This past week I had the privilege of attending an educator’s night at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to help roll out the museum’s latest special exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? I had the great opportunity to spend several hours of conversation and exploration of the new exhibit with a group of educators from around the region while sharing the space with several district friends and colleagues as well.
At the end of the evening, my biggest takeaway was not about the content. It was that the common inclination of many is to shy away from the uncomfortable.
As someone who is fairly “comfortable” being uncomfortable – from racial equity training, to diving into education policy in an effort to gain deeper meaning of what’s happening within our profession at the state and local level to having discussion about poverty in our schools I see the value in being uncomfortable.
As educators, we all are busy. Balancing life along with our career is so often a delicate act especially in the later stages of the academic year when we all are rolling along in 5th gear seemingly. However, as professionals it should always be up to us to grow, learn and improve as not only educators but also humans.
The person I am today as a professional is a far cry from 5 years ago. That’s not saying I was a lousy educator or human being but rather I have learned, grown and improved significantly in that time. A big reason why? Embracing of the uncomfortable.
Its often much, much easier to simply “bury our heads in the sand” to utilize my grandfather’s favorite cliche than learn and grow together by having challenging “uncomfortable” conversations.
As educators, we should be learning more about the students and families we all serve on a deeper level. I’m thankful that in our district, Dr. Trice and his team in the Office of Equity Affairs we have made great strides in this effort. This effort introduced me to the Cultural Proficiency text which broadened my horizons even more.
Two friends and district peers Mr. Michael Parker West and Dr. Sandy Chambers introduced me to the Racial Equity Institute which challenged my thinking on a much, much deeper level. Can all of this be uncomfortable? Absolutely. Is it meaningful? 110 percent. Vital in order to shift the conversation? Absolutely.
As educators I can’t begin to express the importance of facing the uncomfortable. Follow what faces our profession directly with legislation. In our state alone we are blessed to have two excellent weekly programs which address our profession directly and/or indirectly on an in depth and balanced level. My point being the information is out there, readily available. Its up to us as professionals to take that information, have conversations that are sometimes uncomfortable and advocate.
There is incredible capacity within the uncomfortable. There is strength in harnessing the uncomfortable initially and turning into comfort. This is how we truly have the greatest impact on our schools, peers, families, stakeholders and ultimately the students we all serve.
Taking that initial leap into the uncomfortable is always tough. After all its a risk – outside of our comfort zone. At the end of the day, Dr. Maxwell might have said it best with this quote… The resources are all there. Will we embrace them and have conversations or will we be sufficient with a “things will all be ok” mentality? The ball is in our court.