Imagine you are a car. Your school year is the journey you are about to embark on. You need fuel in your tank to keep you going. What are you going to choose to fill your tank with? What is going to serve as your fuel? What will drive you on?
Seth Godin wrote an excellent blog post on this topic of “choosing your fuel”. Essentially, he outlines narratives (light and dark) that can serve as fuel as we push on to do our work.
I am in a phase of moving on from one school to another, one role to a new one, one life to a whole new experience. Seth’s post really made me think about ‘what I want to marinade in’. I love that analogy.
What am I going to immerse myself in?
What am I going to allow to seep into who I am?
Here is my game plan moving forward (thanks to Seth) of the fuel that will push me forward in my work in the coming months:
Fueled by becoming a better version of myself:
This is a personal one. In the last four years I have moved continents, had two children, changed jobs, and am on the move again to a new continent and new role. It is a lot of change and I have chosen to reserve very little time for me. This year, despite the changes in location and role, I want to ensure more of a balance and more time devoted to becoming a better, kinder, more patient, healthier version of myself.
Fueled by Connection
I want to be fueled by connectivity. By the idea that we are all connected and that in being connected, ideas are amplified. I want to see this evolve in the day-to-day by making connections with those I work with IRL, and I want to maintain and develop my connections to people and ideas online. I also want to establish connections with the students at my school. I want to make sure that the connection is not a one-way path of me pushing ideas to them, but a dual carriageway upon which we build a connection that sees me supporting their ideas, questions, and wonderings.
Fueled by Generosity
This might seem in contradiction to me wanting to take time out for myself but I also want to make sure I am balancing that with the concept of generosity. I want to ensure I am giving freely of my time in a way that serves my own needs and the needs of others. I think I am really lucky to have the PLN that I do, but I also know that I have done my part in generously sharing my ideas and resources which (hopefully) inspires others to do the same and thus, we all win. I fear if I lose that spirit of generosity I will lose a large part of what brings me joy and satisfaction as an educator.
Fueled by Possibility
I am very interested in being fueled by possibility. I love the idea of starting from a “How might we…?” mindset and moving forward from there. So often, I find myself looking through the lense of problems rather than possibility. Of what is not possible rather than what might be. While I realize that everything is not possible, many, many things ARE very possible, and that is how I will position myself in the year to come.
Fueled by Professionalism
This last one is interesting to me. I think we (as teachers) are professionals in a profession – and yet, sometimes, we don’t act that way. I am not choosing the fuel for others, but for myself, I want to strive harder to embody a professional demeanour. I am not always putting my best foot forward, I don’t always choose the best choice, I don’t always respond in the most appropriate manner. And I know that. And I want to change that. So I am writing it down here in order to help make it so in the real world (not just up in my head).
This post was not easy to write. I know there is a lot that I do well and a lot that I have to work on, and I could easily ignore the latter and pat myself on the back for the former. But then I would be fueled by avoidance, fueled by ego. I prefer to be fueled by the challenge of change.
What is your #fuel?
As I finished this post, I was reminded of the story of rocks, pebbles, and sand. A great reminder for us all as we set our priorities and choose our fuel for the future.
5 thoughts on “Choosing My Fuel”
Thanks for your post. I really enjoyed reading it, especially the outline of your game plan. I think the point that stuck with me the most was the first one you made about being fueled by becoming a better version of yourself. I think as teachers (especially expat teachers), we have this idea that we need to be all things to everyone all the time. It’s like an extreme version of teaching. We tend to forget that we don’t have super-human strength (we can’t all be Wonder Woman), so taking care of ourselves is imperative. Balance, as you say, is the key. Perspective as well. How can I be a good teacher to my students if I don’t take care of my health, my well being, my life? I’m glad to see you have realised this and are journeying towards becoming a better version of yourself. How do you plan to do this? Any tips you can share?
I think the first step is saying it out loud. I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this post because it means admitting that I am not all things amazing 🙂 For various reasons, mostly to do with having two small children and that pregnancy is not kind to me, my health has taken a back seat – more exactly, my fitness, stamina, sleep, flexibility, endurance. These are things I can work on. I have voiced this to my husband and I know he is supportive. We are moving to somewhere where we will have help with the housework/cooking so that will take a load off. Currently dishes and cooking and laundry trumps everything else. I think I will share my goals with my students – or not. I am not sure. I don’t know if that would be necessary or not? My new school has a pool which I am excited about using. I have learned in the last few years that my kids will get excited about anything (pretty much) that I am in to so I just need to tap into that: my daughter got a new helmet so wants to scoot everywhere so I can go with her (walking). I don’t have an exact plan (and hopefully that won’t be my downfall!) but I put it at the top for a reason so I won’t forget it! I will keep you posted!
Hey Sonya… we meet again!
Sounds like you have had some incredibly busy years! In all those crazy changes you mentioned above you didn’t even mention school. How far along are you know in SUNY? I forget…
Your reflection is really sincere and honest! I can tell that you are an incredibly motivated and driven person. I know that after doing the Creativity course with you 😉 This blog post alludes to this as well. Uzay mentions this in you too when she says that teaching internationally is “like an extreme version of teaching.”
I would agree. The learning, growing, teaching, PLN curve is incredibly steep! And, as you say, taking time out for ourself (or the other important rocks) is imperative. However, I wonder if one of the rocks, so-to-speak, for you is your career! At least it seems like you’ve got your priorities in check!
Thanks for continuing to motivate me 😉
Yes! Hilarious. I “forgot” about also doing my Masters! 🙂 I have one more course and then I am done! It is going to feel so good! That course is important. I don’t want this to slip away on me. It will feel pretty good to have had two babies and a masters degree in four years 🙂 I really enjoyed that Creativity course with you. I thought our entire cohort was awesome. My career is important to me and I think that is why I am so pumped for this move and so hopeful that the school environment itself will be motivation for the other parts of my life. I am excited to see what happens when in an environment that aligns with my own beliefs and has such an innovative approach to learning. It is going to be fun. I am glad you’re part of this journey – likewise, your ideas are challenging and motivating and I enjoy learning with you.
Hi Sonya! WOW this is such a fantastic post to read ~ especially during summer holidays when we have time to process the craziness of a school year and what could have been done differently. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, goals and the video which all help put things in perspective. Sounds like you are getting very good at change and seeing the benefits it can bring, such as a fresh start and learning from past ‘mistakes’. I can’t wait to hear how next year goes and how your ‘fuel’ helped push you forward in this exciting transition! Your post also reminded me of an article I read about how “Failure is the best Fuel for Success” (http://blog.creativelive.com/failure-best-fuel-success/) which I hope will remind you to be kind and patient with yourself too when some fuel runs out faster than others 🙂 All the best Sonya and thanks again for your insightful post!