Everything I’ve accomplished in life would be void if it weren’t for the people in my life, specifically my classroom teachers, who pushed and challenged me to go to the next level.

 

I am a product of those who have invested their entire heart into me.

 

Now, when I say classroom teachers, you may be thinking of a typical room where the learning takes place, but watch what happens when we broaden the horizon and adjust our scope.

 

My case and point:

To my one and only high-school principal, who spent the time to actually know me and challenge me as I sat in his office explaining how I felt lost- thank you for hearing me.

 

To that one college professor who gave me a second chance when I was undeserving- I truly give thanks for everything you believed that I could become. As I sat in your office on the last day of the semester, completing makeup work, something shifted inside of me.

 

To Nick, who took me aside in a dorm room to teach me about leadership and to channel my inner strength- I honor you and give thanks for your willingness to share.

 

To Drill Sergeant McKeaver and Kinard, whose classroom was the rugged terrain in which we worked, slept and toiled in, day in and day out- I thank you both for instructing me on how to lead with actions.

 

To Paul, who took me aside in an engineering office in downtown Fort Worth and shared his stories of success and failure- thank you for opening up and being real; you continue to inspire me.

 

There are many different “classrooms” we opt into in our lifetime, whether self-chosen or not (and no matter your career path in life), and they all amount to the total and complete you.

 

Pause and realize the many classrooms you have grown in. Pretty humbling, right?

 

These relationship-driven leaders viewed me not only as an employee, a private in the Army, a colleague or even a student. It is so refreshing and powerful to learn that they sought to give me

growth down to the core of my true self and that they had set this as their mission.

 

Life empowering change can occur anytime or place as we approach our mission boldly. This is a core concept I bought into early on that I challenge you to take hold of.

 

We are on a mission.

We are on a mission to build relationships with kids, teachers and our fellow world-changers (and yes- I said world). We are being called and relied upon to spark change, lead the way and step up for what is wholly good. We are the ones working long hours and unifying in numbers because we have caught a glimpse of the future. We have come to an agreement about the importance of our work, right now.

 

We are on a mission to change education and our destination is growth, perpetual-positive change, not a final “this is finished and we can relax now” thing… No!

 

We have all heard, felt and accepted this mission (if you haven’t realized it until now, then welcome to the movement!). We enlist into this the moment we understand why we teach and the immense gravity of it all.

 

If we are so passionate about education and empowering kids and educators, why are we still going about it in a way that questions those that want to be brave and try it out?

 

I decided early on that I will not be a part of that culture. I will approach this mission- our mission- with bravery.

 

Here are the 6 ways I encourage us all to look at our role and to begin approaching the mission with increased bravery.

 

Begin with relationships. Show students you can love and listen

No matter what, you have to be willing to stand in the gap for your students. Life will take a hold on them and cause hurt, pain and confusion, but through it all you hold the power to speak life to them. It takes bravery, not a planned response. Relationships aren’t always easy, but they are always worth it.

 

Guard your heart and your head

I experienced a setback in 2017, during my first year teaching, where I had lost my mentor and was left alone. At first, I thought I was in the wrong because negative self-talk had become my normal, but certain educators stepped in and cleared the debris that had accumulated. I can not say this enough, especially since it nearly ruined my first year, but you must form healthy relationships with those you can trust and never forget to trust yourself. You are good, you are capable and your worth is not determined by a mentor or a colleague that tries to maintain a hold on you.

 

Lead and Teach in a way that inspires others to want to join the movement

This is crucial. This is the very reason I switched career paths to become a teacher.

 

Find Your Niche

You may not know it at first, but you have a void to fill. What problems will you solve? What educators will you help and inspire? Find your niche and excel at it.

 

Celebrate Wins

This seems simple enough, but how often do we continue to stay busy and barrel our way through the week without stopping to admire the greatness happening at your school?

 

Try, Take Risks and Approach Everything With Bravery

Having a growth mindset is more than being willing to make mistakes. You must be open enough to share in the process with those around you.

 

Let’s keep focused on our shared mission and change the education landscape together.

If you have other ideas or ways we can increase our bravery, let’s talk about it and share. Collaboration is key to our continued success.

 

Stay Brave.

 


Josh Strickland is a second year educator teaching 4th grade in Anna, TX. When not in the classroom, Josh is a proud dad, husband, and serves in the National Guard. For more by Josh check out joshdstrickland.com

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