Thursday, July 3, 2014

Letting Go...

My good friend, and one of the most amazing educators I know, Andrea Trudeau, shared some wisdom with me when I had my baby a couple years ago that has been embedded in my mind ever since. When I first returned back to work after having my daughter, Gia, Andrea and I were talking and she shared with me something her mother had told her about parenting. She said that being a parent is a series of "letting go" moments. That day I returned to work was one of the hardest days of my life. I'll never forget that drive to work and how sad I felt that I had "left my baby." After all, we had been inseparable since the minute she was born, and now I felt I had "left her.” Luckily, that first day was the hardest and it got better after that. One of the things that helped me was that talk with Andrea and hearing her mom's words of wisdom. I started embracing "letting go” as a natural part of the parenting process. With parenting, you're "letting go" at so many stages of your child's life: early on with childcare, their first day of kindergarten, and eventually middle & high school. Then there are instances such as their: first sleepover, school dance, first date, college, and moving out. There are so many things I can think of. I have barely begun this "letting go" journey with my little one, but I'm at least arming myself with an open mindset for "letting go.”

When I learn something that I like and it makes sense to me, I relate it to other things in life. I make connections. That's what happened with embracing this idea of "letting go.” From thinking about it with parenting, I've transferred it to something else that I love so much: education.

I went to a Genius Hour session at an EdCamp this year, and the Self-Determination Theory was mentioned. The theory says in order to boost intrinsic motivation it is important to focus on three main aspects: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This made so much sense to me because we truly learn something when we have some choice in what we want to learn, can successfully accomplish something, and are able to make some connections.
In the classroom, implementing things like Digital Badges or Genius Hour would be great opportunities for allowing students to have more control of their learning. Digital badges can motivate students to want to accomplish their own learning goals. And focusing on the "passion-based" tenets of Genius Hour is one way to drive student motivation. By creating learning opportunities like these, we are "letting go" of some of the control, and at the same time empowering students’ curiosity and interest in what they are learning.
As caring adults and educators, we can embrace "letting go" in so many ways, sometimes in our classrooms and sometimes in the way we think. We all know that things change in education all the time. Embracing a "letting go" mindset can help when something is changing that we've known for quite some time. Letting go doesn't mean you stop caring. In fact, it shows you care a lot. Letting go is not easy. Especially when all we want is the best for someone, or for something. It's easy to think well, if I control what's happening, that will have the best outcome, and that is not always the case. What's important is that we instill the necessary values and skills in our children, so that when we do let go, they will be ready and able to succeed in life.

We need to let go, in order for our children to grow.

Embracing “Letting Go” can be a powerful thing.