Vibrant Teachers, Vibrant Team

Vibrant educators will lead change.  I am exploring in my own life, practice, and within our team, what makes a vibrant teacher.  Vibrant teachers create vibrant teams.  Some of my observations on what cultivates vibrancy are professionals who understand:

  • Self-Care

For the first decade of my career I took a morbid pride in skipping lunch when at work and pushing myself beyond my limits too often.  I am learning about self-care the hard way. But as I really reflect on who in my profession demonstrates values that I admire, it is teachers who know that golden rule of “love your neighbour as yourself” and practice self-care.  It is an essential ingredient for vibrant service.

Professionals who exercise, eat well, and pursue healthy habits bring that lifeblood to their work.  Those who take time for relationships, hobbies, and pursuits that bring meaning and creativity to their lives have more to offer in their classrooms.  Educators who pace themselves with compassion are able to sustain vibrancy and take on risks that others are not able to entertain.

Kristen Neff and her work on self-compassion inform my idea of how we can cultivate and practice gentleness with self.  We are all in a process and definitely, I am learning most of these lessons the hard way.

O! And, let’s remember our sense of humour!!  It helps more than we realize!

  • Being ‘Doggedly Dedicated’

Teachers who see their work as a calling are vibrant.  Once I interviewed a teacher and she passionately declared to me, “I was made to be a Kindergarten teacher!”  I knew right then and there that I would hire her and she’s been on our team as a Kindergarten teacher ever since.  That dedication can’t be manufactured in someone’s heart.  That dedication in its purity is for the students.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still “dog days.”  That’s when vibrant teachers reach out to their team, ask for advice, care, pray, and create solutions.

  • Lifelong Learning

The most vibrant educators I know always are reflecting on practice, inquiring, setting ambitious professional goals, reading professionally, and initiating growth.  They aren’t afraid to try new things in the classroom because they realize that in the 21st Century teachers are learners every day as well!

Lifelong learning is action oriented and in some ways insatiable.  It intelligently asks questions and continues to iterate on solutions.  Vibrant professionals embrace change and acknowledge the rapidly changing pedagogy and culture around us!

  • Being Organized & Efficient

Teachers are the most organized, efficient and orderly people I know…even the very creative, “right-brained” types!  They know how to manage space for form and function and they know how to foster a learning environment that honours community and includes expectations for ‘being together.’  They develop systems and routines that contribute to independence, creativity, and collaboration.  It is a beautiful thing to behold and I have learned so much from them!

  • Working in Team

The most vibrant teachers I know value team!  They connect with other educators in their brick and mortar building and they create a personal learning network of like-minded and stimulating colleagues from around the world!  Teachers can survive in the classroom by themselves, but they thrive in a community where different gifts and aptitudes add spice and challenge thinking.

  • Cultivating Meaning

At the end of the day, vibrant teachers understand that it is all faith journey, filled with the messiness of humanity.  It is often a faith journey of capturing the moments of victory, reminding oneself that “I am enough,” and having the grace to remember that “tomorrow is a fresh start.”

In the end, each vibrant teacher and team understand that they are a leader!  The recent blog from  Center for Courage and Renewal captures it beautifully:

The Contract
A word from the led

And in the end we follow them –
not because we are paid,
not because we might see some advantage,
not because of the things they have accomplished,
not even because of the dreams they dream
but simply because of who they are:
the man, the woman, the leader, the boss,
standing up there when the wave hits the rock,
passing out faith and confidence like life jackets,
knowing the currents, holding the doubts,
imagining the delights and terrors of every landfall;
captain, pirate, and parent by turns,
the bearer of our countless hopes and expectations.
We give them our trust. We give them our effort.
What we ask in return is that they stay true.
—William Ayot

How are you nurturing the teacher-leader in you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!