I’m Fired Up

lightgrenadeI was a Junior in high school the first time I got fired up. My best friend stormed up to me and smashed a burnt CD into my chest and said, “Listen to all of this…” I still remember the fire in his eyes as he continued, “…loud.” Later that day, I did just that. What came blistering and blaring out of my speakers rattled my windows and set me on fire: How I Spent My Summer Vacation by The Bouncing Souls.

I met a lot of people that made me feel alright
and their music’s got me through the night.

That’s how I met The Souls and why, thirteen years later, they’ve never left my play list. It goes beyond music. We started to go to Souls show and realized it is like going to Church. You clap in time and sway and yellalong as one big, sweaty mass and at the end of the show you feel Saved. You feel ready to take on the world. Few things in life fire me up like the Souls, but in the last six months I’ve found something else that does: Google Teacher Academy.

Yesterday I was a loser.
Today I’m winning.
Today you’re mine and the world is ours.

Last July, I was selected to attend GTA: Atlanta. Atlanta couldn’t have come at a better time. I was hurting before Atlanta. I felt alone in thinking we could do better for students and teachers. I’d been making serious changes to my class that the kids loved and produced results, but others didn’t get it, so I began to close my classroom door and keep to myself. In Atlanta, someone told me I felt that way because I was “so far out and in front, that I was irrelevant” to most people, but I shouldn’t give up because I was in a room of people who felt like I did. People will eventually get it. It takes time. The passion of the people there gave me the strength to keep going. I was a bomb waiting to go off and Atlanta helped me detonate in the right direction. Fast forward six months. I’ve just spent the last three days as a Lead Learner for GTA: Austin and I got those feels all over again. What is so inspiring and energizing to me has nothing to do with Google tools or the talent of the people in the room (which is mighty). For me, it’s the fire. Their passion fuels mine. Just like Atlanta, I’m leaving Austin fired up. I left both GTAs ready to take on the world. I left Saved.

I’m leaving everything behind for a peace that I can’t find.

GTA: Austin couldn’t have come at a better time because I needed some saving. I’ve been hurting again. I’m currently unemployed. Last week, I left the classroom; I abandoned my kids. At least that’s how I felt because I never dreamed I would leave the classroom. Teaching is literally my favorite thing in the world, but when I was told about an opportunity to 10x my passion, how could I say no?

A movement with no leaders, we stand tonight hearts in our hands.

I have a new job now. Next week, I begin my tenure as an Edtech Coach at my new K-8 district, one of the best in the state, where I’m going to fireup 10x more students and now have the privilege to fireup a hundred+ talented teachers. It is a dream job. It wasn’t an easy decision though.

If I want to change the world, it’s gotta start with me.

I hate school. School, in its current incarnation, is wrong. Students AND teachers deserve better because we can do better. I can’t count on anyone else to fix school. It has to start with me. I’ve never hid these feelings from my kids. In fact, it’s an ongoing discussion I’ve had with students for years. So when I broke the news to my kids that I was leaving, mid year no less, I was humbled when many of them told me they were proud that I was following my passion and they look forward to see, as one kid put it, “the wake of awesome” I was going to leave behind as I “Rampage American school systems.”

I built this cloud I can break it
The world can’t change how I feel
Because I know it’s a lie
My heart is real

Like Holden, I felt that I got the goodbye I needed, but something was still eating me up: fear. I’m scared. What if I suck at this new job? What if no one likes me? What if no one gets me? I’ve only taught high school English, what if I don’t “get” K-8. What if my old administrator was right when they told me “I’m too much” and should “calm down.”

So tell me why our movement’s out of time? Are we so out of line?

Thanks to GTA: Austin, Just like after Atlanta, I’m fired up. I saw again there are other great educators fighting the good fight that I can lean on. I was inspired by the other Lead Learners, CUE crew, and Googlers who shared their expertise and passion and learned along with everyone there reaffirming their commitment to disrupting education. I remembered I can’t let fear stop me because I know kids and teachers deserve better and I’m not alone in that belief.

Well you can fight or you can run,
Hide under a rock till the war is won,
Play it safe and don’t make a sound,
But not us we won’t back down

I like to set goals. Here are my new 10x goals for my job:

  • Take the big data from testing and make it meaningful and lead to better learning outcomes
  • Create world-class learning programs for my kids
  • Revolutionize professional development for teachers

The tone of this blog will likely change to reflect my new position and goals, but one thing that won’t change is my passion. I won’t be taking prisoners. I hope you’ll come along for the ride and get fired up with me because it’s up to us to save the world.

Until Next Time,

We live our life in our own way,
Never really listened to what they say,
The kind of faith that doesn’t fade away
We are the True Believers