My Why

Guest post for The Lean Lab – an innovation laboratory where educators can develop new school models, services or products that better K-12 learning for Kansas City students.

When I was invited by The Lean Lab to write about “my why”, it caused me to reflect not just on the last 11 years with my focus being in edtech, but also back to my early education years when I was in school. I wanted to find that “spark” that made me enjoy school, that gave me my love of learning. I really enjoyed how writing this post made me pause to really look back and find where “my why” began.

I want to share about someone who came into my world as my teacher, but was not just a teacher of content, they became a teacher of life. Do you remember the person in your life that gave you your “why”?

My 5th grade teacher (1987-1988), Mrs. Hodson, was and still is an amazing educator. The best thing about Cindy was that her passion for kids came through in everything she taught you. I remember her style of teaching was so authentic; she wanted us to see the real world reasons why we were learning what we were learning. We’d have simulations that had us creating things, pretending to have our own little economy of goods and services in our classroom, and performing stories and plays. The more I think about it, Cindy was ahead of her time in a lot of ways. Not only did she make learning real and relevant, she made sure we knew she cared about us as people. Relationships were huge for her. If you did something that got yourself in trouble, you’d know that she was disappointed, but also you’d know that she cared about you and wanted you to be a better person because of it.  I learned a lot of curricular content in Mrs. Hodson’s class, but you also learned a lot of important life lessons. I learned that relationships are everything.

Fast forward to the 1999-2000 school year. My last year of my elementary education degree program. We were allowed to give preferences of where we’d like to have our student teaching experience. My first choice was Cindy Hodson’s class at Spring Valley Elementary School; and it was granted to me. I was given the opportunity to return to my 5th grade teacher’s classroom and learn from her with a new perspective. While I was now learning from Cindy through the teacher lens, I knew I was going to get to experience a love of learning all over again as I was now learning how to create those authentic learning experiences for students. To fully understand how she created that love of learning for her students. I also learned about the importance of relationships with your colleagues, your students, and parents. Nothing had changed about Cindy, but 11 years later I was lucky enough to experience her classroom all over again to help me be a better teacher. Cindy is always reading, always studying, and always learning how to be better.

I now think about what her classroom must look like with various types of technology layered with her teaching. Students creating, connecting, and collaborating. Students learning at a rate no adult could keep up with. Students teaching students. Students teaching the teacher. Skills not just to make for better students, but to also make for better people. It makes me think of this video that I share often with teachers about how technology can not only give us wonderful learning experiences that help us keep moving forward and sharing, but also how it can create experiences that help us to be better people.


Take the time to remember your “why”. That spark that made you love learning, love teaching, and creating! Don’t worry about how fast or how much you’re moving forward…focus on your “why” and just keep moving forward!



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