Updated: Apr 4, 2020
There's nothing like coming home. Moreover, there's nothing like coming home to present in your hometown. And this is just want I was able to do at a February, 2020 MEA conference, at the Detroit Marriott.
Having the opportunity to bring the Teach4Endurance message to a wonderful group of educators, in such a grand setting was a phenomenal experience.
As noted in the Foreword of my book, Teach4Endurance: Surviving the Swim, Bike, and Run in Today's Classroom . . .
There is no doubt that as educators, our greatest responsibility is to those children sitting (or running around) in front of us. However, collegiate educational pools are drying up, and many of those who have remained in the classroom are leaving the profession in droves. There are multiple reasons for fewer people entering and/or leaving the profession: money, politics, increased workload, lack of support, etc. To survive in such an occupation, one needs to certainly endure a great deal. To say it can become overwhelming is an understatement.
And this is the gist of where my presentations are geared. Educators are dog-tired, underpaid, are expected to more and more with less, etc., and many do not see the relevance of education as a viable career anymore. Don't believe me? Take a look at the data below:
And therein lies the inspiration for not only writing the book. It's not as if I needed to add more to my plate. I am a parent. I still teach. I coach. I still compete in endurance races. However, within the data and through conversations with colleagues, I have witnessed firsthand how this noble profession needs to not only survive . . . it needs to thrive! To do so, we need teachers to stay in field, and we need the brightest minds and biggest hearts to enter, as well.
Now, with the book written and available, I've been traveling to not only spread this message; I am also trying to help those in the field endure this challenging profession. When traveling and meeting wonderful educators, my basic premise is to help them find their smile again. Usually by singing (or more technically, rocking out!)
Beyond connecting through the beauty of music, we work on strategies I have utilized in surviving endurance races to those I have learned in 24 years of teaching. Not surprisingly, these strategies correlate! Teaching is by far the most challenging test of endurance I have ever encountered. Even swimming the San Francisco Bay (twice!) does not hold a candle to the efforts required to endure the academic school year.
That being said, let's look at one of the activities we engaged in during our time together in the "D". For the following activities, we focused on Chapter 1 of my book: What Am I Getting Myself Into?
While everyone has their own comfort levels and willingness to try new things, I wanted to break down some barriers right off the bat with the attendees. Now, to each their own, but in all honesty, some of the greatest experiences I've ever encountered have come from diving headfirst into the unknown. Therefore, I simply wanted to give everyone a simple (and safe) opportunity to investigate this notion.
Note: Within the book, each chapter has three distinct "workouts" to engage in when (or if) they feel ready to do so. That being said, however, the workout activities below were made specifically for this particular event.
SPRINT WORKOUT: In the Zone
The attendees sought out someone they did not know and had a short conversation for a few minutes. Within their journal packet I created for them, you'll see where they were able to take some notes for our follow up discussion.
HALF-DISTANCE WORKOUT: Are You Comfy?
After their discussions, we talked about their conversation and something they learned about their partner. Then, I had them fill out a simple organizer to reflect and share on how the experience made them feel. Most importantly, however, is we discussed possible benefits from breaking out of our perceived comfort zone.
FULL DISTANCE WORKOUT: Let Go
For their final workout, I had everyone take what we've discussed and learned from the previous two workouts and apply them to their own personal setting.
And this was just the beginning of our day together. We had a long way to go! There were laughs, tears, honest discussions, reflections, and a great deal of sharing. And of course, we rocked out! It was a wonderful homecoming and truly a day to remember! A day where I tried to help my fellow educators find their smile, while giving them some tools to hopefully make this ultimate test of endurance more manageable.