To Feel Like Home

Happy August. In Texas, it's typically the hottest month,
but also a season filled with anticipation and joy
as schools reopen and prepare for another year
of stretching, learning, connecting, and growth. 

Today my heart is filled with sudden and large gratitude.
Despite all of the horrible things going on worldwide,
there are always reasons to give thanks.

First, last night I got to meet a teacher I started following on Twitter a few years back. She's been a guest on our podcast and she's invited me to Skype chat with her class. My heart soared to be able to practice 5-finger breathing with her Kindergarten kindness crusaders. Oh and we also danced Das Fliegerlied

But since she's in town for a Conference, last night marked 
the first face-to-face meeting between Laurie and me.
Our first in-real-time smiles.
Our first embrace.
Our first group Selfie.
An USie. At an Astros game.

And despite the distance between Canada and TX,
it felt like we've known one another forever,
proof that caring connections know no geography.

Dressed in our H-town colors,
they were one of us;
sitting next to them for a spell,
we were one of them.
It was an electrically comfortable moment
and we wanted to keep them here forever.

Tonight our friends Jessica and Jody are gathering with us
to sit around a table and reconnect over dinner. Yum!

On Friday, I had the pleasure of returning to FISD,
to sponsor a table at our New Teachers Luncheon.
You might remember that I was the keynote speaker
at last year's event; this year, instead of one speaker,
they decided to invite a panel of experts,
learners from second grade to senior.
They answered a series of questions, but 
what has latched on to me isn't the question
so much as the answer: Comfortable.
It's the word that four of the five of them used
to describe how they want to feel this year.
From the heads and hearts of our future.

The dictionary definitions?
Providing physical ease and relaxation,
affording or enjoying contentment and security.

Don't those sound dreamy?
They want their teacher to facilitate a comfortable feeling.
{Wait you're wondering what the other student wants? To feel capable.}
They want their school to feel like home.

And yet, isn't it our job to help them step out of their
comfort zones, to stretch and struggle?
And how do those co-exist?

Maybe it's a give and take, even as it's also take and give.

How do you ensure your students' comfortability?

Finally, a serendipitous story to share.

The day I finished up at FISD, my 57th birthday,
fell on the district's end-of-the-year luncheon.
It's our annual opportunity to recognize
Teachers of the Year along with retirees. 
When they called my name to come to the front
 to get my parting gift, one of our School Board members,
David Montz, asked me, "When are you coming back?"

It seemed an odd question, especially under the heavy burden
of my compassion fatigue and sadness at saying goodbye
to a place where I'd spent a quarter of a century,
to the people whom I'd known and loved so well.

Throughout the year, I thought about David's inquiry.
I loved the trainings and workshops and assemblies
that I was able to lead during my encore career,
but I missed those relationships like crazy.
Oh sure, I kept busy writing about it and talking about it,
even as I planted seeds of passion, hope, empathy, and love 
in the hearts of countless enthusiastic educators in the field,
but I missed having a school to call home.
I missed the day in and out of living my purpose.
I missed actually doing the holy work
with students, staff, and stakeholders.

So David, to answer your question, I'll be back next year,
not to FISD, but to a neighboring district.
Turns out I just needed a year-long time out.
And for the perfect part-time coaching position to come along.
So that I can still do my consulting and speaking,
but also be a part of a school family of my own.
This school family.

I can totally picture myself standing between
these two leaders as one of them.
And Labor Day can't get here fast enough,
because I'm going {to my new} home.

Eeeeeeek; more details to come
as we get them ironed out.

Until then, a throwback to 2012;
enjoy this Phillip Phillips ballad HOME.

What takes you home and gives you
sudden and large gratitude?

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