At the BC Council of Administrators of Special Education post-conference evening reception on Thursday April 7, I was invited by the president Deb Mah to be a guest Igniter. This is the story (quasi slam poetry) I chose to share:
If you had one word to define, drive or direct the 365 days of a year, what would it be?
My word is “hello”.
It is the narrative thread of my professional growth and personal journey.
From the Kansas of my comfort zone to the Emerald cities of innovation, I travel the “hello “brick road as an educational consultant.
From the grey of “we always done it that way” to the technicolor of transformative practices, I move through cyberspace and across district boundaries.
I didn’t click my heels, but I did follow a “bluebird” into the Twitterverse.
From lurking and learning, 140-character exchanges led to face-to-face encounters.
Virtual conversations became actual invitations to Ignite Evenings and Saturday EdCamps.
These extracurricular edvents are simply “networking on steroids”.
Restorative, regenerative and transformative teacher time outs.
Chris Kennedy – superintendent of West Van- writes: “This is the new world of affiliation — people connected not by role, not by location, but by passion… “
It is more than friending and following but connecting and collaborating.
Dr. Matthew Lieberman explains “This network for social thinking switches us from being information consumers to information DJs motivating us to share what we learn… Getting more social is the secret to making a smarter brain.”
On my “hello “brick road there are no Brainless scarecrows, cowardly lions or heartless tin men.
My professional path is shared by change-agents, cross-pollinators, imagineers, and idea-magnets.
Far from meeting the Flying Monkeys and Wicked Witches, I happened upon the wizards of wonder, mean-making magicians and shift-seeking sorcerers.
Hello is my invitation for disruptive doers and divergent thinkers to inspire, inform and ignite my growth.
On the “hello” brick road, enthused educators forge a coalition of expertise.
It’s about being better with. Not better than.
It ‘s not just finding chemistry but catalyzing a culture of creative combustion.
It’s not about building a mutual adoration club but moving ahead collectively.
(It’s) Fighting the inertia of silos and status quo with the momentum of collective action and innovation.
(So) How do we challenge the policies, practices and paradigms that obstruct meaningful change in education?
How can we better accommodate for the needs of all our students?
How can we invite students into the learning and not just into the classroom?
How do we crack-open cloistered classrooms?
How do we make our teaching porous and permeable and innovative teaching visible?
How do we make teaching a team sport?
How can we grow as teachers not testers; activators not auditors?
From being data collectors to competency developers?
How can we get teachers off the stage and out from the sidelines?
How can teachers “get in the game” as learners?
How can we make teaching about wondering and wandering; dreaming and designing; healing, hoping and harnessing?
How can we move beyond cells and bells; sifting and sorting; rewarding and ranking?
How can school be more about:
Mistaking and making not marking;
Growing not grading;
Learning not earning;
Playing not passing;
Tuning passions not turning pages;
Question-asking not question-answering?
How do we leave behind the narcolepsy-inducing poppy fields of laminated daybooks for the Oz of personalized, passion-fueled learning?
Finding the answers to these questions begins with “hello”.
And just like Dorothy, I learned that no matter where the “hello “brick road took me “there is no place like home“.
The photo on the right is of me and my Ma.
It was taken on Friday August 8 2014.
She died eight days later.
My mother walked the “hello “brick road for 65 years filling her heart with the faces and names that poured into the pews on the day of her funeral.
When grief could have greyed my world, my “hello” brick road became much more.
Saying “Hello” meant hurting less, hoping more, and healing my heart.
Travelling the “hello “brick road, I learned:
it was not where I went but who I met;
the faces more than the spaces;
the people not the places.
At the end of the rainbow, I found relationships.
So why do I walk the “hello” brick road?
These lyrics from Wicked the musical sum it up:
“I’ve heard it said,
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are led to those who help us most to grow…
And we help them in return“
What is your one word?
Where will it take you?
Thank you… and Hello!