Educate Like Ants – Be Relentless

TL;DR:

  • Ants appear to roam anywhere and everywhere outside but when they come inside your home, their purpose becomes more evident.
  • Ants are strong and tenacious. Educators can learn by studying them and being more like them. They know their WHY. Do you? If you haven’t thought about your WHY in a while, it’s time to revisit and rediscover. It will guide your practice and remind you of your purpose and mission.
  • We need to be more like ants—RELENTLESS! We need to do what we can to support students wherever they are because that’s how they come to us.
  • Educate like ants with intense collaboration and teamwork. Reflect and work on being better so that you and your community can work harmoniously together just like ants.

Ants, Ants, and More Ants

Have you ever watched ants? Outside, they appear to be randomly roaming around in search of food to bring back to their nest.

But have you ever really watched ants? I mean, examined them like a scientist? Inside the house, they appear to be more organized and orderly. They march with a purpose and a mission. Every step they take is intentional and one step closer to their goal. How do I know? Well, I studied them. I watched them for hours as I cleaned my whole kitchen alongside them. At times, I just sat there intently observing them. These unwanted visitors vacationed in my home for a few days this summer. It’s not the first time in our lifetime they joined our family unexpectedly but it was the first time my eyes were opened to see how we can learn from ants! The more I thought about what we can learn from them, the more in depth I saw their passion in action and how it can apply to us as educators.

So how would you describe ants? Some may say they are extremely agile with superhuman strength, steadfastly tenacious, persistently determined, and obstinately hard-working. Certain species can carry up to 50 times their body weight and some as high as 100 times! 

Educate Like Ants – Know Your WHY

From an ant’s point of view, they are small critters in a large expansive world. Yet their size doesn’t stop them from their role for the betterment of the colony. They are strong and they know their place in this world. Ants exist with TENACITY in pursuit of their mission. The ones that visited our home were responsible for food. It’s a part of their DNA and programmed into their purpose…their WHY.

As educators, many of us are in our roles because we care for our “colony”—the students, their families, and each other in the school community. Our size in comparison to ants in our world is much larger than theirs and as such, we can have greater impact. Do you know what your purpose is? When was the last time you revisited your WHY? If it’s been a while, it’s time to take it out, blow the dust off, and rediscover your WHY so you can be in realignment as you begin the new school year. Knowing your WHY helps you become stronger and gives you a clearer view of your purpose and mission. Here’s my WHY.

Educate Like Ants – Be Relentless

One of my first aha moments came in just one word: RELENTLESS! The ants were tirelessly relentless! They first started coming in under our double doors to the back porch so I naively covered the gap with hockey tape. Not much longer, they kept searching and found a new gap to the left of the doors under the siding. So, I taped that up with hockey tape. Next, they kept searching for another opening and found it to the left of that! Then I gave up trying to tape it up. I realized when there’s a will, there’s a way for these ants! 

This is the moment it dawned on me that we need to be more like ants! RELENTLESS! We need to do what we can to support students wherever they are because that’s how they come to us. In order to be more effective, we need to get to know them, care for them, and build meaningful relationships. We need to help them develop, progress, and learn, no matter their needs. If we are not finding growth or success one way, then we need to pivot and go in another direction. And if that avenue isn’t helping the child gain enough traction, then we need to pivot again to try a different path. It’s a great opportunity to innovate!

In other words, be relentless just like ants! Keep trying and don’t expect all students to fit a one-size-fits-all program either! Circles do not fit well into square pegs so we need to offer choice. May I suggest you dive into Universal Designs for Learning? We may need to reflect on the effectiveness of our own practice while being relentless.

Educate Like Ants – Effortless Harmony

Ants do not work alone. They are the epitome of being stronger together and better together. The intense level of collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork needed is outstanding. They are like a 100,000 to 500,000 piece puzzle that all fit together. Ants are continually foraging, nurturing, and providing for their colony. They do it for the betterment of all and they are relentless at it.

Again, we can learn from ants. As they dedicate themselves to work without personal gain or rewards, we are reminded that we are also stronger together and better together. While we often work alone in our classrooms, we have the freedom to collaborate (plan or work on projects/committees together), cooperate (platoon or team teach), and lean on other colleagues as teammates for personal and professional support. 

Ants work in such effortless harmony. How do you contribute to your positive school culture so that your community looks, feels, and sounds harmonious? It’s just like an orchestra. Each person plays a large part to make the most beautiful sounds…together. Are you relentless with your practice, foraging for more information and seeking to be better? And are you nurturing and continuously building relationships through every interaction to be stronger together? Are you playing your part well to provide for the betterment of all? Take some time to reflect on how you can be better overall as you elevate yourself, each other, and your community to work together in harmony.

Be Better Than Ants

We can be BETTER than ants because we can also grow and learn from each other. We can reach out BEYOND our “colonies” and connect with our PLN. And we can be MORE like ants and even better too. 

Be RELENTLESS in support of students, families, and our school community. 

Be TENACIOUS in building meaningful and long-lasting relationships. 

Know our WHY. Revisit and tweak our why as we evolve as educators. 

Be a supportive, collaborative teammate. Go BEYOND to be a cheerleader and uplifter.

How do you educate like ants? What more can you be doing to educate like ants? How do you inspire others to educate like ants? I’d love to hear responses to these questions. Please feel free to tweet your responses! If you do, remember to use the hashtag #TeachBetter and tag me using @LiviaChanL. Thank you!

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