Monday, August 18, 2014

We Can't Do This Alone

(Photo shared by Yasin Hassan)

We all have ideas. Most of us have some really great ideas. I am constantly running through scenarios and plans in my head and I would be foolish to think that this wasn't the norm for most people. Recently, I have been reflecting upon why collaboration is so important. Important for both adults and students.

What happens when we are vulnerable enough to share our ideas with another person, or even scarier, a group of people? What happens for you during this collaborative process of laying all these messy, unfinished, half ideas out for others to view and mold? For me, the emotions range from frustration to enlightenment. There is a delicate balance of flushing out ideas and protecting things that I have grown inside my soul. This process is both exhilarating and infuriating.

While I have an ego that tells me to protect ownership of ideas and plans, I know I am only one voice. My thinking is but a small fraction of what is amazing in this world. When paired with the magnitude of thinkers and dreamers around me, that is when the magic happens. This process can be hard for me because I am a know-it-all. I want to have greatest thoughts and be the biggest thinker. The truth is that I would never be where I am or have accomplished what I have without the collaborative power of those brilliant minds that surround me everyday.

I am reminded by my colleagues, my friends, and my husband that I am better when I open myself up to critique and new ideas. This is scary. This requires vulnerability. This demands humility. This is was is beautiful about being part of a community.

As the new year rolls out in front of me, I am reminded that not only must a share openly, but I must also create safe spacing for vulnerability. These spaces must pillow others in the care necessary to be free with their mind and feelings. We must value one another, respect the craziness of big visions, and be willing to ask for clarity. Maybe most importantly, we must remember to thank those that push our thinking and dream alongside us.

Collaboration is built on a foundation of trust. If we can get to this point, anything is possible.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Just Start

This week has been one of the most emotional weeks I have experienced in a very long time. I have cried in my car on the way to work every day this week. I have sobbed as I travelled home in each day. It has been a week of watching events unfold that I have no idea how to process. Often, I have to tap into where I feel, not necessarily what I feel. This week, my emotions have settled in my throat and behind my eyes. There is not one emotion, but instead more like a handful of them have been put in a blender and pureed.

Every time I have engaged in conversations about Michael Brown and the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO I have wept. Today, I reached to ask for help with this. Tonight, I was honest about my comfort level in having these conversations. I want to be courageous. I want to embrace the confusion and fear my kids are experiencing and I want to be a pillar of strength for them. I want to feel like my humanity, my love, and my care are enough to carry that conversation. But I have doubts of my own. I have fears that my experience limits my perspective. I am worried that my own story is so drastically different that I am grossly under qualified to lead such a conversation.

In my classroom, I want to forever honor the human spirit. I want my students to feel safe in learning, in listening, in talking, in crying, in laughing, and in being honest. I want our space to be one where students know we can have the tough conversations that we don't know how to have. I have been watching as teachers have stepped up to make sure we do what is right with our kids by not ignoring what is happening here and providing space to explore what is happening and a space to process.

I am lucky because even with an overwhelming sense of fear, I am driven further by the courage of those around me. Sometimes, we don't have to be the loudest voice, but we can start with a whisper. This year, I make a commitment to start with a whisper. I will not be silent, and I will not be embarrassed to reveal the honesty of my emotions to my students and peers. I will, however, be embarrassed if I don't engage. So I urge you, I plead with you, to not be silent about the issue of injustice, the importance of our humanity, or right we have to be fearful in tough situations. Sometimes, all you can do is just start.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What's So Special About Edcamp Baltimore?

This was originally posted on the SimpleK12 Blog

What’s your initial response to your district’s or school’s professional development options? For most of us, we usually don't experience emotions of excitement, curiosity, and pure anticipation when we hear about the hours of required “professional development” each year. In Baltimore, and around the country, teachers have begun to take matters into their own hands. These are educators that believe in authentic learning not just for their own students but for themselves as well. These are educators that refuse to have the life sucked out of their learning.

On September 27th, Baltimore will host its third annual Edcamp. Since 2012, teachers have traveled from all over Maryland to attend this participant-driven unconference. Topics, all chosen by the educators in attendance the morning of the conference, range from technology integration and tools, to innovative pedagogical strategies, passion-based learning, and much more. This is a time for teachers to connect with other like-minded educators, build partnerships, and talk about the issues that really matter in their classrooms and schools.

What’s so special about Edcamp? In short, this learning experience is all about meeting the participant’s needs. This conference is fertile ground for planting deep seeds of learning and growth, as it allows the voices of our own teachers to drive the direction of the day. It is a space where teachers are truly valued as the experts and their experience is the foundation of the sessions and conversations. Sometimes teaching can feel like a lonely place. Educators must continue to reach out and connect with our local community and allies; Edcamp Baltimore is here to provide that space.

If you would like more information please visit the Edcamp Baltimore website We are anxiously awaiting your unique expertise and energy this year, so please join us!

Want to find out more about the Edcamp movement? Check out these blog posts:

#Edcamp Advice: What to expect at your first Edcamp

Ten things to know to help your day run smoothly Saturday