Our work is too important to give up. Yet, even for the most committed, it can be hard to keep going. Systems change, budgets adjust, new leadership teams are put into place, and over time we might find ourselves simply complying with what is happening, rather than dreaming, building, and working for the ideals and values we care about. How do you keep yourself going? What tools and strategies do you use to ensure you are building rather than complying? How do you support yourself, your colleagues, and your community of practice to continue to dream in possibilities?
I recently launched the It's Up to Us: Navigating Change Through Community, Identity, and Collaboration (Official Card Set) as a tool for individuals, teams, and communities of practice to reflect, dream, and to remain focused on the important work they do. To find our more about the It's Up to Us! card set, click here.
"What you intend is what you become."
With the start of a new year, what is the purest intention fo your life and your work? What positive impact do you intend to contibue to this year? How will your intentions contribute to the global good? For many of us, even with the clearest of intentions, it is easy to loose our way as the businesses of our work takes off, as our organizations restructure, as new policies as enacted, or as new leadership teams are put into place. Without mindfulness, it's easy to forget why we are doing what we are doing, and quickly move from a builder of our intentions, to a complier to a system.
Your intentions are like a blueprint that builds what is possible. Thinking about your professional work this year what is your purest intention?
What hill are you currently climbing? Are you traveling a new road for your life? Are you stepping out of what you have always done, and venturing into a new personal or professioinal territory? If these questions or thoughts are in alignment with the hill you're climbing, I would like to suggest that to reach the success you are after, keep looking down.
I learned this lesson while riding in a recent 90-kilometer bicycle event. It was the farthest ride I have done to date, and I wasn't sure if I could complete it. While I knew it was a trip I wanted to take, I was concerned that the length of the ride, combined with some very large hills, would be too difficult for me, even with proper preparation.
On the day of the event, and with the hills looming ahead, I pedaled away, traveling close to the group I entered with. After a few hours on our bikes, and after a quick lunch break, we knew the major hill was next. As it began, I lowered my gears, started up the hill, and positioned my bike next to my friend. As we climbed, I looked down at my front tire, focusing on the road below me, and on occasion, looked over to the site of my friend's bike to the side. As we rode, he began to speak words of encouragment. We can do this! The hill is no big deal.We are doing great. I bet the top of the hill is just around this corner. The only response I could utter back was We are not getting off our bikes!
By looking down, and surrounded by his encouragemnt, the hill that I feared, didn't seem so bad...until I looked up.
When I looked up, and though we were still encouraging each other, I could now see how steep the hill was. Because the road twisted, and trees surrounded the road, it was hard to see when it might end. Immediately my mind spoke: You can't do this. This hill is too high for you. Maybe you should get off your bike and walk. What happens if you can't make it? With each thought, and with the sight of the hill in front, the pedaling took on new effort, and physically I began to feel I wouldn't make it. So I simply looked down again.
I noticed this pattern throughout the ride up the hill. Each time I looked up, the task at hand felt too difficult, and my mind would overwhelm me. When I looked down, my mind would quiet, as I concentrated on the pedaling, the point of the road that I was on, and the words of encouragement I was being surrounded with. When I finally looked up again, we were approaching the top of the hill, a hill I didn't think I would be able to climb.
What did traveling up the hill remind me?
1. To focus on what I have to do right now- stay present
2. To be mindful of the people who I let surround me.
3. There is a mind/body connection.
4. Use lower gears when going up a hill.
5. I like bike riding.
May you climb well! William
While walking to get a coffee today, I saw this sign in front a storefront. As I read it, I must admit I first felt taken aback. Yet, a few minutes later I found myself loving its honesty. While drinking that much needed coffee, I couldn't help but think of the sign in relationship to the leaders, healers, educators, and visionaries I meet and collaborate with. Leaders, who often find themselves struggling to keep up with all that is expected of them. Many of these women and men, true leaders who are working to create a more healthy, equitable, sustainable, and socially just world, describe their working life with terms like "exhaustion, overwhelmed, out of balance, or filled with too much to do." The sign caused me to think about the questions I ask myself, and will ask you here: As leaders working in what many say is a wounded world, how do we build in time for our own renewal? How do we ensure our own lives are healthy and abundnant? How do we ensure we are giving from an integrated, healthy place? How well are we saying no, setting boundaries, or simply saying no more intakes today, no exceptions?
Thank you to the organizers of the recent Young Minds Conference #youngminds in Sydney, for including me in such an important event. The opportunity to speak on Storytelling as an act of freedom, as well as the experience of meeing, and listening to the various conference speakers, left me feeling hopefully for us all!
