Hedreich Nichols

November 2019

A Little Help From My Friends

As an only child of an only child of two only children, my biological family can feel a bit smallish at times. That ain’t stopped me none, however! I am blessed to have a warm and supportive framily across two continents, to whom I could not be closer. I inherited some of those relationships from my mom as she taught me the value of a village so it isn’t surprising that I am raising my own only in the same way. What is wonderful and surprising is that I find same Hānai theme in my professional life.


Through a series of coincidences–if you believe in such–I have come across some amazing educators. We share many commonalities, and yet, are diverse in a way that would cause riots to break out on Facebook. Not only do we check in and support each other professionally, we have #squadgoals and find ourself spreading our brand of crazy, impactful HeartWork beyond our campuses to educators around the world.

So what’s the point of all this, you’re asking? First, to throw out some gratitude during this season. Having a group of understanding educators to vent to spares our families countless hours of listening to school-day tales while their eyes glaze over (yes, we notice)! Beyond the expression of gratitude and appreciation, I would like to encourage educators to seek out strong professional relationships. Too often we find ourselves alone in our classes, over-salting salted caramel lattes with our tears after some MeanParent email. Education can be brutal without a village, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You may have to put yourself out there and be the change. How about getting to know a teacher you hardly know, or writing someone on your campus a note of praise? You could also try to find groups of educators on other campuses in your district who you can share resources with. Or find educators across the world to Mystery Skype with! And find hashtags on social media that ring true with whatever your thing is, be it #SDGs, #SEL, #6thgrade or something else. I guarantee you’ll find your edumates, people you can double joy and halve pain with. And until you do, pop into our chats on Saturday mornings 9AM CET. You will find a group of extraordinary teachers, leaders, bloggers, authors, and mostly, wonderful human beings who are crazy about impacting the world through education!

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I Am What I AM

Every year sees it’s academic superstars, those students who are focused, organized and gifted at the nuts and bolts of learning in a classroom setting. There must have been something in the water in 2008 because I am seeing some phenomenal 11 year olds. I appreciate all of my kids for their own unique strengths, but these kids have my admiration for a different reason. I want to be them when I grow up. Of course, in my 14th year in education, I should consider myself a grown-up. And I’m pretty sure I am, in all of the important ways. But while I am darn good at adulting, I have not yet stopped aspiring to be more grown-up. I am the teacher who turns in lesson plans on time, keeps a (mostly) neat desk, and I could pass a gradebook check on any given day. But I was not born this way. Third grade me spent many minutes nose-in-corner for having forgotten something—again. Or for having a messy backpack—again. Or for losing a paper—again. Of course third grade me in today’s school system would have been given “paperwork”, an IEP, or a 504, and a cool nickname like 2e. But it was a different time. I was a gifted student but “absent-minded” and would have “lost my head if it wasn’t attached”, as I so often heard. Since we are always really just bigger, (hopefully) more capable versions of our 3rd grade selves, I look at my superstars in the room and see my own growth potential. When Amerie was asked how she managed to write in her planner and complete her warm-up consistently every day before most kids had even pulled out their pencils, her answer was simple. “I don’t entertain foolishness”. Drop mic. GEEZ, I want that focus!

My computer lab,
my student’s shiny backpack and edge gel!

Every morning, forty minutes before class begins, I park and say hello to the librarian as she and her daughter pull in. I can tell she was Amie when she was a kid. She moves towards the school while I wish the back of her head a nice day and rummage through the back seat to pick one of 5 pairs of shoes that will match my outfit AND not have me limping out of school today. I walk toward campus, stopping briefly to mention the climate action my 7th graders are working on to the campus officer who leaves his motor running the whole 45 minutes he’s there. Shaking my head, I start off again towards the school building. In the distance I see the librarian already entering the building as I hug my kid goodbye before he goes off to his side of campus. Then I stop to ask Ms. Willis something about Fall Festival because, well, sometimes a conversation is so much better than an email. On my way to the MS building once again, I stop quickly to remind a student that he needs to come to tutoring. Finally inside the building, with 25 minutes to go, I say hello to the Spanish teacher in my new Duo Lingo Spanish, and beam at her compliments about my current ability to use lifesaving phrases like El Español es muy divertido. While I’m there we share a concern about a student because, as you know, a conversation is so much better than an email. Once again I head toward my room but remember to stop in to the Special Education department to set up a meeting about something. It’ll only take a sec. While I’m there, I say hi to Dobby, the pet bearded dragon who smiles at me when he hears my voice. No really, he does. I head to my room while greeting another two teachers, but this time I keep it moving. Class starts in 18 minutes and I still have fairy lights, lamps and a slow computer-projector combo to boot up. I finally make it to my class, get everything turned on and wonder why I don’t have time to run to the powder room before class. And why my coffee is cold. And why I didn’t get to change the date on the board. I got here 40 minutes early, after all. I am obviously not Amerie. Or Ollie, Figgy or Denny or any of the 11 year old superstars I am privileged to teach. I remind myself, however, that who I am is who I’m meant to be, in all my imperfection. We teachers sometimes forget that our schools don’t need perfect teachers, just teachers perfectly willing and ready to inspire learning.

If you know teachers who have forgotten this important truth, tag them and remind them.

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