Saturday, October 15, 2016

Envoking the Growth Mindset to overcome your fears

Next weekend I will be attending the California League of Schools Professional Development Conference as a presenter.  This is huge for me.   When I was hired as a Common Core Demonstration Teacher for my school district I was told that my job expectation would be to attend conferences and learn, then apply this knowledge to my classroom so that other teachers would learn from me and Common Core passion would move throughout the district like a gently wind.  I was also to create education videos to reach a bigger audience.  My district has big goals regarding Common Core Standard implementation and I was motivated and excited to be a part of it.

So the past three years have been a whirlwind of conferences, observations, videos and collaboration.  Last year my director called a meeting and told all of us Common Core Demonstration Teachers that she now wants us to take our department's outreach a step further.  She wanted us to begin presenting our Common Core experience and knowledge at conferences.  My first emotion was fear.  White faced, bare knuckled, can't breathe, fear.  If you knew me you would know that I am the last, absolutely last person who would stand up in front of a group of peers and talk.  So while she discussed our added on job description, I thought,  "I will find a way to get out of it.  Somehow, someway, I will make it not happen.'

Well, time passed, and something happened to me.  As I went to other conferences, I thought to myself, "I could do what they are doing.  I have the knowledge, I have the expertise... "  And then the final thought came,  "Why not?"  I was currently reading The Growth Mindset by Carol Dwekk and if I was teaching my students that they could overcome any obstacle, why couldn't I overcome my fear of public speaking?  So I did it!  I signed up to speak at our district's English Language Development conference and I held two break out sessions on the topic of student engagement.  It was a success!  And it was fun!  I liked sharing my knowledge with others.  I could see I was helping other teachers perfect their craft.  I was giving them more tools for their toolbox and they were grateful for it.  In addition, I realized that I wasn't just helping them, but them multiplied by their students for however long they decided to teach.  It was an invigorating feeling and a bit addicting.  I decided to talk at more conferences.  I began to give presentations at my school site in front of my peers, at workshops hosted by the Common Core Demonstration Teacher Department, and I even volunteered to give an EDTalk at CSUSB where I stood up in front of 600 educators and gave a 10 minute speech on student collaboration.  It was scary, but such an accomplishment when I finished!  I just kept thinking, "I'm positively influencing a generation of students in the San Bernardino County by speaking in front of their teachers.  I felt the sense of purpose and it felt great!

So today I sit here, on my bed, looking at the window at a beautiful day.  I have my computer and I'm ready to plan my PowerPoint presentation for next week's Writer's Workshop break out session at the CLS conference.  I'm a little terrified again.  I guess the feeling never leaves you.  I'm trying to organize my thoughts about Writing and Differentiation and plan, but I can only think of another 100 things more important to do right now, including writing this post.  I need to get motivated and lose this fear.  I think I need to reread The Growth Mindset a bit to motivate myself.  I know this conference will be great!  I have been teaching Writer's Workshop for over 20 years and there are so many teachers who have never heard of it.  It is such a powerful strategy to engage students in writing and help them learn from their mistakes.

Okay, I think I've gotten past the writer's block.  Thank you so much for letting me get my nerves out.  I'm going to sign off and write a fantastic presentation that will benefit many, many teachers and thus students, and also prove that Growth Mindset is real.  If I can get over my fears and follow my dreams, absolutely anyone can!

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