This past summer, I took a family vacation to Estes Park, CO to take in some Rocky Mountain vistas, hiking, kayaking, and horseback riding. The sites always leave me in awe and speechless. We also did some souvenir shopping as any tourist to the area would. While shopping, I saw several items with the phrase THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING. I've always been inspired by mountains and the urge to climb them, I feel, is somewhere ingrained in my DNA. So the phrase THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING is something that I feel echoed in my mind and can relate. However, it wasn't until I came back to the flat cornfields of Iowa did I reflect on my experience more and came to an epiphany.
"IT'S NOT HOW MANY MOUNTAINS YOU CLIMB; IT'S HOW MANY TIMES YOU CLIMB YOUR MOUNTAIN."
Mountain climbing is the metaphor I use in the Professionally Driven book (spoiler alert if the cover didn't give it away), and for good reason. In there, I attempt to explain the mentality that can be developed by any Professionally Driven educator: It's not how many mountains you climb; it's how many times you climb your mountain. What this means is, it's not a mentality of conquering as many certifications, awards, or badges as you can. It's about defining for yourself where you could see the greatest potential for growth. That's YOUR mountain, and yours alone. The base of your mountain is your current understanding and the summit is Positive effects on learner outcomes. Who are your learners? What are the positive effects you are intending? This mountain can be conquered over and over for the entire duration of an educator's career and well beyond retirement.
"MY MOUNTAIN IS CALLING."
So the epiphany I had when I came back from Colorado is this: the mentality we wish to promote within professional development is not THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING but rather MY MOUNTAIN IS CALLING. This mentality means that we are not looking outward to attain something, but rather inward in order to identify a weakness that we can turn into a strength. We will encounter those moments where a weakness will present itself: a lesson gone wrong, data that may not have been favorable, learners that "just aren't getting it." And when these moments present themselves, we can choose to ignore them and point the finger elsewhere (i.e. home life, systems, legislative mandates, etc.). Or, we can recognize these moments as a potential weakness that can be turned into a strength. It's the classic Fight or Flight moment.
When these instances occur, recognize it's the moment your mountain is calling.
And I implore you...for the sake of your learners...choose to answer the call.