"Yeah, I guess I need to email some people."
Sara's head whipped to look at me, and even though my eyes never left the road, I could see her puzzled face questioning my out-of-nowhere comment. It was a look I had seen countless times before in our friendship. I told you, it was a classic Melissa-moment.
I laughed, mostly with awareness that I had done it again: had something of a conversation with myself inside my head and then sputtered out my seemingly-random conclusion in my out-loud voice.
I am so lucky Sara is patient and forgiving of this habit. And yet, maybe I need to attend to this.
In yesterday's case, my internal conversation was really just an ambling of small details and things I need to attend to sooner than later related to back-to-school business--literally a to-do list. But I know on other occasions my internal conversations have been more meaty, from thinking about increasing student ownership of my classroom to puzzling out ways to encourage parent involvement. How many other conversations do I have with myself internally that should be voiced...out-loud?
And I wonder: why don't I? (Why don't we?)
I wonder if it's because ideas are complicated, sometimes fragile and sometimes rough around the edges? I wonder if ideas feel safer in the confines of our minds, tumbling around without feedback, criticism, or response from others? Do ideas stay inside out of fear of rejection? Or are ideas trapped by perseveration on refining and perfecting our ideas first? Do we convince ourselves that someone else has already thought our thought or would think it better? Do we assume everyone else knows what we don't?
How often do we, as teachers, do this with our practice and our classroom experiences?
How many interesting, challenging, creative, or forward-thinking ideas get tossed around internally in the safety of our minds or on the pages of our notebooks but never benefit from tangling up with other people's questions or thinking or stories? How many lesson ideas, cool collaborations, or professional growth opportunities are never actualized or take longer to take shape because we keep them protected? How many ideas never have the chance to see encouragement, influence, or the company of others?
Honoring risk and vulnerability with ideas is a place where my own growth is slow, but improving. More often than not, the risks I have painstakingly taken to be vulnerable about exposing my thinking have resulted in positive growth and promising momentum.
The ECET2ME convening was a small sampling of professional community that helped reiterate this learning for me. ECET2ME was glittered with conversations between pairs or groups of impassioned educators on the edge of creativity and movement, forward-thinking teacher-leaders who brainstormed and problem solved and empowered one another through the sharing, questioning, and probing of ideas--out loud and with others.
This is what I am thinking about as my "new year" approaches. As I consider what I might prioritize as professional goals this school year, I'm thinking about the ideas I protect internally and what might happen if I let them out.
I have a voice. I need to use it. Out-loud.
I think I'm going to. How 'bout you?