Understanding the Challenges of Others

Image Credit: abettermedaybyday.com

Each day when we interact with people, we are encountering diverse individuals like us who have a multitude of blessings and struggles they are trying to overcome in their lives.

Despite the exact situation, one thing is clear- Every single person has a story. We know and remember this when trauma arises; But, with the complexities of daily life, having the opportunities to pause and reconsider this fact may feel few and far between.

Discover Others

Nevertheless, one of my favorite discoveries in life is taking the time to DISCOVER other people. Human beings are fascinating- Each person is a book with a novel story that is unmatched by anyone else.

Except, have you ever noticed how often we book our schedules with unnecessary items, but we still constantly feel this urge to be busy? What if we “booked” more time to get to know one another more as human beings and less as students or colleagues?  
I believe that we can build powerful ties that will strengthen us as individuals and teammates if we spend more time being present in each moment.

Inspiration

During the last few days of school, students Kindergarten through 5th grade placed letters in my mailbox. As I was reading through the notes and drying my watering eyes, one card especially hit me like a ton of bricks:

“Dear Ms. Welty, Thank you for understanding the challenges of others and wanting to do something about it.”

This student described me and my demeanor better in one sentence than I ever could have. It is a profound reminder of how closely students look up to us.

Having said that, this student was correct- If we want to build stronger teams, we must understand the challenges others face and DO something about it.

Try This!

It’s the little things over time that become the compilation of the BIG things that matter. Try adding these little actions into your daily routine:

  • Add More Deep Conversations into your Day 

Instead of always asking questions like, “How are you?” or “How is your day?,” Ask more probing questions that show you are sincere and you want to get to know that person better. Remember this: Authentic questions deliver authentic answers.

  • Take the Time to Listen

It sounds obvious, but it is the most vital skill to learn. Sometimes we ask people exceptional questions, but then through our body language, we show we do not care about their response. Do this: Take the time to let others express themselves without thinking about your personal distractions, like tasks you need to complete. We may think we are great at multitasking, but people can usually tell when we are truly listening or not.

  • Follow-up 

Once a colleague or student has shared something going on in their lives, follow-up with them about it and ask about it again. It always is refreshing to be around others that think of you and take the time to check-in.

  • Take Initiative 

In every school, there are staff members, families, and students who are facing severe family illnesses and other crises. Whether you can help with an act of service or simply be the listening ear, take an active approach to be there for others. Many we encounter each day will never ask for our help but need support. When we take the initiative to offer comfort, we show we are a faithful crew.

  • Do Not Let Stress Take your Best

With all of this said, we too encounter our own personal hurdles that we face outside of school as well. Everyone has bad days and we each deal with stressors differently. Yet, be mindful to ensure that over time your stress does not take the best out of you and others.

Sense of Caring

In closing, this quote by Anthony J D’Angelo is everything, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” I have found that nothing is more valuable than time spent loving one another and understanding each other; It is the heart of what we do as educators. When we care about each other like family, we build community.

There are no shortcuts, just love.

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Be Their Diehard Fan

A fan is someone who is enthusiastically devoted to their sports team, musical artist, author, or an entertainer. The best trait about a diehard fan is that no matter what happens, even during the weak points, in the end, that fan always give their team their full support, with the knowledge that it will all eventually fall into place. Some of us call this unwavering faith.

I believe that the best educators and leaders apply these same foundations to their classrooms. Great teachers are not fair-weather fans, and they are DIEHARD fans for their students. Great educators also believe that student behaviors, academic levels, or backgrounds will NEVER stop them from loving or fighting for their students just as hard. After all, when our students show signs of distress is usually the moment they need our cheers in the fan section the most.

While working alongside students and showing that I will never give up on them, students taught me more about life, resilience, strength, and love than I could have ever imagined. I am better because of their strength.


Isn’t it a beautiful thing that while we dedicate ourselves to become their fans, that they become our number one supporters, too?


Whether students have positive or negative behavior stats or have winning or losing records in school- Be their diehard fan. Even our most supported students need us in their fan section more than ever. You will have no greater of a fan than your students if you become their diehard fan FIRST.

A thoughtful card I received from a student.

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How to Strengthen Relationships with Students

Building relationships with our students and colleagues are THE most important work that we do as educators and leaders.  Taking the time and energy to strengthen relationships with kids will help them grow to be better individuals and learners. Moreover, human connection is THE essential piece in LIFE, not just the field of education.

