Adding and receiving value from those around us

The 2018-19 school year has been a sprint. Nonstop. So much learning and growing with a workflow that that can often be intense. Blogging has fallen off my radar these past few months. I’ll admit it. I’ve articulated such many times over the course of the past weeks especially.

However, today something powerful happened. No not me jumping back on the blogging horse – beyond that. A group of three district peers and friends Michael Parker West, Erica Everett, Terrance Hinnat and I met for a few hours to discuss school community and how it connects to the powerful EdNC article from our fellow district colleague Christina Spears (who unfortunately was unable to attend)

https://www.ednc.org/2018/05/31/building-community-beyond-the-classroom-walls/

This professional development session while small was powerful. Three school administrators and one aspiring administrator gathering on a Sunday afternoon at Panera over warm beverages and side items to dive deep into successes, similarities we’ve seen, are aiming to achieve, etc. in alignment with Mrs. Spears’ article.

This all came to be a few weeks ago with Erica reaching out to around 20 district peers via email. The collective group had a choice of meeting dates/times to choose from with today being the eventual winner.

During the course of our meeting we all realized that each of us had connected directly or indirectly from Twitter over the course of the last 2-3 years. We have become so close as district peers that each of us had lost sight of that. What a strong connection tool Twitter is. It has enhanced all of our personal learning but also school community bonding through hashtags. #WendellHowlout and #WeAreCarroll are significant school community connection drivers for Mr. West and myself at our respective schools for sure.

While district and school learning is always strong, sometimes the learning and personal connections we choose are the most powerful. Who knew a colleague-initiated two hour meeting on a fall Sunday afternoon in Raleigh with 4 district colleagues would be so powerful? It was.

Value added. Value received.

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The other side – building capacity within embracing the uncomfortable

A year ago, my friend and a strong, innovative principal in our school district, Dr. Sandy Chambers invited me to her school for an intense, thought provoking, immersion training with district peers. I had heard so much about the Racial Equity Institute and their training sessions from Sandy and another district friend, Mr. Michael Parker West for many months. Now I was engaged in the process.

Life changing professional development. Courageous conversations, learning and growing with mostly educators but a handful of folks from other professions as well. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to learn more, grow more with this work. How could I get more educators to become aware and not remaining complacent in “not knowing what they don’t know?” Embracing the uncomfortable as so often have said in the past year or so is powerful, yet so many in my profession and beyond shy away, why? How can we get more educators and beyond to embrace the uncomfortable, to build capacity within this powerful and such meaningful work?

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In conjunction with my education policy work and through REI circles within our district and beyond I started to connect with other educators to learn and grow more. To encourage other educators to understand, grow, and build capacity and interest within others. I give major props to the above mentioned Michael and Sandy but also Ms. Erica Everett and Mr. Jeff Bugajski for further driving my understanding through sharing articles, viewing opportunties ongoing, inviting me to events, etc. Additionally, in the policy world, NC Rep. Graig Meyer, Wake County (NC) Commissioner Jessica Holmes and the Public School Forum of NC’s Mr. James Ford have all pushed me significantly with my understanding of equity and sparked courageous conversations through providing deeper learning opportunities with such.

After attending Racial Equity Institute (REI) trainings as both an attendee initially then as alumni to gain deeper perspective, I wanted to bring this work to key stakeholders at Carroll Middle School. I made an initial pitch to Mrs. MacWilliams over lunch with assistance from Michael and Sandy last spring. She was all in. We were going to have faculty from CMMS engaged in this meaningful work in the near future.

Fast forward to today, Saturday, September 23, 2017. I’m in the back of the REI circle at Brier Creek Elementary in Raleigh, NC — the “alumni area.” I’m so proud seeing my so many of my colleagues from Carroll Middle (along with district peers at Brier Creek Elementary and Horton’s Creek Elementary) voluntarily involved in this meaningful, deep work on a Saturday (and Sunday too) for the betterment of the students we all serve, our own craft and as a society overall.

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I’m beyond stoked to see where this work goes from here has the capacity is being built to take off both at Carroll Middle with our #TeamKidsFirst faculty here today (and tomorrow) as a result of this training and the engaging conversations occurring.

Proud day as an educator but this work is only getting started. #EquityMatters. Embrace the uncomfortable.