I am writing you all today from a hotel in between events while I finish my mid-week laundry. I know it is a pretty exciting update for you all, but it is part of the "gig" when I am on the road, and I have learned to appreciate these down moments when I am not on a plane, having a chance to write some of my thoughts down to share with you all. As I get older, I appreciate these moments that I used to think were the absolute worst.
It sounds like someone is getting old over here!
And with that, let's get to this week's email!
For the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to teach part of a UDL certificate program taught with my friend and colleague, Dr. Katie Novak. My class for the program is titled "Building a Strong Foundation for Universal Design for Learning and Innovation," and I have thoroughly enjoyed the process.
I wrote in a previous post part of the reason I love teaching this class:
"One of the things about teaching this course is that I want to create a space of learning that would be similar to what I would hope we can create in classrooms for students at any level. For example, the assignments have a guideline of dates for completion, but other than the final date of the course, there is total flexibility on when participants can complete them. This "guideline with flexibility" provides a structure that many people appreciate and acknowledges that everyone has different things on their plate. It allows people to create and learn in a time and space that works for them. For example, if you said, "complete the assignments whenever works for you," I would probably wait until the very last minute. If you tell me, "Here is a suggested time frame to complete each assignment, I would probably do my best to stay within that time frame but not rush something of lower quality if it was past that suggested timeline.
The other attribute of the course that I think is very valuable is that I work with students not to do "their job" plus the class, but to look at their current work or work they aspire to do and connect the content in a way that makes sense to them. I encourage participants to almost "double-dip" because I want the class to be meaningful to their work without being an "extra."
Katie also shared the "Top 10 Reasons" you should enroll, which I have shared below, but you can ignore the first one! :)
Here is the link to learn more about the program and/or to sign up. It starts September 15, 2022, and we would love to have you join!
One of the things I love about working with school districts all over the world, is the people I am privileged to meet. Whenever I am asked, "what has been your favorite place to travel?" I often say that it has little to do with the "place" and more with the feeling I get from the people I meet.
This week, I am looking forward to seeing Deidre Roemer, who has become an amazingly good friend and inspirational professional colleague over the years.
The thing I love about Deidre is her dedication not only to students but, more importantly to lifting her staff to serve students. I get to meet some incredible leaders, and if I were ever to start a new school, Deidre would be one of the first people I would call! She is an outstanding leader with a heart for kids but is visionary in her implementation and execution to serve her community.
Deidre was one of the FIRST people I contacted to write in "Because of a Teacher" (Volume 1), and her story about her inspiration (her dad) was so profound, well-written, and thought-provoking that it brought me to tears while pushing my thinking. Something only the most talented of writers can achieve!
Here is a snippet from the book where Deidre shares the lessons learned from her father, who passed away at a young age.
Rereading it brought me to tears.
"When my dad passed away, many of his former players and students reached out to our family to share how much of an influence he had on them through sports or the classroom. Several people said things like, "I am the man I am today because of your dad."
I think about that often, not just because it is pretty awesome and a reflection of who my dad really was, but also because it says something about the purpose and intent of school and sports. My dad knew it: the people we serve and the experiences we have together teach us to try new things and help us grow. I feel incredibly fortunate to be the teacher, coach, and mom I am today because of him, too.
Relatives and his old friends regularly tell my siblings and me that he would be so proud of us today. But our achievements are to his credit. And even though he's gone, the lessons he taught me continue to push me to set my sights on any goal, believe in all learners with absolute faith, give them multiple opportunities to try, and be patient until they are ready."
Such a powerful story and lesson from her father. I couldn't be more proud of Deidrea and feel like I knew her father through her. Such a powerful legacy.
If you want to read more, pick up a copy of "Because of a Teacher" here and read Deidre's story. Like Deidre, it is incredible. I am blessed to have her as a close friend and confidant.
(The quote from Deidre below shared in "Because of a Teacher" is what I am basing this week's presentation on to her district!)
Last week, I wrote about visiting the Denver airport, the reminders it provided of the day my dad passed away, and the kindness of strangers. I have probably never received so many responses about something I have written, and it seemed to have resonated with many!
One message, in particular, reminded me of something that I wanted to share with you:
"Thank you for today's email. In all honesty, sometimes I thoroughly read it, sometimes I skim it, and (if being completely honest) sometimes I just delete it. Today, I read it. It really hit home on so many levels. Again, thank you!"
You have no idea how much I appreciated this honesty because I think it conveys an important message for me, others, and our students.
Here is why it connected to me.
James Clear has one of the largest email lists in the world, with over a million subscribers (if not more), and I love what he shares. But sometimes, I do the EXACT same thing to his email as this reader did to mine.
It is not that James Clear doesn't share great work. He has one of the most read books in the last several years.
But sometimes, what he shares has nothing to do with me. Other times, it has everything to do with me. And OTHER times, it has everything to do with me, but I am not in the mood to read it because of other things going on in my life.
All of this is okay.
I share this all in response to an email I received because there was definitely a time I would probably spend a whole day rethinking that email, maybe even being bothered by it, and wondering, "Why wouldn't you read it all of the time??!!? What is wrong with my writing??!??!"
But the moment I read it, I thought, "I am glad it resonated this time!"
Because one of the things that I have learned over the years is to share what I am passionate about and what resonates with me on any given day. What I try NOT to do, is write what I think others will want to hear or what I think will get attention, "clicks," or shares.
And every single week, I write something that resonates with somebody. While also, every single email I write doesn't resonate with somebody.
But what I try to do EVERY SINGLE WEEK is share something that matters to me. And if that matters to you, GREAT! And if it doesn't, I also understand.
One of the concerns that many adults have about children is that they will be driven by "likes," yet this also happens with adults. I can say that was a driver for me at some point in my writing and sharing.
But we can quickly lose ourselves when we always share to impress others. We get caught up in what is trendy and can lose our authentic selves.
Before I wrote "The Innovator's Mindset" in 2015, a publishing company reached out to me and asked if I would consider publishing it with them. I sent them an initial draft, which they sent out to a group for feedback. Out of five people that read it, four of them said, "It was not academic enough." I was so upset about that feedback because I liked telling stories, and the feedback was that they wanted it to read more like a research paper than a conversation with a friend.
It was only when a publisher (Dave Burgess Consulting) approached me and said, "We want you to write the book the way that you write your blog. Be yourself, not what you think someone else wants you to be!" did I see the potential in my own work.
And I am so proud of that book, which has resonated with many!
But many didn't like it.
And that's okay because it is a book I am proud of and would read. I wouldn't want to read a research paper, so why would I want to write one?
Here is what I know; if you consistently share what you think others will like, eventually, the person who will hate it most will be yourself.
We need to learn to share what we are passionate about, not what we think others want to hear.
If you focus on creating for others, eventually, you will disappoint them. Then you have lost not only the audience but yourself in the process.
Create for yourself, and there will always be an audience that will want to hear from you, even if who makes up that audience changes daily. But when you share what YOU are most passionate about, you will never lose your voice in the process.
Have a great weekend and week ahead! I hope you are exactly where you want to be as you read this email :)
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