But, my caveat is this: Do not try to “manage” kids, but instead INVEST in them. When you invest in students and their interests, talents, and skill sets, your return on the investment will always be greater and more rewarding. Whether you are a kid or an adult, everyone wants to feel genuinely cared about.  Therefore, you can never go wrong by devoting your spirit to those you serve.

Throughout the years of working with kids, here are some of the most meaningful pieces that I believe are crucial to enhancing the relationships that you create:

  • Be present

  • Greet and welcome every single student

  • Listen and value their different perspectives

  • Get to know more about their family, hobbies, and passions

  • Look at every student interaction with a non-judgemental lens

  • Let students start over with a fresh slate when mistakes happen

  • Never, ever give up on them

  • Show that you want to learn from them, too

  • Bring the strengths of every single student to the forefront

  • Empower students to lead and make a difference

  • Be true to you; It inspires kids to be true to themselves

  • Be fun; Never take yourself too seriously

Image result for rita pierson quotes
Image Credit: TED/PBS

Significant mention: When thinking of strengthening relationships with students, the above quote from the beloved Rita Pierson is the beacon of what we should all strive for. Even if you have already seen the TED Talk 1,000,000 times like me, share it with someone else to ignite the spark within them as well (Or watch it below!)

Whether you are reading this during your last few weeks of school, or next October, or in August of 2049- Relationships will always be paramount. Everything changes in life, but relationships are our constant. The year, the month, the season does not matter. What matters is that we never give up on our students and always find time to strengthen the connections we already have to help them become who they were destined to be.

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Unleashing Your Limitless Potential

Image Credit- Tamara McCleary

What are some of your OUT of this WORLD dreams and aspirations? Which dream is so big and crazy that you even doubt its possibilities?

Name that goal: _______________________.

We are often told to dream big and to reach for the stars, but on the same token we are later advised to be “realistic.” Being logical is important in many instances, but what is actually needed more in this world are people who are OBSESSED with their dreams and passions. People who have dreams that seem unfeasible to the average person. People who can visualize their goal to see the picture of success within their minds. Then, ultimately people who do whatever it takes to make their dreams a reality each and every day.

We need people who are not trying to be realistic. We need people who are trying to change the WORLD for the better; And when you are trying to change the world, you do not do ordinary things. Instead you commit to…


Reach for aspirations that are limitless.

Welcome failure.

Never stop soaking in knowledge.

Continually adjust and adapt.


Do not welcome or invite the crab-in-a-bucket mentality into your thought process. If you have not heard of this theory, let me explain: Sailors notice that while traveling across the blue seas and capturing crabs, that one crab in a bucket can claw his way out of the bucket successfully with determination. But, once the sailors start adding more crabs into the bucket, the other crabs start fighting and clawing relentlessly to ensure that one crab does not escape.

As the Chinese proverb says in the image above, “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”

When we minimize the potential of others, we diminish the leaders and possibilities that “could be.” But, the worst case of all is when we also crush the potential within ourselves. It starts with us. When we shut down our possibilities and start believing that it “can’t be done,” we belittle our true GREATNESS.

Now, remember the goal you named earlier in this post. Unleash that dream and limitless potential within; These dreams are your calling. Be unstoppable and welcome dreams that are illogical, for this is the only way we can change the world.

Then, through your motivation, modeling, encouragement, you can help give that same gift to others which is the greatest gift of all.

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5 Characteristics of People Who Inspire Others

Nothing refreshes the soul more than being around another human being who inspires and lifts you to new dimensions. I yearn for these moments of inspiration and feel fortunate to feel inspired each day.

When I think of people who have inspired me in the past and present, they tend to embody these five traits (along with many others). In no particular order, here are characteristics that inspire others to be all they can be:

1. Servant Heart

The best leaders are the best servants. The most inspiring people are the people who love others with all their heart and all they are. Servant leaders make you feel that they will drop anything at any time to help you and to love you, without any expectations. Servants are fountains and not drains; They aim to lift people UP as a result of their presence.

       2. Brave

All progress begins with someone who is brave. I like to think that we were all called to be bold. But, when we think of someone who is brave, we often imagine a warrior geared in steel, ready to fight for war. But, bravery does not always look like this because bravery is seen even in the smallest circumstances.

Furthermore, being brave does not mean that you are not scared. Bravery often means that inside you are trembling and terrified, but you do the right thing anyways.

It is also important to note that people who are brave are more likely to be risk-takers. Individuals who are courageous understand that once you fail, you do not fail forever.

