This weekend I had an excellent time at #TCCA16 in Houston, Texas, and yes, I was tweeting about many challenging ideas Angela Maiers said in her keynote as well as other presenters throughout the conference. I knew I needed to flesh out these provoking thoughts if I truly wanted to put into action true change. I headed to my tweets as I reflected and considered an action plan for moving forward.
These were the thoughts I mulled over as I considered one of Angela's first thoughts. "Teachers, all you need to do is be fiercely and fully you!" She's absolutely right about the fierce part! In today's education world, there is so much pressure to be many things as teachers, things that may go directly against who you truly are. I respectfully yet firmly refuse to do this, not out of rebellion, but out of respect to myself. I've come a long way from being that little impressionable girl, but now I think of myself as a graciously firm individual passionately intent on being me. Not only is it emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting to try and be all things to all people, but it will NEVER work. Since moving to Texas and turning my life upside down, I've digressed in this important focus, but as I'm getting my feet back under me, I've slowly been readjusting. Angela's words on Saturday where a mental spark that I needed to fiercely plant my feet firmly in the ground and renew my focus to be ME ~ nothing else...period!
"You matter." I know the phrase, and I love the passionate voice of Angela Maiers and others who promote this invaluable perspective. Sure, I believed it, but in all honesty, I struggle truly believing it...making it a "heart knowledge," not just a "head knowledge." I tell my students they matter, but as Angela said, "Can you really help students understand they matter if you don't truly understand that you matter. Time for an honesty check!
A major struggle I have is thinking that others don't need me in their lives and that I don't matter. At school and in life, I continually give to my students and others, but I don't feel as if anyone has a thought about my wellbeing, needs, or concerns. I don't say this selfishly because I know that if I were to mention this to certain people in my life, they would be more than willing to reach out. But, in my heart I wonder if reaching out "when asked to" is the same as knowing I matter to them without having to ask for something? I have family and friends I never hear from unless I call to connect. Does this lack of communication and connecting mean that I matter or don't matter to them? If something matters to you, shouldn't there be a conscious activeness to show value and meaning towards that person? My norm is that my phone will rarely ring bringing personable conversations for days and sometimes weeks unless I first reach out to make it happen. Life is busy. Everyone has their jobs and families, life gets hectic with schedules. I've come to accept all this. But still, I'm left wondering, do I really to matter to the people that know me.
In considering my own heart and mind while reflecting over Angela's challenge of mattering, one of the words that stood out to me the most was choose. My ability to matter cannot depend on how someone may or may not treat me. I matter because I choose to matter. I can make a difference because I choose to make a difference. I may struggle in knowing if I really matter to people, but there is no in between ground in choosing to matter. I know this choice is a daily decision that some days I may not feel like making, but ultimately, I matter because I choose to matter! Thank you Angela for your inspiring words to challenge my heart and mind!
Below are more tweets that stood out to me during this powerful keynote!