It's time for Gratitudesnaps Challenge 2020!! Who knew back in 2017 that Gratitudesnaps would become a global movement that would be going on 4 years! Read the story of how Gratitudesnaps was born and listen to a special episode of the Make Learning Magical podcast where Tara Martin and I chat about gratitude and launch Gratitudesnaps Challenge 2020! Listen HERE!
The Story of Gratitudesnaps
I was having a very teary day this week when my bestie, Tara Martin, sent me a Vox saying, "Hey girl, are you ready to start up #GratitudeSnaps again?!" It was like someone applied a defibrillator to my heart to jumpstart it back into rhythm. I knew in that moment that a flood of positivity is exactly what I needed in my life. As we chatted about the details of launching our 3rd annual #GratitudeSnaps, my heart swelled with gratitude and joy. Tara is a friend who has consistently "showed up" in my life through fire and rain. Together we've celebrated, cried, cannonballed, ate ice cream, and navigated wild and roaring class 4 rapids. She has been the REALest friend a girl could ask for. Each November of gratitude has found us in a different chapter of our story and yet, it always seems to come at the perfect time. When people begin to flood the Twittersphere with an outpouring of gratitude and love, you can't help but feel the joy. I am almost giddy with excitement to announce that #GratitudeSnaps 20 is launching Sunday, November 1st! Read the story of #GratitudeSnaps below to learn how #GratitudeSnaps began! Then, join us! It will bring joy to your heart, I guarantee it!!
The Story of #GratitudeSnapsSometimes the REALness of life tackles you like a herd of massive NFL football players, and you lie helplessly dogpiled beneath them. That's pretty close to my state of mind this past week. Of course, on this particular week, I (Tara) forgot to wear my "football helmet," and I paid for it. When I get this way, I begin to hyper-reflect. If you're unsure of that term, check out my blog here that peeks into the TMM brain aka the Highly Reflective One.
As I reflected on all sorts of current TMM circumstances, I felt myself seeping into a deep, dark place. Why? Because, the mind is a powerful, complex organ. In fact, it's essentially the boss of our bodies; it controls everything! It can also wire and rewire itself based on what we feed it. For example, when I dwelt on one negative thought, it created a synapse-connection in my mind. Then, negativity doesn't stop there. You see these types of thoughts are villains in my brain. So, they ran around tempting my STRONG positive synapse-connections to give way to another negative thought, and another and another, until a massive web of negativity consumed my thought-processing compartment. I was so disappointed in myself. In fact, the result was pitiful, to say the least. Within a very short amount of time, my mind was rewired with invalidating thoughts, a sense of complete inadequacy, frustration overload and pretty much a feeling of absolute worthlessness. How did I allow this to happen? Why? It's that thing called being a REAL human. However, this is when I needed a REAL friend. So, I messaged my friend, Tisha. She's my #SoulSister! In the valley or on the mountain top, this girl has my back.
After I had rambled on for what seemed like forever, she gave me some great advice.
REAL Talk - Friend to Friend
As I was talking with Tara, I could completely relate! I said to my friend, “We all find ourselves in that place of negativity at times. I know I do! Life is hard and full of unexpected twists, turns and bumps along the way. Ya know, when I find myself in that deep, dark place it always helps to look back at all of the pivotal events that have helped shape and bring me to where I’m at today. Sometimes those events are positive, and sometimes they are negative. Regardless, they’ve added to my story and if nothing else, made me stronger. Girl, look around you, reflect on the positive that is happening in your life….so many amazing things! Reflecting on those times, allows me to shift my focus from the negative of my current circumstance to all that I have to be grateful for.”
Listening to Tisha's input grounded me (Tara) and helped me "rewire" my brain by breaking some of the newly formed negative synapse-connections and begin replacing them with hopeful ones. I realized at this moment (and voiced it to Tisha)--gratefulness is missing in my life and spirit. That's my problem! I need to look around and realize all of the wonderful things happening in my life of which I should be grateful. In other words, I need to redesign my thought process aka get back to the REAL TMM!
As I was sharing this with Tara, an idea popped into my head! “Hey, Tara! What if you kept a 30-day Gratitude Journal?! Each day you could write about one thing to be grateful for to help climb out of this negativity pit!”