       3. Vulnerable

Love and vulnerability are the only bridges that can unite us.  When people express an unpopular belief, try something new, ask for help, and admit that they made a mistake, they are vulnerable. Being open and vulnerable allows you to be seen, but that exposure can be enough to scare us away.

Yet, ironically enough, when you are around vulnerable people, you become more naturally vulnerable as a result. Seeing others share often gives you permission to do the same. People who “dare greatly,” as author Brene Brown puts it, can be the catalyst to help themselves and others be all they can be.

       4. Accepting of Others

When we think of the idea of accepting others, there is more to it than we would like to admit. Accepting others is not:

  • Being tolerant
  • Making sure others do things that “make you happy”
  • Directing others to be more like you
  • Having people do things your way

Accepting others for who they are is a life-long skill that we must practice daily to evolve in our practice. Being graced in the presence of someone who is accepting gives others permission to be EVERYTHING they are.

People are more likely to grow and be the best versions of themselves when they are near a team of people who accept them for who they are from the beginning.

       5. Tenacious

Those who are tenacious are persistent and exude determination. When they have opportunities to give up, they do not take them. These individuals do take a moment to breathe and regain their vision, but they always keep their eye turned to the future.

It is important to note that people who are tenacious are not tenacious solely for the purpose to be relentless. Their tenaciousness is focused around values and visions that they hold dear. More often than not, their values are centered around serving the people, community, and the world around them.


What traits do you think that I could I add to the list? Who are people who inspire you to be all you are? 


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Give Your Love, Watch Someone Grow

 Image credit: QuoteFancy

 

My Mom, myself, my brother & my Dad at my Masters Graduation Ceremony for Educational Administration last year

 

Throughout my life, and to this day, my Mom has always been my foundation of what love is. She embodies love. She breathes love. She IS love.

She is that one person in my life that knows and understands me better than anyone else.

She has:

-Always known exactly what to say at just at the right time

-Supported me through every decision I have made

-Loved me unconditionally

-Taught me how to trust my heart and intuition above all else

When I wanted to become an educator years ago, most people tried to talk me out of it due to a multitude of reasons. Some believed that I would be wasting my intelligence and potential with being an educator. But, not my mom. My mom was the only one that advised me to follow my heart and to never feel bad for doing so. She saw my undeniable passion for teaching and knew that nothing could replace that fire in my soul- Not money, perception, or the opinions of others.

My mom and the first class I EVER taught. They loved her as much I do; This picture brings me to tears, every single time

 

Her love has shown me how to love. I see how she loves me, my family, her job, and people as a whole. She would give the shirt off her back and all of the money in her bank account to anyone who needed it. Furthermore, she believes that time is the best thing you can offer someone. Only a few people even know that she spends her lunch breaks helping struggling students to read (for no cost) because she wants to make a difference. She has shown me by her example that we do not have to wait to make a difference, WE ARE THE DIFFERENCE.

This website, this blog, my career, and who I am today would not even exist if it were not for my Mom. She has always believed in me more than I believed in myself. In her eyes, I could do it all. I could conquer any dream, and climb any mountain. Her opinion and belief in me has steered me forward, even when I have not believed in myself.

Each day, my goal is to love students unconditionally like the way my Mom has loved me. Even when I was hard to love, my Mom loved me. Even when I had crazy dreams, my Mom believed in me.

Here is to loving each student, each colleague, each friend, and each person we encounter with the same kind of love that my mom has shown to me.

To my Mom- I owe you the world. I love you. I can only hope and dream to be half the person you are. Thank you.

 

Kara’s Tweetable : “We do not have to wait to make a difference, We are the difference.”

 

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Finding Your Sense of Clarity

Image Credit: Fourth Revolution

 

Clarity: The quality of clearness.

I explain clarity as the mental sharpness and awakening of knowledge. When you feel clarity, you gain understanding of what you need to do in your life; Clarity is that monumental “life-bulb” moment.

Clarity is essential because without it, we often make decisions that are misguided and wrong for us, or the people around us.

 

But how do you gain clarity, you ask?

The truth is, I do not think you can gain full clarity 100 percent of the time. This is life and life is not perfect. But, there are strategies we can practice to help us become more in tune with who we are and what is best for our inner souls.

Recently, I watched this video from Marie Forleo about Goal-Setting. Within her video, she was able to describe perfectly how I have always felt about following your heart as your guide. One of Marie’s best mantras that she lives by is “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Until you put something into action and TRY, you will never have the clarity if you are making the right decision.

