Thursday, January 14, 2021

Grab My Hand in the Dark - January 13, 2021

 Grab My Hand in the Dark
By, Michael Earnshaw
January 13, 2021

I’ve been very open and honest with my crew, my PLN when explaining the roller coaster of a ride of emotions that I went through for the majority of 2020. Look, I know, I’m not that special and ALL of us have been on this ride. The point is not to steal any sympathy from you. Since adopting my #OneWord2021 PRISM I have been looking at everything in my life from a different lens. My purpose in this blog is to hopefully help someone who may still be stuck on the same ride I was on find their way off. 

Growing up in the punk rock and hardcore scene I’ve learned to know the importance of having a crew, and now in my educational career, a PLN. Josh and I discuss this tenet of UNITY on multiple episodes of Punk Rock Classrooms. We are truly stronger together. Together we can help one another reach our own goals, get through roadblocks and struggles, and have a shoulder to cry on or ear to lend when someone needs it most. Life can downright suck at times, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns no matter how much any of us wish, or pretend, it is. It’s during those times that the unicorns ate some burritos with expired sour cream or contaminated beans, flying high above us just letting it all go, that we need to turn to our crew. 

Now I grew up in punk and hardcore, but I also have a little, ok, a BIG emo side to me. I can’t recount how many nights were spent screaming along, alone, to Dashboard Confessional, The Starting Line, or Jimmy Eat World. Maybe a tear or two escaped my eye sockets, but I was alone so there’s no proof, your word against mine. 

Now because I have that inner-emo kid still inside, he came out in 2020. What do I mean? I locked myself away from my crew. Part of it was out of my control, we were forced to work remotely, again, as most of the educators in the world did. I could have reached out to our staff, made phone calls, texts, Zooms, but I didn’t. I didn’t make those connections because I didn’t know what to say. Here I was, the educational leader of our amazing school, and I didn’t know how to talk or listen to what our staff was going through because I didn’t know how to process what I was going through. 

I still had my crew from across the world though right? All of those amazing, world-changing, eduheroes that inspire me on an hourly basis? I did, but I didn’t because of me. That emo kid was winning, telling me to just huddle up in the corner, pull my hair over my eye, throw on the headphones, and sulk. And that’s what I did. 

This is no way to live. For me, for you, for anyone. We all make connections and form relationships for these very situations. It wasn’t until the Fall of 2020 that I started to reconnect. I was so fortunate to find and connect every Tuesday morning with the TeachBetter Admin Mastermind group. Like many of them say, our week doesn’t begin until Tuesday morning. I learn so much from them, more than they know, and I only hope that I can benefit them as much as they do me. 

I’ve been able to get more active on Twitter and the various Voxer groups. Just hearing others, knowing we’re all going through the same struggles and frustrations, and being able to help others where I may have some insight has definitely helped to get that shaggy hair out of my eyes and sticking back up in the mohawk it should be. 

This blog isn’t to just share my story of how I refound the power of a crew, a PLN. This blog is hopefully going to help someone who is stuck like I was. Know that no matter how dark the days get, those connections you’ve made, the crew that was always by your side is still there. Reach out your hand, I promise someone will grab yours and pull you up. I’m glad to be out of the dark. If you’re still in it I’ll pull you up. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

PRISM - #OneWord2021 - January 6, 2021

By, Michael Earnshaw
January 6, 2021

PRISM - noun - a glass or other transparent object in prism form, especially one that is triangular with refracting surfaces at an acute angle with each other and that separates white light into a spectrum of colors.

2021 will be my third year adopting the #OneWord approach to improving myself throughout the 365 days rather than setting unrealistic resolutions. For my #OneWord 2019, I went with BELIEVE and left my comfort zones, both personally and professionally, more so than I ever even dreamed! If it wasn’t for BELIEVING, I would never have begun writing and sharing it with the world, speaking at educational conferences, or talking about two of my loves, Punk Rock and Education with my brother Josh Buckley on our podcast Punk Rock Classrooms. By living 2019 through the word BELIEVE I was able to move myself to be the husband, father, educator, leader, and the person I knew I was destined to be but had always lacked the confidence to get there. 

Building off the momentum from 2019, 2020 started off amazing! I was flowing through the first few months, just like the word I had chosen to live by, WATER. I was able to break down even more barriers that stood in my way to make me better and stronger to help inspire others to work together to change our world for the better. By adopting WATER as my #OneWord2020 I was able to accomplish a goal that I have had since elementary school, to have a book of my own published. In January of 2020, I am proud to say that I was able to sign a contract with Edumatch and will be able to share the EduCulture Cookbook: Recipes and Dishes to Positively Transform School and Classroom Culture in the Spring/Summer of 2021! 

Everything was on track for 2020 to be one of my best years yet! WATER was freely flowing and I was living my best life until a dam was built out of nowhere. The WATER was stopped and everything in my life began to overflow and flood out in every aspect. At first, I felt that the Covid-19 Pandemic was to blame for building a dam that was stopping my positive flow, but after months of living through a non-stop flood, I realized that it was me that had built the dam. 

I was seeing the world through one lens. Everything that was happening, school shutdowns, quarantines, no toilet paper on the shelves, I only saw the negative in every situation. This had a horrible effect on me to be the leader my staff and students deserve, the husband my wife chose to spend the rest of her life with, and most importantly, the strong father my kids needed. My self-care slowly declined. Runs and weight lifting sessions were sporadic, I’d be lucky to get in two a week. Diet, I guess if you mean eating everything and anything I wanted. I wasn’t reading, wasn’t connecting with my crew, my PLN, and spending way too much time just zoning out in front of the TV every night with nothing good fueling my body. 

Whenever something went wrong at home or school it wasn’t my fault, it had to be someone else’s. All of the goals I had set for the year were put on hold because the Pandemic wasn’t allowing me to reach them. I became depressed and self-destructive but of course, it wasn’t my fault, there just wasn’t any other way, it’s because of the Pandemic, right? 

I only saw the world, my world, through my eyes. 

I chose the word PRISM for my #OneWord2021 because I now understand that everything I mentioned above was because of me. I chose to use the Pandemic as an excuse. I wasn’t taking responsibility for my actions and took the easy way out. It took many months living through this to understand I was the cause of my own struggles, but I am grateful to have found see the light from a different lens. 

I chose the word PRISM because of the simple, yet awe-inspiring job they do. PRISMS bring in one bland ray of light, one view, one perspective, but project a plethora of beauty, colors, and a rainbow of amazement out of the other side. PRISMS help us to see more than what is there, other perspectives, alternate avenues. PRISMS help us to see that there’s more than meets the eye, that there is light in the darkness, beauty in catastrophe. 

PRISMS help us to see that there is so much to be grateful for even amidst our world being flipped upside down. 

I will live 2021 looking for the light when everything around me is dark and bland. I will continue to BELIEVE and flow like WATER, and that will lead me to the rainbows that surround us all of the time. I will stop only seeing my ray of light, I will listen more than I speak. I will show gratitude daily because there is so much beauty that has come out of this pandemic and to truly move forward we mustn’t revert to how things were.

I will see the beauty in every situation. 

I will see the beauty in others. 

I will see the beauty in myself.