Thursday, January 23, 2014

NSTOY Conference - Day 2 Reflection

Why are we here?  Why, of the multitudes of great teachers throughout the United States, were we chosen to represent the best that our profession has to offer?  And with this humbling honor, how do we ensure that we do everything within our power to not squander this most rare opportunity?  When we look back at our tenure as our state's Teacher of the Year, what will our legacy be?

Inspiration and Fun at the Botanical Gardens!
I am amazed at the humility, yet quiet confidence, exuded by each and every Teacher of the Year at this conference.  In a moment, it is evident to me why each individual was chosen to represent their state.  Still, each of us recognizes that we cannot be the best; that it is impossible that there is no one who is working harder, who is more innovative, or that is having a bigger impact on their students' lives.  And yet, we are the ones who have been chosen to carry the torch for this next year (and, obviously, for much longer even after our tenure is up).

Mr. Idaho, Jamie Esler, checking out the unique
rock formations outside of Scottsdale.

It is impossible to sit in a conference room, at a dinner table, or in a lounge chair (yes, it is 75 degrees here in Arizona), and not shake with excitement to take these ideas back home, or to get goosebumps listening to peoples' stories of how and why they have been impacted in their own educations; how they continue to impact others with their work.  This is just the kind of dialogue and inspiration that all educators should have.  Our work is hard enough as it is; we need to celebrate what we are all doing so well.

I don't know, yet, what my message will be.  I don't have a strong sense of where these inspirations, connections, and visions might take me.  I do know that I cannot waste this year, or any year, in which it is vitally important for all of us to stand up for the brilliant and undervalued work that we do.  And hopefully I can bring a little bit of this magic back to my state; a little bit of this palpable enthusiasm back to my colleagues; and a whole lot of inspired rhetoric back to my communities.

This structure looks a lot like the outdoor classrooms my
students are in the process of designing and planning for
our school.

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