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Pushing the Edge

If it Resonates – Turn it Up and Thrive

Turn it Up to Thrive - Pushing The Edge with Greg Curran

Part A

Time whizzes by…but you feel like you’ve just started.

You know what to do…it just comes to you naturally.

…there’s no second guessing…no checking in with your plans.

Doubts – Nope, worries – Nope, fears – Nope.

An incredible buzz – Hell Yeah – it’s like you’re soaring. 

It’s absolutely crystal clear – You’re being true to YOU.

True to what matters to you.

True to what lights a fire within you.

True to what resonates for you.

This is You Thriving.  

You’ve been here right? 

For me, it’s what keeps me coming back to teaching or training. It’s a buzz like nothing else. 

Yet if I’m honest – the go-go-go of teaching – can sometimes mean a no-no-no to US-US-US Thriving in our classroom.

I recently wrote about this – how our daily teaching mix can be skewed towards content delivery, crossing items off lists, and extinguishing fires within our classroom. In the process, we can lose US, our Special Flavour.

So how can we can turn up the volume – to what resonates for us?

How can we create a MIX where our passions and quirks – that our students love – feature more prominently than the boring, mundane, and business as usual practices?

Turn it Up to Thrive – Tips:  

Tune in and be mindful 

If you’re not sure what resonates for you – set aside a period of time to find out. 

  • Pay attention to changes in your mind and body. For example: When I’m in the zone:
    • my head stops racing ahead, worrying, panicking, or planning;
    • I’m just in the moment;
    • There’s a lightness within my body;
    • There’s a clarity.
  • Notice what contributes to a lift in your energy levels.
  • Notice what draws you in – attracts – or captivates you (in a positive sense) – on a consistent basis.
  • Notice what you find yourself talking about in an animated, excited manner.

Sometimes looking back – can give you cues as to what resonates for you and your class.

Above all here – Trust Yourself – Trust your Intuition. Run with it.

Start with you and work back

As teachers, we can often get preoccupied with curriculum, content, and being busy.

I can readily recall moments when teachers have revealed (to me) particular quirks or talents that their students would love to see in action.

When I’ve asked these teachers whether they’ve set aside class-time for such – often they’ve said No. They’ve been far too busy – getting through the course content, or….(add another excuse here). 

It starts with the mindset.

If X (Your skill/interest/passion) is important to you – you’ll make it happen regardless of situation or circumstance.

Take as a given that you will be doing X.

Take as a given that you will be able to make connections back to curriculum – or other core policy documents. As they say, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Get creative.

Schedule and guard 

As you become more aware of the activities and practices that resonate for you or ignite you – build time into your week for them.  

Safeguard this time: Write it into your planner. Put it on your timetable. Give it a name and an identity. Promote it to your students and like-minded staff.  

Within the twitterverse – the practice of #geniushour or Passion Projects – for students are often spoken of.

Here time is set aside for students to work on real-world projects that intrigue and fascinate them. Many teachers join in themselves – illustrating the importance of making time for your passions. 

Yes it seems like we never stop in teaching but if thriving is your priority you’ll not only make time to thrive, you’ll defend that time like nothing else. 

Become best friends

Get to know this part of you – your passion – your quirk – your can’t let go of interest.

Get to know this part of you – like you would a best friend. 

 Ask yourself questions. For example:

  • What does X tell me – about me?
  • What does X reveal in terms of my values?
  • When  am I drawn towards X?
  • How do my students commonly react or engage – when I’m …?
  • How does X impact on my mind-body-spirit?
  • How can I be a good support for X?
  • How can I help build and develop X further?

 Celebrate and affirm this part of you. 

In becoming best friends, you’ll be a far more articulate and passionate advocate for X. You’ll become more committed to each other. You’ll also be more alert to opportunities where you can shine together.

Look and Listen for Kindred Spirits

Sometimes we’re so busy in our own classrooms we often don’t know what’s going on next door.

Take some mindful walks around your school. Be on sensory alert for: what draws you in – fascinates – intrigues – excites you.

A similar proposition but at a whole school level is canvassed by Craig Kemp who discusses the practice of Class Walk-throughs.

Train your students in mindfulness too – so they can be your eyes and ears too – alerting you to the cool things happening in other classes.

