It is late August, the early morning sunshine is streaming through the screen door and I have gathered my children for our first F.L.I.G.HT. morning meeting. Elijah rubs sleep from his teenage eyes, “Mom, your crazy! Let me get this straight you want us to get up an extra 10 minutes early every day so we can tell each other about our weaknesses…OK that sounds SUPER fun” the sarcasm drips from his voice.
“Listen,” I plead, “it is not really that bad. I just want the good things I do to start here with you…my own kids and then to spread out into the lives of the kids in my class.”
He shrugs still not convinced but skeptically leans against the couch willing to keep at least one eye open.
“Ok here is the plan.” I share with them my classroom theme for the year. It is F.L.I.G.HT. I have sketched out a beautiful blueprint of how I am going to bring my theme to life in my classroom. I will use colorful patterns and carefully thought out references to flying, and there will be birds everywhere. I will hang a canopy over my carpet and refer to it as, “The Nest”. But the most important part of F.L.I.G.HT. is not the furniture that Mike and I built over the summer or the hand painted mural, the best part of F.L.I.G.HT. is what it means.
The F is for fearless.
I am hoping I can teach the children in my life (both my cohabitants and coworkers) being fearless means to face your weakness. It means be willing to own the things you screw up and the stuff you wish you were better at.
The L is for learning.
To me learning is all about studying how to beat your weakness. As a self-help reading addict and a student of social psychology, I am always asking, “How can I become more?”
I is for improving.
Right smack is the middle, the I is the hardest part. I believe to improve you have to practice, practice, practice. You can admit your weak, you can know how to get better, but if you don’t put in the effort you will never change.
G is growing.
This summer I read Mindset by Carol Deweke. Having a growth mindset means you believe anyone can change and be better. For me it means believing the kids in my life can achieve greatness even if nature didn’t bless them them with an easy path.
The H and T go together…Hitting Targets.
If you know me, you know I am all about goal setting. I write them on my kid’s pillow cases, print them out on their checklists, and talk about them almost daily. I want all my kids to have huge goals. I want them to reach down and find some kind of quality they didn’t know they had.
I start out with F …being Fearless.
“OK kids. Here is mom’s weakness. I am too busy. I am trying to do so many things at once and sometimes it stresses me out. But I want you to know why I am going to attempt going to Master classes on Monday and Tuesday evening, after a day of teaching school. We have this goal that mom will be a principal and I need these extra classes to get my administrator’s certificate.”
Eden my six year old is crying. “But mommy, we need you too isn’t there another way?”
And that is when the magic happens…looking at her small face filled with tears I realize there has to be a different kind of solution. I make a few phone call and and find a program that is entirely online. Nope it is not the Top 10 school I had already registered for, but instead I will attend my classes sitting on the floor of my walk-in closet. It is a much better solution and I only found it because I was willing to share my weakness with my children.
And now there are 24 souls that sit at the edge of my Nest each day. They are amazingly courageous remarkable innovative problem solvers. They decide on the first day to reward all my efforts to make our classroom beautiful with hugs and smiles. With glad hearts they become my morning companions at our daily flight meetings.
When I share my weakness of getting upset before school when my son tells me he is reading his Kindle but I catch him watching you tube videos, they admit they have done this as well. “Mrs. Fante, I lie to my mom too much. Maybe next time I will put my dirty clothes in the hamper instead of under my bed.” We all laugh and talk about the kind of integrity you need to make blended learning work. We all agree to hold each other accountable for using our time wisely.
I can not imagine what a year of sharing my failures with these children is going to do for me. Here I thought F.L.I.G.HT. was about my efforts to improve their lives. But now I understand. I cannot reach them unless I am willing to let them help me. They need to see the real person who struggles each day to the edge of the nest, closes her eyes tight, and decides to stay safe or take a lead of faith off the cliff of herself to soar through endless skies. Somehow knowing my flight companions are perched waiting to see what happens makes my leap less of a decision and more of a commitment.