I had the privilege of attending the Girl Scout Gold and Silver Awards for the River Valley Girl Scouts as Molly received her Silver award. The keynote address focused on the power of Yes, and… in propelling us forward and overcoming obstacles and limitations. Molly, who has been in my troop since kindergarten, embodied this spirit as she took on the challenge of a Silver project. Most of the girls in my troop said Yes, but…it’s too hard, I don’t have time, I don’t really want to, etc. Molly said Yes, and continued to persist and complete her project. When Molly first proposed her project to me of starting a blog, I said, “Yes, but…”. I did not really know anything about blogging and didn’t really understand how just writing something and posting it on the web was a project. Molly responded by doing the research about how to start a blog and convinced me of her idea. You can see what an amazing job she did on this project by checking out her blog: The Nerdy Book Owl. Because of her project I started looking more closely at blogs to see what it was about. I read her blog and I also started following blogs in my interest area, education. This has led to an opening of a countless number of conversations, connections and opportunities.
This keynote has led me to do some reflecting on how key this mindset has been in my own development as a teacher and as a leader. My job in Spring Lake Park resulted from a Yes, and when a colleague from graduate school suggested I get started on my MN teaching license because they were doing some great things in SLP and she thought I’d be a good fit. YES… and the next year I landed a position as a Continuous Improvement Coach for the Middle School. Before long I established a relationship with the Gifted Coordinator who learned I had some gifted experience. She asked if I could help her think through some ideas. YES…and within the next year I added Gifted Specialist to my title. At one point we had a conversation about whether there might be some way we could get more diverse learners to qualify for gifted services. Yes…and we began developing our own version of a young scholars program called, EXPLORE. This was probably the biggest YES of my career as it challenged me to look at the potential in all students and to rethink the traditional view of identification for gifted services. This year, as I began screening for our EXPLORE students, one class had some extremely challenging behaviors. One student in particular looked me right in the eye and said, “You won’t take me?”
“Why not?” I asked. “Because I’m not smart,” he retorted with a little bit of challenge in his voice. YES you are! And I put him and 3 others in a group. This group was not without their challenges and I found myself saying YES and to a whole host of things…
YES, I’ll eat lunch with you…and then with every group of students I worked with, building stronger relationships than I ever had before.
YES, we can make something move by itself…and the third graders began exploring with Little Bits, and I fully embraced the potential of STEM to reach students.
YES, I believe you can…and I began telling students they were scholars and they began to believe it too!
YES, I will drive back 400 miles to MN 3 times after I moved to make sure you know you are a scholar and that I won’t give up on you!
Over the next few weeks, my blog will focus on telling more of this story. Because of 4 is the story of how four boys and my willingness to say, “YES, and…” has forever impacted me. I hope this story will inspire you to believe in every child and when confronted with the challenges they bring, respond with a YES, and mindset.
What can you say YES, and to today?