I spent my first eight years teaching and learning in a fourth grade classroom at Benton Community. As a classroom teacher, I was challenged by my teammates and colleagues within my building to think differently and continue to be a learner. I got a taste of teacher leadership having been on our building and district leadership teams. I also had the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, administrators, and community members to write our district's grant for teacher leadership. As we went through that process, I didn't think I would be able to step outside of my zone of comfort and leave my classroom for one of the full time teacher leadership positions. When the opportunity of teachers leadership came to Benton Community and we were awarded the grant, I made a difficult decision of trying something new, putting myself out there for failure, something completely outside of my zone of comfort. I had never been an instructional coach, I had never been coached as as teacher. What would this look like at Benton Community? Would it be embraced by our teachers? What would happen if I failed?
I have been extremely blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to support students and teachers at Keystone Elementary and in the Benton Community School District as a teacher leader. Now looking back, I am so thankful I took that leap of faith three years ago. I was unsure of what it would look like, how I would like it, and how much people would embrace working with a teacher leader. Our team and district built teacher leadership from the ground up. We often speak of the analogy of building a plane as we were flying it. This is because we had teachers willing to learn on the edge, try new things with us, fail together, modify our goals, and try again. Still today, my colleagues continue to amaze me by being willing to collaborate and learn together and take risks with me -- learning in the wild.
Back in October, this learning theory was solidified when I heard a message about finding your inner Jungle Tiger from Trevor Ragan on an #IAedChat LIVE show. I encourage you to take a look at his videos on learning and growth. His message challenged me to dance with my fears and live beyond my comfort zone. I challenge each of you taking the time to read this post to dance with your fears, for you never know what kind of opportunities will unfold when you take a risk. I have absolutely no doubt that the staff at Benton Community will continue to amaze me with their willingness to be learners and dance with their fears.
This summer I will start a new journey at Grant Wood AEA as a School Improvement Consultant. Benton Community will always be our home, a place to raise our family, with an opportunity be a part of an amazing community. It is the place I was able to start my journey... because of people who believed in me. I had great mentors my first several years of teaching and continue to have mentors in my leadership roles. These people are my tribe. They push me to want to be better, do better, and know better. They are my coaches whether or not they have the title. To the people who have believed in me along the way, thank you for pushing me to step outside of my zone of comfort, to continue to grow as a learner, and find my inner jungle tiger.
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