So I was sent on this adventure from Southport, CT to San Francisco, CA with six eighth grade students to experience #edrev on our headmaster’s recommendation recently.
#edrev is a conference designed by @SAFENational and @pensf
“EdRev, conceived of and brought to life by PEN in 2009, provides a unique day of interaction among students, parents and educators, exploring ways to create new educational environments that fit the individual, instead of making the individual fit the environment. Everyone learns in a different and unique way; learning environments where this is appreciated and supported are the key to successful learning.”
I truly didn’t know what to expect out of this experience and it has taken me some time to put it all to proper words. I can only imagine how our students feel about this experience. I could detail all that happened, extract the moments of key poignancy, or write an draggingly long post that will ramble to one point. Thus I have held on how to craft a post about the meaning of this event.
Then this week, it hit me…rather a student formed the focus. One of the students we took on this trip is a fabulous young lady I will call M for this post. M is a student who came to our school about six years ago, a shy and timid little girl. M is leaving us this year to enter the next phase of her schooling. She is a dyslexic young lady who has a heart of gold and a timid voice, yet found a way into my heart.
I have never had M in class, a rather funny joke she and I have had going on year to year, and yet she and I have this amazing rapport. M is timid, she is shy…trying to work on utilizing Siri for dictation this year with her was a challenge due to her sweet, kind, soft voice. Yet, at #edrev M found her voice. During the student focused conference, she tried speaking out to the large group…her voice timid and shy…hard to hear yet I gave her such kuddos for taking such a chance to speak to a such a large group of people she had just met. But as the day went on, the activities went on to empower these students to speak up, speak out, and be proud…M had another opportunity to try to speak…she took it…she was heard loud and clear. I had tears in my eyes listening to her. It was the same message she had presented earlier in the day, but to hear her speak up and speak out, it gave me that moment…the moment I knew she was ready to fly.
M is my focus, but really she represents what I hope for all my students. Why M? Well this week, M gave me a gift. The gift was a bracelet that represented the path of life….but with the gift was a note. In this note, the true part of the gift for me, M recounted a memory….that on her first day of EHS 6 or so years ago…this shy, timid, little girl wearing a headband exited her car where I encountered her. I embraced her with a welcome and a hello and guided her to the first day steps of getting a name tag and finding her locker. I do this every first day of every year…yet for M as she retold me, was a moment in her schooling that was of impact, the path that allowed her to open to this new phase that she could embrace and grow. I never had M in class, but the few moments of her first day left a memory in her that enabled her to move into her new learning space. I was so taken aback by this thought and that she thought back to this moment as poignant to recall as she was ready to move on. Over the years M and I have always had fun banter in the halls and other moments, but I was never her teacher. Yet, she showed me in this note that I was her teacher. It explained to me why I was so impacted by her steps at #edrev…watching all our students at EdRev.
Whether or not I have our EHS students in class, they are all my students, they all matter. Also I don’t think I realized what all those moments in our day have on them. We all have such an impact on these kids that enter our space for whatever time we have with them, and the power in that is greater than we think. I am left humbled by the words M wrote to me, for I am left feeling I could do more. However, it takes a village…my school is a village, and we are all citizens who are there to do what is best for our kids. It cannot be taken for granted what a simple hello, a simple gesture of welcome can do to a student.
#edrev left me knowing that my students have a voice and that as an educator I have the charge to help them “Speak Up and Speak Out”, which guiding them to accept themselves, respect themselves, and highlight themselves.