Letters to Tuvia Y3/#sol18 3/19: Flexible :)

Dear Tuvia and Slicers,

I’m still digesting my PD experience from Friday.  It was a  tough day and it was not about you.  I’m good with you, T.  I walk taller when I think about you, so proud that you found me and thank God I turned over every rock in my way to get to you for a second look, even when friends were discouraging me because of our age difference.

Nope,  the wrinkle didn’t come from my personal loss of you,  it was the mixed bag of a Superintendent’s Conference Day.   Everyone is invited to the table and not everyone wants to be there.  In fact, some come under such duress that they shut down before they walk through the door. And while I was never a big fan of Superintendent Conference Days, I was open to the pleasant surprise on the other side of the door.  If someone offered me a gift, I grabbed it up and said thank you.

My workshop was a hands on workshop for 3 hours.  So participants couldn’t check out to the sound of my voice.  Yes, they could draw, they could get on their laptops and check email, but they couldn’t ruin it for the rest of the group.  Yes, they could come in and out for bathroom breaks and emotional breaks, but I was not going to talk at them for 3 hours.

Writing workshops are tough when you don’t see yourself as a writer, when you don’t even want to try and when you want to make sure everyone knows it. So, yes, I had to be flexible and not beat up those acting out.  I had to insist on respect for the ground rules of silence and respect when we were writing together but I had to be gentle, flexible that I wouldn’t get everyone to feel good about being at the table. I couldn’t get everyone to try on writing to support their healing.  I had to be flexible to settle for most, not all.

Scattered in both groups I was reunited with teachers who knew me and got the power of writing and were happy to be back with me, to try writing as a way to process the loss of friends, family, a recent young teacher. There were teachers at the table who didn’t know me but were open to writing for clarity and they shared their positive experiences.  And there were teachers around the table sure that writing wasn’t for them… and they wrote and shared- JOY!!!!!

So yes, there was that small lady leprechaun dressed in green from head to toe who came and went…but sitting right next to her was a young  science teacher who grabbled a line from a poem I shared and took off, writing about how becoming a father had totally changed his life. And that was right after he let us all know he wasn’t a writer.  Duh, yes, he is!

And then at the end of a very long day, Lucas stayed behind to share his latest plans for a Phd in science education… In my first year in his district, I showed up at his school and offered my services to support classroom writing projects.  He sat with his group and listened to my rap and took me seriously.  At the end of the day he came back as I was collecting my things and  invited me into his classroom. He  saw my arrival as a door he was ready to open and what a collaboration!  And back with me at this table he made sure to support me in this challenge. He wrote a piece about his grandfather and his memories of WWII and the group could see that memories could didn’t have to be sad and heartbreaking.  And as Lucas finished two nurses, friends for years, shared their memories of their friendship through their family losses. They still had each other.

What a gift! and all I had to do was wait, breathe, smile and stay flexible.

Bonnie S.

6 thoughts

  1. You were generous in your acceptance of all the people. You were generous in your understanding of where people are. I went to a great PD today – end of a Monday, overloaded and tired, but OPEN. I took some great nuggets away. Hope your participants did too. Your support comes through.

  2. Such a difference in attitude when you want to be there and told you must be there. I’m glad you stayed flexible and understood those who rolled eyes and were less engaged than you would like. That is the life of bringing in info not all deem relevant to their world. You made a difference to those who were open to new ideas.

  3. Your slice resonates with me… making a difference with those who are open to learn, to change, to examine new things. I had a good laugh when I read: “So yes, there was that small lady leprechaun dressed in green from head to toe who came and went…but” 🙂

  4. OH my, I missed this post yesterday but was glad to read it today. YES Superintendent Conference Day Participants have their own agenda and can be a tough audience. They are a LOT like my grad students who can be eager and engaged while making me think OR zoned out for real!

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