If I hadn’t been reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly I probably would never have shared my research at the Belmas2015 SLTeachMeet.
I’d prepared a workshop (in the event, 8 people joined me). Then about 3 days before the conference, the call went out from the Conference Chair ‘We need a couple of brave volunteers.’ If she hadn’t used the word ‘brave’ I might have felt more like stepping forward. But it seemed a great opportunity to share my research more widely.
‘It’s the message’, I kept saying to myself. ‘The message is what’s important, and here’s a chance to get it out there. It doesn’t matter how I put it across – as long as they get the message’. ‘Six minutes’, I said to myself. ‘Isn’t it worth investing six minutes in this?’
I read all the guidance again.
A TeachMeet is organised for those who want to listen to inspiring teachers who do amazing things in their classrooms every day.
That’s me, I thought. I am constantly inspired by what teachers achieve, against the odds, and in a climate where I know many of them feel unappreciated by those outside the profession. Not sure I’d put myself in the ‘inspiring’ category, though, and I don’t work in a classroom. Still, I persevered. When I received the email which said ‘looking forward to hearing the spin on academic research vs. classroom practice.’ I panicked. I’m not a teacher. What I have to say isn’t about classroom practice. Had I misunderstood the call from the Conference chair? @TeacherToolkit was reassuring. ‘We’d love to have you’. At the conference John Novak had talked about ‘unintentionally disinviting’ . Now I knew exactly what he meant.
So … 6 minutes: I had to make an impact. Something different then? What could demonstrate resilience and show what happens when it’s lacking?
I often talk about ‘filling the resilience reservoir’. I rejected the idea of tanks and taps as being far too complicated. An inflatable beach-ball tapped on the shoulder of my consciousness. I could bounce it to show resilience at work, and quickly deflate it to show what happens when we don’t top-up our batteries/resilience reservoir. In trials, the safety valve on the beach ball prevented my deflating it easily. Was this a challenge too far? I tried hard to hang on to the idea that this was going to be fun, reaching far back into my past to get in touch with my child self; she tends to when make herself invisible when I’m feeling vulnerable.
In the event, the hot room and the anxiety which mounted each time I wasn’t called forward (and there were many) took their toll. My wonderful idea of the bouncing beach-ball had already lost its resilience as I stepped on to the platform. I threw it on to the ground, getting ready to catch it as it bounced … It didn’t.
The message, however, remained, and I shall be eternally grateful to @cazzwebbo for her tweet:
‘@chrysalisleader beginning beautifully poetically – we sometimes drop the ball! Resilience! #slteachmeet’
That captured it completely. Our resilience grows when we ‘show up and let ourselves be seen’ says Brené Brown. That’s hard to do. It’s especially for hard for those in education who are carrying the anxiety which the government through the media unwittingly projects when they charge schools with solving the economic problems of today’s society through introducing one new education policy after another. Almost nothing is good enough to be left alone. As any teacher knows, tell someone they’re not good enough often enough, and they will believe it.
The great thing is, those feelings can be reversed. With determination and support, resilience can be grown. I have the data to prove it. Thanks to Brené Brown and Ross McGill, others know it too.
The video is available at 2:04;33