Thursday, July 26, 2018

CYBER PD- Chapters 5 and 6

I'm participating in #CYBERPD this summer. This is my very late reflection on Chapters 5 and 6.

My superintendent is resigning, after ten years at a very hard job. At our first meeting of the year, he reflected on some of his accomplishments and then asked us to consider, "What do you want your legacy to be?" And of course, the first thing that popped into my head was that I wanted my students to be lifelong readers and writers. But, then, as I really thought about it, I realized it's really bigger than that. 

I want kids to be readers and writers, because I want them to be ready to live big in the world.   I want them to be ready to make a difference. I want them to understand that everyone has their own story. I want them to listen to other people's stories with grace and compassion. And I want them to be people who have the skills to tell their own stories, both verbally and in writing. 

And as much as I want those things for them, I want them for myself.  

I want to be a listener. A real listener. Someone who listens to understand. Not just someone who listens so that I can rebut, or have my turn to talk. I want this to be true in my professional life and I want it to be true in my personal life. I want to be slower to judge and slower to discount opinions that are different from my own.

I want to get out of my own echo chamber. It's so easy to hang out with people who believe/like the same things as I do. In the current political climate, I think that's especially true. It's hard for me to listen to people who support our current leader, even to read articles or watch their news shows, but I feel like I really need to at least try. I need to try to understand. 

That's true in my professional life as well.   I read a lot of professional literature, but I mostly read texts by people who believe the same things as I do. I think that's also true of children's literature. It seems like the same authors get promoted again and again and again. I want to push beyond those boundaries, to follow new blogs and new people, to explore new ideas and methods. 

I want to commit to a learning stance. I don't want to get out of my "echo chamber" only to say I'm getting out of my echo chamber, I want to go into interactions (with people and text) ready to learn and be changed. I really do want, as Ahmed suggests, to say, “OK, I know my truths, but I am going to listen and accept what this other person is saying also as a truth." And then I want to say, “What do I DO with these new truths?”

Get proximate to the human story. I want to be a doer. I want to get my hands dirty. To care enough to take action. And I want my students to do that too. I want us to pick a cause, either collectively or individually. Global warming? Plastic in the oceans? Gun control or gang violence in Denver? Gentrification in our school neighborhood? Our burr-ridden school playground? I want kids to choose a cause that is bigger than themselves, to research it, to develop a plan, and to take action. I want kids to learn that they can make a difference in the world.

I want to shine a spotlight on the upstanders. In my own life. In my classroom. In my school. In the world. The world seems so very dark right now. And it's easy to get caught up in all that darkness. I want to make conscious efforts, every single day, in my postings on social media, and in my dealings with my students, and others, to shine a spotlight. To bring joy. To bring hope and light.

I want to be proactive with my privilege. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" As an educated, middle class white woman, I have lots of privileges that others- my sons, my students and their families- don't have. Because of that, it really is my job to stay informed, to raise awareness, and to advocate for others.

I've been an educator for over thirty years. Pretty much every year, I have participated or developed some activity or program, formal or informal, to help kids develop their social awareness, to be kinder or more caring. A lot of it is pretty much just lip service. I have loved BEING THE CHANGE, because I feel like it's a book I can use, both to make change in the world, and to help kids make change in the world as well.

Thank you, Sara K Ahmed, for this very powerful book. I can't wait to start implementing these practices in my classroom.


Jean said...


Anonymous said...

I have to say that your reflection on the chapters/book was very inspiring and felt like you are trying to take global steps in and out of the classroom to be a changemaker. You have inspired me! Thanks Mona