The journey toward a better version of myself has had many twists and turns. I can not believe The Summer of Me was over a year ago and the Summer of CHOICE is well underway. I can say with confidence, I am in a much better place than I was last year and have learned a lot about myself and the network of people around me. I still have a long way to go to be the best person, mom, teacher, wife, and friend I can be. But in the past year, I have learned I need to step out of my comfort zone just a little bit more than I did previously. This has led me to some pretty cool opportunities, which I have enjoyed and benefited from in so many ways. I just had to say yes and take advantage of the opportunity put in my path. How often do you say yes?? And why are we so afraid to say yes sometimes??
One of the coolest opportunities I have had this year was at the beginning of April. Chad told me, Chris and Monica, that we were going to go to Lobby Day in St. Paul. Lobby Day is a chance for educators to meet with their legislators and talk about the issues in education we see in the classroom. This opportunity is not in my wheelhouse. As Harper tells me, “I am not a fancy person.” I did not think I had any business going to the Capital to talk to these elected officials. But as Chad told us, we did not have a choice. Turns out this was an amazing experience. The legislators we met with, and the governor himself talked to us about education. We talked about what we need to be able to do our jobs to the highest level and how education in general needs to be supported. And they listened (or pretended to) and I felt important like maybe my opinion was being delivered to someone who had some ability to do something about it. I also was not nearly as intimidated as I thought I would be, setting foot on their turf. Turns out they are pretty friendly people and it was easy to talk about how much our students matter to us. How we only want the best for them. Had I said no to this opportunity, I would not have experienced any of it. Now, I will do this every year with hopes education might be funded correctly.
The second opportunity I said yes to this year was teaching youth group. Now I will be the first to admit, sometimes I complained a lot about youth group. Okay….. maybe every week. It was not that bad to switch church to Wednesday night instead of Sunday. I did not have to do much in preparation. But it was one more thing on my plate. One more thing I had to take care of during the week. The kids got home late and were crabby the next day, you get the point. However, if I pause for a second and think about the positive. I made connections with many more people at my church. And it is much easier to talk to and be involved in events with these people now than it was before. I also strengthened some friendships with people I already knew. The students I taught were also really cool to work with and made me ask questions and think about my own faith. I felt like I grew just being around them. Had I said no to teaching youth group, I would not have experienced all of these positives.
I also got to go on a BLACKHAWK Helicopter. Yup, that’s right. I was asked, by Chad, to be part of the Educator Lift with Monica and Allie. It is a program with the Minnesota National Guard where they fly educators to Camp Ripley and then spend the day showing us around, talking with recruits and learning about all of the opportunities the National Guard has to offer. Now while Kenny Loggins did not sing “Danger Zone” to me and I did not get to wear a flight suit, my day was simply amazing. I never knew all of the things the National Guard does for my state and country, not to mention all of the possibilities for students to make money, find a career or pay for college.
Also as I write this, I have accepted a new position within my school district. I am leaving my classroom to become an academic coach. My job will be to help and support other teachers in my building and the middle school. I will miss my students terribly and almost did not apply for the position because of them. But I think this is a good opportunity for me and I am excited about a new challenge. I have no idea how it will turn out or if I will be any good at it, but if I tell my students and you to challenge yourself and take new risks, I should probably take my own advice.
Challenge Time!!! What opportunities have you recently taken advantage of or are there opportunities out there you should be doing for yourself? Is it time to just try something new? Tell us about your opportunity here or on our Facebook page, Speaking Jelinese. Let’s see how many people have taken some opportunities in the recent past and how many people might try something in the future.
Talk to you soon,