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  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

Pivot Points

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending. Brene Brown

Life is a journey, and on the road we travel we will encounter many mountains to climb, obstacles to avoid, and twists, turns and intersections to navigate. There will be moments where we must choose which direction to travel. Do we continue straight ahead, make a turn or pivot? It’s these pivot points, and owning our story, that can change the course of our life.

My first pivot point occurred in 2013, when I was diagnosed with depression. Surprisingly, such a difficult experience has resulted in a positive outcome, as through the recovery process, I’m learning new thought patterns, skills and strategies. This is still very much a work in progress, but by deciding to pivot, I was able to take steps towards a happier and more fulfilling life. I’m learning to drop the armour of perfection, rumble with vulnerability and embrace my authentic self.

Pivot point number two occurred after I took a period of leave from work, which I wrote about in my very first blog post, 2018: A Watershed Year. I love being an educator, but I haven’t always loved my job. I’ve been an educator for nearly 25 years, so I’ve seen a LOT of changes in the education system in that time – some good, but many not so much. The most significant changes have revolved around standardised testing, student performance, teacher performance, data (Oh. So. Much. Data) and the escalating expectations of the profession. Oftentimes, it had felt that the heart, mind and hope of education were slipping away. The weight of this disillusionment resulted in me taking a break from teaching. After a period of reflection, I knew that upon my return to school, changes needed to be made. My attention returned to my students - not their statistical data, and I narrowed my focus to my classroom and the young people who filled it. After all, that was why I became a teacher in the first place. This pivot enabled me to reaffirm that teaching was in my heart, and where my passion lay. As result of this pivot, and inspiration from Dave Burgess #tlap, Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney #KidsDeserveIt, and Tara Martin #REALedu, I became more passionate, enthusiastic and engaged at work, I connected with other educators and began to develop a professional learning community (PLN), and founded the #TLAPdownunder Twitter chat (you can read about these in My 2018 Highlight Reel post). Honestly, this pivot point was essentially life-changing.

My most recent pivot point is the result of the cumulative effect of pivot point number one and two, and connecting with a colleague during her own pivot point. Both of us have been inspired by Trevor Mackenzie #InquiryMindset and George Couros #InnovatorsMindset, and our common core beliefs, and vision for education have seen us unite. Our aim is for student engagement, agency and empowerment.

We both believe that connection is the foundation on which successful learning occurs:

  • Connection between student and teacher.

  • Connection between student and student.

  • Connection between family and school.

  • Connection between school and community.

We both believe we need to know before we can teach, and that knowing is a four way street – we need to know our students, know our families, know our team and know our community. When these aspects come together with a collective commitment, students, and teachers, thrive.

We both believe that only after we know, can we teach. If relationships are at the core of education, then our teaching strategies need to reflect this. The teaching landscape is vast and diverse for good reason – our learners are individually unique. As a result, instruction needs to reflect this.

We both believe that our ultimate goal as educators is to empower our students. This is a lofty ideal, but in our ever-changing world we need to seriously consider what our students not only need today, but in the future. Empowering students to take control of their learning, and to lead a functional, fulfilled life, is the greatest gift we can facilitate. Empowered students will not only achieve at a school level, but will thrive through life.

We believe that our children deserve an educational revolution. Pivot with us, and join our Know Teach Empower journey.

Follow us on Instagram @knowteachempower, and Twitter: Kelly Young @teachthisorthat and Karen Caswell @kcasw1. #KnowTeachEmpower


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