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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Adversity is a Teacher

"There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time." - Malcolm X

"Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition -- such as lifting weights -- we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity. - Stephen Covey

There are many great quotes about adversity, and the quotes point to the fact that adversity is a teacher. When we cull the truth and lessons from adversity, we move forward toward our dreams and vision.

As an educator, I have a vision for what good teaching and learning looks like. It is a vision that depends on personal attributes and effort as well as systematic support and team. The vision moves me because I believe that good schools have the potential to impact students' lives, communities, and our world in positive, life-enriching ways.

What does my vision look like? How do I move in that direction?

It's difficult to fully convey my vision because it changes daily as I learn new information and gain new skill, but essentially my vision for education includes the following attributes:
  • skilled, caring, compassionate educators who have a sense of humor and a commitment to teach well
  • positive, child-centered teaching/learning environments
  • engaging, effective, and empowering learning experiences
  • timely tools and resources as well as tried-and-true traditional tools and resources
  • educators who serve students, families, and each other with care and positive effect
  • a place where every child belongs
  • an organization that maximizes individual talent and skill
  • dedicated teams who work together to teach and strengthen each other
  • streamlined, effective systems of support
  • ready, transparent communication 
  • an organization that gives voice to all in the learning/teaching team including students, families, educators, leaders, and community members
Vision serves to lead us forward, and when our vision is challenged and adversity reigns it calls us to learn from that adversity and be better than it by honing our skills and effect to do an even better job.

Some say that my vision is too big for schools and what's possible for individuals and organizations. I listen to their warning and let their words inform my work to respectfully and thoughtfully refine my vision and move towards its promise. 

Changing patterns, improving craft, and moving towards vision takes practice and repetition. Yesterday, my colleague, Susan Cherwinksi (@SJCTeach) reminded me of the work we did to create the poster below. It started when I asked Susan, "How would you sum up your research and philosophy of teaching? How do you convey that to parents?" Then we worked together beginning with Susan's philosophy and melding my beliefs, research, and experience too. For hours we debated the pedagogical categories and key phrases with the idea of creating a teaching poster to lead our work and convey our research, beliefs, and philosophy. Now we have the poster which will serve as one means of leading us toward our collective vision for teaching and learning with strength.