What is my why ? Building bridges. I like to start the school year by introducing parents and students to myself through my why. I had seen the video a year and a half ago in a course on Teaching and it challenged me to dig up my why. I had become so busy I forgot there was a deeper reason why I choose this career, beyond the summers off with my boys and the paycheck that could pay more bills than working at Starbucks.

So at the beginning of the school year I show them all a quote by Martin Luther King: “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”  This is why I teach a foreign language – to create bridges of understanding where before there was only separation. To send my students out into the world confidently, with an open mind and a desire to connect with others who may look different, sound different, live differently – yet knowing that beneath the different clothing we all have the same fears, desires and searching soul.

I have a second why: when I learned German in middle school and high school I was taught the old school way of sitting in a chair and memorizing useless conversations about finding daddy’s pipe and reading the newspaper. I studied diligently for 4 years, yet when I went for a week and stayed at my exchange student’s house I found I could not communicate at all. I was so disappointed in my lack of ability. But looking back I realized it was the way in which it was taught – not my lack of trying. Today I teach in such a way as to provide something different – a relevant skill, meaningful and useful. I aim to teach in a way that will allow for true learning to take place and to stick, so that they can leave high school with two actual skills: the ability to learn, and the ability to understand and communicate in another language. These skills will enrich the rest of their lives.

I have always believed in the COVA model, although I didn’t know what it was called. This class had given me back the hope of being able to teach in a way that rings true to me – in a student centered, authentic way that gives the students a voice and a choice – thus taking ownership of their learning. So many students just sit there are want to be spoon fed. There is no fire in their eyes, just a desire to get through the mind-numbing process called school as quickly and as painlessly as possible. I want to wake them up to their own potential! Set them free to learn and grow.

I believe COVA does that. It certainly has for me already – sending me on tireless internet searches for inspiration, pushing me to reach out to teachers I have never met who are kind enough to reach back and point me in the right direction, feeling hope again and being brave enough to voice it to my colleague… it has unleashed a store of energy and passion that had been suffocating under the workload of 4 preps and the responsibilities of 5 boys, pets and a home. If it can reignite the fire in someone who a few months ago was genuinely thinking of changing careers, it can do the same for students.

The ePorfolio is an extension of my discoveries, my thoughts, my creative search to make sense of all of this, and a testimony to the power of the growth mindset, as it will reflect ( I hope) all that I will learn in this program and the growth I trust I will experience. COVA will be reflected there through the personal touches, the freedom to put what I want on my site and the ability to be authentic and real on something of my very own. I can’t see me putting hours of work into something and then letting it fall by the wayside after finishing this program. I intend to make it something worth keeping around – I’ll looking for a long-term relationship here, I don’t have the time or energy for a fleeting one-program-stand. As this point in my career it needs to be more than that. So I am excited that this program seems to want to leave me with something meaningful as much as I want to take away something meaningful. A perfect match.

Finally, I just finished playing a wonderful game of Trivial Pursuit with my husband and two of our boys a few hours ago. I bought it on a whim a few weeks ago when shopping at Target… I had always stayed away from Trivial Pursuit because it made me feel dumb. I’m not very good at trivia. Like at all. But, having read the book by our friend Dweck, I figured I should not fear a challenge, that in fact the hard puzzles make me stronger, so I brought it home. I was willing to look stupid to experience some growth. After we laughed and played my 15 year old said “This game is great I really like it!”. And he was on the losing team! I realized that in the process of playing he was also learning to take on a challenge and laugh at it when you get it wrong – and that you can still engage 100% in a venture you are not quite sure you can succeed at… and walk away smiling. I feel that learning about the Growth Mindset has already impacted both my personal and professional life and I look forward to continuing to apply it in the DLL program.

Start with why – how great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek (18:01)
Published by: TEDx   Date: 09.28.2009
YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/u4ZoJKF_VuA