Saturday, October 29, 2011
Filling Up the Love Tank
I am in Napa Valley this weekend hanging with my girlfriends from high school. We have been friends for 40 years and we get together twice a year to "fill our love tanks". It is a weekend of good food, good wine and unconditional love between old friends who have been through the adolescent years together (good, bad, ugly) and as adults have built a sacred circle of friendship. We counsel, discuss, encourage, support, laugh, cry, hug, and just "BE" without any expectations. As I get my head and heart ready to head home today, I can't stop thinking about the things that fill my love tank in my daily life, which in turn leads me to think about my students and their love tank
In my personal life, my tank is filled by the usual suspects: family, friends, pets, spirituality, gratitude, music, exercise, hobbies and writing. Sacred family time everyday, sacred writing time every morning, and sacred exercise time every night allow me to maintain sanity and live with gratitude in my heart for all that I experience. They also provide me with the strength I need during the times that my tank is emptying out from multiple holes that cannot be stopped up fast enough.
In my educator life, I also have many things that fill my love tank. Exactly a year ago I attended my first Classroom 2.0 Live Saturday class. That one action has snowballed into many other actions and has changed the entire make up of my classroom and what I do as an educator on a DAILY basis! I began attending the weekly classes every Saturday learning from incredible educators from all over the US and the world. I could not learn enough from the presenters who shared what they knew and their resources so freely. The next stop came after months of encouragement from the presenters, I opened my twitter account @teachteKBeck. Again a small thing that has lead to huge changes. A few months later, the birth of this blog.
I see myself as a newborn in this process of building a professional learning network, yet the process makes so much sense. I began with a will to fill my love tank by learning how to integrate technology and new teaching strategies into my classroom. Then I began following the people who were teaching me and took, took, and took more. Although I am predominately a taker, I am slowly becoming a sharer. It is a natural path that all of my mentors on twitter have traveled. And as I "follow" (on twitter) their path, I move forward in my learning and sharing and growing as an educator.
In the past I filled my professional love tank by attending summer institutes. Now, with my PLN I can fill my tank any day, any time, any where. Just as I found kindred spirits at the writing and math projects, I have many more in my PLN. My learning has increased exponentially, and even though I have not met members of my PLN face to face, I feel closer to them than most of my colleagues that I see everyday at my school. The educators I learn from on twitter push me to close my eyes and leap. I have blind faith that I can trust and try new things with my students. So far, I have not been let down. They push me, I push my students and we are all better for it. I model how to learn from mistakes on a daily basis. I also admit to my students that I am trying something new and I am not sure how it will work but we will see together. I tell my students "I don't know" all of the time. I have so many places to go for help that I have no fear in trying new things. Interestingly, my students openly admit when they do not know how to do something knowing that we will work through it together.
So, What I worry about is my students and what fills their love tanks. Middle school is such a hard time for kiddos and I see so many students with very low tanks. Now that I have found the unlimited professional love tank filler, I want to help my students find as many ways as possible to fill their tanks.
In my math classes we are creating math blogs where the students begin by sharing a "passion paper" (The Passion Driven Classroom). My plan is to help students connect what we are learning in math to their passion on a monthly basis. I have also integrated the first Classroom 2.0 Live Saturday webinar I attended by Karen McMillan on Paper Blogs. Wow, I have come full circle in a year.
Looking forward to continually filling my love tank and my students love tanks! I would love any ideas!