Another idea hit me upside the head that perfectly fit my dear soul sister! “Tara, what about creating #GratitudeSnaps! Instead of a journal, you could take a daily pic of something you are grateful for, make a snap out of it, and then share it out via social media! This would allow you to do what you love “create digitally” AND focus on the positives in your life! Just as #BookSnaps help us connect and draw meaning from the text, #GratitudeSnaps could help connect with the positive that is in our lives in a meaningful way.”
Tara’s Take On the Idea and The Challenge
Instantly, I loved the idea. Of course, as Tisha said, it’s using what I love, my passion of creating digitally and helping me to rewire my mindset. There is so much neuroscience to explain why this works beautifully for not only adults but students (and all humans), but I’ll not bore you with all of the details. However, as educators, it's vital that we try this method of counseling. It’s more than talking to someone; it’s tapping into their passions and strengths to help them overcome. Beautifully done, Tisha. That’s REAL friendship and REAL mentoring. You’re the best!
I’m guessing I’m not the only person in the world that might benefit from finding something to be grateful for each day and snapping it out. In fact, I do not want gratitude to simply hide in my Snap Story--let’s launch this EDUforce!
PLN peeps, have something to be grateful for?
Think you might snap it out each day and share it via Twitter or other social media platforms using the hashtag #GratitudeSnaps?
It’s that easy. Let’s do this thing!
Tisha, take it away.
Ok, Tara, I’m pumped!
So here’s the challenge:
Are you ready to storm the world with a POSITIVE #GratitudeSnaps force? I (Tara) am!
Let’s begin our 30-days of #GratitudeSnaps on November 1, 2020!
The world has plenty of negativity, let’s spread gratitude! We have so much of which to be thankful.
Bring Gratitudesnaps to your School or Classroom
Curate Gratitudesnaps in your school or classroom using the Gratitudesnaps Challenge Template below. Share the link with your staff or students, or embed in your LMS. Each day, have people post their gratitudesnaps to the day's column. You can customize the Padlet options depending on the setting and age of participants. You can choose to approve posts, allow likes or comments, etc. If everyone takes part, think of how much gratitude could be collected and shared!
I fell in love with the movie "The Greatest Showman" the first time I saw it and though I have heard this song many times, for some reason when I listened to a Youtube video of Pink singing, "A Million Dreams", with her daughter Willow, the floodgates opened. This song. At this moment. Awoke something in my soul.
'Cause every night, I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
Oh, a million dreams for the world we're gonna make
-Pink, A Million Dreams, The Greatest Showman: Reimagined
When I left the culinary classroom to be a Tech Integration Specialist after 22 years of teaching, I had never loved teaching more. I was saying goodbye to a room that had made a metamorphosis into a magical place where students were immersed, empowered and ready to leave a legacy. My classroom wasn’t the only thing that went through a transformation though, I had as well. I wasn’t the teacher that four years prior was ready to call it quits and run to the comfort of a local coffee shop to perfect the art of making a latte. I was leaving because of the million magical dreams that filled my head and kept me awake at night. I knew that if my heart could be restored with joy, passion and a love for teaching and learning, it could happen for others too.
Two years and a few months later, I know it was the right decision to make. Who knew that the decision to leave the classroom to help others find joy would drop me in the middle of a global pandemic that has caused enormous disruption on our world and education as we know it. Certainly not I. Leaning into the tumultuous change isn't easy. In fact it threatens the joy, passion, and love for teaching and learning that we are all so desperately trying to hold onto. When we are forced to shake up the status quo and reimagine our teaching practice in a way that fits our current reality...it's uncomfortable...super uncomfortable. It reveals inequalities, gaping holes, and inefficiencies. We also mourn what was, and everything we loved about how things used to be. But here's the deal, we can't sit back and wait for things to go back to normal. Our kids are looking to us to bring the magic and make learning come alive. We can't waste a moment dreaming about what was, we must make the most of what is and dream about what could be.