Once you hit the jackpot – resonance wise – connect with those colleagues:

  • Learn from them;
  • Ask how you might support them – in their specific projects; 
  • Let them know specifically what intrigues, fascinates, or makes you laugh about their class;
  • Let them know about specific points of connection with your class; 
  • Find ways to jointly work together…further turning up the volume for both of you.

Just do it

Trust yourself and just get on with it.

As you go – build your evidence case – or justification (if that’s required).

Collate student work and feedback that demonstrates the value of X (Your Passion/Quirk/Interest).

  • Share with colleagues and invite them in to see first-hand. Here’s where Craig Kemp’s Class Walk-throughs would be particularly pertinent.
  • Support students to run Showcases (that show the genius of what you’ve created together). 
  • Talk positively about your experiences – during breaks with colleagues. 

As you go – continue to build connections between X and:

  • key issues and interests in students’ worlds;
  • curriculum and policy;
  • key social issues percolating in the media;
  • relevant support services.

Here it’s all about validation for X – creating a stronger, more firm foundation for the future. 

Share Online

Share what you love to do teaching-wise online. Share what makes you tick. Share what excites you. Share your quirks and passions.

Sharing online will grow your confidence in speaking about ‘what you do’ and ‘who you are’ as a teacher. 

A prime place for sharing online is twitterchats – where educators gather at a specific time each week to discuss topical issues.

Try out a few twitterchats and over time you’ll find your people – your tribe. There’ll be encouragement, a grab-bag of goodies to extend and build on what you’re doing, and an explosion of ideas to take you off in other exciting directions.

Through twitterchats you’ll be hit with questions that get you thinking outside your comfort zone. You’ll also find that you’re not alone – with the issues you’re stressing about.

One things for sure, if you’re a regular twitter chatter. You’ll be turning up the volume for Passions and Interests (in your class) during the week following a chat. 

Here’s some twitterchats – that are packed with educators that regularly Turn Up the Volume for their Passions, Quirks, Creativity, Weirdness, and Whackiness: #TLAP (Teach Like a Pirate), #WhatisSchool,  #Weirded….I dare you not to be inspired.

2 comments… add one
  • Jen Moes

    Thanks for another good read Greg. I love that you often describe my practice better than I could.
    I often find myself walking the playgrounds during free periods. Usually it is about finding truants and returning them to their classes, but sometimes I run across cool stuff like water rockets in science or performances in Drama/music/sport, or even a maths class outside.
    I often stop and watch or cheer. I just can’t help myself. I love seeing students engaged and successful teachers. I find the key is then congratulating/ discussing with the students when they’re with me etc. Also great to thank teacher for the oppotunity to watch etc. Builds better teams both in the classroom and staffroom.

    I don’t think curriculum is as scary and restrictive as some view it. There is always room to include our perspective and the things that drive us. Students who are able to show analysis, perspective and unique points do better than formulaic responses. It is about finding the explicit links between your passion and the curriculum, then making it fit. Obscure is ok if it can be clearly and explicitly linked.
    I love when years later, students say “Hey Ms, do you remember when we made a Gallipoli trench out of our desks in yr 9? That was so much fun” or “Hey Jen, I gave my crazy year 8 class that poem you gave us when I was in yr 8, you know, the one about the teacher who went mad”…

    To be happy and effective in the classroom we need to own and enjoy what we do. If we are alive then the students are engaged and the curriculum will happen.

    • Greg Curran

      And cheers to you too Jen. Thanks for showing what these Mindful practices might look like — those moments of just stopping and tuning in to the ‘cool’ stuff…that connect us back to what drives and ignites us.

      Thanking others…so crucial too…how often do we see something awesome and not tell the person…As you say it builds teams and it makes us feel good – know that we’re ok – that we’re making a difference.

      Yes your point around curriculum resonates too. Used to teach a curric that many thought of as too restrictive. I never saw it that way. I started from what I wanted to do with my students – tuned into their needs and interests combined with my strengths and passions and worked back from there. I think I would love to be in your classes.

      As you say – Own & enjoy what you do. If you’re alive…then students are engaged and curriculum will happen. Here’s to ALIVEness in its many shapes, sizes, colours and textures.


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