YOU are enough: More reflecting on iFLT18

| |

My first reflection of iFLT focused on observations people made during debriefs of my learning lab.  This second reflection is to focus on the overall “feeling” of this conference, and is a message that I have been wanting to write for quite some time.

Mark Mallaney and I sat together on Wednesday evening and talked about the debriefs of our labs. A reoccurring comment that seems to always surface, sometimes in a group, and sometimes during one on one chats with people is, “you’re just such a natural” or “it just must come so easy to you”. This is SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO FAR FROM THE TRUTH. Obviously, nobody that ever says this means to be offensive, and probably quite the opposite. They probably think they are being quite complimentary, however,  it is one of the most untrue, and frustrating comments we hear after labs or classroom observations.

This (what you see) took YEARS and years of work. Where I am now in my teaching career and my CI journey is so incredibly different to where I was three years ago and lightyears ahead of where I was when I began on this adventure 8 years ago!!! Mark recalled Jenny Wetzig and I sitting with him and presenting him with pages and PAGES of scripting out our lessons and our EVERY word trying to grasp what the HECK this whole comprehensible input thing was during our student teaching.

I used to cry and cry at night and feel totally useless reflecting on my day, as my students were disengaged, heads on their desks, phones in their hands, rolling their eyes at my every request, desperately trying to motivate and move them. I would call Diana Noonan and tell her that I thought I was totally incapable. Diana would tell me to shape up, she’d buy me a glass of wine, and say over and over that it “takes work” and to be patient with myself.

This takes work. This takes time. I am a BABY…. The other learning lab teachers at iFLT, are some of my greatest mentors. People I admire and look up to SO MUCH! They are so inspiring. We are ALL learning and growing, continually. The coaches and presenters who blow your minds, are ALL who they are today because of years and YEARS of hard work. What I love about iFLT is that it values teachers for WHO they are.

  • You don’t need to have my energy and style of enthusiasm to engage your students.


  • You don’t need to have Justin’s charisma and BIG BOLD MOVES to entrance your kiddos.


  • You don’t need to have  Paul Kirschling’s enchanting eyes and soothing voice to captivate your students and make them feel peaceful, loved and accepted in your space.


  • You don’t have to have Grant Boulanger’s laid back attitude and cool ponytail to foster the same beautiful relationships he does.


  • You don’t have to have Sabrina Janczak’s beautiful French accent and loving smile to make every student feel safe and willing to take risks in your classroom.


  • You don’t have to be Mark Mallaney and completely “wing it” with your lesson plans to learn to create flexibility within them and allow students to drive the authentic conversations in your room.


What you CAN do is take pieces of what you love about each of our teaching styles and “moves” and make them your OWN. Know yourself. Be AUTHENTIC with your kiddos. THAT  is what they need. They need to see you as your genuine self. Your focus should be first and foremost, knowing yourself, then building relationships with your students as your authentic self seeing and valuing their authentic selves.  Once you have those relationships built, once you have the rapport with them, then your focus can be on delivering highly compelling, comprehensible input!

Here are some of my favorite tweets which really support this idea that iFLT is a conference that values teachers for their authentic, varied, AWESOME selves!






One of the most important things I say during any presentation I give is that you don’t have to be ME to incorporate these strategies, tips, tools, or ideas into your teaching. You don’t have to be anyone but you. I hope that you all feel empowered, excited and appreciated going into this school year! I hope that your classrooms are filled with love, respect and JOY. I hope that you learn to fully love yourself and have GRACE as you continue on this crazy journey that is CI. YOU are enough!

I am so lucky to be on the same journey with all of you!

Until next time,



La Maestra LOCA


  1. A few years ago I learned the quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I posted it in my classroom. It is so true!

  2. Annabelle-
    Thank you. Your presentation on classroom management was the highlight of the conference for me. I had a rough year last year, but your message was just what I needed to hear (and then it was repeated by Mark, Grant, and so many others) the message? Be positive. Be yourself. Love always comes first. And now-you are enough. God Bless you and Love you! Where can I send you your “real life unicorn” picture?

      1. 💗your kind words mean more than you could ever know! Enjoy the rest of summer!

  3. Everything you say is true, BUT… don’t underestimate the power of how much you inspire and motivate the teachers learning from you.

  4. Mil gracias for what you do! I love the you you do! Watching you interact with the kiddos (a long with all the others I got to observe) was such a treat! I love how much iFLT and this whole CI crazy group is so embracing of what we each can offer! FYI, Lillianna is still fascinated about dinos and unicorns…haha…now she wants me to find class mascots!!

    1. Sweet Lilliana! Send her my love!!!! 🙂 Kids LOVE class mascots…I have sooooo many though and now I have a new pink unicorn head named Lilliana. 🙂

      Love you both

      1. Any time I ask her to do something she doesn’t like she says “ay, no…ay, no…ayyyyy nooooooooo”….at least I know she was listening to you!!!!

      2. SHE bought me one….then asked me to buy her one (I didn’t know she talked my mom in to taking her to buy one!!) …she is sometimes a bit divious, I mean smart, like that!! Xoxo Have a great start to the year!!

  5. Thank you!! LOVE this reminder. An inferiority complex is no way to feel upon entering a classroom of tweens! I’m reminded that this is exactly the message that I try to share with my own children and youngsters. Be YOUR best selves because as Oscar Wilde said “…everyone else is taken.” We should take our own advice ;).

    Hope you have a great school year, thank you for all you do for the professional development work you dedicate to bettering our profession.

    Un abrazo fuerte, Heidi (Leslie D.’s friend 🙂


    1. Hello my friend!

      Yes, it is so so SO important to remember. 8 year olds are one of the WORST ages ( I can’t remember what grades you teach) but they are CONSTANTLY feeling inferior to others, and during MS we see our kids trying to “navigate” who they are and who they want to be and then our high schoolers are just a hot mess…. ALWAYS trying to be someone else and rarely owning their OWN selves. It is a really important “skill” and “mindset” to model for them! 🙂

      Love to you!

  6. Gracias gracias! Thank you for being you. You are amazingly talented, generous, and obviously w/out a doubt hard-working. You have a passion, you work hard to be and do the best that you can. AND then you share yourself along with everything that you have learned on your journey to help and inspire others.
    So thank you also for writing this reflection with such honesty about your first years. It was just what i needed to hear(read) to boost the confidence I gained from iFLT18 to dive in and find my own CI style. I know there will be good days along with days of frustration and exhaustion. On those days I’ll drink a glass of wine and pull out my “You’ve Got This” note from Becky Moulton! Cheers to Cohort C!!!

    1. Thank you for being a domino! You are awesome. and THANK YOU for writing such a wonderful note for me! 🙂 I appreciate it! My “love language” is words of affirmation and it is powerful for me and feeds my heart and energy to get feedback like this! Much love! xoxox

  7. Inspirational!!! thank-you, I understand and agree with all you have said. Thanks for taking your time to type this up! Blessings to you!

  8. To ALL iFLT18, Thank you, for the tremendous work and love you delivered during the conference. My first time, I am so excited to use CI and to have my kids learning what I saw and learn from all of you! GRACIAS, MIL GRACIAS Y MAS….

Leave a Reply to Rachel Johnson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *