2017 in review: No longer “unwritten.” (#OneWord2018: confidence)

One year ago I was in an interesting place within my career. I was humming right along as an elementary curriculum coach. I knew deep down it was time for a change of pace, scenery, and perhaps position. My beloved principal, Mr. Barham, had just left my school to open a brand new school in our district which intensified this need for a change. While 2016 had been a banner year personally and professionally, 2017 was truly unwritten which is why choosing that as my #OneWord2017 was such a breeze.

My path professionally in 2017 started to shift from being unwritten to in progress very quickly. Early in the year, along with my good friends Renee White and Michael Parker West co-presented two sessions at the NCties conference in Raleigh. Taking the leap from the district convergence symposium to presenting at the largest education conference in the state. Learning and growing indeed. 

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Later that very month, Mr. West and I co-organized the spring edition of #EdCampWake. The two of us spearheaded many new an innovative features within our local EdCamp including inviting the Wendell Middle step team, area high school jazz band and having two educational authors Google Hangout from Ohio in one of the sessions. All and all a lot of planning but a most successful day.

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The biggest piece to the formerly unwritten puzzle was taking the leap when opportunity knocked. Being in my comfort zone within the elementary setting my entire career was something I was ready to change when the right opportunity knocked. It might have been well into 2016-17 but it happened. The door opened, I explored, and took the leap. Haven’t looked back and continue to be so grateful for the opportunity Mrs. MacWilliams provided. Another giant leap in long history of risks but this was near the top. https://brendanfetters.com/2017/03/25/walking-the-talk-taking-leaps-of-faith-to-achieve-personal-and-professional-growth/

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As referenced in the post above the song below by Nashville recording artist Lionel Cartwright has always been a motivator for me whenever life throws a challenge and it certainly came through yet again.

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As I continued to grow as a learner and leader I took on a new role and cherished the opportunity to experience the ISTE conference with colleagues in San Antonio which provided several days of intense learning and relationship building with peers.

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One of my proudest moments this year occurred when several building peers participated in Racial Equity Institute training which led to the creation our school’s equity team work I’m extremely passionate about. Love that so many on our faculty are embracing the uncomfortable and engaging in this powerful work. https://brendanfetters.com/2017/09/23/the-other-side-building-capacity-within-embracing-the-uncomfortable/

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Besides expanding my role as leader within the school and district I also continue to grow my work with education policy. Always aiming to build capacity in others in and around education in this powerful work. 2017 saw a lot of growth in both of these areas.

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In order to make an impact you have to at least leave the sideline. https://brendanfetters.com/2017/12/17/get-informed-leave-the-sideline-take-a-seat-at-the-table/

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22179720_1477488702342433_5502877955342734371_oIn recognition of 2017 all the trials and triumphs its now time to look ahead to 2018. What’s my #OneWord2018? Confidence. This has to be ongoing — even when the times get rocky. If there is one this 2017 taught me personal and professional growth can happen, but even quicker with ongoing confidence. With confidence, never arrogance, even greater things will happen both personally and professionally – mark it down. Here is to 2018.

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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.