Monday, April 22, 2019

Reflect: Who is Your Mentor?

I was recently listening to Sadie Robertson's podcast "Whoa That's Good." If you haven't listened to it you should. It is a quick 30-minute podcast focused on the question, "What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?" It tends to be faith focused, but it still has amazing relatable discussions no matter your beliefs. In this particular podcast, Sadie was interviewing Chrissy Metz on her best piece of advice. At a certain point, the conversation went on to discuss mentors and who they consider being mentors in their life. This made me reflect this lovely Sunday morning on who I look to as mentors.

I feel like with the invention of social media and YouTube finding realistic expectations of life can be hard. Students and people all over the world post about those epic, best moments in their life....especially food, food is alway epic....but to me if you follow someone for the image they project that is only half knowing. There is so much more under the surface. Not all moments are Instagram worthy and that is ok. Those moments shape and define you. We have great tools at our fingertips, yet we have to be careful to not lose ourselves in them. We have to push progress and not perfection for ourselves and our students. They too see these epic images and lives posted all around, yet they don't know the struggle that comes with getting there. They too have to learn that it will not always be easy, but it will be worth it. There will be times that things are far from perfect, but we learn and grow in those moments to be better versions of ourselves.

Taking all that into account many of my mentors are people I look up to because of their vulnerability. They have shared the highs and lows making them truly human and relatable. I have found in my own life I have mentors all around me and some I have never personally met, but yet their story has touched me and made me want to be better. If I had to categorize my mentors I would put them in three main categories: Life, Teaching, and Family.

Life: Life mentor I believe might be the hardest to put my finger on. I think to narrow down people in my life I aspire to be like or I learn from is difficult. I have been blessed to pull from so many in my life and from people I have known from a distance. I would have to say my dad is a huge life mentor to me. He instilled hard work and the joy of helping others at a young age. I would also say, my boyfriend has pushed me to strive for more and never give up. He has lived a life full of amazing and sometimes hardening situations. Yet, he has grown and learned from all of them.

Other than these two amazing men in my life, I would say Joanna Gains is a life mentor. She started from nothing, grew herself and her business by word of mouth to become an amazing entrepreneur. All throughout she kept her family top priority but never lost herself in it. All my life the only thing I wanted to be was a mom. Over these last few months, I realized that being a mom is a huge joy and gift, but one shouldn't lose who you are in the process. I think Joanna does a great job keeping family first but realizing her own needs too. Chip is a great partner for her because when she needs time for herself or to start something new he supports her no matter what. Life wise they have been through stress, struggle and still were able to come out on top. I have read both their books and took away so many things I want to try and build into my life. The success they have had is great, but the joy they have brought others, the success they have had in their family, and the life they lead and instill in their children is what I am working towards.

Teaching: So many amazing teachers and yet so little time! I have been lucky enough to work with the best even starting with my amazing cooperating teacher. Knowing very little about teaching and starting out I threw every ounce of my being into my job. After a rough and depressing first year of teaching, I wasn't sure about anything. Lucky for me I ended up gaining mentors right when I needed them most. I was blessed to have some amazing mentors at my school especially Mrs Johnson who is never afraid to try something new and push her students to do more. I love how no matter what she is not afraid to put her self out there for the kids and make learning magical. That being said I have many more mentors I have been blessed to meet over the years.

After a trip to RCA (Ron Clark Academy) in my 3rd year of teaching, I was thrilled to learn from Hope King. After spending one class period with her I realized that she is a mentor. She brings magic into her classroom and teaches with high expectations in mind. My favorite quote from her that she said was, "If the kids think your crazy your doing it right." To be honest that night after hearing that quote I cried. My feelings were that of joy. The joy of knowing I'm not crazy in what I do. At that point, I was a very unique teacher in my building. Thus hearing that I wasn't alone, encouraged to keep doing what I am doing, and improve on it took a weight off my shoulders. I have followed Hope and all the amazing things she has done over the years and I feel blessed to have met her.

Another amazing meeting for me was meeting Tara M. Martin! I went to ISTE this past year and was beyond nervous. I felt very new to the edchat game and saw that Tara was launching her book at a beautiful location during ISTE. I knew very little about her or her book, but after some research realized I had to go. I remember being super nervous especially with my anxiety and not knowing anyone there, but Tara was truly kind and had such a bubbly personality. I left thrilled to have taken those big steps in coming in the first place. I walked away with a signed copy of her book. I read off and on this school year, not due to lack of interest. I was drawn in by her vulnerability and willingness to share even the hardest moments of her life. She shared her imperfections and I loved walking with her on her journey. I found a lot of parallels in our goals and experiences. I realized quite quickly that her progression in her career is what I wanted, but didn't realize. I love what I do and love teaching. However, I would love to one day be a curriculum coach and help others bring magic into their classrooms. I want to promote other voices, find new tools, and be a leader in my district especially when it comes to sharing amazing things teachers are doing. Tara and her book Be Real changed me and made me realize my goals for the future.

Family: When it comes to family I am just starting out. I have a loving boyfriend and two precocious dogs who I love like children. I have seen people I look up to and want to use ideas from as I begin the journey to start my own family. For me, one family that comes to mind is The Bucket List Family. They are a traveling family of journalists who have taken their young children all across the world to learn and help others. Now they had the amazing opportunity to do this because of their funds. Selling your company for millions will make the expenses doable. Yet on the surface, they have it made, but learning from them isn't about amazing travel and working hard to make millions. What I have taken from them is the importance of family time. It wasn't always easy to travel especially with little ones but to share in the experiences they made together. To watch them grow and meet new people was the part I loved. I want to raise my kids to enjoy experiences and not just things. I want them to be fearless, make friends without hesitation, and find joy in doing good. If anything I want my family to be built on joy, happiness, and health.

Overall, these are just a few people I consider my mentors. I foresee this changing and adding to this list throughout my life. I will grow and my goals will change. Regardless, having mentors and striving to make yourself better allows you to grow. Never stop looking for more or striving to achieve something that makes your heart beat. Allow opportunities and people to give influence to your life. Take what you need from them and learn from others just as others may learn from you.

With all this being said who do you consider a mentor? Why are they a mentor to you?

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