I am someone who tends to live inside my head; I constantly have thoughts and different case scenarios running around in my subconscious. Due to this, I sometimes lie awake at night at trying to solve the world’s problems. Funny enough, I have found out that more times than not, if I stop thinking and start DOING, I feel more resolution. I feel abundantly more satisfied. Until you DO, you might as well worry your life away because your mind alone cannot prepare you for life, only your action and experience will.

 

Tips for Gaining Clarity:

  • Dip your foot before diving in

Do you want to have the opportunity to move, to travel, or to try a new role within your building or profession? Ask questions and learn from those who you admire or would like to be more like. Can you shadow that person for a day? Ask questions and put yourself out there for different learning opportunities to give you a varied perspective before you completely dive in and change your life. Disclaimer: Sometimes diving in is perfectly fine, too.

  • Trust your gut

As my Mom always told me- Your inner-self knows more than you ever will; Trust it. When you get that nagging feeling telling you to do something, follow it and listen. Especially if that feeling persists. You gain more regret from NOT trying than you will from trying and then failing.

  • Give yourself grace

Sometimes you will follow that feeling of intuition and you will find out later that you may have regrets. Instead of beating yourself up, think of each opportunity as a chance to learn more and be more. Even wrong turns that you have taken develops your wisdom and self-truth in deeper capacities than what WOULD have occurred if everything went your way. Give yourself grace. Affirm what you learned through the experience and how you are better now because of it. Turn that potential negative into a life-changing moment that you can be proud of.

Kara’s Tweetable:I have found out that more times than not, if I stop thinking and start DOING, I feel more resolution.” – Kara Welty

What are strategies you use to gain clarity? I would love to hear your feedback- Add your tips below.

 

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From Colleagues to my Second Family

 

Last June, I moved across the state of Missouri.

I was asked to take on an incredible role as a Mentor Teacher and Technology Integrationist in Kansas City. When I heard about this opportunity, I felt God was pulling at my heart to take this chance and to take the risk. “I always envisioned myself in another city, so why not try it now,” I thought.

I know from experience now that moving to a new city alone, while not knowing anything about how to get around, is one fast way to learn and grow COMPLETELY. New town. New workplace. New home. New roads to navigate. New insights. New everything!

My then-boyfriend and now fiance, Adam, supported my move and knew there was no stopping my passion for education. Smart guy! Traveling three and a half hours back and forth to see each other, while planning a wedding and still trying to see friends and family, has been tougher than I would ever admit. But, I would not change a thing.

Through this experience, I have a second family; My colleagues.

After staying at work this week until 7 p.m. and enjoying the time spent with my co-workers, while forgetting that clocks even exist, I finally left work. After driving back home, I messaged my mom to tell her how much I love the people I work with. She responded, with,

“I’m grateful for all of them since they have made it even nicer for you since you are away from Adam and away from where you grew up.”

My mom’s words brought tears to my eyes because she put to words what my heart was trying to express.

We often say as educators that students spend more time at home than at school; The same applies to us as adults. We spend more waking hours at work, with teachers and students than time spent doing anything else. For this reason, and many others, I am grateful that my colleagues are MORE than people I see at work. They are people that I CARE about, and people who care about me; Not just as fellow educators, but as humans first.

They take care of me. We take care of each other.

Just this week:
-A co-worker saw I needed another ice scraper, and she brought one into work to lend a hand.
-I was surprised this morning with my favorite diet soda waiting for me on my desk.
-I looked in my mailbox to find the sweetest card waiting for me.
-A colleague lovingly said she was my “second mom” and my “Kansas City mom.”

I have no words to describe the gratitude I feel for these exceptional individuals.

Thank you for making Kansas City the remarkable city it is. Thank you for risk-taking with me. Thank you for seeing my heart. And most importantly, thank you for loving me.

Here is to everyone who is reading this: Hug a co-worker. Be a family. Show your love. Say thank you to even the smallest acts that make an impact in your day-to-day life.

These days that we spend with each other are not just “school days,” the days are our LIVES. Let’s make them count and love each other UP.

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What Really Matters


This post will be a bit different than others I have posted in the past. I hope by unveiling more levels of who I am and how my thought processes evolve over time, I can connect with you, my friends and readers, even further. 


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Image Credit: Kara Welty

Today, I went to church for the first time in several months. Living in a new city has tested my courage. Truth be told, I have been eager, yet exceptionally nervous to find a new church community that I will belong in.

It can be nerve-wracking to display your heart to a group of individuals who you do not know, in particular on a personal level. But, through these moments, I need to remind myself that you see your strength and the strength of others in these moments of vulnerability.

