As we’ve navigated through the uncertainty that surrounds the COVID pandemic, I’ve heard repeated more than once the mantra, “Live each day as if it’s my last”. I understand at the heart of that statement is the intent of gratitude, empowerment and positivity, but to me that statement always seems to have a very definitive (and implied not-so-happy) ending to it. As an incurable optimist, I prefer to flip the script on that statement and be guided by the mantra “live each day as if it’s my first“. The first day of school. The first day of a vacation. The first day with a new child. The first day of a new job. Living each day as if it’s the first gives me a sense of unlimited hope and opportunity. And ‘hope’ and ‘Opportunity’ are two words that if we repeat them enough to ourselves, we can have the courage to get through anything.
This mantra has served me surprisingly well during the time of COVID. It seems like there are so many ‘firsts’ just naturally occurring constantly in our lives, both personally and professionally. Creating virtual instructional models for first time, using various remote learning technologies for the first time, creating the best-ever COVID karaoke sessions with family for first time…the list of firsts is a mile long and grows every day. But I’ve found when I see these firsts through the lens of hope and opportunity, it creates an excitement that allows me to not only survive all the change, but thrive in it.
So as I walk through the annual ritual of transitioning from one year to the next, here’s to wishing all of you an amazing 2021 and a year in which you live each day like it’s your first!
I read a great blog post recently from Kara Knollmeyer who writes about ‘finding a sense of clarity’ (I want to thank @gcouros for retweeting her blog link – otherwise I never would have seen it!) I had several thoughts when reading her blog post, but one resonated above all others:
“I have found out that more times than not, if I stop thinking and start DOING, I feel more resolution. I feel abundantly more satisfied. Until you DO, you might as well worry your life away because your mind alone cannot prepare you for life, only your action and experience will.” Kara Knollmeyer, “Finding a Sense of Clarity”
Kara’s blog reminded me how important it is as educators that we place a high value on the wisdom gained through our experiences. As educators, we are continually searching for solutions to complex problems, and more often than not we try to ‘think’ our way through them. But it’s important to remember that we need to put equal weight on the wisdom gained through learning-by-doing. There is much wisdom embedded in the joyful experience of our success and the frustrating experience of our failure. And the results from those experiences come in several very useful forms. It can give us clarity of purpose. It can give us clarity of goals. And it can give us clarity regarding our next steps as a school and school community.
My good friend and PLN mentor Brendan Fetters @brendanfetters tweeted a great Sunday Inspiration quote today from Angela Maier that relates to my thoughts in this blog post. “The most dangerous word in our language is ‘tomorrow.'” At the heart of that quote are frequent pitfalls of too much thinking and not enough doing, such as admiring a problem or paralysis by analysis that make us feel like we accomplished something when we really didn’t.
It’s worth mentioning that the journey to find solutions through our experiential wisdom is not without its challenges. At a recent parent forum, I explained that one of the unique aspects of being an educator is that our learning experience (the trial-and-error we go through as educators) is very public. As in, our positive and negative learning experiences are very much in the open for everyone to see. Supervisors, parents, students, and the community all have front row seats to our successes and failures as they play out within the school environment. It’s just the nature of our job as educators. And it also stands to reason that as educators we have to first reconcile emotional road blocks embedded within this process, such as feelings of vulnerability, humility, and pride. And that’s not always easy to do as educators (or anyone for that matter!).
I welcome any thoughts or comments about how you’ve found successes or failures by ‘doing’ instead of ‘thinking’!