A few days ago while scrolling through a social media site, I noticed that a student I teach had posted a photo with, what I consider to be, an offensive … Continue reading Language of Hope
We are an alternate school and part of what we believe is finding ways to listen to and live alongside each other. Around here, we hope everyone finds a sense of belonging so that everyone is able to say, in some way, I’m here.
The morning after we read Reynolds’ book, before I arrived at school, I messaged friends and colleagues. I asked folks to make a paper airplane, to toss an air plane and then to share that moment.
Many people ignored my request. Many people responded with a LOL. A few people grumped out a response.
About a month ago I posted on Facebook asking if anyone might be interested in splitting next year’s Football season’s tickets. I had a few responses, but soon interest waned.
Then, I’d figured the season was still half new. There was time yet.
And time is important. Last March Dad had had a stroke. The stroke left him paralysed and our lives changed forever. Now Dad lives 20 minutes from Mom in a fulltime care home. Now Mom travels every day to visit him.
Last week I received two letters in the mail. I wasn’t surprised until I realized that the letters had been addressed by me.
I’d written them the previous summer during a difficult period. At the time, the letters were a reflective activity for a summer institute I was completing. The words on each envelope were in my handwriting yet the notes inside where different; one letter had been written to me from my learning partner during the institute and the other was written to me from me.
Both letters were about hope for the upcoming year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about joy. A few weeks ago a friend shared that he wishes to live an extraordinary life. Me too. I want joy for me, for my daughter and for the students I teach.
I like being happy. I like that I live my life seeking my sacred spaces, seeking my safe people, and seeking serenity. I also write as a means to seek joy.
I write because I am filled with narratives that weave our common tales into extraordinary stories-to-live-by. I believe, in time, I weave my stories into joy. I find hope in stories. I find joy in sharing stories.
Here’s what I mean:
I follow George Couros’s work. I understand that he’s a well-respected educator-leader. And there’s much to celebrate in that. However, that is not why I follow his work.
The truth is that it’s always someone’s story that most inspires me
I follow George because of the way he honours those he loves. I adore the beautiful way that he shares his love for his brother’s children, for his dogs and mostly for his parents. See, I love my parents too.
I don’t know George personally, but I feel connected to him because of our lived-stories. Each of us has someone we call ‘family’, and for George and me, the ‘who’ of our family is rather clear.
I’m in the midst of living my thesis story. In this space I am beginning to understand that the most profound influence of my journey has been my parents, and their teaching stories. This past year has been filled with retellings, restoryings; I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my Dad or my Mom. This past year George and his family lost their Dad.
Last week I held the two letters for a long time. I realised my learning partner in that moment would be holding the letter I had written for her. What had I shared with her? I know I had taken the blank card home and had taken care with the words I had shared. I remember that. What had I shared with her? I wondered how she is doing. I wondered why we didn’t stay connected. I wondered if her world is filled with joy.
Oh, I remember her stories!
At the beginning of summer George wrote about making this upcoming year our best year.
Extraordinary words from a person who just lost his father…
Our lives are story. There is so much beauty in living. “What makes me hopeful is not so much the certainly of the find, but that my movement is search. It is not possible to search without hope,” (Freire; 1997).
As I pulled the card I had written for myself from its envelope, I wondered what message I’d find inside. I wondered what really had mattered to me in that space of fear so many months ago. I wondered what, in all of my words of hope, would matter now.
What would matter now?
A really long time-ago during my undergrad studies, my Physical Education professor once pushed back against all the structure and formalistic necessity of schooling, asking us to pause and to consider other’s stories and what was possible for kids and families. She asked us to not get caught up in getting caught up, asking instead, “How important is it?”
I took a deep breath. I like being happy.
Slowing, I opened my letter.
This is our best year yet, filled with joy. I’d like to hear your stories.
Last night I asked my daughter, Jessy, for a topic to blog about.
“Write about that Montreal player. And all the other players who took a knee when he was injured.”
“I’m not writing about that!”
Tonight I was sitting in my car enjoying the cool evening breeze coming in from the moon roof. I was sorta watching soccer practice, sorta catching up on my twitter feed, and sorta reading Functional Assessment and Program Development for Problem Behavior. But mostly, I was enjoying the breeze. The sky was overcast yet not threatening rain, just filled with sleepy-hollow shadow. I allowed my imagination wander.
Then, the ambulance arrived.
On one of the fields out of site from where I was sitting, from where my daughter’s U-14 competitive team was practicing, was the adult men’s team. They were tucked in behind the open skating oval. As the EMTs ran around the green partitions and disappeared onto the hidden pitch, we all stopped breathing. For a while no one knew exactly what to do.
Go see. Keep reading. Worry. Breathe. Play on.
The wind kept blowing.
The technical director left the girls with their coach and walked over. Others too began to walk towards the hidden pitch. I got out of my car and stood underneath one of the pine trees edging the field.
Jess’s coach when she was 4, 5 and 6 years old was playing on that hidden field. One of those gems-of-the-education-world was over there too. I zipped up my hoodie.
I think, I’ve been zippy my hoodie for a long time. The memories wrapping around me like a down duvet.
I think, all of us zip hoodies more than we know; we all share these good, rooted stories. And tonight, like an anchor pulled tight, memories came rushing back.
And you know, I’m not even certain why.
How would Jess manage loosing another person in her life? How would I manage to watch? Could we manage?
Sometimes I wonder if Jess zips her worry for me so tightly because I’ve been zipping all these years… And that makes even the wind sting.
That’s why it’s impossible to step onto the pitch with indifference, that’s why the world stops breathing.
But the pause is a good thing too because feeling is such a positive. See Jess is right. When that Montreal player went down on Saturday, many of the players on their knees were Saskatchewan players and, too, there were all of us in the stands very much aware, and deeply connected. I am part of those players on their knees, the unconscious player, the family somewhere, worried. We are so much more than a player, a game, a life; we are every one of the connections we find on our hidden pitch.
And together we are a wonderful, beautiful, anchored space.