Courageous Schools Conference

Yesterday I attended the Courageous Schools Conference: Fulfilling the Promise of Public Education in NYC at the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. What a day! As an educator I feel these types of days are so important. No matter how busy work is, personal professional development it essential for the health of one’s own psyche, but also for the organization that you work for.  Without personal growth, stagnation of ideas and thoughts set in. Stagnation in individuals leads to stagnation in organizations.

I had some big take-aways from the conference, and will in the next couple of weeks explore them here on my blog.

My posts will follow these big themes:

  • Courageous Actions (big and/or small, they are all important)
  • The Whole Child (notice I didn’t say anything about leaving a child behind, or having that child racing to the top… just simply the whole child)
  • Importance of Storytelling
  • Passion (for the profession, our students and teachers, and for our country’s future)

My Courageous Actions take-aways were:

  • Courageous acts start with an idea and a belief that something is terribly wrong and needs to be changed.
  • Although we hear about the seemingly big events that individuals, schools, and associations are doing to save public schools, the little day to day courageous acts are just as important. I’m particularly thinking about the afternoon session I attended that highlighted the stories in Educational Courage: Resisting the Ambush of Public Education. There are some great stories of courage here, they kept referring to ‘Working in the cracks’ and creating spaces to teach authentically. This is where we need to start… the cracks.
  • There is a lot happening throughout the country but many educators feel isolated and alone. This of course is the crux of our profession, too often we feel isolated in our classrooms, buildings, or districts. But do not fear!  We are not alone. We need to break out of our day to day busy teaching lives to see the forest for the trees. The motto from the environmental movement: ‘Think globally, act locally’ is just as relevant for us. We need to have our ‘heads’ in both places.
  • We can not let our day to day exhaustion beat us down. We need to relish in our celebrations, cherish (and support) our like minded colleagues, and work on digging ourselves out of the hole, instead of entrenching ourselves in the hole and feeling defeated.

We all can be courageous, start locally and ask yourself ‘what can I do tomorrow to teach or lead authentically?’. Then think about, ‘How can I get involved regionally or nationally to let my voice be heard?’  It is as simple, yet as complex as that… but remember it all starts with a move forward, for without movement (even the smallest) nothing will happen. To me that is not an option.

Next post… The Whole Child

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