS and made slime. I had a wave of panic ordering materials as glue was a hot commodity. I have never done slime in a workshop, let alone adults, mixed with a space I have never seen and people I have never meet.
It worked. It was great. Besides the fact I was super nervous it was going to fail and people would hate it.
It worked. We took a room not designed for making and made it happen! We were dependent on water showing up. We were depending on educators willing to get a little messy(they were all AWESOME!)
In the end I connected with educators from all over the world on this project as it developed. I connected with a student my wife teaches who makes slime for charity. I read emails, tweets, and more from people who were asking questions and providing feedback. The outpouring of amazing stories was insane all because of slime.
It is why we need to share more.
The slime was inspired by my daughters who have made more slime than I care to admit. It has lead to us making a YouTube show (Awesome Ava and Dorky Dad) sharing our awesome creations. I was inspired by them to share this passion to adults.
So what does this all mean?
I encourage you to check yourself.
Do your actions align the words you speak? If not, then I encourage you to make it happen. Try something new. Make sure you can back up what you believe and say. It is hard. It is not easy. But I have learned one thing over my last few years: educators can sniff out a fake. As an instructional coach, teacher, and presenter at conferences you must have street cred by proving you know your stuff and can do your stuff or all is lost.
Same thing applies to students in the classroom. It applies to your own children. It applies to every single human interaction you have. People hate fakes.
We all know this to be true, so I challenge you to go out there and keep it real. Stay true to your word. Push your boundaries. Push your learning. Be a change agent. Be yourself. Be awesome!
I thank Microsoft and NCCE for providing me a space and opportunity to not only share and hopefully inspire teachers, but to force myself out of my comfort zone to make things happen.