Monday, April 4, 2011

There is No "One Size Fits All"

Have you ever been out shopping and seen something labeled "one size fits all." Take a hat for example:: I've been looking for a fun spring fedora, which is labeled "one size fits all." So I try it on, but much to my dismay, I am apparently not the "all" this item fits... my head is too big. (I have this problem with hats often.)
While this situation is slightly amusing, it is important. As leaders we all too often assume our followers fit in this "one size fits all" category. We think, "well it worked last week with so and so... I'm going to use that with my whole team." But a few weeks later, you still feel defeated and wonder why. Let me tell you why: it's because no human is like the one they sit next to in an office, the one they sit by in a classroom, or the guy they stand next to at the post office.  When we try to grow up our people using the same method, some may grow, but it's likely most will become frustrated and give up because they can't seem to "grow."

People are different- take these examples:
1. I have had many discussions with my parents about how they raised me and my brother, who are nearly polar opposites by the way.  When asked how they raised us, there is not one answer... for they raised TWO children, two very different children.  While I cried at the sight of my parents after misbehaving, Justin tried to negotiate his punishment and/or defiantly told my dad his spankings "didn't hurt." Two different children, two different ways to bring us up in the way we should go so we could BOTH be successful and motivated.

2. Today I was student teaching in my first grade classroom.  During writing time (where each student is expected to write the whole time of writing block) a boy says "do I have to write?". To which I respond "You know you have to write the whole time." Three minutes later I find him at his desk with his head down, no motivation at all. I proceeded to ask him if he would be more willing to write if he were elsewhere in the classroom.  He chose to sit on the floor in the reading center corner and off he went. Five minutes later... writing was being put on paper.

The main idea here is that people don't all fit a mold.  Some are flexible enough or want to please people enough that they will succeed and work hard anywhere.  This is a SMALL percentage of people.
Each person is different.

What motivates one, may defeat another.

What defeats one, may cause another to thrive.

Some may flourish in a noisy setting, others may cringe at the tiniest noise because it breaks concentration.

If your followers (in my case six year olds) aren't motivated or fulfilling the potential you know they have, then just have a discussion...
They may just need to work on the floor for awhile.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Here is where I am

Graduation is in less than 6 weeks. There are so many emotions in my head and heart, and I'm not even sure I could label them with formal language. I feel... smiles....tears... scared? It's an odd feeling to be at a place in life where you would not want to be anywhere else while all the while wondering if you're doing enough to ensure you don't stay in the same place because you were too lazy to make things happen for yourself...

I graduate with an Elementary Education degree, certified to teach children of MANY ages. I would say I'm extremely qualified: a hard worker with a passion for teaching children not just in whole groups but as individual people. While my recently updated resume comes complete with fancy indentations, bolded words, and portrays me as a professional, employable teacher... what I really want my resume to say is "PLEASE HIRE ME. I WON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF IN THE FALL IF NO ONE HIRES ME." But that sounds desperate... and overwhelming... but right now I feel desperate and overwhelmed.

The hardest part about this season I'm in is that at the end of the day, me giving everything I have and crossing things off a job-search "to-do list" does not immediately move me any further forward. Here is where I am. 6 weeks from graduation, believing there is favor for me in the land of Texas education where budget cuts are up in the millions. Here is where I am.

And the second hardest part about this season is the letting go part. Letting go and letting God. Cheesy but genuine. Cliche but reality. What if letting go doesn't land me a job in the fall? What if letting go doesn't look quite like I expect it to? Oh well. I did my part.

The reality is that God is bigger, than any circumstance. But the other reality is that school districts are firing teachers, on hiring freezes, and education administrators are wondering how they will educate America's future leaders when America's current leaders aren't valuing its future leaders.

BUT God is bigger. And here is where I am right now... here is where I am.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Here and There or... Everywhere?

I find myself coming upon the end of a season and starting a whole new one. While part of me, the larger part of me, is thrilled and ready to end one season and step into a new one, there's this other part of me that doesn't quite want anything to change yet. And sometimes this part feels like the larger can they both be the larger parts?

I am currently commuting back and forth between Fort Worth and Tulsa. When I'm in Tulsa, I call Fort Worth home, and home it truly is. But just the other day I referred to Tulsa as home and then caught myself..."No, Tulsa is NOT home." But it got me to thinking...
While I would say my heart is in Texas with my family and a boy I'm quite fond of, a huge piece of my heart has been given to the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for 4 years. I've made most of my life friends in Tulsa, I've laughed hardest in Tulsa with those friends, I've shed innumerable tears in Tulsa, I've fallen in love in Tulsa, and I've chosen my career path while living in Tulsa. All that to say... maybe as cliche as it sounds, "home is where the heart is."

As I look forward to the next season, it's hard to push forward because I have a couple homes and the thought of moving out of one of them... well, it's hard. But the good news is, there's a new home wherever the road leads.

Home may be here.
Home may be there.
But I really think home could be everywhere.

