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Moments That Take Your Breath Away: Champions Institute Reflections 2017

As a lifetime educator I have experienced moments that cause me to pause, stand still, and absorb every sight, sound and emotion that surrounds me. These are the moments that take my breath away. They stand out as an exclamation point between a long series of ellipses…. They are the moments that tell all of us that the work we do is the “right” work, that we are, after all, making a difference in the lives of our fellow educators and students. That the long hours, careful attention to detail, compassionate responses to what seem like endless requests and yes, even disappointments, are all worthwhile. They are the moments that we revisit when the going gets rough, when we want to throw in the towel and walk away. 

Can you recall a like moment of clarity? 

…For me it was just last week, as our returning Champions had the opportunity to gather with new Champions just getting started with the Thriving Learning Communities™(TLC) program to learn from their experiences – hearing their successes and yes, their disappointments and failures. Witnessing resilience in action, as exciting student results were shared along with plans to move the work forward next school year. Realistic?  Yes…and hope-filled for what lies ahead.

So what happened in this moment – what made it one of “those” moments? Reflecting back, I’m certain it was the precious gift of witnessing passionate educators eagerly learning from one another, trailblazing together. Sharing how in today’s challenging school environments they have embraced the need, and carved out the time, to build relationships with their students, nurturing their character strengths, building their repository of social and emotional skills. Sharing their joys and their challenges. Explaining how TLC is making a difference in the very fabric of their school communities, shifting and shaping their school cultures one step at a time. Being real about the challenges they face and, yet, moving forward together with plans for the new year.

Sharing what they loved…

  • Engaging with students in a relaxed way – drawing on commonalities and unity of purpose.
  • Getting to know my kids on a deeper level.
  • Hearing kiddos reference their character strengths and the strengths of others in every-day conversation (usually without even realizing it!)

And giving their best advice…


  • It takes time to help kids grow. Take the time and be patient.

  • Kids love to learn about you and themselves. 

  • It took us about nine weeks to incorporate the TLC program, but when we did, it was just beautiful.

  • Dig in!  It looks overwhelming but once you make the initial leap it flows and works, and it’s a lot of fun!

As the pace slows for just a bit during the summer months, take time to reflect on your own “moments.” Savor them, recall the details, for these are the moments we must cling to when the path forward seems unclear and we are feeling weary. They are the signposts that provide direction. They keep us moving forward into the future, serving others, changing lives, making a difference, one child at a time. 

Lynn Ochs

Meet Lynn Ochs

Lynn is a widely acknowledged leader in the field of education technology, having won numerous awards throughout her career. Most recently she served as the Vice President of Learning Architecture Services, helping design professional learning and support services, marketing, and sales strategy for an innovative digital learning company. Through this experience and her many leadership roles in school districts and regional service centers, Lynn has designed and delivered professional development to thousands of educators across the country. Beginning her career as a classroom teacher, Lynn is passionate about developing and facilitating the delivery of innovative solutions that impact educators and deliver positive results for students. Find Lynn on Twitter at @LTOchs.

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