Have you ever been so close to a desire, but yet it was out of your reach?

Have you ever been to tired to pick up something that was just out of your reach?

Have you ever been reaching for something, but still fall short by a couple of inches?

According to Google, to reach means to stretch out an arm in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something.

The Pull Apart...

  • Stretch... To extend... To not stay in a normal or relaxed position
  • Specified Direction... To know where you are going... To have intent
  • Touch or Grasp Something... To accomplish... To have an outcome
The way I look at reaching is with the following acronym...
  • R: Risk
  • E: Effort
  • A: Act
  • C: Challenge
  • H: Help
Therefore, I would adventure to say, to reach is a risk that is going to take effort through challenging actions with the purpose of helping.

Reaching in Education...

We are all asked to reach as an educator.  Sometimes we are willing, but there are those times we are reluctant.  What causes there to be a difference in our response? It could be that we are not confident. It could be that we are worried about what others' think. It could be that we disagree. It could be that it is not comfortable. It could be we are scared. It could be that we are worried about the outcome.  

It was not long ago that I was reluctant to reach. I was asked to present at ISTE on FEEDBACK for a 2-hour session!!! YUCK!!! Shhh... I am honored to be able to present, but what a challenge! Instead of running away, I am reaching!  Currently, I am reaching for direction in the areas of my PLN, the internet, and experts on the topic because I know I have a lot to learn... When asked, I could have easily ran the other way, but how would I benefit from that? How would my students benefit from that?  I know I will become stronger in a pertinent area of the success of my students.  So, I quickly decided to reach! I am unsure of how the presentation will turn out, but it is a risk I am willing to take.

Teaching our Students to Reach...

Soapbox Moment Warning...
If we are not willing to reach, they are not going to either... If we are not transparent during the reaching process, they will not be exposed to the process... If we are not allowing for moments of reach-time, they are not going to be able to even make the choice whether they want to or not.
Pulling from my own experiences, there are four ways to teach our students to reach.
  1. Lessons on a Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset: This will lay the foundation that they will need to pursue the choice to reach or not.
    • At the beginning of every year, I read the books, Milo and the Magical Stones, and Milo and the Mysterious Island.  In both of the books, Milo, the main character, faces decisions and he can either have a positive or negative outlook on the challenges he faces.  What is so neat about both of these books is at a point, the book pages split in half and the author presents a happy and sad ending.  This is just a push-off into discussions and applications of Fixed and Growth Mindsets.
  2. An Accepting Environment: They need to know that even if they are not able to reach successfully, that they will be celebrated for reaching.
    • A room full of love and support is MANDATORY!  We celebrate the little things... We help one another... We accept others differences... We build upon other's responses... We politely disagree... This is something that we establish in our classroom really quickly!
  3. Inquiring: Asking "Beginning with the End in Mind" questions will assist in the choice-making process (to reach or to not).
    • I am currently reading the book, Launch, written by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani and one of the profound statements that I have embraced is... students should be asking as many questions as they are answering in a day.  
      • Who will this effect? In what way?
      • What if I am not successful?
      • Is it a smart choice to reach?
      • What could be possible outcomes?
  4. Put "Reaching Moments" EVERYWHERE in MANY different ways: Within our classrooms, we can create times where the students are asked to reach. Outside of the classroom. we can ask them to reach.
    • Reading Lesson Example: Teaching inferencing, students are paired and asked to guide their blind-folded partner to a certain place in or outside of the school. Once at the destination, the student must list things around the destination.
    • Math Lesson Example: Teaching multiplication, the students are asked to explore the various ways of solving by 
    • Writing Lesson Example: After reading the book, Meggie Moon, students are asked to create a piece of art and summarize the meaning/interpretation of their art piece. 
    • Social Studies Lesson Example: Students are asked to plan and carryout a store during an economic unit.
    • Science Lesson Example: Students are given situations or prompts and they must solve using given materials.
    • Other: Makerspace, Genius Hour, Project-Based Learning
Most students are not used to reaching... it is definitely an out-of-comfort zone area!!! What opportunities are you giving your students to reach?

The Outcome of Reaching

Learning from the experience... even if you gain one piece of knowledge, that is more than you began with... The careers in our society wants creaters, inventors, problem-solvers, reflectors now more than ever! 

Let's prepare ourselves to reach! 
Let's prepare our students to reach!

Next time, you are faced with the opportunity to REACH... Go For IT!!!

Funny story... I was faced with an opportunity to reach by flying through the air like Tarzan!  I wanted to prove to my husband and kids that I could do it.  Fear was written all over my face as the "What If" questions flooded my mind.  I stepped up on a platform that felt as tall as the Willis Tower in Chicago. However, reality set in and I was only 2-3 feet off of the ground.  I quickly learned that climbing up on the platform was the easiest part, taking the first step off of what I called stable ground was terrifying.  In the background, cheering and eyes were filling the wooded area.  I confined my foot in the loop at the bottom of the rope and counted... 3...2...1... There I went!  I screamed like a little school girl and all went silent in my mind... I began to freak out about half way through the first swing. I was ready to be rescued! My husband ran over to help me down. Later, I found out my "reach" moment was on video!  I watched. I relived. And then it happened... I realized as I was swinging, I was only a foot off of the ground and if I would have put my foot down, I would have been able to stop myself! In the background, my husband and kids hollering, "Just put your foot down!"... Wow! Needless to say I learned a lot about myself during that "reach" moment! I was glad to have the opportunity... but it will be highly unlikely that I EVER do it again!

If I would have never reached... I would have never learned!

Give your students DAILY opportunities to REACH!

Reach-- Risk...Effort...Action...Challenge...Help


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