There have been times in my professional life when I was going through the motions. I put one foot in front of the other and smiled all the way. I wasn’t depressed, I was just more numb than other times. I was unfocused. My mind didn’t seem fully awake.
Then there are times when my brain is on fire with an almost giddy excitement. This happens when I have a thread of thinking that weaves throughout my days. I can’t shake the thoughts… and I don’t want to shake them. My mind doesn’t want to quit. I’m driven by a question that I’m striving to answer. I want to share my thinking and toss it around with someone to try it out. It is empowering. Sure, I still put one food in front of the other through my daily routines; but there is, no doubt, a new spring in my step.
When I set these two opposing mindsets up against each other, there is one clear difference. It is when I have a question … something I’m curious about … driving my reflection time, that my mind is more awake. The curiosity isn’t in the forefront of my mind 100% of my day, but it winds its way into my attention whenever I’m idle.
Shelley and I create this for each other when we think and write together. We have always had a question that we are informally researching. For years we wondered about relational leadership. We wondered if relational leaders can meet the needs of an entire school community. Then the question morphed into different variations of the same curiosity. Can anyone become a relational leader? Is there hope that all educational leaders can see the value in the colleagues they serve? How is servant leadership applied in the really tough situations? What are the common values of a relational leaders? How do we use these flexibly knowing we are serving diverse individuals?
All educators deserve the freedom and exhilaration of exploring their own questions about their craft. Living a question and talking (and even writing) with others to refine thoughts over time awakens the mind. However, it requires a freedom and sense of independence to get started. Curiosity breeds this freedom, but a sliver of autonomy is needed to even begin to want to answer a question.
I guess it is a bit of a feedback loop. Staying curious in a profession over many years can cultivate new levels of autonomy and agency. We work toward these things for our students, but what about us?
“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”
― Tony Schwartz
So a blog is born.
We are choosing to blog about staying curious for several reasons:
- We wish to serve educators by empowering each other to stay uncertain – to stay curious about our craft.
- We wish to hold each other accountable and support our current curiosities through writing.
- We wish to provide a platform for others to ask their own questions and for colleagues that they may never meet to wonder with them.
- We wish to accept the challenge to “never stop trying to learn and grow”.
After all, we are in the business of learning as educators. If it is good for our students, it is good for us, right? We work tirelessly to encourage discovery and growth in our students. Staying curious ourselves can give us the spring in our step we so deserve.
(And, sometimes it seems like the world is filled with certainties and absolutes about the teaching profession. Non-educators sometimes speak as if they have it all figured out. The world isn’t asking us what we wonder about our craft.)
This is up to us.
What do you wonder? We invite you to frame a question for yourself. Write it down. Live that question for a week. Come back and share. Let’s put a collective spring in our steps… together.
For learning… and for our learners,
~ Erin and Shelley