• Andrea Paulakovich

Empowered



I attended the ReThink EDU Conference at the Kauffman Foundation a few weeks ago. One of the sessions I attended was, "The Dream Director's Experience." As someone who finds insipiration daily, my mind started spinning. I kept thinking..."How can I turn this idea into a Professional Learning experience for teachers?" After allowing my hamster wheel of a mind to slow down, I started processing my ideas. What if teachers used this format to design ideas with students? What if they designed curriculum together? While brainstorming beginning of the year ideas with my fellow instructional coaches, I pitched the idea of using the Dream Director Experience to brainstorm the first days of school. What if we brought together teachers and students and they designed the beginning of the school year? What if student's voice was as the center of the design? This idea led to my boss proposing a PopUP PD to simulate the idea. "Let's try the idea with teachers and students and see how it works."


The idea wheel started spinning. Of course, I was beyond excited. My amazing colleagues helped organize an evening of purpose, passion, and play. We outlined an evening that would allow teachers to discuss, "What do I typically do the first days of school?" After brainstorming a list of ideas, we watched a video of Olathe students sharing their opinion. What did they love, not love about the first days of school? Once we listened, truly listened to their ideas, teams of teachers designed the first days of school to engage and empower a culture of possibility. These amazing ideas were then pitched to our Shark Tanks (Dave Burgess, Tara Martin, Jimmy Casas, and Kat Evasco). Each group of teachers pitched their ideas and received feedback from the Sharks. Although this portion ran longer than expected, it was the experience, the ideas that made each second worthwhile. My fixed mindset started thinking..."What if the teachers are frustrated because time ran over?" "What if they didn't walk away with a new idea?"


I immediately had a colleague shake me and tell me that I needed to focus on all that positives. I needed to take my own advice. We cannot focus on what didn't work...in fact, if everything was perfect that would mean growth did not occur. For...it is when we fail, and get back up, that we truly grow. We take our failures and reflect. We think..."How can I improve this idea?" We yearn to make it better. Although everything didn't appear perfect, it didn't matter. The end goal was not perfectionism. The end goal was stretching our thinking. The end goal was to ask teachers to push the envelope. Did we succeed? 100%! Each and every moment was an opportunity to spark an idea, to develop a new mindset, to experience an unleashing of purpose, passion, and play.



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