From daTeechur's Desk: The Rejection Edition

Plus...AI Recordings (you heard it here first)

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope this message finds you well. This week has been a whirlwind, and I almost don’t remember everything that went down. On a personal note, I want to extend a happy 20-year reunion to my fellow Howard University c/o 2003 alumni. I may or may not see you there lol. I’m thinking of at least driving through to show my daughter the campus, but then again…DC traffic! Haha.

Professionally, we had our very first Innovation Mastermind session yesterday in our district. I’m excited about this project. I posted the following yesterday on Facebook about it:

In 2018 I taught ED608 at Loyola, and kinda did my own thing with it after learning about masterminds. I combined that with this thing I created called Designing with Passion. Tonight I bring this to my district for the very first session of Innovation Mastermind, where eight amazing educators will bring their projects to life over the course of this school year. Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

The projects are really cool, and I can’t wait to share more (with permission from participants of course). We had very limited availability, so unfortunately, not everyone who applied was accepted. Sending letters of regret is the not fun part, as I’ve been on the receiving end quite often myself. However, what I’ve found is that in my own experience, rejections can be quite freeing, and can even open the door to new beginnings. For example, EduMatch Foundation, Inc. was something I wanted to do for a long time, but the catalyst to begin it was from a rejection to an incubator project, which inspired my colleagues and I to create similar opportunities. Here is a recent blog post I co-wrote with AI-esha (thanks Dr. Knikole) about the power of rejection.

The Power in Rejection (2023)

Credit: Midjourney

As I sat down to write this post, I found myself reflecting on a hot-off-the-press rejection letter I just received for a fellowship. I’ve received two other such rejections over the past few months, and they seem to follow the same pattern. I get to the final round, then…no dice. But there’s something I’ve come to realize: while I’m selective in where I apply, it turns out in hindsight that they often don’t align to my path. Instead, it’s the unexpected wins that seem to have the most significant impact on my life goals.

There’s a powerful book called Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, which documents her journey to challenge herself to say “yes” to everything that scared her for an entire year. The book describes how this transformative experience led her to embrace new opportunities and experiences, ultimately leading to personal and professional growth. Shoutout to Dr. Knikole Taylor (@knikole) for introducing me to this book in her EduMatch Snapshot in Education (2016) chapter.

Beginning in 2013, I had a few years of saying “yes” professionally. I jumped into new things, like applying out of my area to present at educational conferences, organizing edcamps, applying for awards, and more. I embraced every opportunity that came my way, and this lasted for several years, perhaps until 2016 when I had to buckle down and finish my dissertation before timing out.

After completing my dissertation, I was pretty burnt out, and my time became even more precious. I still said “yes” to some things but also began to make myself more and more scarce. Around this time, I embarked on a new chapter: my personal life. When the pandemic happened, things came to a grinding halt — except for this area, which took off. I got married in December 2020 and focused even more on nurturing this new aspect of my life. I became pregnant in 2021, and my time and energy shifted primarily to this area.

Once I had my daughter, things were a bit chaotic. It took some time to find my footing again, but when I did, things started happening quickly! There’s nothing like having a baby to light a fire under you. EduMatch, an organization I founded that focuses on connecting educators, began to pivot. We rapidly scaled the professional development arm, and began securing more contracts and forming key partnerships.

We often share our wins on social media, but as I learned from Jennie Magiera’s 2017 ISTE keynote, it’s essential to be transparent about the rejections too. While the latest recent rejection stung a bit, I ultimately see that it’s for the best. Had I been accepted, it could have taken more time away from what’s truly important to me: first, my family; second, reaching my potential through my existing district work and through EduMatch.

As I’ve experienced more rejections lately than I have in a long time, it’s important to recognize the silver lining. For every no, there has been a yes; actually many more. I’ve been putting myself out there more, which means I’m back to my “year of yes.” Let the yeses continue in 2023, but let them be the right yeses.

In retrospect, it’s clear that rejection has its own power. It can help us stay on track, reassess our priorities, and ultimately find our way to the opportunities that are truly meant for us. Rejection may sting, but it’s a valuable part of life, allowing us to grow and learn from our experiences.

So, as we navigate through the ups and downs of life, let us embrace the power in rejection. Remember, sometimes the most significant opportunities come from the paths we didn’t initially choose. Here’s to a year filled with the right yeses, growth, and self-discovery.

What have been your experiences with rejection? How have you grown from them, and what lessons have you learned?

So we all get rejected from time to time. That means we’re trying. Does it suck? Absolutely! But that shouldn’t stop us from trying. In this throwback video from 2015, I was giving advice to a friend who was afraid to step out of her comfort zone. The following week, a new opportunity fell in my lap that rocked my world, eventually leading me to a new level in my career (and, indirectly, to meeting my husband there lol). I watched this same video over and over before I ultimately accepted. I’m sharing today in the hopes that it may help you as well. (Note: there is the former name of the Washington football team on my headrest. Eight years later, I now know better. I am grateful for the gift to the person who made it for me, but it is no longer on display.)

Finally, two things…

1) You heard it here first! If you missed our sold-out Navigating AI Together: An EduMatch Exploration event, recordings from the event will be dripped beginning Monday to your inbox if you sign up here.

2) Here’s your reminder about Curicon! Join me for a leadership summit panel on October 25 at 5 p.m. Eastern. I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

 Alright folks, that does it for me. Thanks so much for reading!

Have a video to share or interested in being a guest blogger? Email me at [email protected].

Stay connected, stay curious, and let the sharing begin!



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