As Mumford and Sons so beautifully states, "where you invest your love, you invest your life."
Home is where you invest your love.
So the name of a city really has nothing to do with it... home is where the heart is.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Becoming a Big Girl

It's the beginning of a new era.
A season in my life is nearly to a close as I finish my Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and graduate. April 30, 2011 is a big day for me as it sums up all that I have worked to achieve for very nearly my entire schooling thus far. When I walk across the stage in now less than 4 months, I choose whether or not any more diplomas reach my fingertips. There is no more required school, monotonous American History classes, which I must say that it's quite sad how little American History I have memorized when I think I've had that class every year since I was 8 years old.

A new chapter starts. 2011 will be a launching year filled with new assignments. In a tight job market, I will find a job. While reading Proverbs 2 as it corresponded with the 2nd of January, the 21st verse spoke to my heart.

"For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it."

In an economy still working so hard to improve itself, God has promised the "land" to the godly. For those unemployed or soon looking for full time jobs, preferably in a field our hearts are passionate about, there is a promise of occupation. Occupation of the land in our chosen occupation. I have seen the Lord's faithfulness so huge in 2010. It's sad how often I look back and see God's hand in my life after the fact when I should have been sure that his hand was mediating each and every circumstance.

A friend recently said she doesn't like making New Year's resolutions because that opens the door to failure. Unfortunately, you could place me here as well. If I make a resolution and don't follow through, it's one more item I didn't get to check off. I'd rather have New Years "options." That way if they don't take place no one really feels defeated.
But what's a year without goals? And I do have a few...

2011 will be a year with big changes.
I get a big girl diploma that gives me a big girl degree.
I get to put my big girl pants on and get a big girl job.
I get to pay big girl bills with the big girl money a full time job with a salary gives.

This is the start of a new decade, metaphorically and literally. Much change coming my way. This year I go from being called "Nicole" on a daily basis to the ever esteemed "Miss Allen." And you know you've become an adult when people aren't using your first name anymore.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Playing Favorites

2 weeks into my student teaching, and I love every single one of the children in my 4th grade class. A girl I work with asked me yesterday if I "have any favorites yet...?" I sat and thought because surely there is one student I think is the best- always behaves, reads silently, makes jokes, and smiles at me like I'm the coolest person they've ever met. But the fact of the matter was, I can NOT pick a favorite.

I can't pick a favorite because each child is my favorite:
1. There's one girl who acts crazy every day but she is intelligent and beautiful
2. There's one boy who is goofy and lacks the quiet attention during lessons but he's bright as can be
3. There's one tiny girl who acts like she never has any idea what is going on but when she participates, her intelligence and compassion shine through
4. There's one boy who is always quiet and obedient but given the opportunity he'll beat you with sarcasm
5. There's one girl who seems to lack any drive or competitive nature, but she strives, doesn't give up, and gives the best hugs
6. There's a boy who has a hard time reading in his free time, but he is so intelligent and precious and can keep time on a stopwatch better than anyone in his class

This list could go on and on. I am working with some of the most precious lives on the planet. What makes each child so wonderful is that they are all so different. And the things that seem to be "annoying" or "abnormal" are really just things teachers often try to push on their students inside the classroom so the environment is a much quieter and "parent/principal" friendly place.
We need all of these children.
We need all of us.

I can't pick a favorite. I never want to pick a favorite in any classroom where I stand as teacher. Because... we need all of us. We need the scatter brained, the hyper active, the absurdly goofy, the unorganized and uncompetitive. We also need the rigid, boring, silent, dry, organized individuals.

We were all created in the same Image. We are each unique, and He created all of us because He wanted all of us. And I bet we all fit someone else's profile of a person they "can't stand."

Don't pick favorites.
We need us.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Learning Never Stops

The closer I get to being a teacher, the more I feel prepared, and the less I feel like I know. Don't get me wrong: I fully feel prepared to teach a classroom of 20 students who will call me "Miss Allen." But don't get me wrong, I don't think you can ever be prepared to immerse yourself in what we call the real world.

The closer I get to April 30, 2011, the less I feel "old." I look in the mirror some mornings feeling fully competent and capable of whatever "Educational jargon" my teacher will throw my way. And then some mornings I look in the mirror and think "I'm 21. There's no part of me that's old enough to do anything." But you know, the closer I get to Teacher Certification and a diploma that costs $50.00, the more I think we'll never really feel old enough to start anything. We're never old enough to get married, we're never selfless enough to becomes parents, and we're never competent enough to start a job without getting a few bruised knees along the way.

I will become a teacher. BUT, if I think for a second that makes me exempt from learning, someone needs to take away my diploma and keep my $50.00. This blog is my journey. A year from now I'LL be the one doing the teaching and the one watching young minds learn how some math really isn't ever practical to the real world. BUT, amidst the lesson planning and lecturing, I'm an idiot if I don't receive an education in the process. Life should never cease to be an education... and sure, yeah, my life will be spent in a classroom. But my classroom is only literal... Don't we all spend our lives in a classroom?