Professional Development

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On Showing Up

"Show up and speak up."

It's such a powerful charge, isn't it?

I've been thinking a lot about the first part of that, "showing up."

For a long time, I think I had a limited understanding of what it meant to show up for something. It's easy to say that "showing up" means ... Well, just showing up. Physically arriving at some destination. Being there.

But as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that it is so much more complex than that.

Because how many times have you shown up—physically been somewhere—but not actually "been there" at all? If you're anything like me, it's probably more times than you'd care to admit.

"Showing up" means so much more than just getting your body in a seat. When we truly show up for something, we are committing our full self to it. We are present, in the most complete sense of the word. And there are as many ways to "show up" in that way as there are stars in the sky.

How many times has someone "showed up" for you when you needed them, even if they are half a world away? How many times has someone that you don't even know "showed up" for a cause you believe in, through an article they've written or something they've tweeted? How many times has a stranger "showed up" for you by looking in your eyes and asking how you are? How many times has a student "showed up" by courageously trying something new in your afterschool program? How many times has a parent "showed up" by offering their time at a special event? How many times has a partner "showed up" for you just by sitting quietly by your side while you cry?

As I get older, I recognize and treasure the moments when I spot that someone is showing up for me, or even just showing up in my presence. And I'm so much more intentional about how I show up for those around me. Because I want those moments to matter.

With NAA Convention 2020 around the corner, you have the opportunity to think about how you will "show up." How will you be fully present in every interaction and in every session? How will what you gain help you better "show up" when you go back to your programs?

Starting is always the hardest part of anything, so here are five ways to set yourself up for success at this year's convention:

1. Before you go, make a list of the people attending the conference (both participants and speakers) that you want to introduce yourself to, and make it a point to get their business card.

2. Prepare a notebook with three questions you want to ask and have answered at the end of each of your chosen breakout sessions, so you go into the rooms ready to learn something specific.

3. Don't just breeze through the exhibit hall to pick up freebies. In your program, circle three exhibitors that you want to learn more about, and intentionally go to their booth.

4. Make a goal to not look at your phone during break times, but instead to look up and make eye contact and smile at passersby. You never know what conversations and meetings might be sparked!

5. At the end of the convention, have at least five action steps that you'll follow up with as soon as you get back to your program.

Erika Petrelli is a speaker, educator, blogger, mother and NAA Executive member. She has been in the field of education for more than 15 years and currently exercises her dynamic education experience as The Leadership Program's Vice President of Leadership Development.