Ironically enough, the message at church today ended up solidifying my feelings of vulnerability and reminded me about what REALLY matters. Below are themes from today’s mass that can apply to many facets of life. I hope this enlightens you, as it did for me:

Grit, tenacity, and hard work are valuable, but they are not everything.

We are trained to work hard and to pave the life we want to live. But, somehow we omit to take the pressure off ourselves to know all of life’s solutions. Furthermore, we get too accustomed in being in the driver’s seat. Sometimes, by “being in control” we can unintentionally push ourselves to levels of exhaustion. When we do this, we may be missing the point of what our journeys are all about.

Have faith in your life’s path and trust that opportunities will present themselves to you when you are ready; Letting go of that steering wheel can be a cathartic process.

Gladness is the opposite of loneliness.

Happiness can be temporary and fleeting. We often jump to the next thing or event that can bring us joy, but then once that anticipated moment comes, we feel empty again; It is a continuous cycle unless we break it. Seeking to be content is harder than it seems when life rises and falls in unexpected directions. But, what if we found gladness in the right, rather than the wrong ways? What if we praised moments where we were tested and tried? What if we sought gladness when we needed God as our refuge?

Do not get transfixed in the journeys of others.

We are all humans doing the best we can. We often see others who we think “have it all” and view them as superhuman. Admiring the traits of others is a beautiful thing; But, we cannot forget that those individuals are human, too. Everyone has a journey, and ALL routes include stumbles and falls, whether we see those pitfalls or not. Do everything you can to refrain from idolizing others.  Be grateful for the journey God gave you. Take solace in what you bring to the table to serve the world.

 

Live life with purpose; Be who you were called to be.

Happy Sunday,

Kara Welty

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My Weekly “Resume of Failures”

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Image Credit- lifehack.org


This weekend I attended the GAFE Summit in Kansas City. I was fortunate enough to hear James Sanders, co-founder of Breakout EDU, speak during the keynote. During his talk, he mentioned his personal “Resume of Failures.” Although most of us have seen the article referring to the Princeton professor publishing his career lows, I was even more moved to see an educator I admire display bravery and vulnerability in such a public setting. Therefore, thank you, James, for inadvertently inspiring me to publish this post:

To begin with, the word “failure” has always been an idea that stirs me to my core.

Here are some questions I often ponder: We fail every single day, so why is it unusual if someone publicly admits their failures? Does admitting that we are not perfect make us “less than” someone who we believe is doing everything right?

No one is perfect and we know this. But, I often believe that our personal perceptions can be our worst enemies. Sometimes failure does not push us down, while other times it can. It is often difficult to admit to ourselves the dark places of our failures. I find this to be especially true when we are tenacious to a fault. We can try to train our brain all day long to think we love failing, but if we are actually struggling sometimes during the process, are we doing an injustice to our learning journey if we cannot be genuine, open, and honest?

Even though I fail every single day (or several times a day, if I want to be REALLY honest), I am going to start giving myself the grace to feel uncomfortable when I do not live up to my perfectionist standards.

I know I will grow during the journey, stay positive, push through, and become better as a result, but in the moment, it is okay if failing does not feel great. What I am finding out, is that what matters is my patience through it all.

So, on that note, let us start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Therefore, to end this post, I am going to leave you with a list of ways I have failed this week:

My Weekly “Resume of Failures”:

  • I did not charge my presentation pointer and clicker, so during my presentation today, I had to click the trackpad the old-fashioned way to get to the next slides (There is a first time for everything!).
  • I ate a ridiculous amount of BBQ over the weekend and blamed it on the fact that I am in Kansas City, even though I live here now.
  • I did not do any laundry over the weekend and am now staring at a huge pile of clothes.
  • I did not work-out this week, not even once.
  • I have had an unusual creative block on an upcoming presentation I will be leading.
  • I skipped my dental exam because I was too focused on work (Don’t worry, I eventually rescheduled it!).
  • I tried an activity with students that I thought would be a blast, did it ended up not living up to my imagined standards.
  • I spent too much time beating myself over the mistakes I made above (and most certainly more that I forgot about) instead of just being me.

Although I tend to think about my mistakes at unhealthy levels, I know that by writing this I can help someone else who feels the same way. I hope that through my openness and discomfort with this, that I can encourage you to own the uncomfortable journey that comes along with failing as well. Let’s start giving ourselves the unwavering love that we give our students- We deserve that grace, too.


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