A Thank You to 'My Peeps' at Quest
I am sitting in my home office rocking out to Sly and Family Stone's "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin" and getting teary as I send out this newsletter of thanks to the York Region District School Board. I was given the gift of co-anchoring the Quest Conference for Increased Student Achievement and Well Being: Realizing Equitable, Inclusive and Engaging Schools a few weeks ago outside Toronto. I welcomed. I applauded. I threaded. I summarized. I thanked. But what really happened was that I was welcomed. Wholeheartedly. Generously. Lovingly. And that's what happened for all of the attendees, whom I call "my peeps."
I know that when someone goes to a conference and comes home, those who stayed back are both eager and wary of the return. What new ideas might one bring back and yet...honestly, how many new ideas can the rest of us hear about?
When I was abroad a few years back, I was told by a friend he could only really look at one or two photos and still be interested. He wanted to hear and see what I had experienced, but only in a small, intense dose, so I had to be intentional with my choices.
I will do the same again here. Just a quick "slide show with words." Thanks to all at York Region DSB and all the Quest attendees for the learning.
Slide #1 - Introducing myself to the group of 800 and finding out I was one of two US citizens in the room. (Only 33% of US citizens currently hold a passport.) I started by saying I was a one happy American. Happy because an election had just taken place in my country and Barack Obama had won. My statement was met with applause and cheers. Nice to be so warmly welcomed.
Slide #2 - A 16 year old student from Enniskellen, Northern Ireland sharing on a student panel her memories as a young child looking for bombs under her car. Through her participation in a youth group supported by the Spirit of Enniskellen Trust, she was learning to dialogue, Protestant to Catholic, and to change her country and the world.
Slide #3 - Rosemary Campbell-Stephens, in her session, Diverse Leaders Leading Differently, stating that she was a bit puzzled as to why people of color were often called the 'minority' when they are the 'global majority.'
Slide #4 – Sitting in the dark watching a video, "I AM..." (http://www.larche.ca/en/education/the_i_am_kit_) and hearing the voices of individuals with intellectual disabilities filling in the blank to the sentence stems, "I am....," "I love...," "I hate...," "I dream..." and knowing even more deeply how important it is to share vulnerably with others and continually discover how much we all have in common.
Slide #5 – Being truly welcomed eye to eye at a workshop door by Brian Shouten, the principal at Sutton District High School, and then watching him support his students from the back of the room as they co-facilitated a workshop on increasing emotional intelligence.
Slide #6 – Toasting to a great conference with a contingent of educators from Finland who have the wellbeing of their students at the forefront of their educational agenda. Along with a hot school lunch for everyone (!), the Finns believe schools and families are in a 'cooperative endeavor' to care for students physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Slide #7 – Exiting the conference ballroom to the drumming of the travel song sung by the Chippewas of Georgina Island
Ken Thurston, the director of York Region DSB, started the conference with two questions sparked by the Chippewas. Why did I come here? And for whom did I come? I left with an even stronger conviction that I have come here to make the world more humane for everyone regardless of national border, regional divide or equity barrier. Here's to a collective responsibility for all.
For information about next year's Quest Conference (http://www.yrdsb.edu.on.ca/page.cfm?id=ITQ000015), click on this link.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Books, blogs and websites crossing my path this month...
www.radicallearners.com is author and instructional coaching consultant Jim Knight's site. His blog post, "Permission to Screw Up" from November 21, 2012 is worth reading and it leads me to the next cool resource.
Nine Things Successful People Do Differently was a Harvard Business Review blog post that morphed into a book by Heidi Grant Halvorson. In the vein of Carol Dweck's work on a growth mindset, Heidi has 'her take' on the ways successful people work on 'getting better' rather than working toward 'being good.'
Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success -- SFGate.com writes that Levine's latest book, "is a call for parents and educators to move away from an insistence on test scores and trophies toward teaching life skills."
Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!
Breaking Through Conflict and
Hard Conversation Barriers to School Improvement
Pre-Conference Session co-led with Bob Garmston
Learning Forward Annual Conference
Being Generationally Savvy: Supporting
Leaders and Learners of All Generations
Peel District School Board
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Having Hard Conversations
Palo Alto, CA
Being Generationally Savvy
San Francisco Unified School District
San Francisco, CA
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time,
Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleague. You may reprint this newsletter in whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to www.jenniferabrams.com