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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Set Sail

The seaman packed. The route was planned. He looked forward to the journey ahead.

Together Everyone Achieves More: Organizing

A colleague and I discussed issues related to teacher voice, choice, and leadership. I noted that I had often advocated for change on my own with little success, and now I was finally learning about the power of organizing. Organizing essentially is the act of working together to make positive change. Organizing is the reason why we have unions--we have unions so that we can work together to make the kinds of change and policies that support the good working conditions we need to effectively do our work in any profession.

When lots of people go it alone to make change the path to good change becomes confusing, scattered, and difficult to follow. Good change gets lost without good organization, and that's why organizing is a powerful means of effecting promising policies and change.

I have a lot to learn about organizing. I wonder why it has taken me so long to get to this point of learning--why didn't I understand this before and why haven't I been fully integrated into organizing efforts in the past. It will take some analysis to figure this out, but in the meantime, I'm ready to learn and I have many colleagues ready to teach and learn with me.

This summer I've signed on to learn more about effective organizing at the MTA Summer Conference. I hope to use what I know to contribute to local and state organizing efforts to make the kinds of change and policies that will elevate supports, services, and opportunities for children and families in our schools and states. I'm not looking back to the lost years in this regard, but instead looking forward to the opportunity this learning holds for better teaching and learning.

Waterfalls of Reflection, Analysis, and Thought
Every big event in life can create a waterfall of reflection and thought if one wants to dig deeply into the emotion, actions, and details that make up that event. This is a choice.

It is not right or wrong to choose to deeply analyze life's events. For some of us it is a sport, and for others a waste of time. A continuum exists here and we all fall somewhere on that continuum when it comes to reflection and thought, and that's okay.

For me, I enjoy looking at all the pieces of life's events. I like to dissect experiences, emotions, and events to see the pieces and figure out how they fit together. I have always enjoyed this analysis. Yet I know that for many this is a tiresome and heavy proposition, one that weights them down when it comes to life's more physically active, social, and actionable events. They prefer to socialize, make, engage in, or relax. That's okay too.

In my own family we are all so different from one another--what we enjoy and how we spend time differs from person to person. I know who I can reach out to when it comes to planning a social event, talking politics, investigating a problem, or going for a bike ride. No two of us are the same--we all lean in different directions when it comes to life's choices including reflection, analysis, and thought.

I'm pulled in the direction of trying to figure things out--I truly like problem solving, and I enjoy working with others to make better. There's nothing I like more than to collaborate with other educators to improve programs in ways that inspire student learning, self worth, and contribution to good living and the world's people and places. I gained great joy this week watching an environmental activist teach and inspire children to clean up a littered roadway and riverway in the community--that was positive action born out of the collegiality of educators and environmentalists, action that was later supported by students' reflections about the importance of that activity. It's that kind of result that supports my love and passion for reflection, analysis, and thought.

Yet, like nature's waterfalls, a large deluge of reflection, analysis, and thought can topple even the most ardent supporter, and that's probably why these beautiful cascades of ideas are often found in remote places distanced from everyday life and learning. Often it takes a woodsy trail with some height to reach a waterfall's dramatic edge and deep effect. We have to be ready to seek a waterfall. We have to be willing to play in it's resounding splashes and clear pools. We have to want to traverse the trail to hear the rhythm of the water's strength.

Waterfalls of reflection, analysis, and thought like nature's waterfalls have a place in the world, but it's a place distanced from the day-to-day life--a place that one should travel only when ready for such a cool and beautiful awakening.