Listen and Be Honest

I attended ICSEI, the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement last week. I listened to powerful keynotes by Russell Bishop, Charlene Bearhead, and Warren Simmons. These passionate and articulate educators from New Zealand, Canada and the United States shared themes of equity, caring and action for indigenous, black and latino students which resonated strongly with me.

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This was on the heels of reading I’m Not Your Racial Confessor in Slate magazine, a conversation between Jamelle Bouie, Aisha Harris, Gene Demby and Tressie McMillan Cottom.  (Thanks to Sherri Spelic, blogger and educator, for sharing). Everyone needs to read this. It reminded me not to be “wilfully ignorant” about the reality of systemic racism in our society.

Then yesterday, I read about an interview with Joseph Boyden where he attempted to explain the questions about his ancestry. When asked what Boyden’s role should be within the indigenous community, Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie said, “… behind First Nations, being a supporter, not white-splaining and being a spokesperson.”

So, here I am, a middle class white woman with a life of privilege. I do not know life as part of a minoritized or marginalized group, but I want to understand. I want to be a supporter. I can only do that by listening to learn without imagining that I have any answers. And I need to be prepared for difficult and honest conversations.

Just…listen and be honest.

GRACE – #Oneword for 2017

I’m ready to start the new year.

In 2016, I chose essential as my one word. It proved to be the perfect choice as I reflected throughout the year about how to pare down what I spend my time on to that which I consider most important. I also successfully experimented with various ways to use less time on those things that I have to get done, but don’t consider particularly enjoyable. The idea of Essentialism is now embedded in my thinking and my actions.

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The word grace encompasses thinking that I’ve been doing for the past few months. Ideas of forgiveness, love, gratitude and growth have all been present for me. I finally decided on it after finishing Wab Kinew‘s The Reason You Walk, a heartfelt meditation on reconciliation, love and forgiveness. “To be hurt, yet forgive. To do wrong, but forgive yourself. To depart from this world feeling only love. This is the reason you walk.” (p.268)

Then, as often happens, I began to see references to grace everywhere. Arthur C. Brooks wrote recently how powerful it might be to forgive another person this very day and how that small act can make the world better. Dan Rockwell offered leadership advice on How to Respond with Grace and Resolve When Teammates Disengage. A walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens brought out the chickadees!

This year, I want to consider deeply how to find the grace to forgive and love throughout all areas of my life, not just when it’s easy.  It’s scary because I’m sure I won’t be 100% successful. That means grace is my best word for 2017.