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The Power of Values
Transforming Teachers’ Fear into New Pathways of Education
I close my laptop and watch the sun fade into darkness in the distance. I exhale to wheel away from the day’s work, scattered on unfinished neon post-its like donuts sprinkles on my vanilla desk. The questions pop into my head: Am I proud of how I showed up and spent my time today? Is this how I want to spend my time? Does the equivalent of multiple meetings and exchanged emotions reflect who I want to become? And if the answer isn’t hell yes, I know it’s time to reconnect with my foundational values.
The answer? Well, it was not hell yes.
Discomfort wanes in the end-of-day exhale when my daily output does not reflect my values.
Years ago, my values were set and written down when I chose to leave the classroom as a full-time teacher. These values laid the foundation for every decision and transition, big or small. Setting up values helped me reflect on how I spend my time, which reflects the most important things in my life.
The sum of you is your values and your time.
Defining these values helped me see what was important for my whole self, no matter what change was ahead. During a transition last year, I reconnected with my values and experimented by putting myself out there. I posted a contact me link on my website to connect and help teachers transition careers and to consult with companies that align with my values.
While this experiment felt scary, knowing teachers like Claire needed help felt scarier.
Claire and I connected less than a week after I put my fears aside and opened up for connections.
When requested to ‘learn about the skills you wish you knew as you transitioned out of the classroom.’ We worked through setting up and defining her foundational values in my adapted values framework.
During our weekly check-ins, we discuss anything from awkward networking event conversations like ‘What industry are you applying for?’ to ‘What professional development should I take next?’ Claire courageously shows up to pave a new pathway for her next opportunity.
From our first interactions just a few months ago, this New York City charter school teacher lit up the virtual room with her ambition to leap beyond the prescribed textbook teacher career path.
Claire’s bursting smile stretched over Zoom, all the way from the big red apple all the way to me, in Portugal.
When we work together, she checks in the early hours before her school day with questions to discuss educational philosophy and setting up for her transition out of the classroom. Through reflective conversation, we discuss the last few years out of the seeming comforts of a 4-walled confined structure.
Far too often, the heart-filled passion of a teacher is hidden behind the Mr. and Miss professional lens. It’s important to recognize the compassion of an educator and uncover their drive to educate. It’s scary for teachers to put their persona on the internet after this private path.
How do teachers become teachers?
As a child, I dreamt of becoming a teacher, but I shifted gears due to my endless love of talking and being nosey, which translated into interviewing and writing PR.
Then, just before graduating college, I started teaching by happenstance. I joined a trip with teachers in training on an immersive cultural experience from our study abroad base in Australia to Fiji. We taught in a 3-walled schoolhouse in the remote villages of the Fijian highlands. Equipped with pencils and toothbrushes, we walked to school through rivers and animal pastures to teach hygiene practices and the English alphabet. The intergenerational community learning that took place with grandparents and babies all participating was enough to rekindle my youthful hopes of making a difference through education.
I took on various English teaching jobs in Asia and continued working my way up the branches of the apple tree. After a decade in various classrooms and countries, offline and online, building an online school, I spend time consulting with educators, students, and companies looking for educational innovation.
Just as Claire was open and willing to learn from others, I was interested in how I could support teachers who are seeking support; basically reaching out to offer what my past self needed but didn’t have.
In my recent transition from co-founding to consulting, I felt bombarded by the ‘what’s next?’ question.
My simple answer started with what I knew I needed most at that time: alignment. I was looking to learn from kind and smart people. Without knowing where these insightful and reflective conversations would lead, I followed my foundational values.
After I added a scheduling link on my website, just to try something scarier for growth, I was shocked that someone actually clicked it.
When supporting transitioning teachers, we connect on the journey from the classroom to the world of ‘do what you want,’ as Claire rephrased so simply. A place that feels so fictional from inside the traditional learning environments teachers are most familiar with.
When I connect back to my values during a transitional phase, I am reminded of the power of growth and contribution. When I feel misaligned with who I am, I try to connect with like-minded people and open myself up for opportunities for growth.
I put myself out there by trying new experiments.
Because you never know when putting yourself out there will help someone,
And you can discover the kindness and connection you sought the whole time.
If you want to set up your values, I created this free workbook for you.
Thank you for being a reader and a supporter of this newsletter.
If you are seeking support as a teacher or teen, let’s connect.
What else would you like to hear about? Comment below and keep choosing your own learning journey.
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