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Guiding Your Own Growth

Guiding Your Own Growth – Guest Blog By Kaila Gilley.

You against the world. On the one hand, this sentiment frees. You choose an untraditional education route for your child, at least in part, because of its liberty—your kids, your family unit, your choice: your opportunity. On the other hand, however, it is a heavy opportunity. Guiding your own growth can sometimes be heavy.

It’s pressure like a drip, drip, drip, that’ll never stop,” sings Jessica Darrow in Disney’s Encanto. “Pressure that’ll tip, tip, ’til you just go pop.” It’s all on you. These tiny humans you birthed, and then you poured into each your every morsel of energy, love, patience, and humanity. Your heart is outside of your body.

Them, then you.

You (and your partner) shoulder responsibility for their academic education, emotional well-being, physical capacity, intellectual stimulation, character development, social health, etc. You wear all of the hats and play all of the roles.

“Who am I if I can’t carry it all?”

Our phenomenal project-based learning (PBL) charter school had a massive crush on professional development when I was in the classroom. In the morning, he brought her protein shakes, which they used to toast to life-long learning; they stayed up late discussing how best to keep teachers’ passions aflame.

We had professional development (PD) most mornings for an hour before school, meeting within teaching teams (the combination of Math, Science, English and Social Studies teachers), within departments (English Teachers), within grade levels (9th-grade teachers), with our mentos, with our leadership, with support for students with special needs, within groups we opted into, within whole school-wide discussions, with parents and community members.

We worked with layers of people to best understand and teach to the layers of our students.

Then, I moved.

My partner and I had babies and decided to educate our kids at home. With a very demanding career dragging away his focus, I hold most of the responsibility for our three precious children, our most important people, and I lack a previously layered professional support system.

I teach my children without mentors, without department heads, without leadership, without teams—just me—tip, tip, tipping.

So, I decided to reenter the space for professional educators, guiding my growth. And I told my friend about it. “A side hustle?” she responded. I cringed at her tone. Not exactly the slap on the back, good-job-kid, I was hoping for. It was not the interest that peaked, a tell-me-more curiosity that I craved. Nor was it plain, blunt indifference.

Her inflection verbalized, “Boo.” Voice equivalent of a thumbs down. I watched one of my Mom Star Rating flickers and then died. A transparent thought bubble floated over her head as if on a screen. A picture of my children projected within it like an old sepia film. Their big sad, reflecting eyes staring up with want, empty arms outstretched, and souls drained by sudden attention withdrawal as if the side hustle had morphed into a Harry Potter dementor and deflated the innocence from their lives one by one.

In a world with subjective interpretations of “good parenting,” her scene played out with a definitive F for failure on my motherhood report card.

Contrary to her projection, here is my actual, new reality in short conversation blurbs:

“Hi, Susie’s Mom! Do you remember our conversation the other day? The one where you said you were overwhelmed by choosing a curriculum? Turns out you’re not alone. Lemme share this great article I found about what some others moms did to make the decision more manageable.”

“Hey Junior, did you know Schoolio has a unit about Winter Holidays from Around the World? I thought you’d like those. Yes, we can get that for you. It’s only $10!”

“Coop Comrades, I just heard about some online tutoring available for families embracing untraditional education methods for their children. I just thought I’d share!”

“Hey sweetie, can I work next to your while you do your thing?”

Considering her interpretation in contrast to my present state, I stared at her thought bubble and gently popped it. I was not my reality; it was her fears: part-time side hustle, full-time betterment. I have reclaimed my personal and professional growth, full empowerment.

Now it isn’t all roses and fairytales when guiding your own growth.

It doesn’t evaporate dirty dishes or alleviate large families of the stomach flu. The transition bumps violently along some days and glides gracefully on others. But, at a minimum, this week, I comforted Susie’s mom, tossed Junior an idea, supported my coop comrades, and worked separately with my little girl. All thanks to my re-entry.

More exposure, more ideas, more connections, more sparks, more intrigue, more inspiration.

“One quality of leaders and high achievers in every area seems to be a commitment to ongoing personal and professional development,” says Brain Tracy, Canadian motivational speaker and self-development author.

As a group of people striving to nurture and guide the growth of our children, we too must embrace the G-word.

Growth maintains our current roles as leaders and high achievers and offers a path toward self-selected improvement. We get to grow professionally in our personal lives. Growth gives us a way towards better.

Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives,” says Robert John Meehan, author and advocate for American teachers and learners.

If we come together through part-time hustles, we halt our single-perspective limitations and empower our community, families, and ourselves. We join in, learn and improve.

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we choose to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time,” says Brene Brown, an emotion researcher and motivational speaker.

We join the arena; then we dare greatly; we guide our greatness. Who and how will you empower today?

Guiding Your Own Growth was written by: Kaila Gilley


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