This has been the most incredible week! It’s a week that I’ll never forget! I’m so overwhelmed by all of the emails, tweets, and kind words I’ve heard this week that I have a lump in my throat and feel as though my heart could actually burst. I’m so fortunate to have such amazing colleagues, parents, and friends (both online and offline) — thank you!
In between conferences today, I’ve spoken to many people (teachers, administrators, and parents), and as they ask me about the week, here’s basically what I’ve said, “The week was AMAZING! It was surreal! I’m glad to be back to some normalcy though. I missed school!” This week was way outside of my comfort zone.
The truth is that I really struggle in unstructured, social situations. I don’t like mingling. I find it hard to start a conversation with people that I don’t know. And in most cases, I’m actually a very private person. I don’t like being in the spotlight. This week was the exact opposite of that!
I had to get over that this week, and this was a very hard thing to do! Here’s what I did to help:
- I tried to stay with my mom. She’s great at mingling, and she’s wonderful at talking to people (that she knows or doesn’t know). I wish that I could be like her! She was my guest for the week, and having her there was fantastic! Not only did I get to share an amazing experience with such a special person, but I also knew that she was there to support me, and this made all of the difference. After she started conversations, I could join in, which helped make me feel more at ease!
- I talked myself into taking a risk. I set goals for myself, just like I do every day at school! My goal for each social event was to go up and initiate at least one conversation. Before I went to chat, I thought about what I was going to say, and then I did it! Yes, it was hard, and sometimes it was awkward, but I met my goal! This made me happy!
- I found “friends.” One of the great things about an experience like this one is that you’re probably not going to be the only person that feels this way. I quickly found a couple of other award winners that felt like I did, and we enjoyed socializing together! I made some amazing connections and learned a lot from these conversations (especially in regards to Social Studies), and I felt so much more comfortable as well!
- I laughed (and joked) a lot! There were lots of photographs happening this week, and I do not like getting my picture taken! (In fact, last year, I even managed to make it through the School Picture Day and Photo Retake Day without getting one done. Shhh … don’t tell! :)) I think it’s because photographs (especially in this situation) put you back in the limelight, and I struggle with this! So to help me feel more comfortable, I made LOTS of jokes! I can be quite sarcastic, and thankfully, the photographer and media coordinator found me amusing. There were many “let’s tease Aviva” moments, but these made me feel more comfortable, and that was a good thing!
- I reminded myself that we all had to step outside of our comfort zone in one way or another this week. A great example of this is when I heard the number of award winners speak about how concerned they were about the “five minute teacher talk.” Many spoke about rarely talking in front of colleagues. For me though, presentations are what I do! I love to talk with teachers, and I especially love talking about my fantastic students! Realizing that we all have our strengths and needs (even as teachers) was a good way to help me get through the more difficult times!
So when I arrived home late last night, I saw a tweet about this article in The Hamilton Spectator. I so appreciated my principal, Paul Clemens’, lovely words. (I’d thank him again, but I promised him — somewhat — not to! :)) What really caught my attention about this post was that the “students plan to recognize [me] in an assembly on Monday.” What?! I emailed Paul and explained that I’m a very “private” person, but I guess that this assembly is already planned. 🙂 It looks as though I’ll be doing some more risk-taking come Monday. I can do this — right?
How do you step out of your comfort zone? What are the benefits in doing so? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!