The Power is Yours!

One of my favorite shows to watch as a kid was Captain Planet.  If you’ve never seen it, let me break it down.  There were five kids from different continents who each found a ring with a power over an environmental(ish) factor.

When the kids met up, they found that they could randomly point their rings somewhere and yell out a random word.  Sing the song with me now.  “Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart!” Magically, this random blue guy with green hair would pop up and save the world against some random polluting bad guy.  (Side note: there is a hilarious, although NSFW, parody on Funny or Die featuring Don Cheadle.)  When he was done, he would randomly disappear back into the rings, while saying, “the power is yours!”

The power is yours.  Indeed.

I’m a huge conspiracy theorist, especially when it comes to cartoons.  For example, I’m fully convinced that Pinky was the genius, and The Brain was insane, and that is a conversation that I’m prepared to have if we ever meet face-to-face.  I digress.

Anyway, I think that what Captain Planet was trying to say to the kids, once you read between the lines, is that they didn’t really need him at all.  They had the power to save the world, as do all of us, the kids watching at home.  The kids who have now grown up.  (Psssst…you and me.)

We are educators.  We not only have the power to change the world, we ARE changing the world, whether we realize it or not.  That being said, we tend to have a lot more power than we even realize.  It took me a while to grasp this, but in the age of social media, we can move mountains.

I don’t know how many educators are on Twitter.  I’ve heard two million, six million, eight million, a few hundred thousand…it depends on who you ask.  For the sake of argument, let’s lowball it and say half a million (totally inventing that number…I’m sure it’s way more than that).

Generally I don’t care about numbers of followers, because it’s honestly stupid. #sorrynotsorry.  Twitter shouldn’t be a popularity contest; it should be about creating meaningful connections so that we get better as educators.  However, today I will entertain the discussion, again, for the sake of argument.  After all, if we are trying to move educational mountains, we cannot do it by ourselves…so the ideal would be to have a high number of high-quality connections (i.e. collaborators).

Let’s say you get 1% of all educators on Twitter on board with your idea.  Even with my fictional lowballed numbers, that is still 5,000 educators.  Get 1/10 of that, and that is 500 people in your corner, helping you to move this mountain.  Get it?

The power is yours.

Moment of honesty: I facepalm every time someone on Twitter asks me to start something brand new on their behalf.  No.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people ask me to be involved in what they’re doing, ask me to amplify (as long as they are not spamming me), or even give feedback/suggest improvements to something that I’m doing.  It frustrates me to no end though, whenever someone has a great idea and tries to hand it over to me because they think I have some kind of power that they don’t.  That’s ridiculous.

THE POWER IS YOURS DAGNABBIT!!!!  So stop it!

What is the difference between a teacher and a teacher leader?  It’s not a title.  Not some secret ceremony with your admin involving a sword and holy water.  A teacher leader does.  That’s all.  Be like Nike and just do it!  If you see a need, and are smart enough to find the solution, just do it.  Don’t ask me (or anyone else for that matter), because all I will say is, “do it yourself…let me know if I can help.”  Just save yourself the lecture 🙂

Featured image source: http://i.vimeocdn.com/video/417592894_1280x720.jpg

Time for Action

No, I do not watch the news.  Yes, I do have a reason.

I’ve never been a fan of the news media for the most part.  When I was a kid, I instinctively questioned almost everything that I read or saw.  My parents, both publishers of community newsletters, taught me very early on that there was much more to the story than what we learned in history class.  I guess I figured that the news is just history being currently written, so  why trust that blindly?

In addition to the sheer bias (and not-so-subtle attempt at brainwashing) from many outlets, I have other reasons that I choose not to follow mainstream news.  For one, there is an emotional toll when people continue to be murdered, often for absolutely no reason other than being black in America.  However, we as citizens are often hard-pressed to receive a fair retelling of the facts.  False narratives generate more revenue for the news outlets, while simultaneously fueling stereotypes, creating negative and divisive public perceptions, and devaluing human lives.  Yellow journalism, indeed.