The books I have read, the mentors I have worked with, the conferences I have attended, and many of the classes I took, were vital tools that moved me out of much darkness, and into the center of my own liberation. That transformative process taught me first hand the power that education has when it is designed to help us thrive. The questions I ask the leaders I work with are the same questions I will ask you here: What are the educational opportunities that have helped you transform? What learning experiences have allowed you to move beyond what you knew? What books, people, events, teachers, or experiences were most meaningful for who you have become and the path you have chosen to travel? What experiences have you had with educaton that helped you thrive?
During these times of tremendous change, I’m curious about the spaces we create (at work, within community, in the classroom, in family), that help us find our way together. These are the spaces where all of our voices are heard, where all are stories are acknowledged, and where all of us are fully included. I believe we are longing for these places… these “circles of trust” as I have heard Parker Palmer name them. I continue to meet communities, organizations, educators, leaders, families, and individuals, who are working collectively to create spaces where diverse individuals work to navigate change by being in community. Thesewomen and men, the leaders of tomorrow, who are working in today, are showing us what is possible for us all.
This year's AVID Australia Summer Institute saw over 125 educators from Victoria and NSW in attendance. In all, 7 schools, and 4 universities took part in the three day professional development.
I have this dream that all educators (social workers, health care professionals, innovators, spirital leaders, etc) be provided with the time to sit and reflect on who they are and what their work is about. In our daily business, it is easy to loose our way and forget who we are and what we truly are about. It takes real courage to stop and reflect, especially when that reflection is with our peers. For these reasons, I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who participated in the recent It's Up to Us in FDC: Navigating Change Through Community, Inquiry and Collaboration professional development session. It's hard not to be inspired by spending time with gifted educators and leaders who ensure schooling is safe, inclusive, and available to all.To bring It's Up to Us to your community organization, click here.
It has been nearly 20 years of being an educator. Well actually it means 20 years of being a student, and then trying to pass on what has been given to me. As the 20 year mark approaches, I'm even more curious about our systems and our students, and the kinds of communities we are creating. Who is included in those spaces? Whose voices do we hear? Who do we label as disadvantaged? What is going on that creates dis-ease, and what is going on that supports wholeness and wellbeing. I have a family member (who knows who she is) who continues to tell me, "William our systems often create dis-ease for people inside of them and your work is not just about literacy and equity issues, but really about wellness...wellness is what you have been teaching all along." In the spirit of these ongoing discussions, I've come to consider that there are new questions we need to start asking on another...how does our work create wellness for us all? Or, how does our collective work support others to become whole, congruent, integrated, and fully alive in our troubled world?
Our first AVID Australia Institute has just come to a close. This four day event saw more than 60 teachers from Wodonga Middle Years College and Primary Schools from around the region, engage in staff development activities on AVID methodologies. WMYC AVID students helped run the event, which took place at Charles Sturt University. It was one of the most inspiring events of the year for me, as I got to watch teachers from around the region explore AVID, hear from AVID students, and consider the impact the program is having at Wodonga Middle Years College. Thanks goes out to the five pre-service teachers from Charles Sturt University, who also engaged in the professional development week. We are already working to ensure this becomes an annual event, so please mark your calendar and join us a year from now.
One of my sheroes is Margaret J. Wheately. Each book I read from her brings me back to many of the reasons that I got into teaching, reminds me of the power of collective wisdom, and ultimately brings me back to my self. I often end presentations I give with her quote: the leaders we need are already here. I think we all know this is already true. Margaret's new book Perseverance is out. The timing couldn't be more perfect.
I want to thank everyone who helped ensure the success of our recently published AJEC (Australasian Journal of Early Childhood) publication focusing on Sexuality in Early Childhood. This journal was made possible through the leadership of Anthony Seaman, as well as the researchers, writers, and early childhood teachers whose work makes up the focus of this special themed edition. You can read the editorial to the journal here .
Dear Friends/Family/Colleagues, You have the opportunity to directly help my school win a contest that will bring $50k worth of prizes home to our students. This spring Social Justice students at La Costa Canyon HS started a campaign on campus to encourage our community to stop using plastic water bottles, and make the switch to re-usable bottles in an effort to be more environmentally sustainable. In doing so, students made a couple of short videos and entered a contest open to all schools in North America. Our school has been selected as one of the top three finalists out of 174 teams, and the public decides who will take home the $50k prize package, which includes $10k in cash, $15k worth of computers and other school equipment (including fair-trade soccer and basketballs), and the choice of an eco-designed skate-park, or an organic garden/ greenhouse. VOTING HAS BEGUN and ends on May 30th. JUST A FEW DAYS AWAY. Please take a minute and visit the link to register and vote for our team. WE CAN DO THIS IF YOU HELP!http://www.quantumshift.tv/schools/ Vote for “LCC Social Justice” PLEASE send this to people who care about helping kids…adding a personal touch, and thanks for your help. If you’re a teacher, send it out to your whole staff! We’re down about 50 votes right now, but with you on our team WE CAN DO IT! Warmly,Christopher Greenslate (Social Justice teacher)