I don’t know how to be a guest blogger on your site dear friend. I am sure there is an electronic way to add myself, but I will leave that technological feat to you. Every man likes to save at least one female. (over generalizations are required on blue cereal, are they not?)
What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?
Early in my career I read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey and the second habit rose off the page and bit me: “Seek first to understand and then to be understood”. Consequently, I do not offer up this struggle lightly or without thought.
I don’t understand why, when the problem or need is within our individual or collective reach to solve, we don’t act. I struggle when we act like a victim, not owning the problem. I am often stupefied by an individual’s lack of action when the solution clearly lies within his/her circle of influence. I struggle to offer grace or understanding when I know we are capable. I witnessed the kind of ownership we need Thursday.
A mother of a very young student scheduled a meeting with my colleagues and I in an effort to advocate for her child’s educational needs. Her concern motivated only by her innate, proactive nature brought us curriculum materials and items that could be found on a sensory menu for children challenged by sensory overload or miscue. She had conducted much individual research, explained its benefits for her child, and the neurologically typical learner. She toted a large bag into the conference room and proceeded to remove sensory item after item out of the bag, explained the cost of each or where we could purchase it. She addressed the needs of different kinds of learners, those like her child and those not like her child. Her compassion overwhelmed me and I lost my composure, excusing myself from the room discreetly. She owned the issue – not just for her own child, but for all young children.
As I type this I realize it’s a great metaphor for public education. I wish confidentiality and professionalism didn’t inhibit the extension – but they do. For brevity’s sake, the mother could have advocated only for her child; she didn’t. She committed her resources, her time, her intellect, her money to researching, collecting evidence and connecting key players, and then she extended those to others. Public education exists to act in the same way for the benefit of the public good, for your child and mine. We collect tools, time, and talent and we fund a public service with public money to advocate and educate all. Thousands of individuals pour themselves into other people’s children – so that the lives of those children and their own children can all be advantageously impacted. “We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll
I don’t think we have to be an extraordinary person in extraordinary circumstances to own the problem.
Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.
Personally, I can be mentally present for hours at a time. I can connect the dots and see around the corner. After my daughter was killed last year, I couldn’t do that with any kind of success or regularity, and I lacked a passion for this place that has always been my mission field. I feared it had died also. I am not who I was – but I am not as lost.
Corporately, our district, our team, our family continues to do the Ron Clark-Erin Gruewell-Jaime Escalente thing for kids. But I am hoping Hollywood doesn’t come for the story because we are not extraordinary – our problems are. We are just committed.
What are THREE things that you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?
- Spend days in classrooms just watching student learn leaving feedback with teachers who own the struggle of learning.
- Continue re-imagining the senior year to create relevance
- Find the story line for a book
Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today’s rough culture.
- This is my mission field. I own the responsibility of creating environments that enable talented teachers to be the cause of learning. The more we empower students with the ability to learn, the more hope we create. These are just the kind of statements @blueceareal rips, but if he had a starfish emoji, he would place one beside this item.
- If not us, then who? If not now, then when? “We choose [education]. We choose [education] in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win” Robert Kennedy [inserts mine] in his speech given at Rice Stadium September 12, 1962.
- I remain in education because I refuse to lose; it is not in my DNA. I can be beaten; I can be outplayed, out-athleted, but I will not lose.
- I stay in education most importantly because kids are amazing! Given a caring, committed adult and an environment filled with access and opportunity, our kids will overwhelm and amaze us with what they can create, what they can envision, what they can cure, what they can imagine, and how they can light the world.
Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions?
I am not very comfortable calling folks out to this challenge, so I will be a coward and second @bluecereal’s challenge to Dodd and Pradhan and add only one. Rebecka Peterson @RebeckaMozdeh is a thoughtful, thought-provoking educator who seeks to reach her students’ hearts as avidly as she seeks their intellect. In her class, the person is more important than the equation, and I have learned an immense amount of wisdom from this tiny, but mighty woman.
Thank you @bluecerealeducation.