When Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream first came out I have this recollection of Chunky Monkey and movies with my friends. A few weeks ago shea martin made a comment about Ben and Jerry’s and I decided that I needed to go pick up some Chunky Monkey and relive my High School days while watching a movie. Much to my dismay there was no Chunky Monkey, so instead I picked up some Tonight Dough and some other flavour. Both were good but they were no Chunky Monkey. My next trip the the store (quarantine eating) I tried another flavour the Netflix and Chill’d. I have moved on from Chunky Monkey and will never go back. I was ready for the change once I found the right thing. I find so often that we are so comfortable with what we know we avoid change. If I did that I would never have discovered this wonderful new treat.
In my teaching life I think there have been 3 really key moments that have changed me as an educator.
- Professional Development with Kylene Beers and Bob Probst- I can’t stress this enough I am a different educator because of them. The learning I did that day ignited a spark for professional learning that has never extinguished. I crave it. My favourite professional text of all time is Disrupting Thinking, a book Bob and Kylene co-wrote. My favourite strategies come from their work. I was looking for something to build me as an educator and am so grateful I found them.
- Meeting my dear friend Dr. Mary Howard- There are moments in life where you can pinpoint when everything changes. I joined a Twitter chat focused on Disrupting Thinking and met Dr. Howard in that chat. We became fast friends. Her enthusiasm for teaching, teachers and especially for the infinite potential of children fuelled me to learn more. To pursue learning and better my practice to honour my students. I started to write more and follow in the footsteps of Mary’s passion rants and found my voice, loud and opinionated as it is. Mary has been my cheerleader from day one and has given me so many opportunities to grow, meet other amazing educators help my students reach their potential.
- #31DaysIBPOC- A year ago tomorrow I stumbled on to a hashtag on Twitter. See I had been following this amazing group of educators Dr.Kim Parker, Tricia Ebarvia, Julia Torres and Lorena Germán and their #disrupttexts conversations. I was starting to learn from them how much I could challenge the texts used in my classroom and the importance of representation. I had always struggled with how to approach subjects like race because my community is not diverse. We are in the rural south in Alberta Canada. I felt it was important to teach my students about the world and communities and culture outside our own but I really didn’t know how to address it. May 1st 2019 didn’t really tell me how but the experience that started that there most certainly helped me see why it was so important. Every day for the month of May I was blessed to read the stories of so many brilliant IBPOC folx. I was able to listen to their experiences, be inspired by their words and understand even a small bit what it was like to be the student of colour in a sea of white classmates, an experience many students of colour have in my community. One of few in our small community. I love my community, we can’t do much about the population but reading these heartfelt and and times heartbreaking powerful post I knew that I had to do more. I began looking into equity, representation I learned terms like Antiracist and starting learning how to make sure I was doing better for all of my students. I realized that I was not just failing my IBPOC students by not having a more inclusive library than I had started, I was not just failing my IBPOC students by not looking at more events of the world. I was failing all of my students. #31DaysIBPOC made me a better teacher. It changed me and I am so excited for it to start again tomorrow.
I think as I consider what it means to change I go to the idea of learning. In each moment that I have experienced significant change as an educator it has been in powerful moments of learning. They can be uncomfortable and heaven knows I have had those moments but I learned from them. These last few weeks I have had the great opportunity to learn from an incredible mix of educators in the Liberate and Chill online course I took. In that I was able to sit and listen to so many incredible speakers reflect on education, equity, liberation and freedom. The passion was incredible. My last post I mention a comment from shea around dreaming and allowing ourselves to dream. As I sit here on the eve of #31DaysIBPOC starting again I have a dream that I will learn more and grow more but more than that I dream others will join me.
We are at a pivotal time in education. Because of COVID so many educators who chose to stay nestled in their comfort of privilege have been forced to examine the inequity that has always been here. My dream is that these educators will join me in the learning that is about to be offered to us this month. That they will see all of their students and work to better the system for them. That they won’t run back to the old normal as soon as it comes calling because it will. That they will sit with the words they are about to read and be changed by them.
It might be uncomfortable, growing is, but in the end we are stronger.