I had the amazing opportunity to share with over 100 educators last weekend at EdCampWake. It was a fantastic day of teaching, learning, and growing! Everything from the welcome to the closing were nothing short of terrific. Brenndan Fetters (@Brenndanfetters) and Michael Parker West (@mikeaustinwest) did an exceptional job organizing this spectacular event. I am thankful to them for the opportunity to share with teachers about rethinking how we prepare for our work each day and the power of moving beyond just lesson planning.
Our society, within the past decade, has become very health conscious and “fit-centric.” What if I told you that the next five questions could make you the most F.I.T. person in your life? F.I.T. stands for Future Inspired Transitions. Why not use a familiar idea to rethink preparation and turn our approach to classroom prep upside down and inside out. I encouraged participants to embrace preparation as more than just planning, but everything we do that helps us transition into being great each day!
- What is your goal/purpose?
With any fitness plan, fitness gurus always say start with a goal in mind. It might be that nice black dress or to fit in to those slacks from your first year as a teacher, or maybe even just a healthier lifestyle. Fitness experts worldwide will tell you to begin with a goal. Imagine the benefit of starting each day being intentional about our own personal goal as well as our classroom goal for the day. There is power in being able to articulate clearly, what you want students to be able to know and do at the end of each day. There is power in respecting your goal and knowing what it means to achieve it. Who I am letting down if I don’t achieve this goal? Who is depending on me today? Most importantly who “wins” because we accomplished this goal?
- What does your training program look like?
This question is near and dear to my heart and really asks how you mentally and emotionally prepare for our work as educators. As many of you already know, teaching is more than content and pedagogy! It’s caring, relationship building, mentoring, and so much more. To do this well, we have to continuously train ourselves and prepare ourselves through professional development opportunities, twitter chats, books, professional organizations and any means of growth we can muster. My last post (check it out here) was all about how our growth is about connections. It’s about connecting and collaborating with others who help us grow. Which brings us to question 3!
- How’s your diet?
Most people have heard that fitness saying that working out is 20% of weight loss, but your diet 80% and is the most influential part of your fitness plan. In order to be a F.I.T. educator and move beyond lesson planning, you have to examine your diet as it relates to what you feed your mind and emotions daily. We feed ourselves through the company we keep, the conversations we engage in and how we choose to spend our time. Be aware of your diet. Are you consistently choosing reality television over that great professional book you just bought? Are you choosing to engage in negative conversations that don’t make you or anyone else better? Awareness is the key.
- Who is your accountability partner?
Most people who are successful at getting and staying fit have found a person who holds them accountable – an accountability partner. These people believe in your dreams and have similar goals. These people will be honest with you and “call you on the carpet” if you aren’t making progress or if you get derailed. Everyone needs this person in their professional practice just as much as in their fitness journey. Moving beyond planning and embracing preparation as developing yourself as an educator is not easy work. You will need someone to challenge you because it’s much easier to just plan and go with the flow from day to day. You need an accountability partner who will look you in the face and challenge you to be better because they know that you are!
- What is your greatest asset?
The answer to this question is YOU! You must begin investing time in making sure you are the best person, educator, teacher, mentor, and whatever other hat you might wear throughout the day. I love the saying “There is only one you for all time. Be you fearlessly.” What type of world could we create if we embraced and taught students to be fearlessly themselves? If we taught them to explore their unique passion. If we encouraged them to hone their gifts and talents. What a amazing world we begin to create when we challenge each other and our students to share their greatness with the world.
Being a F.I.T. educator begins right now. It begins with a decision to explore these five questions and to reflect on how preparing for our work could be extended to so much more. It begins with an opportunity to grow and not only improve your life but the lives of your students and those around you. Will you move your preparation beyond lesson planning?