How can it be that I am beginning my 31st year as a teacher? So many school years, yet here I am excited, nervous, and feeling not at all ready to meet the class I will get to learn with.
Our school has decided that this year our focus is community and today our meetings echoed that. We had an interactive session on empowering conversations, another on our child safeguarding/protection policies and procedures, and then an amazing two hour Zoom with Margaret Park on “An Exploration of Identity, Privilege, and Power.”
Tina and I are the new co-facilitators of our school’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice committee. We had some great all-school professional development centered around microaggressions and implicit bias so wanted to build on that and as identity is so important as the year gets started it seemed a perfect fit.
Margaret was so wonderful- you would never have guessed it was 2 AM her time. She had the perfect balance of asking thoughtful questions, sharing definitions, and giving us time for self-reflection, along with breakout room time to discuss in small groups. I am in awe of the way she paced things so that everyone felt heard, nobody felt put on the spot, and left feeling like they had grown. We were left with our brains buzzing and hearts full!
“How can we use our privilege and power to learn about and affirm identities that are below the surface?” she asked at one point as we considered the visible identities we all carry into each day. The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to have started these conversations and I am excited about the ways we can develop our grow our school community in the months ahead.
As Tina quoted Joel Llaban, “We plant the seed knowing we will not sit under the shade of the tree.” I am excited to work with colleagues who want to (quoting Maya Angelou here, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Hope is the thing that keeps me going. Every school year I hope will be even better than the last. I hope I will be able to be a better teacher. I hope the students feel seen and successful. Here’s to a fresh start and hope.
Follow Margaret on Twitter at @MargaretLPark.