I left the classroom to be a Tech Integration Specialist, but secretly I really wanted to be called a Joy Specialist. My heart longs to restore the joy of teaching and learning that so often gets clouded with the pressures that come with education. Joy is contagious, but it also is courageous. We have to choose it. Every day. We must decide to be intentional about choosing to find wonder, and magic in the world around us and go beyond what is comfortable to find what is best. I see how incredibly hard educators are working. There are many great obstacles that none of us ever would have imagined we'd experience in education. As if education wasn't challenging enough... add in social distancing, masks, screen time, hybrid and distance learning, Zoom, Learning Management Systems, to name a few. Each one adds a new complexity that threaten our sanity. It's easy to gravitate to the negative when it feels like everything that was comfortable has been taken away. It's painful. We're mourning. Yet, there are magical things happening in the midst of the disruption. I see it first hand as I peak into virtual classrooms and hear the stories as I chat with teachers during virtual office hours. Teaching and learning may look different right now. We may feel like first year teachers again. However, when we tune in to the positive, our perspective shifts and helps us focus on everything we love about this incredible profession. We begin to realize that our kids are looking to us to bring hope, joy, and magic to a world that seemingly has gone mad. The stress, uncertainty, and fear that threatens to suffocate our students, can be replaced with the desire to thrive and leave a legacy on this world.
What if joy became foundational to all we do? What if joy was the heartbeat of our schools? The reality is, most would love to infuse heaps of joy into their brick and click classrooms, but it seems like a futile dream. The stakes are too high, the pressure too great. What if I fail? What if the parents peeking into my Zoom classroom think I’m crazy? What if my test scores don’t improve? What if? What if? What if?
In the book 18 Minutes, author Peter Bregman shares the story of the overnight sensation, Susan Boyle. She walked onto the UK television show, Britain’s Got Talent stage to only be mocked and ridiculed. It wasn’t till the music started and she began to sing that the millions of people watching were stunned by the angelic voice coming from a seemingly ordinary person.
“There is grace in being molded by your own gifts. To allow yourself to be molded by your own gifts takes courage. You have to be willing to stand there, exposed and authentic , while the audience rolls their eyes at you and sneers, expecting failure. And then, of course, you have to fail, laugh or cry, and keep going until, one day they stop laughing and start clapping.”
-18 Minutes, Peter Bregman
When I think of every educator in our world right now. I think of courage. You are showing up every day exposed and authentic, while sometimes the audience rolls their eyes and sneers, expecting failure. And yet, you keep going, failing, succeeding, laughing, crying...because your students need you. What if we leaned into our disruption and discomfort and let joy propel us? How would that shift teaching and learning in our schools? How would that change the way our students view education and life-long learning?
DREAM IN BRIGHT COLOR
We may feel ordinary or awkward, but if we dare to dream in bright color think of the possibility! The truth is, the magic is in you. We don’t need to remain caterpillars, we can become butterflies! But, it takes courage to dream and to believe that there is more; that we don’t have to do things the way we’ve always done them. We can do better.
When I think back on my journey, I think of how, like my classroom, I’ve gone through a sort of metamorphosis as an educator by daring to dream. There were people that scoffed, snickered, and ridiculed; there still are. But once I knew that what was happening in my classroom was making a difference, I began to ignore the naysayers. There was no turning back. I stopped focusing on, “What if I fail?” and began to focus on, “What if they fly?” Right now whether we chose this journey or not, we are all in a metamorphosis. We can try to stay huddled in our cocoons, waiting for everything to go back to normal or we can embrace the transformation and prepare to fly into a world waiting to be explored.
FIND THE JOY SEEKERS AND SUNSHINE SPREADERS
I choose to find the joy seekers & sunshine spreaders; the people who inspire, challenge, and encourage me to keep going when I feel defeated. We all need people in our lives that tell us through their words and actions, “I believe in you!” Sometimes you will find that those you think are going to be your biggest cheerleaders, are the ones that let you down. Don’t let them take you down. Often times it’s their own insecurities that prevent them from finding joy in your transformation. Find your peeps and hold onto them. So grateful for those that continuously support and challenge me to keep seeking joy and following my dreams.
START DREAMING...YOU HOLD THE MAGIC!
A Million Magical dreams has become my anthem. It is the first on my running playlist every morning. Just listening to the words fills me with joy and inspires me to keep chasing after my dreams and all that I believe in. What could our schools become if we dared to reimagine them as magical places of joy? Listen to this beautiful version of 'A Million Dreams' sung by Pink and her daughter Willow and start envisioning what would happen if we dared to dream in bright color. You hold the magic!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.