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What is my why?

Today a few of us started a Renegade Leadership book study at school.  We went around the table and answered the question,

“What is your why for participating in this book study?”

My answer was simple – I want to change the learning landscape on behalf of ALL students.

What do I mean? I want students to see themselves as pure potential, to realize the possibilities that they never imagined for themselves.  I want to give them opportunities to shine as George Couros would say.  I want them to see the relevance in what they are doing.  I want to connect them to a future none of us can possibly envision.  I want them to know they matter, that their voices are heard.  That they are the most important people in the room and it is an honor and privilege to serve them. And I want all teachers and administrators to feel the same. Am I asking too much?

As we went around the table and others shared their why I realized how personal my why really is.  Here are Feehan (6th grader) and Emerson (9th grader) both students in my district and while I am fighting for all kids I am fighting especially hard for these two.

  • I want them to continue to be curious
  • I want them to question and be questioned
  • I want them to take risks
  • I want them to make contributions to their community
  • I want them to be empowered
  • I want them to find their passion
  • I want them to know they matter


And I hope, desperately, that all their teachers want the same –  not only for them, but all the kids they have the honor and privilege of serving.

As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. – Haim G. Ginott

13 thoughts on “What is my why?

  1. Way to go, Chris! Your heart is in teaching for all the right reasons, that’s for sure. I like how you added quotes by famous people. Would love to see follow-up posts with updates as your group journeys through the book. Keep up the great work.


  2. Hey Pal,

    First, SUPER jazzed that you are planning on blogging again! I was thinking yesterday about how interesting it is that our county’s goal is for every STUDENT to have an outward facing digital portfolio, but that we don’t nudge teachers in that direction, too! You can start to model the importance of public reflection for both your students and your teachers here.

    Second, this quote resonated with me: “I want them to know they matter, that their voices are heard.”

    What’s tricky about that is nothing in our required curriculum really sings with a larger purpose. I think about science, where I’ve spent the last three days teaching about the rock cycle. It really feels boring even to me! I’m not sure that I can find a way to turn that into a larger purpose that would really resonate with kids. Do you think that the curriculum acts as a barrier to our attempts to introduce real purpose to our everyday instruction?

    Finally, a blogging tip: If you want to turn this into a digital portfolio, you should start to use the evaluation standards that you are held accountable for as “categories” for each post. That was something I picked up from George — and I wish I had heard about it sooner because I’ve already written 1,000 posts with different categories!

    If you use your evaluation standards as categories, then you can quickly and easily sort posts during those moments when you are being evaluated to find evidence that you are meeting yoru standards. And if you start with your first posts, you won’t be stuck with an overwhelming job of recategorizing everything a few years down the road!

    Lemme know if you need any help,


    1. Bill,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts. Your ‘cheerleading’ on behalf of Wonderwake has really lit a fire! Thanks for the tip – I tagged them with standards but didn’t categorize – that will be really helpful when I am going over my evaluation.
      You bring up an interesting point about the curriculum. I thought about the conversation we had the other day about the 35 random questions on the EOG. It is so challenging when it seems our strategic plan speaks to 4C skills and relevance but the assessments measure a year’s worth of curriculum in 35 questions. How do we strike that balance? The age old question. You have gotten me thinking about my next blog post.


  3. Christine, Your passion for students and being an educator rings out loud and clear! GREAT job! You wrote….”I want to change the learning landscape on behalf of ALL students.” You are doing just that! I see it, and I am certain so do all the other educators and students who have the privilege to work with you! I am honored to be your friend and colleague! Keep writing! Can’t wait to read more!


  4. I enjoyed reading your post. It is important for teachers to know their why. It makes teaching and learning personal. You have an awesome why. Your children are lucky for a wonderful mother and your students are lucky for an excellent teacher. Often we don’t think enough about our why or don’t take enough to time to reflect. As we grow as parents and teachers are why will grow with us. Thank you for sharing and making #wondewake a great place to live and learn.


    1. Thanks so much Kevin! I really appreciate your support. I think reflecting on our why everyday is extremely important – in planning, in meetings, in conversations about kids.


  5. Chris,
    Thank you so much for starting your blogging again. I am gaining so much inspiration from all of you. I love your connections to you child and friends as the most important reason as a foundation for ALL students!!


    1. Juliette – I really feel like last week was transformational. I am inspired by you and our amazing PLN everyday. I can’t wait to read your thoughts and continue to grow in our work.


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