Listening to Other Voices- 6/17/2020

It's been almost two weeks since my last post. I usually like to post weekly but I have struggled to get started. I haven't struggled because I didn't have anything to say, but rather than so many thoughts were swirling around in my head and I was struggling to find the best way to put these words on paper. This morning, as I ran, it hit me. I just needed to get started.

Almost two weeks ago, I made a commitment to wanting to learn more, wanting to hear other's voices, wanting to be part of the solution, not a silent bystander. I knew that this work would not be easy, but I knew that I needed to do something.

What could I do?

During the #LeadLAP chat on June 6, 2020 that propelled me into further introspection, Shelley Burgess shared that Dave Burgess Consulting was hosting a Book Club for "Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain" by Zaretta Hammond. Prior to this, I had heard so many amazing things about this book and it was on my TBR (To Be Read) list. I expressed my interest in participating and Shelley forwarded the information to me. Knowing that I had not been part of this group during its first meeting, I quickly purchased the book on my Kindle and began reading, not only the chapters that I "had missed" but the chapters for the next meeting, which is tonight. I also watched the video from the first meeting to prepare.

Watching the first meeting, I felt the need to be "super prepared " while feeling a degree of the impostor syndrome. I saw administrators, district leadership, authors I admired and more sharing their thoughts. At first, I felt like I didn't belong there, but going back to my #oneword2020, CHALLENGE, I knew that I needed to conquer that fear and proceed.

How else can I learn?

Even with reading this book and having made a commitment earlier this month to read at least one book a month to expand my understanding and awareness of equity and racism, I knew that this journey wasn't just about books. After watching my friend, Traci Browder's video on YouTube, I began to binge listen to her newly reformatted podcast, Intelligogy. If you haven't listened to her podcast, you definitely should.

Every day, she has a new focus in this format and I had been fascinated as she has shared interviews with her family and so many other amazing guests. What really has struck me as I have been listening is how Traci brings you into the conversation and how they touch your heart. She brings you into other's stories and shares their lives in a way that other podcasts that I have listened to don't. Listening to these stories has really made me reflect and examine my own actions, looking for ways that I can be better, more culturally responsive.

Next Steps Forward

This process of self awareness, of awareness of the struggles that others endure, it has been indescribable. On one hand, I feel guilty about my lack of awareness. It was certainly not from my lack of effort, but on the other hand, Maya Angelou's quote sticks in the back of my mind. "When you know better, you do better."

In my twenty-one years of teaching, I have participated in many equity trainings. These trainings have such good intentions, but the lack of time allocated to these trainings, plus the mandatory nature of them, have led many educators like me, to attend them, while not really "attending" to them. They have lead to a more surface understanding of equity and in many situations, they are condensed to fit time requirements. In the two counties that I have worked in, I have participated in such sessions. But honestly, I have never left any of them feeling like I "know better or could do better." That work is hard and is a lifelong process, not accomplished in any one training module or set of training modules.

Just the beginning...

With that in mind, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. When given the opportunity to participate in a summer equity summit for my county this summer, I immediately volunteered. I am excited to participate in that summit on July 22 and 23 for many reasons. One, it will give me an opportunity to learn more as I have choices to attend self-selected breakout sessions. Two, it will enable me to be part of the solution and the team that provides turn around training.

I know that I am just at the beginning of this journey. It is not just about one person, but all of us doing the hard work. I am so grateful to have so many amazing people to engage in this work alongside me in my #PLN.

As I work on cultivating my culturally proficient mindset, I am dedicated to building my own awareness so that as I prepare for the unprecedented year of 2020-2021, I can create more meaningful learning partnerships with my colleagues and students and continue my journey.