So it’s officially two weeks since I’ve been on winter break. I’ve caught up on sleep, done some damage to my reading stack, and done a lot of thinking (and writing) about what I want to put in place this year. For my first blog post of 2018, I don’t want to get too long-winded, because there’s plenty of time for that. What I do want to do is set some intentions.
Last school year, at the end of the year, life handed me some challenges to overcome, and a friend of mine said to me, “At the end of the day, we all have to learn to take responsibility for the fallout caused by our actions, regardless of our intentions.” His words have stayed with me. In thinking about the many times that I as a woman (especially a Black woman) have made excuses for folks–given them the benefit of the doubt–I realize most of the time I’ve done so on the assumption of the benevolent nature (so they say) of their intentions.
Generally, I prefer to be the one to see the best in someone, and perhaps get hurt, over being the cynic who doesn’t believe in anyone or anything without proof. Despite the occasional hardships life has handed me, I remain relatively optimistic at heart. I believe it is that optimism that keeps me resilient, resolute, and remaining in this profession.
With that said, 2018 is most definitely a time for action. If we learned nothing else from 2016 and 2017, I hope that we have finally learned that it matters not a bit what you say if you continue to act in the same ways that subject those around you to emotional, physical, and psychological destruction at the hands of a status quo that you uphold–and benefit from.
At the same time, words matter.
Our words often shape how we think, and vice versa.
We are all wise to the conversations about the perils of deficit language in the delicate ecosystem that is our educational landscape.
So what do we do?
Part of setting intentions is realizing where we have come from, and believing in where we are headed. You’ve heard it said, “You can’t teach people you don’t believe in.”
So I’ll start there.
I intend to show my students that I believe in them by encouraging them to create a personal definition of success–and persevere until they reach it.
I intend to remove all traces of deficit-language from all professional settings I am in by calling out such language as harmful and counter-productive.
I intend to transform the educational experience for my marginalized and disenfranchised black and brown students by seeking their input in what is important to them, and what sparks their curiosity.
I intend to promote radical, and permanent change in the field of education every time I am invited to work with educators to further develop our practice.
I intend to challenge thinking and demand better actions from those at the highest levels by speaking my truth to the powers that be in education so that they hear me. They will know that I am not tolerating any decision making that ruins lives, keeps children behind bars (physical or psychological) or dooms groups of people to a prescribed course that is so much less than they deserve.
I intend to bring libraries, librarians, passion for reading, and a culture of literacy back to my region that no longer has any of these things, by actively seeking partnerships and affiliations with those who are doing the work and showing their commitment through concrete action.
My hope is that by setting these intentions, my students–who mean the whole entire world to me–will know my love for them.
I accept the challenge and responsibility of delivering actions rooted in these intentions.