The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult, in light of all of the tragedies occurring around the world.  For a while, it seemed like every day we would wake up to more bad news.  I will not rehash old posts…if you feel so inclined, you can see what I have written here, here, and here in previous years (tl;dr: it never stops).  There is no progress…each summer brings more of the same, without repercussion. The list of those gone before their time, at the hands of those charged to protect and serve, grows ever longer.


One day, I woke up, and did not want to get out of bed.  This was the morning that I learned of the murder of Philando Castile.  Heard, mind you…did not watch (nor did I watch that of Alton Sterling).  Having heard the circumstances, as well as the emotion in the voices of my friends on Voxer, I had no desire to confirm the horrible images that I had playing in my mind.

I laid there, and thought.  I was paralyzed under the cloak of depression, until I decided that the only thing that would get me out of bed would be to try to do something, somehow.  Although dialogue is important, action is even more critical.


A couple of years ago, we began to see the rise of the citizen journalist, as many people now own some kind of phone with video-recording capabilities, and regularly use social media.  This has allowed us to see events unfolding first-hand, exposing the truth for what it is.  I remember one of the first times such a sick feeling crept in, after I had seen a video of Michael Brown’s corpse laying in the street.

I wasn’t alone.  As a result, a few friends and I had also tried to create a community action group through Facebook a couple of years ago.  We stumbled upon local resources such as the Washington Peace Center, and attended some community events. We had plans to do much more; however, it was hard to sustain over time. We simply lost momentum.

The morning July 7, emotions ran high on Voxer, as we comforted each other and tried to make sense of what happened.  We decided to create a new group that would brainstorm community action.  Currently, we are in the planning stages, trying to narrow a focus, but our planning document is here:

There are several members of this group, from different backgrounds, all with a different lens on the world; however, we do have a common goal.  We are all educators passionate about doing our part to contribute to a fairer and more just society.  The members of the group have shared amazing resources such as Join Campaign Zero and an ebook called You Have the Right by Laura Coates.  I look forward to exploring these resources in greater depth, in the coming weeks.

Although we may not always agree on all of the details, we can have dialogue in a respectful way to move forward towards our mission.  Healthy discourse paired with positive action will hopefully help us grow stronger as educators, and as human beings.  Soon, our group will branch out to involve other community members, but we will continue to keep our actions rooted in education, for future-oriented sustainability.

We are approaching the challenge using a design thinking model, a practice that I learned about this year.  (Source: IDEO Design Thinking Toolkit.)

Image-1 (1)

We discussed design thinking in the latest episode of #EduMatch Tweet & Talks.  The practice is based on brainstorming and iteration, with a focus on empathy.  Empathy is crucial to this project, as we are one community and have one goal: to do what we can to help build positive community relations.  Unity is our purpose.

I can no longer, in good conscience, sit back, twiddle my thumbs, and hope for a better tomorrow.  I challenge us all (especially myself) to keep the momentum going.  We can all do our part, whether it be through this project or something else.  We owe it to our students.

Catharsis

Hello, hello.  This time it’s only been 24 days since my last post.  #progress

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 6.04.20 AM

Yesterday, I decided that I needed to begin on a journey to get better.  Not better as in “not sick,” but to become a better version of myself.  My 35th birthday will be in less than two months, and while I am happy with my life in general, there is still lots of room for me to grow as a person.  The last few months have been up and down, and after speaking with a couple of good friends, I realize that it’s probably because I have been holding a lot in.

I used to blog more consistently.  It’s definitely a release, and a way to reflect upon experiences.  It’s also good to be transparent.  Of course, everything in life doesn’t have to be an open book; however, we grow together by sharing, for better or for worse.  This has been forgotten, as I have started to feel like less of a human being and more of a human brand.  It ends today.  I will attempt to blog more frequently and more authentically, having been inspired by many of my close friends.

Thank you to all who have shared your insight to the world by hitting the publish button.  I think that I’m ready to re-enter the land of the living.  Save me a seat.