New people freak me out. Some of you might find that surprising, but it is true. I'm usually nervous and often convinced I am a loser, weirdo. It's the truth. And I suppose that just goes to show that you can't always tell what is happening on the inside.
I pushed myself a year ago, subconsciously at first, to say yes to more things -- and embrace opportunities. I think it started with something really small, where when I usually would've said no, I didn't. It had a lot to do with how many people I lost over a five year period. I sort of reached a point where I figured that it was now or never. Anyway, it lead to some really awesome stuff.
I've met some kind, intelligent, innovative, and encouraging people. When I pushed past my nervousness and fear, I discovered the world is full of really cool people. There are TONS of people who are supportive of students -- and people you might not expect.
CASE IN POINT: First of all, I want to say that I ADORE those hard-working people at Khan Academy. I'm not even kidding. They have a goal to provide a world-class education to ALL people. Their target audience is the kids in my classes — kids who don't have access to private tutors, and special equipment. Did you know they host LIVE SAT prep sessions with teachers, professors and the like? They hold LIVE AP Test prep too. Kids can talk to experts as they prepare for those test.
One of the coolest Khan people I've met, (beside Mr. Khan himself -- who is kind, generous, thoughtful and DETERMINED to make sure that EVERYONE has access to education) is a computer genius named Pamela Fox. If you go to Khan Academy and take any of their computer classes, you will hear her voice. My students and I followed her lessons on Java Script last year, and listened to her explain all the coding to us. This year we've been listening to her explain HTML/CSS. She is a really AWESOME teacher and we have LEARNED A TON. Even in her computer lessons, she exudes joy, enthusiasm and a positive attitude toward true learning -- with mistakes and retrying a part of the process. Amazingly enough, she came to visit our campus last year. She DROVE all the way to Napa and spent the day talking to my students! They knew her ON THE SPOT because they recognized her voice. During our lunch break, we had to smuggle her around behind our buildings because if we had taken her across the playground, she would've been mobbed. She was a ROCK STAR.
I tweet her from time to time -- just to let her know we appreciate the work she's done for Khan Academy. I think it is important to say thank you to all the people who create cool stuff for students. I let her know that my 4th, 5th and 6th graders were taking on HTML/CSS and learning every day. OF COURSE, she tweeted back -- encouraging words that I passed along to my students. AND now she's sent me a message that a "care package" is headed our way. She's just the sweetest person -- doing important work -- an important player in an important company, but she's got the energy and time to remember a group of elementary kids. I think maybe it shows her deep commitment to the heart of that big company -- it is all about the kids!
Can I also talk about the amazing folks at The 49er Museum? I've mentioned them before, but my love for them is pretty deep -- and I don't really care about football, so you know this is big. They are SO supportive of schools like ours. They want ALL kids to have access to quality science, technology, engineering and math experiences. They want to make sure that ALL kids get to go on cool field trips to experience great things. Jesse Lovejoy, the director of their education department is so committed to the vision of the Museum. He and his staff have been so supportive -- responding to my questions, and taking the time to talk to me and my students about their STEAM activities.
And there is my endless love to my friends at Class Dojo -- they have been so great. They are a positive influence on not just the kids on my campus, but kids all over the place. Their videos on Growth Mindset and Persistence are GREAT. More than that though, our weekly twitter chats have introduced me to whole group of educators all over the United States. They are my SQUAD. We talk together about ways to encourage students to strive to do their best both academically, and to strive to do their best to build a positive classroom community. Jenna Klein and her crew are so great! They even welcomed my kids and I when we were cruising near their offices, and took the time to talk with us. It was pretty amazing.
I mention all of these people by name because it is people like this who should be our rock stars, and celebrities; people who are committed to an idea — that education is for everyone and should be a positive experience for the students. They are determined and focused on what is real, important and good. And I never would have known ANY of them, if I hadn't embraced a different perspective on life. I began to approach life with an open hand -- ready to accept that what was being handed to me was good. I honestly can't imagine my life now without the influence of these kind people, and their companies.
Best of all, is the way that are spurring me on to do the same for those around me. I might not be as kind, generous, and supportive as Pamela Fox, Jesse Lovejoy, and Jenna Klien, but their kind support has encouraged me to slow down and try to offer encouragement and support to those around me. I'm not there, YET (as little Mojo would say), but I'm working on it. The world of education SHOULD be the most supportive and encouraging place, and it can be -- if you know the right people. ;)