It’s been a while, but I’m trying again. I’m thinking about today’s “one great shot” (see my previous blog post re: one great shot):
Today, like many others, I attended Edcamp Leadership. This is absolutely just what I needed – to connect and collaborate with other thoughtful educational leaders! So much learning occurred today – both in person and through #edcampldr.
I had specific expectations for the day – that I would connect with old friends, make new friends, and leave feeling rejuvenated and (hopefully) inspired. What I did not expect was to leave feeling challenged to engage in important conversations about equity and diversity.
Stepping Outside of the Echo Chamber
It would have been very easy to walk away. There were plenty of other rooms and sessions with topics I felt far more comfortable with and talking about. But if that is the only kind of learning and collaborating in which I (or any of us) choose to engage, then we fail to truly grow as educators and as leaders. So, despite my longing to participate in the conversations about things that make me comfortable like relationships or Google classroom – where I’m sure I would have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with very like-minded people, I chose to step outside of my echo chamber and into the room where I would surely be challenged and likely feel some discomfort. I decided to participate in the discussion about equity for students.
To be completely honest, I was definitely intimidated as I entered the room – not only by the topic that I feel so unqualified to discuss or contribute to, but also by the level of knowledge my colleagues (of various races) brought to the conversation. The collective knowledge and experiences gathered in that one room was inspiring!
I live and work in St. Charles County, MO – just across the Missouri River from Ferguson where Michael Brown was shot and killed prompting protests both close by and across the country. The community in which I live and work was (seemingly) impacted very little by these events. They happened “across the bridge” and that made them feel like they were happening in a far away place.
As an educator, I did not have a good response to these events. I wanted my teachers and students to talk about them, but I was unsure of how that should happen, of who should say what, and of how it would be received. I was scared to engage – on a variety of levels. To be honest – I’m a little scared to engage through this blog post – but I am going to persevere!
Today’s One Great Shot: Honesty
Stepping into that conversation today was one of the most rewarding educational experiences I have had recently. One of my greatest fears about engaging in system-wide conversations about diversity and equity is how little I know and understand – and how that impacts my ability to know where and how to even begin.
My colleagues in the room completely understood my reservations and fears, and they advised that the best place to start is with honest conversations: “No shame. No blame. No guilt.” We have to be willing to move beyond fear and engage in real conversations. We need to arrive at a place of trust with our colleagues, so we are not fearful of saying the wrong thing. Rather, we should approach these conversations as learning conversations in which all of us are seeking to understand, to grow, and to make things better for ALL students.
Just the Beginning
Today is just the beginning for me. I have so much learning and talking and learning and talking to do! Before today, I didn’t know where to start – I felt like the topics of diversity and equity were so complex that they were beyond my reach. But after today’s “one great shot,” I feel empowered to take the first step AND I know people I can call if I need help and guidance along the way.