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Happy birthday, FSP!

April 28, 2011

Too often our first inclination when we learn a lesson, gain a new insight, have an awareness, or glimpse a new truth is to judge ourselves– for not seeing it sooner, not knowing it before, or being in denial too long. That’s not necessary. It’s not appropriate. We’re not at fault because we didn’t have this awareness or understand this lesson until now.

We don’t need to see the truth one moment before we see it. Judging ourselves for not knowing sooner can close us off to what life has to teach us now. We’re here to learn our lessons, discover our truths, have our adventures.

Let yourself have your experiences. Allow yourself to learn what you learn when you learn it. Don’t judge yourself for not learning sooner. Be happy, grateful, and excited when your lesson arrives.

Trust your voice, that quiet inner voice,
when it speaks to you of truth. Be grateful
you can hear it; do what it tells you to do.
Trust the timing of your heart.
-Melody Beattie

The cool thing about digital cupcakes is you can't get in trouble for possibly triggering anyone's allergies.

How time flies! It’s been a full year since I first started blogging, and a little more than that since I learned to trust my voice and the timing of my heart. I have a ton of drafts piling up, stories waiting to be shared, and ideas to begin the next year of this project, but like any good teacher, I know when it’s time to stop and reflect for a moment, too. 

Some lessons I’ve learned over the past year:

  • Sometimes, the worst thing that ever happened to you is the best thing that ever happened to you. Instead of doing the political thing, or the easy thing– or halfway killing yourself doing everything– just do the right thing. You might lose something in the short-term, but the freedom you gain in return is priceless. And even if you gain nothing else, doing the right thing is its own reward.
  • We are our own worst enemies, and our own saving grace. I started searching and writing out of frustration over how difficult it was to find any counter-narrative to the “bad teachers/awful kids/terrible communities” explanation for school failure– an explanation my own experiences taught me was distorted at best. As I listened to others, and connected with a community of teachers, students, and families struggling to be heard, I realized that while we face tough, well-organized, and often well-financed opposition, our biggest problem was our own self-silencing. Our voices are powerful, but only if we raise them outside of the teachers’ lounge or the after-school parking lots! I’ve noticed that the conversation has started to shift over the past year, to a point where critics of the current education reform movement can’t be so easily dismissed, and the media has been forced to recognize that there is legitimate debate over how to transform schools, not a lopsided quarrel between “reformers” and anonymous “defenders of the status quo.” Those of us who know there’s more to building good schools than getting rid of “bad” teachers– and that well-intended top-down policies often create serious problems–  have to keep raising our voices, to restore some kind of productive balance to this realm. (If we don’t, who will?)
  • If the emperor has no clothes, say so. (And laugh, if you can.) Better to be unpopular than naked.
  • Learning happens when it happens– and learning happens all the time. It’s never too late to learn something new, and we can always learn new things if we’re comfortable, supported, and confident enough to allow it. So if fully-grown, highly-educated adults are still learning and figuring things out as we go, who are we to tell children they have to have learned whatever skill by whatever (expedited) time or else? Who are we to destroy anyone’s confidence by telling them their style and pace aren’t good enough? As long as we insist on arbitrary timelines and measures, some children, teachers, and schools will always be failures— despite their best efforts. Can we find the courage we need to create a system that allows everyone to be successful?
There’s more, and so much more to come. But for now, have a cupcake, peruse some of our “greatest hits,” and as always, please share your stories!

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