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You Do You

Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless,

and add what is specifically your own.

-Bruce Lee

Play. Rewind. Play. Rewind. My brother David had the VCR remote. He was watching, rather…. he was studying Bruce Lee. David started at Greg Greene’s Kung Fu academy when he was in the sixth grade, becoming a second-degree black belt by the time he reached high school. He watched every Bruce Lee and

Jean Claude van Damme movie ever made. Posters of them covered his walls. He would shove his hand into a bucket of sand to improve his grip strength, telling me his goal was to rip someone’s heart out. David continues to strive towards a disciplined and fitness focused life even now. While he no longer tries to karate chop me or kick his leg over my head, we can have amazing conversations fueled

by his passions. The current phrase “You do you” has always described David.

It took me longer to figure that out. When I did my methods and student teaching for my education minor, I was trying to teach the way my mentor teachers taught, all the while trying to get a handle on classroom management and teaching content in front of thirty pairs of staring eyes.

Soon after graduating I moved to Kodiak so I could start Sonshine Patch Christian preschool at the Kodiak Baptist Mission. Early childhood education, preschool, is different than elementary education but I dove in with all I had. I loved seeing it develop over the next few years.

I took a break to raise my own three kids and to start a new journey when my husband felt called to medical school.

Sometime during those nine years of medical school my brother met Kristen, his amazing wife. Kristen was the first to introduce me to the Reggio Emilia approach to education. From those beginning years of trying to be play-based and child-led, the Reggio inspired philosophy truly grew in me the idea again and again that the biggest asset you bring into the classroom is yourself. Knowledge about developmentally appropriate practice, classroom set up and documentation are important, but who you are, your passions and curiosity set the tone for the learning environment.

While I still taught from themes, slowly learning they are the least effective way to learn, I embraced teachable moments, not afraid to stop a lesson and follow a

discovery …be it a bird, a spider, or the electricity going out.

A few years into teaching at the preschool after returning from medical school, I had the opportunity to go to the Cedarsong training on Vashon Island, WA with Erin Kenny. One of the other participants was struggling with how to incorporate all she was learning into her classroom in Korea. It is overwhelming sometimes to teach anywhere. I casually said to her as we were driving together that she is the biggest asset she brings into the classroom, to play to her own strengths. That thought brought her to tears (and surprised me). Sometimes looking back helps us focus on where we are going. Lessons learned ages ago are still relevant. You do you is all about being your biggest asset 😊.

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