I don't know what to call this post or what pictures to pair with it. A smattering of things have filled my thoughts lately while I'm developing so many things about myself--developing the person I am as a teacher and how that balances with the person I am at home. I'm identifying how to practice kindness by finding the space between too strict and too permissive. I am learning to be bold, to be brave, to do some of the things that scare me...
and at every moment, I am aware that I'm exactly where I am supposed to be, learning to do what I should be doing. And there is nothing quite like that knowledge and that sense to make even the hard days worthwhile.
Here's what I've been reading as I work through these thoughts:
The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought it was Just Me (but it isn't) and Brené Brown's work in general have helped me work through some personal struggles and strengths, but have also had a direct impact on how I approach my students and, now, my family and friends. In particular, recognizing shame and vulnerability and naming it in myself has helped me to see where others experience both feelings--and where those feelings motivate their actions. Some people seem to regard Brown's work as fluff, touchy-feely, self-centered (don't read 1-star reviews, in other words), but I've found that the stories and definitions and descriptions of her experience and others have helped me translate ideas into actions.
The Power of Our Words, by Elizabeth Denton, may have been written for elementary school teachers, but translates directly into work with middle schoolers. It builds on many ideas that I also noticed in Brown's books--shame and disrespect don't motivate us to do better, to be better. They simply make us think we are bad, not that we've made a mistake. Denton's book is full of practical applications and actual examples of words that guide and correct without shaming children.
I usually skip past the motivational/life-coach type blog posts that show up in my Feedly reader, but I didn't skip "Why Fear and Failure Are Your New Best Friends" from Katherine at The Beauty of Life and I'm glad. I'm approaching a million adventures this year and sometimes I'm caught up in the fear that I won't be successful in them...but that's okay. I have to go forward and try and learn from fears and failures. This might be common sense, but I still need reminders to practice risk-taking, and I'm okay with that.
...and this post on the word "should" presents an idea that's sat with me lately and translated into a new approach to others: instead of looking at what people should know, should do, should think, I look at what they actually know, do, and think. I've found, rather quickly, that I'm less frustrated with others because I realize that even if something should be different, worrying about what should be doesn't help me do anything about what is.
In a few days or weeks or whenever I have time, I'll explore these ideas, each in their own posts. What have you been thinking about lately? What ideas have filled your days?